Pope Francis visited children in an NGO-run institution that invited him last year through Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila.
Pope Francis visited children in an NGO-run institution that invited him last year through Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila.
Sri Lanka’s election commission has set the date of presidential polls on Jan. 8 as a stream of defections between political parties is expected to turn the race into what has been called a Game of Thrones in Al Jazeera’s social network.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s party general secretary Maithripala Sirisena reportedly announced on Friday he would run against the president under the united opposition. More politicians are expected to switch parties today, Monday, Ceylon Today reported in the weekend.
Rajapaksa introduced an amendment to the nation’s Constitution supposedly lifting term limits for the president and allowing himself to run for another presidential term.
The ruling party secretary’s announced plan to run against his president has reportedly led to political unrest and fear that election violence during the papal visit just five days after the polls will be used for a military clampdown, a Sri Lanka source told Catholic In Asia asking not to be named.
“The 1999, 2005 and 2010 presidential elections were followed by 76, 39 and 85 incidents of post election violence. While people fear for the pope’s safety, it is a prestige battle for leaders,” the Sri Lankan political analyst said.
“There is a growing opinion that it would be better if the pope visit the country on the pope’s possible trip for the 2016 Eucharistic Congress in Cebu,” the journalist added.
Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in the International airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Jan. 13, 2015, Tuesday, for his 3-day apostolic visit to the South Asian country. He is to pay a courtesy visit with President Rajapaksa, lead the canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz – Sri Lanka’s first saint – and pray with pilgrims at a popular Marian shrine in Madhu in the country’s north west region.
Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church leaders are relying on “faith in God” and government assurances that the upcoming presidential election will not interfere with the scheduled visit of Pope Francis, a spokesman reportedly told the online news website sundaytimes.lk after the date for the polls was announced.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo has reportedly kept mum on the announcement as he and local Church groups discussed the impact of polls on the papal visit. Earlier reports of impending elections had reportedly moved the cardinal to write to Rajapaksa asking the president to inform the Church about the date of election and to tell the nation’s leader that it has not been deemed appropriate for the pope to visit any country at times of national elections.Meanwhile this weekend Father Cyril Gamini, cited as spokesman for the papal visit media secretariat when asked about the impact of the polls on the papal visit has been quoted saying: “Nobody knew that the elections will be held close to the Holy Father’s visit. We would have been happy if the elections had been held well before the papal visit.”
Fr. Gamini said, “There is already a security concern and we cannot dismiss that. But we have complete faith and we hope the Government will keep its word.” He said the Church was going ahead with the preparations.
“Nobody can say there will or won’t be pre- or post-poll violence. But…
Read full report Pope’s visit: Church depends on God
On Sunday, a top Buddhist monk campaigning to scrap the executive presidency and return the country to a parliamentary democracy declared support for Sirisena, who is also Sri Lanka’s health secretary, Agence France Presse news agency reported.
Read the full report Opposition secures Buddhist backing for Sri Lanka vote
The reported visit of Pope Francis to the Shrine of Madhu in Northern Sri Lanka in January is seen as a logistical challenge, an opportunity for the charismatic head of the Catholic Church to raise awareness of the plight of victims of the 26-year civil war in the country that ended in 2009, and a way to ease tension in a divided Church and nation.
The supposed planned visit revealed earlier this month by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka, awaits the Vatican’s official announcement.
Italian La Stampa newspaper’s Vatican Insider website discusses Cardinal Malcom’s announcement of the visit to the Marian Shrine, logistical problems surrounding such a journey and its significance to resolving division among Sri Lanka clergy and Church members as well as to people’s quest for national reconciliation.
More on this in Sri Lanka: Pope Francis will go among the Tamils
“Let Christ turn your natural optimism into Christian hope, your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love!”
– Pope Francis at Concluding Mass for 6th Asian Youth Day
Haemi Castle Square, South Korea, Aug. 17, 2014
Dear Young Friends,
The glory of the martyrs shines upon you!
These words – a part of the theme of the Sixth Asian Youth Day – console and strengthen us all. Young people of Asia: you are the heirs of a great testimony, a precious witness to Christ. He is the light of the world; he is the light of our lives! The martyrs of Korea – and innumerable others throughout Asia – handed over their bodies to their persecutors; to us they have handed on a perennial witness that the light of Christ’s truth dispels all darkness, and the love of Christ is gloriously triumphant. With the certainty of his victory over death, and our participation in it, we can face the challenge of Christian discipleship today, in our own circumstances and time.
The words which we have just reflected upon are a consolation. The other part of this day’s theme – Asian Youth! Wake up!– speaks to you of a duty, a responsibility. Let us consider for a moment each of these words.
First, the word “Asian”. You have gathered here in Korea from all parts of Asia. Each of you has a unique place and context where you are called to reflect God’s love. The Asian continent, imbued with rich philosophical and religious traditions, remains a great frontier for your testimony to Christ, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). As young people not only in Asia, but also as sons and daughters of this great continent, you have a right and a duty to take full part in the life of your societies. Do not be afraid to bring the wisdom of faith to every aspect of social life!
As Asians too, you see and love, from within, all that is beautiful, noble and true in your cultures and traditions. Yet as Christians, you also know that the Gospel has the power to purify, elevate and perfect this heritage. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit given you in Baptism and sealed within you at Confirmation, and in union with your pastors, you can appreciate the many positive values of the diverse Asian cultures. You are also able to discern what is incompatible with your Catholic faith, what is contrary to the life of grace bestowed in Baptism, and what aspects of contemporary culture are sinful, corrupt, and lead to death.
