24 International News

posted Feb 8, 2018, 6:23 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 8, 2018, 6:23 AM ]

Catholics must fast and abstain from meat on Feb. 14

Catholics are obliged to practise fasting and abstinence on St Valentine's Day this year, as Ash Wednesday falls on the same day. The Archdiocese of Chicago said it had received enquiries on whether Catholics could have a dispensation from their Ash Wednesday obligations, so they could mark the "largely secular celebration of Valentine's Day."

"Catholics throughout the world recognise Ash Wednesday as the solemn beginning of a period of prayerful reflection and penance, as is evident by the large number of church-goers on this day," the archdiocese explained in a statement.


Republic of Ireland
World Meeting of Families

A major Catholic gathering in Dublin will be focused on promoting the entirety of Pope Francis' document on the family rather than the "contentious points", the cardinal helping to organise the event explained.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the Prefect of the Laity, Family and Life dicastery, stressed that the hotly debated points in the Pope's apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia - such as allowing remarried divorcees to receive communion - were only "contentious in the eyes of a few."

Following the publication of Amoris Laetitia, there has been vocal opposition from certain parts of the Church to admitting divorced and remarried Catholics to the sacraments, and in some cases, a differing approaches among bishops.

Syrian Christians, Muslims attend first service in years

A solemn group of Christians held their first prayer service in years on Feb. 3 in the ravaged church of St Mary in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor city.

Stones, strips of wire, papers and remnants of rockets were strewn across the church floor, and bright sunlight streamed in from the blown-out windows. Holding thin white candles under pockmarked archways, the congregation of less than two dozen worshippers relished their first service in nearly six years.

Fighting has gripped Deir Ezzor since rebels captured part of the city in 2012, and grew worse when the Islamic State jihadist group shot to prominence there in 2014. Syrian troops recaptured the entire city in November 2017, and residents have slowly begun to trickle back.


Weapon licenses for churches

A provincial government in southwest Pakistan plans to issue churches in the region with weapon licenses and has donated millions of rupees to a Methodist church to support victims and families of a suicide bombing that killed nine worshippers in December. The Balochistan government notified all 41 churches in the provincial capital of Quetta on Jan. 24 to nominate security volunteers for special training under the Civil Defence Directorate.

The notices were issued following a meeting between the Implementation Minority Rights Forum (IMRF) and officials and police in Quetta last week.


Next World Youth Day will be technological, ecological

In less than a year, Pope Francis will board a plane bound for Latin America for World Youth Day in Panama.

Msgr José Domingo Ulloa, Archbishop of Panama, is one of the main organisers of an event that will bring together thousands of young people from around the world.

"First of all, it will be an edition that speaks the language of young people, a technological one; one that will present Mary as the model the youth need. It will also be ecological; we can say it will be good for implementing the great gift the Pope gave humanity in Laudato si'. We also want to present the path of the Latin American Church, a Church of martyrs whose highest exponent is Msgr Oscar Arnulfo Romero." 


"God doesn't necessarily call strange people to consecrated life"

The call to religious or consecrated life is not always for those who've experienced massive conversions, but it is also for those living normal Catholic lives, who feel a pull in one direction, to be closer to Christ.

Having to leave her home in Slovakia, Sr Anna from the Daughters of St Paul, says it was while studying and living her daily life that she desired something more.

"I had a normal life as a student. I had friends at my university, my interests, my work, a normal life. God doesn't necessarily call strange people. I didn't receive the call by phone. More than anything, I had an attraction to Someone (with a capital S), who at the end won my heart."

Br Ranjit, a young Carmelite monk had a similar experience. He had an attraction to the Order during an ordination Mass, while he was studying as a young man. "During Mass, I heard the voice of God calling my name. I felt something that pulled me back, just to push me forward. This push was none other than the push of Christ, and it inspired me to follow Christ going forward."