The Catholic Herald profiles 10 Catholics around the world who showed extraordinary courage, skill and determination during 2011.
1. Shahbaz Bhatti
On March 2 masked men sprayed Shahbaz Bhatti’s car with bullets as he left his mother’s home. Shahbaz (pictured), a brilliant lawyer and the only Christian Minister in the country’s government, was murdered for opposing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. David Cameron called his assassination “absolutely brutal and unacceptable”.
In his role as Federal Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz frequently criticised the abuse of the blasphemy laws, saying they were used as a pretext to persecute innocent Christians. He knew that he was endangering his own life by speaking out. Pakistani law can impose execution or life imprisonment for offences against Islam.
2. Dylan Parry
The “reluctant sinner”, as Dylan Parry is known to those who read his blog, masterminded the creation of a pioneering guild for Catholic bloggers in Britain. Aiming to unite bloggers in the “real world”, the guild arranges events and meetings for Catholic bloggers to meet face to face and share about the joys and woes of evangelising views online.
Dylan took inspiration from St Paul who exhorts us “therefore encourage each other, and build each other up”. Last May, Dylan was invited to the Vatican meeting for bloggers where he met Mgr Paul Tighe of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications who supported Dylan’s idea of setting up a guild that would benefit both the Church and bloggers. The guild adopted Blessed Titus Brandsma, killed by the SS after he criticised anti-Jewish marriage laws as a patron.
3. Mgr Keith Newton
Pope Benedict personally appointed Mgr Keith Newton as Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, after he was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in January, having resigned as a Church of England bishop last year.
On April 1 Pope Benedict received Mgr Newton in a private audience. This was taken as a sign of the Holy Father’s continued support for the ordinariate. Mgr Newton, accompanied by Cardinal Levada and Bishop Hopes, presented the Holy Father with gifts on behalf of the ordinariate.
FULL STORY Ten Amazing Catholics of the year (Catholic Herald)