The Vatican has approved a request from Philippine bishops to allow them to ordain qualified Catholics, including married men, as permanent deacons to help check the widening priest-catholic ratio in the country. Pope Francis granted the request of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to establish a “permanent diaconate” within the local Church, according to a Vatican letter the conference received on Sept. 12.
Do Christians Belong in Southeast Asia? Pew Polled Buddhists and Muslims (September 12, 2023, Christianity Today) (subscription required)
Among its neighbors, Singapore is a spiritual anomaly. Surrounded by deeply religious countries with overwhelming Muslim or Buddhist majorities, the island city-state is by some measures the world’s most religiously diverse society, with no single faith composing a majority.
Malaysia penalises 400 companies so far this year for violating labour laws (September 15, 2023, Al Jazeera)
Malaysia has taken action against 400 companies so far this year for violating labour laws, state news agency Bernama has reported, citing Human Resources Minister V Sivakumar. The ministry’s labour department issued fines totalling 2.17 million ringgit ($463,000) against 272 employers, while the courts fined 128 employers a combined 242,000 ringgit ($51,700), Bernama cited Sivakumar as saying on Thursday.
As the sea warms, struggling Cambodian fishermen seek to preserve crab stocks (September 15, 2023, Reuters)
The provinces of Kep and Kampot are famous among locals and foreign visitors for their delicious flower crabs but fishermen there are anxious about their small catches - a development that experts attribute to a warmer sea. According to data from the University of Maine's Climate Change Institute, temperature spikes above normal have become increasingly common in oceans along Cambodia's coastline since 2010.
India racing to contain deadly Nipah virus outbreak as hundreds are tested in Kerala state (September 14, 2023, Yahoo! News)
India racing to contain deadly Nipah virus outbreak as hundreds are tested in Kerala state (September 14, 2023, Yahoo! News) Health officials in India are racing Thursday to contain an outbreak of the Nipah virus, which has already killed two and carries a fatality rate the World Health Organization says is as high as 75%. Around 800 people have been tested over the last few days in the country’s southern Kerala state, with two adults and a child placed in a hospital after receiving a positive diagnosis, according to Reuters.
At least 56 people are known to have died and dozens were injured in a huge fire in an apartment block in Vietnam's capital Hanoi. Some 37 people were injured in the fire, police said, adding that 39 victims have been identified. The fire, which broke out during the night, has been extinguished. The owner of the building has been arrested.
Fewer North Korean defectors reach South Korea, and questions grow about unification (September 15, 2023, NPR)
Nearly 3,000 defectors arrived in South Korea in 2009 and the annual number remained above 1,000 for more than a decade thereafter. But starting in 2021, it fell to double digits. Just 67 arrived last year.
The main land crossing on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan re-opened on Friday after a closure of nine days following shooting between guards on both sides, a senior Pakistani official told Reuters. Thousands of travellers and hundreds of trucks laden with goods were stranded last week by the closure of the Torkham border crossing, at the western end of the fabled Khyber Pass.
Thailand's Pita quits as leader of election-winning party after failed PM bid (September 15, 2023, Reuters)
Thailand's Pita Limjaroenrat resigned on Friday as leader of the progressive Move Forward party, months after delivering a stunning electoral victory on an anti-establishment reform agenda that threatened to upend the political status quo.
Gen X Dropouts Widen the Generational Divide among Singapore Christians (August 31, 2023, Christianity Today) (subscription required)
Interviews with 63 churches reveal an urgent need for greater mutuality in relationships.
If you are looking for a tidy answer to the question of how many Christians there are in China… then you will be disappointed. That’s because this is the first time Pew has (sort of) come out and admitted that they don’t really know and that it’s almost impossible to really know.
When Wang Fang began recognizing and accepting the differences between her and her older, male, Christian colleague with whom she was at odds, she became willing to reconcile with him.
How the Grand Canyon of China Became a Christian Land (September 7, 2023, Christianity Today) (subscription required)
In the remote mountains and ancient forests of China’s Nujiang Grand Canyon, near the Myanmar and Tibet borders in Yunnan province, live the Lisu people (傈僳族). One of the country’s 55 ethnic minorities, the community of about 900,000 is majority (80%) Christian, and the faith has been present among the people for over a century. The history of the sowing, germination, flowering, and fruiting of the gospel among the Lisu and the development of their written language trace back to the 1910s, with a missionary from England named James Outram Fraser.
Confronting Confucian Understandings of the Christian Doctrine of Salvation - Book Review (Revisited) (August 25, 2023, Global China Center)
Confronting Confucian Understandings of the Christian Doctrine of Salvation will now be required reading for anyone seeking to understand why Chinese intellectuals have accepted, rejected, or modified the Christian message since the time of Matteo Ricci. Paulos Huang has given us a fine, clearly-organized study with a great deal of thought-provoking findings and suggestions.
On the China-Laos Border, a Cautionary Tale of Hot Money and Wild Dreams (September 13, 2023, Sixth Tone)
Chinese investors have poured money into the small Lao town of Boten, believing a new railway would bring massive growth. But the hoped-for boom has yet to arrive.
China can’t just rely on boosting births to address aging population issues, Renmin University professor says (September 13, 2023, CNBC)
China can’t just rely on increasing childbirths to address its aging population issues, said Du Peng, vice principal of Renmin University of China. The number of people who are aged 60 and above will roughly double to more than 500 million in the year 2050, he told reporters during a talk on Wednesday. He said policymakers can take action today: by raising the retirement age, improving insurance coverage and increasing retirees’ social participation, among other measures.
The Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday that Vatican envoy Cardinal Matteo Zuppi will visit China for talks on resolving the conflict in Ukraine, despite the lack of formal bilateral relations between Beijing and the Holy See. Li Hui, China's Special Envoy for Eurasian Affairs, will meet with Zuppi, foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a regular news conference.
Chinese Communist Party promotes atheism, but many members still partake in religious customs (September 5, 2023, Pew Research)
Some 6% of CCP members formally identify with a religion such as Buddhism, Christianity, Islam or Taoism. This is nearly on par with the 10% of Chinese adults who are not party members, according to the 2018 Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS) – one of several academic surveys examined in the Center’s new analysis.
Spiritual companionship, an ancient practice involving deep listening and discerning the movement of the Spirit in a sacred space, is not only a way to examine a life that is worth living, but also a life reflecting the glory of God as the image bearer. In essence, it is a crucial path for Christian discipleship and spiritual formation.
A theological student I knew years ago was confused as to why the lives of 俄利根 and 奥利金, seemingly two different individuals, seemed so similar. Of course, it turned out that these were two different Chinese names for the same church father—Origen of Alexandria. This is just one example of why I got involved in developing Shenxuecihui.com—a tool to help standardize Chinese translations of theological terms and names.