Fr.Edmund Woga appointed as Bishop of Weetebula Diocese

Vatican City, April 07, 2009 - The Holy Father Benedict XVI, on April 4, 2009, appointed Fr. Edmund Woga, C.Ss.R, Administrator of the Diocese of Weetebula (Indonesia), Bishop of the same diocese.

Fr. Edmund Woga, C.Ss.R was born on November 17, 1950 in Hewokloang, in the Diocese of Maumere (Flores). He entered St. John Berchmans Minor Seminary in Mataloko, Flores, and then the Redemptorist seminary in Sumba, studying philosophy and theology in the Major Seminary of Kentungan Yogyakarta (1971-1977).

He was ordained a priest on November 29, 1977 for the Diocese of Weetebula. He later entered the Redemptorists (1980) and took his perpetual vows in 1985. Since his ordination, he has ministered as follows: 1978: Director of the Religion Teachers’ Training Institute, Waingapu; 1978-1979: Pastor of St.Clemens, Katikuloku; 1979-1982: Director of the Pada Dita Boarding, Waingapu; 1982-1984: Studies for a Licentiate in Missiology in Sankt Augustin, Germany; 1985: Return to prepare for perpetual vows in Sumba; 1986-1992: Studies for a Degree in Fundamental Theology in Monaco, Germany; 1993-2002: Professor of Missiology at Wedhabakti Theological Faculty, Yogyakarta; 2002-2008: Provincial Superior of the Redemptorists in Indonesia with headquarters in West Sumba; since 2008: Diocesan Administrator of Weetebula.

The Diocese of Weetebula (1969), is suffragan of the Archdiocese of Kupang. It has an area of 11,052 km, with 706,000 inhabitants (135,107 Catholics), 21 parishes, 85 priests (28 diocesan and 57 religious), 5 religious, 49 seminarians, and 73 religious women.

Fr.James Wainaina Kungu appointed as Bishop of Muranga

Vatican City, April 07, 2009 - The Holy Father Benedict XVI, on April 4, 2009, appointed Fr. James Wainaina Kungu of the clergy of Nyahururu, Rector of the Christ the King Major Seminary (Archdiocese of Nyeri), Bishop of Muranga (Kenya).

Fr. James Wainaina Kungu was born on December 23, 1956 in Ngenya, at the Parish of North Kinangop (Archdiocese of Nyeri), now territory of the Diocese of Nyahururu. He studied philosophy at the St. Augustine Major Seminary (1978-1980) and theology at the St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Nairobi (1980-1984).

He was ordained a priest on December 13, 1984 for the Archdiocese of Nyeri and later joined the clergy of the Diocese of Nyahururu, following its erection in 2002. Since his ordination, he has ministered as follows: 1984-1986: Professor of St. Paul Minor Seminary in Nyeri; 1986-1996: Financial Administrator for the Archdiocese of Nyeri; 1996-2001: Studies for the Licentiate in Theology at the Pontifical University of Saint Anselm in Padua; 2002-2003: Professor of Liturgy at Christ the King Seminary; since 2003: Rector of Christ the King Major Seminary in Nyeri.

The Diocese of Muranga (1983) is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Nyeri. It has an area of 4,016 kmq, with 1,522,000 inhabitants (716,950 Catholics), 35 parishes, 99 priests (85 diocesan and 14 religious), 15 religious, 29 seminarians and 105 religious women.

-Agenzia Fides

Arrest of Catholic Bishop in China, an obstacle to dialogue

Vatican City, April 04, 2009 - The recent arrest of a Chinese bishop and other instances of religious persecution in China are obstacles to dialogue, said the Vatican.

The arrest of 74-year-old Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding was "unfortunately not an isolated case: Other clergy are also deprived of their freedom or are subjected to undue pressure and restrictions in their pastoral activity," said the Vatican in a statement released April 2.

In the statement released after a meeting in Rome of the Vatican's Commission for the Catholic Church in China, the Vatican expressed its "deep sorrow upon hearing the news of the recent arrest" of Bishop Jia.

"Situations of this type create obstacles to an atmosphere of dialogue with the competent authorities," it said, noting Pope Benedict XVI's desire for dialogue which he expressed in his June 2007 letter to Chinese Catholics.

Bishop Jia, who has not registered with the government, was taken by five police officers from his residence in Hebei province March 30, the same day the Vatican commission on China began its meeting. Pope Benedict established the commission in 2007 to study issues related to the Catholic Church in China.

Several sources told the Asian church news agency UCA News they believe the action is related to a recent move toward reconciliation between the diocese's two Catholic communities: those registered with the government and those not registered.

During the Rome meeting, the commission's members talked about many of the complex problems the church in China faces -- problems "that stem not just from difficulties inside the church, but also from the uneasy relations with civil authorities," said the Vatican statement.

A major topic of discussion during the meeting was the formation of seminarians, consecrated persons and the permanent formation of priests, it said.

In association with bishops of the church in China, the commission "will try to promote an adequate human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral formation of clergy and consecrated people," it said.

It said religious men and women "have the important task of living as faithful disciples of Christ and as members of the church, and to contribute to the good of their country as exemplary citizens."

The Vatican statement said the pope told commission members April 1 that it was important to help Catholics in China "let others know the beauty and reasonableness of the Christian faith and to present it as the proposal offering the best answers from an intellectual and existential point of view."

The commission is made up of Vatican and Chinese church officials.

Coadjutor Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong, one of the commission's members, told Catholic News Service April 2 that the pope spent about 30 minutes listening to commission's last day of deliberations.

