Pope Francis creates 20 new cardinals with power to choose papal successors

Agencies
August 28, 2022

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Vatican City, Aug 28: Pope Francis on Saturday created 20 new cardinals picked from the four corners of the world, most of whom could one day end up choosing his successor.

Francis has raised the possibility of retiring due to his declining health, a path taken by his predecessor Benedict XVI. If he were to do so, a conclave involving all cardinals aged under 80 would be called to pick a successor.

Sixteen of the 20 cardinals created Saturday would be eligible for that conclave based on their ages.

The ceremony at St Peter's Basilica was the 85-year-old pope's eighth since being elected in 2013 and included clergy known for their pastoral work and, in some cases, progressive views.

All parts of the globe were represented in his selection, including new cardinals from Brazil and Nigeria, Singapore and East Timor, among others.

They each knelt before the pontiff, who presented them with the red square cap and ring typical of their new station.

"A cardinal loves the Church... by dealing with the big issues as well as the small ones, by meeting the great people of this world as well as the smallest, who are great before God," said the pope, who arrived in a wheelchair but seemed in good shape.

All new cardinals attended the ceremony, except for Ghana's Richard Kuuia Baawobr who had to be hospitalised over a cardiac issue.

After this weekend, Francis will have chosen 83 out of the 132 cardinals currently qualified to elect a new pope.

That is nearly two-thirds of the total and precisely the percentage needed for any proposed name to pass.

In recent months, the pope has been forced to rely on a wheelchair due to knee pain, which he has said is inoperable.

He also suffers from sciatica, a chronic nerve condition that causes pain in his hip.

The new cardinals are always scrutinised by Vatican observers for clues as to the future direction of the Church and its 1.3 billion faithful.

Experts caution, however, that cardinals named by one pope do not necessarily choose successors in their likeness.

The Argentine pontiff has this year completed a major shake-up of the Vatican's powerful governing body, the Roman Curia, which makes winning new converts a priority.

In keeping with his focus on making the Church more inclusive, transparent and responsive to the needs of the poor and marginalised, Francis has chosen two Africans and five Asians, including two cardinals who hail from India.

Vatican expert Bernard Lecomte told AFP the pope's choices are "representative of the Church today, with a large spot for the southern hemisphere", where 80 percent of the world's Catholics live.

Virgilio Do Carmo Da Silva, the archbishop of Dili, will on Saturday become the first cardinal of tiny East Timor, an overwhelmingly Catholic nation in Southeast Asia.

The pope has also felt free to bypass the archbishops of major cities to choose those from less powerful seats, such as Robert McElroy, the 68-year-old bishop of San Diego, California.

McElroy has supported gay Catholics and criticised moves to deny Communion to US politicians -- like President Joe Biden -- who support abortion.

The pope will also create the youngest cardinal in the world, 48-year-old Italian missionary Giorgio Marengo, who works in Mongolia.

The new crop of cardinals also includes Nigeria's Peter Okpaleke, the bishop of Ekwulobia, and Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, archbishop of Manaus, Brazil.

The 80-year-old bishop emeritus of Ghent, Lucas Van Looy, had been nominated but asked to be exempted following criticism of his handling of child sexual abuse by priests in Belgium.

Saturday's ceremony at the Vatican will be followed by the traditional "courtesy visit," in which the general public is invited to greet the new cardinals. 

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News Network
September 20,2022

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Srinagar, Sept 20: A viral video clip of Muslim students being forced to sing Hindu hymns in government-run educational institutes in has triggered a controversy in Muslim-majority Kashmir valley. 

In a 1.45-minute video clip from a school in south Kashmir, students were seen singing ‘Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram’ in classes as part of the preparation for the upcoming Gandhi Jayanti.

First to react to the video was former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti, who termed the incident as the “real Hindutva agenda of the Government of India.”

“Jailing religious scholars, shutting down Jama Masjid and directing school kids here to sing Hindu hymns exposes the real Hindutva agenda of GOI (Government of India) in Kashmir. Refusing these rabid dictates invites Public Safety Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). It is the cost that we are paying for this so-called ‘Badalta J&K’,” she tweeted.

While sharing the video on her Twitter handle, Mufti said: “India is a democracy and every community lives with rights. The Constitution allows all communities to follow their religion. This precisely was the reason that J&K, despite being a Muslim majority, decided to be part of India and not Pakistan in 1947. Our religion too is a target now. Kashmir is being made a laboratory of a rabid Hindutva agenda.”

Muttahida Majlis-e-Ulema (MMU) Jammu and Kashmir, a representative amalgam of religious social and educational organizations, while strongly objecting to the enforcement of singing Hindu hymns in schools, said: “This matter is a cause of great concern and an attempt to undermine our religious identity.”

“Protection of our religion and Islamic identity is as Muslims our fundamental religious responsibility; and deliberate interference in this by the government, education department or any other agency will neither be accepted nor tolerated,” the MMU spokesperson said in a statement.

