Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Underground Chinese Christians are increasingly the target of the authorities. Recently, one of the largest home Church has been shut down. Another one in Guangzhou has been forced to stop its activities, whilst a third one has been expelled from the premises it had rented. Although less violent as in the past, such actions shows how the central government is pursuing relentlessly and more effectively its policy of religious repression.
The Beijing-based Shouwang Church, with about 800 members, now has nowhere to worship after Sunday as its landlord has come under pressure to stop renting it a spacious film studio to host its services, Rev Jin Tianming said.
It is not the first time that this Church has been under pressure to stop meeting. It has been evicted from rented premises many times in the past and the authorities have used administrative measures, such as allegations that it breached fire regulations, to put pressure on the Church to close.
The faithful however plan to hang tight. To each act of persecution, they respond peacefully. The last time they were kicked out from their place of worship, in November 2009, they held Sunday worship outdoors, when the Church was forced to hold services in a park in a snowstorm.
Under Chinese law, unauthorised meetings are illegal, but "We don't have a choice," Rev Jin said. "We're willing to face the consequences."
In Guangzhou, things are not much better. Local authorities ordered the Tianyun Church, which has a congregation of about 200, to stop worshipping starting this week.
Another Guangzhou house Church, which has a congregation of 4,000, is also feeling the squeeze after its landlord succumbed to pressure and stopped letting out premises the church had used as an extension to host its bulging congregation. The Rongguili Church owns its main worship venue.
Professor Ying Fuk-tsang, a divinity scholar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the authorities tend to be anxious about underground churches, which have expanded rapidly and now have large congregations.
"Many rights lawyers and intellectuals [who go to those churches] have criticised the government," he said.
“RFI continues to transmit messages against the UN military mission in Côte d'Ivoire, accused by Gbagbo of fighting for Ouattara and encouraging those loyal to Gbagbo to react,” adds our source. “In effect, in Abidjan, the resistance by Gbagbo has been very strong, so strong that the Republican Forces have not been able to advance towards the Presidential Palace.
“Ouattara closed all the borders then reopened the airport of Abidjan to enable foreigners to evacuate. The UN seems to be running the airport.
“Yesterday, Ouattara declared a curfew from 5 pm until 6 am this morning. Today he announced another one, from noon today until 6 tomorrow morning. One therefore expects that in the coming hours the offensive will resume on a grand scale,” says our source. “The UN helicopters and the French military mission are guarding the city from above. We have seen several tanks from both parties in the streets, as well as rocket launchers,” continues our source.
In Duékoué, in the west of the Country, 800 civilians have been massacred during the “inter-community” riots, denounced the International Committee of the Red Cross, citing pro-Ouattara sources. Bishop Gaspard Béby Gnéba of Man, told Fides that he can not confirm this news, because communications are difficult, but insists that the humanitarian situation in the area is serious even if the fighting in that area has ceased (see Fides 1/04/2011). In conclusion, Bishop Gnéba argues that in addition to civilian facilities, even those of the Church (parishes, schools, health facilities) have been destroyed and looted .
- Holy Wood Acting Studio had its grand opening on March 25 to begin its mission to create talented actors with the “emotional and spiritual maturity” to endure the challenges in their careers.
Participants in Holy Wood's grand opening pose in front of a green screen“The opening of Holy Wood Acting Studio represents a new era for the entertainment industry, an era where actors will not only thrill audiences with amazing performances, but also inspire them through moral, intellectual, and spiritual integrity,” the Culver City, Calif. studio said in a statement.
Participants at the event helped create an inspiring and exciting atmosphere they hope will set the tone for many years of actor training and personal development, the studio said.
Attendees included Fr. Willy Raymond, president of Family Theater Productions, and actor Navid Negahban of “The Stoning of Soraya M.” and “Charlie Wilson’s War.”
Telenovela actor and model Gonzalo Garcia Vivanco, famous for many soap operas in Mexico and Colombia, was at the event. Also there was evangelist Richard Shakarian, a Christian businessman from Los Angeles whose father founded the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International.
