News/International

GALLUP, N.M. - For some, Father Emil Kapaun may be a footnote in a conflict many have come to know as the "Forgotten War," but for John Moore of Gallup, the Korean War chaplain's heroic exploits deserve the attention of congressional and Vatican officials in a movement to have the Kansas priest honored with the Medal of Honor as well as sainthood.

For his part, Moore, 61, embarked on a 630-mile pilgrimage Sept. 11 from the National Cemetery in Santa Fe to Pilsen, Kan., Father Kapaun's rural hometown in the Wichita Diocese, where Moore arrived the morning of Nov. 11, Veterans Day.

In Mexico, Pope to address issue of violence, Vatican official says

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VATICAN CITY - Mexico's high level of violence is of deep concern and will surely be addressed by Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to the country next year, said a Vatican official.

The Vatican missionary news agency Fides reported that during a news conference in Merida, Mexico, Nov. 22, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to Mexico, said the Pope's visit will provide hope for the country and bring a message of "peace and encouragement" to people suffering from violence.

Vatican plans pastoral guidelines for church personnel in AIDS care

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VATICAN CITY - The Vatican is committed to publishing a set of pastoral guidelines for church personnel engaged in AIDS care and prevention, but it probably won't happen for at least a year, a Vatican official said.

The guidelines are expected to treat the issue of condoms in AIDS prevention, but as part of a much wider approach to the question of the treatment and spread of the disease.

Msgr. Jean-Marie Mpendawatu, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, told reporters Nov. 22 that the first step toward the guidelines was the imminent publication of the acts of a conference on AIDS sponsored by the Vatican last May.

Pope's critique of global economic system resurfaces in Africa

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VATICAN CITY - A few minutes after landing in Africa, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a stern warning against the "unconditional surrender to the law of the market or that of finance" in Africa and throughout the global economic system.

His words were immediately seized upon by those wondering where the German pope stood on a recent Vatican document that proposed the creation of a world political authority to regulate financial markets and rein in the "inequalities and distortions of capitalist development."

In Africa, Pope asks church to be model of reconciliation

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COTONOU, Benin - On a three-day visit to Benin, Pope Benedict XVI urged African Catholics to witness the hope of the Gospel in their daily lives and make the church a model of reconciliation for the entire continent.

In a particular way, the church must be "attentive to the cry of the poor, the weak, the outcast," the Pope said at a Mass Nov. 20 for more than 50,000 people who filled a stadium in Cotonou.

"I would like to greet with affection all those persons who are suffering, those who are sick, those affected by AIDS or by other illnesses, to all those forgotten by society. Have courage! The Pope is close to you in his thoughts and prayers," he said.

Lapse in handling remains of war dead surprises military chaplains

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Serving at the Pentagon crash site and offering prayers for the dead as the remains of those killed in the 9/11 attack there were recovered, Father Robert L. Marciano will never forget the reverence with which the military cared for the remains of those lost in the line of service to their country that day.

So it came as a surprise to the chaplain when the U.S. Air Force acknowledged Nov. 8 that staff at its Dover, Del., military mortuary had lost body parts or mishandled the remains of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan after they were shipped home from the battlefield.

Quebec Franciscan will remain in Haiti despite robbery

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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.

Mailhiot and three novices were returning from a retreat in southeastern Haiti Nov. 2 when they were surrounded as they drove along the Route de Drouillard, a notorious crime spot as it enters Port-au-Prince from the south of the country.

Benetton removes image of Pope kissing Muslim leader

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VATICAN CITY - Hours after the Vatican condemned an Italian ad campaign that depicted Pope Benedict XVI kissing a Muslim leader, the Italian fashion house Benetton withdrew the photo.

The campaign is titled "Unhate" and features doctored images of supposedly antagonistic world leaders in kissing scenes. The Vatican called offensive the image of Pope Benedict embracing Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, president of al-Azhar University in Cairo, who announced the suspension of dialogue with the Vatican earlier this year. And the Vatican has instructed its lawyers to take action to block circulation — including in the mass media — of the provocative photo montage

The ads were unveiled Nov. 16, and a few hours later the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, registered a strong protest. He condemned what he called "a completely unacceptable use of the image of the Holy Father, manipulated and exploited in the context of a publicity campaign for commercial ends."

Nun hacked to death in eastern India

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NEW DELHI - Church leaders in Kerala state have expressed shock and outrage over the killing of Sr. Valsa John, who campaigned for tribal rights in eastern India.

Sr. John, 53, a member of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, was hacked to death at her home in a remote area of the east Indian state of Jharkhand. Earlier reports had said the nun had been shot dead.

The Asian Church news agency UCA News cited unspecified reports that a mob of around 50 people gathered outside Sr. John's home early Nov. 16, shortly before her death.

Vatican financial document took complex route to delivery

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VATICAN CITY - The unusual and somewhat mysterious gestation process of Vatican documents came into the spotlight recently, thanks to a controversial white paper on economic justice.

In essence, critics of the document -- which called for a global authority to curb the excesses of financial markets -- speculated that its authorspo had done an "end run" to avoid the pre-publication scrutiny of top Vatican officials.

That turned out not to be true, but the episode illustrated that the editing and approval procedures at the Vatican are less than transparent and far from uniform.

French-based Catholic movement says founder was sex abuser

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VATICAN CITY - A Catholic movement based in France has acknowledged with "humility and repentance" that acts of sexual abuse were committed by its founder and other important members of the organization.

The Community of the Beatitudes, in a statement posted on its French website Nov. 16, said that under the oversight of a commissioner appointed last year by the Vatican, it was undergoing a process of "purification, restructuring and re-founding."

The detailed statement came two weeks ahead of the scheduled start of a criminal trial of Brother Pierre-Etienne Albert, a top member of the community, who has been accused of dozens of acts of sexual abuse of minors over a period of 15 years.