Philippines Church Leads in E-Vangelization

THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, Dec. 17 — The Church in the Philippines has recently become that nation's leading Internet service provider, achieving a distinction held in this country by America Online, the Utah daily reported. “We call this ‘E-vangelization,’” said Msgr. Pedro C. Quitorio III, the Internet guru for the Catholic bishops' conference of the Philippines.

The Church in the Philippines has constructed the nation's most comprehensive Internet backbone, running the 1,000-mile length of this far-flung archipelago.

Eventually, CBCPNet, as the Church-run entity calls itself, intends to wire up every diocese, parish house and parochial school in the country. In partnership with private companies, it is also setting up Internet cafes around the country to give urban poor access to the Internet.

The Internet service provided by the Church is free of violence, gambling and pornography. Ronald Paredes, 24, demonstrated for reporters how this was done at the Internet shop he runs with 10 computer terminals in a plain storefront between a hardware store and a massage parlor off a busy street in Quezon City.

Paredes typed in the Internet address for a Playboy Web site and almost immediately, the computer displayed this admonition: “Thank God you were not able to enter that bad site.”

Same-Sex Nativity Scenes Sold in Britain

UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, Dec. 17 — Retailers in Britain engaged in a little revisionist history this year as department stores sold Nativity scenes featuring same-sex couples, the news service reported.

The attack on the Holy Family represents an attempt by chains to attract single-parent and lesbian customers. A spokesman for an unidentified store said, “We have a variety of Nativity sets so people can choose what they like best,” the news service reported.

Some Nativity sets presented Joseph as a figure with rosy cheeks and curly hair, donning a headscarf and cloak and carrying a crook. A survey of storeowners showed that the sets were designed to appeal to single parents or those with “Sapphic (lesbian) inclinations.”

Ukraine's Orthodox Churches Begin Uniting

POST-SOVIET PRESS, Dec. 13 — An agreement to create a joint commission on the unification of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the leadership of the self-proclaimed Kiev Patriarchate (the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kiev Patriarchate) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church has been signed in Istanbul. They will form a united local Ukrainian Orthodox Church, independent of Moscow.

According to official figures, 12,500 of the 24,000 religious congregations in Ukraine today are Orthodox. Nine thousand are under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church/Moscow Patriarchate, 3,000 are under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church/Kiev Patriarchate and about 1,000 are under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. There is also a fourth branch, which is in communion with Rome — the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, which has 3,500 congregations.