The studio’s operational director Max Espinosa opened the event, explaining the aim of the studio is to prepare students to be both successful actors and complete human beings.
He noted the “Four Pillars” of the study program: Acting, Personal Growth and Development, Leadership, and Health and Fitness. These are combined with Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body to produce actors who are masters of the craft and masters of themselves.
Holy Wood Studio is unique in its incorporation of the late Pope’s approach to spirituality. He emphasized the individual dignity and complementary roles of men and women, while showing how the drama of romantic love can only find fulfillment in marriage.
The studios’ opening ceremony featured video testimonials made by the students and teachers of a pilot seminar. They spoke of the studio’s potential to transform the lives of both students and teachers.
The audience also saw a film by Joe Sikoria, the studio’s personal growth and development coach, as he spent a day with his family. He talked about the need to live each moment of our lives as if it were the last, and to love as if it were our first.
After the video, Sikoria spoke to the audience in person about the importance of faith and family. He and his wife shared a story about a family experience that taught them the path to true joy can only come through self-sacrifice.
Holy Wood Acting Studies will open its three-month summer program on June 12. Another of its programs begins on Sept. 8 and lasts for a whole academic year.
The programs aim to provide flexible options for acting students looking to maximize their personal and professional development.
The studio's base of operations, Culver City in West Los Angeles County, bills itself as “the Heart of Screenland.” It is also the home of Sony Pictures Studios.
The studio website is at http://www.holywoodactingstudio.com.
CATHOLIC ONLINE REPORT: Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, was received in a private audience
When the account of this period of Church history is written the Anglican Ordinariates will be given the placement they truly deserve. They are the beginning of the healing of the wounded and divided Body of Christ. They also mark the beginning of a great homecoming and a new missionary age of the Church.
Monsignor Keith Newton, the Ordinary of the Personal ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - I have covered the Anglican Ordinariate from its early seeds and prophetic beginnings. I am convinced it is part of the Holy Spirit's work in a new missionary age of the Church. It is the first step in a course which will move us toward a coming full communion of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
I received a release from the Vatican Information Service on April 1, 2011: "Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, accompanied by Bishop Alan Stephen Hopes, auxiliary of Westminster, England, and by Msgr. Keith Newton, ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham." This only underscored to me the importance which Pope Benedict XVI attributes to the Ordinariates as they are being formed.
On Saturday morning, January 15, 2011 in Westminster Cathedral Church, Church history was made and a prophetic homecoming began. Three former Anglican Bishops who had resigned their ministry in order to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church through the Anglican Ordinariate were ordained as Catholic Priests. The prophetic nature of this amazing moment of Church history the first Ordinariate was further highlighted when the first one was dedicated to Blessed John Henry Newman.
Along with several others who had written extensively on this subject I expected this patronage. It confirmed that the Holy Father's choice to raise Cardinal Newman to the altar as Blessed this past year in person was profoundly symbolic and prophetic. It concretized the significant connection between Blessed Newman and the extraordinary events we are currently living through.
Toward the end of his historic visit to the United Kingdom to preside over the beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman, an Anglican convert who prayed for the reunion of the Anglican communion with Rome, Pope Benedict XVI gathered with all of the Bishops. At the end of the address he spoke these words:
"I asked you to be generous in implementing the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. This should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all. Let us continue to pray and work unceasingly in order to hasten the joyful day when that goal can be accomplished."
When the account of this period of Church history is written the Anglican Ordinariates will be given the placement they truly deserve. They are the beginning of the healing of the wounded and divided Body of Christ. They also mark the beginning of a great homecoming and a new missionary age of the Church. Blessed John Henry Newman's work as a member of the communion of saints, praying for his Anglican brethren, continues. During his time with us he wrote about the possibility of finding a place within the full communion of the Catholic Church for Anglicans and prayed for this possibility. His prayer is now being answered.
This first Ordinariate being named after Our Lady of Walsingham was no accident. I have no doubt that the Mother of the Lord continues to pray for the healing of the Body of her beloved Son. The prayers of a mother are profoundly powerful. The apparition and the title given to the Mother of the Lord birthed a deeply held devotion shared by both Catholics and Anglicans. A shrine bearing her name in England is frequented by both Anglicans and Catholics.
