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Pope Francis confirms new head of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church


The Vatican on Jan. 10, 2024, announced the confirmation of the election of a new head of the Syro-Malabar Church, the largest Eastern Catholic church in India, Bishop Raphael Thattil. / Credit: Jpullokaran, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons Rome Newsroom, Jan 10, 2024 / 10:15 am (CNA). Pope Francis has confirmed a new head of the Syro-Malabar Church, the largest Eastern Catholic church in India.Bishop Raphael Thattil was elected major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly by more than 50 Syro-Malabar bishops in southern India this week.The Vatican announced Pope Francis’ confirmation of Thattil on Jan. 10 along with a letter addressed to the newly elected Syro-Malabar leader.“May the Holy Spirit foster the unity, fidelity, and mission of the Syro-Malabar Church, so that it may grow and flourish under your paternal guidance,” Pope Francis wrote in the letter.Thattil’s election comes amid an ongoing bitter dispute over a decision by Church leaders to institute a uniform liturgy.The Eucharistic liturgy of the Syro-Malabar Church, known as the Holy Qurbana, has been the subject of a long, complex conflict over which direction the priest should face when celebrating the liturgy. Protests against the adoption of a uniform liturgy have included a hunger strike by priests and the burning of effigies of cardinals.Thattil, 67, will be faced with the challenge of leading a divided flock as he takes on responsibility for the second-largest of the 23 Eastern Catholic churches in full communion with Rome. Born in Kerala — India’s most Christian state — in 1956, Thattil was ordained a priest at the age of 24 in the archeparchy of Thrissur. He holds a doctorate in Eastern canon law from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome and speaks Malayalam, English, Italian, and German.The new Syro-Malabar leader has served as a bishop since 2010. He was auxiliary bishop of Trichur until 2017 when Pope Francis appointed him as the first bishop of the newly created eparchy of Shamshabad, which has a population of about 130,000 Catholics.Thattil succeeds Cardinal George Alencherry, who resigned as major archbishop last month at the age of 78 after leading the Syro-Malabar Church for more than a decade. On the day that Pope Francis accepted the cardinal’s resignation, the pope sent a video message to Syro-Malabar Catholics urging them to “restore communion” and “remain in the Catholic Church.”Pope Francis has intervened in the dispute several times, including last year when he asked opponents of the uniform liturgy to take the “difficult and painful step” of accepting the change. In August he appointed Slovak Archbishop-Bishop Cyril Vasil’ to help resolve the ongoing disagreement.In his letter to Thattil, signed on Jan. 9, Pope Francis invoked the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and St. Thomas the Apostle, the patron saint of India.“I pray that, after the example of your venerable predecessors, you may strive to offer a generous and fruitful pastoral ministry to the flock now entrusted to your care,” Pope Francis said. “I likewise urge you especially to remember the poor and those most in need.”

Pope Francis confirms new head of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church2024-01-11T00:01:14+08:00

Black Nazarene procession in the Philippines draws millions after returning from COVID


