News/International

LibyaVATICAN CITY - The top Church official in Libya said the country’s current unrest is based on legitimate requests by young people for a better future.

Oil-rich Libya, unlike other north Africa hot spots Tunisia and Egypt, has the resources to satisfy those requests, Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, the apostolic vicar of Tripoli, told Vatican Radio.

“The people are asking for some things that are just. And they are fundamental requests of young people: to be able to have a house, a better salary, a job,” Martinelli said.

Beatification schedule for John Paul II released

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John Paul IIVATICAN CITY - The Vatican released a three-day schedule of events for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, and warned against people selling counterfeit tickets to the beatification liturgy, which is free and open to all.

Pope Benedict XVI will preside over the beatification Mass at 10 a.m. May 1 in St. Peter’s Square, the Vatican said. Immediately after Mass, the faithful can pray before Pope John Paul’s mortal remains, which will be set in front of the main altar in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The veneration “will continue until the flow of faithful ends,” it said.

World Social Forum works with — and for — the poor

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In Davos at the World Economic Forum you might get to see Bono, Bill Gates and Nicholas Sarkozy having a quiet little chat. But you won't get to see what the Mary Durran saw in Dakar, Senegal, during this year's World Social Forum.

"I witnessed an exchange yesterday (Feb. 7) between a Cambodian organization and a Senegalese organization," Durran, of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, told The Catholic Register in an e-mail.

The Cambodians were worried by how government officials and corporations were working together to drive small farmers off their land so the companies can produce crops for export.

Visitator to report Irish Church near collapse

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DUBLIN - Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley reportedly will tell Pope Benedict XVI that the Catholic Church in Ireland is “on the edge” of collapse due to the fallout from clerical abuse scandals.

O’Malley is one of several senior prelates — including Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins and Ottawa’s Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J. — charged by Pope Benedict with carrying out an apostolic visitation of the Irish Catholic Church following a series of highly critical judicial reports that revealed abuse by priests and a widespread culture of cover-up for decades among Church leaders.

After protests, priests fear Egyptian youths will turn away from Church

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NAIROBI, Kenya - Two priests with strong ties to Egypt fear young Egyptian Catholics will turn away from the Church because it did not back the protests that led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

"If we lose the youth in the Church, then we are done," said Fr. Makarios Isaac, an Egyptian-born priest of the archdiocese of Toronto and an associate of Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers who is currently based in Kenya.

Isaac, originally ordained for the Coptic Catholic diocese of Minya, Egypt, and the former diocesan development director there, said the main Muslim and Orthodox leaders forbade participation in the protests. He said the Coptic Catholic patriarch of Alexandria, Cardinal Antonios Naguib, told protesters to go home.

Rome diocese launches site dedicated to John Paul II's beatification

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ROME - The diocese of Rome launched a new web site dedicated to the beatification and canonization of Pope John Paul II.

Published in seven languages, the site www.karol-wojtyla.org offers news updates and background information on the late pope and his sainthood cause, as well as a live webcam of his tomb in the grotto of St. Peter's Basilica.

The web site also announced that the beatification ceremony in St. Peter's Square May 1, Divine Mercy Sunday, will be open to the public and no tickets will be required to attend. The evening before the ceremony, April 30, there will be a prayer vigil at Rome's ancient Circus Maximus racetrack, it said.

New round of talks in Anglican-Catholic dialogue

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As Catholics and Anglicans sit down again for official theological dialogue this spring, they face the challenge of adding to some of the most substantial and carefully reasoned theological documents written in the last 35 years.

“It’s been some of the best theology of the 20th century, and we’re into the 21st century now. It’s excellent theology,” said Margaret O’Gara, a former Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) member and professor at Toronto’s University of St. Michael’s College.

A new stage of ARCIC discussions opens May 17 to 27 at the Monastery of Bose in northern Italy. The international dialogue group has been asked by the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI to examine “the Church as communion — local and universal” and “how in  communion the local and universal Church comes to discern right ethical teaching.”

Pakistan 'surrenders' to blasphemy law

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LAHORE, Pakistan - The head of the Catholic Church in Pakistan expressed outrage at the government’s decision to withdraw a private member’s bill proposing changes in the country’s blasphemy law, calling it “an act of surrender.”

“It’s a mistake giving in to pressure by Islamic parties,” Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore, president of Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, told the Asian church news agency UCA News. “The government has totally caved in and there seems no prospect of changes in the controversial legislation in the near future.”

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told the National Assembly Feb. 2 that the government never intended to change the law and had disbanded the committee reviewing it. The blasphemy law makes insulting the Quran punishable by life imprisonment, and calls for the death penalty for insulting Mohammed.

Packers' chaplain expects record Super Bowl crowd — at pre-game Mass

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ALLOUEZ, Wis. - If the Super Bowl is anything like the National Football Conference championship game, Norbertine Father Jim Baraniak said he expected an overflow crowd.

The Packers' Catholic chaplain wasn't referring to the attendance at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, but rather the Mass to be celebrated before the big game Feb. 6.

In Chicago, before the Packers beat the Bears Jan. 23, "everybody showed up. We maxed out the room," said Baraniak.

"It was just unbelievable,. The Mass was full of energy. I felt nervous during the homily."

Officials can't stop North African protests, Arabic expert says

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Egypt protest and armyROME - Police and military officials will not be able to stop demonstrators in Egypt or other countries of North Africa, said the former rector of Rome's Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies.

"Ordinary people cannot tolerate any more the appalling conditions of human degradation in which they live. They say, 'Enough is enough' and believe that they have nothing to lose," the former rector, Fr. Justo Lacunza Balda, said in an e-mail to Catholic News Service in Rome.

"Therefore, neither the police nor the army will stop people in the Arab countries from demanding freedom and human dignity," he wrote Jan. 28 as massive protests intensified in Egypt.

The demonstrations began Jan. 25 as people took to the streets to protest unemployment, corruption and rising prices.

French Senate rejects legislation allowing euthanasia on demand

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PARIS — The French Senate has rejected legislation that would have permitted any adult to request a "quick and painless death."

Under the draft Bioethics Law amendment, French citizens would have been entitled to seek medical help to die when "in a terminal state, or with a serious and incurable illness causing physical or psychological pain." The right would have applied when the pain "cannot be alleviated or is considered unbearable," enabling doctors to bring about the patient's death "as the outcome of a deliberate act."

During the Senate's Jan. 26 debate on the amendment, Catholic pro-life groups conducted a vigil and protest, during which about 700 people pretended to be dead.