Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Church’

Philippine Leader Tells Police to Kill Only if Necessary in War on Drugs — Death of Kian Loyd Delos Santos May Change the Course… After 12,500 Wrongful Deaths: HOPE! — Time to Return to Rule of Law and Due Process

August 23, 2017

MANILA — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday backed police on the front lines of a war on drugs that he said would not cease, but warned officers their duty was to arrest suspects and kill only if their lives were in danger.

The firebrand leader, now facing the most intense scrutiny so far in his controversial but popular crackdown, said he could not justify last week’s high-profile killing of a high school student, and police responsible had not followed instructions and would face justice.

Though Duterte stood firmly behind a campaign that has killed thousands of mostly urban poor Filipinos, his remarks were a departure from the bellicose rhetoric that critics say has created a culture of impunity and emboldened police to execute suspects. Police reject that.

“You are not allowed to kill a person that is kneeling down begging for his life. That is murder,” Duterte said in a speech.

“When I say you get him, it includes doing the arresting and then if there is a violent resistance, they (police) have to defend themselves.”

Kian Loyd Delos Santos, 17, was among more than 90 people killed in three days of intensified police operations last week that marked the bloodiest chapter of a campaign that has alarmed the international community.

Security camera footage showed a man matching the victim’s description being dragged by plain-clothes police to an alley where he was found dead. Police said he was a drug courier, but his family insisted he was unarmed, innocent, and murdered.

His death has attracted huge domestic attention, with political opponents demanding the killings stop and some churches opposing the bloodshed and ringing bells at night in protest. Demonstrations have taken place, the latest a small rally outside police headquarters on Wednesday.

Duterte has repeatedly vowed to pardon police convicted of abuses during his anti-drug campaign, but on Wednesday he said there would be no protection for those who broke the rules of engagement.

“Let us be clear on this. I said I will protect those who are doing their duty. I never promised to protect those who are supposedly engaged in doing their duty but committing a crime in the process,” he said, adding that abuses “cannot be done”.

Condemnation of Duterte’s 14-month-old war on drugs has come mainly from human rights groups, political opponents and foreign critics, with Filipinos largely supportive of the campaign, echoing the government view that the suppression of drugs use is making the streets safer.

Critics say that Duterte is turning a blind eye to systematic abuses and cover-ups with an unquestioning acceptance of an official police line that typically says those killed were drug dealers who had violently resisted arrest.

“I will not change my policy, there will be war on against drugs because I have to protect the people,” he said. “I have that sworn duty to defend the people and protect the republic.”

(For graphic on one time, big time” IMG, click

(Reporting by Martin Petty and Enrico dela Cruz; Editing by Nick Macfie)


Duterte: I never said cops should shoot suspects on their knees

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, in an interview with the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) at the Malago Clubhouse, Malacañang Park in Manila on August 21, 2017, announces that he is searching for a competent secretary who will replace former Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — As he faces one of the stiffest criticisms to date yet of his war on drugs, President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday clarified that he did not order security personnel to kill suspects already on their knees and begging for their lives.

The president said that police and soldiers should shoot suspects only if the criminals violently resisted and threatened their lives.

“What I reminded again the military and the police is that it should be in the performance of your duty. You are not allowed to kill a person who is kneeling down begging for his life. That is murder,” Duterte said during the inauguration of a solar cell factory in Batangas.

Duterte’s comments stand in stark contrast to his previous statements to security forces in dealing with drug suspects.

In December last year, Duterte seemingly gave his go signal for police to plant evidence against drug suspects.

Duterte indicated in a speech last December that he had told police either to plant guns in crime scenes or to give suspects guns so they can shoot it out with arresting officers.

In July, Duterte said that cops and soldiers should make suspects fight back to justify the use of violence. He also bragged in a speech before jail personnel that he was the only president to have ordered the killing of criminals, especially of drug traders.

The Palace has regularly denied that Duterte had issued such orders, usually dismissing them as mere jokes, hyperbole or just expressions of frustration. It is not clear, however, if this was how security personnel understood the president’s statements.

The chief executive has said that he will protect cops who do their duty and warned those who abuse their authority.

Kian’s death ‘not performance of duty’

Duterte also called the death of 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos as “bad” and “not performance of duty,” warning policemen against committing crimes.

