Pakistani Christian sentenced to death on blasphemy charges

Sawan Masih, a Pakistani Christian, has been sentenced to death by hanging on charges of insulting Muhammad, the founder of Islam.

Following Masih’s arrest last year, a mob of 3,000 destroyed 150 homes and two churches in an anti-Christian rampage in Lahore. AsiaNews reported that the judge who sentenced Masih to death also released on bail 83 persons accused of taking part in the rampage.

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Newly Established Syro-Malabar Diocese a "Great Blessing" for Australia

On 25 March 2014, the Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle in Melbourne was formally established as an Australian diocese, and the first Eparch of the diocese, Bishop Bosco Puthur, was installed at a ceremony in St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne. 

Priests and bishops from the Latin and Syro-Malabar rites participated in the Mass and installation, including Major Archbishop Cardinal George Alencherry, Archbishop Paul Gallagher (Apostolic Nuncio to Australia), Archdeacon Fr Francis Kolencherry (Vicar General, St Thomas the Apostle Eparchy), Archbishop Denis Hart (Archbishop of Melbourne and Australian Catholic Bishops Conference) and Mgr Greg Bennet (Vicar General, Archdiocese of Melbourne).

The homily was given by Cardinal Alencherry, the current Major Archbishop of Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, who flew straight from Rome where he was attending meetings with Pope Francis in order to celebrate the Mass. The Cardinal stated that the installation of Bishop Puthur was a "great blessing" for the Church in Australia.

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Tributes for Bishop Michael Putney, an "Ecumenical Giant"

With great sadness the diocese of Townsville announced Bishop Michael Putney AM DD died peacefully in the early hours of Friday 28 March, aged 67 years old.

Hailed as "an ecumenical giant" Bishop Putney's work in Christian dialogue and ecumenical relations will be felt in Australia and internationally for many years to come. As tributes started pouring in on social media via the Diocese of Townsville's Facebook page, the National Council of Churches in Australia, for which Bishop Putney served as chairman posted:

"Bishop Michael was an ecumenical giant who contributed so much to his own church, the Australian churches and the wider ecumenical family. He inspired us to imagine what a healthy reconciled Church could be. May he rest in God's peace."

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Lebanese Christians, Muslims join in Marian devotion

On March 25—the feast of the Annunciation, which has been a national holiday in Lebanon since 2010—Catholics and Muslims joined in the 8th Islamic-Christian Prayer Meeting, which was dedicated to the theme: “Together around Mary, Our Lady.”

In an address to the meeting, Father Miguel Angel Ayuso, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, observed that Muslims share the Christian reverence for the Virgin Mary. “Devotion creates sentiments of friendship,” he said. Moreover, he said, “Mary, a model for Muslims and Christians, is also a model of dialogue, teaching us to believe, not to close ourselves up in certainties, but rather to remain open and available to others.”

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Pope Francis's message to Islamic-Christian Prayer Meeting in Lebanon

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message of encouragement to participants at an Islamic-Christian Prayer Meeting taking place in Lebanon this week. Signed by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the message urged both Christians and Muslims to work together for peace and the common good and encourage dialogue and mutual respect between different groups. The 4-day meeting is being attended by Father Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.