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Have you heard? A U.N. treaty, backed by Vatican and U.S. bishops, has banned nuclear weapons

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Catholic News Service

The passage of a United Nations treaty banning the possession of nuclear weapons comes at a time when the majority of world’s nations are frustrated with the slow pace of nuclear disarmament.

Even with such a pact, years in the making, there is no timeline for total disarmament, arms control experts told Catholic News Service. Read more »

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Talk, display make Holocaust very real at Padua

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Dialog reporter

Woman relates story of being born in China, which welcomed Jews during WWII when others wouldn’t

 

WILMINGTON — More than 70 years have passed since the end of World War II, but the memories remain for those who lived through it, while others who weren’t alive in the 1940s have taken an interest in that part of history.

Two such people were at Padua Academy earlier this month. Yvonne Daniel spoke about her experience as a young child from a group of thousands of Jewish people who lived in Shanghai, China, during the war. In fact, she was born there. Read more »

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Chinese authorities continue removing crosses from churches

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BEIJING — Chinese authorities are continuing their campaign of removing crosses in Zhejiang province, and one of the latest was taken from a Catholic Church.

A Chinese Catholic kisses a crucifix during a pilgrimage in Baoji, China, in this May 3, 2013, file photo. Chinese authorities are continuing their campaign of removing crosses in Zhejiang province, and one of the latest was taken from a Catholic Church. (CNS photo/Wu Hong, EPA)

A Chinese Catholic kisses a crucifix during a pilgrimage in Baoji, China, in this May 3, 2013, file photo. Chinese authorities are continuing their campaign of removing crosses in Zhejiang province, and one of the latest was taken from a Catholic Church. (CNS photo/Wu Hong, EPA)

Government officials removed the cross of Zhuangyuan Church in Yongqiang parish just before dawn Feb. 25, two weeks after Zhejiang’s religious affairs director called for “religious stability” ahead of the Sept. 4-5 Group of 20 summit in the provincial capital, Hangzhou.

Ucanews.com reported that the previous evening, the Catholic community in Yongqiang parish called an emergency meeting amid warnings that the cross was about to be removed. They were unable to stop state officials despite resisting a similar attempt to remove the cross last year.

“The person in charge of the church did not inform the parish priest about the removal this time, possibly because government officials threatened him to keep quiet,” a church worker told ucanews.com on condition of anonymity. “When the priest realized the situation from others, he called a meeting immediately.”

At least 18 Protestant church crosses have been removed in Zhejiang so far this year. Ucanews.com reported that this is the first time authorities have targeted the much smaller Catholic community, an estimated 210,000 people, amid an ongoing campaign in which more than 1,700 crosses have been removed since the end of 2013.

Authorities also appeared to be targeting another Catholic church in Yongqiang parish, Bajia Church, following reports the local government ordered electricity and water to be cut off to the building Feb. 24.

“The Chinese New Year ended Feb. 22, so everyone is back at work, including the religious officials and demolition workers,” wrote the Catholic Evangelization Group on Wechat, a popular social media app in China.

The latest cross removal in Zhejiang follows a provincial Religious Affairs Commission video conference Feb. 4, during which director Feng Zhili told officials to be prepared to maintain “religious stability” before the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, reported local media.

In an apparent effort to contain simmering discontent among the millions of Christians who live in Zhejiang province, authorities have ordered no more cross removals in Hangzhou before the G-20.

“Even if there are cross removals, they (authorities) said they would seek approval from the diocese first,” said a priest in Hangzhou who asked not to be named. “But I am not certain authorities will really stop removing crosses, as policy often changes.”

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China urges religious groups to promote Chinese culture, orders retired officials to shun religion

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BEIJING — A top Politburo official told faith leaders that religious groups must promote Chinese culture and become more compatible with socialism.

Yu Zhengsheng said religious leaders must form a bridge between the Communist Party and hundreds of millions of Chinese that follow the country’s five officially recognized religions — Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism and Taoism, reported ucanews.com.

Chinese Catholics receive Communion in 2012 during Christmas Eve Mass in Beijing. A top Politburo official told faith leaders that religious groups must promote Chinese culture and become more compatible with socialism. (CNS photo/How Hwee Young, EPA)

Chinese Catholics receive Communion in 2012 during Christmas Eve Mass in Beijing. A top Politburo official told faith leaders that religious groups must promote Chinese culture and become more compatible with socialism. (CNS photo/How Hwee Young, EPA)

Xinhua, China’s state news agency, said Yu “called on religious groups in China to continue adding Chinese characteristics, dig into positive elements in their religions and make more effort in building a religious ideology with Chinese characteristics.”

Yu, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, led the meeting. Vice Premier Liu Yandong and Sun Chunlan, head of the United Work Front Department, which manages relations with faith groups, also attended. National broadcaster CCTV broadcast Yu’s instructions on its evening bulletin Feb. 4, ucanews.com reported.

It said Liu Yuanlong, who took part in his role as vice director of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, was not immediately available for comment.

Without explanation, Beijing has repeatedly postponed a major meeting on religion that was due to be chaired by President Xi Jinping at the end of last year. Delays may be due to problems drawing up a cohesive religious blueprint for the whole country, according to analysts.

Yu has met regularly with religious groups across the country over the past year as the party makes plans for the meeting.

Under Xi, China has veered toward a more repressive policy on religion that has stressed Chinese faiths over those deemed imported from overseas. The Chinese president has regularly quoted from Confucius, whose popularity has been resurgent in recent years, while Christians, Muslims and Buddhists have complained of growing persecution.

