NEWS BRIEFS

 – Tej Francis
Email: tejfrancis@gmail.com

CHINA

CHINESE GOVERNMENT RESUMES REMOVAL OF CROSSES FROM CHURCH BUILDINGS

(CNA) As the Chinese government makes progress containing the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities have resumed action to remove crosses from buildings and crackdown on religious practice.

The latest round of enforcement actions have included the removal of crosses from buildings belonging to the state-run churches. According to a report from UCA News, priests say they are cooperating in the removal of exterior crosses in hopes that entire church buildings will not be demolished or converted into a building for secular use. 

According to a parishioner in the Chinese province of Anhui named John, Chinese officials cut down the cross from the top of Our Lady of the Rosary Church on April 18. Our Lady of the Rosary belongs to the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA, the Catholic Church officially sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party and operating both in communion with Rome and under state control.

Elsewhere in the province of Anhui, on April 19 a cross was removed from a church in Suzhou City during pre-dawn hours.

A priest from the Diocese of Anhui, identified only as “Father Chen,” told UCA News that these sorts of activities are “happening all over the mainland” and are not limited to one diocese or province.

“If the churches don’t unite to resist, many more crosses will be removed,” he said.

In September 2017, China enacted strict new regulations concerning religion. Since then, authorities have been vigilant in enforcing permitting requirements. Churches that are not found to be in compliance are destroyed.

JERUSALEM

THREE RELIGIONS TOGETHER AGAIN AGAINST THE CORONAVIRUS

(Al-Bushra) After the meeting organized a few weeks ago by the municipality of Jerusalem, the religious leaders of the Holy City found themselves praying together again.

At the King David Hotel, in the west of Jerusalem, the chiefs of rabbis of Israel arrive – Sephardic Yitzhak Yosef and Ashkenazite David Lau. They are the ones who compose the prayer asking for the end of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Rabbi David Rosen, director Department of International Interfaith Affairs of the AJC said,  “This tragedy is also an opportunity. It allows us to understand what is really important in life, and for the religious community, it is also an important opportunity to come together, to express the faith we share in the one creator and leader of the world.

“Very often the Almighty uses – if we say so – threats and dangers to get people to do what is good and necessary, and perhaps this is an example of this.”

Psalm 121 ends the interreligious prayer, although the languages in which each one recites it are different. Side by side – but always keeping a safe distance of two meters – the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Orthodox Patriarch, His Beatitude Theophilus III, the spiritual guide of the Druze Mowafaq Tarif, and the two Muslim imams Gamal el Ubra and Agel Al-Atrash.

To unite the faithful of the one God, there was also the commitment to adapt their traditions and liturgies to the restrictions to prevent the contagion.

BETHLEHEM

MEDICAL EXPERTS OFFER ON-LINE SUPPORT TO HOLY FAMILY HOSPITAL IN BETHLEHEM

(Al-Bushra) The Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem, run by the Order of Malta for 30 years, is preparing to face the epidemic. As the only hospital in the region with a neonatal intensive care unit, capable of allowing mothers to give birth and save the lives of children born before 32 weeks, it is desperately needed. Infant mortality in the region is currently five times higher than that of most developed countries and can be attributed to lack of prenatal care, poverty and barriers to health care.

But how is Palestine responding to a possible increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and how can the health system prepare itself to define an effective response despite difficult living conditions? To address these urgent issues, the government and the Order of Malta, together with the London think tank ‘Forward Thinking’, has launched the ‘Doctor to Doctor’ project, which allows health experts to share knowledge with their counterparts in Bethlehem online.

The project aims to help countries that are subject to occupation, scene of political unrest, economic challenges, ongoing conflicts or victims of the effects of the crisis in neighbouring countries, to address the pandemic; the project will be repeated in the coming days with other countries, starting with Jordan and Lebanon.

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