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Bishop heading Beijing-controlled Church visits Hong Kong Catholics

Archbishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing, president of China’s state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, was in Hong Kong on a five-day visit that began on Monday

Published: November 17, 2023 11:16 AM GMT

Updated: November 17, 2023 11:19 AM GMT

Archbishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing, president of China’s state-controlled CCPA or Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, spent five days in Hong Kong beginning Monday. Li’s Nov. 13 visit comes following an invitation from Hong Kong’s bishop Cardinal Stephen Chow Sau-Yan, who visited the Chinese national capital in April.

Upon arrival, Chow and auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha welcomed Li and his delegation to the diocesan center in the city. During their encounter, Chow and Li exchanged souvenirs to mark the historic visit.

Li also participated in the evening prayers in the chapel of the diocesan curia. Earlier, the Hong Kong diocese said Li’s visit was aimed “to promote exchanges and interactions between the two dioceses.”

Li’s visit comes amid tensions between the Vatican and Beijing regarding the Sino-Vatican agreement of 2018 on the appointment of Catholic bishops in China and after the pro-Beijing regime enacted a repressive national security law to crush democratic dissent in Hong Kong.

 Archbishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing (left) hands over an image of pioneering Italian Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci to Cardinal Stephen Chow of Hong Kong on Nov. 13

Archbishop Joseph Li Shan of Beijing (left) hands over an image of pioneering Italian Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci to Cardinal Stephen Chow of Hong Kong on Nov. 13. (Photo: The Sunday Examiner)

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Church leaders and lay people in the western Indian state of Goa have demanded the scrapping of a luxury eco-resort project planned in the close vicinity of a 16th-century Portuguese heritage chapel.

The proposed project falls within a 100-meter “no development zone” around the Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount located on a hill overlooking the Mandovi River in Se Old Goa village. Last month, the Goa Investment and Promotion Board primarily approved the planned resort and notified a draft proposal for allocating 10,356 square meters of land for the project.

Capela da Nossa Senhora do Monte, popularly known as the Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount, is located on a hill overlooking the Mandovi river in Se Old Goa village in the western Indian state of Goa. (Photo: vpse-old-goa.com)

Father Alfred Vaz, president of the Cathedral Chapter of the Archdiocese of Goa and former parish priest of Se Cathedral at Old Goa, said the government should shift the project from Old Goa as it poses a threat to the state-protected heritage monument, ecology and wildlife.

Until now, about 15,000 individual petitions have been submitted to the state government seeking cancellation of the project.

Church leaders and rights activists have hailed Sri Lanka's top court for rejecting a government move to expand an abusive anti-terrorism law under the guise of curbing religious extremism.

The Supreme Court on Monday declared “null and void” a gazette notification issued in 2021 to widen the scope of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The government had claimed the move was a part of efforts to de-radicalize extremist religious ideology.

Former President Gotabaya Rajapakse issued the controversial notification in 2021. (Photo: AFP)

Rights activists alleged it amounted to “pre-trial punishment” which is banned under the constitution. The notification allegedly enabled the state to easily target religious and racial minorities, in violation of their basic rights in a country where ethnic tensions are still rife despite the end of the deadly civil war in 2009.

Church leaders say the court order would end the unnecessary victimization of Catholics by the state and pave the way for justice for the victims of 2019 Easter Sunday bombings. 

Church leaders in the Philippines have expressed dismay over the delay in releasing the most prominent political prisoner and former senator Leila De Lima.

A fierce critic of the ‘war on drugs’ started by former president Rodrigo Duterté, she was granted bail and released from prison in the capital Manila on Monday. She was held in policy custody for over six years on drug charges.

Leila De Lima (left) speaks while Senator Risa Hontiveros listens during a press conference in Manila after her release on Nov 13. (Photo: AFP)

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said the delay showed what is wrong with the nation’s justice system.

In 2009, De Lima, as the chair of the Commission on Human Rights, launched a probe into the suspected Davao Death Squad, started by Duterté, to eliminate criminals and drug peddlers as the mayor of the city for more than two decades. After being elected president Duterté expanded his anti-drug war nationwide, which allegedly killed about 12,000 people. 

Christian and Buddhist religious leaders joined with labor groups for a fasting and prayer meeting in the South Korean capital Seoul to press the government for amendments to the nation’s trade union law to ensure protection of workers’ rights.

Leaders from the Justice and Peace Committee of the National Council of Churches of Korea, the Social and Labor Committee of the Buddhist Order of Korea and the Labor Pastoral Committee of Seoul archdiocese joined the program on Tuesday.

South Korean workers join a protest rally for pro-labor policies and fair wages in this 2018 photo. (AFP)

The groups have called on the government of President Yoon Suk Yeol to amend the labor law during the ongoing session of the National Assembly which ends on Nov.  22. The fasting and sit-in program will continue until the end of the parliament’s current session.

