Pope’s Malta bomb sadness
Pope Francis has sent a letter to Malta regretting the car bomb murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia (pictured), 53. It is unusual for the death of a private citizen to result in a formal letter of condolence signed by the Vatican secretary of state in the name of the Pope. Francis said he was “saddened by the tragic death” of Caruana Galizia and was praying for her family and the Maltese people. The investigative journalist, known for her blog where she probed the business dealings of top politicians, died in a car bomb attack last Monday.
The Committee on Migration and Refugee Services of the United States Catholic Bishops issued a report on 17 October urging the US Congress to press the Trump Administration to renew the Temporary Protected Status of Hondurans and Salvadorans. TPS is a temporary renewable residency that protects people from countries experiencing environmental crises, armed conflict, or other extraordinary conditions from deportation and allows them to work in the US. TPS was granted for El Salvador in 1990 due to a devastating earthquake and the ongoing civil war, and protects approximately 200,000 Salvadorans. Hondurans received TPS status after Hurricane Mitch in 1999, and currently 57,000 Hondurans hold the status. The bishops emphasised that TPS recipients are parents to over 270,000 US citizen children, who would be negatively impacted if the protection is rescinded. TPS is set to expire on 5 January for Honduras and 9 March for El Salvador.
Mass for ‘disappeared’ bishop
About 200 Hong Kong Catholics attended a Mass dedicated to Bishop James Su Zhimin of Baoding, who has not been seen for 20 years. Bishop Michael Yeung of Hong Kong presided over the evening Mass on 11 October organised by the diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission at St Andrew’s Church. The 85-year-old bishop was abducted by police on 8 October 1997. There has been no news of his whereabouts since then.
Fears are growing for the future of 54 Catholic radio stations in the Philippines after the House of Representatives failed to renew the broadcast licence held by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The previous licence expired in August and even though the bishops applied for a new one in January this year, the process has stalled, throwing the future of the radio stations into jeopardy. The operating licence has to be renewed every 25 years. The 54 stations reach 11 regions and 35 provinces in the Philippines. One station run by the Manila Archdiocese, Radyo Veritas, is licensed separately and not at risk. Fr Jerome Secillano of the bishops’ conference public affairs committee was reported as saying: “It’s the voice of the people and our search for truth is being undermined by Congress.”
Former High Court Justice Dyson Heydon says “modern elites” in Australia are “moving away from mere indifference” and embracing a “fanatical anti-clericalism”. “Some want to destroy faith itself,” he warned, delivering the inaugural P.M. Glynn lecture in Adelaide. Mr Heydon praised Patrick McMahon Glynn’s contribution to the Australian constitution, for ensuring the words “humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God” were included in the preamble. “The public voices of modern elites are not humble. They conceive themselves to have entitlements and rights, not blessings. And they do not feel any gratitude to Almighty God for their entitlements and rights,” Mr Heydon said.
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon has spoken of his hopes that the forthcoming visit to Myanmar by Pope Francis will go some way towards easing the suffering of the Rohingya people. He told the Catholic News Agency that the Vatican and others need “to work toward healing the wounds of our nation, by showing a future that can bring positive results for all communities.” The mainly Muslim Rohingya people have been brutally persecuted within Myanmar, which is mainly Buddhist. According to the UN, an estimated 582,000 Rohingya have fled Rakhine state for Bangladesh since August. Pope Francis is due to visit Myanmar from 27 to 30 November and Bangladesh from 30 November to 2 December.
On 19 October the Venezuelan bishops’ conference pointed out multiple irregularities in the 15 October regional elections. President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist PSUV party won 18 of 23 states in the election, with the MUD opposition coalition winning the remaining five states. The opposition was expected to make more gains from the socialist party, after a year of protests against Mr Maduro in Caracas and other cities. The opposition coalition has also questioned the results. The bishops’ conference wrote, “We deplore that the National Electoral Council [CNE], ignoring calls made from national and international bodies, has again shown itself as a biased arbitrator, in the service of the official party.” The CNE is a government body tasked to oversee electoral transparency.
Pope Francis has reportedly refused to accept Lebanon’s proposed new ambassador to the Holy See. According to the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, Lebanon wanted to appoint Johnny Ibrahim, its consul general in Los Angeles, whose name has been reported in local media. But the leaking of a name before Vatican consent is given is badly regarded by the Holy See. Ibrahim is reported to have links to the Freemasons. The Pope, who is strongly opposed to lobby groups inside the Church, talked about the “lobby of masons” soon after his election. Ibrahim says he is no longer actively involved.
Police officers held over killing
Pakistani authorities have detained six police officers on murder charges linked to the 9 October killing of a Christian boy who had reportedly been bullied at school for refusing to convert to Islam. The British Pakistani Christian Association said that according to the victim’s father, Mushtaq Masih, 15-year-old Arslan Masih was beaten to death at the school with “fists, kicks, and rifle butts,” by police who disposed of the body “on the roadside and fled”.
Gregory Baum, a former Augustinian priest and a peritus at the Second Vatican Council, died in Montreal aged 94. A Tablet obituary will be forthcoming.