TORONTO - A professor of theology at Toronto’s St. Augustine’s Seminary has been chosen to lead the Syro-Malabarrite Diocese of Chanda, India.

Published in Canada

ROME - Security forces in Afghanistan arrested a man in connection with the kidnapping of a Jesuit priest from India.

Published in International

JUBA, South Sudan - When South Sudan's fledgling democracy suddenly unraveled in December, what started as political infighting within the country's ruling party quickly ripped along ethnic fault lines, often pitting neighbours against each other according to the tribal markings on their faces.

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MANGALORE, India - Thousands gathered at Our Lady of Health Church in Shirva, just outside Mangalore, for the funeral of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who killed herself after falling for a hoax from Australian radio announcers.

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BANGALORE, India - The life of Blessed Devasahayam Pillai, an 18th-century Catholic layman who was martyred for refusing to refute his faith despite being brutally tortured, was held up as an example for all Christians to embrace.

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KOKRAJHAR, India (CNS) -- Besides her family, the most valuable things Majoni Bibi has these days are a few clothes, medicated mosquito nets, cooking utensils, water storage buckets and sleeping mats.

Bibi, a Muslim refugee forced with her family from their home as fighting erupted in July between tribal Bodos and Muslim settlers in Assam state, praised Catholic relief workers for the donations as her family continues to live in a camp for internally displaced people.

"We are very happy the Christians have helped in a big way. But for them, our life would have been miserable," said Bibi as she held her infant, who was born the camp at Basagaon.

Bibi is among hundreds of thousands of people displaced by months of ethnic clashes. She told Catholic News Service that had it not been for Catholic-run charities and the efforts of the Missionaries of Charity sisters, she and her family would have little.
"These sisters cared for us and (church workers) gave valuable and useful things," said Bibi, pointing to Sister Jacoba, superior of the Missionaries of Charity convent in nearby Bongaigaon.

Church workers have visited the camp and several others in the region, providing food and a variety of services and supplies.
The fighting has left more than 90 people dead and about 500,000 homeless in Kokrajhar region. More than 200,000 refugees -- the majority of them Muslims -- languish in 130 relief camps scattered across four districts.

Several Muslim refugees shared their appreciation for the workers' dedicated service in the camps in the Bodo heartland.

"The only people who came out to help us were the Christians," said Jahanara Begum, living in a riverbed camp in Basagaon.
Begum told the church workers that she had lost thousands of pounds of raw rice she had stocked in her home for sale when she, her husband and five children fled Dewalguri, a village attacked July 23.

"The church workers have shown real love for us and visited the camps regularly and attended to our people," Begum said.

Father David Napoleon, director of the Bongaigaon Diocese's social service program, said he has coordinated his work with Catholic Relief Services and Caritas India. More than two dozen emergency workers, including medical teams from St. Augustine Hospital in Bongaigaon joined the Missionaries of Charity sisters in visiting the camps.

"But it has not been easy. Nearly 15,000 Christians among the Bodos have also become homeless and some of our people have been strongly objecting to reaching out to the Muslim refugees," he said.

"But we told them that this was a humanitarian crisis and as true Christians, we have the duty to help all those in need," he added.
Harun Rashid Mondal, coordinator of a relief committee distributing rice and other food to refugee families, told CNS that "whatever may be the international talk of conflict between Muslims and Christians, here Christians are helping us like real brothers."

"The care and attention the Christians have shown to our people has helped change their attitude to the Christians. Real friends are those who help the people in need. The sisters have shown us what is real love," Mondal, a Muslim, said of the Missionaries of Charity who had helped bathe refugee children.

The anxiety of the Bodo community over Christians reaching out to Muslims was evident during a visit to Bodo relief camps in the town of Kokrajhar.

"My husband was stabbed (to death) and how can we can go back and live in the same place?" asked Korida Sanhala of Fakiragram village, who was at the Bodo camp.

"Sister, why do you still go to the camps of those (Muslim) people?" posed another Bodo woman to Missionaries of Charity Sister Leo Therese, even as men of the Bodo community rejected the plea of government officials to return the refugees to their village.

"They should not be helped," a young Bodo refugee woman reminded another nun when the church workers reached the Catholic relief camp at Kailo Mailo, more than 60 miles from Basagaon.

"Now our main focus is on youth-centered programs to deal positively with their trauma and anger and foster healthy interpersonal relationship," said Kaplianlal Thangluai, program officer for CRS in northeast India.

The program is facilitated by CRS-trained volunteers selected from among the refugees and residents of the host villages.

"We are also running a child-friendly space for children in the relief camps, as the children do not go to school," Thangluai added.

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BANGALORE, India - Church workers have joined the massive relief work in India's northeastern Assam state, where flooding has left 126 people dead and affected nearly 3 million people.

"The situation is still very grim, and over 70 percent of the affected families have no access to their villages," Father Theodore Purthy, director of the Tezpur Diocese's social service agency, told Catholic News Service July 12.

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OTTAWA - About a month ago it was cardinals’ week here in the nation’s capital. Our chaplaincy at Queen’s University was hosting the visit to Canada of the archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias. Given that it was his first visit to our country, and that he was flying into Ottawa, it was arranged that he would visit Parliament. The Speaker of the Senate, Noel Kinsella, received him and gave him a tour of the red chamber and the speaker’s offices. Afterward, the Speaker of the House of Commons, Andrew Scheer, hosted a dinner in Cardinal Gracias’ honour.

Published in Fr. Raymond de Souza

MISSISSAUGA - Despite representing just 2.3 per cent of the nation’s billion-plus population, India’s Christians are making an impact in the rapidly developing nation.

That was the message delivered by Cardinal Oswald Gracias as the Archbishop of Bombay concluded a Canadian tour at a March 19 banquet.

“We are breaking out from the Christian community to human communities,” said Gracias.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

BANGALORE, India - Catholic prohibitionists in India's Kerala state have proposed making alcoholism a sin in the nation's largest Christian enclave.

"Alcoholism is a serious problem in Kerala, and we have to take tough measures to counter it," Bishop Sebastian Thekethecheril, chairman of the Temperance Commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council, told Catholic News Service Feb. 1 during the general assembly of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India in Bangalore.

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TORONTO - Environmentally friendly and ethically manufactured fashions for a good cause: this is the premise of Clothes Matter, a second-hand and locally made clothing line based in Toronto.

Officially launched in the fall, Clothes Matter was founded by Shurley Sun, 17, a Grade 12 student at Loretto Abbey. Sun started the non-profit clothing line to raise money for 1Focus, a student-run charity aimed at making change, one year at a time. This year’s 1Focus mission is to raise $10,000 for schools run by the Loreto Sisters in Darjeeling, India.

Published in Youth Speak News

BANGALORE, India - Church leaders criticized an Islamic court's decision to expel five Christians, including a Catholic priest.

A Shariah court in Jammu and Kashmir state ordered the expulsion of Mill Hill Father Jim Borst, who has worked in the region since 1963, after accusing him of "spreading communal disaffection."

Shariah courts have no legal standing in India.

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