Thursday, January 18, 2007


Pope backs bishop picked by Beijing

HONG KONG — Pope Benedict XVI has approved the ordination of a Catholic priest selected by Beijing to become bishop of the southern city of Guangzhou, a Hong Kong newspaper reported yesterday.

The mutual agreement on the elevation of the Rev. Gan Junqiu may improve relations between the Vatican and Beijing, which have been strained since China’s unilateral ordination of three bishops last year.

China has no diplomatic relations with the Vatican and only allows Catholics to worship at government-backed churches.

The Vatican this weekend is to hold a special strategy meeting on how to deal with the communist country. A Vatican spokesman said the meeting will be presided over by Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and attended by China specialists in the Vatican and bishops from Asia, including Hong Kong’s Cardinal Joseph Zen.


Girl who disappeared in ‘88 found in jungle

PHNOM PENH — A woman who disappeared in the jungles of northeastern Cambodia as a child has been found 19 years later, police and a man claiming to be her father said yesterday.

The woman — identified as Rochom P’ngieng, 27 — does not speak any intelligible language, according to Sal Lou, a village policeman who said he is her father. He said he recognized his daughter by a scar on her right arm.

Rochom P’ngieng, then 8, disappeared in 1988 while herding buffalo in a remote area, said a police official in Rattanakiri province about 200 miles northeast of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

The woman was found Saturday after a villager noticed that food had disappeared from a lunchbox he left near his farm.


EU seeks to halt aid following coup

SUVA — The European Union moved yesterday toward suspending millions of dollars of aid to Fiji after last month’s coup in the poor South Pacific nation.

The union’s executive branch, the European Commission, announced here yesterday it was proposing to hold consultations with Fiji that could lead to a suspension of aid.

“With the welfare of the people of Fiji in mind, we hope that the situation can be remedied through consultations and that we can avoid suspension of our cooperation,” said Louis Michel, the commissioner responsible for development and humanitarian aid.

Weekly notes …

Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will visit Pope Benedict XVI during a visit to Italy Thursday in the first meeting between a leader of the communist nation and a head of the Roman Catholic Church, officials confirmed yesterday. … An Iraq-born grandmother caught trying to smuggle heroin into Australia in her underwear was jailed for up to six years yesterday. New Zealand citizen Fawzieh Nona Danial, 58, was arrested after arriving in Sydney on a flight from Vietnam last March.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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