New bishop shows changing face of Australian church

ANALYSIS

EAST MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA -- “Tonight I have been raised to new heights literally at both ends, though I still feel relatively small.” These were the first words of newly ordained Auxiliary Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen of Melbourne in his remarks at the end of a historic ordination ceremony here on June 23, when the first Asian-born priest was welcomed into the Australian episcopacy.

Long’s words take credence not only because he was standing alongside the much taller Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne and Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, but also because of what the new bishop perceives as the great challenges and tasks that lie ahead for him.

Born in Dong Nai, Vietnam, in 1961, Long Van Nguyen fled his country in 1979 on an overcrowded boat and was at sea for eight days before ending up in Malaysia. He was in a refugee camp for more than a year and later resettled in Australia. He joined the Conventual Franciscans in Melbourne, was ordained in 1989, pursued a licentiate in Rome, and rose through the ecclesiastical ranks quickly.

Christmas in Beijing

BEIJING -- We knew that Christmas was in the air as we walked into the Beijing Capital International Airport, not only because it was December but also because of the huge and elegant nativity scene and Christmas decorations that adorned the airport's arrival hall.

Why is the Chinese government celebrating Christmas? Is this not the same people who persecuted, tortured and expelled Christians? Is this not the same regime which crushed all forms of religious expressions during the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution? Is this not the country whose synonyms are communist and atheist?

Like water on stone: Asian women's strategies for peace

HUA HIN, Thailand --An Asian women theologians' conference held recently in Thailand explored how women, through purposeful and sustained action, can bring about peace in situations of conflict.

Twenty-eight women theologians from 11 Asian countries and two collaborators from the West gathered in Hua Hin, Thailand, Aug. 26-30 to discuss "Practicing Peace: Toward an Asian Feminist Theology of Liberation."