24 International News

posted May 16, 2019, 1:58 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated May 16, 2019, 1:59 AM ]

Vatican's Vesakh message: promotion of women and girls

The Vatican is inviting the world's Buddhists and Christians to work together to uphold and promote the rights and dignity of women and girls.

The Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) made the call in a message released on May 11, in view of the Buddhist festival of Vesakh, which will be celebrated in most countries on May 19.

Sometimes informally called "Buddha's Birthday", Vesakh actually commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautam Buddha, and is celebrated on different days in different countries.

Entitled, "Buddhists and Christians: Promoting the Dignity and Equal Rights of Women and Girls," the message, signed by PCID Secretary Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, is inspired by the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, signed in Abu Dhabi on February 4, 2019 by Pope Francis and Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb of Al-Azhar.

Among several issues, the Abu Dhabi document includes an important call for people everywhere to promote the dignity of women and children.

The Vesakh message recalls the teachings of Jesus and Buddha and the two faiths on the equal dignity of men and women, and the important role the two religions play in the advancement of women. However, it says, too often women also experience discrimination and maltreatment and sometimes religious interpretations depict women as inferior to men.


Burkina Faso
Pope Francis expresses sorrow, offers prayers for victims

Pope Francis, on May 13, 2019, expressed his sorrow and offered prayers for the victims of the May 12 attack on a Catholic church in Dablo, Burkina Faso that killed six. He prayed for the victims, for their families and for the entire Christian community in the country.

The attack took place in the small town of Dablo, about 200 kilometres north of the capital, Ouagadougou. The faithful were leaving church around 9 a.m., when about 20 suspected jihadists on motorcycles encircled the church, Vatican News reported.

From reports by eyewitnesses, it appears that their target was the 34-year-old Burkinabe priest, Fr Simeon Yampa, in charge of interreligious dialogue in his diocese. When he tried to escape, the terrorists chased and killed him.

Returning to the church, they forced the faithful to lie on the ground, picked out five of them, and shot them. "They started firing as the congregation tried to flee. They burned down the church, then shops and a small restaurant before going to the health centre where they searched the premises, and set fire to the head nurse's vehicle," Zongo said. "The city is filled with panic. People are holed up at home. Shops and stores are closed. It's practically a ghost town."

The government confirmed the toll of six, including a priest, and condemned the "barbaric and cowardly attack". After "failing to pit communities against each other with targeted killings of traditional chiefs and community leaders, terrorist groups are now attacking religion in an evil plot to divide us," it said in a statement.


Mass in Colombo for victims of the Easter attacks

After a lengthy absence for security reasons, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith celebrated a public Mass on May 9. The prelate led the Mass for the souls of the victims of the Easter attacks in St Sebastian church, one of those affected by violence a few weeks ago. There were hundreds of faithful present, including many survivors.

In his homily, Cardinal Ranjith said: "We do not hate those who caused this disaster. But they must know that, sooner or later, they will have to answer … before God, who will ask them for an account of what they have done to these people."

The Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo, Msgr J.D. Anthony, and the Parish Priest of St Sebastian, Fr Srilal Fonseka, concelebrated with the Cardinal, along with other priests.


Jordan's King donates to Holy Sepulchre Restoration

King Abdallah II of Jordan made a donation for restoring of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem at his own expense. Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine and Jordan, Theophilus III, expressed his appreciation and gratitude on behalf of himself, members of the Holy Synod, the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, the clergy and members of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem.