2011 issues in PDF are available at this link:
2011 issues in PDF are available at this link:
VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI has instituted a new agency to monitor all Vatican financial operations and make sure they meet international norms against money-laundering and the financing of terrorism.

The pope issued an apostolic letter on Dec 30 that established the Financial Information Authority as an independent agency to oversee the monetary and commercial activities of all Vatican-related institutions, including the Vatican bank.

At the same time, the Vatican promulgated a detailed new law that defined financial crimes and established penalties – including possible jail time – for their violation. The list of transgressions includes corruption, market manipulation, fraud and virtually any activity that facilitates or provides funding to acts of terrorism.
MANILA – A bishop in the northern Philippine city of Baguio has rejected President Benigno Aquino III’s offer of using gambling money for economic development.

“I told President Aquino we oppose casino and all forms of gambling,” said Bishop Carlito Cenzon of Baguio in an interview with Church-run Radio Veritas 846.

Bishop Cenzon said the president (right) asked him if he was willing to accept money from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) for his diocese.

“I had to say ‘no’. I said I’m not alone in this; the whole community, the mayor and local government officials are against gambling,” the bishop said.
A canon prays in a Westminster Cathedral chapel. Three Anglican bishops were received into the Catholic Church during Mass at this cathedral. CNS file photo

LONDON – Three former Anglican bishops were received into the Catholic Church just hours after they officially gave up their ministries in the Church of England.

Bishops Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet, John Broadhurst of Fulham and Keith Newton of Richborough will be soon ordained as priests for a special Anglican ordinariate that will be set up in England later in January.

Their resignations took effect at midnight on Dec 31, and they were received into the Catholic Church the afternoon of Jan 1 during a Mass in London’s Westminster Cathedral.

They will be ordained as Catholic deacons at Allen Hall seminary, London, on Jan 13, then as priests at a ceremony in the cathedral on Jan 15. They will be incardinated into the English ordinariate, similar to a military diocese, which is expected to be formed by papal decree the second week of January, when Pope Benedict XVI is also expected to appoint its leader.
VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI has named a Hong Kong theologian as the second highest-ranking official of the Vatican’s evangelisation congregation.

Salesian Fr Savio Hon Tai-Fai (right) will serve as secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, the Vatican announced on Dec 23. With the appointment, he will become an archbishop.

Fr Hon, 60, is a member of the International Theological Commission and the Pontifical Academy of Theology. He has taught theology at the Hong Kong seminary and also at a seminaries in China.

Fr Hon said he anticipates that the Roman Curia may consult him on China Church affairs because of his experience on the mainland. - CNS, UCAN

VATICAN CITY – Citing years of “trouble”, Japan’s Catholic bishops have asked the Neocatechumenal Way to cease activities in the country for the next five years.

Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki told Catholic News Agency on Dec 15 that the bishops’ proposal, made directly to the Way’s founder, Kiko Arguello, has so far not been accepted.

Archbishop Takami was reached by phone at his home in Nagasaki.

Four other Japanese bishops had taken part in a Dec 13 closed door meeting in Rome with Pope Benedict XVI.
Archbishop Murphy Pakiam of Kuala Lumpur and Prime Minister Najib Razak at a Christmas Day tea party. Photo: CHRISTIAN FEDERATION OF MALAYSIA

SEOUL – Catholic interreligious dialogue leaders have met with their counterparts from the National Council of Churches (NCCK) in Korea to devise a series of projects designed to promote Christian unity in the coming year.

The Committee for Promoting Christian Unity and Interreligious Dialogue of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) hosted the Dec 27 meeting with NCCK secretary Kim Young-ju, Metropolitan Ambrosios-Aristotelis Zographos of the Orthodox Church in Korea and other Christian leaders.

Raising the issue of recent religious conflicts, CBCK committee chairman Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong of Kwangju requested participants to come up with concrete plans for building Christian unity.
Father Stephen Yim plays the saxophone, accompanied by Jeremy Fernandez on the piano at the Church of Christ the King concert.

His talent for classical singing has led him to perform several recitals and concerts at the Arts House, Esplanade and Young Musician’s Society.

But for Christmas last year, musician Daniel Fong, a 22-year-old undergraduate, decided to put his talent to charitable use by organising a Christmas concert at the Church of Christ the King, where he is a parishioner.
Fr William Lim (right), parish priest of the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, collapsed on Jan 3 morning while jogging at the Serangoon stadium, said assistant priest Fr Stanislaus Pang.

Fellow joggers revived the 58-year-old priest and rushed him to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. Doctors say he needs a triple bypass and are working to stabilise his blood pressure, says Fr Pang.

Fr Lim was warded at the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit as of Jan 5.

Fr Pang urged prayers for Fr Lim’s recovery.

From left: Canossian Srs Marcellina Fumagalli, Rose Low and Jane Chong at their jubilee celebration at the Church of St Stephen on Jan 2. Sr Fumagalli celebrated 60 years as a Religious while the other two nuns celebrated 25 years.

Wanted to be a missionary at age of 6

“You find happiness where you are … although there were misunderstandings, obstacles, but among these, my joy was in my heart … I can go on,” says Canossian Sr Marcellina Fumagalli, who celebrated 60 years of Religious life recently.

Although her life has not been without obstacles, she firmly believes that “without some suffering, you cannot achieve anything.” Furthermore, “through suffering united with” Christ, one can accomplish much.

Sr Marcellina said she had wanted to be a missionary from the age of six. Her mother had told her stories about the saints and the young Marcellina had understood that her calling was to be a missionary.
Youth workers Charlene Heng and Philip Ong say they have been stared at by hostile-looking youths when they talk to other young people at a hawker centre or coffeeshop. 

Special programme helps YouthReach identify those involved in gang-related activities

YouthReach, a Church-run youth service agency, is now working with the police to reach out to young people involved in street gangs.

The organisation, a joint outreach project of Catholic Welfare Services and Boys’ Town, started conducting the government-funded Streetwise Programme (SWP) in November.

The six-month long programme includes counselling, life skills, career guidance, and recreation and social programmes to help delinquent youths start life afresh.

Prior to this, YouthReach was conducting its own Street Outreach programme in Tampines, where the agency is located. It stopped this programme last October after six months.

The youth workers realised that “it was not easy to just walk around, sit down and say ‘hi’ to them [the youths]” due to the youths’ mobility,” said YouthReach’s senior social worker Charlene Heng.

The youths might not always be at the same location; thus the youth workers may not be able to follow up with the same group of people.
Peer pressure and a need to belong led Mark (not his real name) to join street gangs and secret societies during his teenage years.

He said he got to know about peers joining such gangs when he started playing street soccer with his secondary school friends.

Mark, who is now in his late 20s, said joining street gangs was not about protection, but rather of enjoying a sense of security which comes from belonging to a group.

While some youths eventually leave these gangs, some will continue to hang out in an area where they will get acquainted with “uncles” who will offer them work and money.

That is when their involvement in secret societies begins, said Mark.

It was due to friendship, or yi qi in Mandarin, that he and his group of friends started working for secret societies, partly also to earn a living.  

“You don’t feel comfortable. Every day you have the feeling of not knowing when you’ll be caught. … It’s a nightmare,” he recalled. He said he eventually left the group for the sake of his family. The parting was an amicable one, he said.

The pillars at the back of the Cathedral supported by beams.
Photos: Darren Boon

Structural investigations on the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd are ongoing and should be completed in a few months’ time, says Fr Adrian Anthony.

Only then will cathedral authorities have a better idea of the extent and cost of restoration work, said Fr Anthony, who is the cathedral rector.

There are plans for the construction of a multi-storey annex building which will replace the present one-storey building on the cathedral grounds. The new building will house offices, meeting rooms.

There are also plans for a counselling centre to serve foreigners needing help as well as Singaporeans, said Fr Anthony.

He said that so far, several people, on their own initiative, have contributed a total of about $5 million, with one donor giving as much as $1 million.
Starting this year, the Filipino Ongoing Development Programme (FILODEP) will conduct classes for foreign domestic workers on either the first and third Sundays or second and fourth Sundays of each month.

This is to cater to workers who have only two off days a month and so are unable to attend weekly programmes.

Courses for 2011 will commence on the second Sunday of February.

The eight-month-long programme offers courses in international cooking, hairstyling, baking and decoration, handicraft, dress-making, facial and body massage, guitar, and English. Programmes are run by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) Sisters and assisted by volunteers.

Graduates are enjoying a better life for themselves and for their families, and some have even started small businesses of their own in their home countries, said FMM Sr Rosalind Chan.

The fee is $80 per course.

For more information, contact Sr Rosalind at 8182 3591 (mobile) or 6280 0451 (residence from 9am-9pm) or Nora Pamplona at 9055 6987.

By Darren Boon
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Mr Michael Thio who has been appointed a member of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, in an audience with Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.

Mr Michael Thio, recently appointed a member of the pontifical council coordinating the Church’s charitable efforts, says he wants to promote joint efforts among different faiths and within the Catholic Church itself to serve the underprivileged.

“I want to encourage interfaith collaboration and dialogue to serve the needy,” said Mr Thio, who was appointed a member of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum (one heart) by Pope Benedict XVI on Dec 29.

Mr Thio, who was elected President General of the International Confederation of the Society of St Vincent de Paul last May, said he also wants to promote greater “collaboration among global Catholic charities” to serve the needy in the “total sense” of the word.

These people are not just the financially deprived, he stressed, but also include abandoned and delinquent children, the elderly, those neglected by family members and those who come from broken homes.

On being a member of Cor Unum, he said, “I feel it’s an honour,” adding that he accepts it on behalf of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP).
Fr Henry Siew, director of Carlo Catholic Society, awarding a bursary on Dec 19.

Recipients of Carlo Catholic Society’s bursaries say the money is a big help in easing their families’ financial burdens.

They were speaking to CatholicNews after a short presentation ceremony at the society’s premises on Queen St on Dec 19.

Agabus Tan, in Primary Four, said “it is God’s blessing that helped me get this bursary”.

“I’m very happy,” he added.

He plans to use the money to buy some assessment and reference books.

His mother, Mrs Tan, added that Agabus would now be able to get the books he wants instead of having to borrow from classmates. One book costs an average of $10, she said.
This year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will see different Christian leaders coming together to share their experiences at a forum.

Speakers from the Anglican, Methodist and Mar Thoma Syrian Churches will speak on topics such as prayer and fellowship based on this year’s theme – “They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayer” (Acts 2: 42-47).

“It is our hope that a format of this kind may begin to stimulate conversations during the refreshment time on the sharings, and that it will continue to encourage further informal and frequent conversations during year,” said Good Shepherd Sr Elizabeth Lim, who is on the Archdiocesan Council For Inter-Religious and Ecumenical Dialogue (IRED)

The forum will be held on Monday, Jan 24, at the Church of Divine Mercy at 8 pm. Monsignor Eugene Vaz will be the moderator. The evening will begin with prayers, including Taize-style prayers, as an introduction to the sharing.

On Wednesday, Jan 19, a prayer service, followed by fellowship will be held at the Mar Thoma Syrian Church at 29 Jalan Keli in Upper Thomson Road, near to Church of the Holy Spirit, at 8 pm.

By Darren Boon
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At least one parish in Singapore has come up with a dress code for those attending Masses.

In its Dec 26 bulletin, the Church of St Anthony (above) said that after a survey on appropriate attire, it has decided to forbid the wearing of:
* Clothing made of spandex (skin-tight) and translucent (see-through) materials.
* Clothing exposing the entire shoulder, chest, back or thighs.
* Clothing promoting violence and vices such as drug and alcohol consumption.
* Sportswear and flip flops.

Father Stephen Yim plays the saxophone, accompanied by Jeremy Fernandez on the piano at the Church of Christ the King concert.

His talent for classical singing has led him to perform several recitals and concerts at the Arts House, Esplanade and Young Musician’s Society.

But for Christmas last year, musician Daniel Fong, a 22-yearold undergraduate, decided to put his talent to charitable use by organising a Christmas concert at the Church of Christ the King, where he is a parishioner.

The hour-long concert, titled An Evening of Carols and Sacred Music, was held on Dec 20 evening, and was the first such event for charity held in the church.

Besides Fong, another upand-coming classical singer, Lim Yan Ting, 26, a soprano, and pianist Jeremy Fernandez, 25, also performed that night.

From familiar carols such as Away In A Manger and Silent Night to lesser known sacred music such as Howard Goldall’s The Lord Is My Shepherd, the more than 150 parishioners and friends who packed the attic of the church in Ang Mo Kio were left enraptured by the trio.
They Recognised Him at the Breaking of Bread

“It is I who need baptism from you and yet you come to me!”

With this humble cry of recognition of John the Baptist from this Catechetical Sunday’s Matthean Gospel, I greet you all my sisters and brothers in the catechetical ministry. 

Indeed, together with the Baptist, we too are overcome with gratitude when we realise that Our Lord chooses to manifest His presence through the humble signs of the Church’s liturgical tradition – bread and wine, water and oil, light and colour – these simple liturgical signs point to the Incarnate Presence with us throughout the year. Indeed how moved we must be to realise how simple and small God makes Himself for us, and yet how enduring and powerful!   
World Day of Peace is commemorated on Jan 1. And it does not go unnoticed by our pope. In his new year message, he chose the theme, If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation.

God has given us the earth and all that is natural and good, we are told. Yet, we are now facing threats – “numerous threats to peace and to authentic and integral human development”.

If we truly believe in a God who sent his Son, the Word made flesh who dwelt among us, then we must not fail to understand that the ominous threats of our environmental crises also signal a crisis in our Christian theology.

As the book, Care for Creation (Delio, et al) tells us:

“Christians are in a crisis of the Word of God. ...We have lost a Christian theology that adequately conveys the idea that creation is God speaking to us.”

Are we aware that each time we flip a switch, turn on a car engine, buckle up in an airplane seat, we are releasing gases that heat up the planet? Our lifestyle decisions, ranging from the type of house we buy, how we travel, to what we eat, have what is known as “carbon consequences”.
I am saddened by the news of Fr William Lim, parish priest of the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who suffered a heart attack on the morning of Jan 3 while jogging. My heartfelt sympathy and prayers go out to the family and parishioners.

A number of priests have passed on due to heart attacks and cancers at a relatively young age. With the start of the new year, priests, Religious brothers and nuns should undergo a full medical check-up to ensure their well being to carry out God’s work in the Catholic community.

The benefits of a full health check will safeguard the individual, and any medical issues can be arrested and appropriate measures taken to give God’s servants a healthy lifestyle. n

Bennie Cheok, Singapore
I refer to the article, Parish Comes Up with Dress Code (CN, Jan 16).

The Catholic Church is a universal Church with an established hierarchy that sets out the role of the clergy and other matters such as how Church laws are formulated and administered. This hierarchy of structured processes makes the Catholic Church strong and different from all other religions – unlike, for example, independent Protestant Churches that operate on their own. This is the reason why Catholic rites in different countries are all similar.

It therefore confounds me that the Church of St Anthony can come up with its own rules regarding dress code that forbids certain dressing. If the Catholic Church had wanted to come up with such rules it would have done so long ago.

In fact, long ago there was a rule that required ladies to wear a veil over their heads during Mass. And this rule was applied across the entire Catholic Church, not just at one or two parishes.

At the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea, posters have been put up to show what it deems as “inappropriate dressing”. This is fine if it was just a guideline or advisory. But no. Church wardens actively police this advisory and parishioners who do not comply are told off.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Catholic News for the attention paid towards the Neocatechumenal Way, (Japan’s Bishops Want Neocatechumenal Way To Stop Work, CN Jan 16).

However the Holy See has replied to the situation as reported in this ZENIT article (Jan 7):

The Neocatechumenal Way will not be suspended in Japan for five years, as was previously announced by the country’s episcopal conference, reports the lay movement.

According to a spokesman of the movement, Alvaro de Juana, this decision was communicated recently in writing by the Vatican Secretariat of State to the Neocatechumenal Way founders: Kiko Arguello, Carmen Hernandez and Mario Pezzi.

De Juana informed ZENIT that the letter came after Benedict XVI presided at a Dec 13 meeting with a representation of several Japanese bishops, among them the president of the episcopal conference, Archbishop Leo Ikenaga of Osaka, to address some aspects of the Neocatechumenal Way in Japan.
(Left) A woman farming in Southern Sudan. The head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace says that if the situation for African growers was allowed to improve, they would not need to buy genetically modified seeds. CNS photo

VATICAN CITY – If farmers in Africa had greater access to fertile, arable land safe from armed conflict and pollutants, they would not need genetically modified crops to produce food, said the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Making growers reliant on proprietary, genetically modified seeds smacks of “the usual game of economic dependence” which in turn “stands out like a new form of slavery”, said Cardinal Peter Turkson.

