Rome, Italy, Jul 5, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Julio Jia Zhiguo, 70, member of the China's underground Catholic church, has been arrested for the sixth time in 18 months, as the government continues harassing unofficial congregations, the Cardinal Kung Foundation denounced today.
Government officials picked up Bishop Jia Zhiguo, from the diocese of Zhengding in northern Hebei province, from his home and drove him to an unknown location early Monday.
"Government officials telephoned Bishop Jia in advance, notifying him that he was being picked up and ordered him he was to tell the people that he was being taken away by the government officials to visit a physician; Bishop Jia is not sick at present and there is no need for him to visit a physician," declared the Foundation in a statement.
Bishop Jia, who was consecrated as bishop in 1980, previously spent 20 years in jail. Since January 2004 the Prelate has been arrested six times, last one in September when two security officers forced him to take a three-day tour to a different town.
"Adding insult to injury, they forced the bishop to pay for the hotel and meal expenses, including those of government officials who watched over him," the Foundation said.
According to Asianews, everytime an important religious feast approaches, such as Christmas or Easter, Bishop Jia is arrested and forced to go through what they call “religious training”.
Back in 1999, in an attempt to block Bishop Jia’s missioning labor, the police forbid him to open a shelter home for orphans and disabled children, however, due to international pressure, the government lift the sanction and the orphanage is still providing help to needy children.
Relations between Beijing and the Holy See have been severed for more than 50 years, since the Communists took power at the end of China's civil war and expelled the Vatican's ambassador in 1951--a move that was followed by the severance of diplomatic ties.
Beijing refuses to recognize the authority of the Vatican and the Pope over Chinese Catholics, who can only legally worship at state-sanctioned churches.
Establishing diplomatic relations with China is a priority for the Vatican, but China has demanded the Vatican first break off diplomatic relations with Taiwan. China claims Taiwan as its own territory.
The government's Patriotic Catholic church claims 4 million believers. On the other hand, foreign experts say the underground Catholic Church counts 12 million followers.
Vatican City, Jul 5, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican announced this morning that a presentation will take place Thursday, July 7th of the “Instrumentum Laboris” for the Eleventh General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
The document’s presentation is scheduled to take place at 11:30 in the Vatican Press Office and the Synod itself will be held at the Vatican from October 2nd through 23rd.
Archbishop Nikola Eterovic and Msgr. Fortunato Frezza, respectively secretary general and under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops will be present at the “Instrumentum Laboris’” presentation, the theme of which is "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church."
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 5, 2005 (CNA) - The president of the Committee on Migration of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Renato Ascencio Leon of Ciudad Juarez, said this week immigration is “a sign of the times that challenges civil society and the Church” and that “pastoral care for migrants in both countries should be increased.”
The bishop made his comments as he released a document produced at a meeting on migration between US and Mexican bishops on June 23-25 in El Paso, Texas. The statement notes “a growing negative reaction against migrants, in large measure created by misunderstandings and false ideas about them.”
The statement also indicated that the inadequate public policy for dealing with the phenomenon of migration and the urgent situation of migrants has not helped to lessen the dangers, the separation of families and the degrading and inhumane conditions which they suffer.
The statement also reaffirms the Church’s commitment to providing effective pastoral care for all immigrants before, during and after their journey.
Some of the objectives proposed during the bi-national conference include the increasing of pastoral care for immigrants, the coordination of support and cooperation in educating the Catholic faithful in both countries about migration and the teachings of the Church, as well as efforts to change societal attitudes regarding migrants.
The bishops also agreed to include bishops from Central American countries in the discussions, as immigration also poses great challenges in that region.
Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Jul 5, 2005 (CNA) - In light of the commencement of tomorrow’s G8 Summit, which will bring the leaders of the 8 most industrialized nations of the world to Scotland, over 200,000 took to the streets of Edinburgh to call on the leaders to relieve the debts of the world’s most impoverished countries.