A Catholic devotee kisses the glass cover of the Black Nazarene statue during the annual procession for the feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila, Philippines, on Jan. 9, 2024. Hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful swarmed a historic statue of Jesus Christ as it was pulled through the streets of the Philippine capital in one of the world’s biggest displays of religious devotion. / Credit: EARVIN PERIAS/AFP via Getty Images CNA Staff, Jan 9, 2024 / 15:00 pm (CNA). The Black Nazarene procession in the Philippines, one of the largest religious devotions in the world, returned this year to its traditional size for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, attracting millions of devotees.The procession, known locally as “Traslacion,” sees devotees carry across Manila a replica of a famous life-size statue of Jesus carrying a black wooden cross. Taking place each year in January, this year’s event marked a return to the traditional procession after three years of drastic downsizing due to the threat of COVID-19.A Filipino devotees hugs the cross accompanying the statue of the Black Nazarene during the feast of the Black Nazarene on Jan. 9, 2024, in Manila, Philippines. Millions of barefoot devotees participated in the march to see and touch the Black Nazarene, a dark wood sculpture of Jesus brought to the Philippines from Spain in 1606. Credit: Ezra Acayan/Getty ImagesIn 2020, 2021, and 2022 the procession was essentially canceled entirely. In 2023, an estimated 103,277 faithful participated, far fewer than in past years. This year, as in years before the pandemic, millions of mostly barefoot devotees turned out along the procession route, hoping to touch the statue and obtain a miracle or healing. The Philippines is the only country in Asia with a Catholic majority, with over 80% of the population belonging to the Church. The image of Jesus used in the procession is believed to have been brought from Mexico to Filipino shores in 1606 by missionaries of the Order of Augustinian Recollects. The life-size statue of Jesus is today enshrined in the famous minor basilica popularly known as the Quiapo Church, located in the Archdiocese of Manila. First enshrined at St. John the Baptist Church in Luneta, the image was transferred to Quiapo in 1868. Filipino devotees jostle as they attempt to touch the carriage carrying the statue of the Black Nazarene during the feast of the Black Nazarene on Jan. 9, 2024, in Manila, Philippines. The traditional daylong procession of the feast of the Black Nazarene resumed after a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19 precautions. Credit: Ezra Acayan/Getty ImagesAn early morning estimate Jan. 9 by police put the crowd at more than 830,000 people, which later swelled to 6.5 million along the procession’s 3.7-mile route, according to an official of the Quiapo Church cited by Filipino news source Rappler. This year, the icon was placed in a glass case for the first time, and participants were banned from getting onto the float as they have in previous years, though many ignored the

Black Nazarene procession in the Philippines draws millions after returning from COVID2024-01-10T12:01:15+08:00

Chinese bishop who was removed from diocese by Communist regime is arrested


Chinese flags on barbed wired wall in Kashgar (Kashi), Xinjiang, China. / Credit: Jonathan Densford/Shutterstock Rome Newsroom, Jan 5, 2024 / 13:45 pm (CNA). Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of the Diocese of Wenzhou in the eastern region of Zhejiang, China, was arrested by Chinese security forces on Jan. 2, according to a report by AsiaNews.During his arrest, the bishop was, according to an AsiaNews source, instructed to “take clothes for spring, summer, autumn, and winter,” indicating that his detention will be for a prolonged period of time. As is often the case when senior clergy are detained, the exact location of the bishop’s detention is unknown. The report went on to speculate that the reason for his arrest resulted from a letter he wrote to the state-approved diocesan administrator in which the bishop expressed his dismay over changes made in the diocese without his consent. Shao was ordained a priest in 1989 and was made coadjutor bishop of Wenzhou by papal mandate on Nov. 10, 2011. His appointment took place during a period that marked a low point in Sino-Vatican relations when there were a series of illicit episcopal consecrations without the approval of the Apostolic See. In 2016 he was made bishop of the diocese following the death of Bishop Vincent Zhu Wei-Fang. Chinese authorities have refused to recognize his ordination and ministry as bishop and placed Father Ma Xianshi as diocesan administer because of Shao’s refusal to join the state-organized bodies governing the Church in China.The 61-year-old prelate has been subject to frequent harassment, arrest, and detention by Chinese authorities for his refusal to legitimize the state-run Church and its affiliated organs, such as the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) and the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA), to the consternation of local authorities and state-affiliated clergy. Shao was last detained in February 2023 along with his personal secretary, Father Paolo Jiang Sunian, in a move that was interpreted as an attempt to prevent them from attending the funeral of underground priest Father Leo Chen Nailiang.Prior to that he was detained in October 2021 and released two weeks later, AsiaNews reported. According to ChinaAid, between his appointment and 2018, he was detained on five separate occasions before being forcibly relocated by authorities in 2018. To date, the Holy See Press Office has not issued a statement on Shao’s most recent arrest. However, the Vatican issued a statement in 2017 stating that it was “observing with grave concern the personal situation of Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, forcibly removed from his episcopal see some time ago.” In 2018 the People’s Republic of China and the Holy See signed their landmark accord that concerned the appointment of bishops on the mainland. While the exact provisions of the deal have not been made public, it has been disclosed that there is a power-sharing agreement in place where consent is needed by both the Chinese government and the Holy Father for an episcopal ordination to proceed. The signing of the deal has also had the ancillary effect of uniting the underground