The Ghanaian cardinal’s comments came in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano on Jan 5.

It is “a scandal” that nearly one billion people suffer from hunger, Cardinal Turkson said, especially since there is more than enough food to feed the whole world.

Crops and livestock are destroyed because of strict trade restraints or in order to keep food prices high and, in wealthier countries, edible food “is thrown in the garbage”.

“All it would take is a little bit more solidarity and much less egoism” and there would be enough food to nourish even twice the current world population, he said.

The cardinal said high-tech agricultural practices and techniques are all but useless in areas of conflict and areas that are ravaged by the exploitation of natural resources.

“In searching for and extracting petroleum, gold or precious minerals present under African soil, multinationals cause enormous damage: they excavate large pits and irreparably devastate fields and forests,” he said. Whether such areas would ever be arable again is uncertain “even if one relied on genetically engineered plants”.

Cardinal Turkson said some multinational companies are actively engaged in trying to persuade bishops in Africa to support greater use of genetically modified organisms.
A student looks at a tribute to shooting victim Christina Taylor Green. CNS photo

WASHINGTON – As Americans sought to make sense of the Jan 8 shooting spree in Tucson, Arizona, that left six dead and 14 wounded, religious leaders around the country looked to help heal the emotional pain through prayer and memorial services.

Tucson Bishop Gerald F Kicanas presided at a packed public commemoration and healing service on Jan 11 and was also part of an interfaith memorial service at Catalina United Methodist Church held the same day.

The violence caused trauma for the whole community, Bishop Kicanas told Catholic News Service in a phone interview. “First we have to grieve, we need to cry and be together, especially for those who were harmed and their families.”

Impromptu and organised vigils and prayer services took place around Tucson, at the hospital where most victims were treated, outside injured congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ office in Tucson, at the US Capitol, and at churches and public venues around the country.
VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI has approved a miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II’s intercession, clearing the way for the late pope’s beatification on May 1, Divine Mercy Sunday.

Pope Benedict’s act on Jan 14 followed more than five years of investigation into the life and writings of the Polish pontiff, who died in April 2005 after more than 26 years as pope.

The Vatican said it took special care with verification of the miracle, the spontaneous cure of a French nun from Parkinson’s disease – the same illness that afflicted Pope John Paul in his final years. Three separate Vatican panels approved the miracle, including medical and theological experts, before Pope Benedict signed the decree.

“There were no concessions given here in procedural severity and thoroughness,” said Cardinal Angelo Amato, head of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. On the contrary, he said, Pope John Paul’s cause was subject to “particularly careful scrutiny, to remove any doubt”.
(Left) A woman prays during a Jan 12 Mass in Port-au-Prince, near the ruins of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. The Mass marked the one-year anniversary of the earthquake. CNS photo

PORT-AU-PRINCE – In front of a national cathedral that lay in rubble, Catholic leaders marked the anniversary of Haiti’s deadly earthquake by praying for its victims and calling for reconstruction of this tattered Caribbean country.

“This tragedy took everything ... and sickness and death are still hitting” Haitians, said Cardinal Robert Sarah, the papal envoy, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum and the main celebrant at the Mass. “We call on the international community ... to develop the country, to develop Haiti.”

Throughout the earthquake-torn capital, Haitians flocked to churches for prayer services on Jan 12, the anniversary of the earthquake.

Thousands attended the morning service outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. Haiti’s prime minister, presidential candidates and musicians sat in tents flanked by choirs and scores of residents.
South Korean Catholics at the Vatican. A Korean diocese plans to set up a town for elderly Catholics in 2013. CNS file photo

SEOUL – Incheon diocese in South Korea has announced its plan to set up and manage a town for senior Catholics in response to the country’s rising elderly population.

It is believed to be the first time in the country that a diocese is to build and run a town for senior citizens, said Ms Justina Kang, public relations head of the diocese’s senior town committee.

Kang told ucanews.com that in 2013, the diocese plans to establish a senior town for Catholics aged 60 years or older. The town will be called “Maris Stella” after the patron of the diocese.

The diocesan committee for the town said it will provide integrated pastoral care for Catholic elders and focus on improving their quality of life.

Under the construction plan, a church will be built with a priest staying and running spiritual programmes for the residents.
TOKYO – The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (CBCJ) has called for the cooperation of priests and laypeople to confront “problems” with the Neocatechumenal Way, which he said has had a negative effect in the country.

