Pope Francis in Asia – Asians look forward to Pope Francis’ visit, healing

Papal Visit 2015 Letran NJ Viehland Photos

Children playing street ball said they will watch Pope Francis ride around nearby Manila Cathedral on Jan. 16

 

MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Pope Francis returns to Asia this week, where crises are priming the ground for the kind of church he is working to grow.

“Francis’ dream of a church that is bruised and wounded and muddied is what the church in Asia wishes to be,” said Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, Philippines, who for years led the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, or FABC, and who was named a cardinal by Pope Francis last year.

Read full report 

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“Moving” beatification of Korean martyrs by Pope Francis – Cardinal Tagle

On Saturday morning, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the Beatification of 124 Korean Martyrs who were killed between 1791 and 1888 because of their Catholic faith

Here’s what Pope Francis said in his homily for the Mass

Pope Francis at the Mass near Gwanghwamun Gate, central Seoul, South Korea on Aug. 15 during the beatification of 124 martyrs who were killed between 1791 and 1888, because of their faith. - screenshot from live stream coverage

Pope Francis at the Mass near Gwanghwamun Gate, central Seoul, South Korea on Aug. 16 during the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs – screenshot from live stream coverage

Among those at the Mass was the Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle who told Vatican Radio he was  “very much moved [when I realized] we had Asian ancestors here who were willing to pay the cost of being a Christian, and if needed they would offer their lives. This is an inspiration for all of us.”

Some of the thousands of people who came to join the Mass presided Aug. 15 by Pope Francis in Seoul, South Korea during the beatification of 124 Martyrs received common from scores of priests on the ground. - screenshot from live stream

Some of the hundreds of thousands of people who came to the Mass presided Aug. 16 by Pope Francis in Seoul, South Korea during the beatification of 124 Martyrs received communion from priests on the ground. – screenshot from live stream

Listen to Vatican Radio’s interview with Cardinal Tagle:

 

Concern about Pope Francis’ Sri Lanka visit mounts with militant climate vs. religious minorities

Militant actions of an ultra-nationalist group of ethnic Sinhalese Buddhists against minority religious groups in Sri Lanka are raising concern among sectors involved in Pope Francis’ visit to the island country next year, a report from Italy says.

Paolo Affato in an article for Vatican Insider online newspaper revealed growing concern over the papal visit as he discussed recent “disturbance” reportedly created by extremist Buddhist monks with other protesters against a workshop organized by Families of the Disappeared people in the 26-year ethnic Tamil separatist war that ended in 2009. 

Center for Society and Religion, an institution of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate’s (OMI)  Colombo Province hosted the workshop. Organizers invited about 30 families to the Center for a “sharing” with members of civil society groups, NGO and foreign diplomats on the disappearance of their relatives in connection with the war.

A joint statement of embassy officials of France, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland posted on the UK government website reported that “an organized group including monks…made forced entry into the room where the discussions were taking place, shouting violently.” 

Their country’s representatives were in the  workshop venue with family members who had travelled from the Northern Province where the war with minority Tamils centered. “All those present felt that their security was under threat,” the officials at the meeting reported.

Affato in his article discussed the incident in the context of a “climate of hostility and revenge” fueling anti-Christian propaganda and violence blamed on radical Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS, Buddhist Power Force). For example, days after official announcement of dates of the 2015 papal visit, the group’s leader Galagoda Atthe Gnanasara Thero demanded that the pope during his visit apologize to Buddhists for attrocities committed by Christian colonial rulers of the island.

However, the national movement to protect the Catholic religion in the country days later said the demand for apology is part of a plan to disrupt the papal visit, and listed other features of the alleged scheme.

The Holy See announced July 29 that the Pope would make his apostolic visit to Sri Lanka Jan. 12-15, 2015.

“These radical Buddhist groups – whose actions are fueled by fervent nationalism colored by faith and culture – have been targeting Muslims and also Christian Evangelicals and Pentecostals for some time now,” Affato wrote.

