Since December, around 60,000 people have left the last IS redoubt, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, around a tenth of them suspected jihadist fighters. The United Nations said the numbers from Baghouz arriving in one Kurdish-run camp further north for the displaced were smaller than in previous weeks.
Since last Sunday, air strikes and shelling have since pummelled Baghouz three nights in a row, killing scores of fighters and prompting hundreds of jihadists and their relatives to surrender. Thousands handed themselves over Tuesday, after a deluge of fire hit the IS encampment the previous night.
“Number of Daesh (IS) members surrendered to us since yesterday evening has risen to 3,000,” Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman Mustefa Bali tweeted in English on Tuesday evening.
Read full article; https://www.france24.com/en/20190313-syria-thousands-surrender-islamic-state-group-nears-defeat-baghouz
Pope Francis spoke at length interspersing a prepared discourse with many off-the-cuff remarks that highlighted the pain caused by the clerical sexual abuse scandal that is rocking the Church .
He revealed his own feelings of grief and said he shares with his brother priests “the pain and unbearable punishment that the wave of scandals of which the newspapers of the whole world are now full, is causing in the whole ecclesial body.”
Pope Francis also had words of hope and encouragement for the clergy saying “Let us not be discouraged, the Lord is purifying his Bride”. He said He is converting us all to Himself, He is putting us to the test and making us understand that without Him we are dust. He is saving us from hypocrisy, from the spirituality of appearances. He is blowing his Spirit “to restore beauty to his Bride”.
Read full version; https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-03/pope-francis-meeting-rome-clergy-lent.html
His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and loss of life caused by the senseless acts of violence at two Mosques in Christchurch, and he assures all New Zealanders, and in particular the Muslim community, of his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks. Mindful of the efforts of the security and emergency personnel in this difficult situation, His Holiness prays for the healing of the injured, the consolation of those who grieve the loss of their loved ones, and for all affected by this tragedy. Commending those who have died to the loving mercy of Almighty God, Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of comfort and strength upon the nation.
“…On the journey of life, do I seek the way forward? Or am I satisfied with living in the moment and thinking only of feeling good, solving some problems and having fun? What is the path? Is it the search for health, which many today say comes first but which eventually passes? Could it be possessions and wellbeing? But we are not in the world for this. Return to me, says the Lord. To me. The Lord is the goal of our journey in this world. The direction must lead to him.”
“…Today we have been offered a sign that will help us find our direction: the head marked by ash. It is a sign that causes us to consider what occupies our mind. Our thoughts often focus on transient things, which come and go. The small mark of ash, which we will receive, is a subtle yet real reminder that of the many things occupying our thoughts, that we chase after and worry about every day, nothing will remain. No matter how hard we work, we will take no wealth with us from this life. Earthly realities fade away like dust in the wind. Possessions are temporary, power passes, success wanes. The culture of appearance prevalent today, which persuades us to live for passing things, is a great deception. It is like a blaze: once ended, only ash remains. Lent is the time to free ourselves from the illusion of chasing after dust. Lent is for rediscovering that we are created for the inextinguishable flame, not for ashes that immediately disappear; for God, not for the world; for the eternity of heaven, not for earthly deceit; for the freedom of the children of God, not for slavery to things. We should ask ourselves today: Where do I stand? Do I live for fire or for ash?”
Read full Papal’s Homily here; http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2019/03/06/190306e.html
More than a decade after the worst anti-Christian persecution in the history of India, victims and their families are turning out to be biggest witnesses and inspiration of the Christian faith in the country, church leaders told the Feb. 22 gathering in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) city.
“When Christians die for their faith, it is a time for the Church to remember that martyrdom is like a seed,” said Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore. Martyrdom helps faith grow more quickly than can be achieved by theology or the Bible, he said.
Read more about their harrowing stories; https://www.ucanews.com/news/a-decade-on-anti-christian-riots-inspire-indian-church/84614
At least 48,365 baptisms were celebrated in churches and Catholic communities in the People’s Republic of China in the year 2018.
The annual reports on the new Catholics baptized provided year by year by the Faith Institute from 2000 onwards seem to have a fluctuating trend, with a growth recorded until 2010, and a significant decline that would have marked the years from 2010 to 2015. The last two years, with the data provided by the Faith institute, which claims nearly 50 thousand new baptisms, indicate a new trend reversal when compared to the declining trend of the five-year period 2010-2015. Furthermore, several observers agree on the decline in priestly and religious vocations in the Catholic Church in China with respect to the eighties and nineties, which had registered an increase in seminarians and novices.
“This Catholic will disappear. In almost 25 years, it will disappear. No more, people will forget it.”
Duterte said this will be the result of the church’s alleged malpractices and a string of sexual abuse allegations it faces.
Read full article here; http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2019/02/25/Catholicism-25-years-disappear-Rodrigo-Duterte.html?fbclid=IwAR37jeD-EUrL2uxjc7pNE9OdhfXIEKUy0Lh6P1ye_kmr2GI3PkhBe4ONIdA