Amid a campaign by the provincial authorities in Zhejiang that has led to the removal of more than 1,500 church crosses over the past two years, authorities there have started a new program that includes efforts to tie Bible passages to party doctrine.

In another major shift on religious practice, the party’s Central Committee and State Council have issued a circular ordering retired officials to steer clear of religion, Xinhua reported Feb. 4.

The circular “clearly stated that retired cadres cannot believe in religion, cannot participate in religious activities and must resolutely fight against cults,” the document said.

Retired officials must distinguish between “ethnic customs” and “believing in religions,” it said.

Although Beijing has barred active cadres from practicing religion, this is the first time a state document has also ordered retired officials not to follow a faith since the party set up its retirement system in 1982.

How the state plans to enforce the measure remains unclear. As many as 84 percent of party members admitted some kind of religious belief, a survey by Purdue University’s Center on Religion and Chinese Society found in 2007.

“Many of the exposed corrupt officials of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) are reported to believe in religion or magic, such as patronizing and consulting spiritual masters,” said Fenggang Yang, the center’s director. “This kind of behavior is probably common among other officials as well.”

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Pope urges prayers for China, persecuted Christians

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis asked Catholics worldwide to show solidarity through their prayers for Catholics in China and for persecuted Christians over the Pentecost weekend.

The World Day of Prayer for the Church in China is observed each year on the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, May 24, which this year falls on Pentecost.

Catholics in China invoke Mary, venerated at the Marian Shrine of Sheshan, near Shanghai, each May 24, the pope noted.

“We, too, will ask Mary to help Catholics in China always to be credible witnesses of this merciful love among their fellow citizens and to live spiritually united to the rock of Peter, upon whom the church is built,” he said.

The pope also underlined a prayer initiative of the Italian bishops’ conference inviting all Italian dioceses to pray for persecuted Christians on the vigil of Pentecost.

The vigil is intended to “remember the many brothers and sisters exiled or killed for the sole reason that they are Christian,” said the pope. “They are martyrs.”

The pope expressed his hope that the prayer vigil will “increase awareness” of the “drama of persecuted Christians in our day” and of religious freedom as an “inalienable human right,” as well as to “bring an end to this unacceptable crime.”

 

 

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Hong Kong’s Cardinal Zen seeks whereabouts of two bishops

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HONG KONG — Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, retired bishop of Hong Kong, protested at the Chinese Liaison Office in the city and asked the whereabouts of Bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiang of Yixian, who was said to have died in detention.

The 83-year-old cardinal and members of the diocesan justice and peace commission submitted a petition asking the Chinese government to disclose the situation of Bishop Shi. The bishop’s great-niece was told Jan. 30 that the bishop had died, but the government released no more details.

They also sought information on Bishop James Su Zhimin of Baoding, who was arrested in 1997.

The group prayed for disappeared church figures and sang songs for them in front of the liaison office.

Cardinal Zen and the commission members also urged the Chinese government to stop suppressing the church and to respect religious freedom. China requires Catholic leaders to register with the government-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association, which has ordained bishops without the approval of the pope, and Chinese authorities have frequently arrested Catholics who reject government control.

Meanwhile, in a Feb. 16 blog post, Cardinal Zen wrote, “It looks like someone is trying to shut us down.”

He added, “We do not see any sign that would encourage the hope that Chinese communists are about to change their religious policy,” although both the Vatican secretary of state and a pro-Beijing newspaper in Hong Kong recently expressed optimism over Sino-Vatican relations.

In the blog, he also doubted the accuracy of a recent interview with Chinese Bishop Joseph Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar, who was quoted as saying that the Holy See needs to take the first step on Sino-Vatican talks. Cardinal Zen, a member of the Vatican Commission for the Church in China, said he has not been told if there were Sino-Vatican talks, or the progress of such talks if there were any.

He listed a number of thorny issues in the normalization of the church life in China and said that having no agreement between the Vatican and China could be better than having a bad agreement.

The cardinal said, “It is difficult for us to imagine that the representatives of the Holy See can sit down and talk to their communist counterparts without chagrin” when two old Chinese bishops lost their freedom for upholding their faith.

 

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Could Pope Francis go to China?

June 19th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — When Pope Francis visits South Korea, Aug. 14-18, he will take part in Asian Youth Day with delegates from some 30 countries, preside over the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs and meet with President Park Geun-hye.

South Korea is one of Asia’s major economies, with a small but growing Catholic Church. It is also half of a divided peninsula, where nuclear-armed communist North Korea presents an ongoing threat. All these factors promise to make the pope’s visit important and newsworthy.

Now, informed observers are speculating that the pope might add another destination to his first Asian trip, one that would mark the voyage as truly historic. Read more »

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Illicit ordinations in China cause scandal, Vatican says

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VATICAN CITY — Lay Catholics in China have been scandalized by priests who are ordained bishops without papal approval and by the participation of Vatican-recognized bishops in those ordinations, said the Vatican Commission for the Catholic Church in China.

The very identity of the Catholic Church as apostolic, guided by the faith handed down from the apostles through bishops in communion with the pope, “has been obfuscated by those clerics” who have been ordained bishops without papal recognition, said the statement released April 26 after a three-day meeting at the Vatican.

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Vatican wants China to release imprisoned clergy

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VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s highest-ranking Chinese official called on Beijing to release nine arrested Catholic bishops and priests, saying their continued detention “damages China’s international image.”

Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-fai, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, made his remarks in an interview published Jan. 17 by AsiaNews, a Rome-based missionary news agency.

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