Iranian security forces detained Pastor (Mohabat News):
Rev. Vruir Avanessian who, despite his serious health problem and constant need for special medical care, was arrested and subjected to interrogation while in custody and was transported to a local hospital for regular dialysis was temporarily released after 15 days. So far there have been no charges or reasons given for the arrest and detention of this Christian pastor, but it is likely that his arrest was due to his alleged contacts with Christian converts inside Iran. Rev. Vruir Avanessian and several other Christian converts who had gathered at a home in the Northern part of Tehran to celebrate Christmas were arrested by the secret police of the Ministry of Information.
Remembering Bishop John Chen Shizhong of Yibin, China VATICAN CITY, (Fides Agency):
In a communique, the Holy See Press Office announced the death of Bishop John Chen Shizhong of Yibin in mainland China. Bishop Chen Shizhong passed away on December 16 at the age of 95. According to the press release, Bishop Chen Shizhong was jailed in the 1950s during the Cultural Revolution and condemned to a forced labor camp. In 1985, he received episcopal ordination and went on to become rector of the regional seminary of Sichuan. He only served as rector for one year due to health problems and later was appointed as bishop of the diocese of Yibin, where he served for over 20 years. Thanks to him, during the 1980’s and 1990’s, vocations to the priesthood and religious life returned throughout the province.
15 Christian Throats slit by extremists in N Nigeria (newsletter-asia)
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that at least fifteen Christians were killed by suspected Boko Haram militants in northern Nigeria. The militants snuck into Musari, a neighborhood located on the outskirts of Maiduguri, early morning and slit the throats of fifteen Christians in their own homes. Boko Haram is an Islamic extremist group that is currently fighting the Nigerian government for control of northern Nigeria. Since beginning its armed insurgency in 2009, Boko Haram has killed over 3,000 people in Nigeria mostly Christians.
Filipino Lawyers File Petition Against Reproductive Health Bill MANILA, (Zenit.org):
President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines signed the Reproductive Health (RH) bill onDecember 21, 2012, now Republic Act (RA) 10354, but lawyers James and Lovely-Ann Imbong filed a petition with the Supreme Court to declare the measure null and void. The Reproductive Health Bill, which was introduced more than 10 years ago, but languished in the legislature because of strong opposition from the Catholic Church and its allies in government. The new legislation will allow the government to provide basic funding for sex education and contraceptives.
Local Priest of Tanzania Victim of Christmas Day Attack DAR ES SALAAM, (Fides Agency):
A Tanzanian priest is recovering after a Christmas Day attack by unknown gunmen on the island of Zanzibar. Fr. Ambrose Mkenda was returning to his parish in Tomondo after celebrating Mass in another local Church when he was struck by two gunshot wounds to his cheek and back. The gunmen then entered and ransacked the rectory. Fr. Mkenda was the victim of an act of common crime and not an action by extremist elements. In recent months, there have been sectarian tensions that resulted in the ransacking of some churches of Christian denominations.
100 million Christians persecuted around the world (Reuters):
About 100 million Christians are persecuted around the world, with conditions worsening for them most rapidly in Syria and Ethiopia, according to an annual report by Open Doors, a non-denominational Christian group, supporting oppressed Christians worldwide. “An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide are persecuted,” the United States-based group said in the report. All but one of the 50 countries in the list – Colombia, which ranked 46th – were in Africa, Asia or the Middle East.
Fr. Arun De Souza , Hyoe Murayama (Jesuit Scholastic)