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Japanese bishops call for an anti-nuclear Lent

TOKYO (SE): “Desire is not evil,” the Japanese bishops say in their Lenten Message for this year. “Without appetite, people cannot live a healthy life.”

However, the bishops also insist that appetite must be tempered, lest it lead to self harm or bring suffering and destruction to self or others.

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More Church land disputed in Vietnam

HO CHI MINH CITY (SE): Within days of the conclusion of what was described as a satisfactory Holy See-Vietnam government confab, which ended in Hanoi on February 27, AsiaNews reports that more land claimed by the Redemptorist congregation in Ho Chi Minh City has been confiscated by the government.

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Top Pakistan brass honours memory of Catholic minister

ISLAMABAD (SE): Two events in the Pakistan capital of Islamabad at the beginning of March may indicate that a new breeze is blowing through the corridors of parliament and the presidential palace in regards to the status of non-Muslims, and religious and ethnic minority groups in the volatile state.

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Clamp down on Church groups in Laos

VIENTIANE (Agencies): On February 22, officials in the village of Kengweng, southern Laos, confiscated a 37-year-old Church building, BosNewsLife reported the Human Rights Watch for Lao Religious Freedom as saying.

The director of the organisation, Sirikoon Prasertsee, said, “What is happening in Kengweng village is part of a wider effort to restrict religious freedom and a wider crackdown on Christians gathering for worship.”

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Chinese ritual for honouring the dead gets thumbs down in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR (UCAN): The reintroduction of a rite approved 73 years ago honouring the dead was used at some Masses around Malaysia over the Lunar New Year, but generally got the thumbs down.

A table with an ancestral tablet was set up next to the altar. At the end of the Mass, the priest took three joss-sticks and raised them to his forehead with both hands, while prayers were said for departed relatives and friends.

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Priest complains he cannot go to jail

JEJU (UCAN): The District Court in Jeju, South Korea, found Father Bartholomew Mun Jung-hyun guilty on February 23 of obstructing police in the execution of their duties in a standoff near aimed at preventing the construction site of a military base on Jeju island.

Father Mun received an eight-month suspended sentence, but requested the court to allow him to do the time behind bars.

His sentence is suspended for two years.

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Counteracting the economic and political blues

SEOUL (SE): How to counteract the economic and political blues? 

Well, according to the results of a survey carried out by the Hankyoreh Social Policy Research Institute and the Korean Institute for Health and Social Affairs, released in the Republic of Korea in February this year, getting deeper into politics may provide the cure.

A report published in the Hankyoreh News on February 14 says that in the 20 to 40 age bracket, there is hope in the future.

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Centenarian Franciscan mourned in Taiyuan

TAIYUAN (Agencies) : “His life of dedication to serving the Lord is a true model for us all, as priests, men and women religious and laity,” Bishop Paolo Meng Ningyou, from Taiyuan, said in describing Father Mattia Leopoldo Guo Ji Fen, a 100-year-old Franciscan, who died on February 15.

We must imitate his fidelity to Christ, his zeal for spreading the love of God and the great sense of service to people,” the bishop continued.

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Church calls for unity and peace in run up to Timor Leste elections

Dili (UCAN): The Church in Dili, Timor Leste, has called for people to turn their backs on violence and ensure that presidential elections, scheduled for March 17, are carried out peacefully.

To get its message of peace across, it recently held a five-kilometre walk and is currently conducting 111 days of prayer meetings.

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South Korean president presses China not to return North Korean

Seoul (UCAN): “They are not criminals,” said South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, commenting on North Korean refugees in China.

“The right thing for China to do is to handle them based on international humanitarian norms,” he stressed.

Lee pressed China not to repatriate them back to North Korea in the future.

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