He explained, “These religious (Christian) groups are seen as advocates of a strong religious proselytism. Now, these groups (radical Buddhists) seem to be targeting Catholics as well.”

According to Affato, “This has sparked concern among bishops, civil authorities, the Nunciature of Colombo and other European embassies ahead of the Pope’s visit.” 

His article details how Buddhist extremists oppose Pope’s visit to Sri Lanka 

In their joint statement, the foreign officials declared, “The embassies of France, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland strongly condemn the disruption,” of the Aug. 4 meeting.

“We strongly urge the government to ensure and respect freedom of assembly and expression in Sri Lanka,” they added. They  also expressed their hope that the government would assure meeting participants from the North of their security during their return travel.

Sri Lanka’s Cabinet spokesman , however, has reportedly accused the Western diplomats of “double standard” citing the foreigners’ condemnation of the protests against the meeting by people equally entitled to  freedom of assembly and speech.

“There is a feeling that one sector of people are being taken care by some interested parties with western interests,” Minister Keheliya Rambukwella is quoted saying.

Father Rohan Silva, Superior of OMI Colombo Province,  explained in a media statement that the meeting was part of the Center’s commitment to promote the values of democracy, defend social justice, peace and equality for all citizens. The Center has also worked to promote dialogue among Sri Lankas and non-Sri Lankans, the priest added.

Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, Dalai Lama, has urged Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Myanmar where they are the majority of the population, to stop violence against Muslim minorities. BBS rejects the Dalai Lama as a spiritual leader. 

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Full text of Father Silva’s statement on the Aug. 4 meeting disruption follows:

As the Provincial Superior of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (Colombo Province), I wish to express my feelings of deep disappointment and frustration over the deplorable and despicable incident that transpired at the Centre for Society and Religion (CSR), at 281, Deans Road, Colombo 10, on Monday, August 4, 2014.

CSR is the social justice arm of the Oblate religious order and has always championed the cause of the poor and the marginalized, whatever be their race or creed. It has fearlessly raised its voice on behalf of the voiceless victims of injustice during more than 40 years of its existence. CSR’s unwavering concern has always been the liberation of the poor and marginalized people and it always remained open to whatever was good and true irrespective of its source. Its discussion forums on vital issues have always been open to diverse views. Freedom of expression has been one of CSR’s hallmarks. Since its inception, the Centre has been an open forum for all ethnic communities and religions, a haven for opinion makers and academicians, and politicians of all hues to express their views and be heard on the most crucial issues affecting the Nation and her people. It was and continues to be a centre for research and a meeting place for both the powerful and the powerless on equal grounds without fear or favour.

The said incident occurred at a workshop organized by the Families of the Disappeared with the intention of listening to and learning the agonies of those whose loved ones had been the victims of involuntary disappearance irrespective of whether they were from the North or the South. It is also worthy of note that this gathering was reserved for invitees only and a number of foreign diplomats were in attendance at this meeting.

The fact that this meeting had been organized at the CSR is of special significance in this instance. The CSR, founded by the late Fr. Tissa Balasuriya, OMI, has earned the respect and recognition of all political parties and all religious denominations as an institution that promoted the values of democracy and for years had stood for the defence of social justice, peace, equality for all citizens in every sphere of life. Even during some of the darkest moments of the Nation’s history, the CSR remained an oasis where a modicum of sanity prevailed.

It is indeed most unfortunate that these time tested values of the CSR were transgressed and its hallowed precincts violated by a group that forced itself into the premises uninvited and instilling fear and intimidation among those participating in a meeting on purely humanitarian grounds. The CSR is an organization that has created democratic space for dialogue among Sri Lankans and non-Sri Lankans as well and such space has often proved beneficial to generate discussion on social, political and economic issues and clear the air of bias and false rumours that may prove detrimental to society in general and to governments in particular. That democratic space has now being sullied by elements that contribute little to demonstrate to the world that Sri Lanka is a land where kindness and compassion are hallmarks of our national identity. We live in a world where humanitarian concerns transcend national boundaries, hence the presence of non-Sri Lankans should not be construed as external interference.

