News/International

OTTAWA - Canadians are being urged to donate money to help feed 11 million people in the Horn of Africa who face possible starvation as drought and famine ravage the area.

The region, which includes Somali, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and the new Republic of South Sudan, is experiencing the worst drought in 60 years. Somalia’s been hardest hit and refugees are pouring into neighboring Kenya where one camp, designed to hold 90,000 people has swelled to more than 400,000.

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P) is one of several charities that have been designated as qualified agencies under a federal government fund-matching program. Every dollar donated to D&P for African relief by Sept. 16 will be matched by Ottawa.

“I saw a true humanitarian crisis at Dadaab,” said Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda, who recently visited Somalia. “The stories of how the women and children struggled to reach the camp are incredible. Their perseverance and courage must be matched by our willingness to help.”

Pope decries terror attacks in Norway

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In the wake of two terror attacks in Norway that left 76 people dead, Pope Benedict XVI called for an end to hatred and ideologies that promote evil.

"We are all deeply saddened by the serious terrorist acts," the pope said after praying the Angelus with pilgrims at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo July 24.

The pope launched an appeal "to abandon once and for all the path of violence and avoid principles of evil."

As a further expression of his condolences and prayers for those affected by the attacks, the pope sent a message to Norway's King Harald V. Written on behalf of the pope by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, the pope said he was praying for all those affected by "the acts of senseless violence perpetrated in Oslo and Utoya."

The pope asked that the country "be spiritually united in a determined resolve to reject the ways of hatred and conflict and to work together fearlessly in shaping a future of mutual respect, solidarity and freedom for coming generations."

In aftermath of Irish report on abuse, Vatican recalls nuncio

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VATICAN CITY - In an exceptional move, the Vatican recalled its nuncio to Ireland so that he could participate in meetings aimed at drafting the Vatican's formal response to an Irish government report on clerical sex abuse.

Following the publication July 13 of the so-called Cloyne Report, "and, particularly, after the reactions that followed, the secretary of state has recalled the apostolic nuncio in Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, for consultations," the Vatican said in a statement July 25.

Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican press office, said recalling the nuncio "denotes the seriousness of the situation, the desire of the Holy See to face it with objectivity and determination, as well as a certain note of surprise and disappointment over some excessive reactions" to the report and its accusations against the Vatican.

The Cloyne Report, which examined how the diocese of Cloyne handled accusations of clerical sexual abuse, said the bishop paid "little or no attention" to child safeguarding as recently as 2008 and that he falsely told the government his diocese was reporting all allegations of abuse to the civil authorities.

Irish prime minister says Vatican has 'calculated, withering' abuse stance

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DUBLIN — Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has accused the Vatican of adopting a "calculated, withering position" on abuse in the wake of a judicial report that accused the Holy See of being "entirely unhelpful" to Irish bishops trying to deal with abuse.

During a July 20 parliamentary debate, Kenny said an independent judicial investigation into the handling of clergy sexual abuse in the diocese of Cloyne "exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago."

"And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day," he said.

The Cloyne Report, published July 13, found that Cloyne Bishop John Magee, a former secretary to three popes, paid "little or no attention" to child safeguarding as recently as 2008. It said he falsely told the government that his diocese was reporting all allegations of clerical child sexual abuse to the civil authorities. It also found that the bishop deliberately misled another inquiry and his own advisers by creating two different accounts — one for the Vatican and the other for diocesan files — of a meeting with a priest-suspect.

Pope urges international aid for drought-stricken eastern Africa

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy — Pope Benedict XVI urged the international community to deliver urgent humanitarian aid to the drought-stricken Horn of Africa, especially Somalia, where tens of thousands have fled drought and famine.

The Pope, addressing pilgrims at his summer residence outside Rome July 17, said he had been following news of the region's humanitarian catastrophe with "deep concern." UN experts say the prolonged drought, combined with a rise in food prices, have forced many families to make long and often deadly overland treks to reach refugee camps.

Irish priests reject suggestion they break seal of Confession

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DUBLIN — The group that represents Ireland's Catholic priests says the secrecy of Confession must be protected, despite government indications that Confessions would not be exempt from rules on mandatory reporting of child abuse.

"The point is, if there is a law in the land, it has to be followed by everybody. There are no exceptions, there are no exemptions," said Irish Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Fr. P.J. Madden, spokesman for the Association of Catholic Priests, insisted that the sacramental seal of Confession is "above and beyond all else" and should not be broken even if a penitent confesses to a crime.

Madden said he would strongly urge and appeal to the penitent — whether a priest or anyone else — to confess a crime to the police and have the civil aspect dealt with, but that he did not approve of the idea of reporting what was said.

"If I'm breaking the law then somebody has to find a way to address that for me ... but in my own right as a priest what I understand is the seal of Confession is above and beyond all else," he said.

Latin American bishops seek dialogue on mining

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LIMA, Peru — When Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo first considered the high lead levels in the blood of children living in the Peruvian highland city of La Oroya, he asked himself, "What would Jesus do?"

Five years ago, the U.S.-owned mining company Doe Run was running a minerals smelter complex that was mainly responsible for the poor air quality in the fifth-most polluted city in the world, the archbishop told delegates at an international Latin American bishops' council seminar on extractive industries. The archbishop told delegates he answered his own question by beginning an ultimately successful campaign to close the complex.

Now, as the new president of the Latin American bishops' council department of justice and solidarity, Barreto has a four-year mandate to encourage the Latin American Church to consider and act on the question at the root of his ministry.

During the three-day seminar sponsored by the council, known by its acronym CELAM, 80 Church representatives from Latin America said they would seek dialogue with Canadian, American and European bishops on extractive industries and the mission of the Church and strengthen links with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. They also called on northern countries to value the rich Latin American biodiversity that is threatened by extractive industries.

Indian bishops call for unity against terrorism after Mumbai bombings

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VATICAN CITY — Indian bishops called for unity in the country's fight against terrorism in the wake of three bombs in Mumbai July 13 that left at least 17 people dead and more than 140 injured.

"We believe this is a moment in which the entire nation needs to be united in order to face terrorism with the greatest resolve. United in the spirit of brotherhood, we will be able to overcome the powers that are trying to destabilize our country," said a July 14 statement from the Indian bishops' conference.

The statement, published by the Vatican missionary news agency Fides, condemned the bomb attacks as "shameful acts." The explosions struck three crowded sites in Mumbai almost simultaneously during the evening rush hour. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Belfast bishop urges Catholics, Protestants to show restraint

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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.