Globe Trot A summary of international news compiled by senior editor Mindy Belz

The ‘killing’ of the Catholic Church in China

International | Conditions continue to worsen after the government’s agreement with the Vatican
by Mindy Belz
Posted 1/09/20, 03:56 pm

CHINA: Government authorities have closed more than 100 Catholic places of worship in Fuzhou, where clergy have resisted joining the government-controlled church. The Vatican in 2018 signed an agreement with the Chinese government pledging to cooperate in the selection of bishops, but the agreement also stipulated authorities would “respect” conscientious objectors.

  • A congressional report released Wednesday underscores how conditions have worsened for Catholics in China (estimated at more than 10 million people) and calls for sanctions over continued human rights abuses.
  • Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former bishop of Hong Kong, has made public a letter he sent to the College of Cardinals last year, protesting the Vatican-China agreement, which has remained secret. Zen, indicating he’s received no response from Pope Francis on his petition, wrote, “Can we passively witness this killing of the Church in China on the part of those who should be protecting and defending it from its enemies?”

IRAN: Iran’s head of civil aviation has dismissed as “impossible” the idea that a Ukrainian flight that crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran Tuesday, killing all 176 people on board, was hit by a missile. But reports from multiple unnamed U.S. intelligence sources suggest the plane was hit by a missile, likely as a result of Iran aiming a barrage of missiles at bases hosting U.S. military personnel in Iraq Tuesday night.

IRAQ: Syriac Catholic priest Behnam Benoka uses the anxious late-night hours to visit his parishioners rather than wait for rockets. He has been at the center of threats from the Hashed al-Shabi militias formed by Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, killed in last week’s U.S. airstrike. As Soleimani’s influence in Iraq grew, Benoka told me, the militias “put our existence in peril.”

  • Following Tuesday night’s missile attacks, President Donald Trump addressed the nation flanked by his national security team and Vice President Mike Pence. Trump said the United States “will impose additional punishing sanctions” but also opened the door to “make a deal with Iran,” asking NATO to become more involved in addressing the conflict.
  • At 7:13 p.m. Thursday evening in Baghdad, Tahrir Square already was filling with protesters in anticipation of revived protests on Friday. The theme: rejecting foreign interference. Protests mostly organized by students and young people against Iranian interference, unemployment, and other woes (and different from those at the U.S. Embassy on Dec. 31) passed their 100th day this week—including in the mostly Shiite south, and despite threats of U.S. and Iranian airstrikes. Sounds and sirens from the Green Zone Wednesday night again warned residents of incoming missiles.

MYANMAR: An analysis of satellite photos shows how the regime in the country also known as Burma is erasing Rohingya villages from Rakhine State. Nearly 1 million Rohingya Muslims remain in Bangladesh refugee camps.

MEXICO may bypass a new U.S. rule requiring Mexican asylum-seekers at its border with the United States to be sent to Guatemala, saying it will help Mexicans return home.

AUSTRALIA: Yes, there’s a GoFundMe for helping the koalas. Probably half of Kangaroo Island’s estimated 50,000 koalas—the only-disease free koala population—have perished in bushfires.

BRITAIN: The duke and duchess of Sussex have created an explainer site for their transition to “financial independence” as they step back as senior members of the royal family.

A home once belonging to G.K. Chesterton, now a popular destination for fans of the philosopher and author, may be bulldozed to make way for nine apartments.

I’M REWATCHING Band of Brothers, as commemorations continue on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.

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Mindy Belz

Mindy is senior editor of WORLD Magazine and the author of They Say We Are Infidels. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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