News/International

Pope John Paul IIVATICAN CITY (CNS) — A presumed miracle needed for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II reportedly has reached the final stages of approval.

The miracle — involving a French nun said to have been cured of Parkinson's disease — has been approved by a Vatican medical board and a group of theologians and is now awaiting judgment from the members of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, according to Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli.

If the congregation accepts the healing as a miracle attributable to the late Pope's intercession, then Pope Benedict XVI still would have to sign a decree formally recognizing it before a beatification ceremony can be scheduled.

Coptic leaders say attack reflects Egypt 'Islamization'

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Egypt protestVATICAN CITY (CNS) — Leaders of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt said a deadly attack against Christian worshipers was an act of political destabilization and a sign of the increasingly radical "Islamization" of the country.

"The newspapers are pointing the finger at al-Qaida. But terrorism arises in sectors of the Muslim society where other organizations encourage intolerance. For 40 years in Egypt, there has been a creeping Islamization that pervades every area of society," said Coptic Auxiliary Bishop Kamal Fahim Awad Hanna of Alexandria.

Bishop Hanna told the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, Jan. 3 that the government was making every effort to ensure the safety of worshipers as they prepared for the Coptic celebration of Christmas Jan. 7. All Christian churches have been surrounded by security forces, he said.

Former Anglican bishops received into Catholic Church

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LONDON (CNS) — Three former Anglican bishops were received into the Catholic Church just hours after they officially gave up their ministries in the Church of England.

Bishops Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet, John Broadhurst of Fulham and Keith Newton of Richborough will be soon ordained as priests for a special Anglican ordinariate that will be set up in England later in January.

Their resignations took effect at midnight Dec. 31, and they were received into the Catholic Church the afternoon of Jan. 1 during a Mass in London's Westminster Cathedral.

They will be ordained as Catholic deacons at Allen Hall seminary, London, Jan. 13, then as priests at a ceremony in the cathedral Jan. 15. They will be incardinated into the English ordinariate, which is expected to be formed by papal decree the second week of January, when Pope Benedict XVI is also expected to appoint an ordinary.

Pope begins new year with call for religious freedom, end to violence

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VATICAN CITY - Opening 2011 with a strong call for religious liberty, Pope Benedict XVI condemned deadly attacks against Christians and announced a new interfaith meeting next fall in Assisi, Italy.

At a Mass Jan. 1 marking the World Day of Peace and a blessing the next day, the Pope voiced his concern about fresh episodes of violence and discrimination against Christian minorities in the Middle East. In particular, the Pope condemned an attack Jan. 1 against Orthodox Christians in Egypt, calling it a "despicable gesture of death." A bomb that exploded as parishioners were leaving a church in Alexandria, Egypt, left 25 people dead and dozens more injured.

The Pope said the attack was part of a "strategy of violence that targets Christians," and which has negative repercussions on the entire population. He offered prayers for the victims and their families.

World will join in celebrating St. Brother André’s feast day

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St. Brothe AndreAs always, St. Joseph’s Oratory will celebrate the feast day of its founder, the recently canonized St. Brother André, on Jan. 6. The only difference this year is the universal Church will be joining the Montreal community in these celebrations.

“Liturgically speaking, a person whose cause has been introduced for canonization can be publicly celebrated as a feast only locally — that is to say, where the person worked or died,” said Fr. Charles Corso, a Holy Cross priest at the Oratory in Montreal. “But once the person is canonized, that means that anywhere in the world people can celebrate an official liturgical feast day Mass.”

Pope rails against lack of religious freedom in annual Peace Day message

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pope 122010VATICAN CITY - Infringements on the freedom of religion threaten peace and security worldwide as well as stifle authentic human growth and development, Pope Benedict XVI said.

“Religious freedom is an authentic weapon of peace,” which fosters the human qualities and potentials that “can change the world and make it better,” the Pope said in his message for World Peace Day, Jan. 1.

Iraqi family gets back to a normal Christmas

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dina fatohiMISSISSAUGA, ONT. - It will likely not be a silent night at the Fatohi household this Christmas, but it is expected to be a memorable one.

A year after coming to Canada to flee persecution in Iraq, Dina and Fawaz Fatohi, and St. Dominic’s parish which sponsored them, are expecting an early Christmas present: the birth of the family’s first son, who will be named David.

Vatican stung by WikiLeaks

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wikileaksVATICAN CITY - A spate of U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks portray the Vatican as horrified over clerical sex abuse in Ireland but also deeply concerned that the procedures used by Irish investigators of the scandal were “an affront to Vatican sovereignty.”

The cables, released Dec. 10-12, touched on a wide range of issues, from the Vatican’s efforts to deal with leftist governments in Latin America to its recent moves to welcome disaffected Anglicans into the Catholic Church.

As cardinal, Pope Benedict sought swift action against abusive priests

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Pope Benedict XVIVATICAN CITY - A newly disclosed letter reveals that as early as 1988, the future Pope Benedict XVI pressed for swifter and more streamlined procedures to punish priests guilty of “grave and scandalous conduct.”

The letter, written by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when he was head of the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation, expressed concern that the normal process for dealing with such priests — which typically involved a request for dispensation from priestly obligations — took too long and was seen more as a favour than a punishment. Eventually, with Ratzinger’s involvement, the penal procedures were simplified and sanctions were strengthened. But in 1988, the cardinal’s suggestion of a “more rapid and simplified penal process” was rebuffed by the Vatican’s canon law experts.

Colleagues recall four churchwomen slain 30 years ago in El Salvador

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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."