The CSR premises lie contiguous to a place of worship. Trespassing such sacred space by the use of force and unbecoming and destructive behaviour is simply a violation of the Church’s guaranteed fundamental rights and of those who use those premises for humanitarian and peaceful purposes. The CSR has always held in high esteem all religions and those espousing their values and welcomed all organizations working for humanitarian concerns. In this context, those responsible for the CSR strongly condemn the illegal intrusion into its premises and urge, in no uncertain terms, the law enforcement authorities to bring the law of the land to bear on those who have acted contrary to its tenets, irrespective of their social status.

We also appeal to the leaders of the Church and other peace loving organizations to send out a firm call to the powers that be to bring to a halt the blatant violations of the fundamental and civic rights of the citizens of this country.
Very Rev. Fr. Rohan Silva OMI
Provincial Superior,
Oblates of Mary Immaculate (Colombo Province)

CBCP Document : Pastoral Letter to Prepare for 2015 Papal Visit

Pope Francis addressed the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization speaking publicly in English for the first time in a video message screened at the end of the closing Mass Oct. 18, 2013 at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Pope Francis addressed the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization speaking publicly in English for the first time in a video message screened at the end of the closing Mass Oct. 18, 2013 at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines officially announced Pope Francis’ visit to the country next year and recommended ways for Filipinos to prepare for the visit spiritually and socially, in the spirit of “mercy and compassion” underlying the visit.

Following is the full text of the document issued July 7 in Manila …

 

A Nation of Mercy and Compassion

Miserando atque Eligendo (Lowly but Chosen)

Pastoral Letter to Prepare the People of God for the Apostolic Visit of Pope Francis

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan walks back to the plenary hall at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center after a break in the 2012 plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines which he now serves as President. - NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan walks back to the plenary hall at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center after a break in the 2012 plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines which he now serves as President. – NJ Viehland Photos

MY dear people of God:

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Philippines officially announces the visit of the Holy Father, Pope Francis to the Philippines, God willing at the beginning of next year, 2015. His visit carries a message of pastoral love, mercy and compassion from a Pope with the scent of a Good Shepherd (cf. John 10). Even though, this will be the fourth papal visit to our nation, for Pope Francis he will be the third Pope to visit our country. As the Successor to the Chair of Peter, the Holy Father is coming to strengthen his brothers and sisters (cf. Luke 22:32).

The underlying spirit of this Papal visit is the theme of “mercy and compassion” the cherished ideals of Jesus. In this regard, Matthew 9:36 tells us that Jesus “seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” In this context, Pope Francis comes to revive our “drooping spirit” and to lead us to greener pastures (cf. Psalm 23). Hence, he is bringing to us “the joy of the gospel” enshrined in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.

Usually, our first reaction to the news of a papal visit is understandably one of euphoria and thanksgiving. The excitement of seeing Pope Francis in the Philippines is rising as the year 2015 gets nearer. However, we must prepare the nation to receive the Holy Father by setting our minds and hearts in communion with our dear Pope Francis, the messenger of peace, love, and the apostle of the poor. Our compassionate shepherd comes to show his deep concern for our people who have gone through devastating calamities, especially in the Visayas. He comes to confirm us in our faith as we face the challenges of witnessing to the Joy of the Gospel in the midst of our trials.

This is an eloquent way of showing mercy and compassion. Accordingly, in his Apostolic Exhortation, he has already voiced this concern in these words: “some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting” (Evangelii Gaudium 54). And the Pope comes to bring hope to our excluded Philippines. He brings a message to the poor among us.