The pope then made brief comments telling the commission he knew that "we're all trying our best" to address the problems Catholics in China are facing and that they were "working for the good of the church in China," said Bishop Tong.

He said that in light of the church's designated year of the priest, which will run from June 19 to June 19, 2010, the Vatican might issue a special letter addressed to priests in mainland China.

The bishop said commission members also discussed worries that Chinese bishops approved by the Vatican may be forced to attend the government's upcoming National Congress of Catholic Representatives.

According to UCA News, Vatican-approved bishops might be forced to take part in the elections for chairpersons of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the government-sanctioned Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China, which are expected to take place during the national assembly. The patriotic association was set up to uphold the principle of an "independent, autonomous and self-managed" church in China.

The Rome-based agency AsiaNews said March 30 that Chinese government authorities are reportedly not pleased with the prospect of the two church communities working together as they see the unregistered church being run by a "foreign power," the pope.

The Vatican has said the church is not involved with meddling in the country's internal affairs and it has expressed a willingness to move its nunciature from Taiwan to Beijing, as soon as diplomatic relations are established with China.


Underground bishop Jia arrested yesterday

China, April 01, 2009 - Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, the underground bishop of Zhengding (Hebei), was arrested yesterday by police and taken away to an undisclosed location. The arrest took place in conjunction with the meeting at the Vatican of the Plenary Commission on the Church in China.

Yesterday afternoon at four o'clock (local time), 5 police officers and two vehicles appeared outside the bishop's home and took him to an undisclosed location. Bishop Jia, 74, suffers from various disturbances because of past imprisonments and his age, and the faithful of the diocese are concerned that this new arrest could endanger his life.

For years, Jia has endured arrest and isolation by the police, who have kept him away from his community for months. During these periods, the police have tried to indoctrinate him on the religious policies of the Party, and to force him to join the Patriotic Association (PA).

This time, the motives are even more serious, and strike at the heart of the Vatican's attempts to reconcile the official and underground Church in Hebei, the region with the highest concentration of Catholics.

Months ago, Jang Taoran, the bishop of Shijiazhuang (Hebei), the diocese of the official Church in the area, reconciled with the Holy See, and agreed - at instructions from the Vatican - to work with Bishop Jia Zhiguo, becoming his auxiliary bishop. Bishop Jia would become, instead, the ordinary bishop of the diocese, while remaining in the underground Church and without the recognition of the government.

The two bishops have met frequently, and have begun to construct a common pastoral plan. But as soon as the Patriotic Association became aware of these signs of reconciliation, it required the bishops to stop meeting together, and put them under police surveillance 24 hours a day. According to some local sources, the police told Bishop Jia Zhiguo that "this unity [editor's note: between the two bishops] is bad because it is desired by a foreign power like the Vatican. If there must be unity, it must come through the government and the PA." When Bishop Jia resisted joining the PA, the police began to laugh at the bishop, saying that the government will put another bishop in his place, and that for him "it is time to retire, since he is sick."

The meeting of the Vatican Commission on the Church in China, which will continue until tomorrow, was intended to address the issues involved in the implementation of the pope's letter to Chinese Catholics, which was published in June of 2007. In it, Benedict XVI had urged the official Church and the underground Church to foster reconciliation, and had called the ideals and the structure of the Patriotic Association "incompatible" with the Catholic faith, because it intends to create a national Church independent from the Holy See.


Pope Benedict urged Bishops of Angola to fight relativism

Luanda, Angola, Mar 21, 2009 - Pope Benedict gathered the bishops of Angola and Sao Tome at the apostolic nunciature on Friday night to speak about the state of the Church in their country, warning them to fight the spread of relativism by promoting an "adult and mature faith."

"God will reward you," he told the prelates, "for all the apostolic work which you have accomplished in difficult conditions, both during the war and at the present time, in spite of so many limitations, thus helping to give the Church in Angola and in Sao Tome and Principe that dynamism which everyone acknowledges."

However, the Church still faces other challenges such as "widespread relativism which acknowledges nothing as definitive and, even more, tends to make its ultimate measure the individual and his personal caprice," the Pope cautioned.

In the face of relativism, he said, "we hold out another measure: the Son of God, Who is also true man. Christ is the measure of true humanism. The Christian marked by an adult and mature faith is not one who is borne along by the waves of fashion and the latest novelties, but one who lives deeply rooted in the friendship of Christ. This friendship opens us up to all that is good, and it provides us with the criterion for discerning between error and truth."

The Holy Father also praised the efforts of the bishops to develop a communications strategy since "culture and models of behavior are nowadays more and more conditioned and shaped by the images set forth by the communications media." This strategy, the Pope observed, "will enable you to provide everyone with a Christian interpretation of human events, problems and realities."

As he did in Cameroon, Pope Benedict also focused the bishops’ attention on the "difficulties and threats" facing families, which he said "are particularly in need of evangelization and practical support." This is all the more necessary because many marriages are proving to be fragile and there is a "widespread tendency in society and culture to call into question the unique nature and specific mission of the family based on marriage."

"In your pastoral concern which extends to every human being," he added, "continue to raise your voice in defense of the sacredness of human life and the value of the institution of marriage, as well as in promotion of the family's proper role in the Church and in society, at the same time demanding economic and legislative measures to support the family in bearing and raising children."

Pope Benedict also shared his joy at the vibrancy of the faith community in Angola and Sao Tome, citing the increasing number of native priests and of the faithful.


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