Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Church’

China, the Vatican and a controversial deal

February 4, 2018

BBC News

  • 4 February 2018
Pope Francis
Pope Francis says he would like to visit China. Getty Images

China and the Vatican are close to reaching a historic deal regarding the appointment of bishops, according to media reports.

An agreement could be signed in a few months, said a senior Vatican source. If reached, it would be a breakthrough in relations for both parties.

But what exactly is in the pipeline and what would it mean for the country’s 10 million Catholics?

What are relations between China and the Vatican like?

Ties between two have long been strained by disputes over who can appoint bishops in the country.

China first broke off diplomatic ties with the Holy See in 1951, and many Catholics were forced to go underground during former communist leader Mao Zedong’s rule, emerging only in the 1980s when religious practices were tolerated again.

Today, Catholics in China face the choice of attending state-sanctioned churches approved by Beijing or worshipping in underground congregations.

The underground churches recognise only the Vatican’s authority, whereas the Chinese state churches refuse to accept the authority of the Pope.

There are currently about 100 Catholic bishops in China, with some approved by Beijing, some approved by the Vatican and, informally, many now approved by both.

Inside a home church in Beijing
People praying at an underground church

Relations between both parties appear to be thawing.

Last year, Pope Francis made his thoughts about China known, saying that he would like to visit China “as soon as they send me an invitation”. The pontiff also added that he hoped there was the “possibility to have good relations with China”.

Chinese and Vatican officials have met at least four times since 2016 over the issue of the appointment of bishops, state media report.

What is in the agreement?

Under the agreement, the Vatican would be given a say in the appointment of future bishops in China, a Vatican source told news agency Reuters.

For Beijing, an agreement with the Vatican could allow them more control over the country’s underground churches.

Father Dong Guanhua has been kicked out of the Chinese Catholic church for calling himself a bishop

Globally, it would also enhance China’s prestige – to have the world’s rising superpower engaging with one of the world’s major religions.

Symbolically, it would the first sign of rapprochement between China and the Catholic church in more than half a century.

The Vatican is the only European state that maintains formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. It is currently unclear if an agreement between China and the Vatican would affect this in any way.

What will this mean for the country’s Catholics?

There are currently around 10 million Roman Catholics in China.

It’s not certain how such an agreement will affect the community, though some are sceptical.

Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong had on Wednesday criticised the Vatican for its attempts at diplomacy with China, accusing the Church of forcing bishops to retire in favour of replacements picked by Beijing.

“Do I think that the Vatican is selling out the Catholic Church in China?” he wrote on Facebook. “Yes, definitely.”

Others however, are slightly more hopeful.

Father Jeroom Heyndrickx, a Belgian priest who has spent 60 years trying to help Chinese Catholics, said that he believed China was “ready to have a dialogue.”

“For 2,000 years in China, the emperor was emperor and pope at the same time,” he told the BBC. “But China has changed and the Church has changed and this is what constitutes a new opportunity for this dialogue to succeed.”



Pope’s China Calculation Clashes with Image as Champion of Oppressed — Vatican Caves In To China — Ukrainian Catholics also Angry

February 3, 2018

Some believers say they feel abandoned when Pope Francis pursues diplomatic goals in China, Russia, Mideast

Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of Muslim, Christian and Hindu refugees during an Easter Week Mass in 2016 outside Rome.Photo: Sipa USA

ROME—Pope Francis’ recent decision to replace two Chinese bishops loyal to Rome with selectees of the country’s Communist government, heralding his broader moves to reset the Vatican’s ties with Beijing, has drawn cries of betrayal from advocates of the country’s long-persecuted “underground” Catholic Church.

The pope’s actions in China are characteristic of a leader who has repeatedly practiced realpolitik to achieve important goals. But they clash with Pope Francis’ image among many Catholics and others as a defender of the oppressed—a profile likely to be further tested by his campaign to improve Vatican-China relations after seven decades of estrangement.

The pope has decided to recognize seven government-appointed Chinese bishops, according to a person familiar with the matter, in a major concession to Beijing in pursuit of warmer relations and—in the very long term—possible reestablishment of diplomatic ties broken in 1951. As part of that decision, Pope Francis has moved to replace two bishops loyal to the Vatican with prelates from China’s state-controlled Catholic church.

