West India state bans Hindu vigilante groups

The government of Goa has banned a Hindu right wing group, which is infamous for its moral policing tactics, from entering the western Indian state.

“We have banned Sri Ram Sena,” Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar told the state legislative assembly on Wednesday.

Sri Ram Sena (the Army of Lord Rama) chief Pramod Mutalik had announced in June their plans to set up a branch in Goa in September.

Founded in the late 1960s, the organization won media attention in 2009 when its members attacked women for going to a pub in Mangalore, a coastal town in neighboring Karnataka state.

Read full report in Matters India

More than 35 percent of the 1.76 million people in the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman in a 2006 report were listed as  Catholics.

Seoul cathedral: site for papal reconciliation Mass

Seoul’s cathedral is a 19th-century Gothic structure that seats an estimated 1,000. It sits on top of a small hill, one of the many in the capital city of South Korea. The cathedral, known locally as the Myeong-dong Cathedral, was the first parish in Korea.

National Catholic Reporter’s Tom Fox gives a feel of the cathedral and grounds as Korean Catholics await Pope Francis’ arrival.

Korea’s Arirang News in this video reports on the last leg of preparations for the visit.

 

Iglesia ni Cristo anniversary draws ‘thank you’ from Aquino, guidelines from Catholic bishops

preached at the March 11, 2014 thanksgiving Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral for his 75th birthday and his creation as cardinal by Pope Francis  last Feb. 22. - NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato preached at the March 11, 2014 thanksgiving Mass at Cotabato’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral for his 75th birthday and his creation as cardinal by Pope Francis last Feb. 22. – NJ Viehland Photos

President Benigno Aquino III  celebrated with a throng of members and friends in events related to the centennial of homegrown Iglesia ni Cristo (INC, Church of Christ) whose teachings contradict Catholic doctrine, a Catholic bishops’ primer on the INC says.

INC celebrated the centennial of its foundation on July 27 mainly in Philippine Arena, a 55,000-seater dome arena legally owned by its New Era University. 

Iglesia officials said more than 1 million people joined their celebration in the arena in Ciudad de Victoria (Victory City), a 75-hectare tourism complex it built in Bocaue town, Bulacan province just north of Manila.

Aquino in his address to  the July 22 gathering of members and friends for the arena’s inauguration thanked the group for the service the arena and the group provide Filipinos.

Officials of INC  endorsed the candidacy of Aquino and his vice president in the 2010 elections. Regarded among “influential” religious groups in the country, INC rules that its 5-8 million member voters  elect its leaders’ choices. 

Last week, House Representatives endorsed the third impeachment complaint filed against the president over use of discretionary funds that the Supreme Court has ruled as unconstitutional.

Iglesia Ni Cristo was registered in the Philippines on July 27, 1914 by Felix Y. Manalo, a Catholic who became a protestant preacher then established his own religion after claiming to be  the last Messenger of God. The group does not publicize the number of its members in the Philippines and abroad.

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, who heads the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Commission on the Doctrine of the Faith had  issued in March a primer  explaining conflicting beliefs of the Catholic Church and Iglesia ni Kristo.

The document hoped to offer guidance particularly to catechists and Catholic educators and formators.

“The respect we give to the religious beliefs of others should motivate us to get to understand those beliefs deeply, as this is demanded by the requirements of sincere dialogue. Differences in what we believe in do not make us distant from those who hold those beliefs, because as J. Maritain put it, among ideas contradictions are inevitable, but not among persons,” Cardinal Quevedo wrote.

Notheless, he stresses, “We cannot close our eyes to the fact that there are serious and deep differences between the Christian Faith and the doctrines of the Iglesia ni Cristo.”

Read A Primer on the Beliefs of Iglesia ni Cristo with the full text of Cardinal Quevedo’s introduction

Nuns reach out to sex workers in fight against prostitution in the Philippines

The mobile phone is an invaluable tool Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries Junior Sister Joy Culaiban uses so women and girl sex workers who want help in leaving prostitution can contact her. - NJ Viehland Photos

The mobile phone is an invaluable tool Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries Junior Sister Joy Culaniban uses so women and girl sex workers who want help in leaving prostitution can contact her. – NJ Viehland Photos

Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries have been encountering sex workers in the field (bars and brothels) for years. The sisters reach out to women and offer them love and listening and, if they want, shelter and a way out of the business, which is driven by poverty. They are also working to prevent entry into prostitution by educating women in rural areas, and they recently have been talking about their work at other dioceses so that the efforts can expand.

