News/International

VATICAN CITY - The majority of the world's fertility specialists have spent so much time and effort trying to promote and perfect in vitro fertilization that they have wasted resources and time that could have been used to find ways to prevent and treat infertility, a U.S. physician told a Vatican audience.

"Infertility is a symptom of an underlying condition," and too many physicians do not even attempt to find the cause and treat it; they simply recommend in vitro fertilization, said Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers, a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life and director of the Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, Neb.

Spokesman defends record as Polish bishops prepare to adopt guidelines

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WARSAW, Poland - The spokesman for the Polish bishops' conference defended its handling of sexual abuse accusations against Catholic clergy as the bishops prepared to adopt guidelines on the issue.

"The church is the only institution in Poland systematically dealing with this -- no one else is," said Father Jozef Kloch, conference spokesman. "Although we're being used as a whipping boy, we know from data there's a much lower incidence of pedophilia among Catholic priests than clergy from other denominations, as well as teachers, home care employees, sports coaches and, unfortunately, parents and relatives."

Benghazi bishop recalls Libyan revolution, looks ahead to rebuilding

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BENGHAZI, Libya - As Benghazi residents marked the anniversary of Libya's revolution, the head of the city's diminished Catholic community spoke of a need to rebuild his congregation and of the uncertainties ahead.

"Thank God everything passed peacefully" on the anniversary, Bishop Sylvester Magro said after the Feb. 19 Mass attended by just a few dozen, mainly Filipino, worshippers.

"After such a prolonged war you are always in doubt of what might happen next," the bishop said.

Gov. Christie vetoes same-sex marriage bill, wants issue put to voters

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TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Feb. 17 made good on his pledge to veto a bill legalizing same-sex marriage passed by the state Legislature but at the same time said he might name an ombudsman to make sure the state's current law recognizing civil unions is respected.

The state Assembly passed the bill Feb. 16 with a 42-33 vote. The state Senate approved it 24-16 Feb. 13.

Nuncio to Irish Catholics: Pope knows abuse scandals made lives tough

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DUBLIN - Pope Benedict XVI is acutely aware that recent years have been tough for Irish Catholics as a result of the clerical sex abuse scandals, said the new apostolic nuncio to Ireland.

Speaking during a Mass to mark his formal welcome as Pope Benedict's representative in Dublin Feb. 19, U.S. Archbishop Charles Brown said the pontiff understands "that these recent years have been difficult for Catholic believers in Ireland."

Archbishop Brown said the Pope was "scandalized and dismayed as he learned about the tragedy of abuse perpetrated by some members of the clergy and of religious congregations. He felt deeply the wounds of those who had been harmed and who so often had not been listened to."

Arms treaty need to protect poor, Vatican's UN observer says

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VATICAN CITY - The unregulated sale and transfer of weapons and weapons' technology harm the poor and threaten peace and security around the world, a Vatican official told a U.N. meeting.

Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations, addressed a committee preparing for the U.N. Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty; the conference will be in July.

British Catholics urged to help house Olympic athletes, families

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MANCHESTER, England - Catholics in British cities hosting events for the 2012 Olympic Games are being urged to show hospitality to athletes who cannot afford to stay in hotels.

They are being encouraged to register with the Athlete Family Homestay Program and open their homes for eight days or more to Olympic and Paralympic competitors and their families from poor nations.

Meet the press: New U.S. cardinals share quips, serious reflections

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ROME - Dressed in red from head to toe -- well, almost -- the two new U.S. cardinals met the press after the consistory Feb. 18, sharing humorous quips and serious reflections.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York warned photographers not to take pictures of his feet because, he said, "I forgot to put on my red socks."

Meeting the media at Rome's Pontifical North American College before a reception, both Cardinal Dolan and Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, said the first thing on their minds as they walked up to Pope Benedict XVI to receive their red hats was not to trip and fall.

Honduran diocese works to help survivors of deadly prison fire

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SAN SALVADOR - The Diocese of Comayagua is working with prison authorities to try to help survivors of one of the world's deadliest prison fires.

Bishop Roberto Camilleri of Comayagua, where more than 350 people died overnight Feb. 14, said he visited with survivors and took them water, "because some small aid has started to come to our diocese."

"I talked with them because our presence is important to give them spiritual support," Bishop Camilleri told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview Feb. 16.

Chaplain: Honduran prison, site of fire that killed 300, had triple number of inmates

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MEXICO CITY - The prison in Comayagua, Honduras -- scene of a fire that killed more than 300 inmates -- was holding more than three times the population it was designed to house, said the prison chaplain, Father Reinaldo Moncada.

Father Moncada told Catholic News Service Feb. 15 that conditions in the prison were "inhumane" but said, unlike some other fires, it was not related to fights between rival criminal gangs inside the prison.

New papal representative to Ireland promises to strengthen relations

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DUBLIN - Pope Benedict XVI's new representative to Ireland has promised to strengthen relations between the country and the Holy See.

Archbishop Charles Brown, a native of New York, spoke while presenting his credentials as apostolic nuncio to Ireland and dean of the country's diplomatic corps to President Michael Higgins.