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Duterte’s words don’t translate to policy

MANILA (SE): Since his ascent to power, Rodrigo Duterte has overseen a remarkable shift in his country’s foreign policy, particularly towards China.

During his high-profile state visit to China last year, he snubbed both Washington and Tokyo in favour of Beijing.

However, his rhetoric hasn’t been translated into policy. Officials further down the rung have been constantly contradicting their boss with a more orthodox tone and strongly preserving the foundations of the Philippine-United States of America defence alliance.


Faith of Abraham

VATICAN (SE): “We are all brothers and where there is brotherhood there is peace,” Pope Francis told Iraqi religious leaders gathered at the Vatican for a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue on March 29.

The pope observed that the participants, Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims, Yazidis and Christians—all trace their faith to the patriarch Abraham, so have a common father on earth.

“We are all different and all the same, like fingers on a hand. There are five fingers, they are all fingers, but they are all different,” the pope said.


Vatican greets Jains

NEW DELHI (UCAN): The Vatican sent greetings to the Jain religion for its annual festival seeking collaboration in creating a non-violent society.

The message wishes warmest felicitations for the celebration of the 2,615th anniversary of the birth of Tirthankar Vardhaman Mahavir, who gave Jainism its present-day form.

“Today, in the face of growing violence in society, it is necessary that families become effective schools of civilisation and make every effort to nurture the value of non-violence. As believers rooted in our own religious convictions lets shape families into nurseries of non-violence,” the message says.


European Union pledges to earthquake reconstruction

NORCIA (SE): European parliament leaders met in the Umbrian city of Norcia, Italy, on March 24, to discuss the reconstruction of the earthquake-hit area.

They visited the hardest hit area in the historic centre of the city.

The group said, “Europe is with citizens and will be giving 1.2 billion Euros ($11.16 billion) from the solidarity fund and up to five per cent of the national total—without a need for co-financing—from the regional funds, equalling about 500 to 600 million Euros, raising the total to about two billion Euros($18.6 billion).”


Dangerous promises

ROME (SE): In presenting a new book, George Cardinal Pell spoke about Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.

“They have shown that a strong majority of elite opinion will not necessarily prevail with the majority of the voters,” the Vatican prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy said on March 29. “I think the bitterness will really increase if Trump is unable to effect any or many of his promised reforms.”


South Korea rallies against THAAD

SEOUL (UCAN): Church groups joined a 5,000-strong rally on March 18 against the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in South Korea.

Billed as the Peace March, people gathered in front of a golf course in Seongju, North Gyeongsang province, where the anti-missile system will be deployed.

Holding candles, the rally said that THAAD is unnecessary and threatens the peace on the Korean peninsula.

The Priests’ Solidarity for the Common Good said in a March 20 statement, “We should find other ways to promote peace in the Korean peninsula and the world.”


Papal flights too expensive

ROME (CWN): Journalists lodged a protest on March 24 against the high cost of a seat on the papal plane during the pope’s trips abroad.

In a letter to the Vatican, 30 journalists representing international news agencies complained the Ä1,738 ($14,547) cost of the upcoming trip to Fatima in May is too high, saying that it seems completely disproportionate, as the comparable commercial flight cost is only US$250 ($1,340).

The cost put on the journalists helps subsidise papal travel.

The reporters suggested Pope Francis should be sympathetic, as he decries commercialisation of Church functions.


Former president arrested


SEOUL (SE): Park Geun-hye became South Korea’s third president to go behind bars on March 31. She is being detained pending a hearing over a scandal involving her confidante, Choi Soon-sil.

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