Cardinal Joseph Zen marching to urge Hong Kong voters to the polls in 2014. Photo: bobby yip/Reuters

Cardinal Joseph Zen, a former bishop of Hong Kong, wrote on Monday that the Vatican seemed to be “selling out the Catholic Church in China.” Vatican officials now expect the pope’s stance in China to provoke more such criticisms from Chinese Catholics who reject government control of the church.

This isn’t the first time Catholics have complained that the pope has abandoned them in pursuit of diplomatic or political ends. But while the outcome of his China initiative remains uncertain, when Pope Francis has seemed to make such trade-offs in the past, the nature of his long-term goals has generally limited the outcry and any damage to his image.

Pope Francis “is a man of extreme realism who calculates very much the effects of what he says or does,” said Sandro Magister, a Vatican expert who writes for Italy’s L’Espresso magazine. “In order to achieve certain results he is quite ready to play down the concern that he otherwise shows for the persecuted and the oppressed.”

Ukrainian Christians say Pope Francis has deemphasized Russian aggression against their country by describing the fight against Russian-backed separatists in the east as “fratricidal.” They say that stance reflects his effort to cultivate relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, which has close ties to the Kremlin. In 2016, he achieved a dramatic milestone in his effort to reunify the Catholic and Orthodox churches after a 1,000-year split when he held the first meeting by a pope with a Russian Orthodox Patriarch.

Similarly, Middle Eastern Christians have accused the pope of neglecting their plight to promote better ties with Islam, such as when he brought only Muslims back with him after a 2016 visit to a refugee camp in Greece. His conciliatory approach to the Muslim world, including his repeated insistence that Islamist terrorism is in no way inspired by religion, has been widely understood as an effort to make peace with a religion with more than 1.6 billion followers world-wide.

Many saw that approach as vindicated in 2017, when an audience at a Muslim university in Egypt welcomed the pope’s denunciation of violence committed in the name of God.


  • Pope Francis to Bow to China With Concession on Bishops
  • Five Things to Know About the Catholic Church in China

In China, the pope seeks to increase at least incrementally the religious liberty of Catholics, even by means of compromise with an officially atheistic state. He also seeks to unify the underground Catholic community and members of the state-controlled church.

A number of Catholics and their sympathizers are bound to deplore that policy no matter what happens next. Whether the rest of the world judges it as prudence or opportunism will depend on its success.

Write to Francis X. Rocca at

Murder Charges in Philippine Police Case That Ignited Anger Over Drug War

January 29, 2018

The New York Times

January 29, 2018

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The funeral of Kian Loyd delos Santos in Manila in August. His death ignited public anger at President Rodrigo Duterte’s antidrug campaign. Credit Francis R. Malasig/European Pressphoto Agency
MANILA — The Philippine Justice Department filed murder charges on Monday against three police officers in the death of a 17-year-old boy last year, a case that strengthened opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs.

The officers — Arnel Oares, Jeremias Pereda and Jerwin Cruz — were charged in a lower court in Caloocan City, north of Manila, along with an informant who had erroneously identified the boy, Kian Loyd delos Santos, as a drug pusher.

Witnesses had described seeing Mr. delos Santos being dragged away by the officers and finding his body slumped over near a pigsty. That contradicted statements by the police officers, who said the boy had pulled a gun, setting off a shootout in which he died.

The teenager’s death in August ignited public anger and his funeral procession became a protest led by the influential Catholic Church and activists who denounced Mr. Duterte’s drug crackdown.

About 4,000 people accused of being drug pushers and addicts have died since Mr. Duterte took office in 2016, according to police statistics. Philippine rights groups and Human Rights Watch, however, say the number is much higher — about 12,000 people.

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From left, Arnel Oares, Jerwin Cruz and Jeremias Pereda were charged in the killing of Mr. delos Santos. Credit Noel Celis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Because of the anger and protests that arose from Mr. delos Santos’s killing, Mr. Duterte removed the police as the lead agency in the crackdown and installed a civilian-led drug enforcement office.

