Pope Francis thrills small Gulf Catholic community with big Mass in Bahrain

News Network
November 5, 2022

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Pope Francis said Mass for thousands of Catholics in Bahrain on Saturday, thrilling members of the small foreign Catholic community from around the Gulf and urging them to show kindness to their hosts, even if they feel sometimes badly treated.

The crowd of about 30,000 people that filled Bahrain's National Stadium was the second-largest gathering for a papal Mass on the Arabian Peninsula, following one that drew more than 100,000 in the United Arab Emirates in 2019.

"This is a miracle," said Mary Grace Fortes, 36, a Filipino who works at the reception of a hotel in Bahrain. "So important for us."

Like many Filipino women who work outside their country, Fortes is married and sends money back home to help support her family, including her husband and 16-year-old son.

Hundreds of Catholic foreign workers were bussed in over the 25-km (16 mile) King Fahd Causeway that links Bahrain with Saudi Arabia, where there are no churches and where Catholics cannot worship openly.

"The Bahrainis arranged everything perfectly for us," said Jos Chazoor, 53, who is from Kerala in India and works as a manager for a medical equipment company in Saudi Arabia.

Chazoor's 75-year-old mother was too overcome with emotion to respond to a reporter's questions just before the pope arrived in the packed stadium to an enthusiastic welcome by faithful waving yellow-and-white Vatican flags.

"She is too thrilled to talk," said Chazoor, who drives with his mother over the causeway from Saudi Arabia regularly to attend Mass in one of Bahrain's two churches, which provide pastoral care for the some 160,000 Catholics in Bahrain.

In his homily, Francis appeared to praise Bahrain's relatively open policy towards non-Muslims.

"This very land is a living image of coexistence in diversity, and indeed an image of our world, increasingly marked by the constant migration of peoples and by a pluralism of ideas, customs and traditions," he said.

Foreign workers, many of them from Asia, provide the backbone of Gulf economies, working in sectors such as construction, hospitality, transport and the oil and gas sector.

The International Labour Organisation says the Gulf's migrant workers have long faced problems including exploitation by recruitment agencies and employers, poor work conditions, limited access to justice and limited or no freedom of association.

Francis urged his listeners to be kind even to those native people in the Gulf area who do not treat them well, saying this was key to the Gospel message of loving your enemies.

He said they should always be "persevering in good even when evil is done to us, breaking the spiral of vengeance, disarming violence, demilitarizing the heart".

As Francis was driven on a open popemobile through the crowd on the stadium's pitch just before the start of the Mass, a speaker on the altar platform shouted "God bless the pope, God bless the royal family."

A Bahrain government spokesperson said 111 nationalities attended the Mass in the island state, where foreigners comprise about half of Bahrain's population of roughly 1.5 million.

The prayers of the faithful during the Mass were read in languages spoken by foreign workers including Tagalog, Swahili, Malayalam, Tamil and Konkani.

The Mass was attended by one of the sons of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and several government ministers. 
 

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News Network
November 22,2022

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Lionel Messi lamented Argentina's shock second-half capitulation against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday but said he was not surprised by the threat from opponents 48 places lower in the world rankings.

"It's a situation that this group of players has never been through, it's been a while since we suffered such a tough blow, we didn't expect to start like this," Messi told Argentinian media after the 2-1 defeat in Group C.

Starting his fifth World Cup, Messi had opened the scoring with a 10th-minute penalty and Argentina had three goals disallowed for offside in a free-flowing first half.

But in the second half, "in five minutes of mistakes that we made, we went 2-1 down and then it was really tough and we lost organization and started punting the ball," he said in comments broadcast by Todo Noticias.

Messi said his team knew Saudi Arabia, despite being the second-lowest-ranked team in the tournament, could hurt them.

"We knew they were a team who would play if we let them...They did not surprise us, we knew they could do that."

Argentina now have to focus on beating Mexico and Poland in their next group games in search of the only major title that has eluded Messi in his otherwise glittering career.

