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Interreligious dialogue more than timely for Asia

HONG KONG (UCAN): While interreligious dialogue may be a more urgent need in Asia than ecumenical relations, Bonifacio Tago, from the Good Samaritan Colleges in The Philippines, believes that the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity can serve as an impetus to rekindle appreciation of its value, as it is an appropriate time to pursue both avenues.

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Taiwan president makes pledge to the pope

TAIPEI (SE): “As Your Holiness states in the Message for World Day of Peace, women are often leaders in nonviolent action,” the first female head of state in the ethnic Chinese world, Tsai Ing-wen, from Taiwan, says in a letter to Pope Francis dated January 5.

Tsai tells the pope that she is devoted to enhancing the wellbeing of the people of her domain and, significantly, creating a new era for cross-strait peace between Taiwan and mainland China.

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Muslims support blasphemy case against fellow Muslim

JAKARTA (UCAN): Muslim human rights advocates in Jakarta, Indonesia, have joined growing calls to have hardline Muslim cleric, Rizieq Syihab, charged with blasphemy for insulting Christianity.

Rizieq is the leader of the Islamic Defenders Front and is being accused of mocking Christians during a sermon on Christmas Day in which he is reported to have said, “If God gave birth, then who would be the midwife?”

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Fast and pray for peace

YANGON (SE): “Sincerely there is no happiness in many parts of this country,” the archbishop of Yangon, Charles Cardinal Bo, said of his land of the Union of Myanmar in his message for the beginning of 2017.

“War goes on in many parts. For more than 200,000 internally displaced people in the camps, there is NO Happy New Year,” he stated in a sad reflection on the state of the nation.

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Duterte’s politics of shame

MANILA (SE): The same man who said, “I wanted to call out, ‘Pope, you (expletive deleted) go home. Don’t come here anymore’,” on 30 November 2015 has now penned a letter to Pope Francis expressing the profound depth of his respect for the bishop of Rome.

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Ecumenism is needed

LAHORE (AsiaNews): “Unity must be a visible thing in Pakistan. Instead of meeting only when a church is attacked or in crisis situations, we should meet in times of peace,” Father Inayat Bernard, from St. Mary’s Seminary, said in the run up to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

He said, “Church leaders still have many reservations about other denominations and not everyone feels comfortable in going to another Church.”

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Malaysia tiptoeing to totalitarianism

KUALA LUMPUR (UCAN): Protests, arbitrary arrests and dire warnings of foreign interference is the new norm in Malaysia and is part of the alarming direction the country is taking under the leadership of scandal-plagued prime minister, Najib Razak.

“Worse things are going to happen,” Jeffrey Kitingan, a politician from Sabah state in Malaysian Borneo and a former political prisoner, says in describing how his country is tiptoeing into totalitarianism.

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Protection order is serious

KARACHI (UCAN): It has been two years since the Supreme Court in Pakistan ordered the state to protect the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, but the response from the government has been lacklustre and Church leaders have expressed concern.

The court ruling on 19 June 2014 ordered the federal government to create a national council for the rights of minorities and provincial governments to set up task forces for religious tolerance, protect places of worship and crack down on hate speech.

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Carollers beaten up

BANSWARA (AsiaNews): A group from Ss. Peter and Paul parish in the village of Tikariya, near the city of Banswara in India, was savagely beaten and accused of carrying out forced conversions  as a result of carol singing sessions held in private homes on December 14.

Father Stephen Rawat said, “I have no enemies, I was beaten because of my Christian faith.”

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Around the Traps

Christmas explosion in Midsayap

MANILA (SE): An explosion outside the Shrine of Sto. Niño in the township of Midsayap in North Cotabato at 9.20pm on Christmas Eve left 12 people wounded, including one police officer, CBCP News reported.

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