Chinese bishop who was removed from diocese by Communist regime is arrested2024-01-06T12:01:25+08:00

Jimmy Lai pleads not guilty in Hong Kong national security trial


Hong Kong media tycoon and Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai. / Credit: Napa Institute CNA Staff, Jan 2, 2024 / 11:10 am (CNA). Jimmy Lai, the embattled Hong Kong Catholic democracy activist, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to all charges leveled against him in his national security trial there. Lai, the Chinese-born founder of the anti-government newspaper Apple Daily, entered a not-guilty plea to the charges of conspiring to collude with a foreign power. The 76-year-old Lai was originally arrested in August 2020 under that year’s controversial national security law, which was passed by China’s communist-controlled government. He has been imprisoned by Chinese authorities since his arrest.Prosecutor Anthony Chau on Tuesday accused Lai of being a “radical figure” who sought to sow hatred and “stir up opposition” in Hong Kong, according to media reports. Jonathan Price, a member of Lai’s legal team with Doughty Street Chambers in London, said on Tuesday morning that “the pathetically flimsy nature of these charges is becoming plain for all to see.” “Jimmy Lai was no threat to national security,” Price said. “He was a journalist and a publisher who dared to print some home truths that the authorities didn’t like and a peaceful pro-democracy campaigner standing up for the people of Hong Kong in the face of increasing Chinese authoritarianism.” “This show trial should end and he should be released immediately,” Price said.Lai’s trial in Hong Kong began last month, launching what is expected to be a protracted legal exhibition capping several years of imprisonment for the embattled pro-democracy advocate.China’s national security law sharply curtailed free speech in the region in an effort to quash what the Chinese Communist Party considered subversion and sedition in the separately administered region of Hong Kong.Lai faces life in prison over the charges. The activist’s imprisonment has drawn sharp rebukes and calls for clemency from supporters including Catholic bishops, 10 of whom in November “call[ed] on the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to immediately and unconditionally release Jimmy Lai.”“Mr. Lai’s persecution for supporting pro-democracy causes through his newspaper and in other forums has gone on long enough,” the prelates wrote. Father Robert Sirico, a Catholic priest and the founder of the Michigan-based Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, told CNA last month that he was doubtful Lai would receive a fair trial in Hong Kong. “When was the last time you saw a totalitarian government put someone through their court system and have them come out innocent?” Sirico said at the time. “I’m at a loss for thinking of an example of that.” The Congressional Executive Commission on China, meanwhile, last month urged the United States government to sanction Hong Kong prosecutors and judges if they fail to release Lai. 

Jimmy Lai pleads not guilty in Hong Kong national security trial2024-01-03T12:01:21+08:00

