Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) today urged Pope Francis to highlight the suffering of the people of North Korea during his Papal visit to South Korea next month, and in particular to speak out for freedom of religion and an end to the severe persecution of Christians living under Kim Jong-Un’s regime. Pope Francis will visit South Korea from 14-18 August, where he will participate in the Asian Youth Day, a gathering of young Catholics from 29 countries in Asia, and preside over a ceremony for the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs.
Pax Christi has called for the world to stop supplying arms to war in Syria. In statement the organisation says: The tragedy of war and the horrendous suffering of the Syrian people continue without respite. Pax Christi International believes that this armed confrontation – which continues to destabilize the region affecting mostly civilians – can be stopped if the international community focuses on promoting serious political negotiations and discourages violence in all its forms.
Bishop Tony Palmer, the Evangelical friend of Pope Francis, who filmed a smartphone message from the Holy Father which went viral on the internet, calling on all Christians to set aside their differences, died on Sunday, 20 July in a motorcycle accident. According to a statement from The Ark Community he founded, three teams of surgeons tried to save Bishop Palmer's life but he passed away in the evening, leaving behind his wife Emiliana and two teenaged children.
The Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Monsignor Keith Newton, preached to hundreds of Mass-goers in Portsmouth Cathedral - where he spent the weekend of 26/27 July - about the vision of Christian unity held out by the Ordinariate. He said that people sometimes asked members of the Ordinariate why they couldn't become "proper Catholics" . "What they mean", he said, is "why can't you just be absorbed into the wider Catholic Church so that what you bring disappears like sugar dissolved in water".
Even before the latest outbreak of violence in Gaza, twice as many British Christians sympathised with the Palestinians as sympathised with Israel. Only one-in-eight Christians in the UK equates the modern State of Israel with the Biblical nation of Israel, while over two-thirds of British Christians believe the Holy Land belongs to both Jewish people and Palestinians. Those are some of the key findings in a detailed opinion poll of UK Christian views on the Middle East carried out for development charity Embrace the Middle East in May 2014, prior to the latest outbreak
Speaking at a Charity Leaders’ Network lunch (ACEVO) in Birmingham last week, the Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Bernard Longley said that the “tough commissioning regime” for national and local government service contracts means that the wages of “many carers are depressed”. He said that his own diocesan agency, the Father Hudson Society, is currently “grappling with the issue of how to move carers in residential care for frail elderly and those with dementia up to the Living Wage”.
The Holy Family Latin Church in Gaza has just received an evacuation order warning them that Israei is planning to bomb their neighbourhood tonight. In a message, a priest writes: " The church of Gaza has received an order to evacuate.. they will bomb the Zeitun area and the people are already fleeing. The problem is that the priest Fr George and the three nuns of Mother Teresa have 29 handicapped children and nine old ladies who can't move. "How will they manage to leave?? If anyone can intercede with someone in power, and pray,
The UK head of a Catholic charity has hit out at the British Government for helping “to lay the foundations” for the rise of extremists in Iraq who have flushed out the last remaining Christians from Mosul after 1,600 years. Neville Kyrke-Smith, National Director, Aid to the Church in Need (UK), said the UK’s response to uprisings in the Middle East “has blown up in our face” and called on the Government to help form “an axis of moderation” in the region. He went on to warn that, unless action was taken, “before long” the UK could be in line
Read More ... John Pontifex - Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 5:33 am
DLT is soon to publish a new series to help churches everywhere to be equipped to welcome all people who live with disability or a mental health issue. Each title contains first-hand personal experiences of people such as Susan, who have felt excluded from churches because of either their disability or their mental health, theological reflection, resources, addresses, websites and practical advice for making churches more inclusive. Susan has epilepsy. But not the kind where she needs to seek medical attention:
The last night was extreme. The "ground invasion" of Gaza resulted in scores and carloads with maimed, torn apart, bleeding, shivering, dying - all sorts of injured Palestinians, all ages, all civilians, all innocent. The heroes in the ambulances and in all of Gaza's hospitals are working 12-24hours shifts, grey from fatigue and inhuman workloads (without payment all in Shifa for the last four months), they care, triage, try to understand the incomprehensible chaos of bodies, sizes, limbs, walking, not walking, breathing, not breathing, bleeding, not bleeding humans.
Patricia and Michael Pulham gave the following ‘witness’ presentation at the annual conference of the National Justice and Peace Network last weekend. The couple are currently on the national executive committee of Christian CND and involved in UN lobbying on nuclear disarmament. Michael: Justice and Peace issues had always been important to us, but one particular event made us realise we were striving against Powers with more strength than we imagined. Do you remember how it all began?
After Sunday's Angelus prayer, the Holy Father, remarking that tomorrow marks the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, launched a new appeal for peace in the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine, and called for a cessation of hostilities. “Tomorrow is the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, which claimed millions of lives and caused immense destruction. This conflict, defined by Pope Benedict XV as a 'senseless slaughter', persisted for four long years and led to a more fragile peace.
Pope Francis made a short visit to the the city of Casterta on Saturday. During his stay he had a meeting with the diocesan priests and celebrated an open air Mass. On Monday he returned to the city for a private visit with the Evangelical community, and an old friend from his days as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pastor Giovanni Traettino. During his meeting with the priests on Saturday, Pope Francis set aside aside his prepared text he spoke off the cuff, answering four questions they presented to him.