Read full report

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Malaysia Airlines MH17 – more than a story of political strife

Youth sitting in front of the altar in the candle-lit San Fernando de Dilao church, Paco where Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila led the archdiocese's Day of Lament and Hope prayer service for victims and survivors of recent calamities in the Philippines. By NJ Viehland

Youth sitting in front of the altar in the candle-lit San Fernando de Dilao church, Paco where Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila led the archdiocese’s Day of Lament and Hope prayer service for victims and survivors of recent calamities in the Philippines. By NJ Viehland

Social media offer the public a peek into the hearts and minds of people who were on the doomed Malaysian airlines flight that crashed in East Ukraine  on Thursday reportedly killing all 298 passengers and crew.

Malaysia Airlines released the full flight manifest Saturday of the persons on board the flight MH17 that was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, and urged family members and friends to contact the airline.

View MH17 flight manifest here

Passenger Ariza Ghazalee posted on Facebook  a picture of 15 pieces of luggage on a sidewalk about to be loaded into a car that would take her family to Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands for the flight to Malaysia and a new life, a July 18 post on the Wallstreet Journal blog reports.

The blog describes photos, the story of the Ghazalees’ European vacation, plans to migrate from Kazakhstan to Malaysia, and even reports a Taylor University’s (Malaysia) confirmation that her son was on the flight that was believed to have been downed by a surface-to-air missile.

Read the WSJ full blog here

Their plane that reportedly left Amsterdam at 12.15 pm, local time was believed to have been shot down by the missile causing it to crash into grasslands and flower fields in eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russia rebels.

As authorities investigate the alleged attack, relatives and friends of passengers anxiously await information on their loved ones.

Filipino fatality Irene Pabillon Gunawan was reportedly traveling with her husband, Hadiono, and their two children to join a family reunion in Quezon Province, northern Philippines. Her family is reportedly waiting anxiously for instructions from the Department of Foreign Affairs on the remains of their  loved ones.

Relatives in the Philippines have spoken with Rappler social news network about their grief and sense of loss in the death of a loving, generous and caring person.

A text message that came in to her sister-in-law’s cell phone had Irene signing off as passengers were boarding the plane. “Be careful always that the trees won’t fall on you…” she added in her text message in Tagalog language.

Parts of the Philippines was suffering from the effects of typhoon Glenda (International Name Rammasun) then. 

Irene who had spent around 30 years in the Netherlands with her Indonesian husband who worked for Malaysian Airlines was reportedly sending siblings and a nephew through school. Kim, the nephew, recalls one of Irene’s Facebook posts in which she comments on relatives plans for a night of drinking and videoke. She reportedly asked them to wait for her so they can have a videoke concert and go drinking.

Reading WSJ and Rappler’s full story on MH17 passenger Irene Pabillon Gunawan and family pinches the heart, and reminds one that MH17 is not just a story of geopolitics , but is more so a story of persons, many of whom are ordinary, non-politicized people who are unfamiliar with issues and conflicts outside their own context. 

Sadly, missiles and weapons of war in this age strike down more than just their physical targets. They shatter countless lives, hopes and future of innocent people and their families across the globe, far away from the center of the conflict.

To join “Prayers Are Awesome’s” Facebook prayer for MH17 Ukraine victims, click prayer sharing

Warning to public on Philippines papal visit racket

Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines (second from left), watching presentations at the dinner honoring Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato on his 75th birthday and creation as cardinal in Cotabato City on March 2014. Left to right he sat with Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, Auxiliary Bishop Collin Bagaforo of Cotabato, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro and Teresita Quintos Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. - NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines (second from left), watching presentations at the dinner honoring Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato on his 75th birthday and creation as cardinal in Cotabato City on March 2014. Left to right he sat with Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, Auxiliary Bishop Collin Bagaforo of Cotabato, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro and Teresita Quintos Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. – NJ Viehland Photos

Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto has asked the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to warn the public about unauthorized sale of tickets to Masses and events during Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines next year.

In a letter addressed to CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, Pinto revealed the “unpleasant information” the nunciature has received about groups who might wish “to take advantage of the papal visit to exploit innocent people and enrich themselves.”

Expressing regret in his letter dated July 8, he called on Villegas to “announce to the Filipino people that no tickets will be sold for any of the papal gatherings.”

END

Related reports

CBCP Document: Pastoral Letter to Prepare for 2015 Papal Visit

What can Asia expect of upcoming papal visits?