News/International

{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - The Vatican's delegation to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen , Denmark, was being headed by an experienced diplomat and included experts on the environment.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations, was to lead the five-person Vatican delegation at the Copenhagen conference, Vatican Radio reported. Migliore is scheduled to speak to the UN during the Dec. 7-18 conference.

Copenhagen climate change talks must consider effect on poor

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{mosimage}World leaders and negotiators participating in the UN Climate Change Conference must remember that the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people will suffer most from environmental factors, church activists say.

“This is a pivotal point for all people of faith and good will,” said Cliona Sharkey, policy and advocacy officer for CIDSE , an international network of Catholic development agencies. “We simply cannot accept the continuation of a situation that is impacting on the people who have contributed least to the problem.”

Report on clergy abuse in Dublin church leads to calls for more action 

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{mosimage}DUBLIN, Ireland - A report detailing failures of church leaders' handling of sex abuse cases in the archdiocese of Dublin has resulted in calls for bishops' resignations and further investigations and prosecution.

"The Dublin archdiocese's preoccupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid-1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the church, and the preservation of its assets," said the report by the independent Commission of Investigation, headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy. "All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities. The archdiocese did not implement its own canon law rules and did its best to avoid any application of the law of the state."

The report said church officials and police colluded in covering up instances of child sexual abuse by clergy.

The commission investigated the period from January 1975 to May 2004, during which time there were four Dublin archbishops: the late John Charles McQuaid, Dermot J. Ryan and Kevin McNamara and Cardinal Desmond Connell, who retired in 2004 and is now 83.

Health reform bill disappoints U.S. bishops

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{mosimage}WASHINGTON - The health reform legislation now before the U.S. Senate is “an enormous disappointment, creating new and completely unacceptable federal policy that endangers human life and rights of conscience,” the chairmen of three committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Nov. 20.

A letter from the three chairmen outlining the USCCB’s problems with the Senate bill’s provisions on abortion and conscience protections, coverage of immigrants and affordability for low-income Americans went out about 24 hours before the Senate voted, 60-39, to begin debate on the legislation. The debate was expected to begin Nov. 30 after senators returned from the Thanksgiving break.

Justice to be served in Popieluszko's murder

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{mosimage}TORONTO - The arrest of two communist-era secret police agents in Poland for helping to frame and harass   Polish Solidarity hero and martyr Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko is a matter of justice, said the murdered priest’s seminary classmate and roommate Fr. Jan Kolodynski.

“For those who have committed crimes, whether it’s the case of my classmate or over the last 50 years, it’s a question of justice. It’s not a vendetta or vengeance. It’s out of justice,” said Kolodynski, who was ordained with Popieluszko in 1972. Today the Polish priest is pastor of St. Jerome’s parish in Brampton, Ont.

Married priests still exception to the rule

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{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - The question of priestly celibacy is one that keeps bubbling to the surface at the Vatican, most often in the theoretical discussions of synods of bishops but more concretely in a new papal document on Anglicans coming into the Catholic Church.

The fact that married former Anglican priests may be ordained as Catholic priests under the new arrangement — albeit on a case-by-case basis — has given rise to widespread speculation that this represents a step toward jettisoning the general rule of celibacy.

Outreach to former Anglicans not model of ecumenism, says Archbishop of Canterbury 

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{mosimage}ROME - Calling Pope Benedict XVI's arrangement for Anglicans wanting to become Roman Catholics "the elephant in the room," the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion said the Pope's move was nothing groundbreaking from an ecumenical viewpoint.

Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury spoke Nov. 19 at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University at a conference marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, a pioneer in Catholic ecumenism.

Abortion amendment pushes U.S. health reform bill through

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{mosimage}WASHINGTON - In the end, the successful battle to include strict language prohibiting funding for abortions, led by pro-life congressional Democrats with the strong support of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is what made the difference in the Nov. 7 House vote to pass a sweeping health care reform bill.

In a rare Saturday night vote, the House approved the Affordable Health Care for America Act 220-215, moving the legislation on to the Senate, which was expected to take up debate on its own health care bill later in November.

El Salvador martyrs' struggle lives on

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{mosimage}A generation ago the martyrs of El Salvador galvanized Catholics and today Canadian Catholics claim those martyrs as part of their spiritual heritage.

On Nov. 16 the church marks the 20th anniversary of the murder of six Jesuits who lived and taught at the University of Central America in San Salvador. They were killed along with their housekeeper and her daughter because they argued that the vast gulf between rich and poor in El Salvador, a country just slightly larger than the Greater Toronto Area, was feeding the civil war that had by then killed more than 70,000.

Next year will be the 30th anniversary for martyrs who first brought world attention on El Salvador’s ugly war. March 24 is the anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s 1980 assassination. Romero was killed by an army death squad a day after he broadcast a sermon calling on police and soldiers not to carry out orders that amounted to repression and violations of human rights. Dec. 2 it will be 30 years since four American church women — three Catholic nuns and a laywoman who worked in poor villages in the Salvadoran countryside — were raped and murdered near the San Salvador airport.

El Salvador’s war officially ended in 1992, and the Cold War logic that justified U.S. military aid propping up a corrupt, anticommunist government is fast-fading history. But the memory of those martyrs still matters, said Mary Jo Leddy, one of the founders of Romero House for refugees in Toronto.

Africa refugee processing inadequate

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{mosimage}Canadian visa officials in Accra, Ghana, have informed the Office of Refugees of the Archdiocese of Toronto it will probably take more than two years to unite a 14-year-old boy with his family in Toronto.

The extreme delay is typical of a Canadian refugee system that simply isn’t doing its job in sub-Saharan Africa, said ORAT executive director Martin Mark.

“It’s a shame,” Mark said. “Basically, it’s a lack of accountability.”

German cardinal stresses Catholic role in toppling Berlin Wall 

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{mosimage}COLOGNE, Germany  - As Europe marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a German cardinal said ceremonies are ignoring the role played by the Catholic Church in re-uniting Germany.

Germans are commemorating the 1989 fall of the wall, which divided West Germany from the communist-ruled East Germany for 28 years. The Nov. 9 anniversary was to include a "Festival of Freedom" in Berlin, during which 1,000 giant foam dominos will be toppled along the route of the wall.