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Press briefing: Church in the world

Devotees light candles during a traditional Easter procession in front of the Sanctuary of St. Peter’s Parish Leaders in Quezon City, the Philippines, April 17, 2022.

CNS Photo/Lisa Marie David, Reuters

A new conference of Catholic bishops Central Asia was founded, which brings together Catholics from the former Soviet countries of the region: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, as well as Mongolia and Afghanistan. Its first assembly was held last week in Noursultan in Kazakhstan, whose president sent his greetings.

Apostolic nuncios were present as well as Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. He highlighted the priorities of maintaining friendly relations with other religions and developing Catholic resources in local languages, “to contribute to the spread of the Gospel, to the synodal process, to work with young people and families and to the implementation of Caritas projects”. Bishop José Luis Mumbiela Sierra, 53, of the Diocese of Santissima Trinità in Almaty, was elected president of the conference. Catholics are a small minority in the region, which is predominantly Muslim and Russian Orthodox. Kazakhstan has the most Catholics with about 250,000 out of a population of 19 million.

An ecumenical meeting held in Homs, Syria, last weekend brought together 750 young Syrian Christians from various Churches and regions. The event – ​​organized by the local Churches and the Taizé community in collaboration with the Jesuits – was intended to be a step on the road to the country’s recovery. This meeting is “a great sign of hope”, declared brother Alois of Taizé in a message: “you do not allow yourselves to be paralyzed by the difficulties of life”. The city of Homs saw the martyrdom of Jesuit priest Fr Frans Van der Lugt in 2014.

The Archdiocese of south korean the capital, Seoul, is organizing a school of faith for Catholic grandparents as part of the Year of the “Amoris Laetitia Family”, which will conclude in June with the tenth meeting of families in Rome. The initiative highlights the central religious role played by grandparents. A growing number of people are caring for their grandchildren due to the increase in the number of families where both parents work, and the Archdiocese of Seoul wants to educate grandparents about the Catholic faith. The school will offer an eight-week program with classes centered on three topics: personal care, grandchild care and religious care.

Manila bishops issued a pastoral statement last week calling on Catholics to pray the Rosary in the week leading up to Philippines presidential elections on May 9. “With God, there is nothing to fear despite the discouraging use of fake news, trolls and historical distortions,” said the statement signed by Cardinal José Advíncula, Archbishop of Manila. The bishops encouraged the electorate to vote for candidates who “promote the common good, especially for the poor and marginalized.” The two favorites are Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the longtime former Filipino dictator, who currently votes at 56%, followed by the top contender, former Vice President Leni Robredo, at 24%. Church leaders say Robredo’s campaign has been undermined by online misinformation. Last week, she received a statement of support signed by 1,000 priests from across the Philippines.

President-elect Jose Ramos-Horta has announced he will adopt a papal-approved document on interreligious dialogue in the school curriculum to maintain interreligious harmony and peace in the Catholic majority East Timor. The Abu Dhabi Declaration, which is intended as a guide to promote a “culture of mutual respect” between Christians and Muslims, was endorsed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayyeb, during a papal visit to the United Arab Emirates in February 2019. “This document will be approved by the national parliament to be included in the curriculum for primary and secondary schools,” Ramos-Horta said April 29.

A judge of the High Court of Juba, south sudan, imprisoned a Catholic priest and three others for shooting Bishop Christian Carlassare of Rumbek last year. Father John Mathiang Machoi was sentenced to seven years in prison. On April 25, 2021, Carlassare was wounded in the legs during an attack perpetrated shortly after the announcement of his appointment as bishop of Rumbek. Comboni Bishop Carlassare called for forgiveness for his aggressors and for reconciliation and peace in the country. He said Pope Francis’ next visit, scheduled for July, “will give an important boost to the process of pacification that will affect all communities, especially the most discouraged and marginalized.”

United States MP Marjorie Taylor Greene told the Church Militant media that Satan “controls the Church”. She then released a statement criticizing the US bishops for their failure to address clergy sexual abuse, as well as their charitable support of immigrants. “Bishops are also busy destroying our nation by using taxpayers’ money to advocate for illegal invasion across our borders,” she said. Greene was strongly criticized even by conservative Catholics. Bill Donohue of the Catholic League released a statement saying, “Satan controls the Catholic Church? She must apologize to the Catholics immediately. She is a disgrace.

WashingtonCardinal Wilton Gregory celebrated a special Mass on May 1, at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, commemorating the legacy of Bishop George Higgins, longtime chaplain of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest group of associated unions, died 20 years ago on the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker. Prof. Evelio Menjivar, a prominent pastor from the DC area who focuses on labor issues, preached the homily. The following day, the Catholic Labor Network and the AFL-CIO hosted a panel to discuss Higgins’ legacy, the current state of the church-worker alliance, and express hopes for the future.

the Spanish The episcopal conference announced on Friday last week that it would not participate in an independent commission on clerical sexual abuse set up by the national legislature. The bishops’ main complaint is that the commission will only look into child sexual abuse committed by members of the Catholic Church, rather than cases across Spain. “We want to declare that carrying out an investigation into abuses only in the Church, when it is clear that out of 15,000 cases opened in Spain, only 69 refer to the Church, is a surprising decision”, declared the conference spokesperson, auxiliary bishop. Luis Argüello from Valladolid.

The newly elected president of the Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, Bishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of Bamenda, says Cameroonians need to “look within themselves” rather than blaming foreigners when facing major crises in the country. Cameroon faces a separatist war in the west and Islamist attacks from Boko Haram in the north, as well as a refugee crisis. Speaking after the 47th Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference on April 30, Bishop Nkea said that the crises in Cameroon are not caused by foreigners, but by Cameroonians themselves, and he invited his compatriots to assume their responsibilities.