A PEOPLE EAGER TO WELCOME

Let us allow Pope Francis himself to prepare us for his visit. How? The guiding motto of our dear Pope Francis is Miserando atque eligendo (meaning ‘lowly but chosen’). The literal translation from Latin is ‘by having mercy, by choosing him’. We can equally adapt this to be the motto of our nation as well. Though we are lowly among the nations, yet we have been chosen to receive the blessings of the Vicar of Christ. In this regard, Pope Francis reminds us that “the Church must be a place of mercy freely given, where everyone can feel welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged to live the good life of the Gospel” (Evangelii Gaudium 114).

Consistent with this, the Holy Father has clearly laid out his wish that the main objective of his visit is to bring Christ’s compassion for our suffering people still struggling to rise from the devastations wrought by the earthquake and typhoon that hit the Visayas.

This demand of Pope Francis is also consistent with Daniel 4:24 (NAB) which says: “Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.” Accordingly, it is not the logistics, security and infrastructure that best prepare us for the papal visit. Let us be like Pope Francis in his humility and his compassion. Let us make his apostolic journey of mercy to be ours even before he arrives.

A POPE RICH IN MERCY

In connection with the recent canonization of Saint John Paul II, and the remarkable emphasis Pope Francis has been giving to this particular element in Christian life, may we choose MERCY, incarnated, embodied, symbolized in the poor amongst us, to be placed at the center of this spiritual preparation for the papal visit.

It was Saint John Paul II who wrote deeply and movingly of God Our Father as “Dives in Misericordia”. In that profound encyclical, “mercy” was his name for God. Pope Francis, from the first days of his pontificate, has been preaching insistently and passionately on God’s constant and untiring mercy, and on the primacy of the Church’s mission of mercy and compassion in the world of our time.

It is noteworthy that perhaps the first major doctrinal-spiritual book of Pope Francis, which has been published in English bears the title, “The Church of Mercy”. The book “presents the heart of his teaching on the most fundamental themes of his vision of a new way of being Church.”

In it, the Holy Father asks: “Are we a Church that really calls and welcomes sinners with open arms, that gives courage and hope, or are we a Church closed in on herself? … Are we a Church which is a house for everyone, where all can be renewed, transformed, sanctified by God’s love, the strongest and the weakest, sinners, the indifferent, those who feel discouraged or lost? … Are we a Church where the face of God dwells, where one cares for the other, where one prays for the other?”

EMBRACING THE MERCY OF GOD

From Pope Francis’ teaching, two aspects of mercy may be singled out.

First, the mercy and the patience of God toward sinners are made manifest in Jesus. Jesus is “the visible face of the mercy of God.” As the Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, “God is there always, always waiting for us; he never grows tired. Jesus shows us the merciful patience of God.” And “this patience of God calls forth in us the courage to return to him, however many the sins and mistakes there may be in our lives.” Like Thomas in the gospel, “we too can enter into the wounds of Jesus; we can actually touch him. This happens every time we receive the sacraments with faith.” “It is there, in the wounds of Jesus, that we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of his Heart.”

Secondly, we encounter Jesus in living out his own compassion and mercy towards our bothers and sisters in need and poverty, in suffering, loneliness, in hopelessness. “To meet the living God we must tenderly kiss the wounds of Jesus in our hungry people, in the sick and in imprisoned brothers and sisters. Study, meditation and mortification are not enough to have us encounter the living Christ. Like the apostle Thomas, our life will only be changed when we touch Christ’s wounds present in the poor, the sick and the needy. The path to our encounter with Jesus is his wounds. There is no other.” (Pope Francis, 3 July 2013)

A question then arises. In our Christian lives, where may we in fact draw the profound spirituality of mercy that can truly help us prepare spiritually for the papal visit? “They will look upon him whom they have pierced” (John 19: 37, NAB). The Fourth Gospel, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote, sums up the whole Christian spirituality. In this great image we see the whole story of our salvation in Jesus. We see God’s faithful love and mercy shining forth from the Cross. And we see the human response to that merciful love also in the pierced Heart of Christ.

