The first of these was the response from the Chinese foreign ministry to the telegram sent by Pope Francis to China’s President Xi Jinping during the papal flight from the Philippines to Rome, which crossed through Chinese airspace.
And a few days later, on January 21, Hua Chunying, a spokesman of the foreign ministry, said the Chinese government is “willing to have constructive dialogue with the Vatican based on relevant principles”.
Hua has also added that “China is always sincere in improving ties with the Vatican, and has been making efforts to this end”.
Hua’s words proved once more the new religious policy put into action by Xi, who has been China’s president since March 2013.
A Vatican official involved in talks with China said Wednesday that “when the Chinese want to change a policy, they usually start issuing declarations from the mid-ranks, in order to see what is the people’s reaction”.
This is why the official reads Hua’s words “as a sort of poll, in order to make the Chinese people confident in a new Chinese position on relations with the Holy See”.
Despite these openings, the moment when China and the Holy See will hold diplomatic ties remains distant.
The first concrete step toward these improved relations could be a sort of agreement between the Holy See and China on matters such as religious freedom and freedom of worship.
One of the guidelines of the Vatican diplomats is that to seek a “reasonable freedom”.
The Church in China is often described as divided, between an ‘official’ Church, the Patriotic Association, linked to the government; and an ‘underground’ Church, persecuted and whose episcopal appointments are frequently not acknowledged by Chinese authorities.
The Patriotic Association has for years appointed illicit bishops who were not approved by Rome.
On the other hand, there are bishops appointed by the Vatican who are not acknowledged by the Chinese government.
The Chinese government has also arbitrarily cancelled some of the Chinese dioceses, and designed its own geography of dioceses of bishops which is not aligned with that in the Annuario Pontificio.
All of these issues must be raised in an eventual “Vatican-Chinese agreement”.
Another issue at stake is the treatment of the priests and bishops faithful to Rome.
The news broke January 31 that Bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiang of Yixian had died after 14 years of imprisonment, without charge, in a secret location. His family had been informed of his death the previous day, though no more information was given them. Bishop Shi was 94, and had first been arrested in 1954.
Now that Bishop Shi is dead, Bishop James Su Zhimin of Baoding is the only remaining underground bishop kept in secret detention. He has been held by the Chinese government since 1997.
Such imprisonments and deaths “have been kept under silence by the media mainstream, probably concerned not to damage relations with the economically powerful Chinese state,” the Vatican official opined. “But, as a matter of fact, this state of things must be addressed.”
The Holy See has committed to Catholics in China, intending to protect and help the country’s persecuted Christians, and relations between the Vatican and China have fluctuated.
After Benedict XVI’s 2007 letter to the Catholics of China, the relations seemed to improve, with episcopal appointments approved of by both the Vatican and the Chinese government.
Despite this, and the inauguration of Xi’s presidency, the episcopal consecration of Fr Taddeo Ma Daqin in Shanghai showed that relations could cool again.??Bishop Ma had been part of the Patriotic Association, but after his consecration he announced he would leave the association, and he was confined by the government.
“Illicit ordinations follow a rationale that is hard to explain,” the Vatican official reflected. “They can also be decided at a local level, so I would not exclude that illicit ordinations are an internal response to Xi Jinping’s wish to improve relations. When a situation is consolidated, it is quite difficult to move people toward a new state of things.”
On the Vatican’s side, there is a certain openness to make further steps in order to reach full diplomatic relations, though the Holy See’s maintenance of a pontifical representative to the Republic of China — Taiwan — will remain a hurdle for mainland China.
However, steps forward will be made with a certain caution. Yet the Holy See and China seem to be a little closer now.
Iraq, February 23, 2015: The continuing presence of courageous men and women religious in Iraq is an important sign of hope amid the suffering of the Christian population there, according to a report by two Dominican leaders who recently visited the country, reports Vatican Radio.