That move turned out to be temporary. In December, Mr. Duterte reinstated the police to lead the drug war.

In filing the charges on Monday, the Justice Department cited witnesses who said they had seen Mr. delos Santos dragged away and shot at close range.

The department said forensic evidence showed, in “an indisputable conclusion,” that Mr. delos Santos gad been shot while in a “somewhat kneeling” or “fetal” position.

The department added that the testimonies showed that “there was no unlawful aggression on the part of Kian during the time he was shot and killed.” It also cast doubt on the officers’ assertion that the killing occurred in the course of a legitimate drug operation.

Thirteen other officers who took part in the drug sweep in Mr. delos Santos’s neighborhood were cleared. The Justice Department said that the commander of the local police force could not be charged because there was no evidence that he had given an order to kill Mr. delos Santos.



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Philippine National Police Director General


Officers charged in Philippine teen’s drug war ‘murder’


© AFP/File | Classmates of Kian delos Santos light candles at his wake in August 2017

MANILA (AFP) – Three Philippine police officers and an informer were charged Monday with murdering a teenager in a case which highlighted alleged extrajudicial killings during President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drugs war.Authorities say they have killed 3,987 suspects in “self-defence” in anti-drug operations since Duterte came to power in mid-2016.

An unspecified number of people had also been killed by unknown suspects in 2,235 “drug-related incidents”.

Kian delos Santos, 17, was shot dead during a night-time anti-drug sweep by Manila police last year.

Police had alleged the boy was a drug dealer who fired at them while resisting arrest. But investigators concluded he did not fire a gun and CCTV footage showed him being dragged near his home by two of the accused officers.

The charge sheet against the four said the killing showed premeditation.

“The obvious fact that some of the respondents were seen wearing masks and caps, indicates that they intended to hide their identity and utilise the darkness to carry out their plan.”

The four defendants were also charged with planting a firearm on the victim, while two of the officers were additionally charged with making an illegal search of the victim’s home.

However the justice department investigators decided against filing charges of torture against the four.

It also dismissed murder, torture and illegal search complaints against 13 other Manila police officers who were part of the August 16, 2017 operation, both for lack of sufficient evidence.

Filipinos have mostly backed Duterte’s drug war even as critics warned the killing of thousands may amount to a crime against humanity.

But the death of Delos Santos, as well as of two other Manila teenagers accused of robbing a taxi driver last year, have triggered rare street protests and highlighted concerns about police abuse.

It led to Duterte briefly suspending police participation in the drug crackdown for a second time.

The first occasion was in January last year after narcotics police officers were arrested for the kidnapping and murder of a South Korean businessman in 2016.

However in both instances the police were reinstated in the campaign without major reforms.

Catholic Church anger at Kabila, DR Congo government after bloody crackdown — 12 dead

January 2, 2018


© AFP/File | Protesters in the Democratic Republic of Congo called for President Joseph Kabila to step down
KINSHASA (AFP) – The death toll from a crackdown on New Year’s Eve demonstrations in Democratic Republic of Congo rose to 12, protestors said on Tuesday, as the country’s powerful Catholic Church condemned what it called “barbarism” and the UN and France sounded their concern.”Eleven people died in Kinshasa and one in Kananga,” Jonas Tshombela, a spokesman for the protest organisers, told AFP.

Catholic and opposition groups on Sunday defied a ban on demonstrations demanding that President Joseph Kabila — in power since the assassination of his father in 2001 — leave office.

They were met with a deadly crackdown by authorities, who fired tear gas into churches and bullets in the air to break up gatherings.

An AFP reporter at a demonstration in the central city of Kananga saw a man shot in the chest by soldiers who opened fire on worshippers.

The protests took place on the first anniversary of a Church-brokered deal under which Kabila was scheduled to leave office in 2017 after fresh elections.

The poll has since been postponed until December 2018. Western powers have accepted the delay with reluctance, hoping it will avoid bloodshed and encourage stability in this vast and volatile central African country.

In contrast to the toll given by the protestors, the United Nations said in a statement that “at least five people” were killed, several wounded and more than 120 arrested.