A PEOPLE RICH IN MERCY

The most distinctive way to prepare spiritually for the coming of Pope Francis is for the Philippines to become a people rich in mercy. Let us make mercy our national identity. Trust in God’s mercy is part and parcel of our traditional Filipino Christian culture. Let us make the practice of mercy our gift to the Pope when he comes to visit us.

Concretely, in this period of preparation for the visit of Pope Francis, we are bidden to turn to the fountain of all mercy, Jesus, and encounter the Divine Mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And having received such mercy we in turn practice acts of mercy.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read: “The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbour in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting, are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all of these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.” (CCC 2447)

At the societal level, let us also not forget to address justice and mercy issues in the root causes of poverty and inequality in our country – such as the protection of the environment, the completion of agrarian reform, and the continuing challenges of good governance, peace-building, and inclusive growth for all.

A PREPARATION RICH IN MERCY

Mother sleeps with her toddler during a break from selling outside the convent of Sisters of St. Claire in Quezon City. NJ Viehland Photos

Mother sleeps with her toddler during a break from selling outside the convent of Sisters of St. Claire in Quezon City. NJ Viehland Photos

We encourage you our dear people to resolve to make an act of mercy every day.

You can reach out to a lonely stranger. You can tell the story of Jesus to a child eager to understand and feel the love of God. You can advise a confused co-worker. You can forgive someone who has wronged you.

You can give food to a hungry beggar. You can contribute to building homes for the typhoon victims. You can visit those in jail or prison. You can visit the charity ward of hospitals, drug rehabilitation centers, homes for the elderly and orphanages. You can condole with the grieving families whose loved ones just died. You can give alms to the poor.

You can show mercy by making it a habit to say “please”, “thank you” or a kind word of appreciation. Refraining from cursing and using hurting words is an act of mercy. Being polite to the children and infants, to the sick and the elderly are great acts of mercy.

As we prepare for the coming of the Pope we are asked to have more access to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and encourage our priests to increase their availability and visibility at the confessional, and turn earnestly to fervent participation in the Eucharistic sacrifice and even spend more time in Eucharistic adoration and to zealously be involved in making our Basic Ecclesial Communities and other faith-communities as venues for mercy and reconciliation. Let us prepare to see the Pope by reviving personal and family prayer. Pope Francis has challenged us to restore family prayer and devotion in our homes.

All of this opens to, nourishes, and sustains in our lives the gift of Mercy from the Heart of Jesus! May our Shrines of Divine Mercy be the source of inspiration and strength for our families.

When the Pope comes, he will bring with him the message of the mercy and compassion of God. When he meets us, may he see in us a people touched by the mercy of God, living out the compassion of God, a people truly rich in mercy and compassion and grateful to those who have shown mercy to us especially after various calamities hit our country.

May Mary, Our Mother of Mercy prepare us to meet Jesus in Pope Francis!

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, July 7, 2014

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
CBCP President
7 July 2014

Gov’t hosts meeting for Pope Francis’ Visit to Sri Lanka, ahead of PH

Sri Lanka’s Inter-Ministerial Task Force preparing for Pope Francis’ “state visit” from January 13 to 15 next year gathered together  public, civic, private business and Church leaders for the first time June 24 at the External Affairs Ministry, its Daily News national newspaper reported.

Sri Lankan unofficial source for dates of the papal visit to the south Asian country has also been cited saying the pope would arrive in the Philippines from Sri Lanka on January 15 in a report which the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines news website  and Facebook account cited.

