Asia Bibi, the woman unjustly sentenced to death for blasphemy and acquitted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on 31 October 2018, has arrived in Canada, where she has reunited with her family. This was stated by sources of the Pakistan Foreign Ministry and confirmed by her lawyer Saiful Malook.
In Pakistan the news generated favourable comments among Christians. Bishop Samson Shukardin, at the head of the diocese of Hyderabad, speaking to Fides, states: “It is an important decision of the government to let her leave the country, it is also an act of justice towards a woman who suffered great injustice and suffering for a decade. In fact Asia was declared innocent and freed by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and has every right to go wherever she wants, for her protection, security and future life”.
Local authorities have motivated their decision because the church and the cross are “too visible” from the nearby highway and passing cars can be distracted by the Christian symbol and the building. They also say that the church does not have all the necessary building permits. Instead parishioners maintain that the church – belonging to the official community – was built with the permission of the Religious Affairs Office.The Diocese of Handan has already been warned that there are at least 24 churches that “have no building permits” and will therefore be destroyed. In fact, as the pastor of one of them explains, “at the beginning of the construction of the church, we filed the request and we also obtained permission from the Religious Affairs Office of the village, the municipality and the county. Now they say that it is no longer valid! “.
An elderly Shanxi priest comments laconically: “The Communist Party is like a moon: it changes every day, from the first to the 15th of the month!”
Throughout the diocese the faithful are organizing moments of prayer to Our Lady to “ask for her protection”, hoping that “the holders of power will change their mind and grant true religious freedom to the people”.
Researchers at the University of Freiburg say the expected decline can be predicted a dwindling number of baptisms in Germany, the number of Germans who have departed from formal religious enrollment, and a decrease in Germany’s overall population, which is expected by 2060 to be reduced by 21 percent.
In total, the number of Germans who pay the country’s “Church tax” is expected to decrease by 49%. German law collects an income tax on the country’s Church members, which it distributes to Church organizations, among them the Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church of Germany, a federation of Protestant groups, mostly Lutheran, which constitutes the largest Protestant group in Germany.
Read the full article here; https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/german-church-membership-will-be-halved-by-2060-new-study-says-50310
Pope Francis expressed concern over the re-emergence of aggressive feelings against foreigners, especially immigrants, as well as a growing nationalism that neglects the common good, saying such trends compromise international cooperation, mutual respect and the sustainable development goals of the United Nations.
The Pope pointed out that migration is a permanent feature of human history, and all nations are the result of the integration of successive waves of people or groups of migrants, who while being images of the diversity of humanity, are united by common values, cultural resources and healthy customs.
The Pope also called for a “multifaceted” form of globalization based on mutual recognition between the collective identity of each people, nation and globalization itself, which leads to a general state of peace and harmony.
On the contrary, he said, a new season of worrying nuclear confrontation seems to be opening, because it cancels the progress of the recent past and multiplies the risk of war. If the offensive and defensive nuclear arms will now be placed on earth and space, the Pope warned, the so-called new technical frontier will have raised and not lowered the danger of a nuclear holocaust.
The Pope concluded urging the members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences to help him spread the awareness of a renewed international solidarity with respect for human dignity, the common good, respect for the planet and the supreme good of peace.
The repression and sinicization of the Catholic Church continues in the Henan. Two days ago the local authorities of Weihui, in the diocese of Anyang, destroyed the huge iron crosses that stood out on the two bell towers.
Destroying too much visible crosses, eliminating decorations, paintings and statues judged as “too Western” is the way in which the “sinicization” is affirming itself, to bring out a Christianity “according to the Chinese characteristics”, and above all subjected to the authority of the Party Communist. In Henan this campaign has lasted for years. Often the crosses are replaced with Chinese flags, giving churches an image of “government office”.
Since the launch of the new regulations on religious activities, Henan has become a sort of pilot-experiment of repression: several churches have been closed, the catechism is forbidden for children and teenagers, Christian graves destroyed. According to some priests, the reason is simple: in Henan Christians are about 4% of the population, making it one of the provinces with the highest percentage of Christians. “By showing such violence – says a priest – the government tries to frighten not so much those who are already Catholics, but the people who would like to convert to Christianity”.
The effects of Sri Lanka’s Easter suicide bombings reverberated across two faiths Sunday, with Catholics shut out of their churches for fear of new attacks, left with only a televised Mass, and Muslim women ordered to stop wearing veils in public.
Many across the nation knelt before their televisions as Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo, delivered a homily before members of the clergy and the country’s leaders in a small chapel at his residence in the capital.
The closing of all of Sri Lanka’s Catholic churches — an extraordinary measure unheard of in the church’s centuries on this island off the southern tip of India — came after local officials and the U.S. Embassy in Colombo warned that more militants remained on the loose with explosives a week after bombings claimed by the Islamic State group and aimed at churches and hotels killed more than 250 people.
“This is a time our hearts are tested by the great destruction that took place last Sunday,” Ranjith told those watching across the nation. “This is a time questions such as, does God truly love us, does he have compassion toward us, can arise in human hearts.”
In the Archdiocese of Dhaka, Catholics welcomed into their community five converts who were baptised on Easter night at the church in Utholi (pictured), Manikganj district.”I am very happy, because from now I can pray to the true God, who died for us on the cross,” a 23-year-old woman said. Like the others who were baptised, she has had to overcome many obstacles to become a Christian and now risks being killed by radical Muslims.
Still, many dangers hang over converts in Utholi. “Last November, we baptised 12 former Muslims. Since then they have received death threats. Some of the parishioners come to church wearing a burqa, so as to confound Islamic fundamentalists.”
A young man who was baptised recently was the latest victim of violence. “Three masked individuals attacked him on his way home from the church. He was beaten and had to be hospitalised. Later he found shelter for a month in the parish building. He has put his life at risk by changing religion.”
The priest notes that the Catholic community has relations with local imams and Islamic leaders. However, some radical Muslim groups do not tolerate the presence of Christians. Father Thomas has called on everyone to pray for them.