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Theology returns to Russian universities
Moscow (SE): The Russian Ministry of Justice issued a decree on June 14 approving academic degrees in theological studies. It is a great victory for the Russian Orthodox Church and in particular Patriarch Kirill, patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’, who has been pushing for the inclusion of Christian culture in the public education sphere.
The hope of the patriarch and his deputy, Metropolitan Hilarion, is to use culture to deepen the orthodox population’s awareness of the faith which often anchored to a purely formal vision of ecclesial belonging.
The decree stipulates that theology is not just a branch of history or philosophy, but also a specific discipline that can award specialisations and doctoral degrees.
At present, more than 4,500 people follow theology programmes. “We are just at the beginning of the journey and it is now important to clarify the stages of development and the quality of this branch of knowledge,” Olga Vasileva, the minister for education said.
Pope Francis to re-visit Latin America 
Vatican (SE): The Vatican announced that Pope Francis will be visiting Latin America one again, beginning 15 January 2018 including stops in Santiago, Temuco, and Iquique, Chile; and Lima, Puerto Maldonado, and Trujillo, Peru.
The January 2018 trip will be the 6th by Pope Francis to Latin America although he has yet to visit his native Argentina.
English cardinal condemns mosque attack
LONDON (CNS): “Together with people all over this country, I am appalled at the deliberate attack on people leaving their late-night prayers, as the end of their day of fasting, at the mosque in Finsbury Park,” said Vincent Cardinal Nichols, the bishop of Westminster, said on June 19.
At least one person was killed and 10 others injured when man ploughed a van into a crowd of gathered outside the Muslim Welfare House where they had been attending Ramadan prayers. 
A 48-year-old man was overpowered by bystanders and restrained until he was arrested by police officers who arrived within minutes. Police have called the attack a terrorist incident.
“Violence breeds violence. Hatred breeds hatred. Every one of us must repudiate hatred and violence from our words and actions,” the cardinal said, adding, “We must all be builders of understanding, compassion and peace, day by day, in our homes, our work and our communities. That is the only way.” 
Cardinal Nichols said, “I have assured the leadership of the mosque and the Muslim welfare centre of our prayers and support.” 
Church in Congo reports over 3,300 killed in fighting 
ARU (CNS): More than 3,300 people have been killed in Congo’s Kasai region in fighting between the army and rebels since October 2016, leaders of the Church in Congo said. 
The findings were released in a United Nations (UN) statement on June 20. Church sources also said that 20 villages had been destroyed, half of them by government troops. In all, 3,383 people died in clashes in the region. This stands in stark contrast to UN reports that put the number of dead at about 400.  
The UN also said that more than 20 mass graves have been discovered. 
The office of the papal nuncio in Kinshasa sent a note to the Fides news agency saying that Bishop Felicien Mwanama Galumbulula, from Luiza, and Bishop Pierre-Celestin Tshitoko Mamba, from Luebo, were forced to flee the violence. 
The message said 60 parishes, 34 religious houses and 141 schools were closed or damaged because of the fighting and 31 Catholic health facilities were also affected. Five seminaries also were forced to close.
The violence was triggered by the death of a local leader at the hands of police in Kasai in August last year. Supporters of the leader soon began attacking soldiers and police in the region.
Vatican auditor resigns
Vatican (SE): In an apparent setback for the Vatican’s financial reform efforts, it was announced on June 20 that Libero Milone, the auditor general, had presented his resignation to Pope Francis.
No explanation was given for the abrupt resignation.
Italian media had reported that Milone had been offered a post as director of an Italian broadcasting network, but turned it down, saying that he wanted to focus on his responsibilities at the Vatican.
Milone was appointed to the office of auditor general in June 2015 which was created in 2014 as part of the Vatican’s programme of financial reform.


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