Korea’s Catholic Church is currently participating in the annual Grand March For Life and Peace of Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island from 29 July to 2 August. Columban missionaries in Korea have devised the petition below as an expression of solidarity with the people of Gangjeong and all those opposed to the construction of a naval base on Jeju Island in the vicinity of Gangjeong! Jeju Island has been dubbed 'The Island of Peace'. Just off the coast of South Korea,
Read More ... Ellen Teague - Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 1:50 am
Mount Street Jesuit Centre in central London is seeking to appoint a person who shares its values to run London Jesuit Volunteers. LJV is a service which brokers volunteer placements and provides group spiritual reflection each month to enable volunteers to journey together and connect faith and action. The Coordinator will manage the existing programme, identify local collaborators at two new London sites through Jesuit networks, and oversee pilot initiatives in these sites in 2015.
Hundreds of demonstrations against Israel's bombardment of Gaza took place in towns and cities around the world over the weekend. In London, many thousands of protesters, of all faiths and none, processed from the Israeli Embassy near High Street Kensington to the Houses of Parliament for a massive rally. Bruce Kent Vice President of Pax Christi and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament He told the crowds: '' I never thought I would have to look at a television screen and see bits of babies blown apart in a hospital. After the Second World War we thought we'd finished with that.
Up to 2,000 people from the Iraqi Christian community in the United Kingdom, together with British Christian and Muslim supporters, held a vigil near Parliament Square, Westminster on Saturday, 26 July, to protest at the persecution of Christians in Iraq. There were readings, prayers, hymns and chants, before a delegation walked down Whitehall to Number Ten Downing Street to present a petition. The vigil was led by Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Toma Dawood, Syrian Catholic Monsignor Nizar Semaan, Chaldean Catholic
Read More ... Jo Siedlecka - Posted: Monday, July 28, 2014 5:44 am
Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters, It gives us great joy to offer you our heartfelt congratulations and good wishes on the occasion of 'Id al-Fitr at the conclusion of Ramadan, a month dedicated to fasting, prayer and helping the poor. Last year, the first year of his ministry, Pope Francis personally signed the Message addressed to you on the occasion of ‘Id al-Fitr. On another occasion, he also called you "our brothers and sisters" (Angelus, 11 August 2013).
Bishop John McAreavey, Bishop of Dromore and Chairman of the Irish Bishops' Council for Justice and Peace has called for for prayers for peace in the Middle East. In his message he highlights the plight of persecuted and endangered Christian communities, inviting everybody "to join in solidarity with all who are suffering in the Middle East and to pray, both personally and at Masses, for peace and justice in these lands." Bishop McAreavey writes: "The death and destruction that we are witnessing
Here is something we can do about climate change! We are always being told that it’s urgent and that the time to take action is short. But there is so much doom and gloom that it’s only natural to wonder if it’s worth even trying. But it is, and what we can do is simple, and can make a big difference. It’s about churches acting together in letting our MPs know that we really care about climate change; that we want our children and grandchildren to inherit a planet on which they can live and flourish.
Caritas has launched an emergency appeal to help the people of Gaza. Following attacks by Israel, over 600 Palestinians have died and over 100,000 people have fled their homes to seek shelter elsewhere. Twenty-seven Israelis have been killed in the conflict. Fr Raed Abusahlia, director of Caritas Jerusalem said: “Most of the victims are children, women and old people. We strongly believe that the Church of Jesus Christ cannot remain silent; we cannot stand aside and do nothing.
Where are the voices of the international community and our Church leaders about the plight of our brothers and sisters in faith and also others of faith and good will in Iraq? The reporting of what is going on is sporadic and never makes any front page. The silence of the world and let it be said, of many Church leaders, is almost deafening except for the few. The situation there in one of horror and as local Bishops and other leaders have said, this violence, and it is violence of a horrendous kind will, unless it is stopped, spread throughout the whole Middle East.
Read More ... Fr Robin Gibbons - Posted: Sunday, July 27, 2014 6:32 pm
Pax Christi (Pat Gaffney) and Kairos Britain (Ann Farr) ran two timely workshops on Palestine at the National Justice and Peace Network Conference last weekend. The following outlines their workshop structure, a vigil for Gaza and follow-up action ideas. Participants were invited to look at a series of photographs as they came in and to choose the one that challenged them most. Images illustrated the situation in Palestine today: the restriction of movement, the arrest of children by the Israeli military, the demolition of homes.
Read More ... Pat Gaffney and Ann Farr - Posted: Sunday, July 27, 2014 5:54 pm
Pope Francis is marking the Day for Life in the UK and Ireland this Sunday, with a call to all people of good will to cherish life, particularly the life of society’s most vulnerable. In a message sent to the Church in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, signed by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope urges Catholics to “to bring the merciful love of Christ as a life-giving balm to those troubling “new forms of poverty and vulnerability” increasingly evident in contemporary society (cf. Evangelii Gaudium 210).”
Schola Affectus writes in his blog: Enjoying the experience of directing a long retreat, 30-days of silence, following the Spiritual Exercises, in North Wales. I am with six other ‘youngish’ Jesuits of my generation, so as well as accompanying people through the four weeks it is great to discuss the dynamics with them (whilst respecting the confidentiality). We are have just spent a few days with the ‘Principle and Foundation’ a consideration that Ignatius gives us before we enter the retreat.