On March 26, 2011 a six month celebration of the 950th anniversary of the appearing of Our Lady of Walsingham to Richeldis de Faverches, a Saxon noblewoman in the village of Walsingham in Norfolk, England began. The faithful filled Westminster Cathedral for a Liturgy presided over by Most Revd Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster. Concelebrating with him was the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Monsignor Keith Newton. Just this past month along with the other two priests ordained with him, John Broadhurst and Andrew Burnham, Fr Keith Newton was given the honor of being named a Monsignor. These are prophetic times indeed.
The Motu Propio and Apostolic Constitution which established the Ordinariate allows for Ordinaries to be chosen from among either Priests or Bishops. Last year I wrote an article based upon reports that the first ordinary chosen would be the former Anglican Bishop of Richborough, Fr. Keith Newton. We now know this was more than a rumor. Monsignor Newton was indeed named the first Ordinary of the Ordinariate in England and Wales. His choice to lead the first Ordinariate was one more example of the profound wisdom contained in the juridic structure which the Holy Father put in place for our Anglican friends coming home.
The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman now has its own beautiful website where readers can follow the historic development of this wonderful work of the Holy Spirit. There you can also sign up to receive regular mailings. There they confirmed the Press report from the Vatican Information Service I read Friday morning in an article entitled "Ordinary has meeting with Pope Benedict XVI":
"Monsignor Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, was received in a private audience today by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. During a scheduled visit to the Holy See, Mgr Newton met with the Holy Father and presented him with a number of gifts on behalf of the Ordinariate.
"Mgr Newton was accompanied by the Episcopal Delegate of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales for the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, Bishop Alan Hopes, and the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, William Cardinal Levada. It was the first time that the Ordinary had met with the Holy Father since his nomination as Ordinary of the first Personal Ordinariate in January this year.
"During his time in Rome, Mgr Newton has been attending meetings and engagements to aid the ongoing establishment of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham."
CATH NEWS REPORT: I'm sorry...
“Who sinned? Who’s to blame for this man’s disability?” people ask today (Jn 9:1-41). It’s about as silly as asking whose sin caused the Queensland floods or the earthquakes in Christchurch and Japan, writes Anthony Fisher, Bishop of Parramatta, in his Lenten Reflection.
But Jesus is patient with them: there is a spiritual dimension to all this. There is a kind of spiritual blindness that needs healing as much as any physical handicap. All healing begins with a recognition of need.
Married people know that. Friends know that. Our nation has said sorry to its Indigenous people. Our Church has too, for its many failings, especially those of some pastors.To have lasting happiness in this world and the next there are three short phrases we need to say, and say often: I’m sorry … I forgive you … I love you.
But why do we need to say sorry? Isn’t it enough to feel sorry?
Human beings give meaning to their world by naming things. Their first task in the Bible was to name the animals. Adam also named his wife ‘Eve’. Jesus named Simon ‘Peter’ and in turn Peter called him ‘the Christ, the Son of the living God’.
From the time we first learn to talk, we try to describe our experiences, thoughts and feelings. Naming gives us a measure of understanding and control.
Our parents also tell us the names of things to be wary of, like fire and traffic. Moses is told names of things to avoid: idolatry, impiety, violence, adultery, stealing, lying, lust, envy... (Ex 20:1-17) These names are the basis of our Ten Commandments.
Christ’s first public word was: Repent! (Mt 4:17) ‘Repent,’ he says to us still. Don’t justfeel bad, but change. That begins with naming our sin out loud, with telling it like it is.
Owning up to sin, putting it out there, is an act of self-knowledge and responsibility, recognition not just of what we’ve done but what it’s done to us. It takes courage and humility, but it’s the beginning of healing. As St Catherine of Siena said, it’s only by weeding the garden of our souls that we make space for virtues to flower.
I forgive you...
Now’s the time to rediscover the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Some worry about being judged in the confessional. But confessors aren’t there to wag fingers. As a bishop Pope John Paul used to go to his local parish church and get in the confession queue with everyone else. The fact is: priests are sinners too. We all need Confession.
