Iraqis hope the violent attacks by the U.S. and Iran will ease and that moves to decrease tensions will take hold, said an Iraqi archbishop.
Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Yousif Thomas Mirkis of Kirkuk, Iraq, repeated the overarching concern of the majority of Iraqis, regardless of their religious affiliation: that foreign troops stop using their shattered homeland as a battlefield to settle scores.
On Jan. 8, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases in what it said was retaliation for Washington’s targeted killing of Iran’s top militia commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad Jan. 3. The missiles hit the al-Asad airbase, which houses U.S. troops, and American and coalition forces in the northern Iraqi town of Irbil, in areas not heavily populated.
“We haven’t heard anything about lives lost. Maybe it can stop here — the revenge,” Archbishop Mirkis told Catholic News Service by phone Jan. 8. “The revenge was in all the speech of yesterday. … Now, that it is done, let us go to negotiate.”
China will enforce new restrictions on religious groups, organizations, meetings, and other related events starting on Feb 1.
The country’s state-controlled media announced the new policy on Dec. 30, after Chinese authorities moved to further suppress Catholics in the Archdiocese of Fuzhou who are refusing to join the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
According to UCA News, the new “Administrative Measures for Religious Groups,” which consists of six sections and 41 articles, will control every aspect of religious activity within China, and will mandate that all religions and believers in China comply with regulations issued by the Chinese Communist Party, which must be acknowledged as the higher authority.
Earlier this week, the president of the Australian Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, issued a statement about the “unprecedented” crisis facing the country. Like Pope Francis, he too called for prayer, noting that “A genuine Catholic response to a crisis of this magnitude must draw strength from prayer which inspires concrete and compassionate action”.
Archbishop Coleridge announced that the Bishops Conference is preparing a national response to the fires, including assistance to those affected by the fires, collaboration with aid agencies, and a special collection to be taken up this weekend.
“With broad and deep roots across the nation”, the Archbishop said, “the Church stands ready to walk alongside people throughout their journey of recovery”.
“The crisis in the Church is man-made and has arisen because we have cozily adapted ourselves to the spirit of a life without God,” said Cardinal Gerhard Mueller to the thousands of Catholics gathered in Phoenix for the 2020 Student Leadership Summit hosted by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS).
He cautioned that even a number of people in the Church are “longing” for a kind of Catholicism without dogmas, without sacraments, and without an infallible magisterium.
“But the one who believes needs no ideology,” he said. “The one who hopes will not reach for drugs. The one who loves is not after the lust of this world, which passes along with the world. The one who loves God and his neighbor finds happiness in the sacrifice of self-giving.”
The pontiff was outside St. Peter’s Basilica on New Year’s Eve, walking down the rope line, stopping to shake hands with the cheering crowd, and there was a woman crosses herself and folds her hands, as if in prayer, as the pope draws closer. She stares intently, but he has begun to turn away. She reaches out and grabs him, with one hand, then another. She yanks him backward and will not let go.
The Pope reacted sharply, exclaimed something and then slapped her hand so she would let him go. In his impromptu remarks on Wednesday, Francis said people often lose patience, including him.
“Love makes us patient,” he said, adding, after briefly choking up, “We often lose our patience; me, too, and I apologize for my bad example last night.”
According to Archbishop Moussa, after the so-called Islamic State devastated 95% of the Right Bank (west side) portion of the city, fourteen churches were completely destroyed, along with 4 monasteries. Life there is far from normal. The terror spread by ISIS also left a scar on inter-religious relations, and now many Christians are hesitant to return home.
The Archbishop said the Church cannot be silent, and works to protect those Christians who remain in Iraq. Archbishop Moussa concedes that reconstruction in Mosul, and throughout Iraq, will be a long and difficult process.
“But today,” he said, “the faith of Christians in Iraq is much stronger than yesterday.”
Religions for Peace, the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious peace-building coalition, is convening hundreds of religious leaders, practitioners, scholars, government agencies and foundations in New York City on 11 December to co-develop global peace-building priorities for the next five years.
“When religious communities work together for the common good, they are a powerful force for peace and development,” said Rev. Kyoichi Sugino, Secretary General, a.i. of Religions for Peace. “Today there is greater need than ever before for communities of faith to act on our spiritual authority and deep community connections to advance peace and development. This is why we are convening religious leaders from all over the world to co-develop priorities in multi-religious peace-building for the coming years.”
The event will be open to the press on 11 December and religious leaders from more than 50 countries in every region of the world will strategically determine priorities for the future of the renowned organization. Themes discussed will include climate solutions through the protection of indigenous peoples, overcoming gender-based violence, procuring the universal right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and philanthropy’s role in boosting interfaith peace-building efforts.