Police spokesman colonel Rombaut-Pierrot Mwanamputu, said that “no deaths” had occurred in the context of the demonstrations.

On Sunday, he had said three civilians — “robbers” and “looters” — had been killed, in incidents that had occurred far from the protests. The DRC authorities also say a policeman was killed when a police station came under “attack.”

– Church anger –

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Kinshasa, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, issued an angry statement, saying that the marches had been “peaceful and non violent.”

“We can only denounce, condemn and stigmatise the behaviour of our supposedly courageous men in uniform, who, sadly, and no more or less, are channelling barbarism,” he said.

The episcopate, gathering the country’s bishops, said “vile acts” had been committed.

“Freedom of worship, guaranteed in every democratic state, was assailed, churches were desecrated and members of the faithful, including altar boys and priests, were physically assaulted,” it said, demanding a “serious and objective investigation.”

The internet was restored on Tuesday three days after Telecommunications Minister Emery Okundji ordered mobile operators to cut internet and SMS services “for reasons of state security.”

In its statement, the UN reiterated its appeal to “all Congolese actors” to adhere to the December 31, 2016 agreement — “the only viable path to the holding of elections, the peaceful transfer of power and the consolidation of stability in the DRC.”

France, too expressed its concern about the violence and the election timetable, saying the right to peaceful protest “is an essential component of democracy.”

Despite pressure from abroad, the authorities seem intent on pursuing a clampdown, flooding cities with police and troops whenever the opposition tries to make a show of strength, analysts said.

The last demonstrations on any great scale were in July 2016, when veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, who died in Brussels the following year, returned home.

“The major deployment of police, army and military gear aims at discouraging people who are tempted to go out and demonstrate,” said Congolese analyst Jacques Wondo.

But “this repression has its limits,” he said, contending that over the long term, the cost of this wide-scale operation would strain the government’s coffers.

Vital Kamerhe, head of the third biggest opposition party in parliament, argued that the presence of priests in Sunday’s demonstrations showed that the protest movement had gone into “higher gear.”

“We (the opposition groups) have to get together and set in place a new strategy, in unity,” he told AFP.

“With each step we have to amend our mistakes. We have to turn out in droves in the face of these mercenaries,” he said, referring to the security forces.

2 dead in anti-government protests in Congo’s capital

January 1, 2018


A Congolese boy protests against President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down from power in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. (AP)

KINSHASA, Cono: Congolese security forces shot dead two men outside a church on Sunday while dispersing demonstrators protesting in the country’s capital against President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down from power, according to Human Rights Watch.

Catholic churches and activists had called for peaceful demonstrations after Sunday mass, one year after the Catholic Church oversaw the signing of an accord that set a new election date to ease tensions in the mineral-rich country.
Kabila, whose mandate ended December 2016, had agreed to set an election by the end of 2017. Congo’s election commission says the vote cannot be held until December 2018. Critics accuse Kabila of postponing elections to maintain his grip on power, causing tensions to increase and provoking violence and deadly street demonstrations across the country since the end of 2016.
The government refused permits for the demonstrations Sunday, and shut down Internet and SMS services countrywide ahead of the planned anti-government protests for what it called security reasons.
More than 160 churches participated in the call. Police responded with tear gas in some areas of Kinshasa.
The two men killed were shot dead outside St. Alphonse church in the Matete district, said Human Rights Watch Central Africa director Ida Sawyer.
Protests had calmed by midday, though many had also been injured and barricades remained erected before New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Congo’s election commission has set new presidential and legislative elections for Dec. 23, 2018, though the opposition has said it would only agree to delay the vote until June 2018.
Kabila can remain in power until the next election is held, although he is barred by the Constitution from seeking another term in office.

Christians in India demand increased security ahead of Christmas celebrations

December 24, 2017


Christians protesting against attacks on churches in Delhi in this file photo. (AFP)

NEW DELHI: The president of the Catholic Church in India has expressed concern over the rising number of attacks against Christians, and has urged the government to ensure their security.

