LONDON - The Jesuits have sold the historic St. Cuthbert Gospel — believed the oldest intact book produced in Europe — to the British Library for $14.7 million (U.S.).

The British Province of the Society of Jesus agreed to sell the late seventh-century Anglo-Saxon manuscript to raise funds to help fund Jesuit schools in London and Glasgow, Scotland, pay for a new school to be founded in Africa and pay for the restoration of the 19th century Church of St. Peter, Stonyhurst, the parish that serves Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, England.

The book, a pocket-size Latin translation of the Gospel of St. John, was found inside the coffin of St. Cuthbert, bishop of Lindisfarne, when the saint's grave was opened in 1104. Experts believe the manuscript was placed inside the casket within 10 years of the hermit's death in 687.

Jesuit Father Kevin Fox, spokesman for the British Province of the Society of Jesus, announced the sale of the Gospel in a statement in July.

Catholic agencies part of aid campaign in Horn of Africa


LUSAKA, Zambia - Catholic agencies are reported to be among the leading organizations providing humanitarian aid to the drought- and famine-ravaged Horn of Africa.

The Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa reports that Jesuit Refugee Service, Catholic Relief Services, Caritas Ethiopia and Caritas Kenya have helped thousands of refugees in northern Kenya and internally displaced people in Somalia since the water crisis hit in November.

AMECEA spokesman Fr. Chrisantus Ndaga told Catholic News Service that Catholic humanitarian agencies also have worked in Djibouti and Ethiopia, running programs that address agricultural and water needs.

Car bombs planted in front of Iraqi churches


VATICAN CITY - A car bomb exploded outside a Syrian Catholic church in the northern Iraq city of Kirkuk leaving at least 20 people injured.

The early morning attack Aug. 2 was the first time the Holy Family Syrian Catholic Church had been a target, Vatican Radio said.

Police defused two other car bombs — one in front of a Christian school and another in front of a Presbyterian church.

Chaldean Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk told Vatican Radio that the blast set nearby cars on fire and damaged not only the church, but also about 30 surrounding homes. Most of those injured were in their homes at the time of the blast.

The archbishop said he visited the injured in the hospital.

"It's terrible," he said, as both Christians and Muslims were wounded in the attack. Many of the injured had been released by the end of the day, according to reports.

Norway shooter is against Christian, Jewish faiths as well


WASHINGTON - The man responsible for the July 22 Norway terror attacks, Anders Behring Breivik, is not only against Muslims but also anti-Jewish and anti-Christian, according to a longtime observer of Norwegian hate groups.

Breivik is at least philosophically allied with a loosely organized underground subculture of Norwegians who consider themselves "Odinists and neo-pagans," said Jeffrey Podoshen, an associate professor of marketing at Franklin & Marshall College, a liberal arts school in Lancaster, Pa. He teaches classes in business, organizations and society, and Judaic studies.

Odin is an ancient Norse god sometimes better known these days as the father of another Norse god, Thor, but in Norse mythology is associated with war, battle, victory, death, wisdom, magic, poetry, prophecy and the hunt.

This subculture, Podoshen told Catholic News Service, is "looking at Christianity as Breivik looks at Islam."

Pope calls for compassion, sharing with hungry of Africa


CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy - Christians cannot be indifferent to the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people starving in the Horn of Africa, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"It is inadmissible to be indifferent in the face of the tragedy of the hungry and thirsty," the Pope said, speaking in Polish after reciting the Angelus July 31 with pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo.

When Jesus fed the multitudes by miraculously multiplying loaves and fishes, He gave His disciples an example to follow, the Pope said.

"He encourages us to give them something to eat and to share bread with the needy. Following Christ, we must be sensitive to people's poverty," he said.

Commenting on the day's Gospel passage, the Pope said it was natural to read the story of Jesus' miracle and think of "our many brothers and sisters who, in these days, in the Horn of Africa, suffer from famine aggravated by war and the lack of solid institutions."

Urgent appeal for help goes out as famine devastates East Africa


OTTAWA - Canadians are being urged to donate money to help feed 11 million people in the Horn of Africa who face possible starvation as drought and famine ravage the area.

The region, which includes Somali, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and the new Republic of South Sudan, is experiencing the worst drought in 60 years. Somalia’s been hardest hit and refugees are pouring into neighboring Kenya where one camp, designed to hold 90,000 people has swelled to more than 400,000.