India’s Modi hosts Christian leaders for Christmas amid rising persecution


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosts a Christmas gathering with Christian leaders, including Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai and Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto, at his residence in New Delhi on Dec. 25, 2023. / Credit: Prime Minister of India’s office Bangalore, India, Dec 29, 2023 / 13:15 pm (CNA). Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, leader of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), hosted over 100 Christian leaders from all denominations at his official residence on Christmas morning amid criticism for the continued persecution of Christians in India.Several Catholic leaders, including Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai and Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto, who were seated on either side of Modi during the event, were in attendance. The archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, and Bishop Thomas mar Anthonios of the Syro-Malankara Church also joined bishops of different denominations and Christian leaders from different walks of life at the gathering.Asked to comment on the meeting with the prime minister, considering the uptick in attacks on Christians in the country, Bharanikulangara told CNA: “Everybody knows what is happening … But when the prime minister invites [us], how can we decline?” “It is for the prime minister to show that he is really concerned about the Christians,” said Bharanikulangara, a former Vatican diplomat. “Christmas is an occasion to remember Jesus Christ’s life’s message and values,” Modi said, addressing the gathering of Christian leaders that included academicians and Christian businessmen from across the country. The prime minister went on to hail the service of the Christians, saying: “The nation proudly acknowledges the contribution of the Christian community.”“Our government is ensuring that the benefits of development reach everyone and no one is left untouched,” Modi said, adding that many people of the Christian faith, especially poor segments, are benefitting from his government’s welfare programs. Among several Christians who spoke during the two-hour program was Cardinal Gracias, who thanked Modi for his “efforts” on behalf of the country, the Christian community, and the world.“Our country could be the leading country in the world,” Gracias said, according to an ANI report.However, several Christians said they were skeptical about the motivation behind Modi’s Christmas meeting and his failure to address the steadily worsening persecution that has taken place in nearly a decade of Modi rule.“This [Christmas celebration] is a political gimmick and image-making by Prime Minister Modi ahead of the next elections,” A C Michael, an outspoken Catholic activist, told CNA.“We are concerned over the silence of Prime Minister Modi, who praises Christian service publicly but does nothing to stop the increasing violence and persecution of Christians,” pointed out Michael, coordinator of the United Christian Forum (UCF), which monitors atrocities and incidents of persecution against Christians.UCF published a report Dec. 8 recording 687 incidents of violence against Christians in 334 days of 2023 (from the start of the year to the end of November). The report further said that while only 147 incidents of violence against Christians were reported in 2014 (when the BJP regime under Modi came to

India’s Modi hosts Christian leaders for Christmas amid rising persecution2023-12-30T12:01:15+08:00

Papal Christmas deadline over Syro-Malabar rift is met, but Indian archdiocese simmers


More than 4,000 faithful attended the celebration of the Christmas Mass at the St. George Parish in the suburb of Edappally, India. / Credit: Anto Akkara Kochi, India, Dec 28, 2023 / 14:35 pm (CNA). While most of the approximately 350 parishes and churches in the Archdiocese of Ernakulam in India complied with Pope Francis’ demand that they celebrate a “unified” Mass by Christmas, the simmering liturgical dispute that has split the Syro-Malabar Church has come out into the open.Protests and disruptions to Masses were observed around the archdiocese, but it remains to be seen whether there will be consequences. The Vatican has directed Apostolic Administrator Bishop Mar Bosco Puthur to file a compliance report on the unified Mass from each of the parishes. The vicar general of the archdiocese has also asked the priests of all 16 deaneries to collect information on which churches conducted a unified Mass on Christmas Day.Basilica cancels Christmas Eve MassAll eyes were turned to St. Mary’s Syro-Malabar Cathedral Basilica in Ernakulam, Kerala, where Christmas celebrations were canceled in 2022 when the two factions opposing and favoring the synodal Mass clashed inside the church. Once again, the basilica remained shuttered this year on Christmas Eve.St. Mary's Basilica remained locked on Christmas Eve 2023 due to concerns about clashes over the "unified" synodal Mass. Credit: Anto AkkaraAccording to the rector of the basilica, Father Antony Poothavely, the decision not to celebrate Mass on Christmas was made after discussing the matter with the papal delegation.“All of us hoped to reopen the closed basilica for this Christmas with the uniform [synodal] Mass following up the exhortation of papal delegate Archbishop Cyril Vasil’ and Apostolic Administrator Bishop Bosco Puthur. But, the situation did not assure a cordial atmosphere,” Poothavely said in a statement released to the press on Christmas Eve.“So, the painful decision was taken to keep the basilica closed after consultation with Administrator Bishop Bosco Puthur and others,” he said. Background: the liturgical disputeThe dispute has divided the Church into two camps: priests from the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly who celebrate the Mass “ad populum” (facing the people) as they have since the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), and other dioceses that continue to celebrate the Eucharistic liturgy “ad orientem” (facing the East/altar).  The Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church in August 2021 mandated a uniform Mass liturgy in which the priest faces the altar after the offertory while the priests of the Ernakulam Archdiocese rejected this and have continued to celebrate Mass facing the people.Synodal and papal exhortations for the Church to unify under one Mass led to several protests from clergy and laypeople. Then, Pope Francis on Dec. 7 issued a demand (in a video message to the “Brothers and Sisters of the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly”) that all dioceses comply with a Christmas deadline for the celebration of a “unified” synodal Mass.Some parishes see protests to ‘uniform’ Mass At Little Flower Parish in Perumanoor, India, the choir stopped singing during Christmas Mass when the priest turned to face the altar (according to the synodal Mass format). The priest

