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Jakarta seeks Catholic allies against radicalism

JAKARTA (UCAN): “What is happening scares me. I have just read (an) article about a young girl who became radicalised by learning about extreme Islamic teachings from the Internet,” Indonesia’s presidential chief of staff, Moeldoko, told the Association of Indonesian Catholic Intellectuals (ISKA) during a gathering to mark of its 60th anniversary on May 30 in Jakarta.
 

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Typhoon Haiyan victims still piecing it together four years on

TACLOBAN (UCAN):  To date, Caritas has been able to help about 1.8 million people affected by the destruction brought by Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), which struck the central Philippines in 2013.
 
Five years on from the disaster, the Church’s recovery and rehabilitation programme has become one of its largest and far-reaching natural disaster responses, amounting to about US$50 million ($392 million).
 

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Rohingya reluctant to return home

MANDALAY (UCAN): “It’s telling that Rohingya aren’t clamouring to return to the places where they recently survived genocidal attacks. The authorities are attempting to distract the world from mass atrocities committed by the army,” Matthew Smith, chief executive of Fortify Rights, said, as it seems that a deal between the Myanmese government and United Nations (UN) agencies has done little to inspire confidence that refugees will agree to be repatriated from Bangladesh.
 

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Religious leaders back Myanmar peace efforts

BANGKOK (UCAN): “It is at a crucial moment in the history of this country that we, as Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Muslim leaders from Myanmar and across the region, come to you in solidarity with hope for peace,” Charles Cardinal Bo of Yangon, along with leaders of other faith confessions, said in an open letter to the people of Myanmar.
 

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Myanmar’s forgotten civil war goes on

MANDALAY (UCAN): A largely forgotten civil war has been raging in Kachin State, Myamar, while the world’s focus has been on 700,000 Muslim Rohingya who have been fleeing a military crackdown in western Rakhine State since August 2017.
 
One of the longest-running civil wars in the world intensified dramatically in April when Myanmar’s military stepped up dry-season offensives using helicopter gunships and heavy artillery against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), which is yet to sign a national peace agreement with the government.

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Sister Fox defies order to leave

MANILA (UCAN): Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox, who was ordered by the Philippine authorities to leave the country by May 25, was given a 10-day extension by the country’s Justice Department on May 28.
 
However, Sister Fox said it was a “temporary victory.” 
 
Menardo Guevarra, the secretary for justice ordered the immigration bureau to comment on Sister Fox’s petition for review within the 10 day period.
 

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Malaysian bishops hail election results

PENANG (UCAN): Malaysia’s bishops have broken their collective silence following the May 9 election win by the Mahathir Mohamad-led opposition alliance, Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope), over the corruption-tainted government of Najib Razak, calling it a golden opportunity to set the nation on a new course.
 
The ousting of Najib spelled the end of a six-decade ruling coalition dominated by the United National Malays Organisation (UMNO).
 

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Authorities bar priest and rights advocate from leaving Vietnam

HO CHI MINH CITY (UCAN): On May 14, Redemptorist Father Joseph Dinh Huu Thoai was stopped by army officers at a land border with Laos when he intended to travel onward to the United States to visit relatives and friends.
 
In an audio recording posted on Facebook, Father Dinh asked officers to explain why he was banned from leaving. Officials maintained that they were acting under orders from their superiors.
 

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Pope Francis invited to visit Taiwan

VATICAN (Agencies): Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan (洪山川) of Taipei, invited Pope Francis to visit Taiwan, possibly during the national Eucharistic Congress to be held on the island next March, AsiaNews and Reuters reported on May 11.
 
Reuters reported that the archbishop, who is in Rome for an ad limina visit together with six other Taiwanese bishops, said at a reception at Taiwan’s embassy to the Holy See, “No pope has ever landed in Taiwan.” 
 

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Disease a concern for Rohingya refugees as monsoon arrives

DHAKA (UCAN): Aid groups have launched the second phase of a cholera vaccination campaign for the up to one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh amid warnings of diseases and natural calamities with the coming of the monsoon season.
 
The week-long oral vaccination of refugees and host communities started on May 6. This follows up on a similar campaign in October to November 2017, which saw about 900,000 refugees innoculated in up to 12 settlements in Cox’s Bazar.
 

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