<Bangkok Hosts Inter-religious Meeting>
[ Bangkok JAN. 24, 2012].
Religious leaders from regions of Asia and the West met in Thailand to consider the various social challenges that can be dealt with through religious dialogue and cooperation between different creeds. Fifty experts and scholars of Asian cultures and religions met from 11 to 13, January as reported by L’Osservatore Romano. Besides demonstrating the rich religious and cultural diversity of the different countries, the encounter was intended to create positive attitudes toward other religious traditions and to highlight the goodness, truth and beauty present in them.

<Church in Congo Begins Non-Violence Program>
[, KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, JAN. 17, 2012]
All the bells of the parishes of the Democratic Republic of Congo rang to invite people to the Marian prayer of the Angelus. The bells also were intended to symbolize a cry of non-violent protest by the Congolese people. This bell-ringing was repeated every Saturday of January, as part of a program of formation in peace-building announced by the bishops at the end of their recently concluded plenary assembly.

<Traditional Procession in Philippines Draws Millions> Manila JAN. 12, 2012]
A traditional procession in the Philippines drew millions, though there were alerts before the event of possible terrorist activity. The procession of the “Black Nazarene” — an image of Christ bearing the cross that has been blackened by fire — reportedly had as many as 7 million participants. The impressive popular devotion goes back 400 years when, according to tradition, on May 31, 1606, the sculpture was miraculously saved from a fire that broke out on the ship transporting it from Mexico to Manila. Blackened by the fire, the statue was also saved from fires that devastated the Basilica of Quiapo in 1791 and 1929, as well as from severe earthquakes in 1645 and 1863, and the bombing of Manila in 1945.

<26 Missionaries Killed in 2011>, ROME, JAN. 1, 2012 ]
The Fides news agency has published a list of pastoral workers who were killed during the last year. In 2011, 26 pastoral care workers were killed: one more than the previous year: 18 priests, four religious sisters and four laypeople. Many of them were killed in the course of attempted robbery or kidnapping. Others, the Fides report said, “were killed in the name of Christ by those opposing love with hatred, hope with despair, dialogue with violent opposition.” Merkel ends Chinese visit with trip to Cathedral [South China Morning Post , Guangzhou, Feb 5, 2012] German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel wrapped up her three-day visit to China. Political analysts saw Merkel’s visit to the bishop and the historic Catholic Cathedral as an indirect criticism of Beijing’s suppression of religious freedom, after she was prevented from meeting a prominent human rights lawyer in Beijing on Feb. 2. Merkel, a Protestant was greeted by Gan, who is recognized by both the Vatican and Beijing – which have tussles over the ordination of China’s bishops. The Chancellor was taking the opportunity to show concern for China’s estimated 5.7 million Christians.

<Persecuted Christians in Orissa choose forgiveness>
[L’Osservatore Romano, BHUBANESHWAR, February 8, 2012] The persecuted Christians in Orissa want to “forgive and love their enemies” as the Gospel of Christ urges. This is what emerged from a meeting held in the past days at a home for lepers of the Missionaries of Charity in Orissa. Nearly 100 people participated in the meeting organized by the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). Among the participants were widows and children of the district of Kandhamal, the epicenter of anti-Christian massacres in Orissa in 2008, which caused more than 100 deaths and 56,000 displaced people. Moments of reflection, prayer and sharing took place at the meeting.

Arun De Souza S.J.(Jesuit Scholastic)
Murayama Hyoe S.J.(Jesuit Scholastic)

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