Labor groups say the current Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act, enacted about 70 years ago, is “outdated” and fails to protect the rights of workers.

Global rights group Amnesty International has called on Cambodian authorities to end forced evictions around the temples of Angkor Wat. About 40,000 people had already been evicted from the world’s largest religious monument, Amnesty reported on Monday.

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The report found residents were evicted or pressured to leave Angkor following harassment, threats, and acts of violence from authorities. The rights group dismissed the official claims that evictions were voluntary and necessary to protect the UNESCO World Heritage site.

An elderly Cambodian woman installs her possessions in the shade of a temple in Angkor Wat as she waits for tourists to beg for money on Nov. 29, 2000. (Photo: AFP)

The Guinness World Records recognizes it as the world’s largest religious structure. The temple complex was the world’s top tourist destination before the Covid-19 pandemic struck three years ago when the government decided to move out all the families living at the site.

Most of them were relocated to a remote village called Run Ta Ek and offered compensation.

Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, the prefect of Vatican’s Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, called on leaders of various religions to become “catalysts for change” through love and understanding based on interfaith dialogue.

The 71-year-old Spanish cardinal emphasized love and understanding to help transcend religious and cultural boundaries. Guixot made the remarks while inaugurating the November 13-16 Seventh Buddhist-Christian Colloquium in the Thai capital Bangkok.

Pope Francis meets a Buddhist leader in Bangkok during his visit to Thailand in 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Delegates from various religions from countries including Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom have participated in the seminar. Phra Brahmapundit, the Buddhist chief abbot of Prayurawongsawat temple in Bangkok, and a member of the Buddhist governing body in Thailand delivered the keynote address.

He stressed on the four sublime states of mind – loving-kindness, compassion, gladness, and equanimity – which he said could enable “ordinary people to live together in peace and full cooperation.”

About 20 percent of young people in Catholic-majority Timor-Leste do not study or work due to lack of education, limitations in healthcare provision and ineffective social protection, says a report from the World Bank released on Wednesday.

The rate of young people aged 15 to 24 who do not study, or work has not decreased since 2010 as the report states the “average school attendance of just 6.3 years is symptomatic of poor learning results.”

Young people in Timor-Leste observe the International Youth Day in 2018. A recent World Bank-sponsored report found nearly 20 percent of the nation's youth do not study or work due to lack of basic services. (Photo by Roderick T.J. Buiskool/UNFPA)

It also found that the overcrowding of classrooms, the lack of teachers and skills, has resulted in poor school attendance, a 20 percent dropout rate and lack of motivation.

The report pointed out many girls and women under 20 do not have access to medical facilities and reproductive health services. About half of the nation’s estimated 1.3 million people still live in poverty.

A Redemptorist congregation in Vietnam has called on the communist government to return their former monastery in the capital Hanoi which is now being used as a state-run hospital.

In a complaint letter submitted to the authorities last Saturday, Father Joseph Nguyen Van Hoi, head of the Hanoi-based Redemptorists, said they oppose the current renovation work on the monastery and asked for return to its original state.

The state-run Dong Da General Hospital, a former Redemptorist monastery, is under renovation which the missionaries oppose. (Photo: nhathothaiha.net)

Now called the Dong Da General Hospital, the Redemptorists began using the site as their novitiate and study center in 1928 after they arrived in Vietnam in 1925. The order bought the 61,455 square meter plot in 1928 and built several facilities there.

Recently, the Redemptorist-run Thai Ha parish council has met with the hospital management who refused to halt the renovation work. After the communist takeover in 1975, the Vietnamese government confiscated all church properties. Some properties have been returned but many are still under state control.

The renewed fighting between military junta troops and Karenni rebel forces has left thousands of mostly Christian civilians trapped inside houses in Loikaw, the capital of Kayah state in northern Myanmar.

Military soldiers reportedly blocked all roads to prevent the people from fleeing as it launched an operation last Saturday.

This picture taken on Oct. 28 shows a missile fired from a Myanmar military base in Lashio township, northern Shan state where heavy fighting between ethnic rebels and Myanmar military is underway near the country's northern border with China. (Photo: AFP)

Loikaw, a nerve center of the junta administration, was under siege with indiscriminate airstrikes and artillery shelling by the military forces to keep the rebel fighters at bay.

Local Catholics said they were extremely terrified as the airstrikes and shelling continued throughout the night.

Church sources said about 700 people from various parts of Loikaw managed to flee and found shelter in a church compound. The Christ the King Cathedral is now packed with displaced people.

Fighting in Loikaw erupted after three rebel groups started a combined offensive on the military in northern Shan state two weeks ago. At least 20 civilians have been killed so far in the latest fighting.

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