News/International

{mosimage}WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pro-life advocates universally condemned the May 31 murder of a Kansas abortion doctor, with officials from several U.S. right-to-life groups saying such extreme acts only hurt the pro-life cause.

"We condemn this lawless act of violence," said Charmaine Yoest, president of the Americans United for Life . "The foundational right to life that our work is dedicated to extends to everyone. Whoever is responsible for this reprehensible violence must be brought to justice under the law."

Up to 35,000 Tamil civilian casualties, says Catholic aid worker

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{mosimage}A Catholic aid worker who left Sri Lanka days before the end of his country's 26-year civil war has told The Catholic Register that between 25,000 and 35,000 Tamil civilians were killed or injured in the final days of the war.

The aid worker said Sri Lanka's military used multi-barreled rocket launchers, cluster bombs and chemical weapons in heavily populated areas held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the rebel army that once held sway in most of Sri Lanka's north and east.

Bishop praises California court for affirming voters’ right to define marriage

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{mosimage}WASHINGTON - Speaking on behalf of his fellow Catholic bishops in California, Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton praised the California Supreme Court for upholding the voters’ affirmation of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, but expressed disappointment that the court permitted an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples to remain legally married.

The May 26 ruling of the high court upheld the constitutionality of the state’s Proposition 8 declaring that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” but said the voters’ decision could not be applied retroactively to those who married before the initiative was passed.

Blaire said he and his fellow bishops “are strongly committed to protecting the dignity and worth of every human person” and supported “the intent of law to provide equal protection for all.”

Sr. Sophie's Bethlehem orphanage makes sure there is room at the inn

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{mosimage}Prior to the recent pilgrimage to the Middle East by Pope Benedict XVI, Catholic Register editor Jim O’Leary travelled to the Holy Land and encountered many people who were hopeful that the Pope’s visit would be a prelude to peace. One such person was a remarkable nun whose Bethlehem orphanage has been caught in the middle of the ongoing conflict.

Sr. Sophie Boueri is small, frail and, more than simply tired from a difficult day, her face mirrors  lifetime fatigue. She is 74.


Sri Lanka war over when divisions overcome

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{mosimage}BANGALORE, India - Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared an end to the nation’s civil war in mid-May, but the head of the Sri Lankan Catholic bishops’ conference said the war will be over only when the island nation is able to overcome its ethnic divisions.

“The war is technically over. But we can celebrate the real end of war only when we are able to overcome our prejudices and live together as one people,” Bishop Joseph Vianney Fernando told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview from his home May 19.

Pope asks Holy Land Christians to unite to preach hope, peace

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{mosimage}JERUSALEM - Standing before Christ's empty tomb, Pope Benedict XVI urged Christians in the Holy Land to bury their differences so they could preach hope and peace with one voice.

"The church in the Holy Land, which has so often experienced the dark mystery of Golgotha, must never cease to be an intrepid herald of the luminous message of hope which this empty tomb proclaims," the Pope said May 15.

Pope supports Palestinian homeland

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{mosimage}BETHLEHEM, West Bank - Pope Benedict XVI arrived in the Palestinian territories May 13 and immediately declared the Vatican’s support for an independent Palestine.

“The Holy See supports the right of your people to a sovereign Palestinian homeland in the land of your forefathers, secure and at peace with its neighbours, within internationally recognized borders,” the Pope told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Pope arrives in Israel, condemns anti-Semitism

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{mosimage}JERUSALEM - Reaching Israel, the country at the heart of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI condemned anti-Semitism and prayed for a new era in which all believers in the one God would live in peace and treat each other with respect and justice. In his arrival speech May 11 at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, the Pope prayed that Isaiah's prophecy would be fulfilled and all the peoples of the world would walk along God's paths — "paths of peace and justice, paths that lead to reconciliation and harmony."

Palestinian refugees ask Pope to spread their story

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{mosimage}AIDA REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank - When Pope Benedict XVI comes to the Aida Refugee Camp May 13, Um Omar will climb to the balcony on the top floor of her building and wave both her hands in a victory sign in his direction.

"We don't have money to pay the water and electricity bills. If he can help us with that, he is welcome. If he can help us remove the wall, he is welcome," said Um Omar, 52, whose given name is Widad Abu Akkar but who is known by the traditional moniker of "mother of Omar," her oldest son. She has raised all 14 of her children in a cramped 650-square-foot, three-bedroom apartment.


Obama backs off on The Freedom of Choice Act

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{mosimage}WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama in his April 29 press conference said the Freedom of Choice Act is not an important legislative priority and that he is instead focusing on reducing unwanted pregnancies.

"The Freedom of Choice Act is not my highest legislative priority," Obama said. "I believe that women should have the right to choose, but I think that the most important thing we can do to tamp down some of the anger surrounding this issue is to focus on those areas that we can agree on."


Our Lady of Guadalupe's intercession sought to fight swine flu

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{mosimage}MEXICO CITY  - Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe and cancelled Masses in the archdiocese April 26 due to an outbreak of swine flu.

The decision to cancel Masses followed instructions from the local health secretariat that all large gatherings be cancelled as authorities raced to contain an epidemic that threatened to spread well beyond Mexico.