“Recent incidents in some states (in India) have created anxiety among Christians,” Cardinal Baselios Cleemis told Arab News.
He and other church leaders met Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday to press for greater security for the Christian community.
“The minister assured us that immediate action would be taken to bring the culprits to justice and ensure the safety of the community,” Cleemis said.
Last week, 30 Catholic choir singers were attacked in the Satna district of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh by right-wing Hindus who accused them of practicing religious conversion.
Local church leaders accused police of arresting the choir members instead of the culprits. “What happened in Satna isn’t an encouraging sign for minorities,” said Cleemis.
“You arrest people on the basis of a rumor, you ignore arson and assault, and you let the culprits go scot free. This worries us,” he added.
“We need the government to act immediately to ensure all possible ways of giving confidence to minorities in India,” Cleemis said.
“India belongs to everyone. If something happens to one community, it affects the entire country. We want a united India with diversity intact.”
Madhya Pradesh is ruled by the Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “No such attack on Christians took place in Madhya Pradesh,” BJP spokesman Deepak Vijaywargiya told Arab News. “Since this is an election year, such allegations arise to serve certain vested interests.”
Christians were also reportedly attacked on Friday in the BJP-governed western state of Rajasthan, again over accusations of religious conversion, a charge the minority community in India vehemently denies.
Earlier this week, in the Aligarh district of the BJP-governed eastern state of Uttar Pradesh, a Hindu group pledging allegiance to a local BJP parliamentarian warned Christian schools against celebrating Christmas. “India is increasingly becoming unsafe and hostile to religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims,” Harsh Mander, director of the Center for Equity Studies, told Arab News.

Philippines President Duterte Puts Philippine National Police (PNP) Back Into Drug War — They have a human rights app now — Returning to dead body counts?

December 6, 2017
The Catholic Church sees the President’s order as a ‘bad move,’ but presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says the PDEA remains the lead agency in the war on drugs, with the police only providing active support
 / 07:28 AM December 06, 2017
PNP, other law enforcement agencies ordered to help PDEA in drug war

Saying there was a “notable resurgence in illegal drugs,” President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday ordered the Philippine National Police to actively support the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the war on drugs.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the PDEA remained the lead agency in the war on drugs.

The PNP, the military and other law enforcement agencies would only provide “active support” to the PDEA, Roque told a news briefing.

Mr. Duterte’s order on Tuesday, he said, “supersedes the earlier memorandum that designated the PDEA as the sole agency that will deal with the entire illegal drug operations.”

Roque said that if the PNP wanted to revive “Oplan Tokhang,” it should coordinate first with the PDEA.

“Well, it’s very clear the PDEA is the lead so if Tokhang will be implemented by the PNP, I would suppose there would have to be coordination with the PDEA,” he said.

“If they want to resume Tokhang, they need to confer with the PDEA on how to implement it. The PDEA must be consulted and the PDEA must not be deprived of its role in the implementation of the Dangerous Drugs Act,” Roque added.

Thousands of people have been killed in the PNP campaign, drawing expressions of concern from the United States, European Union, United Nations and international groups about human rights violations in the Philippines.

Mr. Duterte badmouthed them all, accusing them of meddling in Philippine internal affairs.

On Oct. 11, Mr. Duterte designated the PDEA as the “sole agency” in the antidrug campaign after a series of killings of teenagers in northern Metro Manila, which was blamed for the drop in the President’s public approval ratings.

It was the second time that the PNP was stripped of its lead role in the drug war.


In January, the President ordered the PNP to suspend its antidrug operations after narcotics police allegedly kidnapped South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo and killed him inside Camp Crame, where the PNP headquarters is located.

The President allowed the PNP to resume the war on drugs after more than a month due to reports that the country’s drug problem had worsened.

This time around, Mr. Duterte said the PDEA had made significant strides but there was a resurgent drug problem and crimes related to it.

“PDEA has made significant strides in the government anti-illegal drug campaign since Oct. 11, 2017, with only one drug suspect killed in the course of its anti-illegal drug operations,” the President said.

“[However, it] has been seriously hampered in performing its huge mandate by the lack of resources, specifically agents and operatives, who can penetrate drug-infected areas down to the municipal and barangay levels,” he said.

The President noted that the PDEA had only about 2,000 personnel to deal with the drug problem in the entire country.