Returning to the theme of this Day, let us reflect on a second word: “Youth”. You and your friends are filled with the optimism, energy and good will which are so characteristic of this period of life. Let Christ turn your natural optimism into Christian hope, your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love! This is the path you are called to take. This is the path to overcoming all that threatens hope, virtue and love in your lives and in your culture. In this way your youth will be a gift to Jesus and to the world.
As young Christians, whether you are workers or students,whether you have already begun a career or have answered the call to marriage, religious life or the priesthood, you are not only a part of the future of the Church; you are also a necessary and beloved part of the Church’s present! You are the present of the Church. Keep close to one another, draw ever closer to God, and with your bishops and priests spend these years in building a holier, more missionary and humble Church – a Church which loves and worships God by seeking to serve the poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalized.
In your Christian lives, you will find many occasions that will tempt you, like the disciples in today’s Gospel, to push away the stranger, the needy, the poor and the broken-hearted. It is these people especially who repeat, today, the cry of the woman of the Gospel: “Lord, help me!” The Canaanite woman’s plea is the cry of everyone who searches for love, acceptance, and friendship with Christ. It is the cry of so many people in our anonymous cities, the cry of so many of your own contemporaries, and the cry of all those martyrs who even today suffer persecution and death for the name of Jesus: “Lord, help me!” Let us respond, not like those who push away people who make demands on us, as if serving the needy gets in the way of our being close to the Lord. No! We are to be like Christ, who responds to every plea for his help with love, mercy and compassion.
Finally, the third part of this Day’s theme – “Wake up!” –Wake up! speaks of a responsibility which the Lord gives you. It is the duty to be vigilant, not to allow the pressures, the temptations and the sins of ourselves or others to dull our sensitivity to the beauty of holiness, to the joy of the Gospel. Today’s responsorial psalm invites us constantly to “be glad and sing for joy”. No one who sleeps can sing, dance or rejoice. It’s no good when I see young people who are asleep. No! Wake up. Go. Go. Go ahead. Dear young people, “God, our God, has blessed us!” (Ps 67:6); from him we have “received mercy” (Rom 11:30). Assured of God’s love, go out to the world so that, “by the mercy shown to you”, they – your friends, co-workers, neighbors, countrymen, everyone on this great continent – “may now receive the mercy of God” (cf. Rom 11:31). It is by his mercy that we are saved.
Dear young people of Asia, it is my hope that, in union with Christ and the Church, you will take up this path, which will surely bring you much joy. Now, as we approach the table of the Eucharist, let us turn to our Mother Mary, who brought Jesus to the world. Yes, Mother Mary, we long to have Jesus; in your maternal affection help us to bring him to others, to serve him faithfully, and to honor him in every time and place, in this country and throughout Asia. Amen.
Young people, Wake Up!
Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila was saying Mass in typhoon ravaged Palo cathedral at the close of the archdiocese’s diamond jubilee celebration last November when he witnessed with admiration the “unshakable faith” of people amidst suffering.
This, Cardinal Tagle told a press conference on Friday, was what the fund raising concert of sacred music of renowned composer and musician Ryan Cayabyab called “Rise! Rebuilding from the Ruins” on June 11 hopes to recognize.
Cardinal Tagle recalled his Mass last year inside the church whose roof had been blown away by typhoon Haiyan. People just covered the top of the church with tarpauline material so when rain poured during Cardinal Tagle’s Mass, people and things inside got wet.
“At the end of my homily the wind blew. It rained and people panicked. They seemed allergic to the wind,” Cardinal Tagle told journalists, artists, co-organizers and partners for the concert. “One thing I appreciated was people stayed through the rain and finished the Mass,” added the cardinal who chairs the Board of Caritas Manila.
“This is the church – the building – but this is also the living church which stays firm even when the roof blows away,” Cardinal Tagle remembers thinking to himself.
He said the “effort to rebuild the buildings made of stone and steel and iron sheets is actually not only a tribute to God or to the faith, but also a tribute to the living community and their living faith.”
Organizers, talents and supporters of the upcoming concert to be held in Manila Cathedral are also paying tribute to the physical church that serves as refuge, sanctuaries, evacuation centers and dormitories in times of crises like Haiyan, locally named Yolanda, Cardinal Tagle said.
Read full report
Barely half of millennials say they look to religion for guidance, but a higher percentage “talk to God,” suggesting that the 18-to-34 demographic is more spiritual than sectarian, according to a new survey by the Integrated Innovation Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.
Asian-Americans (57 per cent) were least likely to talk to God, and second least likely to look to religion for guidance in their daily life (51 per cent), following closely behind white millennials (49 per cent).
African-Americans were most likely to say they talk to God (78 percent) and look to religion (67 percent).
The Pew Forum’s July 2012 article Asian Americans: A Mosaic of Faiths reported that the Asian Americans population increased to 5.8 per cent (or 18.2 million children and adults in 2011, according to the U.S. Census) from 1 per cent of the total U.S. population in 1965.
The U.S. Census Bureau defines “Asian” as “a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Indian subcontinent,” Pew Forum explains in a footnote. It includes people who indicated their race(s) as “Asian Indian,” “Chinese,” “Filipino,” “Japanese,” “Korean,” “Vietnamese” or “Other Asian,” or wrote in entries such as “Pakistani,” “Thai,” “Cambodian” or “Hmong.”
With growing diversity in the nation’s population, the Census Bureau has changed the wording of questions about race and ethnicity over time. Since Census 2000, respondents could select one or more race categories to indicate their racial identities. About 15 per cent of the Asian population reported multiple races in Census 2010.
In addition, since Census 2000, the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population, formerly included with the totals for the Asian population, has been counted as a separate race group. Because of the changes, the report warns about historical comparisons on the racial composition of Asians.
For details of the profile of religious affiliations of Asian-Americans, click Asian Americans: A Mosaic of Faiths