News/International

Syrian children and women arrive in Dabbabieh, in northern Lebanon, May 16. Pope Benedict XVI renewed his appeal for a negotiated settlement in Libya and called for an end to bloodshed in Syria, where civil strife has left hundreds of people dead.ROME - Despite the worsening crisis in Libya, religious women and men continue to offer pastoral care and desperately needed services to the country's many migrants.

Many of the migrants who have stayed behind have lost their jobs and have nowhere else to go, which leaves them searching for food, medicine, clothing and most of all, rent money, said a nun working just outside of Tripoli.

Sister Shirley of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary told Catholic News Service May 20 that the livelihood of many immigrants depended on the once-strong presence of diplomats, oil workers and other foreign professionals. After those professionals left, there was little to no work left for the lower-paid immigrant workers, she said.

Vatican orders abuse guidelines be drafted for each diocese

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VATICAN CITY - Every bishops’ conference in the world must have guidelines for handling accusations of clerical sex abuse in place within a year, said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In a letter dated May 3 and released by the Vatican May 16, Cardinal William Levada, congregation prefect, said that in every nation and region, bishops should have “clear and co-ordinated procedures” for protecting children, assisting victims of abuse, dealing with accused priests, training clergy and co-operating with civil authorities.

Describing sexual abuse of minors as “a crime prosecuted by civil law,” the doctrinal congregation said bishops should follow local laws that require reporting cases of sexual abuse to police.

Since the early 1990s about two dozen bishops’ conferences, starting mainly with English-speaking countries, have drawn up guidelines for dealing with accusations of sexual abuse of minors filed against clergy and other Church employees. Canada has them in place. Other conferences — for example, the Italian bishops’ conference — have said they did not draw up guidelines because bishops were obliged to follow canon law and special provisions enacted in 2001 by Blessed Pope John Paul II and in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Church leaders near bin Laden compound ask for increased security

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ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan - Church leaders demanded that the government boost security for their faith communities in the wake of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's death, which they fear will shatter the peace they have enjoyed for 10 years.

"There was a not a single bombing here for about a decade of the war on terror," Fr. Akram Javed Gill, chairman of the interdenominational Association of Churches of Hazara Division, told the Asian church news agency UCA News May 4. "Now we know the reason."

The church association, which includes the Catholic Church, met to discuss a future strategy in the area.

New Mass translation is ecumenically harmful, Anglican says

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ROME - Because the Roman Catholic Church was a driving force behind the development of a common English translation of basic prayers used by many Christian churches for 40 years, more recent Vatican rules for translating Mass prayers "came as a bombshell," said an Anglican liturgist.

"I do not contest for a moment the prerogative of churches to change their liturgical texts," said the Rev. David Holeton, a professor at Charles University in Prague.

But he said other Christians were "both stunned and dismayed" when the Vatican abandoned the English texts of prayers Catholics had developed with them since the Second Vatican Council and when the Vatican discouraged Catholics from consulting ecumenically on the new translations.

The Anglican liturgist spoke May 5 at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of Rome's Pontifical Liturgical Institute.

‘John Paul II is blessed!’

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VATICAN CITY - "John Paul II is blessed because of his faith -- a strong, generous and apostolic faith," Pope Benedict XVI said May 1 just minutes after formally beatifying his predecessor.

Italian police said that for the Mass more than 1 million people were gathered in and around the Vatican and in front of large video screens in several parts of the city.

Many in the crowd had personal stories about seeing Pope John Paul or even meeting him, and Pope Benedict ended his homily at the Mass sharing his own personal story.

"I would like to thank God for the gift of having worked for many years with Blessed Pope John Paul II," he said.

As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1982 until his election in 2005, Pope Benedict said he worked at the pope's side "and came to revere him."

"His example of prayer continually impressed and edified me: he remained deeply united to God even amid the many demands of his ministry," the pope said.

Bin Laden's death cause for reflection, not rejoicing

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VATICAN CITY - The Vatican said the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, a man who sowed division and hatred and who caused "innumerable" deaths, should prompt serious reflection about one's responsibility before God, not rejoicing.

The Vatican statement May 2 came the day after President Barack Obama announced that U.S. forces had killed bin Laden in an attack on his hideout in northwest Pakistan. In several U.S. cities, the news prompted street demonstrations and expressions of jubilation.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, released a brief written statement reacting to the news.

"Osama bin Laden, as we all know, bore the most serious responsibility for spreading divisions and hatred among populations, causing the deaths of innumerable people, and manipulating religions to this end," Lombardi said.