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (D&P) is one of several charities that have been designated as qualified agencies under a federal government fund-matching program. Every dollar donated to D&P for African relief by Sept. 16 will be matched by Ottawa.

“I saw a true humanitarian crisis at Dadaab,” said Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda, who recently visited Somalia. “The stories of how the women and children struggled to reach the camp are incredible. Their perseverance and courage must be matched by our willingness to help.”

Pope's visit prompted new abuse allegations in Britain, church reports


MANCHESTER, England - The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Britain and Scotland in September prompted a wave of fresh allegations of historical clerical sexual abuse, church child protection officials said.

Allegations of sexual and physical abuse against priests, religious men and women, church employees, volunteers and parishioners more than doubled in 2010 compared with the previous year, according to figures released July 28 in the 2010-11 annual report of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission.

The commission is the agency of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales that oversees child protection programs.

In all, 92 allegations of sexual and physical abuse were received in 2010 compared with 43 in 2009 and 51 in 2008.

Exactly half of the allegations were dismissed after investigations by law enforcement authorities and 41 remain under investigation, the report said. One resulted in a police warning, two in continuing court hearings and two in prison sentences, according to the report.

Busy schedule awaits Pope in Germany


VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI will address the German parliament, meet with Jewish and Muslim groups, hold a prayer vigil with youths and celebrate Mass in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium during his Sept. 22-25 visit to his homeland.

It’s a heavy schedule for the 84-year-old pope, who will preside over 28 events and deliver 17 talks during the visit. It will be his third trip to Germany since his election in 2005, but his first visit to Berlin, the German capital.

After landing in Berlin Sept. 22, the Pope will meet with government leaders, give a major speech to the federal parliament, meet with Jewish representatives and then celebrate an evening Mass in the Olympic Stadium — the facility Adolf Hitler had built for the 1936 Summer Games.

Church entities apologize for adoptions


SYDNEY - Three Catholic entities in Australia apologized “with a deep sense of regret and heartfelt sorrow” over forced adoption practices involving thousands of single mothers that occurred in past decades.

The practices involved separating unmarried mothers from their newborn babies immediately after birth and handing them to adoption agencies.

The apology came jointly from Catholic Health Australia, the largest nongovernment provider of health, community and elder care services in Australia, the Sisters of Mercy and the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, about 100 miles north of Sydney.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said in a story on its website that the apology was prompted by the news agency’s investigation into claims of abuse and trauma in Newcastle.

The story said it was believed that at least 150,000 Australian women had their babies taken against their will by some churches and adoption agencies.

Pope decries terror attacks in Norway


VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In the wake of two terror attacks in Norway that left 76 people dead, Pope Benedict XVI called for an end to hatred and ideologies that promote evil.

"We are all deeply saddened by the serious terrorist acts," the pope said after praying the Angelus with pilgrims at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo July 24.

The pope launched an appeal "to abandon once and for all the path of violence and avoid principles of evil."

As a further expression of his condolences and prayers for those affected by the attacks, the pope sent a message to Norway's King Harald V. Written on behalf of the pope by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, the pope said he was praying for all those affected by "the acts of senseless violence perpetrated in Oslo and Utoya."

The pope asked that the country "be spiritually united in a determined resolve to reject the ways of hatred and conflict and to work together fearlessly in shaping a future of mutual respect, solidarity and freedom for coming generations."

In aftermath of Irish report on abuse, Vatican recalls nuncio


VATICAN CITY - In an exceptional move, the Vatican recalled its nuncio to Ireland so that he could participate in meetings aimed at drafting the Vatican's formal response to an Irish government report on clerical sex abuse.

Following the publication July 13 of the so-called Cloyne Report, "and, particularly, after the reactions that followed, the secretary of state has recalled the apostolic nuncio in Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, for consultations," the Vatican said in a statement July 25.

Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican press office, said recalling the nuncio "denotes the seriousness of the situation, the desire of the Holy See to face it with objectivity and determination, as well as a certain note of surprise and disappointment over some excessive reactions" to the report and its accusations against the Vatican.

The Cloyne Report, which examined how the diocese of Cloyne handled accusations of clerical sexual abuse, said the bishop paid "little or no attention" to child safeguarding as recently as 2008 and that he falsely told the government his diocese was reporting all allegations of abuse to the civil authorities.