The mid-January visit to Baghdad and the northern Iraqi city of Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan region. was at the invitation of the Dominican brothers and sisters in Iraq who often feel forgotten as they struggle to support Christians threatened by the daily violence of the so-called Islamic State militants.
More than 100,000 mainly Christian and Yazidi people fled to Erbil and the surrounding region as the militants captured the city of Mosul last June, threatening and killing those who would not convert to Islam.
Fr Timothy Radcliffe, former Master of the Dominican order, explained why the West must take responsibility and do all it can to help end the conflict that is devastating the region. He added that one of the things the visit to Iraq made clear was the way that Western intervention in the country, together with suffernig and increasing inequality” has helped to fuel the conflict in the region.
He said that at the present time it’s impossible to imagine any dialogue with the so-called Islamic State, but there are many Muslims they met in Baghdad who long for dialogue and constructive engagement with the West. He noted that the Dominicans established the Baghdad Academy of Human Sciences to provide just such a place of dialogue and debate: of the 5.000 students enrolled in the academy, up to 80% are Muslims.
Libya, February 17, 2015: Pope Francis has denounced the brutal slayings of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya by militants linked to the Islamic State, saying “they were assassinated just for being Christian,” reports the Religion News Service.
“The blood of our Christian brothers is a witness that cries out,” Francis said in off-the-cuff remarks during an audience with an ecumenical delegation from the Church of Scotland.
The Pope, switching to his native Spanish, noted that those killed said only “Jesus help me.”
“Be they Catholic, Orthodox, Copts, Lutherans, it doesn’t matter: They’re Christian! The blood is the same: It is the blood which confesses Christ,” Francis said. He said their deaths bore witness to “an ecumenism of blood” that should unite Christians, a phrase he has used repeatedly as the Islamic State continues its bloody march.
The Pope telephoned the Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, to show his profound solidarity in the sorrow of the Coptic Church for the barbaric assassination by Islamic fundamentalists. He assured him of his prayers and also said he would unite himself spiritually with the prayers of the Coptic Church at his morning Mass Tuesday (Feb. 17) when the men are to be buried.
The Islamic State militants released a video late Sunday (Feb. 15) purporting to show the mass beheading of the Christian hostages, who had been held for several weeks.
In the video, one of the militants points northward toward Italy, some 500 miles across the Mediterranean, and says, “We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission.”
Nerves were already on edge in Europe following the terrorist attacks by Islamic extremists in Paris last months and over the weekend in Copenhagen.
Vatican City, February 17, 2015: Pope Francis offered his Tuesday morning Mass for the repose of the souls of the 21 Egyptian Christians killed by ISIS militants, praying that man learn to reject his evil temptations, and choose what is good.
The Pope Feb. 17 prayed for “our brother Copts, whose throats were slit for the sole reason of being Christian, that the Lord welcome them as martyrs, for their families, (and) for my brother Tawadros, who is suffering greatly.”
His comments came after the Islamic state released a video Sunday purporting to show the grisly beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt. Yesterday Francis called Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria Tawadros II to offer his condolences and solidarity.
Pope Francis’ morning liturgy is a sign of union with the Coptic Church, who is holding funeral celebrations for the victims today.
His personal secretary, Abuna Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, is also a Coptic Catholic, and was present for the Pope’s Mass in the chapel of the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse.
Francis initiated his reflections by turning to the Bible passage in Genesis that speaks of God’s wrath in the face of man’s wickedness before the great flood. He lamented that man often seems more powerful than God due to his capacity to destroy what God has created.
The Bible itself provides examples, such as Sodom and Gomorrah and the Tower of Babel, which prove there is “an evil that lurks in the depths of the heart.”
Although saying this might seem a bit negative, the Pope stressed that “this is the truth,” and referred to how Cain killed his brother Abel, thus destroying fraternity.
“This is where wars begin. Jealousy, envy, so much greed for power. Yes, this sounds negative, but it is realistic,” he said, noting one only needs to pick up a newspaper to see the evidence, since “more than 90 percent of the news is of destruction.”