Small miracles happen at beatification celebrations, pilgrims say

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Pope Benedict XVI arrives to celebrate the beatification Mass of Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 1.VATICAN CITY - Blessed Pope John Paul II worked a number of miracles at his beatification, some pilgrims said.

Weather forecasts of a weekend of heavy rains turned into innocuous grey clouds April 30 and then sunny skies May 1.

"We prayed to John Paul that it wouldn't rain," said Josephine Faehrmann from Sydney, Australia, who was planning to sleep outside with her friends.

Also, mysterious benefactors with a special devotion to the Polish pope paid for a bus full of young people from Naples to attend the ceremonies "because John Paul II loved young people and we had to be here," Rosa Giordano said.

Each of the more than one million people of every age, background and nationality attending the April 30 vigil in Circus Maximus and May 1 beatification in St. Peter's Square had his or her own story of pilgrimage.

Danila Fabrizio, another member of the group that left Naples at 1 a.m. May 1 on the benefactor's bus, said, "This is a sign of God's providence that we're here."

Praying with 200,000 Friends...

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The following is an entry from the Archdiocese of Toronto Blog. Their team have set up a special webpage, archtoronto.org/jp2, to celebrate the beatification of Pope John Paul II. You can also follow proceedings on their facebook and twitter accounts.

Saturday evening in Rome at Circus Maximus, an estimated 200,000 pilgrims from around the world gathered to remember, pray and celebrate the life of Pope John Paul II. It was a homecoming of sorts, a mini World Youth Day that included young people and veterans of WYD who are now in their 40's and 50's. Of course, Polish flags were predominant throughout the celebration, which included moving testimonials from those close to JPII (his press secretary, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls and his personal secretary, now Cardinal of Krakow Stanislaw Dziwisz).

Another moving tribute came from Parkinson's survivor Sr. Marie-Simon Pierre Normand, the miracle cure of her sickness attributed to the late Pontiff. She spoke of praying the luminous mysteries with her religious community and the profound impact JPII had on her own life.

Pope John Paul's impact will last for centuries

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An image from the cover of VATICAN CITY - Pope John Paul II deeply influenced generations of Catholics who knew him in life, but his most enduring legacy — his teaching — is something that will continue to impact the Church for centuries, a biographer of the late pope said.

"It's going to be several hundred years before the Church really takes on board the breadth and depth of this man's explication of the Gospel, and in that sense we're going to be thinking, and arguing, about John Paul II for hundreds of years," said George Weigel, author of the papal biographies Witness to Hope and The End and the Beginning.

Weigel said that six years after the pope's death his connection with young people continues to bear fruit in many ways: in priesthood vocations over the last decade, in women's religious orders inspired by Pope John Paul and in renewal movements.

"I look at my own parish in suburban Washington and see young couples raising Catholic families, who all took some form of inspiration from John Paul II. And I suspect this is replicated all over the world," he said in an interview April 27.

Vatican exhibit on Pope John Paul starts in St. Peter's Square

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Pope John Paul II's cardinal vestments are seen in a special exhibit on the life and ministry of the Polish pope in the Carlo Magno Hall at the Vatican April 28. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)VATICAN CITY - The Vatican's special exhibit hall wasn't big enough to honour the life and ministry of Pope John Paul II, so the exhibit begins in St. Peter's Square, said Barbara Jatta, curator of what is described as Pope Benedict XVI's special tribute to his predecessor.

"The exhibit begins in the square, which for the first time ever for a beatification, is decorated with one large photograph of the pope with his pastoral staff as well as with photographs from each year of his pontificate," Jatta told reporters April 28.

In addition, she said, "the exhibit leads directly to the basilica where people can venerate the tomb of Pope John Paul II."

Visitors can enter the main exhibit, housed in the Carlo Magno Hall off of St. Peter's Square, until July 24 for free.

The exhibit is a collaborative effort of the Vatican governor's office and the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

Pope John Paul's blood is relic for beatification

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Franciscan nuns from Bologna, Italy, walk past a giant image of Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 28.VATICAN CITY - A small vial of Pope John Paul II's blood is the relic for the Mass for his beatification, the Vatican said.

The relic was to be presented to Pope Benedict XVI and exposed for veneration during the Mass in St. Peter's Square May 1, the Vatican said April 26. After the Mass, it will be kept with other modern relics in the Apostolic Palace.

The Vatican explained that four vials of blood were drawn from Pope John Paul during the final stage of his illness by his personal physician. The vials were sent to the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome in case the ailing pope needed a transfusion, it said.