24 International News

posted Mar 1, 2018, 6:58 PM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 1, 2018, 6:59 PM ]

Saving lives in Zimbabwe

On February 23, the Catholic overseas aid agency of England and Wales, CAFOD held its annual Family Fast Day. This year's appeal goes towards the funding of a three-year project to improve nutrition in Zimbabwe. During Lent, every pound sterling that is donated will be matched by a pound from the UK Government.

Explaining why Zimbabwe was chosen this year, Grace Cowley, who is responsible for community fund-raising at CAFOD, said that "Zimbabwe is a country that CAFOD has a long-standing relationship with… and it's a country that's faced serious struggles in recent decades. It's also facing serious impact from climate change."


Jesus' burial site shut over property tax dispute

Christian leaders took the rare step on February 25 of closing the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built at the site of Jesus' burial in Jerusalem, to protest Israeli tax measures and a proposed property law. It was not immediately clear how long the closure of the church would last.

The church is considered the holiest site in Christianity, built where Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected, and is a major pilgrimage site.

"As a measure of protest, we decided to take this unprecedented step of closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre," Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic and Catholic leaders said in a statement.

They said recent Israeli measures seemed to be "an attempt to weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem." Christian leaders have been angered over attempts by Israeli authorities in Jerusalem to enforce tax collection on church property they consider commercial, saying exemptions only apply to places of worship or religious teaching.


Church calls on Catholics to get involved in politics

In a new national initiative, the Director of the Catholic Church's Parliamentary Office, Anthony Horan, has written to Scotland's Catholic priests, asking them to encourage their parishioners to get involved in politics and to make sure politicians are aware of what's happening in their parishes.

The call to greater political action provides each parish in Scotland with full contact details of their MSPs and MPs, and suggests inviting local representatives to events such as special Masses, charity events, coffee mornings and youth clubs to make them as much a part of parish life as possible.


South Korea
Catholics fight to keep abortion illegal

The Catholic Church in South Korea has gathered over a million names on a petition to keep the country's anti-abortion law in place. As South Korea continues to modernise, and with the number of single mothers on the rise, calls to decriminalise abortion have increased from sectors of society, something opposed by the Church.

"The signature gathering campaign was [conducted] voluntarily, and it served as an opportunity to spread the teachings of the church," said Fr Remigius Lee Dong-ik, secretary of the Committee for Bioethics of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea (CBCK). 


Burkina Faso
Ouagadougou archdiocese to get help from Seoul

The Seoul Archdiocese has agreed to support priests in West Africa in terms of Church management, priestly formation and medical equipment. The archdiocese signed a cooperative mission agreement to this effect with the Ouagadougou Archdiocese in Burkina Faso on Feb. 5.

Seoul Archdiocese, which recently joined a solar city project, will provide funding each year to repair old rectories and buildings in Ouagadougou. It will also support local priests from the Burkino Faso capital who wish to study at Seoul's Catholic University. 


"The Pope will pray for us and with us"

"We believe in Jesus Christ, and we turn to Him by putting Asia Bibi's life in his hands. We are sure that the Lord will listen to us, also thanks to the Pope's prayer and to the prayers of all the faithful in the world," said Ashiq Masih, Asia Bibi's husband. Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, and still imprisoned in the Multan female prison, in Punjab. Ashiq Masih was in Rome with his daughter Eisham. On the eve of his meeting with Pope Francis, he said, "Asia Bibi confides in the Pope's prayer, and asks the Holy Father to pray for her and for her liberation. She lives her imprisonment with great faith and entrusts herself to the Lord every day. We live this privilege of meeting the Holy Father with great confidence. We ask him to pray for us and with us." His daughter Eisham also hopes to "see her mother as soon as possible, in a peaceful place and in family tranquility. I pray for this every day," she said.

Asia Bibi has been in prison since 2009, and after the conviction in first degree, which was confirmed on appeal, only the Supreme Court of Pakistan has the power to change Bibi's fate.