“I’m not justifying yung sa Caloocan. It was really bad. Hindi naman performance of duty yung ganun,” he said.

He said that the main duty of police officers is to arrest suspects, and resistance to arrest must be overcome by security officers.

“In resisting, lumaban ka, the police is just doing his duty, and he is not supposed to die doing his duty. Kaya pag mag-resist ka, he must overcome the resistance. If you have a gun, he just has to shoot you,” the president explained.

The PNP Operations Manual justifies the use of firearms “if the offender poses imminent danger of causing death or injury to the police officer or other persons.” According to regulations, “the use of firearm is also justified under the doctrines of self-defense, defense of a relative, and defense of a stranger,”

The same manual cautions, however, that “unlawful aggression should be present for self-defense to be considered as a justifying circumstance.”

‘Abuses, that cannot be done’

The chief executive reiterated his pledge to protect police officers performing their duty and vowed to make abusive cops accountable.

“I never promised to protect those who are supposedly engaged in doing their duty but committing a crime in the process. Abuses, that cannot be done,” he said.

The death of Delos Santos sparked widespread public outrage as a video and witnesses said that the boy was dragged by arresting cops to the alley where he was later found lifeless.

The police Internal Affairs Service has said that two police officers involved in the operation have admitted to being the men seen in the security footage. The PNP Crime Laboratory also found no traces of gunpowder on Delos Santos’ hands.

Police said that the teenager was a drug courier and his family was into the trade of illegal drugs. The Delos Santoses have denied this.

Kian is among the scores killed in drug operations in Bulacan and Metro Manila last week. This was described as one of the bloodiest since Duterte started his brutal campaign against narcotics in July last year.


Philippine Churches to Ring Bells to Protest Drug Killings — “Expressing anger against evil.”

August 20, 2017

MANILA, Philippines — A leader of the dominant Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines has ordered bells to be tolled every night for three months in a northern region to raise alarm over a renewed police crackdown that has left more than 80 drug and crime suspects dead in just a week.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas says church bells will be rung for 15 minutes across his northern religious district starting Tuesday to rouse a citizenry “which has become a coward in expressing anger against evil.”

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Archbishop Socrates Villegas

The church move adds to a growing outcry after more than 80 suspects were gunned down by police in metropolitan Manila and nearby Bulacan province in just three days last week, the bloodiest under President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal crackdown.

Philippine President Duterte Used an Army of Paid “Opinion Shapers” And Social Media Manipulators To Influence Elections, Polls, Policy

July 24, 2017
In this March 12, 2017 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte renews his promise to eradicate the illegal drug trade and end corruption in government in his speech during the 35th anniversary celebration of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan at the Philippine International Convention Center Grounds in Pasay City. King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines — A University of Oxford study found that $200,000, around P10 million, was spent to hire trolls who would spread propaganda for President Rodrigo Duterte and target his opposition.

The study titled “Troops, trolls and troublemakers: A global inventory of organized social media manipulation” looked at how political parties and candidates across 28 countries deploy “cyber troops” who use a variety of strategies, tools and techniques to shape public opinion.
Countries included in the research were Argentina, Azerbaijan, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Germany, India, Iran, Israel, Mexico, North Korea, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea, Syria, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, Venezuela and Vietnam.
The study said that Duterte’s team of 400 to 500 cyber troops post nationalistic and pro-government comments and interact with dissenters through harassment and individual targeting. Membership in cyber troop teams in the Philippines is “liminal” but with some coordination.
Popular forms of individual targeting involve “verbal abuse, hate speech, discrimination and/or trolling against the values, beliefs or identity of a user or a group of users online” usually over a long duration.
Fake accounts, which, in many cases, are “bots”—bits of code designed to mimic human users—were also found to have been deployed in the Philippines. These were often used to flood social media networks with spam and fake news—propaganda made to seem like legitimate news articles—and inflate the number of likes, shares and retweets to create “an artificial sense of popularity, momentum or relevance.”
“This is different to traditional digital campaign strategies, which have generally focused on spreading information about the party or candidate’s platform, or sent advertisements out to voters.”
The study showed that Duterte’s online machinery is composed of his party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, his campaign’s social media manager Nic Gabunada, volunteer groups and paid citizens.
“Social media has become a valuable platform for public life. It is the primary medium over which young people, around the world, develop their political identities and consume news. However, social media platforms—like Facebook and Twitter—have also become tools for social control,” the study said.
The study listed 2016 as the year of the earliest report of organized social media manipulation in the Philippines. During that year “keyboard trolls” were hired to spread propaganda for then presidential candidate Duterte and many of them continue to amplify messages in support of the president’s policies now that he’s in power.
Ronwald Munsayac of PDP-Laban’s Public Information Committee on Sunday, however, said their party never hired or used online trolls.