“In those places touched by the Neocatechumenal Way, there has been rampant confusion, conflict, division and chaos,” Archbishop Leo Jun Ikenaga of Osaka said in a statement published in Katorikku Shimbun, the Catholic Weekly of Japan, on Jan 12. His statement was reported by the Asian Church news agency, UCA News.

“In Japan, the net effect has been negative,” Archbishop Ikenaga said in his statement. “We bishops, in light of our apostolic pastoral responsibility, could not ignore the damage.”

Pope Benedict XVI refused a December request from four Japanese bishops, including Archbishop Ikenaga, to suspend the Neocatechumenal Way for five years.

Archbishop Ikenaga’s statement, dated Dec 20, suggests that the bishops are unwilling to let the matter rest there.

“Until now, the CBCJ has engaged with both the Holy See and the Neocatechumenal Way. But now the time has come to gain the participation of the laypeople of Japan,” Archbishop Ikenaga wrote in the statement.
(Left) Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore walks from his residence. He expressed regret that the country’s leadership ruled out any amendment to Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law. CNS PHOTO

BANGALORE – Catholic officials in Pakistan expressed disappointment after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani reiterated there would be no amendment to the country’s blasphemy law, which makes insulting the Prophet Mohammad or the Qur’an punishable by life imprisonment or death.

“This is a setback. We have to take it in our stride and move on,” Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore, president of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, told Catholic News Service on Jan 12, hours after the prime minister’s remarks.

“We are really disappointed,” Mr Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the Church’s National Commission for Justice and Peace, told CNS from his office in Lahore.

However, Mr Jacob said Mr Gilani has his own “political compulsions” to make such a declaration on the sensitive issue.

The Pakistan Peoples Party, the major party in Mr Gilani’s coalition government, has only 125 seats in the 342-member National Assembly and is dependent on the support of pro-Islamic parties and independent legislators for the survival of the government.
Seminarians carry statues of Mary and the Christ Child before a Mass as part of Jubilee Year celebrations at Vietnam’s La Vang Basilica on Jan 5.

LA VANG – On a visit to Vietnam for the Catholic Church’s closing ceremony of the Jubilee Year 2010, papal special envoy Cardinal Ivan Dias expressed confidence that religious freedom will be respected in the communist nation.

“I believe that religious freedom will be ensured and local religious organisations and people, regardless of their faiths, will have favourable conditions to publicly express and practise their faiths,” Cardinal Dias told the crowd at the ceremony at the national Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang on Jan 5.

Cardinal Dias, who heads the Congregation of Evangelisation for Peoples, was accompanied by Vietnamese Monsignor Barnabew Nguyen Van Phuong, also a Vatican official.

Over 100,000 people attended the closing ceremony, including 60 cardinals and bishops and 1,000 priests. Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan and provincial officials from Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue provinces also took part in the event.
The Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei agreed at their recent meeting to use the UK translation of the Roman Missal in Latin.

JOHOR BAHRU – The bishops of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei have agreed to use the United Kingdom’s version of the Roman Missal in English once the translation has been officially approved.

The Church leaders made this decision during their Jan 3-7 meeting at Majodi Centre in Plentong, Johor Bahru.

The bishops say they will also send to Rome for approval Mass texts not found in the UK version, such as for the celebration of the Lunar New Year, National Days, the Ponggal festival, the Gawai Dayak Harvest Festival of Sarawak and the Kaamatan Harvest Festival of Sabah.
MANNAR – A northern Sri Lanka bishop has expressed concern over restrictions on freedom of religion, expression, association and movement in the wake of the nation’s long civil war.

“People, community leaders and religious leaders should be free to organise peaceful events and meetings without restrictions,” Bishop Rayappu Joseph of Mannar told the government-appointed Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

“On several occasions, the military cancelled religious services for killed or missing civilians. Priests have been threatened for their attempts to commemorate those who were killed,” he said.

In his Jan 8 and 9 testimony on behalf of the diocese, Bishop Joseph proposed that the government should declare a day of mourning to remember civilians killed during the war.

“Visitors from outside the district and from overseas should be allowed to freely visit recently resettled areas without having to obtain prior permission,” Bishop Joseph said.
(Right) Protesters in Lahore demanding the release of Ms Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who has been sentenced to death for blasphemy.