"Obviously we have to win or win now. It's up to us to fix what we did wrong and get back to the basics of who we are," said Messi, whose team had been on a 36-match unbeaten run prior to the shock result at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar.

"We're OK, obviously hurt by the result, very bitter. But people must trust that this team will not let them down and we are going to go for it in the next two games. We've played games of this nature before and we're going to perform well.

"Now's the time to be more united than ever, to show how truly strong we are."

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News Network
November 17,2022

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Bengaluru, Nov 17: The Congress on Thursday demanded the resignation and arrest of Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in connection with a major electoral data theft scandal that has come to light in Bengaluru.

A nonprofit named Chilume Educational & Rural Development Trust was roped in by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to conduct an awareness campaign under the Election Commission’s Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) programme.

However, it turned out that the nonprofit went door-to-door to allegedly collect personal details of citizens - caste, education, mother tongue, Aadhaar and so on. This was done using people who were given identity cards saying they were booth-level officers (BLO).

On Wednesday, the BBMP withdrew its consent that was given to the Chilume Trust because it “violated the conditions of the permission.”

“The shocking expose has revealed that those sitting in the citadels of power, including Bommai, are overtly and covertly responsible for theft of voter data, fraud and impersonation through brazen misdemeanors,” AICC general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala told a news conference here.

Surjewala said voter data collected by Chilume was uploaded on a private app called Digital Sameeksha, owned by its sister concern Chilume Enterprises Pvt Ltd. “Voters were made to believe that their information was being given to BLOs as a part of the voter registration drive,” he said.

The Congress also said that one Krishnappa Ravikumar, director at Chilume and DAP Hombale Pvt Ltd, is linked to IT/BT Minister CN Ashwath Narayan, the Malleswaram MLA. Surjewala released pictures showing the minister cutting a cake with Ravikumar.

Apparently, Chilume was first allowed to conduct ‘voter awareness activities’ in the Shivajinagar constituency. Then, the BBMP gave the nonprofit permission to cover all 28 Assembly segments in Bengaluru.

“The sum and substance of this conspiracy is to deny the ordinary voter his right to vote and to tamper electoral list by surreptitious means,” Surjewala said, demanding action against Bommai, under whom the BBMP functions.

The Congress said it wants an investigation under the supervision of the Karnataka High Court Chief Justice.

“Never has such a fraud happened before,” Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah said.

Karnataka Congress president D K Shivakumar said his party investigated this over the past two months. “About 18,000 people, who are (BJP) workers, were given ID cards,” he said. “They even identified vacant houses. Their plan is to get voters from somewhere else enrolled here. Also, they’re removing minority, SC, ST and OBC voters who don’t support them from the electoral rolls,” he claimed.

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News Network
November 19,2022

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New Delhi: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) MLA poaching case summoned BJP National General Secretary (Organisation) BL Santhosh to appear on November 21, failing which he will be arrested.

This comes after the Telangana High Court on Tuesday rejected the BJP’s plea to hand over MLAs’ poaching case to the CBI and made the SIT probing the case independent. The court also ruled that a judge will monitor the investigation into the case.

The court has also asked the SIT to submit a report on November 29 on the progress of the probe.

Notably, the Telangana government formed the SIT on November 9 to investigate the case. The SIT has six police officers and is headed by Hyderabad Police Commissioner.

It is to be noted that Ramachandra Bharati alias Satish Sharma, Simhayaji and Aand Nandakumar were arrested by the Cyberabad police from a farmhouse at Moinabad near Hyderabad on the night of October 26, when they were allegedly trying to lure four TRS MLAs with offers of money.

Cyberabad police conducted the raid on a tip-off by Pilot Rohit Reddy, one of the MLAs, who alleged that the accused offered Rs 100 crore to him and Rs 50 crore each to three others.

Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao had called a press conference on November 3, where he showed videos that he claimed backed up the TRS charges of poaching against the BJP. He had also linked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah with the alleged poaching bid.

However, refuting the claims, the BJP had said the allegations are "staged" and that the videos are "recordings with hired actors".

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