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What is Pope Francis reforming?

ROME (SE): Pope Francis presented himself as a quiet reformer from the very moment of his election.

In his first public appearance he refused the red cloak worn by his predecessors at their elections. He then asked people to bless him in whatever way they felt comfortable and pray for him, and he described himself first and foremost as the bishop of Rome.

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One priest’s take on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

TEL AVIV (SE): Father David Neuhaus sj, from the Hebrew-speaking Catholic community in Israel, says that Christians around the world must take sides in the flaring conflict between Israel and Palestine.

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From ping-pong diplomacy to interfaith cricket relations

KARACHI (SE): Ping-pong diplomacy played a big role in thawing the ice during the communication freeze between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China  back in 1971, but today, the governor of the Sindh in Pakistan, Ishrat ul Ebad Khan, is taking cricket beyond the frigid zone to cool sometimes overheated interfaith and inter-cultural relations by building healthy friendships through sport.

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The highest virtue is like water

In March 2013, over 16,000 dead pigs floated down the Huangpu River in Shanghai.

As the source region of the Yellow River gets drier, the weather modification team, under the auspices of the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, has used thousands of anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers, in addition to aircraft, to fire silver-iodide pellets into clouds to try to make rain (Greenpeace 2005 report).

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Japan destroying its own
most precious treasure

TOKYO (SE): “Article Nine has been a sign of hope for a world that yearns for deep, inclusive and lasting peace,” the international Catholic peace organisation, Pax Christi, says in lamenting the decision of the Japanese Diet to rip the stuffing out of the nation’s Peace Constitution.

Pax Christi has endorsed the Global Article Nine Campaign and is appealing to the world to sign an online petition entitled, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; Save Japan’s Peace Constitution.

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From democracy to shadow state

HONG KONG (SE): Sri Lanka has one of the highest rates in Asia for the disappearance of thousands of never-to-be-heard-of-again people since 1971.

The covert government operations began to gain momentum in the lead up to and during the three-decades-long civil war that devastated the island nation up to 2009.

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Japan puts Asian agenda 
to Synod on Family Life

TOKYO (SE): Catholics remain a tiny minority in Japan, with more than half being migrants to the country, the bishops of Japan say in a 7,043-word summary of the results of a Vatican survey carried out on family life.

In their response to the Vatican as part of the preparation for the upcoming Synod on Family Life to be held in October, they are asking for more appreciation of the situation of minority Churches in predominately non-Christian societies.

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Locking horns over The Asian Jesus

MUMBAI (UCAN): Father Michael Amaladoss is one of the most respected theologians in India, but is believed by some to be under suspicion from the Vatican watchdog on doctrinal orthodoxy, the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith.

Father Myron Pereira says that he was summoned to Rome for a series of conversations with the congregation, although reports differ over how cordial they were.

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China’s trafficked women alive but not so well

HONG KONG (UCAN): Cambodian-born Khai Sochoeun spent time living in China, but she doesn’t know where exactly. She was married to a Chinese man for a few months, but she never knew his name.

The slight 29-year-old sits calmly under her family’s wooden stilt house as she recounts how she was duped into leaving her rural home with the promise of a well-paid factory job in China, only to be married off to a man who repeatedly abused her.

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Pope will focus on Christian unity on Holy Land trip

VATICAN CITY (CNS): On his first trip to the Holy Land, from May 24 to 26, Pope Francis will focus on the search for Christian unity, particularly between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Inevitably, however, in a region so rich in history and so fraught with conflict, he will address other urgent issues, including dialogue with Jews and Muslims, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the plight of the Middle East’s shrinking Christian population.