“There is a clamor from the public to restore to the PNP and all other law enforcement agencies the responsibility of providing active support to PDEA in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations,” he said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque INQUIRER PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

The President directed the PDEA to submit a monthly report on the progress of the campaign while the Dangerous Drugs Board would remain the policymaking and strategy-formulating body.

“So now, the President clearly wanted the PDEA to take the lead but it wants to avail [itself] of the manpower resources of all other agencies of government, not just the PNP,” Roque said.

‘Bad move’

The Catholic Church warned that Mr. Duterte’s allowing the police to rejoin the war on drugs was a “bad move.”

Speaking on Church-run Radio Veritas, Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez called the faithful to pray.

Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani said Mr. Duterte’s decision raised questions, especially after the PDEA had achieved gains and implemented reforms in the war on drugs.

“After all, the President said 40 percent of the PNP was corrupt and he replaced them twice. There have not been significant reforms. He is interested in dead body counts,” Bacani said.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the decision only showed Mr. Duterte’s fickle-mindedness.

“Didn’t he see that the PNP was already a failure? He did not give the PDEA a chance to prove itself. He did not even give it time,” Pabillo said. —With a report from Tina G. Santos

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Image result for duterte, dela rosa, together, photos

President Rodrigo Duterte and PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa. PhilStar photo

Jee Ick-joo, a South Korean businessman in the Philippines, was abducted by police from his home in October. It took his wife, Choi Kyung-jin, three months to learn his fate. Video: Eva Tam; photo: Jes Aznar for The Wall Street Journal

Lebanese church leader hails Saudi ‘friendship and support’

November 14, 2017

BEIRUT/RIYADH: The unbreakable link between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon was reinforced on Monday when Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi, head of the Maronite Church, received a red-carpet welcome on a historic and unprecedented visit to the Kingdom.

On Tuesday, Al-Rahi will meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who will host a lunch in his honor. He will also meet the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is in Riyadh.
“The Patriarch represents all the Patriarchs and Christians of the East. He is carrying a message of love and openness to Saudi Arabia, which is now witnessing further openness and positive changes,” Al-Rahi’s spokesman Walid Ghayyad told Arab News in Beirut.
“We thank the Kingdom for inviting the Patriarch on this momentous visit, especially since it complements and activates historical relations between the two countries.
“King Saud bin Abdulaziz visited the Maronite Patriarchate in Bkirki in Mount Lebanon in 1953 and exchanged encouraging messages at the time. So what is happening today is not new, but rather a renewed step that has further aspects in light of the openness of the Kingdom.”
Before leaving Beirut, Al-Rahi said: “The Kingdom has long supported Lebanon … relations between us are based on friendship and brotherhood.”
Al-Rahi heads the Maronite sect, Lebanon’s largest Christian community and the Middle East’s largest Catholic church. He took office in March 2011 and was made a cardinal by Pope Benedict in 2012.
His views on tolerance, moderation and cultural communication have long chimed with those of Saudi Arabia. In April 2011, Al-Rahi pledged “to establish a sincere and complete dialogue” with the Muslim world “and build together a future in common life and cooperation.”
The Lebanese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Abdul Sattar Issa, said the patriarch’s visit demonstrated the important steps taken by Saudi Arabia to modernize its institutions and to reinforce perceptions of Islam as a religion of moderation.
There are about 300,000 Lebanese expatriates in Saudi Arabia. The patriarch addressed more than 1,500 of them at the Lebanese Embassy on Monday at a community event hosted by the ambassador.
He said he was happy that his countrymen were treated well in the Kingdom and the peoples of the two countries were dealing with each other in a friendly and brotherly manner because of their historical relations.
On his first day in Saudi Arabia, the patriarch also had a private meeting with Saudi Minister of State for Arab Gulf Affairs Thamer Al-Sabhan. After meeting Saad Hariri on Tuesday, he will leave Riyadh in the evening to attend ecclesiastical meetings in Rome.

Philippine bishops lead thousands in call to end killings

November 5, 2017


November 5, 2017

About 3,000 people — including opposition lawmakers, students and church groups — joined the event, according to police. They carried candles and placards reading, “Stop the Killings. Start the Healing”.