Oxford study finds PDP-Laban used bots, individual targeting, and 400-500 hired trolls with a budget of $200,000… 

For the record, and I am speaking for the party @PDPLABAN, we NEVER hired nor used online trolls.

You emphasize that you speak for the PDP LABAN party.
Implies you cant give assurance the ENTIRE Dutz campaign did not use trolls.

Because I can only speak for the party which this study, that you are sharing, alleges.

In a series of tweets, he said that the allegations by the study were “plain and simple ignorant.”
The study was conducted in three stages. First, through a systematic content analysis of news media articles. The researchers then supplemented the content analysis with other sources from think tanks, government agencies, civil society groups, universities and other credible research. Finally, they consulted with country experts to check facts, find additional sources in multiple languages and assist in evaluating the quality of sources.
Editor’s Note: Conversion from US dollar to Philippine peso used Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ exchange rate for today of $1=P50.76.

Pope sacks cardinal in charge of sex abuse cases, a conservative critic

July 2, 2017

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Rome: Pope Francis has sacked the head of the Vatican office that handles sex abuse cases, just days after he released Australian cardinal George Pell to return home to face charges of historical sexual assault.

The developments underscored how the Catholic Church’s sex abuse crisis has caught up with Francis, threatening to tarnish his legacy.

Francis on Saturday declined to renew the mandate of German cardinal Gerhard Mueller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that processes and evaluates all cases of priests accused of raping or molesting minors.

Most incumbents keep the post until they retire, which in Mueller’s case would have been in six years. Francis named Mueller’s deputy, Monsignor Luis Ladaria Ferrer, a 73-year-old Spanish Jesuit, to run the powerful office instead.

Ladaria is said by those who know him to be a soft-spoken person who shuns the limelight. Mueller, by contrast, often appears in the media.

“They speak the same language and Ladaria is someone who is meek. He does not agitate the Pope and does not threaten him,” said a priest who works in the Vatican and knows both Mueller and Ladaria, asking not to be named.

During Mueller’s five-year term, the congregation amassed a 2000-case backlog and came under blistering criticism from Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins, who had been tapped by Francis in 2014 to advise the church on caring for abuse victims and protecting children from paedophile priests.

Collins resigned from the papal commission in March, citing the “unacceptable” level of resistance from Mueller’s office to heeding the commission’s proposals.

In May, Francis said her criticism of the slow pace in processing abuse cases was justified and announced he was adding more staff to handle the overload.

Earlier this year he also named Cardinal Sean O’Malley as a member of the congregation in hopes of ensuring better cooperation.

Mueller is one of several cardinals in the Vatican who have publicly sparred with the Pope.

In 2015 both he and Cardinal Pell were among 13 cardinals who signed a secret letter to the Pope complaining that a meeting of bishops discussing family issues was stacked in favour of liberals. The letter was leaked, embarrassing the signatories.

“Clearly, the Pope and Cardinal Mueller have not been on the same page for five years,” the priest said.

Mueller has criticised parts of a 2016 papal treatise called “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love), a cornerstone document of Francis’ attempt to make the 1.2 billion-member Church more inclusive and less condemning.

In it, Francis called for a Church that is less strict and more compassionate towards any “imperfect” members, such as those who divorced and remarried, saying “no one can be condemned forever”.

“This gives the Pope the chance to finally place his own man in a very important spot,” said the Reverend James Martin, an editor-at-large for the Catholic magazine America and a consultant to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication. “For many admirers of [Pope] Benedict [XVI], Cardinal Mueller was the last link to Benedict’s way of doing things.”

