DECEMBER 19, 2010, Vol 60, No 25

The Wikileaks website ... A longtime Vatican diplomat said, ‘First, it’s necessary to see if these documents are authentic. What proof is there?’

VATICAN CITY – WikiLeaks’ release of classified US documents is unlikely to ever develop into a flood capable of eroding decades of US diplomatic efforts, some Vatican officials and observers said.

The content of the communications between the US government and its diplomatic missions abroad does “not seem capable of substantially changing relations between the United States” and its 274 embassies around the world, said the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, on Nov 29, the day after the WikiLeaks website launched “Cablegate”.

Among the quarter of a million alleged diplomatic cables WikiLeaks said it would release over the coming months, sources in Rome said 850 documents concern communications between the US State Department and the US Embassy to the Vatican.

While US government employees would not comment on any of the content that is being released, the Vatican seemed to be downplaying the perceived crisis and showed a heavy dose of skepticism.
SHIJIAZHUANG – About 100 seminarians from Hebei’s major seminary recently stood quietly for 14 hours in front of the provincial Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau, protesting what they see as the political appointment of the seminary’s deputy director.

The group held placards with slogans demanding a written promise to revoke the appointment of the official, reported UCA News.

The controversy began on Nov 11, when officials of the Hebei Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau announced during a seminary visit that their section chief, Mr Tang Zhaojun, would become the deputy rector and a teacher for a political class.

Church sources told UCA News the provincial officials did not consult Church leaders about such an arrangement. Seminarians said they feared Tang would interfere with management of the seminary.

The seminary suspended classes but later decided that classes would return to normal.

However, the seminarians rejected that decision, which led to their quiet protest on Dec 2.

That night, officials and plainclothes policemen travelled to the seminary in the hope of persuading priests to compromise. On learning of the visit, the seminarians asked the officials to leave.

Muslim visitors present Archbishop Nicholas Chia with a calligraphy painting. From left: Jaffar Mah, a Chinese Muslim; Imam Habib Hassan; Archbishop Chia and Sr Theresa Seow.

Muslims from Ba’alwie Mosque on Lewis Road visited the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd recently to learn more about Catholicism. One of them shares his group’s experience.

‘Sunday, the 14th of November 2010, 3pm, proved to be an auspicious time for members and 30 volunteers from the Ba’alwie Mosque, who paid a visit to the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Singapore.

Our group consisted of many different races, Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans of different backgrounds – Malays, Chinese, Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis, Egyptians, Sudanese and others.

The purpose of the visit, as outlined by the Imam of the mosque, Habib Hassan Al-Attas, was for us to meet our Catholic brothers and sisters and to better understand their faith.

Members of the public penning their six words during the project’s recent launch.

Morning Star Community Services hopes to put more meaning into people’s lives through a simple project

Pause and take stock of your life from time to time.

This is the message Morning Star Community Services, an affiliate member of the Caritas Singapore Community Council, hopes to impress upon Singaporeans through a special initiative called What Truly Matters in Six Words.

The project aims to get people to reflect on what truly matters to them, and getting them to pen and share their thoughts in just six words.

It was officially launched on Nov 27 at The Atrium@Orchard.

Father Bunsong Hongthong (centre) and Phichit and Achara Sukeewat (extreme right) from Thailand pose for a photo with the Choice Asia team from Singapore, (from left) David and Gillian Cheong, Felicia and Fr Adrian Yeo.

A team from the Catholic Church in Thailand, who were in Singapore recently to learn about the Choice programme, said they hope to launch it in their country next year.

They said they are now exploring how to develop the programme for young Thais in a way which would fit in with their culture.

The team, consisting of Fr Bunsong Hongthong from the Thai Church’s family desk, and a couple Phichit (Michael) and Achara (Lucia) Sukeewat, spoke to CatholicNews after attending a Nov 26-28 Choice weekend here.

Fr Bunsong said that he has now gained a clearer understanding of Choice and is satisfied with what he had experienced.

There are currently no Church-run programmes in Thailand catering to late teens and single young adults, he said. Choice, the delegates said, would fill the gap.