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Today's news dispatch: Dec. 29, 2015

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Pope Erects New Diocese of Barisal, Bangladesh

Also Appoints Its 1st Bishop

Pope Francis has erected the new Diocese of Barisal, Bangladesh, and has appointed Monsignor Subroto Lawrence Howlader, who, until now, has served as Auxiliary Bishop of Chittagong, its first bishop.

According to a statement from the Holy See Press Office, the new diocese was erected with territory taken from the Diocese of Chittagong, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan see of Dhaka. The new diocese will border, to the east, with its mother diocese of Chittagong and, to the west, the Diocese of Khulna. The new diocese's cathedral will be the church of San Pietro in Barisal and its patron will be St. Peter the Apostle. 

Born on Sept. 11, 1965 in Noborgram, a district of Barisal in the diocese of Chittagong, Subroto Lawrence Howlader, the newly elected bishop, would go on to study at the Minor Seminary of Goumadi in Barisal. He entered the novitiate of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1987 and studied at Notre Dame College and at the Major Seminary in Dhaka. On Aug. 6, 1993, he professed his final vows, and on Dec. 31, 1994, was ordained a priest.

Since his ordination, he has served various pastoral and academic roles, including: 1994-1995: Assistant priest in Mariamnagar, in the diocese of Mymensingh; 1996-1998: Rector of the Minor Seminary in Jalchatra, in the diocese of Mymensingh; 1998-1999: Assistant priest in Pirgacha, in the diocese of Mymensingh; 2000: Assistant priest in Mariamnagar in the diocese of Mymensingh; 2000-2004: Studies for a Licentiate in Psychology in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University; 2005-2009: Master at the Novitiate of the Holy Cross in Barisal; 2008-2009: Regional Chaplain of Caritas in Barisal. In 2006 he was also elected member of the Provincial Council of his Institute.

In May of 2009, he was elected titular Bishop of Afufenia and appointed Auxiliary in Chittagong. On July 3 of the same year, he received his episcopal ordination. In the Bishops' Conference of Bangladesh, he is President of the Commission for the Clergy and Religious.


Bishop Appointed for Diocese of Argyll and the Isles, Scotland

Diocese Has Been Vacant Since April 2014

Pope Francis has appointed Monsignor Brian McGee as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles, Scotland. The diocese has been vacant since April 2014, when Bishop Joseph Toal became the Bishop of Motherwell. Monsignor McGee has been serving as Vicar General of the Diocese of Paisley and Parish Priest of Holy Family Parish, Port Glasgow.
Born in Greenock, in the Diocese of Paisley, in 1965, McGee would be ordained a priest of the clergy of Paisely in 1989. He has served as a pastor as well as the Scots College’s spiritual director. He was diocesan director of the RCIA program as well as Episcopal Vicar for marriage and the family.
According to the diocesan website, reacting to his appointment, Bishop-Elect McGee said: “It was very humbling, and indeed frightening, to be informed by the papal nuncio that Pope Francis had nominated me to be the new bishop of the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles. However, after reflection and prayer I now face this mission with quiet but definite confidence.» While noting he is aware of his limitations, he stressed his even greater awareness that God's grace, with our cooperation, overcomes our shortcomings. 
«Experience,» he said, «has taught me that positively answering God’s invitations is always to our own advantage.”

The Diocese of Argyll and the Isles comprises 31,080 square miles in Scotland. It has a total population of 77,400, of which 10,179, are Catholic. They are served by about 25 priests, 1 permanent deacon, and 32 religious.

Pope Names Auxiliary Bishop of Diocese of Lowicz, Poland

Bishop-elect Osial Possesses Doctorate From Rome's Pontifical Salesian University

ope Francis has appointed Monsignor Wojciech Tomasz Osial, 45, as Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Lowicz, Poland. The bishop elect has been serving as Lowicz’s diocesan director for catechism and curial notary. 
Born in Lowicz in 1970, Wojciech Osial would later be ordained a priest in 1995 and would earn a doctorate in catechetics from Rome’s Pontifical Salesian University.
Moreover, Bishop-elect Osial has been a professor in the seminaries of Lowicz and Oltarzew, as well as the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw. Since 2014, he has been a canon of the cathedral chapter.

The Diocese of Lowicz comprises an area of some 5,806 square miles. Of its population of some 609,479, about 607,825 are Catholic. The diocese is served by some 166 priests and 390 religious.


Pope to Receive Thousands of Young Singers on New Year's Eve

International Federation of Pueri Cantores' Young Choirs to Also Participate in New Year's Day Mass at St. Peter's Basilica

On New Year's Eve, Pope Francis will receive thousands of young singers from across the globe.

According to Vatican Radio, this Thursday, the Pontiff will meet with the International Federation of Pueri Cantores, whose members are gathered in Rome for its six-day 40th International Congress, which brings together youth choirs from various nations. 

The choirs participating in the festival will sing in some of Rome’s most beautiful churches and basilicas during liturgical celebrations and the congress will culminate on New Year's Day when some of the its choirs will participate in the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Founded in the twentieth century, the international federation is founded on the ancient Christian conviction that singing is an instrument that can be used to worship God, to preach the Gospel and encourage spiritual and moral development.

The Congress' motto this year is “Cantate spem vestram! Sing out your hope!” and its logo is a stylized design of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican colors of yellow and white.