Papal Christmas deadline over Syro-Malabar rift is met, but Indian archdiocese simmers2023-12-29T12:01:24+08:00

Catholic Church reportedly closer to getting its first samurai saint


Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda of Osaka, Japan / Credit: Photo by Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images CNA Staff, Dec 23, 2023 / 05:55 am (CNA). The Vatican is currently investigating miracles associated with the intercession of Blessed Justus Ukon Takayama that, if confirmed, could lead to the canonization of the Church’s first samurai saint.Japanese Cardinal Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda of Osaka revealed on Thursday that the Vatican’s investigation into the miracles is ongoing, according to reporting by CBCP News, the news arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. “We pray that the investigation of Ukon’s miracles will be completed and approved at least within the next year or two,” Maeda said. Maeda revealed the investigations after a special Mass in honor of Takayama in the Manila Cathedral in the Philippines. The cardinal and 30 other Japanese pilgrims journeyed to Manila Dec.18-22 as part of an annual pilgrimage to the site of Takayama’s exile and death.  A renowned Japanese warrior in his day and a man of great learning and culture, Takayama renounced his power and possessions rather than give up his Christian faith. For his defiance Takayama was exiled from Japan, fleeing with 300 other Christians to the Philippines where he died in 1615. In 2016, Pope Francis approved a decree designating Takayama’s death as a martyrdom and he was officially beatified in February 2017. To be canonized as the Church’s first samurai saint, the Vatican must approve at least one verified miracle attributed to Takayama's intercession. Samurai, general, ruler … saint?Born in a castle to a noble Japanese Buddhist family in 1552, Takayama was raised to be a warrior and an exemplar of the Japanese spirit and culture. The Takayama were daimyo: members of the class of ruling feudal lords who held vast estates and were entitled to raise armies. When he was 11 years old, Takayama’s father, Takayama Hida-no-Kami, challenged a Christian preacher, a personal follower of St. Francis Xavier, to a debate. Though Takayama’s father had intended to put an end to the Christian’s proselytizing, he ended up being so impressed with the Christian arguments that he converted to the faith along with his son. Thus, Takayama was baptized as a Catholic at the age of 11, and despite being caught up in wars and political upheaval, he and his father were able to use their influence to support missionary activities in Japan, serving as protectors of Japanese Christians and of the missionaries.According to a 2014 CNA interview with Father Anton Witwer, general postulator of the Society of Jesus who advanced Takayama’s cause for beatification, Takayama and his father influenced the conversion of tens of thousands of Japanese.According to the writings of missionary priests, Takayama spent long hours in prayer and meditation throughout his life, especially in his later days when the Japanese persecutions were worsening. After years of missionary growth, a brutal persecution against the Catholic faith broke out under the rule of the Japanese chancellor Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi called on all Japanese Catholics to abandon the faith or face consequences. It

Catholic Church reportedly closer to getting its first samurai saint2023-12-24T00:01:13+08:00

