20 International News

posted Mar 13, 2019, 9:55 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 13, 2019, 9:56 AM ]

Number of priests declines for the first time since 2010

The Vatican has presented the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae 2017, with up-to-date statistics on the status of the Catholic Church in the world. Baptised Catholics make up 17.7 per cent of the world's population, or 1,313 million people. Out of these, 48.5 per cent live in the Americas, 21.8 per cent in Europe. Then, 17.8 per cent live in Africa, 11.1 per cent in Asia and 0.8 per cent in Oceania.


Catholic missionaries, aid workers among victims of plane crash

Pope Francis offered prayers for the 157 people killed in an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash on Sunday, March 10, which included a priest, a religious sister, and four staff members with Catholic Relief Services. A telegram from Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin on March 11 said that "His Holiness Pope Francis offers prayers for the deceased from various countries, and commends their souls to the mercy of Almighty God."

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed just minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa. Everyone aboard the plane, which was headed to Nairobi, Kenya, was killed. The 157 victims included seven crew members and one security official, as well as 19 U.N. staff members, CNN reported. Those killed came from 35 countries, with the largest number from Kenya.


Martyred seminarians a great witness to priests

The beatification of nine Spanish seminarians, martyrs of the 20th century, is a testimony for the Church today, disfigured by sexual abuses and the abuse of power by members of the clergy, said Cardinal Angelo Becciu, on celebrating the martyrdom of Angelo Cuartas Cristobal and eight companions, on March 9, 2019 at Oviedo, Spain. "We need honest and irreproachable priests," he stressed.

The nine seminarians – Angelo, Mariano, Jesus, Cesar Gonzalo, Jose Maria, Juan Jose, Manuel, Sixto and Luis – were killed out of hatred for the faith between 1934 and 1937.


Three Christian women falsely accused of blasphemy

Charges of desecrating the pages of the Koran saw three young Christian women, including two minors, placed under arrest. It was later discovered that none of the charges was true, but by then, the news had spread across their Karachi neighbourhood, provoking a violent reaction by local Islamic radicals who forced some 200 Christian families living in the area to abandon their homes to save themselves.

Thankfully, Christian clerics were able this time to intervene quickly and mediate the affair, which ended peacefully. One of the clerics, Fr Saleh Diego, a member of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Pakistan (CBCP), told AsiaNews that "police released the young women, who now live at a secret location for security reasons."


School apologises after student forced to remove ashes

William McLeod, a fourth-grade student at Valley View Elementary School in Bountiful, Utah, arrived at school on Ash Wednesday with ashes on his forehead. He told Fox13 that he was the only pupil with ashes at the school. Other students were curious about them, he said, and he explained the Ash Wednesday custom when they asked.

But then, McLeod said, his teacher Moana Patterson confronted him about the ashes, telling him they were inappropriate, and that he needed to remove them. Despite McLeod's objections, Patterson made him remove the ash cross with a sanitising wipe, said his grandmother Karen Fisher. "He went to see the school's psychologist, crying," said Fisher.