The 200,000-participant march was part of the July 2nd, ‘Make Poverty History’ rally, whose organizers are calling for debt cancellation, fair trade laws and increased aid to third world countries.
As the rally in Edinburgh took place Saturday, a number of ‘Live 8’ concerts took place in sites around the world to likewise raise support and awareness for the ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign.
Backers of the movement range from Hollywood superstars to political leaders and even the Pope.
In a message sent to Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien, archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh on the occasion of the rally, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that, "people from the world's richest countries ... should urge their leaders to fulfill the pledges made to reduce world poverty, especially in Africa, by the year 2015."
He also asked world leaders to "play their part in ensuring a more just distribution of the world's goods."
Likewise, during his Angelus prayer on Sunday, the Holy Father said that "With all my heart, I wish full success to [the G8] meeting, in the hope that it may lead to sharing the costs of debt reduction in solidarity, implementing concrete measures for eradicating poverty and promoting authentic development in Africa."
On Friday, Vatican observer, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, spoke before the United Nations, telling the group that, "The Holy See is pleased to associate itself with those who support the accord reached in London recently by the G8 finance ministers to cancel the debts of 18 heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC).”
“Debt remission measures, he added, "are just the start of that path, first of all because the measure in question needs to be extended to some 38 HIPC countries."
Lyon, France, Jul 5, 2005 (CNA) - A French woman who invalidly had herself ‘ordained’ as a Catholic priest on Saturday, is now facing automatic excommunication for her actions, which fall squarely in opposition to Church teaching.
During a small ceremony held on a boat, Genevieve Beney, joined by other so-called female priests and bishops, pronounced herself a Catholic priest calling it a stand against the “obsolete” and “unjust” practice of the Church to ordain only men as priests.
In a statement read before boarding the boat, Beney said, "This is not a rupture with the Roman Catholic Church…If there is a rupture on my part, it is with a situation that I consider to be obsolete and unjust to women."
She added in an earlier interview that, "We consider ourselves Catholic…But we do not agree with the church law ... that says only a baptized male can be ordained as a priest."
Lyon’s Archbishop, Philippe Barbarin, implored Beney earlier in the week not to follow through with the “ordination” saying that it would “constitute a serious act of rupture in respect to the Catholic Church."
"There will be no truth to the words that will be pronounced," Barbarin added. "For many Catholics, this will be a source of useless injury and suffering."
Although many questions have been raised about Church action against Beney, Vincent Feroldi, a spokesman for the Archbishop said that no decree of excommunication would necessary in a technical sense, because of the fundamental violation of Church law Beney’s actions constitute.
The violation makes her automatically incapable of receiving the sacraments, he said.
Beney is also married, which many say, simply adds insult to injury in her disregard for Church teaching, as he Roman Catholic Church asks men who become priests to remain celibate.
Sydney, Australia, Jul 5, 2005 (CNA) - As the Catholic Church prepares for the massive World Youth Day celebration to be held in Cologne, Germany next month, faithful in Australia are already placing their bids to hold the next worldwide event in their own backyard.
According to reports, Sydney’s Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell has flown to the Vatican to petition the Holy Father to hold the 2008 event--first conceived by the late John Paul II--down under.
The 2008 World Youth Day will be the 11th event, traditionally held outside of Rome on odd numbered years since it first took place in John Paul II’s native Poland.
Officials speculate that if Sydney wins the competitive bid, it could bring some 250,000 visitors to the country, surpassing the 2000 Olympic games as the largest event in Australia’s history.
Cardinal Pell said recently that "We believe that we have the capacity in Sydney and throughout Australia to host this gathering; the spiritual strength, the organizational expertise and financial resources necessary."
Pope Benedict XVI will announce the official site for 2008 on August 21st, the final day of this year’s World Youth Day. Sydney’s major competition is said to be coming largely from South Africa and Brazil.
Reports also add that Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard strongly supports the bid.
Beijing, China, Jul 5, 2005 (CNA) - According to the missionary association, AsiaNews, a Catholic priest who has been under house arrest by the Chinese government for the past six years has been released.