Jesus, the Pope said, reminds us that there is evil in the human heart, and that man has the tendency to think he can do whatever he wants.
“We are capable of destruction, that’s the problem,” Francis said, and spoke of the arms trade, noting that there are countries who sell weapons, wage war and continue to sell to the country they are warring with, so the fighting continues.
While some might claim they are just doing business, the Pope asked that if this is the case, is their business one “of death?”
The evil we see around us doesn’t come from outside, but from inside of ourselves, he said, and warned that gossip and slander are also forms of evil aimed at destroying another.
However, despite man’s capacity to do evil and to destroy, he has the Holy Spirit to help him choose what is good in the little things, Francis noted.
Mother Theresa is a modern example of man’s ability to do good, he said, explaining that we all are capable of choosing either good or evil within our own families and parish communities.
Because families are even capable of destroying their own children and can often prevent them from maturing or growing in freedom, the Pope stressed the need to meditate, pray and discuss things with one another, so as not to fall into “this evil that destroys everything.”
Jesus gives us the strength to do this, he said, explaining that the Lord today wants to tell us “Remember. Remember Me, I shed my blood for you; remember Me, I have saved you, I have saved you all.”
“I have the strength to accompany you on the journey of life, not on the path of evil, but on the path of goodness, of doing good to others; not the path of destruction, but the path that builds,” the Pope said, noting that these are Jesus’ words to us.
He concluded his homily by praying that before beginning the liturgical season of Lent, which begins tomorrow on Ash Wednesday, the Lord give us the grace to always choose the “right path,” and help us not to be misled by temptations to destroy.
Moscow, February 18, 2015: The first bank in Russia working according to the Islamic principles of finance could open later this year. According to reports from the portal Banki.ru, the first Islamic bank of the Federation would be born under the auspices of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). Anatly Aksakov, president of the Association of Regional Banks of Russia, says Malaysia also wants to take part in the project.
The bank should be located in Tatarstan, a Muslim majority republic of the Russian Federation. Currently a feasibility study is being conducted, with Tatar government representatives.
There are two possibilities, as Aksakov explained: The direct creation of an Islamic bank or, opening up an “Islamic section” in an existing structure, a sort of special unit, which would work according to the principles of sharia and of Islamic banking.
Changes to Russian legislation would be needed to make this a reality the deputy explained. Amendments are ready and they should discuss in the next two weeks.
Muslims count for between 7 and 10% of the population in the Federation; the second largest religious community after the Orthodox. Some regions, such as Tatarstan or the North Caucasus, are even a Muslim majority.
Pope calls on new cardinals to be witnesses of charity, able to forgive, and give confidence and hope
Vatican City, February 14, 2015: The 20 new cardinals Pope Francis “created” today must hold charity as their “guiding theme”. They must be “always ready to forgive; always ready to trust, because we are full of faith in God; always ready to inspire hope, because we ourselves are full of hope in God; persons ready to bear patiently every situation and each of our brothers and sisters, in union with Christ, who bore with love the burden of our sins.”
Pope Francis, who invited his successor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to attend his second consistory as he did for his first, on 22 February last year, told the 20 new cardinals – 15 electors (with the right to vote in a conclave), and five non-electors, from 18 countries (three from Asia) – that they are now a “cardo,” a hinge of the Church of Rome.
When he handed them their biretta, the liturgy required the pope to tell them, that “(This is) scarlet as a sign of the dignity of the cardinalate, signifying your readiness to act with courage, even to the shedding of your blood, for the increase of the Christian faith, for the peace and tranquillity of the people of God and for the freedom and growth of Holy Roman Church.”
In his homily, the Holy Father gave the new cardinals as their “guiding theme” the notion of charity, which means “kindness,” the ability “to love without limits, but also to be faithful in particular situations and with practical gestures,” the capacity of not being “jealous or boastful, [. . .] puffed up with pride,” insisting “on his own way”. Charity has Christ at its centre, means forgetting the evil received, and avoids in particular feelings of resentment. It loves justice. Thus, for a cardinal, “any form of injustice becomes unacceptable, even those which might bring gain to himself or to the Church.”
