Today we begin in the Philippines today where Archbishop Antonio Ledesma in Mindanao spoke openly against the Philippine government extending, martial law in the region saying that it has no basis in the country’s constitution and can lead to further human rights abuses.
Martial law in the southern Philippines was originally imposed in May to help quell terrorist attacks and to end the siege of Marawi City. Yesterday, it was extended for another year, despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s October declaration that the region was liberated from terrorist influence. Archbishop Ledesma said that the current situation in Mindanao can easily be handled by the local police and military. There is "no actual and real rebellion in Mindanao of such intensity, to honestly satisfy the strict extraordinary constitutional powers” he said. The Archbishop warned that extending martial law would only "stoke the wildfire of rights violations."
President Duterte declared martial law, in May, across Mindanao following terrorist attacks and kidnappings by Islamic State gunmen in the region. 5 months later, the government declared an end to the violent clashes with the terrorists, which left the city destroyed and close to 400,000 people displaced in what is now known as the longest urban battle in the modern Philippine history.
Now here's an interesting story. While many people including myself, use the popular messaging platform, WhatsApp on their mobile phones, the Pope does not.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke responded to false reports yesterday, that the mobile app is now a new way to reach the Pope. He clarified on his Twitter account that: “Reports of the Holy Father using WhatsApp are false. He does not send messages or blessings through this medium."
Confusion arose after the "The Pope Francis Foundation” from Argentina opened a “Papa Francisco” account, that automatically generated a selection of papal quotes in response to messages. This led local Spanish-language media to report that it was a new papal account. And well, the rest is history. There is, however, an official papal Twitter account, @Pontifex, which just marked its 5th anniversary, after being launched by Pope Benedict in 2012. There’s also an official papal Instagram account that you can follow the Pope @Franciscus.
One of the big movies of this year"s Christmas season is the new Sony animation called: The Star. It tells the story for the first Christmas but from an entirely different perspective. CNS had a chance to talk to the voice actors of the film about how being part of this an animated retelling of the Christmas story, had an impact on their own faith. The Star is in theatres now, so check your local listing for show times and locations near you.
Finally tonight, we have a new show airing on Dec 30th that you won’t want to miss. It’s our annual top 10 Catholic news stories for 2017 hosted by yours truly and Sebastian Gomes. Here’s a sneak peek!
That is all that we have time for this week. Join us again on Monday when I bring you more of the latest news and stories through the Perspectives of a Catholic lens.
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