News/International

BELFAST, Northern Ireland — The bishop of Belfast appealed for Catholic and Protestant residents to prove to the world they can live together in peace after fresh sectarian violence flared during the region's contentious Protestant marching season.

Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor appealed to both sides to show restraint and respect toward police after 22 police officers were injured July 11. Treanor appealed for both communities to "show the world that here in Northern Ireland we can live and let live in peace."

"Let us prove to ourselves and the world that we can celebrate our diversity in a manner that affirms our common dignity and future. Let us show that, when confronted with conflicting rights and traditions, we can make pathways of diversity and peace," he said.

On July 12, the traditional "Orangeman's day," Loyalist demonstrations commemorate the 1690 defeat of the Catholic King James II by the Protestant Prince William of Orange that definitively installed Protestantism as the religion of the British monarchy.

German court upholds conviction of Holocaust-denying bishop

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BERLIN — A German appeals court has upheld the conviction of a traditionalist bishop for denying the Holocaust.

On July 11, the court ruled against British Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of the Society of St. Pius X, who in a 2009 TV interview said that the Holocaust was exaggerated and that no Jews died in Nazi gas chambers.

The interview was aired by a Swedish TV network the same day the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI had lifted the excommunication of Williamson and three other of the society's bishops in an effort to reconcile with the traditionalist group.

Greek crisis could derail Church social projects

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OXFORD, England — Greece’s Catholic Church faces disaster because the current economic crisis is forcing it to end vital social and charitable projects, said Archbishop Nikolaos Foskolos of Athens.

“This crisis could be the worst in our history,” said Foskolos. “There’s corruption everywhere, especially among our politicians. We get no help from the state or other Western churches, and our faithful can’t give any more. Our parishes and dioceses are in deep trouble, and in a few months we won’t be able to support our staffers and employees.”

The archbishop voiced the concerns as European Union finance ministers released emergency funding to rescue the faltering Greek economy. Amid violent street protests the Greek legislature approved tough austerity measures and tax increases June 29, paving the way for the EU action.

The archbishop said the higher taxes would have more impact on the Catholic Church than on the country’s predominant state-supported Orthodox Church. But the Orthodox Church still faced “serious problems” after being told its clergy’s state-paid salaries would be cut by half, he said.

Vatican says ordinations for traditionalist society 'illegitimate'

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VATICAN CITY - The ordinations of 20 new priests for the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X are "illegitimate, period," said the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi.

Catholic groups join unions seeking work-free Sundays in Europe

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OXFORD, England - Catholic Church groups have joined trade unions in the European Sunday Alliance, which will campaign to protect Sundays and ensure fairer conditions for family life.

"Some people say there can never be a return to work-free Sundays — but the many working together in this alliance don't share this view," said Anna Echterhoff, legal adviser for institutional and social affairs at the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, one of the organizations supporting the alliance. "That so many stakeholders from different backgrounds are involved is something new and unique."

The alliance was launched June 20 in Brussels by 65 Church organizations, unions and civil associations. Among them are Europe's Catholic Youth Network, the Central Committee of German Catholics, representatives of the German bishops and the European Jesuits, Poland's Solidarity union, France's Force Ouvriere and the Danish food workers' union. It also includes family organizations from a dozen countries.

In a July 4 interview with Catholic News Service, Echterhoff said Sundays were protected under EU law as a rest day for children and adolescents. She said she hoped work-free Sundays would be reinstated under an EU directive now being prepared.

Ireland wants religious orders land, property to pay abuse victims

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DUBLIN - The Irish government has asked religious congregations implicated in the 2009 Ryan Report on abuse to transfer land and properties worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the state as part of a revised package to compensate victims.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn insisted that the 476 million euros ($681 million) already offered by the 18 congregations was not enough. He said he expected the congregations to pay 680 million euros and, if they are unable to do so, they should transfer the ownership of many of their schools to the state.

None of the 18 religious congregations concerned would speak on the record about the latest proposal. However, a number privately expressed reservations about the land transfer.

Order accuses Fr. Corapi of sexual, financial wrongdoing, falsehoods

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WASHINGTON - Fr. John A. Corapi, a highly visible speaker and preacher who had his own television show, was involved in "years of co-habitation" with a former prostitute, repeated abuse of alcohol and drugs and "serious violation" of his promise of poverty, according to a fact-finding team appointed by his religious order.

Corapi, who recently announced he would leave the priesthood because he could not get a "fair hearing" on misconduct allegations against him, has been ordered by the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity to return to live at the order's regional headquarters in Robstown, Texas, and to dismiss a lawsuit against the woman whose accusations prompted the investigation.

"Catholics should understand that (the order) does not consider Fr. John Corapi as fit for ministry," said a July 5 news release from Fr. Gerard Sheehan, regional priest servant for the order, commonly known as SOLT.

Budget surplus at Vatican, but worldwide giving down

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VATICAN CITY - The Vatican reported a budget surplus for the first time in four years in 2010, but said contributions from Catholics and dioceses around the world had gone down.

The budget of the Holy See, which includes offices of the Roman Curia and related agencies, ended 2010 with a surplus of about $13.1 million.

The separate budget of Vatican City State, which includes the Vatican Museums, ended 2010 with a surplus of about $28 million, according to a Vatican statement July 2.

The figures were released following a three-day meeting of a council of cardinals charged with reviewing Vatican finances. The statement said the Vatican's financial picture continued to improve, but it cautioned that the global financial picture still presented "elements of uncertainty and instability."

Exhibit for anniversary of Vatican archives to include WWII material

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VATICAN CITY - Documents from the still-sealed Second World War section of the Vatican Secret Archives will be part of a major exhibition of Vatican papers hosted by the city of Rome.

The exhibit marking the 400th anniversary of the Vatican archives will be open February-September 2012 at Rome's Capitoline Museums.

Bishop Sergio Pagano, prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, said that with special permission from the Vatican Secretariat of State "a very limited number" of documents related to the Second World War would be among the 100 documents and objects from the eighth to the 20th century placed on public display.

"The exhibit certainly will not be able to shed new light on Pius XII because (the archival papers from) this pontificate are still closed," the bishop said July 5 at a news conference announcing the exhibit.

Pope marks 60 years as a priest, bestows palliums on archbishops

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VATICAN CITY - Celebrating Mass with archbishops from 25 countries, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on his 60 years as a priest, calling it a demanding and "awe-inspiring" ministry that brought him closer to God.

The pope's unusually personal recollection came June 29, the anniversary of his priestly ordination in Bavaria in 1951 and the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome.

During the three-hour-long Mass, he gave 41 archbishops the woolen pallium as a sign of their communion with the pope and their pastoral responsibility as shepherds. Among them were four prelates from the United States and one from Canada, Gerald Lacroix of Quebec.

The liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica began with a fanfare of trumpets. The pope smiled as he processed toward an altar ringed with flowers, pausing to greet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

Approval of same-sex marriage will undermine New York families

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ALBANY, N.Y. - Following passage of legislation to allow same-sex marriage in the state, the Catholic bishops of New York expressed concern “that both marriage and family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government.”

In a June 24 statement, the heads of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses said they were “deeply disappointed and troubled” at approval of a bill that will “alter radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage.”

The state Senate passed the measure 33-29 in an evening vote June 24, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it into law later that night. Unless it is delayed by legal challenges, it will take effect in late July.

New York would then become the sixth state to permit same-sex marriage. It currently is allowed in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, in addition to the District of Columbia.