The Catholic Bishops conference of Hungary organized a donation campaign, in collaboration with the Caritas Syria and AVSI foundation agencies. Over 200 million euros were raised in Hungary and have been used to support the Syrian Open Hospital initiative. The initiative began in 2016 and aims to ensure free access to hospital for some of the poorest Syrian citizens. At present, the initiative supports 3 hospital in the country. Two are located in Damascus while the third is in Aleppo. Already, over 30,000 people have received treatment as a result of the initiatives.
Cardinal Zenari emphasized the serious nature of the ongoing conflict in Syria, noting that “The bloody conflict, the 9-year-long destruction, the death and the endless rows of refugee camps are not over yet. Just think about the bombing and the daily attacks in the North-West and the situation which remains uncertain in the North-Eastern part of the country.”
He went on say that he finds it comforting that brave people of good will follow the example of Veronica, Simon of Cyrene and the Good Samaritan and help the persecuted get to safety.
Worldwide, the report states, 260 million Christians are facing persecution. This marks a 6% increase from the previous year. The annual report from Open Doors, released Jan. 15, ranked North Korea first on its list of 50 most dangerous countries in which to be Christian, the 18th straight year that the country has received that designation.
There are an estimated 300,000 Christians amidst the total population of 25.4 million in North Korea. Open Doors reports that if North Korean Christians are discovered, the government will deport them to labor camps as political criminals or even kill them on the spot. Meeting other Christians to worship is nearly impossible unless it is done in complete secrecy.
Following North Korea on the World Watch List Top 10 are Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, and India.
Pope Francis on Monday (Jan 13) repeated his support for celibacy after his predecessor pope Benedict XVI urged him not to open the Catholic priesthood up to married men, in a plea that stunned Vatican experts.
“Personally I think that celibacy is a gift to the Church. Secondly, I don’t think optional celibacy should be allowed. No.” Pope said.
Francis is currently considering allowing it in remote locations, such as the Amazon, where communities seldom have Mass due to a lack of priests, and is expected to publish his decision in the coming weeks.
Benedict, who was the first pontiff to resign in almost 600 years, at first withdrew to a life of quiet contemplation in the Vatican, but has increasingly begun to speak out on key Catholic issues.