Indian priest jailed under ‘anti-conversion’ laws is released


Bishop Louis Mascarenhas of Allahabad greets Father Babu Francis at the gate of Naini jail in Prayagraj district with a bouquet of flowers. / Credit: Diocese of Allahabad Bangalore, India, Dec 22, 2023 / 16:36 pm (CNA). A Catholic priest who was arrested by Indian authorities for violating “anti-conversion” laws, was released from jail on Dec. 22 after being detained for nearly three months amid increasing persecution of Christians in the majority-Hindu state of Uttar Pradesh.Father Babu Francis, a senior priest from Allahabad, in northern Uttar Pradesh, was detained by the police on Oct. 1 after he sought information on the arrest and detention of a member of his staff. Francis also serves as director of the Diocesan Development and Welfare Society (DDWS).“This is a Christmas gift to us. Our joy has no words to express,” Bishop Louis Mascarenhas of Allahabad told CNA, as he greeted Father Francis at the gate of Naini jail in Prayagraj district with a bouquet of flowers.Eleven out of India’s 28 states have passed laws to criminalize forced conversions, but which, in practice, have been used to prevent the practice of the Christian faith. According to UCA News, 398 Christians have been arrested in Uttar Pradesh since the law was passed there three years ago.The Diocese of Allahabad, in a statement, detailed the sequence of events that led to the priest's arrest. According to the diocese, the police were trying to locate a Christian pastor named Susai Raj, who allegedly violated “conversion laws” by conducting prayers inside a house. Raj is the brother of an employee of Father Francis. When the police could not find Raj, they arrested two of his brothers, his son-in-law, along with the Catholic priest, and brought them to the police station. All of them were charged with conversion and “attempt to murder.”’“This incident shows the ugly reality behind many of the conversion cases. Though Father Francis has been released, but there are dozens of innocent Christians languishing in jail under such dubious charges. One more pastor has been arrested in Uttar Pradesh today,” A C Michael, coordinator of the United Christian Forum (UCF), told CNA.“Despite being a secular democracy, the sad reality is that harassment of Christians is becoming endemic with at least two incidents of atrocities being reported daily in 2023,” pointed out Michael, a Catholic.UCF, the ecumenical forum that monitors anti-Christian violence in the country, recorded 687 incidents of violence against Christians in the first 11 months of 2023. “Our country has been witnessing a sharp increase in targeted violence against Christians since 2014,” remarked Michael.While only 147 incidents of violence against Christians were reported in 2014 (when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, head of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took office), Michael pointed out that “incidents have steadily spiraled since then” with 177 in 2015, 208 in 2016, 240 in 2017, 292 in 2018, 328 in 2019, 279 in 2020, 505 in 2021, 599 in 2022 and 687 until Nov. 2023.The UCF also noted that while 531 of these have been reported from

Indian priest jailed under ‘anti-conversion’ laws is released2023-12-23T12:01:25+08:00

Jimmy Lai unlikely to receive a fair trial from Hong Kong judges, lawyer says


Jonathan Price, a member of Jimmy Lai's international legal team, appears on “EWTN News Nightly” with host Tracy Sabol on Dec. 19, 2023. / Credit: EWTN News Nightly CNA Staff, Dec 20, 2023 / 11:55 am (CNA). A lawyer representing embattled Catholic democracy activist Jimmy Lai said the Hong Konger is unlikely to receive a fair trial in the legal system that is now controlled by Chinese Communist Party authorities.Lai’s trial in Hong Kong began this week. He was originally arrested in August 2020 under that year’s controversial national security law, which was passed by China’s communist-controlled government and sharply curtailed free speech in the region.Lai has been imprisoned for over 1,000 days under the law. He has been accused of colluding with foreign adversaries and conspiracy to defraud and is facing a possible life sentence.Jonathan Price, a human rights lawyer with the U.K.-based Doughty Street Chambers, which is representing Lai in international matters, told “EWTN News Nightly” host Tracy Sabol on Tuesday that Hong Kong — long a separate administrative region from the mainland Chinese government — is “now more or less indistinguishable from China.”“Its legal system has been subverted” by the 2020 law, Price said; that law is controlled by a “politically appointed committee” rather than an impartial judiciary. “The judges in Jimmy Lai’s national security law trial … are handpicked judges, licensed, in effect, to try national security law cases because of their political fealty to Beijing,” Price told Sabol. “So in those circumstances, it is not how you or I would recognize fair judicial proceedings,” he said. “And you’ve got to remember as well that recently, the Hong Kong director of national security boasted that the national security law has a 100% conviction rate.” In “any rule-of-law compliant jurisdiction, that would be a red flag,” Price argued. “It cannot be right that literally everybody accused of a crime is guilty, but that’s how they’ve been operating the national security bill. So I’m afraid we don’t think that he’s likely to receive a fair trial.”Lai has been vocal in his faith. He was baptized and received into the Church by Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, in 1997. He said in 2020 that his decision to stay in Hong Kong and place himself in danger was informed by his belief in God. Price on Tuesday echoed those remarks. He noted that Lai’s faith had “not been made a factor explicitly” in the trial against him. But “no doubt his faith played a part in the conviction with which he pursued his activities,” including pro-democracy activism.Lai “saw that Chinese authoritarianism would ruin Hong Kong,” Price said. “And he made it his life’s work to try to hold onto the Hong Kong, and the freedoms in Hong Kong, that he loved, and those included the freedom for him to practice his religion.”“So in many ways, his conviction [meant] that he stayed in Hong Kong when he could have left,” Price said. “He was a man of enormous means and huge international connections” and

