Malawi's First Lady congratulates Church
The First Lady of Malawi, Gertrude Hendrina Mutharika, has hailed the Catholic Church for complementing the government's efforts in uplifting the lives of people in the country.
The wife of Malawi's President, who is not a Catholic, was speaking at Thunga Catholic Parish during its golden jubilee commemorations.
Madame Mutharika, who was guest of honour at the function, said the Catholic Church has carried out a lot of crucial development projects in various sectors which have transformed the lives of people and communities across the country.
She said, "We take pride in the Catholic Church because it takes care of the spirituality and physical being of the person. There are a lot of education institutions from nursery schools to colleges, hospitals, broadcasting houses, human and civil rights organisations that are all initiatives of the Catholic Church.
"And there is also the advisory role to the government that the Church continues to play which is very crucial to ensure that the Government achieves its mandate."
She applauded lay members of the Catholic Church for being self-reliant as evidenced by the selfless contributions they make towards the various development projects of the Church.
Aid for Iraqi Christians
The US branch of the Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need has pledged $1 million to help persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria, calling on all Christians to pray and to give financial support for those in need.
"Both countries are threatened with the extinction of ancient Christian communities," George Marlin, chairman of the board of Aid to the Church in Need-USA, said. "Both churches and governments in the West must do their utmost to prevent what has become a tragedy of historic proportions."
He said that the West must stop the atrocities and the "cruelties beyond words" committed by the Islamic State. Executions, beheadings and crucifixions of Christians and other religious minorities have been reported. There are also shortages of water, food, emergency supplies, and medicine.
Aid to the Church in Need's work in Syria helps the Archdiocese of Homs, Hama and Yabroud provide emergency relief for families. The relief work is concentrated in Syria's Valley of the Christians, where fighting in the country's more than three-year civil war has been intense.
Other efforts in Syria include church repair and reconstruction, as well as livelihood projects so that Christians are not forced to emigrate.
Marlin said that the "rich Christian patrimony" of Iraq and Syria are at stake. He said that Christians also play a "vital role" as a moderating force in Muslim societies. Christians play "an indispensable role in mediating between warring factions and maintaining relations with the international community".
The charity said that there are now only 150,000 Iraqi Christians remaining, down from more than one million before the US invasion in 2003. In Syria, almost one-third of its 1.8 million Christians have left the country. Most are stranded in Lebanon, while several hundred thousand more are displaced within Syria.
Most of Iraq's newest Christian displaced persons have headed to Iraqi Kurdistan. However, the local churches are already overburdened. Kurdistan's 100,000 Christians are fearful that Islamic State forces may attack their homeland.
Catholic News Agency
Theologian denounces Vatican criticism
The US Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) concluded its annual conference, enthusiastically applauding an address by Sister Elizabeth Johnson, who denounced the Vatican for issuing a caution about her theological work.
Sister Johnson addressed the LCWR assembly as she accepted the group's Outstanding Leadership Award. The LCWR decision to honour the dissident theologian underlined the tensions between the group and the Church hierarchy, which led to Rome's call for a thorough reform of the group.
In 2011 the doctrinal committee of the US bishops' conference issued a critique of Sister Johnson's book, Quest for the Living God, saying that it "contains misrepresentations, ambiguities, and errors that bear upon the faith of the Catholic Church as found in Sacred Scripture, and as it is authentically taught by the Church's universal magisterium."
In her address to the LCWR meeting, the theologian claimed: "To this day, no one - not myself or the theological community, the media or the general public - knows what doctrinal issue is at stake."
Catholic World News