News/International

MELBOURNE, Fla. - Dec. 2 marks the 30th anniversary of the martyrdom of Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, lay missionary Jean Donovan and Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, the four churchwomen of El Salvador who were savagely brutalized and killed for spreading the good news and teaching people to read and pray.

“I can’t say this to anybody because they wouldn’t understand,” Kazel wrote to her former missionary partner, Sr. Martha Owen, in October 1980. “I want you to explain why I have to stay.”

Cardinal calls for campaign to end Christian persecution

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Burnt churchVATICAN CITY (CNS) — The international community must begin fighting discrimination against Christians with the same determination it shows in opposing intolerance and discrimination against members of other religious groups, said the Vatican secretary of state.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone told the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Dec. 1, "It has been widely documented that Christians are the most persecuted and discriminated against religious group. More than 200 million of them, belonging to different confessions, find themselves in difficulty because of legal and cultural structures."

Into the 'Light': Pope Benedict comes into clearer focus in new book

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Light of the worldVATICAN CITY - In the middle of Pope Benedict XVI's new book is a story about a hat, and it sheds light on the trials and tribulations of the modern papacy.

The book's interviewer, German journalist Peter Seewald, recalled a public appearance one winter day when the Pope donned the "camauro," a red velvet cap trimmed with ermine that was last worn by Pope John XXIII. Seewald suggested this was one of those subtle signals that marked a return to the old ways of the Church.

Sometimes condom use is lesser evil, says Pope

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Light of the worldVATICAN CITY - The use of condoms may be a sign of moral responsibility and acceptable in some specific situations when the intention is to reduce the risk of AIDS, said Pope Benedict XVI in a new book.

The Pope addressed the issue in the book-length interview, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times. He indicated that condom use in a heterosexual relation is a lesser evil than transmitting disease.

South Korean priests criticize North Korean shelling

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koreaINCHEON, South Korea - A South Korean chancellor whose diocese was affected by the recent North Korean military provocation criticized the aggression and expressed concern for local residents.

"The relationship between the North and the South worsened under the current South Korean government," Fr. John Kim Yong-hwan, chancellor of Incheon, which covers Yeonpyeong Island, told the Asian church news agency UCA News. "The South Korean government should introduce dialogue and embrace the North."

Cambodian Catholics plan special Mass for victims of bridge stampede

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cambodia stampedePHNOM PENH, Cambodia - The Catholic Church in Cambodia planned a special Mass for victims of a bridge stampede during the Water Festival on Diamond Island in Phnom Penh, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

The chaos Nov. 22 that killed more than 375 people and injured at least 755 was seen as the biggest tragedy for Cambodians since the Pol Pot regime, said Prime Minister Hun Sen. The government announced it will give five million riel ($1,230) to each family of the dead for transporting the bodies. It also scheduled Nov. 25 as a national day of mourning.

In new book, pope addresses sex abuse, condoms, possible resignation

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Light of the worldROME (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI's book-length interview is certain to spark global attention, and not only for his comments suggesting that condom use might be acceptable in some circumstances.

In the 219-page book, "Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times," the German pontiff spoke candidly on the clerical sex abuse scandal, relations with Islam, papal resignation and the "threatening catastrophe" facing humanity.

Haiti death toll from cholera nears 1,000

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Haiti girls schoolPORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti  - Cholera in Haiti has killed close to 1,000 people and hospitalized more than 14,000 as parish volunteers and international aid organizations scramble to minimize the impact in Port-au-Prince, where one million people are still living in tents after last January’s devastating earthquake.

As of Nov. 15 the official death toll was 917 and it is not expected to peak for a number of weeks yet.

Symptoms of cholera, a water-borne infectious disease, include diarrhea, vomiting and fever. Untreated, the resulting dehydration is fatal.

U.S. must ensure Iraqi Christians safety

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iraq funeralWASHINGTON - The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the U.S. government to “redouble its efforts to assist Iraqis” in providing safety for its citizens, especially religious minorities.

“To meet its moral obligations to the Iraqi people, it is critically important that the United States take additional steps now to help Iraq protect its citizens, especially Christians and others who are victims of organized attacks,” said Cardinal Francis George in a Nov. 9 letter to U.S. President Barack Obama.

Respect for religion is vital for peace, Pope tells Iranian leader

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VATICAN CITY - Respect for each person's relationship with God is an essential part of building a just social order and real peace, Pope Benedict XVI said in a letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  VATICAN CITY - Respect for each person's relationship with God is an essential part of building a just social order and real peace, Pope Benedict XVI said in a letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"It is my profound conviction that respect for the transcendent dimension of the human person is an indispensable condition for the construction of a just social order and a stable peace," the Pope wrote to the Iranian leader.

Hygiene kits in high demand as cholera spreads in Haiti

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Haiti girls foodPORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - As the official cholera toll reached 724 dead with 10,000 people treated in hospitals for the deadly bacteria as of Nov. 11, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has given Caritas Haiti $123,000 to finance distribution of 3,000 more emergency hygiene kits.

Caritas Haiti had exhausted its emergency stores of 76,000 hygiene kits, including aquatabs to purify water. The new hygiene kits will be distributed in 20 tent-city camps around Port-au-Pince, Haiti’s capital, where parish volunteers in the camps will be trained by medical professionals in cholera prevention.

There are more than one million Haitians still living in tents 10 months after the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed 230,000.