Category Archives: International

International news

Priest: We need to praise what is good, true in the Muslim faith

VATICAN CITY — Not only is there a good deal in common between Muslims and Christians, but Catholics are called to respect and work together with those who practise the Muslim faith in recognition of truth and goodness they do possess, said Islam scholar Fr Thomas Michel.

Fr Michel, who holds a PhD in Islamic Theology and worked under Pope John Paul II as head of the Vatican Office for Relations with Muslims, told CNA that Benedict XVI, like both St John Paul II and Pope Francis, have all repeated the same message regarding Muslims – that of the Second Vatican Council.

“The document Nostrae aetate says that the Church has ‘esteem’ for Muslims,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that we should just tolerate Muslims or put up with Muslims. ‘Esteem’ means to try to see what people have that’s good and appreciate them for that.”  Continue reading Priest: We need to praise what is good, true in the Muslim faith

Pope Francis to the laity: Go out and evangelise, or buy mothballs

LOS ANGELES, California — When asked in a new interview what specific mission he has for the laity, Pope Francis responded with a frequent appeal: to go outside of oneself and take risks in evangelising, rather than staying stuffed up at home while the moths move in.

“Sometimes I think the best business we can do with many Christians, is to sell them mothballs so that they put them in their clothes and in their lives and aren’t eaten by moths,” the Pope said in the interview.

The interviewer, journalist Noel Díaz, had questioned the Pope about a comment he had made to him on a previous occasion to “tell the laity to come out of the caves.” When asked about the comment and what mission he would give to the laity with that image in mind, Francis said that many times Christians “are locked up and they are going to get eaten by moths”.

“They have to go out, they have to go and bring the message of Jesus” to others, he said, explaining that the Good News is meant to be shared, not stored away.

“The message of Jesus is to give it; so just as I receive it from him through a brother or sister, the grace comes to me and I give it,” he said, stressing that Christians shouldn’t “can” the message, trying to conserve it in a jar, because “it’s not to save, it’s to give”.

By taking the Good News and then delivering it to others, “in this way I leave the cave,” he said, and stressed the importance of practising the works of mercy, which are “the backbone of the Gospel” and what we will eventually be judged on.

Pope Francis gave his interview to El Sembrador Nueva Evangelización – ESNE TV and Radio station, a non-profit established in Los Angeles in 1994 and which is currently headed by Díaz, the station’s founder and director. The interview was conducted on 22 November, and was broadcast 29 January.

In the interview, conducted in the Pope’s native Spanish tongue, Díaz noted how Francis frequently calls for Christians to be joyful rather than sour, going out to the streets and making the Gospel message known to those who are far off.

When asked by the journalist what Christians lack in order for this to become the norm, the Pope said there is a need for greater “courage, since we are comfortable and comfort betrays us.”

Pointing to the “apostolic zeal” of St Paul, the Pope said he had the “courage to go out”, which is something Christians ought to grow in if they want “to bring what we have received” to others.

Apart from courage, the Pope said that in his own personal view, something that is often missing is prayer: “prayer is lacking… because without prayer there is no courage, there is a lack of intercession”.

“We have to pray more and go out, but always with prayer, because I go out with the Lord,” he said, explaining that prayer is what unites us to God.

He pointed specifically to meditating on Scripture through Lectio Divina, saying “this is a very beautiful exercise and all of us have a quarter of an hour to do it, to take the bible, a little piece, and reflect a bit”.

Francis was also asked what kind of legacy he would like to leave with the Church, and responded with many ideas that have already become trademarks of his papacy: “a Church that goes out is one, open doors, Christians going out on the streets, Christians who are convinced, a prayerful Church”.

Touching on what he said is a “key point”, Pope Francis said there is a great need for Christians “who know how to adore the Lord”.

After sitting in silent adoration, “one leaves with the strength of knowing that there is someone above, that it’s the Lord,” he said, adding that the ability to adore is “the greatest strength” of the spiritual life, since many times our prayers are “petty”.

Many time people go to the Lord asking him to give them something or to solve a problem, he said, noting that “those who give thanks are fewer”.

God, he said, “loves us, he gives us a hand and arranges things” when we ask, but “to adore, which few know how to adore, to adore God who is the Lord in this world” is rare, but essential.

