World Media Watch

Qatar's First Catholic Church to Open in 2006

ADNKRONOS INTERNATIONAL, June 30 — The first Roman Catholic church in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar will open next year, Father Justo Lacunza, rector of the Pontifical Institute for Islamic Studies in Rome, told the news agency Adnkronos International.

Underlining the progress that had been made regarding religious freedoms in some Islamic nations, Father Lacunza said “in Qatar the state offered the land to various Christian churches for the building of their respective places of worship. The new church will be open by 2006 and this is a very important step forward.”

The situation in neighboring Saudi Arabia, however, remains critical, Lacunza noted. “The main exception regarding freedom of worship in the Muslim world remains Saudi Arabia which does not allow any official church other than Islam.”

Two other regions at risk, he said, because of armed conflict, are Israel and Lebanon.

Uzbekistan's Catholics Welcome First Bishop

ASIANEWS, June 28 — Catholics in Uzbekistan have just celebrated a historic event: the country's first Catholic bishop, Jerzy Maculewicz, taking possession of his see in the predominantly Muslim country, AsiaNews reported.

More than 500 people attended the official ceremony at the Sacred Heart Parish in the capital of Tashkent. Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, apostolic nuncio of central Asia; Bishop Tomash Peta of Karaganda, and Bishop Theophilus Howaniec, of the Most Holy Trinity in Almaty, were among those who celebrated Mass with Bishop Maculewicz.

John Paul II in March 2004 elevated Uzbekistan to an apostolic administration, appointing Maculewicz as the first bishop.

During the ceremony, the new bishop confessed to “having known already for a year about the possibility of setting up an apostolic administration in Uzbekistan, but I never imagined I would be the one to lead it: It is God who sent me here.”

Church Will Continue Cardinal Sin's Mission

SUNSTAR, June 28 — Balanga Bishop Socrates Villegas vowed that the Catholic Church in the Philippines would pursue the late Cardinal Jaime Sin's goal of serving the poor and his call for moral governance in the country, the international news agency Sunstar reported.

Bishop Villegas, Cardinal Sin's aide for several years, made the statement in his homily during the funeral Mass for the longtime cardinal at the Manila Cathedral attended by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Vice President Noli de Castro.

The bishop described the cardinal as his “father and mentor” as he recalled the times he shared with the former Manila archbishop up until his death. Bishop Villegas's voice broke off when he remembered his friend's dying moments.

“He extended the invitation of Jesus to all of us to serve,” said the bishop, who then prayed that Cardinal Sin “go where God wills you to be and take your deserved rest” in asking the late cardinal to pray for all Filipinos and for the country.

The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy