Bombers target churches
EXPLOSIONS have hit four Indonesian churches in the central Sulawesi province, while a separate blast rocked Jakarta killing one person and shattering the previous relative
calm. According to senior policeman, Edward Aritonang, a grenade was thrown either at or exploded in the hands of a man standing outside a restaurant in Jakarta before dawn.
Police in the central Sulawesi capital of Palu in eastern Indonesia said there were four blasts outside churches in the city; three were hit simultaneously as the New Year began wounding at least one policeman.
Catholic protest at wage freeze
CATHOLIC and tribal leaders in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand have accused the government of stopping salaries to teachers in minority-run schools in order to harass Christians and force them out of service.
Some 8,000 teachers from schools run by religious minorities held a rally and sitin demonstration last December in the state capital of Ranchi to demand their salary which had been unpaid for 40 months.
Jesuit Fr James Toppo, who led the demonstration said more than 80 per cent of the minority schools in the state belong to Christians, mostly Catholics, but since the teachers are not paid they find the situation unmanageable.
Soldiers attack peace marchers
PAKISTANI soldiers have batoncharged some 1,500 Christian and Muslim peace marchers at the Indian border.
The peace marchers were assaulted at the end of last month in Wahga, a town that borders India, as border guards were preparing for the flag lowering ceremony.
The marchers, who carried white flags and a peace candle they intended to light at the border outpost, were stopped by Pakistani Rangers at a barricade around 50 metres from the main gate, but most were able to cross the barricade.
Loyal Chinese bishop dies
THE Rome-appointed bishop of Beijing, Matthias Pei Shangde, died on Christmas Eve after being hospitalised for months with kidney trouble. He was 83.
He died in Shengxing hospital in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, having been under house arrest since April.
A funeral will be held in the bishop's home parish of Zhangjiapu. Police have ordered the Mass closed to those from outside the village.
Pope pleads for kidnap priest
PARISHIONERS in a remote Philippine town have been encouraged by a papal appeal for the release of their kidnapped assistant pastor. writes Aid to the Church in Need Sacred Heart Fr Janusz Burzawa told Our Lady of Fatima parishioners after the Christmas Eve Mass that Pope John Paul II prayed for kidnaped Sacred Heart priest Fr Giuseppe Pierantonio on December 23 at the Vatican.
"The people are happy that so many faithful are praying for Fr Pierantonio," Fr Burzawa said The Dimataling priest, who is a Polish missionary, said he had just received the complete papal message from a newspaper in nearby Cagayan de Oro City. Dimataling, he noted, has no newspaper delivery, television reception or telephone service.
"Everything comes late in Dimataling," the priest said, adding that he first learned of the Pope's message from his mother in Poland when he called her at Christmas.
Muslim separatist guerrillas who signed a truce with the Manila government are working independently to help free the Italian priest captured by a notorious kidnap gang in the southern Philippines.
Fr Pierantonio "is still very much alive" and held by a small group of Muslim gunmen called "the Pentagon" somewhere in the main southern island of Mindanao.
A spokesman said: "We are trying to help, but we are at the forefront. We are making our own initiatives to make sure that nothing untoward happens to this priest."