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Catholics recall Gadhafi’s brutality, look to future

October 24th, 2011 Posted in International News Tags: , , ,


BEIRUT — Catholic leaders said they could not rejoice at the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, but they recalled some of his more brutal moments and speculated on the future of Christians in the region.

“Gadhafi brutalized people for 42 years. He lived by the sword and, therefore, it’s not surprising that he would die by the sword,” said Habib Malik, associate professor of history at the Lebanese American University, Byblos campus.

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‘Arab spring’ leaders must respect religious freedom, patriarch says


Catholic News Service

NEW YORK — Unless Middle Eastern countries support religious freedom and respect human rights, the “Arab spring” movement will devolve into an “Arab winter,” said Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai.

Patriarch Rai said the “Arab spring” movement holds much promise, but its leaders must “adopt a separation between religion and state.” He said such a system exists in his native Lebanon and “respects all religions and all values of each religion.”

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Vatican: Gadhafi’s death ends harsh regime

October 21st, 2011 Posted in Featured, International News, Vatican News Tags: , , , ,


Catholic News Service

VATCAN CITY — The Vatican said the death of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi marked the end of a “harsh and oppressive regime” that was based on power instead of human dignity.

It expressed hope that the bloodshed would end in the North African country, and that the new Libyan government would open a rebuilding phase based on “a spirit of inclusion” and social justice.

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British report finds state neglect of elderly


By Catholic News Service

LONDON — A report exposing the widespread neglect of the elderly in Britain’s state-run hospitals reveals “something deeply wrong” with the country’s health service, said the bishops of England and Wales.

The report by the Care Quality Commission, the regulator of all health and adult social care in England, discovered a range of abuses of elderly patients, including the failure to ensure that patients were fed properly or that their privacy was respected.

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Chinese cardinal on hunger strike


By Catholic News Service

HONG KONG (CNS) — Chinese Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun launched a hunger strike protesting a court decision on educational reform that threatens the management of Catholic schools.

Cardinal Zen, retired bishop of Hong Kong, began the three-day hunger strike Oct. 19 and said he would consume only water and communion until Oct. 22.

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European court denies patents derived from embryos

October 20th, 2011 Posted in International News Tags: , ,


By Simon Caldwell

Catholic News Service

LONDON — A leading Catholic bioethical institute has welcomed the decision of a European court to ban the patenting of any medical treatment derived from destructive experiments on human embryos.

The Oxford-based Anscombe Bioethics Centre praised the decision by the European Court of Justice as a “triumph of ethical standards over commercial interest.”

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Iraqi Christians want return to peace, meaningful jobs

October 18th, 2011 Posted in International News


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Iraqis want a return to peace, security and stability and the chance to secure meaningful employment, said two U.S. bishops who traveled to Baghdad in a demonstration of the American Catholic Church’s solidarity with the country’s violence-weary Christians.

Visiting Oct. 2-5 at the invitation of the bishops of Iraq, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., and Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, found Iraqi Christians confronting immense daily challenges while facing the threat of violence because of their faith.

Iraqis, the bishops said, repeatedly stressed the need for security and urged the prelates to share their story with the American church and government officials.

“People were grateful that two bishops from the U.S. had made the trip and felt a great sense of solidarity by our presence,” said Bishop Kicanas, who visited in his position as chairman of the Catholic Relief Service board of directors.

The bishops also were in Iraq to help promote stronger collaboration among the various segments of the Catholic Church to help bolster the Christian presence in the country.

“Clearly to the extent that the church in Baghdad can speak with one voice and in a unified way will make more effective their ability to impact on the society,” Bishop Kicanas said. “There is a tremendous amount of good happening by the church in Iraq, but what seemed to be possibly even more helpful is that those efforts to be of service and to help would be more unified.”

The number of Christians in Iraq has declined from about 1.5 million in 2000 to less than 500,000 in 2010, according to Iraqi Christians In Need, a British charity established to address the exodus of Christians from the country. The agency cited long-imposed economic sanctions, continuing violence and the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 as reasons for the mass migration of Christians from the country.

The status of struggling Christians in Iraq was among the topics explored in meetings with Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, apostolic nuncio to Iraq and Jordan, Cardinal Emmanuel-Karim Delly, Chaldean patriarch, Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni and other Iraqi bishops.

Bishop Kicanas and Bishop Murry said church leaders are particularly concerned about the future of young Christians who strive to leave the country because they see no future in remaining.

“The sad reality is that the flight from Iraq by Christians leads to not stability and security but in fact leads to economic difficulty and marginalization,” Bishop Kicanas said. “The (Iraqi) bishops try to explain that leaving isn’t going to be paradise.”

In a country where heavily armed government and private security forces, 10-foot concrete walls and barbed wire barricades are the norm, the American bishops experienced the depth of security concerns Iraqis have throughout their visit. It became readily apparent to them while praying with Syriac Archbishop Athanase Matoka of Baghdad, retired archbishop of Baghdad, at the Syriac Catholic Church of Our Lady of Deliverance, where 58 people died in a brutal assault last Oct. 31.

“You still see vivid remains of the attack,” Bishop Kicanas said, describing the impression of a machine gun in the church ceiling left by the force of the explosion set off by one of the suicide bombers. “This was a defining moment for Christians realizing they weren’t safe in their own homes or their own churches.”

Bishop Murry, said he found the deep feeling of fear people harbor overwhelming.

“It permeates everything there,” he said. “They go on with their lives, but this sense of the difficult situation these Christians are living, the lack of knowledge of what the future is going to be, they carry that around. In a sense they just live with it.”

The bishops also met with a priest who was kidnapped by one group, held for ransom and then released to a second group, which also demanded ransom before releasing him to his community.

The whirlwind trip included visits to Caritas Iraq-run programs, hospitals and schools during their whirlwind trip. Many of the Caritas Iraq programs are operated with support of CRS.

Caritas Iraq’s programs serve a mix of Christians and Muslims while focusing on assistance for victims of violence, health care, aid to children with disabilities, skill development, peace building and reconciliation.

At one site, an imam was addressing a group of Christians, helping them understand the basic tenets of the Muslim faith, Bishop Kicanas said.

“A lot of good things are being done by Caritas in the service of people of great need,” he said.

Bishop Murry noted that about 80 percent of the people served by Caritas Iraq programs are Muslim.

The bishops also celebrated Mass with Bishop Warduni at the Chaldean Catholic Church of the Assumption and with Latin-rite Archbishop Jean Sleiman of Baghdad, and visited the small Armenian community led by Archbishop Emmanuel Dabbaghian of Baghdad.

Bishops Kicanas and Murry planned to share their findings with their fellow bishops at the USCCB’s Nov. 14-17 meeting in Baltimore, Catholic Relief Services and the U.S. State Department.

“We can be a voice to speak for the Iraqi Christians in the United States, to the other bishops and to the U.S. government,” Bishop Murry said. “We have a moral obligation to help those people find a home, help those find a home for those who want to return to the country and work with the Iraqi government so people want to stay and want to return.”

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Pope puts his mark on third interfaith prayer summit

October 18th, 2011 Posted in International News, Uncategorized


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Slowly and carefully, the Vatican is setting the stage for the third edition of the interreligious “prayer for peace” encounter in the Italian pilgrimage town of Assisi.
The Oct. 27 event marks the 25th anniversary of the first such gathering. As in 1986, it is expected to draw representatives from many Christian denominations and more than a dozen other faiths. Read more »

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Priest shot dead in Philippines

October 18th, 2011 Posted in International News


By Catholic News Service

ARAKAN, Philippines — An Italian priest doing mission work in a remote area of the southern Philippines was gunned down inside the compound of Mother of Perpetual Help Parish in Arakan, said a local official.

Father Fausto Tentorio, 59, of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, was shot dead by a lone gunman Oct. 17 as he was about to board his pickup truck at around 7:30 a.m., said town councilor Leonardo Reovoca. An autopsy report said he was shot eight times.

The Asian church news agency UCA News reported that Reovoca said Father Tentorio had been an active law and order campaigner in Arakan and recently was appointed as head of a civilian anti-crime task force in the town.

“I am a witness to Father Tentorio’s strong stance against mining and other projects which are not sustainable and would harm and affect the indigenous peoples, in particular,” he said.

UCA News reported the murder was immediately condemned by the Diocese of Kidapawan, church groups and environmental organizations in the country.

“This is really heinous. We’re so sad and shocked that this killing happened in broad daylight,” said Kidapawan Bishop Romulo de la Cruz.

The suspect was wearing a crash helmet and made his escape by walking away casually from the scene to a nearby motorcycle, Reovoca said.

Father Giovanni Re, PIME Philippines regional superior, said Father Tentorio had escaped attempts on his life by paramilitary groups in the past, “but this is a bit of a surprise for us because the situation here has been quiet for some time.”

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front also condemned the killing, calling it a sign of degeneration of morality and spirituality in the country.

“This is brutality and savagery that no civilized men or groups could possibly do,” said Muhammad Ameen, chairman of the MILF Secretariat.

“What we really want is for authorities to act swiftly so that justice for Father Tentorio’s death would be achieved,” Bishop de la Cruz said.

Father Tentorio first arrived in the Philippines in 1978 and served in Zamboanga Archdiocese.

PIME Father Tullio Favali was killed in 1985 while serving as parish priest in the same province, North Cotabato.

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Freedom from hunger essential, pope says

October 17th, 2011 Posted in International News, Vatican News


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI appealed for immediate and long-term relief for the world’s hungry, saying the right to adequate nourishment is a fundamental part of the right to life.

The hunger crisis that affects millions of people today is a sign of the deep gulf between the haves and the have-nots of the world and calls for changes in lifestyle and in global economic mechanisms, the pope said in a message marking World Food Day Oct. 16. The text was addressed to Jacques Diouf, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

Citing the famine and refugee crisis in the Horn of Africa, the pope said the “painful images” of starving people underline the need for both emergency aid and long-term intervention to support agricultural production and distribution.

“Freedom from the yoke of hunger is the first concrete manifestation of that right to life which, although solemnly proclaimed, often remains far from being effectively implemented,” he said.

The theme of this year’s World Food Day focused on food prices, and the pope said current pricing volatility reflected the tendency toward speculation on food commodities. He said a new global attitude is needed.

“There are clear signs of the profound division between those who lack daily sustenance and those who have huge resources at their disposal,” he said. Given the dramatic nature of the problem, reflection and analysis are not enough — action must be taken, he said.

The pope said it was easy but mistaken to “reduce every consideration to the food demands of a growing population.” Demographic experts have predicted that the earth’s population will reach 7 billion by Oct. 31.

The real solution to food imbalances, the pope said, lies in modifying behavior and changing structures so that “every person, today and not tomorrow, has access to the necessary food resources” and so that agricultural production has stability.

He said the major challenges include lifestyle changes to promote moderation in consumption and the protection of natural resources, as well as new investments in agricultural infrastructure.

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