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India’s caste system cast in stone

NEW DELHI (UCAN): A bill introduced into the parliament in India aimed at boosting the social status of dalits (formerly known as untouchables) and tribal people was blocked by the lower house of the parliament in New Delhi on December 20.

If passed into law, the Constitutional Amendment Bill would have introduced legislation giving the nation’s lowest castes a guaranteed quota in government job promotions.

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Delhi rape an attack on life itself

MUMBAI (AsiaNews): “It is not only a terrible act of violence, but an attack on life itself,” Pascoal Carvalho, a physician and member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said of the gang rape in New Delhi, India, of a 23-year-old woman on December 16 last year.

On December 29, the victim was admitted to the Mount Elizabeth Hospital, a specialised facility in Singapore, where doctors hoped to stabilise her condition and save her life. But the unnamed woman died on the same day.

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Is new Korean president out of step with the Church?

SEOUL (SE): Many hearts in the Catholic Church sank when the news broke on December 19 last year that Juliana Park Geun-hye had won the election to become the next president of the Republic of Korea, UCA News reported.

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Vietnam tightens screws on religious practice

HANOI (AsiaNews): Christians and Buddhists in Vietnam say they are concerned about the implications of a new decree issued by the government in Hanoi on January 1 this year circumscribing freedom of religious worship.

Known as Decree 92, it introduces new restrictions on freedom of worship in the country and seems to be following the Chinese model for future decision-making in matters of faith expression and practice.

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Vatican and Taiwan tie up education deal

VATICAN (Agencies): An exchange of notes between the Vatican and Taipei took place on December 17 with the secretary of state for the Vatican and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan tying up of an agreement between the Congregation for Catholic Education of the Holy See and the Ministry of Education of the Republic of China on collaboration in the field of higher education and on the recognition of studies, qualifications, diplomas and degrees, the Vatican Information Service reported.

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Christmas celebrated in hope and fear

 

HONG KONG (SE): While Christians in Iraq faced the Christmas season of peace and joy in fear and trepidation, Catholics in Nepal reported that they were looking forward to their first Christmas in many years without threats of violence from Hindu fundamentalist groups.

Then, in normally peaceful Japan, people faced the festive season in a mood of crisis and worry, as Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, from Nagasaki, put it, “It is not a time to celebrate in a consumerist society.”

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Asian bishops gathered in Vietnam warmly welcomed by government

 

HONG KONG (SE) : One hundred delegates, including 71 bishops from 22 countries in Asia, gathered at Xuan Loc, to the east of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, on December 10 for the delayed Tenth Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) at which the 40th anniversary of its foundation was marked, under the theme, FABC after 40 years: Responding to the challenges of Asia.

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Former nuncio to Taiwan dies in car crash

ABIDJAN (SE): Archbishop Ambrose Madtha, a former papal nuncio to Taiwan and most recently nuncio to the Ivory Coast, died in a car accident on December 8 in Biankouma, in the west of the country, Vatican Radio reported.

The 57-year-old Indian diplomat was on his way to an ordination when the collision occurred, killing the driver of the car and injuring a sister who was travelling with them.

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Christmas tree like a red rag to a bull

 

SEOUL (SE): A Christian group in South Korea announced on November 27 that it will refrain from putting up its giant Christmas tree on a hilltop which is clearly visible from inside the North Korean border.

Agence France Presse reported that it has bowed to pressure from local residents near the regular site of the tree that it is really like a red rag to a bull and in the current atmosphere could well provoke a few volleys of shells from Pyongyang.

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Taiwan theology school to accept more mainland students

 

Taipei (UCAN): The Fu Jen Faculty of Theology of St. Robert Bellarmine in northern Taiwan will accept more Catholic priests, as well as men and women religious from mainland China for theological studies in the coming year.

Since the school accepted students from the mainland three years ago, more than 100 have come to study at the theological faculty, according to Jesuit Father Louis Gendron, who became the dean in September. Last year, the faculty enrolled about 40 new students.

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