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– Tej Francis



(AsiaNews)  The Maronite Patriarch, Card. Beshara Raï, this week inaugurated the Church of St. John the Evangelist, within the convent of St. Savior of the Lebanese Missionary order (Oml-Ghosta-Kesrouan). The ceremony took place in the presence of the Qatari ambassador to Lebanon, Mohammad Hassan Jaber al-Jaber, as special representative of the Emir of Qatar Tamim ben Hamad al-Thani, who personally financed the construction of the place of worship.

The church is located in the Kesrouan, one of the administrative divisions of Mount Lebanon, in the center of the country. It is the first of a series of projects covering a total area of 1700 square meters and also includes two other blocks that include a convent, a library, a sports center, underground parking, rooms, an amphitheater, lounges, bars and kitchen.

Speaking at the inauguration, the ambassador of Qatar stressed the importance of Islamic-Christian dialogue, of which the emir has been “a fervent supporter” for decades. He then recalled the construction of churches in the Gulf country and the over 200 thousand Christians living in Doha. Finally, the diplomat assured that despite the serious diplomatic and institutional crisis with Riyadh, the country will remain faithful to the commitments made and the economic investments signed.



(AsiaNews) Card John Tong Hon has been appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Hong Kong “with the responsibility of governing it during its vacancy and until further notice” by the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, under whose authority the diocese has been placed.

Card Tong, 79, is bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, having led the Diocese from 2009 to 2017. The cardinal is among the architects of dialogue with China and among the most positive supporters of the Sino-Vatican agreement. The appointment of an apostolic administrator became necessary following the death of Mgr Michael Yeung Ming-cheung on 3 January.

Several faithful wonder why the Auxiliary Bishop of Hong Kong, Mgr Joseph Ha Chi-shing, was not appointed. In their view, the choice of Card Tong and the exclusion of Mgr Ha is due to the desire of the Vatican and the Diocese to avoid frictions with China. Mgr Ha is known for his support for the release of jailed Chinese bishops, vigils in memory of those killed in Tiananmen, and support for the territory’s demands for democracy.

In reality, according to some priests, Card Tong was picked because of the need for a “neutral” apostolic administrator, someone who is not among the possible candidates for the ordinary episcopate of Hong Kong. This means that Mgr Ha is a possible candidate for such a post.

On Saturday, together with the appointment of the new apostolic administrator, Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolences to Hong Kong for the death of Mgr Yeung.



(Crux)  In a recent interview with the Italian broadcast network TV2000, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Christian/Muslim relations has been a priority for Francis since the beginning of his papacy and it will continue to be a priority in 2019, seen mostly through trips the pope is taking to Islamic countries.

“The pope’s attention toward the Arab world is due to the difficulties which today are found in relations between Christianity and Islam, with the tragic drifts of terrorism and religious fundamentalism,” Parolin said in the interview.

Francis’s keen attention to Catholic-Muslim relations was showcased by the fact that his first international trip after being elected to the papacy in 2013 was a May 2014 visit to the Holy Land. Since then, dialogue with Islam has continued to be a strong emphasis for the pope in his travels, including a visit to Turkey in November 2014, to the Central African Republic in 2015 and to Egypt in the spring of 2017, all of which have a Muslim majority.

Francis’s looming Feb. 3-5 trip to the United Arab Emirates and subsequent outing to Morocco March 30-31 are further signs that dialogue with the Islamic world will continue to be a strong priority.


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