Taken together, the departure of two arch-conservatives is a serious setback to critics of Francis. They do not see the Pope as an avuncular pastor but instead fear that he is a deft political operator in the midst of a house-cleaning of conservatives.

During the Pope’s trip to Philadelphia in September 2015, Mueller said “it’s not possible” for violators of church doctrine on divorce, homosexuality or abortion to be welcomed completely back into the church. “It’s not an academic doctrine, it’s the word of God,” he said.

Asked in the interview whether the Pope was as tough a boss as many critics in the Vatican suggested, Mueller grinned and said: “It’s a secret.”

When it was noted that his staying in his job seemed like a promising sign, Mueller laughed.

AP, Reuters, New York Times

Pope shakes up Vatican by replacing conservative doctrinal chief — Francis fighting the Vatican’s “Deep State”

July 2, 2017


Newly elected cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Germany arrives during a consistory ceremony led by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican February 22, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
By Philip Pullella | VATICAN CITY

In a major shake-up of the Vatican’s administration on Saturday, Pope Francis replaced Catholicism’s top theologian, a conservative German cardinal who has been at odds with the pontiff’s vision of a more inclusive Church.

A brief Vatican statement said Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller’s five-year mandate as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a department charged with defending Catholic doctrine, would not be renewed.

The position is the most important one that a pope fills in the Vatican hierarchy after the Secretary of State. Most incumbents keep it until they retire, which in Mueller’s case would have been in six years.

Mueller, 69, who was appointed by former Pope Benedict in 2012, will be succeeded by the department’s number two, Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer.

Ladaria, a 73-year-old Spaniard who, like the Argentine pope is a member of the Jesuit order, is said by those who know him to be a soft-spoken person who shuns the limelight. Mueller, by contrast, often appears in the media.

“They speak the same language and Ladaria is someone who is meek. He does not agitate the pope and does not threaten him,” said a priest who works in the Vatican and knows both Mueller and Ladaria, asking not to be named.

Since his election in 2013, Francis has given hope to progressives who want him to forge ahead with his vision for a more welcoming Church that concentrates on mercy rather than the strict enforcement of rigid rules they see as antiquated.

Mueller is one of several cardinals in the Vatican who have publicly sparred with the pope.


His departure follows the high-profile exit of fellow conservative Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican economy minister who took a leave of absence on Thursday to face charges of historical sexual abuse in his native Australia.

In 2015 both were among 13 cardinals who signed a secret letter to the pope complaining that a meeting of bishops discussing family issues was stacked in favor of liberals. The letter was leaked, embarrassing the signatories.

“Clearly, the pope and Cardinal Mueller have not been on the same page for five years,” the priest said.

Mueller has criticized parts of a 2016 papal treatise called “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love), a cornerstone document of Francis’ attempt to make the 1.2 billion-member Church more inclusive and less condemning.

In it, Francis called for a Church that is less strict and more compassionate toward any “imperfect” members, such as those who divorced and remarried, saying “no one can be condemned forever”.

Conservatives have concentrated their criticism on the document’s opening to Catholics who divorce and remarry in civil ceremonies, without getting Church annulments.

Under Church law they cannot receive communion unless they abstain from sex with their new partner, because their first marriage is still valid in the eyes of the Church and therefore they are seen to be living in an adulterous state of sin.

In the document the pope sided with progressives who had proposed an “internal forum” in which a priest or bishop decide jointly with the individual on a case-by-case basis if he or she can be fully re-integrated and receive communion.

After the document was published Catholic bishops in some countries, including Germany, enacted guidelines on how priests could allow some divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments.

But Mueller has said there should be no exceptions, making him a hero to conservatives who have made the issue a rallying point for their opposition to Francis.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Helen Popper and Jason Neely)


Pope dismisses doctrine chief after reform clashes — “Deep state” at the Vatican?

July 1, 2017


© AFP | Pope Francis has dismissed the church’s chief of doctrine

VATICAN CITY (AFP) – Pope Francis has dismissed the church’s chief of doctrine Cardinal Gerhard Mueller — one of the most powerful cardinals at the Vatican — and appointed a Spanish Archbishop to the role, the Vatican said Saturday.


German conservative Mueller, 69, who served a five-year posting as head of the powerful department responsible for church doctrine, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), had clashed with the pope over key reform issues.