“It is becoming clear that there seems to be a deliberate plan to push our young generation through state-run educational institutions towards apostasy, to wean them away from Islamic beliefs and identity, to speed their so-called ‘integration’, with the Hindutva idea of India. This is a very serious matter,” it added.

However, the reaction of the National Conference, led by Omar Abdullah, over the controversy was muted. Neither Omar, not any of the senior NC leaders issued any statement on the issue.

Additional spokesperson of the NC, Imran Nabi Dar, in a tweet said, “Somewhere in South Kashmir, these children are being MADE to sing Hindu devotional songs. Have our education institutions been turned into a political tool? The video is self-explanatory.”

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News Network
October 1,2022

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New Delhi, Oct 1: Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched 5G services in India today at a telecom event in Delhi. The service is expected to progressively cover the entire country over the next couple of years, potentially transforming India's digital landscape.

Here are key points

The PM launched the much-awaited service at the 6th Edition of India Mobile Congress 2022, being held from October 1-4, at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. 5G services will be available in 13 Indian cities after Diwali.

After inaugurating the exhibition, PM Modi went around pavilions set up by different telecom operators and technology providers to get a first-hand experience of what 5G can do. He started with Reliance Jio's stalls, where he witnessed the 'True 5G' devices displayed and experienced the use case through Jio Glass.

Flanked by Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and billionaires Mukesh Ambani of Reliance, Sunil Bharti Mittal of Bharti Airtel, and Kumar Mangalam Birla of Vodafone Idea, he spent time understanding the indigenous development of end-to-end 5G technology. He then visited stalls of Airtel, Vodafone Idea, C-DOT and others. 

The various use cases that will be demonstrated in front of the PM in the exhibition include precision drone-based farming, high-security routers and AI based cyber threat detection platforms, automated guided vehicles, Ambupod - smart ambulance, augmented reality/virtual reality /mix reality in education and skill development, sewage monitoring system, smart-agri programme, health diagnostics, among others.

India Mobile Congress (IMC), which claims to be the largest telecom, media, and technology forum in Asia, is jointly organised by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

Besides powering ultra-low latency connections, which allow downloading full-length high-quality video or movie to a mobile device in a matter of seconds (even in crowded areas), 5G can enable solutions such as e-health, connected vehicles, more-immersive augmented reality and metaverse experiences, life-saving use cases, and advanced mobile cloud gaming, among others.

"5G can unleash new economic opportunities and societal benefits, giving it the potential for being a transformational force for Indian society. It will help the country leapfrog the traditional barriers to development, spur innovations by startups and business enterprises as well as advance the 'Digital India' vision," an official release said. Experts have said 5G technology will greatly benefit India. It is likely to benefit the Indian economy by ₹ 36.4 trillion ($455 billion) between 2023 and 2040, a recent report by a global industry body representing mobile network operators estimated.

India's biggest ever auction of telecom spectrum held recently had received a record ₹ 1.5 lakh crore of bids, with Mukesh Ambani's Jio cornering nearly half of all the airwaves sold with a ₹ 88,078 crore bid.

The government has given a target of 80 per cent coverage of 5G telecom services in the country in a short timeframe, Union Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw had earlier said.

Addressing an industry event in the national capital recently, Mr Vaishnaw had said, "the journey of 5G is going to be very exciting and noted that many countries took multiple years to reach 40 per cent to 50 per cent coverage. But we are targeting a very aggressive timeline and the Government has given a target of 80 per cent coverage in a short time frame, and we should definitely cover at least 80 per cent in a very short timeframe."

Mukesh Ambani promises 5G across India by Dec 2023

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani on Saturday announced that his telcom firm Reliance Jio will launch 5G services across the country by December 2023.

Jio is rapidly progressing to roll out 5G services within this month.

Speaking at the IMC 2022 event, Ambani said Jio will launch affordable 5G services and cover every nook and corner of the country by December 2023.

 Top cities where 5G will be available

According to an official release, 5G, launched by the Prime Minister, will be available in select cities for now and it will progressively cover the entire country over the next couple of years. The first phase of launch comprises 13 cities namely: Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Jamnagar, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune and Lucknow. 

Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel are expected to be among the first telecom companies to offer the services.

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News Network
September 26,2022

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Doha: Islamic scholar and Founding President of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi passed away at the age of 96 today, September 26, 2022. 

The official account of the scholar announced the news on Twitter, followed by the same announcement on IUMS Twitter. "The Islamic nation has lost one of its most sincere and virtuous scholars,” the IUMS added.
Al Qaradawi was born in the Egyptian province of Gharbia in 1926. He was barely 10 years old when he was able to memorize and recite the Holy Quran.

Then he joined the institutes of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, then the Faculty of Fundamentals of Religion at Al-Azhar University, from which he obtained the international degree in the year 52 - 1953. 

Then he obtained the international degree with a teaching license from the Faculty of Arabic Language in 1954, and then in the year 1960, he obtained the higher preparatory study equivalent to the Master’s in the Science Division The Qur’an and Sunnah from the Faculty of Fundamentals of Religion, and in 1973 he obtained a PhD with distinction, with first class honors, from the same faculty, on “Zakat and its impact on addressing social problems”

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