Tension has escalated in Ambon, the provincial capital of the war-torn Moluccas Islands following the terrorist attacks in the United States. "People are assuming there will be another big riot because of the attacks; prime suspect, Osama bin Laden, is believed to be a significant donor of the movement of Laskar Jihad fighters in the Moluccas," said Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Asia Pacific.
JRS workers in Ambon reported bomb explosions and gun shooting around the town between September 28 and October 1. The blasts followed the withdrawal of the Indonesian territorial forces from the Ahuru area, the JRS team said. A new Special Task Force will be deployed in major checkpoints around Ambon to specifically protect foreigners and "secure peace and order."
Thousands of people have died in the Moluccas since sectarian violence was ignited between Christians and Muslims in early 1999. [Source: JRS Dispatches]
In a renewed plea for an official dialogue with the government of mainland China, Pope John Paul II apologized for any actions taken by Catholics that offended China or gave an impression of disrespect for its culture.
The pope's message was addressed October 24 to an international conference in Rome marking the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci in Beijing.
"I feel deep sadness for these errors and limits of the past, and I regret that in many people these failings may have given the impression of a lack of respect and esteem for the Chinese people on the part of the Catholic Church," he said.
The pope said the values of mutual respect and sharing that existed between the Chinese imperial court and Fr Ricci, an Italian scientist and missionary, could be recovered and applied to a new Vatican-Chinese relationship.
He said Fr Ricci's work was built on two pillars: first, the Chinese who embraced Christianity did not have to renounce loyalty to their country; and second, Christianity did not attempt to replace Chinese culture, but "complemented everything beautiful and good, just and holy, in what had been produced and handed down by the ancient Chinese tradition."
Just as at the time of Fr Ricci, the pope said, "so too today, the Catholic Church seeks no privilege from China and its leaders, but solely the resumption of dialogue in order to build a relationship based on mutual respect and deeper understanding." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
The military strikes against Afghanistan by the US and UK are fueling the displacement of millions of people who are unable to seek refuge in neighboring countries says the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).
JRS is calling on states to open their borders to the refugees from Afghanistan. "These people have already faced 22 years of civil war, oppression, and poverty. They are now facing closed borders as they seek refuge from bombardment," said JRS International director, Lluis Magrina SJ. "Pakistan and Iran host among the largest refugee populations in the world and so their apprehension is understandable. But despite this and security concerns, those fleeing war in Afghanistan must be protected."
JRS is also concerned that refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants are being used as a scapegoat for the terrorist attacks.
In the US, new measures give officials the power to detain immigrants. By early October, over 700 people had been detained, most on immigration law violations. Proposed anti-terrorism legislation allows for prolonged detention with limited judicial review of 'non-citizens,' including asylum seekers, legal permanent residents, or refugees.
"The US and other States have, of course, a duty to protect their citizens," said Fr Magrina. "However this should not lead to measures which infringe the rights of immigrants, including asylum seekers. Citing an emergency situation to limit the fundamental rights of a vulnerable group will severely undermine civil rights. It will erode the democratic foundation of our own societies." [Source: Jesuit Refugee Service]
Fordham University will provide full-tuition scholarships to any of its undergraduate colleges to the children of Fordham alumni who were lost in the World Trade Center attack or who lost a spouse in the attack said President Joseph A O'Hare SJ.
"Of the 32 Fordham alumni who were lost in the September 11 attack or who lost a spouse, 22 had graduated in the last 20 years. Many left behind young families. When the time comes for these children to go to college, if they want to come to Fordham they will receive full tuition scholarships," Fr O'Hare announced during the Homecoming Memorial Mass.
