12 May 2016, The Tablet

News Briefing: global

This week's Catholic news from around the world

Caritas opposes Kenya's decision to close refugee camp

Bishop Giorgio Bertin (above), the apostolic administrator of Mogadishu and the larger Somalia, said he fears a worsening security situation in the country, following reports that Islamic State (IS) has gained ground there. Last month, a pro-IS group calling itself Jahba East Africa claimed an attack in the capital Mogadishu. Jahba is reportedly led by Islamic preacher Abdul Qadir Mumin, who was a visiting speaker at a London mosque attended by Michael Adebolajo, one of the two men jailed for the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich in 2013. Mumin has reportedly been recruiting children to fight Al-Shabaab and African Union peace troops. Meanwhile, the Catholic charity Caritas-Kenya has opposed a Kenyan Government decision to close the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps. Dadaab is the world’s largest refugee camp, hosting Somali migrants, while Kakuma hosts South Sudanese. “Any abrupt closure is not acceptable. It must be gradual, systematic and humane,” Stephen Kituku, national director of Caritas-Kenya, told The Tablet .

Priests arrested after brutal attack on Bishop

In India, two priests and a dozen others have been arrested for the brutal attack on Bishop Gallela Prasad of Cuddapah in southern Telengana state. Bishop Prasad was returning from a church function at Karunagari in Cudappah district on 25 April when he was kidnapped, blindfolded and beaten up. The police announced the arrest of two priests of the diocese who allegedly organised the attack. The Indian Currents Catholic weekly, published in New Delhi, called the assault “another reminder to the Catholic Church in India to set its house in order. It is the result of ignoring earlier signals from Tamil Nadu and other places where separate cemeteries and seating arrangements for Dalit Christians are in vogue.”

Cardinal responds to Amoris Laetitia 

The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, contradicted those who saw a fundamental change in church teaching concerning remarried divorcees in Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. In a lecture at Oviedo in Spain, which the German Tagespost has translated into German, he said that the exhortation did not allow remarried divorcees in certain individual cases to receive the Eucharist. Footnote 351 said the Church can offer the help of the Sacraments to people living in “an objective situation of sin”, but this did not mean remarried divorcees, the cardinal insisted.

Pope slips down popularity poll

Pope Francis has been pushed out of the men’s “top ten most admired personalities” and The Queen has taken the place of the Pakistani activist for female education, Malala Yousafzai, as the second most admired woman after Angelina Jolie (both pictured above). In the third of YouGov’s international studies of personality admiration, Russian President Vladimir Putin is biggest riser since 2015, moving from 11th to fifth. Pope Francis fell seven places to 13th.

Violence in Aleppo deplored by bishops

Aleppo’s Catholic bishops have issued a joint statement deploring renewed violence in the city. Citing the “cry of blood of children and martyrs” and “the tears of the bereaved mothers,” the bishops appealed to the consciences of those who carry out the war to stop the fighting. Truces called recently in Syria have excluded Aleppo and an upsurge in clashes there has left nearly 300 civilians dead. Meanwhile, the Melkite Archbishop of Aleppo has called for more international solidarity with Christians in Syria. Speaking last weekend in the US state of Connecticut, Archbishop Jean-Clément Jeanbart thanked the Knights of Columbus for raising US$10.5 million (£7.25m) to provide humanitarian relief.


Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner has discontinued an investigation into the distribution of the Australian bishops’ booklet defending traditional Catholic teaching on marriage, Don’t Mess with Marriage, after the complainant withdrew. A transgender advocate and Greens candidate for the 2 July Federal Election, Martine Delaney, complained to the Commissioner last November over the decision by Archbishop Julian Porteous of Hobart to distribute the booklet to parents of children attending Catholic schools in Tasmania.

Violence in Colombia

A Colombian bishop has deplored a recent upsurge in violence despite peace initiatives offering hope that more than half a century of conflict in Colombia might soon be over. Bishop Omar Alberto Sanchez of Tibú reported last week that families are still fleeing violence, murder and abductions in his diocese and that armed guerrilla groups remain active. The bishop warned that there are many “enemies of peace”, because of their interests in lucrative activities such as illicit crops and drug trafficking.

Pakistan bridge building

Archbishop Sebastian Francis Shaw of Lahore led a delegation of 16 diocesan priests from Pakistani Punjab to Indian Punjab at the end of April to “build bridges” and rediscover common roots. He said the goals were to “establish cordial relations with the local Church, participate in conferences and retreats; explore collaboration in the formation of priests, nuns and catechists; and share information on pastoral activities”.  The archbishop described being “greeted warmly” by Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto of Delhi, who in turn reflected that it was “the work of the Holy Spirit” that the delegation came from the neighbouring Archdiocese of Lahore for the first time since the partition of the sub-continent nearly 70 years ago. He promised a return visit to Pakistan with his priests.

Fort McMurray wildfires

A bishop gave thanks that there had been no loss of life in the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray, Canada, after a wildfire (above) devastated homes and businesses and the population of 80,000 people was evacuated. Bishop Paul Terrio, whose diocese includes Fort McMurray, said that the community was still in shock from the damage. “Let us give thanks to our Lord and God that, with people evacuated from the community in a matter of hours, there has been no loss of life,” he said. However, later reports said two people died in a car crash leaving the city.


Australia’s first Vietnamese-born bishop, Vincent Long Van Nguyen, has been appointed Bishop of Parramatta,  Australia’s fifth most populous diocese whose Bishop Anthony Fisher was appointed Archbishop of Sydney in 2014. Bishop Long, a former Australian Superior and later Rome-based Assistant General of the Conventual Franciscans and an auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne for the past five years, is a former refugee. Born in 1961 in Gia-Kiem, Vietnam, Bishop Long and his family came to Australia by boat as refugees in 1980.

Compiled by James Roberts

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