“Dear Brother Cardinals,” said the pope, “the cardinalate is certainly an honour, but it is not honorific. This we already know from its name – ‘cardinal’ – from the word ‘cardo’, a hinge. As such, it is not a kind of accessory, a decoration, like an honorary title. Rather, it is a pivot, a point of support and movement essential for the life of the community. You are ‘hinges’ and are “incardinated” in the Church of Rome, which ‘presides over the entire assembly of charity’ (Lumen Gentium, 13; cf. IGN. ANT., Ad Rom., Prologue).
“In the Church, all ‘presiding’ flows from charity, must be exercised in charity, and is ordered towards charity. Here too the Church of Rome exercises an exemplary role. Just as she presides in charity, so too each particular Church is called, within its own sphere, to preside in charity.
“For this reason, I believe that the ‘hymn to charity’ in Saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians can be taken as a guiding theme for this celebration and for your ministry, especially for those of you who today enter the College of Cardinals. All of us, myself first and each of you with me, would do well to let ourselves be guided by the inspired words of the apostle Paul, especially in the passage where he lists the marks of charity. May our Mother Mary help us to listen. She gave the world Jesus, charity incarnate, who is ‘the more excellent Way’ (cf. 1 Cor 12:31); may she help us to receive this Word and always to advance on this Way. May she assist us by her humility and maternal tenderness, because charity, as God’s gift, grows wherever humility and tenderness are found.
“Saint Paul tells us that charity is, above all, “patient” and “kind”. The greater our responsibility in serving the Church, the more our hearts must expand according to the measure of the heart of Christ. ‘Patience’ – ‘forbearance’ – is in some sense synonymous with catholicity. It means being able to love without limits, but also to be faithful in particular situations and with practical gestures. It means loving what is great without neglecting what is small; loving the little things within the horizon of the great things, since ‘non coerceri a maximo, contineri tamen a minimo divinum est’. To know how to love through acts of kindness. ‘Kindness’ – benevolence -means the firm and persevering intention to always will the good of others, even those unfriendly to us.
“The Apostle goes on to say that charity ‘is not jealous or boastful, it is not puffed up with pride’. This is surely a miracle of love, since we humans – all of us, at every stage of our lives – are inclined to jealousy and pride, since our nature is wounded by sin. Nor are Church dignitaries immune from this temptation. But for this very reason, dear brothers, the divine power of love, which transforms hearts, can be all the more evident in us, so that it is no longer you who live, but rather Christ who lives in you. And Jesus is love to the fullest.
“Saint Paul then tells us that charity ‘is not arrogant or rude, it does not insist on its own way’. These two characteristics show that those who abide in charity are not self-centred. The self-centred inevitably become disrespectful; very often, they do not even notice this, since ‘respect’ is precisely the ability to acknowledge others, to acknowledge their dignity, their condition, [and] their needs. The self-centred person inevitably seeks his own interests; he thinks this is normal, even necessary. Those ‘interests’ can even be cloaked in noble appearances, but underlying them all is always ‘self-interest’. Charity, however, makes us draw back from the centre in order to set ourselves in the real centre, which is Christ alone. Then, and only then, can we be persons who are respectful and attentive to the good of others.
“Charity, Saint Paul says, ‘is not irritable, it is not resentful’. Pastors close to their people have plenty of opportunities to be irritable, to feel anger. Perhaps we risk being all the more irritable in relationships with our confreres, since in effect we have less excuses. Even here, charity, and charity alone, frees us. It frees us from the risk of reacting impulsively, of saying or doing the wrong thing; above all it frees us from the mortal danger of pent-up anger, of that smouldering anger which makes us brood over wrongs we have received. No. This is unacceptable in a man of the Church. Even if a momentary outburst is forgivable, this is not the case with rancour. God save us from that!
“Charity, Saint Paul adds, ‘does not rejoice at the wrong, but rejoices in the right’. Those called to the service of governance in the Church need to have a strong sense of justice, so that any form of injustice becomes unacceptable, even those which might bring gain to himself or to the Church. At the same time, he must ‘rejoice in the right’. What a beautiful phrase! The man of God is someone captivated by truth, one who encounters it fully in the word and flesh of Jesus Christ, the inexhaustible source of our joy. May the people of God always see in us a firm condemnation of injustice and joyful service to the truth.
“Finally, ‘love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things’. Here, in four words, is a spiritual and pastoral programme of life. The love of Christ, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, enables us to live like this, to be like this: as persons always ready to forgive; always ready to trust, because we are full of faith in God; always ready to inspire hope, because we ourselves are full of hope in God; persons ready to bear patiently every situation and each of our brothers and sisters, in union with Christ, who bore with love the burden of our sins.
“Dear brothers, this comes to us not from ourselves, but from God. God is love and he accomplishes all this in us if only we prove docile to the working of his Holy Spirit. This, then, is how we are to be: ‘incardinated’ and docile. The more we are “incardinated” in the Church of Rome, the more we should become docile to the Spirit, so that charity can give form and meaning to all that we are and all that we do. Incardinated in the Church, which presides in charity, docile to the Holy Spirit who pours into our hearts the love of God (cf. Rom 5:5). Amen.”
As the first to be called, Card Dominique Mamberti, on behalf of the new cardinals, spoke about charity and the cardinal’s role, noting that it means “serving the communion of the universal Church,” a “communion [that] is constantly nourished by the love of Christ – that obliges us to live no longer for ourselves but for Him who dies and rose again for us – and is fertilized by the blood of many martyrs who gave their lives here. May their example and their intercession give us the strength and the courage necessary to be witnesses of the Risen Lord until the ends of the earth and to bend over the wounds and sores of humanity today, bringing His mercy.”
As the new cardinals – including Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon of Hanoi, Charles Maung Bo of Yangon and Francis Xavier Kriengsak Khovitavanij Bangkok – were sworn in, one by one (except for Cardinal José de Jesús Rodríguez Pimiento, archbishop emeritus of Manizales, Colombia, who was absent because of his age) knelt before the pontiff who placed the biretta (carefully so as not to slip, which, according to Roman tradition, is a sign of bad luck), handed them their ring and assigned to them the title or diaconate of a church in Rome, as tokens of each cardinal’s membership in the Capitoline Church and thus the universal Church.
Iraq, January 29, 2015: Effectively exiled from his friary in Mosul by the Islamic State last year, Fr. Najeeb Michaeel, O.P. is working to preserve Christian manuscripts through digitization, recording a memory of Iraq’s Christian past.
Fr. Najeeb Michaeel is an Iraqi native who studied in the U.S., and founded in 1990 the Center for the Digitization of Oriental Manuscripts to foster the collection and recording of ancient manuscripts which he had started in the 1980s.
Over the years, Fr. Michaeel has collected some 750 Christian manuscripts in order to preserve them and to make them available for study by making digital copies.
The archives of the Dominican order in Iraq are a testimony to the Christian presence in Iraq, which stretches nearly 2,000 years in cities such as Mosul and Bakhdida, which are now controlled by Islamic State.
Mosul had had a Dominican friary since the 1750s, with both friars and the Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena. The friary amassed a large library of thousands of ancient manuscripts, as well as more than 50,000 more modern volumes.
When an Islamist insurgency hit Mosul in 2008 following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Dominicans smuggled their library to Bakhdida, a city populated primarily by Syriac Catholics, only 20 miles away.
Then in 2014, the Sunni Islamist group Islamic State seized Mosul in June. A month later Christians were effectively exiled from the city, and Islamic State continued to expand across Iraq’s Nineveh province.