Fordham will also establish the Fordham Family Memorial Scholarship Fund as an endowed scholarship. These funds will be directed to the children of New York City police officers, firefighters, and public servants lost in the rescue operations and will supplement the funding made available to independent colleges and universities in New York State through legislation to be introduced by Gov George Pataki for the support of these children. [Source: Fordham University]
Fr Adam Szulc SJ, spokesman for the Polish bishops' conference, criticized President Aleksander Kwasniewski for vetoing legislation that would have prohibited shopping on Sundays. "This veto contradicts the Ten Commandments and our nation's centuries-old tradition," he said.
"It will not help Catholics, especially those employed in supermarkets, to observe Sunday's sacred character. Instead, it will force them to work."
The Jesuit reacted to the president's October 11 veto of a Labor Code amendment, which would have restricted Sunday shopping to small essential-service outlets only.
Fr Szulc said the veto violated norms in the European Union, and he dismissed claims that the ban would have worsened Poland's state budget deficit and driven up unemployment.
However, Kwasniewski's office said that the president had exercised his veto after being advised the measure could cause 16,000 job losses.
The veto is the latest of several by the president to have angered church leaders; in March 2000, Kwasniewski vetoed a ban on hard-core pornography, while this summer he rejected legislation extending tax concessions to families. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
Gonzaga University law professor Fr Robert J Araujo SJ recently received the Silver Medal of the Pontificate and a letter of commendation from Vatican Secretary of State H EM Cardinal Angelo Sodano, at the behest of Pope John Paul II. Since 1996, Araujo has served as Vatican legal adviser at the United Nations and elsewhere.
In particular, Araujo has been involved with the establishment of the International Criminal Court. The court would be a permanent tribunal to try individuals for violations of international law such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
Approximately 42 countries have ratified the measure to establish the court; a total of 60 are needed to establish it.
"I am humbled by this recognition," Araujo said. "It is a powerful reminder of what we in the Society of Jesus have pledged ourselves to do at the request of the Holy Father and for the greater glory of God." [Source: Gonzaga University]
An America magazine editorial on the war in Afhganistan can be found at www.americapress.org/editorials/ed011029.htm [Source: America]
The Ignatian Apostolic Partnerships Office of the Maryland Province is happy to announce that a launch of the newly redesigned Maryland Province website is accessible at www.ignatianpartners.org and www.marprovjesuits.org. [Source: AEJP News Release]
Congratulations to the Ateneo de Zamboanga. They have been granted university status by the Ministry of Education in the Philippines. This is a result of many years of hard work on the part of Fr Bill Kreutz and his staff building on the foundation of others gone before them. [Source: EAO Electronic News]
From September 1 through October 7 the Museum Amstelkring in Amsterdam organized an exhibition under the title "Athanasius Kircher in Amsterdam. A seventeenth-century scholar looking for lost knowledge." To honor his 400th birthday, all books of German Jesuit Athanasius Kircher (1601-1680), published by Amsterdam printers, were brought together for the first time and displayed. On August 26 a television documentary on Kircher, made by Anton Haakman, was broadcasted by VPRO on Dutch television. [Source: Paul Begheyn <[email protected]> Jesuits in Europe]
Most of the 127,000 inhabitants of Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood are recent immigrants, and 40 percent are under the age of 18. With rural Mexican backgrounds and poor education, most young people were facing unemployment or minimum wage jobs that lock them in the cycle of poverty. "The most compelling need was for education," says Jim Gartland SJ. "Existing high schools were overcrowded and located in areas with heavy gang activity, with high drop-out rates."
So in 1996, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School was born to make private education available to poor people. The inevitable funding problem was solved in a novel way: businesses were asked to provide a work position to be filled by five students, each one working a day per week. The salary helps to pay for the tuition while the student gains work experience and learns about life outside the neighborhood. The participation of the corporate sector has outstripped all expectations, allowing enrollment to grow from 85 to 500 in five years. The Corporate Internship Program and a bilingual curriculum in English and Spanish prepare graduates of Cristo Rey for full integration in the civic, productive and cultural life of the United States. See <www.jesuits-chi.org/educational/cristo.htm> [Source: SJS Headlines]
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