Nearly a year after their eviction, 21 Christian villagers in Laos continue to remain homeless and destitute. The villagers from five families were expelled from the villages of Pasing-Kang and Pateum in the southern province of Salavan.
Some Christian villagers have sought shelter in a forest for a while after authorities didn’t build new homes as promised. Laos is a Buddhist-majority, communist-ruled nation of about 7.4 million where Christians are a small minority numbering between 150,000 and 200,000.
The Christian villagers were expelled by authorities from the villages for refusing to renounce their faith, according to local sources.
Christians face routine discrimination and harassment in Laos, where many Buddhists view their faith as a foreign creed of Western colonizers. In recent years, numerous Christians have been expelled from their homes after they refused to renounce their faith.
Other Christians, including pastors, were arrested and jailed for holding religious services such as burials.
At least nine Catholic nuns have died from Covid-19 in one convent and several others remain in critical condition in the Philippines. The nuns, aged 80 to 90, died due to a lack of vaccines, according to Sisters of the Religious of the Virgin Mary, the largest female religious congregation in the country.
The congregation’s convent in capital Manila has been under lockdown since Sept. 14 after 114 people including 62 nuns and staff were infected. At least four religious houses in Manila have also been put under lockdown. The elderly nuns who died didn’t get vaccines as they were bedridden and could not go a vaccine center to get jabs.
The gates to the convent belonging to the Religious of the Virgin Mary sisters in Manila remain shut following a coronavirus outbreak which has killed nine nuns. (Photo: YouTube)
The Philippines continues to reel from the coronavirus outbreak with over 2.42 million cases and 37,000 deaths registered so far.
About 18.2 million or 17 percent of the population have been vaccinated, while the government’s health department faces massive criticism over the embezzlement of billions of dollars in funds during the pandemic.
Catholics and people of other faiths in Vietnam have paid glowing tributes to French missionary Father Jean-Baptiste Etcharren. The priest was the last member of the MEP or Paris Foreign Missions Society in Vietnam, where he spent most of his life.
Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Chi Linh of Hue Archdiocese presided over the funeral of at Hue Major Seminary’s chapel on Wednesday. The livestreamed Mass was concelebrated by four bishops and joined by 70 priests.
Emeritus Archbishop Francis Xavier Le Van Hong of Hue delivers his homily at Father Jean-Baptiste Etcharren’s funeral at Hue Major Seminary on Sept. 22. (Photo: UCA News)
Father Etcharren, former superior general of MEP, died of old age at the seminary on Tuesday at the age of 89. Born on April 15, 1932, he was ordained a priest in 1958. He moved to Hue in central Vietnam in the same year. He served at parishes, schools and seminaries in Hue and rendered support to refugees during the Vietnam War.
Following the communist takeover, he was forced to leave Vietnam in 1975. Father Etcharren led MEP as superior general from 1998 to 2010 and then returned to Vietnam to spend his retired life.
Christians in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh have appealed to President of the republic to provide protection after a radical Hindu group issued threats to demolish their churches.
Auxiliary Bishop Paul Muniya of the Protestant Shalom Church said Hindu activists, mostly from Viswa Hindu Parishad, have set September 26 as a deadline to demolish their churches, alleging they are illegal structures. The group has also issued threats to indigenous Christians in tribal-dominated Jhabua district against practicing their religion and ordered them to return to Hinduism.
Christians during a nationwide protest against the violation of their religious and social rights by governments and groups who have been openly threatening minorities in Kolkata, India, on Jan. 20, 2020. (Photo: AFP)
Bishop Muniya has handed a memorandum to the President seeking his urgent intervention. Church officials said Christians constantly face abuses from Hindu radicals who get backing from the local administration.
Madhya Pradesh is one of dozens of states ruled by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party where minority Christians face routine threats, abuses and attacks from religious extremists.
In Pakistan, the sharing of scarce water can become a cause of dispute and violence for minorities. In the latest case, Hindus in a village in Punjab province came under attack after a poor Hindu family drank water from a tap outside a mosque.
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