CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 September 2018

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Official miraculous healing at Lourdes
ROME (CNS): On February 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Bishop Jacques Benoit-Gonnin of Beauvais, France, announced  the 70th officially recognised miraculous cure of a pilgrim to the Lourdes grotto where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous 160 years ago. 
 
The bishop declared “the prodigious, miraculous character” of the healing of Sister Bernadette Moriau, a French member of the Franciscan Oblates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who had been partially paralysed for more than 20 years despite repeated surgeries to relieve pressure on the nerve roots of her lower back. 
 
In November 2016, the International Medical Committee of Lourdes confirmed the sister’s “unexplained healing, in the current state of scientific knowledge.” But it is up to the bishop, not the physicians, to declare a healing miraculous. 
 
Muslims ordered to memorise Quran verses about Mary
VATICAN (CNS): Three young Muslim men who were found guilty of desecrating a statue of Mary were ordered by a Lebanese judge to memorise passages from the Quran that praise the mother of Jesus.
 
The defendants, who live in a mostly Christian village, were apprehended after circulating online a video of themselves desecrating the statue, news media reported.
 
At their sentencing on February 8, the judge, Jocelyne Matta, ordered the young men to memorise verses from the Al Imran chapter of the Quran, which describes the birth of Mary, her virginity and the annunciation of Jesus’ conception by the angel, Gabriel.
 
Matta, reading her verdict at the court in Tripoli, said her decision was meant to teach the young men about Islam’s respect and love for Mary, the website Al Arabiya English reported.
 
Maronite Father Rouphael Zgheib, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Lebanon, spoke about the sentence to Fides, the news agency of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
 
“The judge realised that the boys did not know anything about the Quran despite being Muslims and chose that kind of sentence in order to teach them to respect their own religion as well as the faiths of those who are not Muslims,” Father Zgheib said.
 
United Nations and Church leaders decry escalation in Syria
ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP (CNS): As Syria’s war enters its eighth year, many decry the recent dangerous escalation in the conflict. 
 
Speaking from the sprawling Zaatari Refugee Camp housing 80,000 Syrians near Jordan’s border with Syria, Filippo Grandi, commisioner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, condemned the recent Israeli-Iranian confrontation over Syria, which threatens to open a new and unpredictable front in the war. 
 
Speaking to reporters during a February 12 visit, he said, “[The] escalation in the last few days of war in Syria is of extreme concern,” adding, “We are witnessing an extended failure of political action by states to find a solution to this war” and “an increasing internationalisation of the conflict.” 
 
Grandi said, “This is extremely worrying” because it “makes a solution more difficult.” 
 
Father Emanuel Youkhana, archimandrite of the Assyrian Church of the East, urged an immediate end to the military operations and for immediate aid to the people, saying “the civilians cannot be attacked under any claim.”
 
He said, “Attacking (those) who fought ISIS is shocking and questionable action. We pray for decision-makers to work for peace. Battle cannot be a path to peace.”
 
Corruption charges against former Chongqing party boss
TIANJIN (AsiaNews/Agencies): Sun Zhengcai, former Chongqing Party secretary, has been formally charged by China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate with bribery and influence peddling.
 
The 54-year-old Sun, a member of the Politburo and a candidate to succeed the president, Xi Jinping, was abruptly sacked as party boss of the megacity Chongqing in July.
 
After coming under investigation in the run-up to the Communist Party’s leadership reshuffle in October, he was replaced by Chen Miner, a close protégé of Xi and a rising political star.
 
In addition to corruption charges, he was eventually accused of abuse of power and leaking state secrets. 
 
A trial date has not yet been set but it is expected to be in Tianjin where two other party heavyweights, Zhou Yongkang, a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee, and Ling Jihua, right-hand man to former president, Hu Jintao, were tried after Xi launched his anticorruption campaign in 2012.

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