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Church opens on Nineveh Plains
TELLESKUF (SE): The Christian community of Telleskuf on the Nineveh Plains in Iraq gathered on December 14 for the re-consecration of the first Chaldean Catholic Church of St. George since the expulsion of the Islamic State from the region.
Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda called the occasion a symbol of hope and victory. “It is a message of hope and victory,” he said, adding: “Islamic State wanted to eliminate the Christian presence here—but it is gone and the Christians of Telleskuf are back.”
St. George’s was badly damaged, ransacked and desecrated under the Islamic State occupation. Repairs were funded by the government of Hungary.
Can’t afford disunity
VATICAN (AsiaNews): Pope Francis met a delegation from the National Council of Churches of Taiwan on December 12 urging the promotion of greater Christian unity and charity as well as educational projects for young people.
The pope said, “There are many areas in which we, as Christians, are called to work together to promote the dignity of each human being and to support those who are less fortunate than ourselves… The love of God, made incarnate in life, is… our royal road.”
He said that today, especially in Asia, Christianity cannot afford not to be united.
The show could not go on
NEW DELHI (SE): Rain or bad light has stopped play is a common enough news item in cricket loving lands, but on December 3, media had to go searching for a new line when play in the third test between India and Sri Lanka was interrupted because of air pollution.
Although local media noted that it is only the latest interruption to play, it is believed to be a first in international cricket. The Sri Lankan bowlers vomited and complained about not being able to breathe properly.
Air pollution was measured at 15 times World Health Organisation limits at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in New Delhi.
North Korea accused of stealing bitcoin
SEOUL (AsiaNews): North Korea is being accused of mining bitcoin by either demanding it as a ransom payment or straight out online theft.
A type of cryptocurrency that lives on computer servers, the virtual coins are mined by complex algorithms and recorded in a digital ledger.
“It is a fact that North Korea has been attacking virtual currency exchanges,” Lee Dong-geun, a director of the state-run South Korea Internet and Security Agency.
“We don’t know how much North Korea has stolen so far, but we do know that the police have confirmed the regime’s hacking attempts.”
Priests beaten outside police station
BHOPAL (CNS): Hindu extremists beat eight priests and burned their vehicle outside a central Indian police station. 
UCAN reported the victims had been trying to help 30 seminarians and two priests arrested on December 14 on a charge of trying to convert non-Christians. 
The group from St. Ephrem’s Theological College in Satna went to a local village to sing Christmas carols. Father George Mangalappally said that an angry mob started shouting slogans. “One of them called police and demanded action against us,” he said. 
A police officer said they were charged they were kept in custody for their own safety.
Papal relic for Manila cathedral
MANILA (SE): A vial of the blood of Pope John Paul II is to have a new home in the cathedral in Manila. It is a gift from the late pope’s longtime aide, Stanislaus Cardinal Dziwisz.
A spokesperson for the cathedral described it as a precious Christmas gift. The rare relic was brought from Poland to Manila by a Filipino sister on December 11.
Pope John Paul celebrated Mass in the cathedral in February 1981. Two months after his visit to The Philippines, he declared the cathedral, which is currently celebrating the 60th anniversary of its post-war reconstruction, a minor basilica.
Homonhon Island makes history  again
BORONGAN CITY (SE): Homonhon Island made history again on December 13, when Reverend Jonathan Pading, the first man to be born and bred on the soil that hosted the first Mass in the Pearl of the Orient Seas almost 500 years ago, was ordained a priest.
He was ordained by Bishop Crispin Varquez in Borongan City. The venue for the ordination was changed to the bigger city from Homonhon because of the rainy season and an unfavourable weather forecast.
The Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, first landed in The Philippines for a weeklong respite on 16 March 1521 and the chaplain to the fleet said a Mass there.

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