Dompok named as first Malaysian Ambassador to Vatican
Former Chief Minister of Malaysia Tan Sri Bernard Dompok has been appointed the first Malaysian ambassador to the Vatican. His appointment is expected to begin on January 1, 2016.
Dompok was in the entourage that accompanied Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who visited the Vatican in July 2011 and met with Pope Benedict XVI, formalizing ties between Malaysia and the Vatican.
The prime minister said Malaysia had agreed to establish diplomatic relations as it was keen to share its experience and promote world peace and harmony with like-minded states like the Vatican. — Vatican Radio
Pope holds out Indian bishop as example of vocations among Gypsies
Pope Francis in October noted that there is a strong growth in vocations to the priesthood and religious life from among the gypsy people, holding out an Indian bishop from among them as a case in point. “Today we have with us Bishop Devprasad Ganawa, a son of this people,” Pope Francis said on October 26, pointing to the first bishop from among the gypsies appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh, in 2009 and then to Udaipur, Rajasthan, in 2012.
The remark of Pope Francis came in his meeting with some 7,000 gypsies from around the world who on October 26 ended a 4-day pilgrimage to Rome, to commemorate 50 years of the historic visit of Blessed Pope Paul VI to a gypsy camp in Pomezia, near Rome. — Vatican Radio
Pope Congratulates Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew on Honorary Doctorate
The Vatican announced October 27 that Pope Francis had sent a message in to the cardinal archbishop of Florence, Giuseppe Bettori, following the conferral of a doctorate honoris causa in “Culture of Unity” to His Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, by the Sophia University Institute of Loppiano, Italy.
The Holy Father said the honorary degree is a “rightful recognition” of the Patriarch’s work, as well as a contribution to “the common journey of our Churches towards full and visible unity, to which we tend with dedication and perseverance.” — ZENIT.org
Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo: Only 50,000 Christians left in city
The Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo, warned in September that only 50,000 Christians are now left of an original 150,000 in the city which has seen some of the fiercest fighting in Syria’s ongoing civil war.
Bishop Audo urged the international community to provide help to enable Christians to remain in Syria and carry on bearing witness to their faith.
Speaking at a press conference in Rome on September 16, Bishop Audo said after four and a half years of war, things have become “unbearable” for the population. More than 80 percent are unemployed and the city has been without water and electricity for more than two months.
Bishop Audo said he believed that there was a widespread international desire for the war to continue, and also what he called “a military strategy to gain time and spread violence through the entire region, to stir up divisions and maybe sell arms.” — Vatican Radio
PEOPLE OF THE PERIPHERIES
Pope makes surprise visit to “Gift of Mercy” homeless shelter near Vatican
On October 16, Pope Francis made a surprise visit to the new Jesuit homeless shelter, “Gift of Mercy,” just around the corner from the Vatican.
All 30 guests at the “Gift of Mercy” (“Dono di Misericordia”) house, most of whom are Italian, were overjoyed to see the Holy Father and were eager to tell him their life stories and ask for his blessing. The Pope spoke to the men one by one and then asked to be given a tour of the shelter itself.
The Pope was welcomed by Monsignor Konrad Krajewski, Jesuit Superior General Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, and several nuns from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, who run the shelter with the help of volunteers.
The shelter can accommodate up to 34 men each night and is funded by the Papal Office of Charities. — Vatican Radio
Cardinal Tagle asks, “where is humanity?”
Cardinal Luis Tagle, president of Caritas Internationalis, says political and economic decisions regarding the fate of refugees and migrants must not be made without taking into account our common humanity.
Speaking to Vatican Radio on October 19 from a refugee camp in the Greek town of Idomeni close to the border with Macedonia, Cardinal Tagle said: “I listen to the stories and I ask myself: ‘Where is humanity? Why are human beings making it difficult for other human beings just to move out of an unpleasant situation to look for a better future?’”
Cardinal Tagle explained that he was in Idomeni together with a Caritas Internationalis team that met up with the local Caritas Hellas that has been working in Greece since the beginning of the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe, assisting hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflict and poverty.
Cardinal Tagle said he thinks that most of the people who make the dangerous journeys are well aware of the fact that they are putting their lives and the lives of their children in danger, but – he says – staying in their home countries is a much greater danger for their families. “It is always ‘for our families,’ always ‘for our children,’ the refugees and migrants say,” Tagle said.
Private boat to rescue migrants at sea
A German former merchant navy captain announced on October 24 that he will launch a privately-funded rescue ship to help save refugees and migrants risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea. There are no precise figures, but it is estimated that more than 1,600 migrants have drowned after boarding jerry-built boats to flee war and instability in their homelands this year.
Those deaths, coupled with the spiraling humanitarian crisis, have prompted former container ship skipper Klaus Vogel to launch a project called SOS Mediterranean.
His plan is to patrol the Mediterranean in a former Dutch pilot vessel with an international crew, looking for dangerously crowded boats or migrants in distress and plucking them to safety.
Vogel says the civil society-based initiative will be funded entirely by donations. — Vatican Radio
Action Plan for Homeless People
Taking care of the many women and children living on the streets of the world was the topic addressed at a meeting held at the Vatican from September 13-15.
Organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, it brought together representatives from 42 countries.
The resulting Plan of Action that has been released insists both on the need to uphold the dignity of the human person and on the responsibility of all to help those in need.
The plan highlighted problems from terrorism to prostitution. Sexual tourism in a number of countries is a way women and girls are exploited.— ZENIT.org
Cardinal László Paskai Passes away at age of 88
Cardinal László Paskai, O.F.M., archbishop emeritus of Esztergom-Budapest, died on August 17 at the age of 88 after a long battle with cancer. He was born on May 8, 1927 in Szeged, in the southeastern part of Hungary. He entered the Order of Friars Minor and studied theology in Gyoongyos and at the seminary of Budapest. He was ordained a priest on March 3, 1951, and began his pastoral ministry in the diocese of Nagyvárad. On March 2, 1978, Paul VI appointed him titular bishop of Bavagaliana and apostolic administrator of Veszprém. Pope John Paul II appointed him Archbishop of Veszprém on March 31, 1979, and then eight years later, Primate of Hungary and Archbishop of Esztergom. He was created cardinal the following year. He retired in 2002, but participated in the 2005 conclave which elected Pope Benedict XVI. — Vatican Radio
Pope Sends Telegram on death of Cardinal Ján Chryzostom Korec
Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolence to the president of the Episcopal Conference of Slovakia, Stanislav Zvolensky, for the October 24 death of Cardinal Ján Chryzostom Korec. Korec was 91.
The Pope remembered the archbishop emeritus of Nitra, describing him as a “fearless witness of the Gospel and a tireless defender of the Christian faith and the rights of the person.”
The cardinal, who was imprisoned for several years and prevented from freely exercising his episcopal mission, “did not let himself be intimidated, always giving a luminous example of strength and trust in Divine Providence, as well as faithfulness to the See of Peter,” Francis writes.
Ján Chryzostom Korec was born January 22, 1924 and secretly ordained a Jesuit priest on October 1, 1950. He was ordained a bishop the following year, on August 24, 1951. He was arrested in 1960 and served eight years in a prison camp. In 1991, he was made a cardinal.
In 1998, he preached the annual Lenten retreat at the Vatican. The cardinal authored his memoirs, called in English The Night of the Barbarians. — ZENIT.org