On the NET:

Official Website of International Federation of Pueri Cantores: http://www.puericantores.org/

Specific Information about this year's Rome Congress (Dec. 28-Jan.1): http://www.puericantores.org/roma-2015-16


Bishop Doeme Condemns Terrorist Attacks in Maiduguri, Madagali

Boko Haram's Post Christmas Violence Kills Some 80 People

Moments after Christmas, terrorist group Boko Haram has perpetrated a series of terrorist attacks in Maiduguri, the capital of the Borno State in northern Nigeria, and the town of Madagali in the African nation's Adamawa State.

According to Bishop of Maiduguri, Oliver Dashe Doeme, said, «A substantial number of people were killed, but we do not yet know the exact number,» reported Fides.
Bishop Doeme was referring to the Dec. 27 attacks in which terrorists of Boko Haram arrived in different areas of Maiduguri, introducing themselves in some homes and killing the inhabitants, while in other areas they sent women and girls to blow themselves up among the people. They also attacked a mosque.
sources report that the dead, in the course of several simultaneous attacks which took place between both towns was at least 80. 
«Even a member of the local Islamic community was killed in his home,» reflected Bishop Doeme, who underscored, «Boko Haram is a sect that do not make a big distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims.» 
While majority of the population wants to live in peace, the bishop pointed out,  «Boko Haram,» he stressed, «kills whoever does not adhere to its ideology that in particular prohibits 'Western' education.» 
«Muslims who do not support their ideology become enemies of Boko Haram,» he said.
Bishop Doeme concluded, noting that, «Boko Haram now is part of the worldwide phenomenon of international terrorism, as evidenced by the simultaneous attacks perpetrated here in Maiduguri that seem to trace some modes of terrorist attacks in Paris or elsewhere in the world.»

FORUM: 'Remembering Middle-Eastern Christians'

British Ambassador to Holy See Reflects on Recalling Christian Families in War-torn Areas During Christmas Season

Below is a reflection of British Ambassador to the Holy See Nigel Baker, entitled 'Remembering Middle-Eastern Christians.' Published on December 21st, it is from Ambassador Baker's blog available on the British Embassy to the Holy See Website:


As we celebrate Christmas, it is right to think of those Christian families who will find it difficult to enjoy the good cheer that we take for granted at this time. They are those who are being persecuted or discriminated against for their faith, who are refugees because they were forced to flee for their lives from those like Daesh that would kill them, who no longer have a place that they can call “home”. Their plight, especially of the many Christian communities under threat in the Middle East, was highlighted by a recent conference at the Vatican called “Under Caesar’s Sword”.

Several of the participants, most notably those from the region, led by the Eastern Church Patriarchs Louis Raphael I Sako and Mor Ignatius Youssef III Younan, said that one of the toughest aspects of life for persecuted Christians in countries like Iraq and Syria was the sense that they were forgotten, abandoned. They asked not only that fellow Christians elsewhere in the world should pray for them, but that all people of goodwill would continue to speak out about them and their difficulties.

They are right. Without memory we are lost. So I was pleased to see recent high profile events in London that did just that – remembered the plight of persecuted Middle Eastern Christians, and called for action to protect them and help them.

The first was at the last Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons before Christmas, when the Prime Minister was asked about persecuted Christians. In his answer, he said that “we should do everything we can to defend and protect the right of Christians to practise their faith the world over. That is an important part of our foreign policy.” The plight of persecuted Christians is raised regularly in Parliament by members of all political parties. This was a clear statement from the Prime Minister that they are not forgotten.

The second event was an Advent reception hosted by Cardinal Nichols at Archbishop’s House in London. HRH The Prince of Wales was the guest of honour. Representatives from the Chaldean Catholic, Syriac Catholic, Maronite Catholic, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic and Greek Catholic Melkite Churches were present. The Prince also met guests and representatives from charities including Iraqi Christians in Need, Friends of the Holy Land, Aid to the Church in Need and Jesuit Refugee Service. The gathering heard choral pieces by the Chaldean Church’s adult and children’s choirs. The event concluded with intercessory prayers for Christians and other minorities suffering persecution in the Middle-East.

Both His Royal Highness and Cardinal Nichols spoke. The Prince of Wales said that the suffering of Christians in the Middle East, alongside that of people of all faiths caught up in the region’s conflicts, “is symptomatic of a very real crisis which threatens the very existence of Christianity in the land of its birth… Consequently, the greatest challenge we face is how to ensure that the spiritual and cultural heritage of Christianity in the Middle East is preserved for future generations – quite apart from doing all we can to provide practical support to those who are persecuted.” Cardinal Nichols reminded the gathering that: “many who are not Christians are being slaughtered: indeed the majority are Muslims and Yazidis. But at this time of Christmas and in this country there should be a particular concern for those who suffer for the name of Jesus Christ.”

May all of us at the British Embassy to the Holy See take this opportunity to thank everyone who has read this blog over the last year on Twitter, LinkedIn, Vatican Insideror the other platforms where it can be found, and especially those who have responded and commented. We wish you all a merry and tranquil Christmas and happy New Year.


On the NET:

To the original post on Ambassador Baker's blog: http://blogs.fco.gov.uk/nigelbaker/2015/12/21/remembering-middle-eastern-christians/


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