He was one of several cardinals who questioned Francis’s determination for the Catholic Church to take a softer line on people traditionally seen as “sinners”, including remarried divorced people who want to take Communion.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, right, walks to the Vatican alongside Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn. Credit Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

Mueller had also been caught up in the controversy surrounding the Church’s response to the clerical sex abuse scandal after his department was accused earlier this year of obstructing Francis’s efforts to stop internal cover-ups of abuse.

The Vatican said Mueller’s five-year term would not be renewed and he would be replaced by CDF Secretary Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, a 73-year-old Spaniard.


The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has declined to renew the mandate of the Vatican’s conservative doctrine chief, tapping instead the No. 2 to lead the powerful congregation that handles sex abuse cases and guarantees Catholic orthodoxy around the world.

In a short statement Saturday, the Vatican said Francis thanked Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller for his service. Müller’s five-year term ends this weekend and he turns 75 in December, the normal retirement age for bishops.

Francis could have kept him on, but declined to do so. The two have clashed over the pope’s opening to allowing civilly remarried Catholics to receive communion. Müller has insisted they cannot, given church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

Francis tapped the No. 2 in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Jesuit Monsignor Luis Ferrer, to succeed Müller.

In Tough Times, Religion Can Offer a Sturdy Shelter — And May Cure What Ails Us

June 30, 2017
Many recent studies have shown that religious observance can strengthen resilience to stress and illness.
Image result for our lady of guadalupe, art, photos
Our Lady of Guadalupe

By Melvin Konner
The Wall Street Journal
June 30, 2017 9:36 a.m. ET

Zealots in our time have spilled enough blood in the name of religion that some authors—for instance, the late Christopher Hitchens in “God Is Not Great”—have blamed religious feeling itself for evil deeds. But a flood of recent research has shown how faith strengthens resilience to stress, including illness. A new study extends that research to Mexican immigrants in the U.S.

Strikingly, many of these studies on faith have come out over the past few years. Some are U.S.-based: Research published in May found that among over 5,000 American adults, regular churchgoers had better physiological stress measures and lower mortality. The Black Women’s Health Study reported in April that it had found a similar mortality benefit among 36,600 women. A 2015 article on 32,000 cancer patients found better physical health in those with greater religion and spirituality.

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The effects transcend borders and particular religions. Among 37,000 patients in Japan, the more religious had fewer cardiovascular risk factors and were less likely to get diabetes; likewise Orthodox Christians in Greece. Religiousness was associated with better compliance in dialysis patients in Saudi Arabia; in Northern India, Hindu identification predicted better stress coping. Both Buddhist and Muslim women in Thailand managed their diabetes better if they were religious. Even in secular Denmark, religion protected health.

Mary Read-Wahidi and Jason DeCaro, anthropologists at the University of Alabama, explored the stresses of immigration in Scott County, Miss., publishing their work in May in the Medical Anthropology Quarterly. Between April and August 2013, the researchers systematically interviewed 60 Mexican immigrants sharing a devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe in the county, in the central part of the state. As earlier researchers had shown with African-American women facing racism and so many others around the world dealing with illness, religious observances moderate the stresses of life in a new country.

Anthropologists would call the Virgin of Guadalupe a master symbol—one that has many meanings and functions in people’s lives. Her following is particularly strong in Mexico, where, according to legend, she appeared in 1531 to a poor peasant named Juan Diego and—in winter—filled his cloak with flowers. Soon a local bishop and eventually the Catholic Church were persuaded by Juan’s account. The immigrants of Scott County identified with the humble Juan Diego and melded their religious feeling with strands of nationalism: He was indigenous, yet under Spanish colonialism he had become a stranger in a strange land.

Some of the immigrants in the study were undocumented, living in fear of discovery. Many were doing hard, dangerous work, and most didn’t have health insurance; Dr. DeCaro calls them “a deeply disempowered community.” The researchers tested them on the Immigration Stressor Scale, with questions like: How often do you feel lonely or isolated? How often do you worry about meeting the basic needs of your family? The subjects also rated their own well-being, physically and socially.