LAHORE – The assassination of the Punjab governor on Jan 4 has not only stolen a good friend from Pakistani Christians and women’s rights campaigners, it has sent a stark warning to those trying to bring changes in the country’s blasphemy laws:

If VVIPs like Salman Taseer – who was shot dead by one of his elite bodyguards in Islamabad – can be a target, anyone can.

Taseer’s murderer told police he killed the governor because Taseer had “described the blasphemy laws as a black law”.

Taseer was renowned in Church circles for his outspoken views on the need for the repeal of the laws. He won the hearts of Christians last November when he and his family met Ms Asia Bibi shortly after Pope Benedict urged clemency for her, the first woman condemned to death for blasphemy.
Solar panels are seen on the roof of the Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican.

De La Salle Br Kelvin Tan (third from right) poses with family members and fellow Religious (Br Thomas Lavin, left, and Br Gregory Lim) after taking his perpetual vows.

De La Salle Br Kelvin Tan, who took his perpetual vows recently, says discerning God’s call for him was a process that unfolded over the years.

After being baptised in his primary school days at his parish, Holy Family Church, he said he felt God calling him to a deeper relationship with him when he was a student at St Patrick’s School.

“I thought God’s call could be satisfied by involving myself with parish ministry as a catechist,” said the 35-year-old, who took his final vows on Dec 19 at St Patrick’s School chapel in Katong.

“As the years passed and with prayerful discernment, I took the bold step in 2003 to join the Brothers” and live with them as an aspirant and postulant, said the teacher at St Anthony’s Primary School.

“I was firm in my decision to answer God’s call to the Religious life but there were apprehensions, especially having to leave my family, friends, job and country to a totally unfamiliar culture in the Philippines.”
Fr Bruno Saint Girons speaking to the visitors on Jan 8.

Residents of Marsiling Zone 1 who visited the Church of St Anthony recently said it was an eye-opening experience for them.

Ms Nancy Lim, a Taoist, said that although she had been to Novena Church before, the visit allowed her to gain a better understanding of Catholicism.

She said that Taoism and Catholicism both share similarities such as prayer, sacrifice as well as a belief in heaven and hell.

Ms Lim was one of some 40 people, including Muslims and Hindus, who visited the Catholic church on Jan 8.

The Marsiling Zone 1 Residents’ Committee organised the event with support from the Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles (IRCC).
Lay people are invited to join in the Mass for the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life as a show of support for Religious.

Lay people are part of the Church, and the Religious would like to invite them to share the latter’s joy and give thanks to God as they celebrate their identity as Religious, says Franciscan Missionaries of Mary Sr Assunta Leong.

“The Eucharist is the highlight of the celebration,” said the nun who is on the organising team for the celebration.

Furthermore, the celebration can also serve to inspire those who are contemplating a vocation in Religious life, she said.

The Mass will be held at the Church of St Mary of the Angels on Feb 1 at 8 pm.

Before the Mass, the Religious would gather among themselves for an input and sharing session by the Singapore Pastoral Institute based on this year’s theme, Let Your Light Shine.

By Darren Boon
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Members of the legal profession at the Red Mass on Jan 7.

Catholic legal professionals and law students say that an annual Mass held specially for them keeps them focused on their Catholic identity.

Attending the “Red Mass” helps remind lawyers that there is a deeper meaning to their profession, said lawyer Esme Wei.

It also helps lawyers keep their “focus on God,” said Mr Jon Ong, a second-year law student.

Ms Wei and Mr Ong were among 100 legal professionals and law students who attended the Jan 7 Red Mass held at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd and celebrated by Archbishop Nicholas Chia.

The Mass is celebrated specially for those involved in the administration of the law or who intend to do so.

It was first held in Paris in 1245, and in England around 1310. Then, it was attended by the entire Bench and Bar at the opening of each term of Court. The Mass was celebrated in honour of the Holy Spirit, for which red vestments were worn.

The Red Mass has a “rich tradition”, said lawyer Ian de Vaz, who has been attending it regularly.

It is important to obtain blessings to guide lawyers in the year ahead, he said.

Fourth-year law student Vincent Ong said he found the Mass inspiring. “It’s edifying to see so many lawyers care about their faith.”

By Darren Boon
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