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Around the Traps

Prosecuted for saving lives
ROME (SE): Father Mussie Zerai, from Eritrea, has been charged in Italy with promoting illegal immigration. He denies the charge.
Father Zerai is the head of Habeshia, an organisation working to to save migrants in immediate danger. He explains that he has frequently received distress calls from vessels in the Mediterranean and insists that his organisation always alerts the proper authorities, relaying messages to international relief agencies and to the Italian coast guard. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.
Step up for a bishop
ROME (SE): Bishop Gianfranco Todisco is resigning from his post as a bishop in Italy to take a step up as a missionary in Honduras.
Bishop Todisco submitted his resignation in April at the age of 71. He told Pope Francis he wanted to return to missionary work. The pope was delighted to accept his request.
He had previously spent 19 years among the indigenous people of Canada and later in Colombia. He is looking forward to his new assignment as Father Gianfranco.
Men’s and children’s throats cut
BANGUI (SE): Bishop Juan-José Aguirre Muñoz told La Stampa that groups associated with the Muslim-dominated Séléka in the Central African Republic sacked the Catholic mission in Gambo and cut the throats of several men and children.
The Spanish bishop said, “The young Muslims do not want to listen to anybody and look for fighting: they sit in front of the cathedral, preventing anybody’s passing. For three Sundays we have been unable to open the cathedral.”
He now has fears for over 2,000 Muslims who are living under his protection.
American Church supports Africa
WASHINGTON (SE): The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has awarded nearly US$1.4 million ($10.85 million) in grants to 54 pastoral projects in Africa.
“Our brothers and sisters on the African continent often face challenges different from what we know in the United States of America (US), but we are united by the same faith,” Joseph Cardinal Tobin said. “The generosity of Catholics in the US… has supported these communities as they grow and strengthen their faith in the wake of wars, migration and disease.”
The grants are funded by a special collection.
Baptisms galore
ADDIS ABABA (SE): Father Giorgio Pontiggia has baptised more than 7,500 people in an Ethiopian village outside Gambella.
The Salesian missionary said, “When I arrived 11 years ago, I found about 40 Catholics.” He began offering instruction and bringing people into the church, a few at a time, and this year, the total number of baptisms he has performed reached 7,569.
He was recently joined by another Salesian and together with their parishioners they have built several chapels around the village.
Catholic marriages in Scotland nosedive
GLASGOW (SE): With the number of marriages in the Catholic Church in Scotland falling to the level of 70 years ago, Monsignor Peter Magee is calling for a “systematic and intensified preaching and catechesis on marriage.
The head of the inter-diocesan tribunal said there were only 1,346 Catholic marriages in 2016. The all-time high, set in 1970, was 7,066.
Monsignor Magee said that pastors should seek help from experts in all fields in conveying the Church’s vision of marriage, which should be a source of inspiration.
Pope sends condolences to Spain
VATICAN (SE): Pope Francis has sent a statement of sympathy and a promise of prayer to the victims of terrorist attacks in the Spanish cities of Barcelona and Cambrils.
He condemned them as an inhuman act and offered his support to the injured and to all Catalans and Spanish society. He described it as blind violence, which is a gross offence against the Creator.
Childcare home closed
HONG KONG (SE): A home for abandoned babies and women in crisis pregnancies run by a Buddhist monk has been closed down in China.
Master Daolu, a successful business executive who became a monk, used his home in Nantong as a refuge for pregnant women who cannot provide for their babies, as well as for abandoned children.
He offered to care for the children until they are adults with frequent visits from their mothers. As an alternative to government-run foster homes LifeSiteNews reported that they are seen as a challenge to the government’s strict family-planning policies.

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