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Pope gives Castro cross to refugees’ parish church

VATICAN (SE): Pope Francis is donating a crucifix that was given to him by the president of Cuba, Raul Castro, during the recent papal visit to the Caribbean nation to the parish church of Lampedusa, an island haven for refugees in the Mediterranean.

Vatican Radio reported on November 12 that the crucifix measures over three metres high and is crafted from wooden oars tied with ropes to symbolise the reality of migrants who have crossed the sea in flimsy boats.

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Hope lies in balanced relationships

HONG KONG (SE): During the first days of a three-nation swing through Africa from November 26 to 30, Pope Francis spoke on three basic themes into which he wove his favourite topics of care for the earth, human rights and interreligious harmony.

In Kenya, he expressed the hope that his time with the people would be a sign of the Church’s esteem for all religions.

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No second-tier members in Church

VATICAN (SE): Pope Francis said that the laity are not second-tier members of the Church, automatons at the service of the bishops, whose role it is to carry out blindly orders that come from on high.

Rather, he said that as disciples of Christ and their natural insertion in the world, they are called to animate in the spirit of the gospel every environment, activity and relationship, which otherwise may go unnoticed and abandoned.

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Missionaries of mercy from Hong Kong

HONG KONG (UCAN): Hong Kong is not divulging the identity of the priests who volunteered to be part of Pope Francis’ initiative to appoint missionaries of mercy—priests granted the special faculty to absolve sins normally reserved to the Holy See.

A chancery notice published on October 12, said that the bishop of Hong Kong, John Cardinal Tong Hon, will recommend one or two priests to enroll as missionaries of mercy.

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New congregation at Vatican gobbles up three others

VATICAN (SE): Coming up to the conclusion of the Synod of Bishops on Family Life, Pope Francis announced that he is establishing a new Vatican congregation: the Congregation for Laity, Family and Life.

Vatican Radio reported on October 22 that the new congregation will replace the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Council for the Laity, and the Academy for Life.

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Fast-track annulments do not apply across the board

HONG KONG (SE): The Reform Process for Canon Causes of Declaration of Nullity of Marriage (Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus) issued by Pope Francis on August 15 this year simplifying the procedure of the marriage annulment processes in some circumstances may not be able to be used as widely as initially anticipated.

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Asia and the synod on family life

MANILA (UCAN): Most of the prominent reports on the 2015 Synod of Bishops on Family Life were prepared by western journalists and in Asia we have to rely on their writings.

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A listening synod can be a sign to the nations

VATICAN (SE): Pope Francis has described the process of synodal gatherings as a sign for our times, saying, “A synodal Church is a sign lifted up among the nations in a world which—while invoking participation, solidarity and transparency in public administration—often consigns the fate of entire populations into the greedy hands of small power groups.”








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Call to push for a value added synod

VATICAN (SE): “My father was a Christian political leader, who was imprisoned for 17 years by the Communists. My parents were engaged to marry, but their wedding took place 17 years later,” Anco-Maria Cernea, the president of Catholic Doctors of Romania, said in what many described as the best input at the Synod of Bishops on Family Life on October 15.

“My mother waited for my father, although she did not even know if he was alive or not,” she related.

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Synod’s confusion puts it in real life

VATICAN (SE): Interest in a quiet week at the Synod on Family Life being held at the Vatican from October 4 to 25 was sustained with the revelation a private letter was spirited to Pope Francis containing rumblings about rigged procedures in the synod to ensure the working paper has excessive influence on the final document (Relatio Finalis).