Additionally, the researchers developed a scale for “cultural consonance” with Guadalupan devotion—in other words, how many Guadalupan beliefs and practices the subjects adopted, such as keeping a statue of the Virgin in their homes or cars, pursuing the tradition of bringing her flowers (recalling her favor to Juan) or rating her annual festival as very important. Paths to high-consonance scores could vary, from praying to the Virgin regularly to attending communal events in her honor. Those with high cultural consonance were resilient to the effects of stress on well-being: Greater immigration-related stress wasn’t tied to worse physical or psychosocial outcomes. Those with low readings on the cultural consonance scale showed lower well-being with greater stress.

“Guadalupan devotion is buffering that negative effect,” Dr. Read-Wahidi said. Spiritually or psychologically, the Virgin of Guadalupe is helping her Scott County followers hang on.

Vatican Worries About ‘Forcibly Removed’ Bishop in China — Beijing Government Has Apparently Detained Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin — “Communism is a terrible totalitarian regime and people who haven’t experienced that find difficulty to understand that.”

June 26, 2017

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican is expressing “grave concern” for a Chinese bishop who it says was “forcibly removed” from his office several weeks ago.

The Holy See in a statement Monday said neither Catholics in Wenzhou diocese nor the prelate’s relatives know where or why Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin was taken.

Image result for Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin, photos

Bishop Peter ShaoZhumin

The Vatican recognizes Shao’s appointment as bishop; Chinese authorities don’t.

The Catholic church and the ruling Communist authorities of China have wrestled for decades over Vatican insistence only the pope can appoint bishops.

Last week, a Vatican-affiliated missionary news service said Shao’s disappearance is believed to be part of an attempt to persuade him to join the Communist-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association church.

The Vatican, saying it’s “profoundly saddened” by Shao’s case and “other similar episodes,” expressed hope he’ll return quickly.


“Communism is a terrible totalitarian regime and people who haven’t experienced that find difficulty to understand that.” — Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen

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Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen

A crane winching a large red cross from one Guantou’s three domes

A crane winches a large red cross from one of three domes on the Guantou church in Wenzhou

Officials in eastern China must abandon plans to demolish churches and crosses and stop their

Parishioners line up outside the Sanjiang church in Wenzhou hoping to save it from demolition by the Chinese Communist government. China destroyed the church anyway: but the massive showing of government defiance startled the Communist government.  Photo: Tom Phillips

Four bulldozers started demolishing Sanjiang church in Wenzhou on Monday, after six weeks of protests

Four bulldozers started demolishing Sanjiang church in Wenzhou after six weeks of protests

 — No room for Jesus?

 (May 2015)

China’s Catholics: ‘Rome may betray us, but I won’t join a Church which is controlled by the Communist Party’

 (From 2014)

 (The Dalai Lama is considered an outlaw to the Communist Chinese government)

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Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan

Fighting kills more than 3,000 in Congo’s Kasai region: Catholic church

June 20, 2017


Congolese security forces and a militia fighting them have killed at least 3,383 people in the central Kasai region since October, the Catholic church said on Tuesday, in the most detailed report to date on the violence.

Church officials, citing their own sources in the remote territory bordering Angola, said the army had destroyed 10 villages as it sought to stamp out an insurrection.

They also accused the Kamuina Nsapu militia of killing hundreds of people, destroying four villages and attacking church property in a campaign to drive out central government troops.

No one was immediately available to comment from the militia or Democratic Republic of Congo’s army, which has dismissed accusations of excessive force in the past.

The clashes have triggered fears of a wider conflict in the central African giant, a tinderbox of ethnic rivalry and competing claims over mineral resources. Wars at the turn of the century killed millions and sucked in neighbouring countries.

The church’s report will carry considerable weight in a country where about 40 percent of the population identifies as Catholic.

Fighting surged in Kasai in August when the army killed a chief who had been calling for central government forces to quit the region, saying it should be left to local leaders.

The violence has stoked political tensions already heightened by President Joseph Kabila’s decision to stay in power beyond the December 2016 end of his mandate. Kasai is an opposition stronghold.

The U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva is due to decide this week whether to authorize an investigation into the Kasai violence. U.N. investigators say they have discovered 42 mass graves.

Congo’s government opposes an international investigation, saying that would violate its sovereignty.

The United Nations says more than 1.3 million people have fled the fighting.

(Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Andrew Heavens)


DR Congo Kasai conflict: ‘Thousands dead’ in violence

BBC News

A boy holds his teddy bear as he waits with other Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) for a daily food ration at a camp for people fleeing the conflict in the Kasai province on 7 June 2017 in Kikwit.
The UN has called for an investigation into the violence, which has left millions displaced. GETTY IMAGES

More than 3,300 people have been killed in the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kasai region since last October, the Catholic Church says.

The figure, reported by Reuters, is from Church sources in the country.

The deaths are the result of clashes between the army and a rebel group, but civilians have also been caught up in the violence.

The UN has reported on the discovery of more than 20 mass graves but has put the death toll so far at about 400.

According to the church, 20 villages have been completely destroyed, half of them by government troops.

The UN human rights chief, Prince Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said investigators in Kasai province had identified dozens of mass graves along with harrowing evidence of people being shot, burned or hacked to death.

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Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. UN Photo by Jean Marc Ferré.

Atrocities were being carried out by the security forces and a government-backed militia, known as the Bana Mura, which was set up to help fight a rival group known as the Kamuina Nsapu, Prince Zeid said.

He added that local authorities had denied the UN access to information about what was happening in the region. The UN has said it has evidence that hundreds of villagers from the Luba and Lulua ethnic groups have been killed.

The UN Human Rights Council is likely to vote this week on whether to mandate an independent investigation into the violence following what the group’s commissioner described as horrific atrocities committed in Kasai province.

The Congolese authorities have said they would reject it.

More than a million people have been displaced in the region in the last year and aid workers say the humanitarian response on the ground has so far been inadequate.

Violence erupted in the once peaceful Kasai region last August, after the death of a local leader during fighting with security forces.

Pope: Basic Values Give Italy Cause to Hope Despite Woes — Talks About ‘Christianity at Work’

June 10, 2017

ROME — Pope Francis has paid a call on Italy’s president and encouraged Italians to cling to hope despite economic woes, especially the lack of jobs for young people.

Francis spoke of young Italians’ difficulties in finding “stable and dignified work,” saying that fuels “distrust in the future and doesn’t favor the birth of new families and children.” But he said holding to fundamental values of human and family dignity helps preserve hope.

President Sergio Mattarella and schoolchildren visiting from earthquake-devastated towns in central Italy greeted Francis. Francis, in his simple Ford car, had been driven across town from the Vatican midday Saturday morning, right past city buses and drawing waves from surprised tourists.


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis paid an official visit on Saturday to the President of Italy, Sergio Matarella at the Quirinale palace in Rome. During his visit he spoke of  “the Church in Italy as being strongly linked to the soul of the country.”


The last time Pope Francis visited the Quirinale, the residence of the President of Italy and of Popes of the past, was back in November 2013 during the Presidency of Giorgio Napolitano, but this time the Holy Father was paying a call on Sergio Mattarella, President of the Republic since 2015.

In the majestic surroundings of this historic palace Pope Francis in a speech to the President spoke about Christian hope in a world of problems and risks.

The Pope said that Italy and the whole of Europe were being called to deal with problems such as international terrorism, “the widespread migratory phenomenon and the serious and persistent social and economic imbalances in many areas of the world.”

As far as the vast and complex migratory phenomenon is concerned, Pope Francis commented that  “it is clear that a few nations cannot bear the full burden, adding, “for this reason, it is indispensable and urgent to develop a comprehensive and intensive international cooperation.”

But the Holy Father also noted that Italy, “through the generous nature of its citizens and the commitment of its institutions was working to transform these challenges into growth opportunities and new opportunities.

Pope Francis in particular highlighted the work being done by Italy to help refugees who land on its shores, and the commitment of volunteers and parishes especially during the earthquakes that hit Central Italy last year, highlighting that this was Christianity at work.

Another issue that the Pope returned to during his address was that of employment and he reiterated his call “for generating and accompanying processes that give rise to new decent working opportunities.”

To those gathered in the Quirinale the Holy Father stressed that “the Church in Italy is a vital reality, strongly linked to the soul of the country…”

In conclusion, Pope Francis said that “in the Catholic Church and in the principles of Christianity…, Italy will always find the best ally for the growth of society, for its concord and for its true progress.”