12 July 2018
News Briefing: the Church in the World
The Catholic Church in South Korea is supporting Yemeni refugees (above) on the southern island of Jeju, despite prejudice against them locally and nationally. Drawn by its tourist-friendly visas and fleeing civil war and torture at home, nearly 600 Yemenis have sought refuge on Jeju. The asylum seekers have been aided by the Naomi Migrant Pastoral Centre in Jeju Diocese, which has provided accommodation, jobs, and schooling for children.
Fr David Cha Kwang-joon, secretary of the Bishops’ Committee for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Foreign Residents Living in Korea, reported that he is tackling negative perceptions about the refugees. “Some people consider them dangerous but such fears are groundless,” he said.
Nun accuses bishop of rape
A court near Kottayam in Kerala in India on Thursday last week recorded the statement of a nun who has accused a Catholic bishop of rape and “unnatural sex”.
The magistrate’s court in Changanassery recorded her statement, official sources said. In her complaint, the nun has charged Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar with rape and unnatural sex multiple times between 2014 and 2016. The bishop is the patron of her Missionaries of Jesus congregation, which is based in Jalandhar but has a convent in the Palai Diocese of Kerala. He denies the allegations.
Property seizures inquiry plea
Christian politicians in Iraq are urging Iraq’s parliament to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the phenomenon of property seizure from Christians, often through activities by corrupt land registry officials and armed militias. The appropriation of the properties of Christians in large cities such as Baghdad peaked between 2006 and 2010. It is now reaching intense levels in areas that were subjected for years to the rule of Islamic State.
The crisis in Lebanese Catholic schools has worsened, with 500 teachers being discharged in recent months as schools reduce their teaching staff. Last week, an emergency meeting of head teachers was hosted by the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai (above) at his office in Bkerké. Catholic schools have been closing across Lebanon since the passage of a new public-sector salary scale bill in September 2017. This included an increase in pay for teachers in the private sector, which in turn led to moves to increase school tuition fees. Lebanese Catholic schools’ parents’ committees have rejected this, and have refused to pay the additional expense.
Christians and Muslims from the north of Mozambique have joined hands to object to the wave of violence that has struck the district of Cabo Delgado.
In a joint statement, representatives from the Christian and Muslim communities, including the Catholic Bishop of Pemba, Luiz Fernando Lisboa, have asked their faithful to reject any religious justification for violence. “Let us not allow anybody to divide us. If we are all sons of the Most High and Merciful God, would he have us kill one another and create terror all around us?” asks the document. Dozens of people have been killed and thousands displaced in several attacks since October 2017. Radical Islam has won a foothold in the north of Mozambique and jihadists are assumed to be behind the attacks.
On the Colombian bishops’ website on 4 July, the bishops of Apartadó, Itsmina-Tadó and Quibó dioceses spoke against violence targeting rural leaders and farmers. Seven farmers were killed in Cauca on 3 July, and two social movement leaders in Chocó and Atlántico, where coca farming and drug trafficking are prevalent.
Masked supporters of Nicaragua’s government attacked a group of Catholic priests led by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes on Monday as they arrived to help anti-government protesters trapped inside a church. Managua’s auxiliary Bishop, Silvio Jose Baez, sustained cuts to his arm as the delegation made its way into the San Sebastian Basilica in Diriamba, south of the capital. The bishops’ conference posted photos of Baez’s injured arm on its Twitter account with a message saying that pro-government “gangs awaited them, specifically to physically attack them”. On Sunday, at Mass, Cardinal Brenes denounced the violence and called on President Daniel Ortega to “in the name of God and in the name of this Catholic country, stop the actions that are causing pain and sorrow”.
Professor wins job battle
The Supreme Court of Wisconsin has ordered Jesuit-run Marquette University to reinstate a professor with back pay.
In 2014, Professor John McAdams wrote a blog post criticising a graduate teaching assistant, Cheryl Abbate, who had shut down a classroom discussion about same-sex marriage.
She reportedly told the students that “everybody agrees on this”, and had told a student who said he opposed same-sex marriage that he could quit the class. McAdams criticised Abbate by name on his blog, objecting to “political correctness” on college campuses. He was suspended for two terms and told to apologise.
He refused and sued the university. The court ruled that the university had effectively robbed McAdams of the academic freedom to which his contract entitled him. “By discarding a contractually established disciplinary process when a professor crosses a line, this decision may significantly harm institutions’ ability to establish and enforce standards of conduct,” a statement from the university said.
Fr Michael Pfleger of St Sabina’s church in Chicago led thousands of anti-violence protesters on to a busy highway last Saturday, shutting down all incoming traffic, and calling for more resources to combat violence.
Cardinal Blase Cupich, in a statement of support for the latest protest, said: “I applaud the courage shown by young people in our city and across the country demanding their right to life and human dignity, given by God and guaranteed by our nation’s founders.”
Chicago recorded 650 homicides in 2017 and 762 in 2016, the vast majority in poor and mainly black and Latino neighbourhoods on the city’s South and West sides. As of 9 July, 261 homicides have been recorded in Chicago this year.
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