#ShortNews: Chinese regime recognizes ‘underground’ bishop

Lanzhou (AsiaNews) – Mgr Joseph Han Zhihai, recognised hitherto as bishop by the Holy See but not by the government, was officially installed as bishop of Lanzhou (Gansu). The ceremony took place in the city’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Some fifty priests from the local and neighbouring dioceses attended the ceremony as did 350 nuns and laypeople. Officials from the government’s Religious Affairs Office and the Communist Party’s United Front Department from each district of the diocese of Lanzhou were also present. Some security officials patrolled the church compound.

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#ShortNews: Nuclear weapons inherently immoral, Pope says

Pope Francis issued an unmistakable condemnation of nuclear weapons on November, declaring that “the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is firmly to be condemned.”

“Weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security,” the Pontiff said. “They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family.”

Pope Francis acknowledged that a “certain pessimism” prevails among world leaders about the prospect for disarmament, since years of work have not produced progress toward the abolition of nuclear armaments. On the contrary, he observed, “the instruments of international law have not prevented new states from joining those already in possession of nuclear weapons.”

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#ShortNews: Scholar: only 1/6 of Catholics in 2050 will be European

The Catholic Church worldwide is passing through an era of historical transformation, a decisive shift in numbers towards the Global South – to Asia, Africa and Latin America. Many are aware of this trend as an abstract fact, but we are scarcely coming to terms with the implications for Church life, for the composition of Church leadership, and for its future policies. A southward-looking Church may be a vibrant and flourishing body, but it might pose some challenges for Catholics of the older Euro-American world.

By 2050, the leading Catholic nations will be in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This will change everything. Read More:


Cross bearing – a necessary task for all Christians

An intrinsic part of our Christian culture that is hardly taken seriously nor understood in a healthy way is that of cross carrying in life. Jesus himself makes this clear in his instruction to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily and to follow him (Luke 9:23).

To willingly take up a burden, an icon of shame and denigration is either counter-intuitive or counter-cultural or both. In an almost self-deprecating way, Catholics of old used to be proud of the way that they would carry a Catholic guilt in their lives, and wouldn’t even mind to be labelled as masochistic for it. Shades of this could be seen in feeling guilty when partaking excessively in forms of raucous revelry, perhaps nursing a vice like smoking gambling or unrestrained drinking, or even reading books which were on the Index. These days, however, the guilt pendulum has been swinging right to the other side where just about everything is deemed kosher and the narrative is “if it is scandalous, it has to be good”.

But how do we understand in some constructive way Jesus’ difficult instruction? I am quite certain that so many of us can readily identify the many crosses that we face in life. Some of us are even married to them for life! Naming these is not the problem. What can and should we do with them is the crux (pun definitely intended) of the problem.

James Martin, S.J., Jesuit priest and author and editor at large at America, The National Catholic Review, wrote a book entitled Jesus: A Pilgrimage. Here, he offered six bold and very practical and relatable ways in understanding how to face the challenges of daily cross bearing to help one to go deep in life. Read more…

Saint Eustace

According to tradition, prior to his conversion to Christianity Eustace was a Roman general named Placidus, who served the emperor Trajan.

One day, while he was pursuing a large deer, it suddenly turned and stood still. Placidus was astonished to see between its antlers a Crucifix, surrounded by a bright light, and to hear from its mouth the same words which our Lord had spoken to Saul, the persecutor of the first Christians: “Placidus, why dost thou persecute me? I am Jesus, who died for love of thee, and who will save thee.” Placidus, greatly surprised, fell upon his knees and said: “What dost thou wish me to do?” “Go into the city,” was the answer; seek a priest, and be baptized, with thy wife and children; and then return hither.”

Placidus obeyed the heavenly voice, went into the city, sought and found a priest, who instructed and baptized him, his wife, and his two sons. Placidus received in baptism the name of Eustace (Greek: Ευστάθιος (Eustáthios), “well stable”, or Ευστάχιος (Eustáchios), “fruitful/rich grain”). His wife, who had been called Tatiana, was named Theopista; the elder son, Agapius, and the younger, Theopistus. After this had taken place, Eustace returned into the forest, humbly praying that God would further make His holy will known to him. The Saviour appeared to him as before, saying: “Thou hast done well; thou hast been obedient. Now, being a Christian, prepare thyself to suffer. A great struggle is approaching; but fear not; be constant. I give thee the assurance of my assistance, and promise thee the crown of eternal glory.” Read more…

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones. And when you have finished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.”

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones. And when you have finished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” ~ Victor Hugo

#MoralStory: The Horsemen

It was a bitter, cold evening in northern Virginia many, many years ago. The old man’s beard was glazed by winter’s frost while he waited for a ride across the river. The wait seemed endless. His body became numb and stiff from the frigid north wind. He heard the faint, steady rhythm of approaching hooves
galloping along the frozen path.

Anxiously, he watched as several horsemen rounded the bend. He let the first one pass by without an effort to get his attention. Then another passed by… and another. Finally, the last rider neared the spot where the old man sat like a snow statue. As this one drew near, the old man caught the rider’s eye and said, “Sir, would you mind giving an old man a ride to the other side? There doesn’t appear to be a passageway by foot.”

Reining his horse, the rider replied, “Sure thing. Hop aboard.” Seeing the old man was unable to lift his half-frozen body from the ground, the horseman dismounted and helped the old man onto the horse. The horseman took the old man not just across the river, but to his destination, which was just a few miles away. Read more…