So people shouldn’t be embarrassed about telling their story in confession. Priests are humbled and inspired by penitents. They want to help them start afresh – with an encouraging word, some spiritual advice, a penance, best of all those breathtaking words: I absolve you from your sins. God’s response to those words is awesome: ‘What the Church forgives, I forgive’ (cf. Mt 18:18).
In this Sunday’s Gospel passage Jesus cures a blind man who gradually comes to see the world for what it is and Jesus for who He is. Ultimately he says, ‘Yes Lord, I believe’ and worships Him. There are many such stories of healing, recognition and growth in the Gospels.
Perhaps the best known are the Prodigal Son and the Woman Caught in Adultery. In each case Misery meets Mercy. In each the sinner is received back, joyfully, and given a new start. In each case there are resistant, resentful onlookers.
But why so public? Can’t we just leave these things as private matters between us and God? Jesus knows our self-delusions and rationalisations and how unlikely we are to own up to our failings unless we name them. He also knows our guilt and shame and how unlikely we are to accept forgiven unless it’s named to us. We need such physical, audible, sacramental signs of grace. Hence his Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I love you...
In another story Jesus told a weeping woman: ‘Your sins are forgiven’ (Lk 7:36-50). Those who overheard him murmured: ‘Who does he think he is, forgiving sins?’ The woman was the only one with an inkling of who He was. Jesus is the compassion of God, God saving, God forgiving.
Because she had been forgiven so much, this woman loved much; and because she had loved so much, much could be forgiven her. Now her most precious friendship of all – with God – was restored and she could grow in holiness.
That’s why people sometimes cry when they are forgiven: because they know they are alive and free... to go and sin no more... to live and love well again... to forgive others in turn. Absolution expands our hearts. It enables us to love bigger and better, to grow spiritually and emotionally. It overflows in thanksgiving.
At last we can love back the One who loved us to death – his death – for our forgiveness.
After the cross of repentance comes new life, new love. The ten words name not only past wrongs but future goals: reverence for God, life, persons, family, creation, relationships. It’s a pattern for the good life, sometimes hard, but ultimately the most fulfilling.
Jesus’ first gift to the Church at Easter was the power to forgive sins (Jn 20:22-3). It’s a power closely connected to that rising from the dead to which we look in Lent. That’s why Catholics go to Confession around this time: to hear Jesus say: ‘You are forgiven: go in peace and sin no more.’
Next he says, ‘Come celebrate with me at the table of the Lord.’ Only after Confession and absolution of any serious sin can we approach Holy Communion. Only then are we ready for the Wedding Feast of God’s kingdom. ‘Let’s party,’ says our Easter Lord to the sinner raised from the tomb of sin. There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous. I’m sorry... I forgive you... I love you...
BISHOP AND CONFESSOR
Feast: April 3
St. Richard was born at the manor of Wiche, famous for its salt wells four miles from Worcester, being second son to Richard and Alice de Wiche In order to keep faithfully his baptismal vows, he from his infancy always manifested the utmost dislike to gay diversions, and ever held in the highest contempt all worldly pomp: instead of which his attention was wholly employed In establishing for himself a solid foundation of virtue and learning. Every opportunity of serving others he regarded as his happiness and gain. The unfortunate situation of his eldest brother's affairs gave him an occasion of exercising his benevolent disposition. Richard condescended to become his brother's servant, undertook the management of his farms and by his industry and generosity effectually retrieved his brother's before distressed circumstances. Having completed this good work, he resumed at Paris those studies he had begun at Oxford, leading with two select companions, a life of piety and mortification, generally contenting himself with coarse bread and simple water for his diet; except that on Sundays and on particular festivals he would, in condescendence to some visitors, allow himself a little meat or fish. Upon his return to England, he proceeded to become master of arts at Oxford, from whence he went to Bologna, in Italy, where he applied himself to the study of the canon law, and was appointed public professor of that science. After having taught there a short time, he returned to Oxford, and, on account of his merit, was soon promoted to the dignity of chancellor in that university. St. Edmund, archbishop of Canterbury. having the happiness of gaining him for his diocese, appointed him his chancellor, and intrusted him with the chief direction of his archbishopric; and Richard was the faithful imitator of his patron's piety and devotions. The principal use he made of his revenues was to employ them to charitable purposes, nor would he on any terms be prevailed on to accept the least