Jimmy Lai unlikely to receive a fair trial from Hong Kong judges, lawyer says2023-12-21T12:01:31+08:00

Dissenting priests in Syro-Malabar Church protest Pope Francis’ Christmas deadline 


A liturgy at St. Mary’s Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Church, Arakuzha, India. / Achayan via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0). Bangalore, India, Dec 20, 2023 / 17:50 pm (CNA). Tensions are rising within the Syro-Malabar Church in the Indian state of Kerala as the Vatican’s Dec. 25 deadline for priests to implement a “universal” liturgy or face possible excommunication fast approaches. Ahead of the deadline, a number of priests have publicly protested a mandate to institute a uniform Mass and have urged the Vatican to take into account the way they have celebrated the liturgy for the past 60 years.“We are not against the pope or the Synod [of Bishops] but our request is only to do justice to our archdiocese with 650,000 faithful, 464 priests, and thousands of religious,” Father Kuriakose Mundadan of the Ernakulam Archdiocese told CNA.Facing the people vs. facing EastThe Syro-Malabar Church is one of the 23 autonomous Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome. The Eucharistic liturgy of the Syro-Malabar Church, known as the Holy Qurbana, has been the subject of a long, complex dispute over which direction the priest should face when celebrating the liturgy. The Church has been divided, with priests from the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly celebrating the Mass “ad populum” (facing the people) in the style of the post-Vatican II Western Church. Others continue to celebrate the Eucharistic liturgy “ad orientem” (facing the East/altar).  The Synod of Bishops of the Eastern Catholic Church based in India approved the introduction of a uniform liturgy in 2021, mandating that priests face the altar rather than the pews. In July 2021, Pope Francis weighed in on the side of the synod’s mandate, exhorting “all the clergy, religious and lay faithful to proceed to a prompt implementation of the uniform mode of celebrating the Holy Qurbana, for the greater good and unity of your Church.”A Christmas deadline After several eparchies failed to abide by the mandate, the pope issued an ultimatum in a Dec. 7 video message calling on the Church to adopt the ad orientem liturgy approved by the synod by Dec. 25.“By Christmas, in the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly, as throughout the Syro-Malabar Church, may Qurbana [holy Mass] be celebrated in communion according to the directions of the synod,” Pope Francis exhorted.“Please do not continue to wound the body of Christ! Do not separate yourselves from it! And even though there have been some grievances against you, forgive them with generosity. May the Eucharist be the model of your unity. Do not shatter the body of Christ which is the Church, so as not to eat and drink judgment upon yourselves (cf. 1 Cor 11:29),” Pope Francis urged in his message to “Brothers and Sisters of the Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly.”“I examined closely and attentively the reasons that have been used for years to convince you,” the pope said in his message, adding: “I know there are reasons for opposition that have nothing to do with celebrating the Eucharist or the liturgy. They are worldly reasons. They do not come from the

Dissenting priests in Syro-Malabar Church protest Pope Francis’ Christmas deadline 2023-12-21T12:01:31+08:00