Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Nine Christians have been held in prison in Iran for three months without charges. On the day of their arrest, 19 September 2010, state television said: "A group of nine Christians have been arrested in Hamadan on charges of evangelization activities." Local sources reported security forces statements, according to which the group's purpose was to destroy the Islamic Republic of Iran. The text referred several times to the nine calling them "Christian Zionists."
The names of four of them (five are of unknown identity) are Vahik Abrahamian his wife Sonia Keshish Avanessian (Armenian-Iranian), Arash Kermanjany and Arezou Teimour, Iranians who speak Farsi.The security forces according to the report broke into the house Abrahamian and arrested him together with his wife and two other Christian converts who were his guests. The house was searched, and officers seized various personal items. Later the group was taken to an unknown location.
Other Christian converts were arrested and interrogated in Karaj, Tehran and Hamadan, and some of them were released after having ensured they would stop all evangelization activities. The four arrested in Hamad instead have been imprisoned in the Hamadan prison, in the fourth section, and the women's section.All were placed in isolation for forty days before being transferred to the Hamadan prison, and in that period could not be contacted by families. But in the meantime, the courts have not yet explained why they were imprisoned, or brought specific allegations against them.
IND. CATH NEWS REPORT: Pope Benedict XVI has chosen a new Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, the Scottish Catholic Media Office officially announced today. He is Archbishop Antonio Mennini. Archbishop Mennini, a native of Rome, is currently serving as nuncio to the Russian Federation, he is 63 and has been in Moscow since 2003. Speaking on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien warmly welcomed the appointment of Archbishop Antonio Mennini, saying: “Scotland’s bishops were always grateful for the pastoral work of Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, the previous Apostolic Nuncio, who had to retire from his position because of his serious ill health.”
The Cardinal added: “We very much look forward to welcoming you to Scotland and to meeting you regularly at future gatherings of our Bishops’. Our country has always had very strong links with the Holy See and especially in the person of the Pope, with the links having been strengthened in recent years, particularly through the visits of Pope John Paul II and just recently Pope Benedict XVI to our country. We promise you the ongoing support of our prayers, as you move from your service in Russia to service in our countries here in the Great Britain”.
CNA REPORT - Father Dominick Fullam was drawn to cartooning at an early age but a higher calling erased any aspirations he ever had of becoming a full-time cartoonist.
Recently, however, the St. Martin native, who is diocesan Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia as well as pastor of St. Mary Parish in Woolmarket, was at the Atlanta airport when something happened that rekindled his interest in cartooning.
“I was at the airport in Atlanta drawing a cartoon character on an iPad, and a lady seated next to me asked if I drew cartoons for a living. I laughed and said I was just passing time, but that I used to do a not-so-great cartoon in my high school newspaper,” he said.
“She told me what I'd done looked really good to her. A seed was planted.”
That seed has since developed into a new comic strip titled “Off by a Mile.”
“First I thought of reviving the comic strip I drew in high school called ‘It Ain't Easy.’ I learned that name had been used for both a song and a movie. So I decided to come up with something new and different,” Father Fullam said.
“I wanted the cartoon's title to have the word ‘off’ in it, suggestive of something of a different twist on things. After rejecting ‘Fifty Percent Off’ as sounding like a sales website, I found that offbyamile.comwas available. I thought it had a certain ring to it.”
Since then, Father Fullam has tried to crank out a couple of cartoons each week.
“It takes about an hour from start to finish. That's fairly quick because they're not done on paper, and I no longer have to mess with India ink as I did back in high school,” he said.
“As for their origins, these are just thoughts that pop in my head. I've noticed a tendency to have 80s references, TV shows, and songs. I guess that's where my mind is.”
Father Fullam has always been a cartoon aficionado.
“Yes, I do read the funnies and not just on Sundays,” he said. “I miss some of the ones that have been retired or scaled back over the years like ‘Bloom County,’ ‘The Far Side,’ and ‘FoxTrot.’ Over the last year, I've really come to appreciate ‘Zits’--not acne, of course, the comic strip.”
Father Fullam hopes to attract more visitors to his website but, for the time being, he’s still reluctant to invest too much time his recently re-discovered hobby and has no plans to submit his cartoon for syndication.
“Syndication isn't something I'm pursuing or expecting. I have my share of responsibilities right now, and while I enjoy the creative process, I don't think I'd enjoy having to crank these out regularly,” he said.
“Never say never, though. Right now, I'm just trying to create an opportunity for a laugh or a chuckle for whoever wants to join in.”
And that’s what he hopes visitors to his site get out of the experience – chuckles.
“I think laughter is one of God's gifts and that the world can always use a little more good clean fun.”
To check out Father Dominick’s cartoons, visit www.offbyamile.com
Printed with permission from Gulf Pine Catholic, newspaper from the Diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi.
ALL AFRICA REPORT: President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Philip Wilson has called on Australians to pray for peace in solidarity with the people of Sudan as they prepare to vote on a referendum for their country's future.
"While the referendum has the potential to bring much-needed change to a region plagued by instability, it also brings fear, with tensions already rising and the threat of intimidation and violence an ever-present reality," he said."On 9th January, 2011, Sudan will conduct a referendum offering the people of Southern Sudan the opportunity to become an independent nation. This vote forms the keystone of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and brings hope to the Sudanese people that they may finally close the door on an era of civil war, violence and bloodshed," Archbishop Wilson said.
The cleric said that any violence resulting from the referendum in Sudan is feared to reach far beyond national borders and implicate myriad African nations in a bloody conflict; a conflict the likes of which the world has not witnessed since Rwanda.
"In this time of uncertainty, it is critical that the world stays alert and informed of Sudan's situation," he said.
In fact, “Radio St Gabriel” has resumed broadcasting in the Diocese of Vanimo, which by the end of December will be heard not only from Vanimo, but also from remote villages in the area. For this reason, local priests have launched a campaign to give a radio capable of picking up the signal from Vanimo, to every catechist responsible for pastoral care in the villages of the forest. The radio is simple to use and able to convey messages “as they are”, without mediation or interpretation that can often distort them. The President of the Episcopal Conference, Bishop Francesco Panfilo, SDB, speaks often on national “Radio Maria” and on the various diocesan radio stations.
Recently, Bishop Caesar Bonivento, PIME, of Vanimo Papuan responded to the newspaper “Post Courier” that had stated “the yes of the Church to the use of condoms”, taking some of the Pope's words written in the book-interview recently published, “Light of the World”. The Bishop explained the Church's teaching about it, confirming and not contradicting Pope Benedict XVI.
Bishop Odo of Aitape raised his voice from the radio frequencies in his diocese, noting the opposition to a bill that would legalize female prostitution and homosexuality. For this reason, at a rally in Vanimo recently, many political and religious leaders have given a clear “no” to what is contrary to the human dignity and culture of the people of Papua, invoking the defence of the dignity of women.
BENEDICTINE ABBOT AND MISSIONARY
Feast: December 18