Another legacy the Pope said he wants to leave is a sense of awareness in every Christian home, family and people that “the spirit of the world is not from God, it’s the antithesis of God”.

It’s because of this that Jesus at the Last Supper prays not for his disciples to be taken out of the world, but to be “defended” from it, he said, pointing to money as a key cause of worldliness.

“Worldliness begins with money, the devil enters through the pockets, in money… it gives you security, (but) a security that isn’t from God,” he said, explaining that money eventually leads to vanity, which then leads to pride, “and from hence all sins” come.

Francis was then asked to send a message to a specific groups of people – youth, elderly, parish priests and single mothers – when the interviewer mentioned them, before offering a special greeting to the station and its viewers.


Today’s Catholic Vol.29 No.11 February 2017

Updates for BOM teachers

Prof Pilar Vigil speaking at the BOMA-USA conference in Tampa

FLORIDA — As the Billings Ovulation Method® is an international method with experts in many parts of the world, the United States affiliate (BOMA-USA) frequently brings in speakers from other countries for their conferences.

Despite the stiff cost of airfare, thanks to the generosity of one of their board members, Dr Lek-Lim Chan of Kuching, Malaysia and Gillian Barker of Melbourne, Australia who were two of this year’s featured speakers. Dr Pilar Vigil of Santiago, Chile, an international speaker, was the third.

This year’s BOMA-USA conference took place over the first weekend of June at the Tampa Airport Marriott Hotel in Florida. Attendees travelled from 22 states across the United States, three providences of Canada and the islands of Trinidad and Tobago to update themselves on the latest science and methodology of the Billings Method™.  Continue reading Updates for BOM teachers

Pontifical Mission Societies’ Directors Meet

Group photo of the Members of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei

SINGAPORE — The Pontifical Mission Societies’ (PMS) Directors of all the Dioceses of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei met at the Retreat House, Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Singapore from 27-29 June for their annual meeting, together with Archbishop John Wong, the Episcopal President for New Evangelisation. They got together to renew their commitment in mission, to be in fellowship and to strengthen their brotherhood bond. Two new Diocesan Directors joined the PMS family. They are Fr Kevin Chundi from the Diocese of Miri replacing the former, Fr Sylvester Ding and Fr Terence Pereira from the Archdiocese of Singapore replacing the former, Fr Kenson Koh.

The meeting was headed by the PMS National Director, Fr VA Michael from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur. He handed out the Statutes to the new directors as guidelines in playing their new role as PMS Diocesan Directors. He stressed on the three collections that are to be collected yearly by each Diocese, namely the Mission Sunday and Holy Childhood Collections and Singapore has been collecting the St Peter the Apostle Collection too.   Continue reading Pontifical Mission Societies’ Directors Meet

Christians, Muslims are called to imitate God’s mercy, says cardinal

VATICAN CITY — God asks Christians and Muslims to be forgiving, merciful and compassionate toward others, especially those in need, said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.

“We are saddened to see so many victims of conflicts and violence,” in particular the elderly, children and women, as well as people who suffer from human trafficking, poverty, illness, natural disasters and unemployment, said the cardinal, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

“We cannot close our eyes to these realities, or turn away from these sufferings,” making it vital that “all work together in assisting those in need,” he said.

Cardinal Tauran’s annual message to Muslims for Eid al-Fitr, the feast marking the end of the month-long Ramadan fast, was published by the Vatican 17 June. Ramadan will end on or around 5 July this year.

The message was titled, “Christians and Muslims: Beneficiaries and Instruments of Divine Mercy,” and it focused on the common belief in a merciful God.

“We, Christians and Muslims, are called to do our best to imitate God,” the message said.

God, who is merciful, “asks us to be merciful and compassionate toward others, especially those who are in any kind of need. So, too, he calls us to be forgiving of one another.”

The cardinal said it was “a source of great hope when we experience or hear of Muslims and Christians joining hands to help the needy.”

Not only are people heeding God’s command, he said, they are showing God’s mercy and “thus offering a more credible witness, individually and communally, to our beliefs.”

May God “help us to walk always along the path of goodness and compassion,” he said.


Today’s Catholic Vol.28 No.4 July 2016