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Around the Traps


Bosnia’s Catholics leaving
SARAJEVO (SE): Hot on the heels of the German Church announcing a substantial drop in is membership, the bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina reported their membership has fallen to 400,000—down from over 740,000 before the Bosnian War (1992 to 1995).
However, while the German drop in numbers is mostly the result of religious drift, in the Balkan nation of 3.9 million it is emigration, due to lack of job opportunities.
The Religious Information Service reported that Catholics face significant economic discrimination. About 40 per cent of the population is Muslim and 31 per cent Orthodox.
Murdered priest’s anniversary
PARIS (SE): The French bishops have called the murder of Father Jacques Hamel “a symbol of a life lived with each other, for each other, a life of daily fidelity, a life rooted in love.”
In a statement issued on the first anniversary of his violent death at the hands of two men claiming allegiance to the Islamic State on July 26, Archbishop Georges Pontier appealed for prayer asking the Lord to “raise up many men and women who live their ordinary lives for others and with others.”
South Korea sends priests Chile
SEOUL (UCAN): Two Korean priests from the diocese of Suwan have volunteered to work in Chile under a programme encouraging a sharing of priests with Churches in other countries known a Fidei Donum (Gift of Faith), something that was inspired by the writing of Pope Pius XII in 1957 in his encyclical of the same name.
Three years ago, two other priests from the same diocese went to Chile as volunteer Associates with the Columban Mission Society, with the view of staying for some years and eventually bringing their experience back to their home Church.
Cardinal Pell in court
MELBOURNE (SE): George Cardinal Pell pleaded not guilty to all charges of sexual abuse at a 10-minute hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 26. Arriving at court under police escort, he was greeted with cheers and jeers by supporters and opponents.
Although the cardinal was not required to attend the hearing, he chose to be there while his barrister entered his plea. The court did not divulge any specifics about the charges.
Cardinal Pell is the highest ranked Church official to be charged with sexual abuse and his trials are expected to continue for some years.

Swimming classes life saver in Vietnam
HAIPHONG (UCAN): Caritas is running swimming classes in northern Vietnam for 200 children to teach them about safety in the water.
Mary Nguyen Thi Lien, from the Haiphong branch of Caritas, who together with 10 professional coaches ran the course throughout July, explained that in a country where drowning is one of the major causes of death among children the course takes on an important dimension.
Vietnam recorded an average of 2,800 child drownings each year between 2010 and 2015. Most of victims were five- to 14-years-of-age and drowned in rivers or ponds.
Father John Baptist Vu Van Kien, the director of the local Caritas branch, said that last year, 350 children attended the courses.
Only 30 out of the Vietnam’s 63 central cities and provinces have government-funded drowning prevention programmes for children.
Sanctions may help Russia
MOSCOW (SE): The Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations said that sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States of America on Russia may be helpful in the long run.
“We live in such a country that should not be afraid of such sanctions,” Metropolitan Hilarion, from Volokolamsk, said on July 26. “We have enormous natural, human and material resources. If we depend on our foreign partners, it is rather a deficiency which we should correct than a circumstance we should complain of.”
Feminists group bombs bishops
MEXICO CITY (SE): A feminist group has claimed responsibility for the explosion that rocked the offices of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference on July 25.
The Informal Feminist Command for Anti-Authoritarian Action released a statement saying it had placed the bomb that shattered some of the glass windows. No one was hurt and the damage to the building was not extensive.
The group describes itself as “anarchists, anti-authoritarians and libertarians” and is not known to local police.
The bishops called it a message of hate not an attack specifically on the Catholic Church. 

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