Authorities in China demolished a large church in the city of Linfen, Shanxi province on Jan. 9, despite efforts by worshippers to halt the demolition and who were then pressured to remain silent, according to witnesses. It was the third Christian church demolition or closure in China in just over two weeks and comes amid a broader crackdown on "Western" religions by the government of authoritarian leader Xi Jinping. Muslims groups, especially in the far flung province of Xinjiang have also been targeted.
Jesus’ invitation to the kingdom—to a personal relationship with God here and now—was in no way restricted to the special few. In the parable, when the original guests declined, the host ordered: “Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in” (Luke 14:23). The invitation was not restricted to the already righteous: “It is not the healthy who need a physician but those who are sick” (Matthew 9:12).
Just-completed surveys of young Africans and young Americans have highlighted the challenges facing the Church’s Youth Synod taking place in October this year, and the contrasting views and experiences that young people will bring to the synod, entitled “Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment”.
Speaking to members of the Diplomatic Corps on Monday, Pope Francis devoted this New Year's address to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted 70 years ago. The Pope told the dignitaries gathered that from a Christian perspective, there was a significant relationship between the Gospel message and the recognition of human rights in the spirit of those who drafted the document.