Indian Christians targeted under cover of conversions

As winter approaches, Church groups in Pakistan rush helping those affected by the devastating floods in June of this year, which submerged a third of the country, displaced eight million people and caused $28 billion in damage.

Father James Channan, director of the Dominican Center for Peace in Lahore, sent quilts, groceries, hygiene kits and shoes to 50 people in Basti Fakhar, South Punjab, through the intermediary of Caritas Pakistan.

Father James Channan (in pink shirt) visiting a village in Rajanpur district on November 7. (Photo: Father James Channan)

The priest said he aims to reach 1,000 families over the winter. Amjad Gulzar, executive director of Caritas Pakistan, said the agency would help 5,000 flood-affected people over the next few months.

Earlier this month, Archbishop Sebastian Shaw of Lahore visited tent villages and a medical camp run by Caritas in South Punjab. During the visit, he distributed quilts, warm clothes, bedding, groceries, nutrition kits and hygiene kits to flood victims.

Catholics in Bangladesh have paid tribute to an Italian missionary who spent most of his life serving poor and indigenous communities. Father Paolo Ciceria PIME missionary priest died last Wednesday in Italy at the age of 80.

He had been suffering from various ailments including liver problems since 2005 and his condition worsened after he was injured in a car accident in 2017, forcing him to move to Italy for better treatment.

Italian PIME Missionary Father Paolo Ciceri served in Bangladesh from 1973 to 2017 and is recognized for the socio-economic development of poor indigenous communities. (Photo provided)

The priest was based in the predominantly tribal dioceses of Rajshahi and Dinajpur in northern Bangladesh from 1972 to 2017. The missionary is hailed for his efforts in the socio-economic development of poor indigenous Catholics. It offered educational and health facilities and provided housing, rehabilitation and livelihoods for thousands of landless indigenous Catholics.

It also funded the higher education of many students after they graduated from high school. Some of those educated by the missionary are now doctors, nurses, teachers, and private sector employees.

A senior Church official in Myanmar called on Catholics to avoid high-profile celebrations at Christmas and New Year to express their solidarity with those affected by the ongoing conflicts.

Archbishop Marco Tin Win of Mandalay says Catholics should refrain from singing Christmas carols, parties and other such celebrations, or decorating churches, priests’ centers, convents with lights and post photos of the festivities on social media. The Prelate made the appeal as people in the Sagaing and Magwe regions covered by the Archdiocese continue to endure fierce battles.

A young Myanmar woman holds a child as she poses with Christmas light decorations in Yangon December 25, 2016. The Archbishop of Mandalay called on Catholics to focus on spiritual preparations and avoid high-profile celebrations this year. (Photo: AFP)

Other areas experiencing heavy fighting between the military, ethnic rebel groups and anti-coup resistance forces are mainly the Christian states of Kayah, Karen, Chin and Kachin.

Hundreds of people from three Catholic villages in Sagaing have fled their homes amid raids, arson and destruction of property in airstrikes and artillery fire by the military. The fleeing villagers sought refuge in church buildings and the homes of their relatives.

A Chinese court has jailed a Christian poet and his wife for supporting human rights and democracy in Hong Kong.

Wang Zang and his wife Wang Liqin were sentenced to four and two and a half years respectively by a court in Yunnan Province. The couple were found guilty of inciting subversion for their artistic expression to support democracy in Hong Kong and for criticizing the policies of the Chinese Communist Party.

Wang Zang, Chinese Christian poet, painter and rights activist. (Photo: Chinese human rights defenders)

Zang, a father of four, is a famous poet, film and television screenwriter, painter and human rights defender, and a member of the Free Culture Movement in China. He has been criticized for his support for human rights defenders who have suffered torture and abuse, and for criticizing Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s infamous Cultural Revolution.

He was arrested and imprisoned for his moral support of the Umbrella Movement, a pro-democracy civil disobedience movement that engulfed Hong Kong in 2014. He was released and re-arrested in May 2020.

Christian leaders in Laos have called for arrest and punishment of the culprits after an evangelical pastor is kidnapped, brutally murdered and his body dumped in a forest. Sy Seng Manee, 48, was found dead near his motorbike on the road to Donkeo village in Khammouane province in late October.