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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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First Indian layperson beatified

TAMIL NADU (Agencies): Devasahayam Pillai became the first lay person from India to be made a blessed by the Church at a ceremony presided over by Anglo Cardinal Amato, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in Tamil Nadu, India, on December 2, CWNews.com reports.

Born in 1712, he was an official in the court of King Mathanada Varma and received baptism under the influence of a Dutch ship’s captain, Eustacheus Benedictus de Lenoy, who was a prisoner of the king.

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Bishop of Taipei on the Year of Faith

TAIPEI (AsiaNews): In calling the Year of Faith a special year for the Church all over the world, Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan, from Taipei in Taiwan, said that materialism and nihilism are two universal problems that he believes the faith has the ability to counteract.

He described the Church Taiwan as a small group of around 300,000 people plus around 100,000 Filipino migrant workers as being a significant presence, even though the total population is just under 23 million people.

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Indigenous bible helps restore cultural identity in Taiwan

TAIPEI (UCAN): The Tsou indigenous people of central Taiwan number only around 7,000, but a significant number of them are Catholic and this Christmas, they are looking forward to receiving a special gift from Father Anton Weber, who will present them with a copy of the New Testament in their own Tsou language.

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Acquittal of child on blasphemy charges good precedent

 

ISLAMABAD (AsiaNews): Paul Bhatti, the special adviser to the prime minister of Pakistan on national harmony, called the acquittal of Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old Catholic girl reported to be suffering from a mental disability, on charges of blasphemy by the High Court in Islamabad, on November 20, a source of double satisfaction.

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Catechist centre opened in Mongolia

ULAANBAATAR (AsiaNews): Bishop Wenceslao Padilla, from Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, described the Year of Faith for his young Church as a key year for all of us. We must bring this challenge to all the parishes to revitalise our mission.”

The Filipino bishop added, “The Year of Faith is a challenge and an invitation to share the catechism. This is why now more than ever, Catholic educators are critical.”

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