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Hate crimes in United States

WASHINGTON (CWN): A total of 69 people were victims of 59 hate-crime offences motivated by anti-Catholic bias in the United States of America during 2015, a report from the Federal Bureau of Investigation says.

The report lists crimes related to race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, gender and gender identity. It shows there were 695 anti-Jewish, 301 anti-Muslim and 47 anti-Protestant hate crimes during the same year.


Vatican hosting Rembrandt exhibition

VATICAN (SE): An exhibition of works of Rembrandt van Rijn is running at the Vatican Museums.

Antonio Paolucci, the director of the museums, called the exhibition an indication of the ecumenical priorities of Pope Francis, “Who made the unity of Christians one of his goals.” The exhibition is a follow up to the pope’s visit to Sweden for the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Queen Silvia of Sweden and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands attended the opening.


Syrian Orthodox bishops denied visas to United Kingdom

LONDON (SE): Two Syrian Orthodox bishops were barred from entering the United Kingdom for the dedication of a new cathedral, the London Times reported.

Archbishops Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf and Timothy Mosa Alshamany were to attend the dedication of St. Thomas Cathedral, the first Syrian Orthodox cathedral in London, on November 24. But they were unable to obtain visas.

Government officials said that the two, who are now living in Kurdistan, could not demonstrate sufficient financial resources to support themselves and might have filed for asylum.


No Christmas tree please

COLOMBO (UCAN): Father Sarath Iddamalgoda has been trying to rally support for a campaign to stop the building of the tallest artificial Christmas tree in the world in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

He believes the tree that was being installed at the Galle Face Green esplanade in Colombo is a waste of money.

Father Iddamalgoda launched his campaign at the end of November when he called on people interested to rally against what he called a commercialisation of Christmas and waste of public funds.

When the archbishop of Colombo added his voice to the appeal the project was scrapped. The tree was to have been 114 metres tall and half of the US$80,000 ($666,500) budget had already been outlaid.


Unwanted record

BEIJING (SE): China has become the official holder of the world pollution record, with a variety of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen gas and carbon emissions.

The chief engineer at the Chinese Academy for Environmental planning, Wang Jinnan, told a gathering specialising in green economy in Guangdong on December 6 that the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the most industrialised, is one of the most polluted on the planet.

The Legal Daily reported him as saying that it would take 1.75 trillion yuan ($218.75 trillion) to lose the title to the unwanted record.


First United States citizen to be recognised a martyr

VATICAN (SE): Father Stanley Rother (1935 to 1981), from Oklahoma City, is the first citizen of the United States of America to be recognised by the Vatican as a martyr. He was slain while serving as a missionary in Guatemala.

Two others were recognised with him; Father Vicente Queralt Lloret, killed during the Spanish Civil War, and Archbishop Teofilius Matulionis (1873 to 1962), from Lithuania, who was murdered by Soviet security officials. 


Bishop brokers ransom with Islamic State

DAMASCUS (SE): In February 2015, the Islamic State attacked Christian villages in northern Syria, seizing over 200 hostages.

The Associated Press reported on December 7 that Syrian Christians around the world worked to raise US$11 million ($85.25 million) to ransom 226 hostages, with the key player in the process being Bishop Afram Athneil, from the Assyrian Church of the East.

The ransom payments raised questions, as they are illegal in some countries and the funds went to the Islamic State.


Diplomatic relations with Mauritania

VATICAN (SE): The Vatican announced on December 9 that it has established full diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

Archbishop Michael Bannach, an American who has been apostolic delegate to Mauritania, as well as nuncio to Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and Senegal, will fill the post on nuncio.

The northwestern African country is governed by Shari’a Law and officially the population is Muslim. There are about 5,000 expatriate Catholics.

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