20 July 2017, The Tablet

News Briefing: the Church in the World

News Briefing: the Church in the World

South Korea mission for Chávez
Pope Francis is sending El Salvador’s newly created Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez (left), auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador, to South Korea for a meeting on how to achieve peace with North Korea.

When the cardinal recently announced the initiative to a congregation at Mass in San Salvador’s Cathedral, people broke into spontaneous applause and cheers. His motto is “Christ is our peace”.

Cardinal Rosa Chávez, who worked closely with Blessed Oscar Romero before he was assassinated in 1980, played an important role in negotiations that brought peace to El Salvador in 1992 after 12 years of civil war. Manuel Roberto Lopez, El Salvador’s ambassador to the Holy See, said Cardinal Chávez could use the experience he gained from working on the peace treaty in El Salvador to help bring both sides in the Korean stand-off to the negotiating table.

The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-jong of Gwangju, has welcomed President Moon Jae-in’s latest peace plans. Mr Moon is pushing for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and for economic and civil exchanges.

Following the recent liberation of Mosul in Iraq from the jihadist group Islamic State (IS), the Chaldean Patriarch has urged Christians to return to a land that is historically theirs. Patriarch Raphael Louis I Sako of Babylon called on Christians who fled the advance of IS three years ago to return home before others seized their land. He also urged the faithful to claim compensation for their losses from the Iraqi central Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, as well as the international community.

South Sudan crisis deepens
Six years after the creation of the world’s newest country, South Sudan, the region’s humanitarian crisis is worse than ever, with grave violations of human rights and a lingering, brutal civil war, reported Bishop Edward Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio, President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Speaking on the sixth anniversary of South Sudan’s independence, he added that “there are many, many like me, of all religions, who have not given up hope”. He said he believed the present state of the country “is only a passing phase” and “independence is not a once-and-for-all achievement, but it is forged daily, achieved daily”. Recalling that he was born in southern Sudan, he undertook to “spend my life for lasting peace”. He challenged South Sudan’s Government to admit it is bankrupt, after it failed to raise the funds to host Independence Day celebrations for a third year running.

New research indicates that the Shroud of Turin, the linen cloth believed to have been used to wrap the body of Jesus after his Crucifixion, shows signs of blood from a victim of torture. Very small particles attached to the linen fibres of the shroud “have recorded a scenario of great suffering, whose victim was wrapped up in the funeral cloth”, said Elvio Carlino, a researcher at the Institute of Crystallography in Bari, Italy. These “nanoparticles” had a “peculiar structure, size and distribution,” said University of Padua professor, Giulio Fanti. They show high levels of creatinine and ferritin, found in patients who suffer forceful multiple traumas like torture, he explained. “Hence, the presence of these biological nanoparticles found during our experiments points to a violent death for the man wrapped in the Turin Shroud,” he said.

A US scientific journal, Plos One, published the findings in an article in June titled “New Biological Evidence from Atomic Resolution Studies on the Turin Shroud.”

Pakistani Christian girls, mostly from poor families, are being abducted, raped and forced to marry their attackers, according to human rights lawyers who try to rescue these women from their captors. Fr Thomas Reese reported these findings in the US-based National Catholic Reporter, for which he writes, after visiting Lahore, Pakistan as a member of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. The girls are forced to convert to Islam, which makes their marriages legal under Pakistani law.

Beijing has objected to a Vatican statement about the missing Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou. Lu Kang, a foreign ministry spokesman, has said that even if the Vatican had asked China about Bishop Shao, “we do not think this is a reasonable and correct thing to do”. The Holy See press office released a statement on 26 June saying it was “profoundly saddened” by the case of Bishop Shao, who has been missing since being taken away by Chinese officials on 18 May. He was last spotted at Wenzhou airport on 16 June. The Vatican statement and the Chinese reply coincided with the latest round of China-Vatican negotiations in Rome, which were “not as smooth as expected”, according to a church source in China who cannot be named.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Christians came together to pray for Liu Xiaobo, the democracy campaigner and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner who died on 13 July, after being diagnosed with liver cancer, while serving a prison sentence for demanding an end to one-party rule. Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Hong Kong’s former bishop, thanked Liu and his wife on social media for contributing to “reformation in the motherland”.

Kidnapped missionary ‘alive’ Nuns are pictured above praying for the Salesian missionary Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, kidnapped in Yemen more than a year ago, after a statement was issued saying he is still alive.

Abdulmalik Abduljalil Al-Mekhlafi, Yemen’s Deputy Prime Minister, communicated the news on 12 July when he called on Sushma Swaraj, India’s foreign minister, in Delhi. Fr Uzhunnalil was kidnapped on 4 March 2016 from the Missionaries of Charity home for the aged in the port city of Aden in Yemen, where four nuns were murdered along with 12 others in an attack by unidentified gunmen.

Call to scrap Lord’s Prayer
The Greens in Australia have initiated a new push to abolish the Lord’s Prayer from being said at the start of sittings of the Federal Parliament. Senator Lee Rhiannon said opening the parliament with the prayer was “insulting”, and should be replaced by a quiet moment for members to “reflect on your responsibilities to constituents”.

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