DECEMBER 16, 2012, Vol 62, No 25

BANGALORE, INDIA – The life of Blessed Devasahayam Pillai, an 18th-century Catholic layman who was martyred for refusing to reject his faith despite being tortured, was held up as an example for all Christians to embrace.

“[India] can rejoice as this great martyr is now only a step away from being a declared saint,” Bishop Peter Remigius of Kottar told Catholic News Service on Dec 3, a day after 400,000 people attended the beatification ceremony in Nagercoil, in Tamil Nadu state.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Saints’ Causes, presided during the ceremony.

Fr Antony Gabriel, vice postulator of the canonization process, described Blessed Pillai as a “true martyr”.

Pillai, an upper-caste Hindu convert, was born on April 23, 1712. He was a member of the royal service and was close to King Marthanda Varma, then-ruler of Travancore.
KUANTAN, MALAYSIA – A judge has allowed the Malaysian Church to start legal proceedings for a judicial review to quash a government decision to acquire Church land.

On Nov 16, Kuantan High Court Judge Mariana Yahya granted leave to the Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur to start the proceedings.

The case involves the government trying to take over part of the land where St Thomas Church and St Thomas Secondary School are located in Kuantan.

The court fixed Jan 11, 2013, to hear the judicial review application when the judge will be asked to rule on the legality of the acquisition of the Church land by the government.
  Palestinians take part in a rally while the speech of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is projected on a screen in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Nov 29. CNS photo Palestinians take part in a rally while the speech of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is projected on a screen in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Nov 29. CNS photoVATICAN CITY – The Vatican praised a United Nations vote making Palestine a non-member observer state but called for full recognition of Palestinian sovereignty as necessary for peace in the region.

One hundred and thirty-eight member states voted on Nov 29 to boost Palestine’s status from “entity” to “non-member state” – the same status held by the Holy See – in an implicit recognition of Palestinian sovereignty. Israel, the United States and Canada were among the nine states that voted against the motion. Forty-one countries abstained.

The vote reflects the “sentiment of the majority of the international community” in favour of a “more significant presence to Palestinians within the United Nations”, the Vatican said in a written statement on Nov 29.
  Charities approved by the Church or supported by Church funds ‘are required to follow Catholic principles in their activity and they may not accept commitments which could in any way affect the observance of those principles’.  – Pope Benedict XVI Charities approved by the Church or supported by Church funds ‘are required to follow Catholic principles in their activity and they may not accept commitments which could in any way affect the observance of those principles’. – Pope Benedict XVIVATICAN CITY – Warning that Catholic charitable activity must not become “just another form of organised social assistance”, Pope Benedict XVI issued new rules to strengthen the religious identity of Catholic charities and ensure that their activities conform to Church teaching.

The pope’s apostolic letter on the “service of charity”, issued “motu proprio” (on his own initiative), directs bishops in overseeing charitable works in their dioceses. The document, dated Nov 11, was released by the Vatican on Dec 1.

Charities approved by the Church or supported by Church funds “are required to follow Catholic principles in their activity and they may not accept commitments which could in any way affect the observance of those principles”, the pope wrote.

The staff members of such charities must therefore “share, or at least respect, the Catholic identity” of their agencies, and exemplify “Christian life” and faith. Bishops are to provide these employees with “theological and pastoral formation” through special courses and “suitable aids to the spiritual life”.
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, USA – A high-ranking Vatican official from China says he doesn’t expect much to change in Church-state relations with the new Chinese government.

“I don’t think there will be a big change in the immediate future for the religious policy in China. It’s not one of the immediate priorities of the new government. They have many other things to take care of,” said Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

He made the comments during a visit to the Diocese of Brooklyn, part of a six-day trip to the US.

China unveiled its new Communist Party leadership on Nov 15.