MANILA: Catholic bishops on Sunday led thousands of Philippine worshippers in calling for an end to killings in President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war as they urged police and troops to stop the violence.

The killing of three teenagers in August triggered rare public protests against Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign, with rights groups accusing him of committing crimes against humanity in a crackdown that has claimed thousands of lives.

The Catholic Church, which counts 80% of Filipinos as followers, has been one of the leading critics of the war on drugs and has launched campaigns to stop the killings, including one starting on Sunday dubbed “Heal Our Land”.

The church organised a mass and procession along a historic Manila highway called EDSA, where a bloodless popular revolt ended the iron rule of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.

About 3,000 people — including opposition lawmakers, students and church groups — joined the event, according to police. They carried candles and placards reading, “Stop the Killings. Start the Healing”.

“Peace to you in the armed forces and the police. Stop the violence and uphold the law,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said at the mass.

“If we do not stop the killings, there will be a punishment for a nation that kills its own people.”

Duterte, 72, won elections last year after campaigning on a law-and-order platform and since then police have reported killing more than 3,900 “drug personalities”.

Duterte’s spokesman on Sunday said he did not condone extrajudicial killings, adding the government was investigating another 2,243 deaths in unsolved “drug-related” cases.

“The president himself made a clear stance that any violation committed by the police during operations would be dealt with accordingly,” Harry Roque said.

Critics say that Duterte’s frequent public pronouncements on the drug war have been direct incitements to kill.

Villegas said the killings tested the nation and cited the case of 17-year-old student Kian Delos Santos, who died in a police anti-drug raid in August.

“Please stop. I still have a test tomorrow,” Villegas quoted Delos Santos as saying following witness accounts that he had begged for his life.


Philippines: Mass protest against extrajudicial killings, President Duterte’s war on drugs

November 5, 2017
Relatives hold photos of victims of extrajudicial killings as they pose with priests following a mass at the Our Lady of Victory Chapel in Malabon last February 2, 2017. Miguel de Guzman, File
MANILA, Philippines — The Duterte administration is one with the nation in seeking “true healing,” Malacañang said Sunday, as hundreds of people join a mass against extrajudicial killings in the historic EDSA Shrine.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Filipinos should unite to build a nation that is free from crime, corruption and illegal drugs.
“We are one in the true healing of this nation that has long been divided by politics. We must come together as one country and one people and help the government in building a nation free from drugs, criminality and corruption,” Roque said in a statement.
The Catholic Church, the religious affiliation of more than 80 percent of Filipinos, organized the “Lord Heal our Land Sunday” to pray for the victims of the administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs.
Sunday’s mass at the EDSA Shrine was attended by civil society groups critical of President Rodrigo Duterte but organizers claimed that the event had nothing to do with politics.
Roque said organizers of the religious event have the right to express their opposition to the government’s policies.
“The president has repeatedly mentioned that he allows constructive dissent and that he would even give protesters the democratic space and time to enjoy the rights to peacefully assemble, seek redress and air their grievances,” the presidential spokesman said.
Roque stressed that the administration does not endorse the summary execution of drug suspects. He said authorities have been probing 2,243 incidents with drug-related motives as of the end of September.
“We reiterate that this administration does not—and will never—condone extrajudicial and vigilante killings,” Roque said.
“The president himself made a clear stance that any violation committed by the police during operations would be dealt with accordingly. Accountability is essential to good governance,” he added.
Malacañang is hopeful that the Catholic Church will help the government in its campaign against the drug menace in the country.
“We wish to build better rapport with the Catholic Church and seek the cooperation of its leaders, even as we call on our Catholic brethren to pro-actively help government in our anti-illegal drug campaign, particularly in the rehabilitation and treatment of drug dependents,” Roque said.
Duterte previously hit Catholic bishops for speaking out against the killings tied to his war on illegal drugs and chided them for their supposed failure to solve the sex scandals involving priests.
Despite the president’s tirades. Church officials have vowed to continue speaking out against extrajudicial killings and other social ills hounding the country.
Competing protests have been held in the Philippines both for and against the president's war on drugs. '