In Brief

In Brief Jimmy Lai Photo: AFP / Anthony wallace
Covid claims Catholic priests in Indian state

Seven Catholic priests have died of Covid-19 in the space of four days in India’s Gujarat state, one of the worst-hit areas where government and private hospitals are adding more beds as infections spiral out of control.

In one day, April 19, Gujarat reported as many as 7,107 fresh coronavirus cases and 177 deaths. The death toll has reached 5,494 since the pandemic hit the western state last year.

Fr Pascal Jacob Ninama of Baroda Diocese is the latest victim. The 56-year-old died on the morning of April 20. Fr Paulraj Napoleon of the same diocese died of the virus on April 17.

The other priests to have died in Gujarat were three Jesuits, a Carmelite and a Divine Word priest.


Hong Kong Catholic media tycoon jailed for 12 months

Catholic media tycoon and philanthropist Jimmy Lai has been sentenced to 12 months in jail after being found guilty of unauthorised assembly. reported he was among nine activists in court on April 16 who earlier were found guilty of charges relating to pro-democracy demonstrations in the Chinese territory.

Mr Lai, 73, has donated millions of dollars to Catholic causes and has been the biggest financial backer of Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, retired archbishop of Hong Kong, reported.

He made his fortune through mid-market fashion chain Giordano before putting his wealth into NextDigital and the city’s leading anti-Beijing newspaper, Apple Daily.

Mr Lai’s jailing comes as the Chinese Communist Party intensifies its crackdown on Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms.


Mozambique’s bishops speak out against ongoing violence

Catholic bishops in Mozambique expressed concerns about ongoing violence in the country and increasing food insecurity – especially in the midst of the pandemic.

In the northern province of Cabo Delgado, “defenceless people are killed, injured and abused”.

“They see their possessions plundered, the privacy of their homes violated, their homes destroyed and the corpses of their family members desecrated. They are forced to abandon the land that saw them born and where their ancestors are buried,” said a statement at the end of the bishops’ plenary meeting in mid-April.

In late March, the International Committee of the Red Cross expressed concern about a new surge of violence in the province, where insecurity began in 2017. The United Nations said that up to 1 million people could be displaced by June.


Bishop urges prayer for Church in Germany

In response to a planned day of blessings for same-sex partners in Germany, the Bishop of San Sebastián last Wednesday called on Catholics to join in prayer for the Church in Germany to be faithful to the Magisterium and not to fall into rebellion.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said March 15 that the Church hasn’t the power to bless same-sex unions.

However, members of the Church in Germany have announced a May 10 event, “Blessings for the unions of people who love each other,” with the participation of priests, deacons, and pastoral workers, and supported by some bishops.

Bishop José Ignacio Munilla Aguirre tweeted, April 14: “I invite you to join a chain of prayer and fasting for the unity of the Church in Germany and throughout the world.”