present in the execution of his office as ecclesiastical judge. He accompanied his holy prelate in his banishment into France, and after his blessed death at Pontigni, retired into a convent of Dominican friars in Orleans. Having in that solitude employed his time in the improving himself in theological studies, and received the order of priesthood, he returned to England to serve a private curacy, in the diocese of Canterbury. Boniface, who had succeeded St. Edmund in that metropolitan see, compelled him to resume his office of chancellor, with the care of his whole diocese. Ralph Nevil, bishop of Chichester, dying in 1244, king Henry III. recommended to that see an unworthy court favorite, called Robert Passelew: the archbishop and other prelates declared the person not qualified, and the presentation void: and preferred Richard de Wiche to that dignity. He was consecrated in 1245. But the king seized his temporalities, and the saint suffered many hardships and persecutions from him and his officers, during two years, till his majesty granted him a replevin: upon which he recovered his revenues, but much impaired. And as, after having pleaded his cause at Rome before pope Innocent IV. against the king's deputies, and obtained a sentence confirming his election, he had permitted no persecution, fatigue. or difficulty to excuse him to himself for the omission of any part of his duty to his flock so now, the chief obstacles being removed, he redoubled his fervor and attention. He, in person, visited the sick, buried the dead, and sought out and relieved the poor. When his steward complained that his alms exceeded his income: "then," said he, "sell my plate and my horse." Having suffered a great loss by fire, instead of being more sparing in his charities, he said, "Perhaps God sent us this loss to punish our covetousness;" and ordered upon the spot more abundant alms to be given than usual. Such was the ardor of his devotion that he lived as it were in the perpetual contemplation of heavenly things. He preached the word of God to his flock with that unction and success which only an eminent spirit of prayer could produce. The affronts which he received, he always repaid with favors, and enmity with singular marks of charily. In maintaining discipline he was inflexible, especially in chastising crimes in the clergy, no intercession of the king, archbishop, and several other prelates could prevail with him to mitigate the punishment of a priest who had sinned against chastity. Yet penitent sinners he received with inexpressible tenderness and charity. While he was employed in preaching a holy war against the Saracens, being commissioned thereto by the pope, he fell sick of a fever, foretold his own death, and prepared himself for it by the most melting ejaculations of divine love and thanksgiving. He died in an hospital at Dover, called God's House, on the 3d of April, in the year of our Lord 1253, of his episcopal dignity the ninth, of his age the fifty-sixth. His body was conveyed to Chichester, and interred before the altar which he himself had consecrated in his cathedral to the memory of St. Edmund. It was removed to a more honorable place in 1276, on the 16th of June, on which day our ancestors commemorated his translation. The fame of miraculous cures of paralytic and other distempers, and of three persons raised to life at his tomb, moved the pope to appoint commissaries to inquire into the truth of these reports, before whom many of these miracles were authentically proved upon the spot; and the saint was solemnly canonized by Urban IV, in 1262.
|1 Samuel 16: 1, 6 - 7, 10 - 13|
|1||The LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul, seeing I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons."|
|6||When they came, he looked on Eli'ab and thought, "Surely the LORD'S anointed is before him."|
|7||But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart."|
|10||And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen these."|
|11||And Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all your sons here?" And he said, "There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and fetch him; for we will not sit down till he comes here."|
|12||And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is he."|
|13||Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.|
|Psalms 23: 1 - 6|
|1||The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want;|
|2||he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters;|
|3||he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.|
|4||Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.|
|5||Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows.|
|6||Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.|
|Ephesians 5: 8 - 14|
|8||for once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light|
|9||(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),|
|10||and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.|
|11||Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.|
|12||For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret;|
|13||but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.|
|14||Therefore it is said, "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light."|