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The perils of giving without thinking

A project I worked with that served homeless men in Tokyo once received a gift of a carton of bras for nursing mothers. People do not always use their heads when their hearts bid them to help the poor. As it turned out, one of the homeless men who did use his head figured out that by cutting the bras apart, the cups could be used as heel pads in worn-out shoes.

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Will the Pope Francis breeze reach Asia?

TOKYO (SE): “Pope Francis, who became the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to assume the papacy in March last year, immediately won the hearts of many and continues to exert a powerful presence,” the former ambassador to the Vatican from Japan, Kagefumi Ueno, says in an essay published by the English-Speaking Union of Japan on March 5.

Yet he says that he believes the true significance of the rise of this new pope lies beyond the enormous popularity he enjoys.

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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.