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A year of reform and evangelisation under Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY (CNS): As leader of the universal Church, a pope must direct his ministry in both of the ways traditionally described by the Latin terms ad intra and ad extra: inwardly to the Church itself and outwardly to the rest of the world. 

Pope Francis has accordingly spent the first year of his pontificate pursuing two ambitious projects: revitalising the Church’s efforts at evangelisation and reforming its central administration. 

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Penalising one group to punish another is skating on flimsy moral ice

PORT MORESBY (SE): “How could it be right, in the light of the Papua New Guinea constitutional protection of freedom, to bring into our country and imprison people who have not broken our laws,” the bishops of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands asked in response to Australia’s deal with Port Moresby to reestablish a lock up for asylum seekers on their sovereign territory in November 2012.

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But where do you see
 the face of God?

This is a story told through a painting, a largely overlooked work among the vast collection of The Field Museum in Chicago (Catalogue No.116027).

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Valentine’s Day does belong in the Church

HONG KONG (SE) : Rather than scorning secular celebrations, like Halloween and Valentine’s Day, and warning people off because of their secular appeal, some local Churches are encouraging parishes and schools to join in the fun by giving them their own religious flavour.

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Cherishing life or providing a dumping ground?

HONG KONG (SE): The United Nations (UN), in its response to the Vatican submission for its periodic review on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, called for it to prohibit a practice which allows mothers who cannot care for their children to anonymously entrust them to the care of religious congregations.

However, the practice, known as baby hatches or baby boxes, has received a different reaction from a government official in Shenzhen, China.

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Millions of Ukrainians can’t be extremists

HONG KONG (SE): The ongoing street violence and protests in the Ukraine have prompted Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, to publicly accuse the police of abusing the very people that they are employed to protect.

The Religious Information Service Ukraine quoted the patriarch as saying on Chanel Five, “I think the next step of the renewed government will be to restructure law enforcement. Because currently the people feel disgust toward the current ranks.”

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An eventful year at the Vatican
raises profile of Catholic media

VATICAN (CNS): Few probably know it outside the ranks of the craft, but February is Catholic Press Month in the United States of America and Canada, a time when the Church recognises the importance of the Catholic media and members of the Catholic media reflect in a special way on their service to the Church. 

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Is religious freedom losing ground?

According to the Pew Research Centre’s Restrictions on Religion report, issued on January 14, there are 5.3 billion people facing harsh constraints on religious freedom. 

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Thinking twice about one child families

Chen Xiuxia, a mother of three, was desperate to have a baby boy a few years after China implemented the single child policy in 1980.

A resident of Zhaoqing in southern China, she was then living in a village on the outskirts of the city in the country’s most populated province, Guangdong. Like most Chinese women in rural areas, she felt under pressure to have a male child to continue the family bloodline.

But it wasn’t to be. Her first child was a girl.

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My broken body shared like bread

January 15 this year marks 100 years since Etty Hillesum, who was killed in Auschwitz on 30 November 1943, was born in the Netherlands

HONG KONG (SE): “She looked at me strangely and said, ‘You don’t understand me’. Then she said, ‘I want to share the destiny of my people’,” Klaas Smelik relates in describing the resignation to fate of Etty Hillesum.

Her resignation is somewhat explained in the last lines of her dairy where she expresses her readiness to offer herself to the Holocaust.