According to reports, the Rev. Vincent Kong Guocun, 34, a priest with the non-government controlled Catholic Church was freed on June 8th due to poor health.
Fr. Kong, from the town of Wenzhou, on China’s southeast coast was put under house arrest on October 20th, 1999 for his adherence to the Vatican.
The Chinese government severed ties with the Vatican in 1951 following the establishment of an atheistic communist government. Worship in China is now only allowed in government approved churches although the a strong Catholic underground exists there.
Millions belong to these unofficial churches, many of which are frequently harassed by Chinese authorities, and their priests and bishops often arrested.
Konigstein, Germany, Jul 5, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking in Liverpool to friends and supporters of the international Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) last week, Sudanese priest, Father Todo Logworo stated that despite the long awaited peace between the country’s northern and southern regions, “martyrdom is the highest price in Sudan.“
“Martyrdom is real,” the Khartoum-based priest said, adding that Sudan’s Christians face a stark choice of whether “to succumb to the temptation to stay silent or to have the courage to shout out in defence of freedom of worship.”
Fr Todo, who lost his leg 20 years ago during the conflict in southern Sudan, spoke of the demolition of churches, the difficulties Christians face trying to get a job, the pressures they face to wear Islamic dress and the severe punishments for people caught with alcohol.
He also praised on the country’s bishops, led by Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako, Archbishop of Khartoum, saying, “The bishops have the courage to defend human rights, the dignity of the individual, equality and justice. We are proud of them – they are true leaders,” Fr Todo added: “Politics and religion are inseparable in Sudan. With Islam effectively the state religion, it is a fearful time to be a Catholic.”
San Salvador, El Salvador, Jul 5, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador denounced the occupation of the city’s Cathedral this week by a group of former government employees who were upset about losing their jobs in recent months.
The archbishop was forced to celebrate Sunday Mass in the Cathedral’s crypt due to the occupation.
After Mass, Archbishop Saenz denounced the action. “We must lament that they have occupied the nave of the Cathedral against every right, violating the rights of all the faithful,” he explained.
He also called on protestors to trust in the solutions which the Church and the government are seeking in response to the layoffs.
The 94 protestors—8 of which remain on a hunger strike-- began the occupation last weekend and are demanding the Salvadoran government provide them a total of $45,000 in compensation for having been laid off and for losing their employment benefits.
“We have reached out to them when they were in need, but this use of force is of no benefit to them. I hope these pressures disappear since we are trying to help them,” Archbishop Saenz stated.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 5, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, called for respect for the results of the country’s upcoming elections and that time not be wasted in post-electoral challenges so that whoever wins can begin working immediately.
At the conclusion of Sunday Mass, the cardinal expressed his trust in the transparency of the elections and said the people’s voice must be acknowledged in order not to delay the beginning of the new administration.
The cardinal noted that it would be tragic if after such a costly campaign the country were to have to wait while the election is challenged, although he acknowledged that people had to right to do so.
Likewise he called on politicians to spend less on campaigning and to dedicate themselves to “working more effectively.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 5, 2005 (CNA) - State representative Jorge Enriquez of Buenos Aires denounced comments made last week by Health Minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia, who called the decision by the country’s Supreme Court to grant a woman’s request to have an abortion “good news.”
“It is macabre for anyone to rejoice in this action, which saddens first of all the family that made this terrible decision,” he said. The news of the decision, he continued, is “enormously painful because the loss of a human life is always irreparable.”
Enriquez maintained that while the justices must follow the law, the decision to allow an abortion is never good news. He said Gonzalez Garcia hopes her enthusiasm will “open the door to unrestricted abortion, which is a central objective of her agenda.”
Enriquez highlighted that despite the decision by the current government, the good news is that “the vast majority of Argentineans defend life from the moment of conception...and will not allow the culture of death to be imposed on them.” He also noted that the country’s Constitution, Penal and Civil Codes, and the human rights treaties subscribed to by Argentina, protect life from the moment of conception.