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Fear silences Christians in Pakistan, archbishop says

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TORONTO — Fear has silenced the voice of Pakistani Christians since the political murder of Shahbaz Bhatti last spring, said the retired archbishop of Lahore, Pakistan.

“People are very sad, very bitter. They said, ‘If that happens to him what happens to us?'” Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha said in mid-November.

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In Benin, pope urges Africans to uphold family values

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COTONOU, Benin — Arriving in Benin for a three-day visit, Pope Benedict XVI urged the African continent to protect its ancient values in the face of spiritual and ethical erosion.

“The transition to modernity must be guided by sure criteria based on recognized virtues … firmly rooted in the dignity of the person, the importance of the family and respect for life,” the pope said after arriving Nov. 18 at Cardinal Bernardin Gantin International Airport in Cotonou.

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Church leaders wary of ‘World Heritage’ status for Bethlehem church

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JERUSALEM — Palestinians are hopeful that UNESCO will recognize the city of Bethlehem as the first Palestinian World Heritage Site, but Franciscans in charge of the city’s holy places say they do not want them included in the classification.

“We don’t want the (UNESCO) recognition for the holy places,” said a Franciscan source who asked not to be named. “We fear it could lead to nationalization of the shrines. The shrines are not tourist places, but are places of prayer and worship.”

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Priest describes being attacked in Haiti

November 18th, 2011 Posted in International News Tags: , ,

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MONTREAL — A Quebec priest, Franciscan Father Raymond Mailhiot, has published a harrowing account of an armed holdup that he survived in Haiti.

In a long letter published on Facebook and sent to Catholic News Service, the Franciscan missionary wrote that the group of four or five heavily armed thieves in the Cite Soleil slum even cried, “Let’s kill the priest!” when they discovered that the Franciscans had no money.

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Nun who worked for tribal rights killed in India

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NEW DELHI — A 53-year-old nun from Kerala who led campaigns to defend tribal rights was shot dead in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.

Sister Valsa John, who belonged to the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, was killed early Nov. 15 near her home near the city of Dumka, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

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Prevalence of rape destroying Congo, says church official

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The high incidence of rape in Congo is not just destroying women, but is destroying the nation’s society, said the general secretary of the church’s national justice and peace commission.

In Africa, the woman is “the central and most important guardian of values in society,” said the general secretary, Sister Marie-Bernard Alima, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Kalemie.

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2012 papal trip to Mexico, Cuba being studied seriously, spokesman says

November 10th, 2011 Posted in International News

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Vatican officials are at an advanced stage in studying the possibility of a papal trip to Mexico and Cuba in the spring of 2012, the Vatican spokesman said.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the spokesman, told reporters Nov. 10 that the nuncios to Mexico and Cuba have been told to inform those governments that “the pope is studying a concrete plan to visit the two countries, responding to the invitations received” from them.

Father Lombardi said a definite decision regarding a trip in the spring should be made within a few weeks. The fact that the nuncios were asked to inform the governments demonstrates the advanced nature of the planning, he said. Read more »

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British court: Church can be held liable

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MANCHESTER, England — A British court has ruled that the Catholic Church can be held legally liable for the crimes of abusive clergy.

The Nov. 8 ruling by the High Court in London for the first time defined in British law the relationship of a priest to his bishop as that of an employee to an employer, instead of seeing the priest as effectively self-employed.

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Priests urge Hanoi Catholics to remain calm after attacks

November 8th, 2011 Posted in International News Tags: , , , ,

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HANOI, Vietnam — Redemptorists at a Hanoi parish have urged local Catholics to keep calm after a mob led by government officials attacked a convent and church in early November.

The Asian church news agency UCA News reported tens of thousands of people attended 10 special Masses celebrated Nov. 5-6 at Thai Ha Church in the capital. Each Mass was attended by an estimated 3,000-5,000 people.

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Analysis: Latin America’s indigenous want voice in use of their land

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LIMA, Peru — Most of the environmental battles Brother Paul McAuley fights seem endless, mainly conflicts between indigenous communities and loggers operating on their lands or oil companies that have spilled toxic substances into their waterways.

Sometimes, however, there’s a victory. In mid-October, the Peruvian government overturned a law that would have allowed water from one of the main tributaries of the Amazon River to be diverted to irrigate export agriculture operations on Peru’s desert coast, a measure critics called a political-patronage boondoggle.

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