Fr. Michaeel collected some 1,300 manuscripts from the 14th to the 19th century, and put them in two large trucks in the early morning, transferring them to a secret location in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, where they have been kept safe. They include not only Christian works, but manuscripts on the Quran, music, and grammar.
“We passed three checkpoints without any problem, and I think the Virgin Mary [had] a hand to protect us,” Fr. Michaeel said Jan. 26 in an interview with National Public Radio.
The library of 50,000 modern books was left behind in Bakhdida, and the city was seized by Islamic State on Aug. 7.
Fr. Michaeel has been joined in Erbil by Fr. Columba Stewart, OSB, who is executive director of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, which is participating in the preservation of the Syriac manuscripts.
Islamic State have destroyed belongings of the non-Sunnis who have fled their territory, showing no regard for historical preservation. Convents and monasteries have been destroyed or requisitioned for their own use. In Mosul, a mound over the tomb of the prophet Jonah, on top of which a mosque was built, was destroyed with explosives in July.
Fr. Laurent Lemoine, O.P., works with Fr. Michaeel. He told France 24 last October that “we’re trying to save these cultural artifacts because in northern Iraq it seems that everything is on the road to destruction: people of course, but also our cultural heritage. The artifacts were almost destroyed several times.”
“Across the region, Christianity is in the process of being swept away. Mass has been celebrated in Mosul for 1,600 years. This year was the first time that there hasn’t been a Mass in all that time.”
U.S., January 29, 2015: In a new propaganda video released earlier this week, the Islamic State terrorist organization has threatened to behead President Barack Obama and spread Shariah law by converting the United States into one of ISIS’ Muslim provinces.
The video, titled “Bombardment of Peaceful Muslims in the City of Mosul,” which was released on Monday and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute, is thought to be a retaliation after Kurdish forces fully seized control of the strategic Syrian border town of Kobane on the same day.
The first part of the video shows the destruction caused in Mosul due to mortar shelling from Kurdish forces. The second part of the video goes on to show an ISIS fighter beheading a captured Kurdish soldier.
But before the ISIS militant executes the Kurdish soldier, he makes direct threats to western countries like the U.S., France and Belgium.
The militant explained how he and his comrades will one day reach the U.S., and when they do, they’ll decapitate Obama inside the White House. The fighter also threatened to behead the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Masoud Barzani. He also issued threats to the people in France and Belgium.
“This is the fate of anyone who opposes Islam,” the militant said. “Know, oh Obama, that we will reach America. Know also that we will cut off your head in the White House and transform America into a Muslim province.”
“Know that we are men who fear no one,” the militant added. “We will institute the laws of Allah; may he be exalted and praised.”
The fighter didn’t have kind words for Barzani, either.
“But as for your, oh Masoud, you dog, we are going to behead you and throw you into the trash bin of history,” the fighter explained.
As for the people of France and Belgium: “We advise you that we will come to you with car bombs and explosive charges and we will cut off your heads.”
The fighter continued by labeling western nations as hypocrites for their involvement in U.S.-led international coalition airstrikes, which the Obama administration said has killed over 6,000 ISIS fighters and helped opposition forces seize strategic areas, like Kobane, from ISIS militants.
“This is one of your soldier’s fate,” the militant said in reference to the Kurdish soldier he was about to execute. “[E]very time you launch a missile, we will send you back the head of one of your soldiers. You are killing children and bombing civilians, while claiming that this is forbidden in your constitution.”
The video also showed a resident giving testimony about how one of the coalition’s airstrike missiles landed on his home and killed infants and children. The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported that 50 civilians were killed in a single airstrike in the Syrian town of Al Bab in December 2014, which would make it the worst case of civilian casualties caused by one airstrike since the airstrikes began in Syria in September.
The video ends after the shouting militant killed the Kurdish soldier with his knife, while others watched and praised the brutal killing.
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Tehran, January 25, 2015: In a rare effort to reach out to the youth in Europe and North America, the Supreme leader of Iran Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, has written an open letter on Islam and prejudices.
