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Belgian bishops pledge to pay damages to abuse victims

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Catholic News Service

OXFORD, England — Belgium’s Catholic bishops have pledged a “culture of vigilance” against future sexual abuse by priests and said guilty clergy must compensate their victims even if their crimes are no longer punishable by law.

“We cannot repair the past, but we can take moral responsibility by recognizing sufferings and helping victims recover,” Bishop Guy Harpigny of Torunai and Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp, the church’s delegates for abuse, told a Brussels news conference Jan. 12.

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Nigerian bishops call for end to nation’s strike

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LAGOS, Nigeria — The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria called on the Nigerian government and organized labor to negotiate a settlement to a crippling nationwide strike.

The bishops expressed concern Jan. 12 that “things seem to be deteriorating by the day” as the country endured the fifth day of a work stoppage that at times erupted into violence.

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Bishops see hope, fear in visit to Mideast Christians

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Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM — Almost a year after the eruption of the Arab Spring uprisings, the Middle East is a place of hope and fear for Christians, said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz.

Bishop Kicanas, chairman of the board of the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services, was in Baghdad late last year and visited Egypt prior to his arrival in Jerusalem Jan. 8-12 for the annual Holy Land Coordination meeting with bishops from the United States, Canada and Europe.

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Sarkozy: St. Joan of Arc embodies ‘Christian roots of France’

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DOMREMY, France — French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised his country’s patron, St. Joan of Arc, for helping “forge the national conscience.”

“For the church, Joan is a saint. For the republic, she’s the incarnation of the finest French virtues, including a patriotism that consists of loving one’s homeland without resenting others,” the president said Jan. 6 after attending Mass at Domremy to mark the 600th anniversary of her birth.

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John Paul II tried to end Irish inmates’ 1981 hunger strike

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Catholic News Service

DUBLIN — Declassified British documents reveal the extent to which Pope John Paul II tried unsuccessfully to intervene to end a 1981 hunger strike by Catholic prisoners in a British jail in Northern Ireland.

The documents claim that, after the pope sent a special envoy, the leader of the Provisional Irish Republican Army prisoners, Bobby Sands, was willing to suspend the fast just days before he died.

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Italian experts need lasers to re-create Shroud of Turin effect

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Using high-tech lasers shooting pulses of ultraviolet light, Italy’s national research agency succeeded in reproducing on linen cloth colorations similar to those seen on the Shroud of Turin.

The enormous technical difficulty in achieving the positive results also makes it highly unlikely that the shroud is a fake from medieval times, the agency said.

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Nigerian bishops call for security after church bombings

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Catholic News Service

LAGOS, Nigeria — Catholic leaders condemned the spate of bomb blasts in Nigeria and urged the government to get control of security.

Lagos Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie criticized the government for its failure to protect citizens.

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Pope’s visit Mexico March 23-26

December 28th, 2011 Posted in International News Tags: , , , ,

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MEXICO CITY — A spokesman for the Mexican bishops’ conference confirmed details of Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming visit to Mexico originally published by the newspaper Reforma, which reported the papal visit would occur March 23-26.

The spokesman, Father Manuel Corral, stressed that details of the visit “are not official,” although he said the pope would only visit the state of Guanajuato and its environs in west-central Mexico. Father Corral said specific details of the visit would likely be made public before the end of the year.

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Midnight Masses canceled in Iraq because of security concerns

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LONDON — Chaldean Catholic officials have canceled traditional Christmas Eve midnight Masses because of security risks.

Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk in northern Iraq told the agency Aid to the Church in Need that Christians will spend Christmas in “great fear” because of the risk of new attacks.

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Patriarch offers hope to Middle East Christians

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Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM — Amid continuing turmoil in the Middle East, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem sent a message of hope and support to Christians of the region.

“It is a very difficult situation. We have to support them. They must not lose hope,” the patriarch said at a Dec. 21 news conference where he delivered his Christmas message. “We are not alone, many people, including the Vatican, are concerned about the situation and this gives more hope.”

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