News Briefs

Source: FSSPX News


China: Beijing explains its relations with the Vatican

Ye Xiaowen, Director of the State Office of Religious Affairs, declared to China Daily that an exchange of ambassadors could take place if the Holy See severed all ties with Taiwan and relinquished all claims in the nomination of bishops.

Diplomatic relations ceased between the Vatican and the People’s Republic of China in 1951. There are approximately 13 million Catholics, counting the faithful of the “official”, government-approved church together with the “underground” church.

Hong Kong: 2,400 baptized at Easter

2,400 catechumens were baptized, confirmed and given first communion at the Pascal Vigil on the night of April 15-16. The Sunday Examiner of Hong Kong stated that Cardinal Joseph Zen and auxiliary bishop John Tong Hon presided over the commission of six priests charged with verifying the faith, spiritual dispositions and free choice of the candidates.

France: 2,650 adults baptized at the Pascal Vigil

Adult baptisms grew: 2,650 this year, 2,409 adults baptized in 2005 and 2,539 in 2004, according to figures of the National Office of Catechesis and the Catechumenate of the French bishops’ conference. Moreover, the number of catechumens went from 8,945 in 2001 to 9,564 in 2006.

The breakdown this year was as follows: 69% women, 58% young people between 25 and 40 and 84% coming from urban centers. 22% of the baptized previously had no religion, 6% came from Islam, 5% from mixed families, 3% from Eastern religions (Buddhism, Shintoism), 1% from Judaism and 1% from the sects.

On the other hand, the number of baptized children less than seven years old dropped from 365,107 in 2002 to 238,298 in 2003.

Spain: 49% of young people profess being Catholic

The Pedro Gonzalez University in Madrid published in the bulletin Spanish Youth 2005 a study made from a sample of 4,000 youths between 15 and 24 years old, coming from all over Spain. In 2005, 49% of young people questioned professed to be Catholic compared with 77% in 1995. 46% called themselves agnostic, atheist or indifferent to religion compared with 22% in 1994.

The authors of the study attributed the “unpopularity of the Church” to its “stubbornness in fighting the laws on homosexuality” and to its repeated criticisms of the laws imposed by the government. The young people questioned said they were more tolerant of homosexual marriages and favored abortion when it was called for. They remain critical of violence, terrorism and acts of vandalism.

Denmark: A host wears the Islamic veil on television

Since the end of March Asmaa Abdol Hamid, a Muslim woman of 24 years, has been the host of a new program on the public television channel DR2 in Denmark. This new program, entitled “Adam og Asmaa” (Adam and Asmaa), deals with relations between Islam and the West.

“The choice of Asmaa Abdol-Hamid [to wear the veil] (…) is an insult to both Danish and Muslim women. It means that an honorable woman cannot go out if she is not covered”, declared Vibeke Manniche, President of the Association “Kvinder for frihed” (Women for Freedom).

“For me, it’s a religious choice that has nothing to do with the oppression of women”, commented the host to the daily Politiken (center-left). Asmaa Abdol-Hamid is a member of one of the Muslim organizations that filed a lawsuit against the daily Jyllands-Posten that published caricatures of Mohammed last September.

Scotland: Polish priests called to help

During a visit to Poland, Bishop Peter Moran, Bishop of Aberdeen, asked priests to come and minister to the Polish communities recently arrived in Scotland. The diocese of Aberdeen covers nearly one-third of Scotland and contains 25,000 Catholics, about 3% of the population.

We need more priests because many Poles are coming to work in the diocese where two large cities, Aberdeen and Inverness, are located”, declared Fr. Paul Bonnici, who comes from Malta. “Most of them work in the construction business, in the maritime industry or are employed in hotels and restaurants”.

“In Scotland, we have Catholic priests from Hungary, India, Malta and Nigeria”, Fr. Bonnici added. “The expansion of the European Union since 2004 will change the nature of pastoral ministry across Europe. It’s already happened in Scotland”.

India: Catholic religious chased from a leper colony

According to the ecumenical agency ENI, six Salesian Missionaries of Mary Immaculate have had to leave the leper colony Narol in Ahmedabad, after the refusal of the government of Gujarat to continue their contract, which must be renewed every five years and which expired at the end of March.

Sister Karuna, head of the hospital, said they were given notice to leave the leper colony, which the sisters had run since 1949, on April 5, effective immediately. They took care of 50 some lepers who resided there and received 150 patients a day.

Cedric Prakash, director of the Jesuit social-action group Prashant, confirmed the reappearance of “government harassment of the Christian community”. He added that it is now difficult for Christian institutions to obtain the necessary authorizations from the government of Gujarat, which is lead by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Saudi Arabia: An Indian priest arrested and deported

Fr. George Joshua Kanneeleth, age 41 and priest of Trivandrum in Kerala, was arrested while celebrating a private mass in an apartment in Riyadh, according to the Asia News press agency.

Fr. Kanneeleth went to Saudi Arabia with a tourist visa to prepare the Syro-Malabara families who work there for the Easter feast.

After four days of detention, the priest was expelled and deported to India. Fr. John Kochuthundiyil, chancellor of the Syro-Malabara archdiocese of Trivandrum, said “We have no complaint to address to the Saudi government. They treated our priest well and he did not have to pay a fine, nor was he abused”.