The letter dated January 21 and titled “To the Youth in Europe and North America” was posted on the official website of Ayatollah Khamenei and his Twitter account.
Reminding that the histories of the United States and Europe are “ashamed of slavery, embarrassed by the colonial period and chagrined at the oppression of people of color and non-Christians,” Ayatollah Khamenei, writes, “that humiliation and spreading hatred and illusionary fear of the “other” have been the common base of all those oppressive profiteers.”
He further says that he wants to talk about Islam, particularly the image that is presented to them as Islam. “Why does the power structure in the world want Islamic thought to be marginalized and remain latent? What concepts and values in Islam disturb the programs of the super powers and what interests are safeguarded in the shadow of distorting the image of Islam?” he asks.
He urges the Western youth to study and research the incentives behind this widespread tarnishing of the image of Islam and requests them to respond to the “flood of prejudgments and disinformation campaigns,” by trying to gain a direct and first-hand knowledge of this religion.
He further writes, “I don’t insist that you accept my reading or any other reading of Islam. What I want to say is: Don’t allow this dynamic and effective reality in today’s world to be introduced to you through resentments and prejudices. Don’t allow them to hypocritically introduce their own recruited terrorists as representatives of Islam,” concluding, “Don’t miss the opportunity to gain proper, correct and unbiased understanding of Islam so that hopefully, due to your sense of responsibility toward the truth, future generations would write the history of this current interaction between Islam and the West with a clearer conscience and lesser resentment.”
Philippine, January 24, 2015: The World Evangelical Alliance, which represents more than 600 million evangelicals around the globe, has announced the appointment of Bishop Efraim Tendero, currently the National Director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, as its next Secretary General.
WEA’s International Council made the decision by unanimous vote Friday, and announced that Bishop Tendero will begin his five-year tenure on March 1.
“I am humbled by the trust that is given to me to be the leader of Evangelicals around the world,” Tendero said in a statement released by WEA. “This is an enormous task and I put my whole trust and confidence in the Almighty God who called me into this ministry, believing that He will provide the wisdom, favor, and grace needed in carrying out this solemn responsibility.”
Tendero, widely known as Bishop Ef, succeeds Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, who decided not to seek a third term after leading the global alliance for 10 years.
“We acknowledged from the onset and throughout the search process that we needed God’s wisdom and the Spirit’s guidance in making this significant and strategic appointment. We are not only pleased, but confident that Efraim is the right person to take WEA into the future which promises to be great,” Rev. Ndaba Mazabane, Chairman of the IC and Acting Secretary-General of the WEA, said in the same statement. “His understanding of our global vision and his experience as a national Alliance leader will certainly help him connect with our constituency for greater global impact.”
Mazabane urged prayers for the new appointee.
Tendero has served the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches for more than 20 years, representing about 30,000 evangelical churches in the Catholic-majority nation in South East Asia, where he is also President of the Philippine Relief and Development Services.
He also serves as International Facilitator for South East Asia of the Asia Evangelical Alliance and is the chair of the board of Back to the Bible Broadcast, Evangelism Explosion, 3 Philippines, Global Filipino Movement and the Philippine Missions Association.
He is also the Executive Editor of Evangelicals Today, published in the Philippines.
Bishop Tendero has actively sought to make difference in the politics of the country. His national alliance joined calls in August for President Benigno Aquino not to extend his term of office.
“It is best for him to just endorse a new leader who would faithfully continue his fight against corruption,” Tendero said in a statement at the time. “I’m praying and hoping that President Aquino would finish well as a good leader, and what he started in the struggle for a ‘righteous path’ will be passed smoothly to his successor.”
Tendero did a Bachelor of Theology from Febias College of Bible, and then a Master of Divinity with focus on pastoral counseling from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He was later offered two honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from Asian Theological Seminary and Febias College of Bible, and a Doctor of Leadership degree from International Graduate School of Leadership.
Bishop Tendero and his wife, Sierry, have four children and two grandchildren.
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