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Arab regions bishops meet

AMMAN (SE): At a meeting of the Latin Bishops from Arab Regions held in Amman, Jordan, from February 13 to 15, Bishop Paul Hinder, whose jurisdiction covers Yemen, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, spoke of the challenges brought about by the huge community of migrants from Asia and Africa and his concern for the small Christian community that remains in Yemen despite the war.

Equally worrying testimonies came from bishops from Iraq, Syria, specifically Aleppo, and Egypt.


Don’t kill the workers

MANILA (UCAN): Twelve maintenance personnel were told by the Vincentian-run Adamson University in Manila that their contracts are ended.

“How could our contracts end if, in the first place, we have no contracts,” Israel Fababier queried from a picket line on February 13.

Fababier claims they were fired one day and not allowed to enter the school the next day.

He said it is ironic that the Church condemns the killings in the drug war, but kills others by dismissing them from their jobs.


Mass disrupted in Venezuela

CARACAS (SE): A Mass was disrupted in Caracas, Venezuela, on February 11, as tensions escalated between the bishops and supporters of the socialist government.

Demonstrators burst into a church in a poor neighbourhood shouting slogans and denouncing the Catholic clergy. “Satan in a cassock!” they chanted and “Chavez lives”—in reference to the late Hugo Chavez, whose rule had been repeatedly condemned by Church leaders.

A leader of the leftist group took over the pulpit to deliver an address denouncing the pastor for his criticism of the government. He argued that if the clergy made statements about politics, political advocates should be able to speak in the church.


200,000 visit Indian shrine

BERHAMPUR (AsiaNews): More than 200,000 people took part in the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Dantolingi, Odisha (Orissa) in India, on February 11.

One of the most famous shrines in the country, it is a place of pilgrimage for thousands of people. It was erected in 1917 by French missionaries, who arrived to bring relief to people affected by famine and epidemics.

Many non-Catholic families attended the event. One Hindu couple said that they had been waiting for a child for many years and in the end, had been blessed through the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes.


Pope offers support to Venezuelan crisis

VATICAN (SE): Pope Francis indicated he is willing to meet personally with representatives from both the Venezuelan government and the opposition to help re-start talks over the deepening economic and political crisis.

The apostolic nuncio in Caracas said, “The pope has expressed his availability, if (both parties) consider it useful. The Vatican has strongly supported the negotiations between the government of President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition. But the talks broke down in December, after the government failed to comply with the accepted terms for the talks.”


No request for Trump to meet pope

ROME (SE): The Vatican disclosed that the White House has yet to request a papal audience for Donald Trump.

Trump will be in Rome in May en route to meetings of the G7 industrial leaders in Sicily and there has been speculation that he would take advantage of his trip to arrange a meeting with the pontiff—as his two immediate predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush had done.

ANSA reported that to date there has been no request for a meeting.


Michael Novak dies

NEW YORK (SE): American Catholic author, Michael Novak, died of cancer on February 17 at the age of 83.

In his most influential work, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, published in 1982, Novak offered a spirited moral defence of the capitalist system, according to the principles of Catholic social doctrine.

His work had a demonstrable effect on Pope John Paul II and its impact can be seen in the encyclical, One Hundred Years (Centesimus Annus). He was admired by then president of the United States of America (US), Ronald Reagan, and British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, while serving as the US ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in 1981 and 1982.

He won the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1994.

He began his career as a reporter for the National Catholic Reporter covering Vatican II, after which he wrote The Open Church.

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