#ShortNews: 19-year-old Christian arrested in Punjab for blasphemy after fight over cricket match

A 19-year-old Christian, Sunny Waqas, was arrested in Pakistan on charges of blasphemy, which is punished with the death penalty in the South Asian nation. The young man was arrested on 29 June as he was playing at the back of a friend’s house. The police charged him with violating 295-C of the Pakistani Penal Code, more commonly known as the blasphemy law, which punishes insults against the Holy Prophet (Muhammad).

The family began searching for him after his arrest, worried that he had not come home. When the parents went to the police station, they were told that no one by the name of Sunny was in custody. Only the next day, were they informed that their neighbour Bilal Ahmad had filed a complaint against their son. According to police, the young man had a bag with flyers and other blasphemous material inside.

The mother notes that her son has “many Muslim friends. He can never do anything to hurt the feelings of anyone. He’s an obedient son and is very sensitive towards inter-faith issues.” At present, he is being held in the Bahawalpur district jail, as police gathers evidence for the investigation. In Pakistan, being accused of insulting Islam can trigger violent reactions by radicals, like in the Asia Bibi’s case.

Source: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/A-19-year-old-Christian-man-arrested-in-Punjab-for-blasphemy-after-a-fight-over-a-cricket-match-47496.html

#ShortNews: Christian family details crackdown on church in China

The 49-year-old Liao Qiang arrived in Taiwan last week after fleeing China with five family members. He and his 23-year-old daughter, Ren Ruiting, described living under constant surveillance for the past seven months after authorities detained them and dozens of other members of their prominent but not government-sanctioned church in December.

China’s ruling Communist Party has carried out a widespread crackdown on all religious institutions in recent years, including bulldozing churches and mosques, barring Tibetan children from Buddhist religious studies and incarcerating more than a million members of Islamic ethnic minorities in what are termed “re-education centers.” President and party leader Xi Jinping has ordered that all religions must “Sinicize” to ensure they are loyal to the officially atheistic party.

In contrast, Taiwan’s democratically elected government has long taken a hands-off approach to religion on the island, where most follow Buddhism and traditional Chinese beliefs, but where Christianity and other religions also thrive.

Source: https://www.apnews.com/ba96f6f341824355b2997cf6c08c9a81

#ShortNews: Russian Orthodox official in hot water for saying men are more intelligent than women

A Moscow-based newspaper has published an open letter addressed to Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, after Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov told the Orthodox Christian Radonezh radio station in a July 7 interview that intelligent women “are still rare.”

The open letter also asks Patriarch Kirill to clarify if Smirnov’s position is also the official position of the church.

“If Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov’s statement saying that women are ‘not that smart’ contradicts the Russian Orthodox Church’s official position, do you consider that statement offensive and humiliating?”

The letter, which questions Smirnov’s capacity to occupy the post, ends by reminding Kirill that a large part of his flock consists of women.

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/top-russian-priest-in-hot-water-for-saying-men-smarter-than-women/30045418.html

#ShortNews: Lebanese cardinal rejects US peace plan for Palestinians

The peace plan proposed by Jared Kushner and the US administration, presented as “the deal of the century” for peace between Israelis and Palestinians and throughout the Middle East, is actually “the slap of the century,” this according Maronite Patriarch Card Bechara al-Rahi.

On 25 June, Kushner, son-in-law and adviser to US President Donald Trump, presented a plan in Bahrain that provides for the distribution of US$ 50 billion in investments to help the economy in the Palestinian territories and in all the countries with a large number of refugees (Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan).

According to the cardinal, the plan is an attempt at “settlement and naturalisation” of Palestinian refugees in the countries that host them, “masked with financial aid.” Palestinians have already strongly criticised the plan.

Even “if the intention to provide financial were sincere,” explained Mgr Rahi, “it is preferable in the case of Palestinians to help them build their own state and return home, and in the case of Syrians, to help return home to rebuild their homes, their entity and their institutions.”

Source: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Card-Rahi%3A-Kushner%27s-peace-plan-is-%22the-slap-of-the-century%22-47423.html

#ShortNews: Christians face more persecution in Modi’s India

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi starting his second term after leading his pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to victory in India’s recent election, complaints of violence are growing from the country’s persecuted Christians.

Hindu groups supporting the BJP have been promoting claims that India is the land of Hindus and religious minorities should accept Hindu dominance if they want to live there. Open Doors, an international group monitoring religious freedom, ranks India as the 10th most dangerous country for Christians to live in.

Allen Brooks, a Christian leader based in Assam state in eastern India, said the denial of justice to Christians is specifically witnessed in the states ruled by the BJP. Police and civil administration, as well as laws, are used against Christians in a meticulous manner, he said. “Intimidation and threats against Christians have become the new normal. Laws, police and investigations are employed to harass Christians,” Brooks said.

India’s latest census of 2011 showed that Hindus formed 966 million or 80 percent of India’s population of 1.3 billion. Muslims accounted for 172 million or 14 percent, while Christians comprised 29 million or 2.3 percent.

Source: https://www.ucanews.com/news/christians-face-more-persecution-in-modis-india/85467

#ShortNews: In address to Irish Catholic musicians, primate emphasizes importance of silence

Silence does indeed open us up to the presence of what might otherwise go unnoticed or hidden. It is in the silence in particular that God speaks. In the quiet, we can find him whom our heart seeks.

Pope Francis puts it this way. “The Lord speaks to us in a variety of ways, at work, through others and at every moment. Yet we simply cannot do without the silence of prolonged prayer, which enables us better to perceive God’s language, to interpret the real meaning of the inspirations we believe we have received, to calm our anxieties and to see the whole of our existence afresh in his own light”. (GE171)

“If music is carefully selected and beautifully offered, it can open up a space of silence which God can fill. For people who find it difficult to escape the noise both exterior and interior, your music can still the racing mind, relieve the daily stress, and invite us gently into a sacred moment where God can speak to our hearts and we can be in deeper communion with God and with one another” – Archbishop Eamon

Read full article: https://zenit.org/articles/archbishop-martin-music-opens-space-for-god-to-fill/

#ShortNews: South Korean Mass for peace attracts 20,000 faithful

The Committee for the Reconciliation of the Korean People of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) held a special Mass on June 25 at Peace World Park in Imjingak, near the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea. Celebrated by South Korean bishops and 20,000 Catholics prayed for peace on the divided peninsula on the 69th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War (1950-53).

During the Mass titled “Blessed are the peacemakers,” the bishops’ committee released a letter asking all Koreans to move away from struggles and confrontations and seek peace. In his homily, Archbishop Kim, president of the CBCK, appealed to leaders of the two Koreas to work for the common goal of Korean people for reconciliation and prosperity rather than their personal pride or political causes.

“For peace, there should be no preconditions. We need to repent the history of using force of arms against each other. I wish the year 2020, the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, will bring the signing of the termination of war and an agreement for peace. The war ended with a truce, leaving the peninsula technically still at war,” he said.

Read full story; https://www.ucanews.com/news/south-korean-mass-for-peaceattracts-20-000-faithful/85503