‘Kidney priest’ starts donor card campaign （The Tablet, 13 September）
A Catholic priest in southern Kerala state (India) who made history in 2009 by donating his kidney to his Hindu parishioner and later founded the Kidney Federation of India, has launched a “human kindness march” to promote awareness of organ donation. Addressing a gathering of more than 2,000 people at Thrissur, Fr Chiramel said his goal during the three-week march across Kerala was to collect one million organ donation consent letters so that the organs of deceased people can be made available for transplants.
Pope Benedict in Lebanon for peace visit （Al Jazeera and agencies, 15 September）
The Lebanese deployed thousands of troops on Friday to secure the pope’s visit [9/14-16] in which he is expected to stress unity among the different Christian churches in the Middle East and peace between Christians and Muslims. Religious pluralism and the welfare of Christians in the region were likely to top the agenda of his tour, but the pontiff was also expected to call for an end to the conflict in Syria and a halt to arming the two sides. He will call on Lebanon’s Christians to unite, divided as they are not only toward the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but also on a political vision for their own country. But the Vatican has said the pontiff will avoid intervening politically in his comments on Syria or tell Christians where their alliances should lie.
Latin American churches support peace processes in El Salvador (ENInews, San Salvador, 28 September)
The Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), meeting in San Salvador from 20 to 22 September, expressed its support of the peace process that has resulted in a truce between armed gangs in El Salvador. The council also recognized the mediating roles in the peace process of Roman Catholic Bishop Fabio Colindres, Chaplain to the Armed Forces, and Raul Mijango, former Salvadoran guerrilla commander. “We call on all the churches to join this initiative and creatively and courageously propose, with faith in the help of God, this process that is just beginning. We ask of the international community that it be guarantors of this vital process for the Salvadorans and for the Mesoamerican Region,” said the CLAI.
Pope: appeal for the Democratic Republic of Congo (Vatican Radio, Rome, 30 September)
Pope Benedict XVI appealed for peace in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday. Speaking to pilgrims and tourists gathered at the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father deplored the violence that flared again recently in the DRC between a rebel group and irregular militia forces seeking to establish control over an already much-contested area during a lull in activity by regular government forces. This latest round of fighting has driven thousands of people from their homes since the middle of September.
PAKISTAN – The Sindh government grants land to the Sisters of Jesus and Mary Karachi (Agenzia Fides, Karachi, 03 October)
The government of Sindh province (in southern Pakistan) has given to the Sisters of Jesus and Mary land on an extended loan in the center of Karachi for a period of 99 years. As reported to Fides, the land was presented by the government as a “free gift” in recognition of the educational work of the Sisters of Jesus and Mary in Pakistan. It will allow the religious sisters to expand and consolidate the girls school they have been running in Karachi since 1952. Three Catholic hospitals in Sindh were exempted from property taxes. The government is prepared to grant a tax exemption to 40 schools run by the Diocese of Hyderabad in the economically depressed urban areas and for indigenous peoples in the Thar Desert. It recently gave 30 tribal families of the ethnic group parkari koli, affected by the floods, four acres of land and new homes, which are part of a support program launched by the Catholic hospital of St. Elizabeth in Hyderabad. The governor praised the role and presence of the Catholic Church as an integral part of Pakistani society.
Arun De Souza SJ (Jesuit Scholastic)
Murayama Hyoe SJ (Jesuit Scholastic)