For the Sri Lanka visit, External Affairs Minister Professor G.L. Peiris welcomed Archbishop of Colombo His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Apostolic Nuncio Nguyen Van Tot, Bishop of Chilaw Most Rev. Valence Mendis, Bishop of Galle Most Rev. Raymond Wickramasinghe, Bishop of Kurunegala Most Rev. Dr. Harold Anthony Perera, Defence and Urban Development Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Law and Order Ministry Secretary Major General Nanda Mallawarachchi, Mass Media and Information Ministry Secretary Dr. Charitha Herath, Chief of Defence Staff General Jagath Jayasuriya, Army Commander Lt. General R.M.D. Ratnayake, Navy Commander Rear Admiral Jayanath Colombage, Air Force Commander Air Marshal K.A. Gunathilake, Inspector General of Police N.K. Illangakoon and representatives of other stakeholder institutions including the Public Administration and Home Affairs Ministry, the Highways Ministry, Airport and Aviation Services Ltd., SriLankan Airlines, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Immigration and Emigration Department and the Colombo Municipal Council.

All arrangements regarding the State Visit of His Holiness the Pope were discussed comprehensively at this meeting.

It was agreed that a further discussion would take place with the advance team from the Vatican due to visit Sri Lanka next week.

Read report, view meeting photos 

The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis would be travelling to Korea from August 14 to August 18 this year during which he will visit with and address young people from around the region gathered for Asian Youth Day, persons with disabilities, leaders of religious and lay groups. The pope will also hold private meetings with South Korean president and public officials as well as Catholic bishops of Korea.

No formal announcement has come from the Vatican concerning exact dates of Pope Francis’ visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, which the pope told an inflight press conference would be on January.

Sri Lanka media, quoting Cardinal Ranjith reported the January 13 – January 15 visit to their south Asian country. Catholic News Agency report later cited Monsignor Nevin Perera, coordinator of Sri Lankan migrants in Italy, saying that Pope Francis will leave Sri Lanka for Manila on the morning of January 15.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle also expressed confidence that the papal visit will push through. In an early June press conference on the 2016 International Eucharistic Congress attended by CiA, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo told reporters a Vatican representative is expected to attend the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines July plenary assembly to discuss the pope’s visit to the Philippines.

Palo Archbishop John Du, said the papal visit would boost the morale of ‘Yolanda’ (super typhoon Haiyan) survivors, especially those who are still struggling to rebuild their lives.

He said the typhoon survivors in Leyte await the pope’s visit and anticipate eagerly Pope Francis’ arrival in their province.

“The pope’s visit is another big blessing. We are happy for the blessing that come to us– the pope is coming, the people’s solidarity and the overwhelming generosity of the people,” Du said.

According to the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which reports worldwide church figures as of Dec. 31, 2011, the increase in the number of Catholics in Africa (4.3 percent) and Asia (2 percent) greatly outpaced their regions’ population growth, which was 2.3 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.

 

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Pope Francis Korean trip themes: youth, martyrs, peace

Korean boys, among tens of thousands of Korean students in the Philippines, attend Mass at St Vincent Korean Catholic Community center in Loyola Heights, Quezon City, northeast of Manila. - NJ Viehland Photos

Korean boys, among tens of thousands of Korean students in the Philippines, attend Mass at St Vincent Korean Catholic Community center in Loyola Heights, Quezon City, northeast of Manila. – NJ Viehland Photos

Statue and dedication stone of St. Kim Dae Gun at the Korean Personal Parish in Taguig, Pasig diocese, east of Manila. - NJ Viehland Photos

Statue and dedication stone of St. Kim Dae Gun at the Korean Personal Parish in Taguig, Pasig diocese, east of Manila. – NJ Viehland Photos

 

The Vatican Wednesday released details of Pope Francis’ upcoming mid-August trip South Korea, saying the trip’s major themes will be: youth, martyrs and peace.

Read Pope Francis’ Aug. 14-Aug.18 program of activities in Korea

Sectarian violence in southern Sri Lanka, off limits to media – RWB

The Sri Lankan authorities asked the local media not to cover the clashes between Buddhists and Moslems that erupted in the southern region of Aluthgama on the night of 15 June, Reporters Without Borders reported.  A curfew was also imposed in an attempt to contain a situation described by the government as “tense.”

Read Reporters Without Borders’ full report