Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 8, 2010
World News in Brief
Bishops in Japan seek end to nuclear weapons
Bishops from Hiroshima and Nagasaki called on world leaders to work toward the total abolition of nuclear weapons. In an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama and the Japanese government Feb. 26, the bishops said it was time to take the "courageous step."
"Nuclear weapons deprived over 100,000 people of their lives in an instant at the end of the previous world war. And bomb survivors continue to suffer physically and spiritually even now," wrote Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki and Bishop Joseph Atsumi Misue of Hiroshima.
"We . . . demand that the president of the United States, the Japanese government and the leaders of other countries make utmost efforts to abolish nuclear weapons," they said.
The bishops described it as "sad and foolish to abuse the progress humanity has made in the fields of science and technology, in order to destroy lives as massively and swiftly as possible, and to earn more profit by producing weapons."
They urged world leaders to reach an agreement on reducing nuclear weapons at the Nuclear Security Summit in April and the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in May.
'My people suffer due to climate change' - Kenyan bishop
A Kenyan bishop said that even as world leaders hesitate to enact strong measures on climate change, his diocese is struggling daily with the effects of global warming. "The failure of the Copenhagen Summit has deeply disappointed us, as we have been experiencing the deadly effects of global warming for years now," said Bishop Peter Kihara Kariuki of Marsabit in an interview.
The UN Copenhagen conference last December failed to reach a comprehensive, binding accord on reducing global emissions. His diocese in northern Kenya is caught in the grip of a long drought, Kihara Kariuki said. "It has practically not rained in three years. The population depends on aid from the Church, the government and NGOs to eat and drink. The little water that is collected is not potable. The people have to use drinking water sent by the government with a tank, at several distribution points. There are people who have to travel dozens of kilometres to get water."
As the situation has worsened, the region's nomadic herdsmen have seen their animals die, and pasture and water disappear, he said. This has made them more dependent on governmental aid for survival, and has led to increased violence between herdsmen armed with weapons acquired to protect from neighbouring countries, he said.
Cardinal urges Catholics, Mormons to stand together
Catholics and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must continue to stand together as a "vital bulwark" against those in American society who want to "reduce religion to a purely private reality," the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told a historic gathering at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago spoke Feb. 23 on Catholics and Latter-day Saints: Partners in the Defense of Religious Freedom. He was the first cardinal to speak at the university. George praised the Mormons for their work with Catholics to protect the conscience rights of health care providers and institutions that do not want to participate in abortion or assisted suicide and to defend marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
"When the government fails to protect the consciences of its citizens, it falls to religious bodies to defend them," he said. George said Catholics and Mormons share not only a common understanding of religious freedom, but the common experience of growing from a small, sometimes persecuted minority to larger communities of 67 million U.S. Catholics and six million U.S. Mormons today.
Indian women's rights promoter wins peace prize
The Niwano Peace Foundation chose Ela Ramesh Bhatt of India, a pioneer in organizing poor women workers and in microfinancing projects, as the recipient of the 2010 Niwano Peace Prize. Bhatt, a Hindu, founded the Self-Employed Women's Association in 1972 to organize and protect the rights of poor women, mainly textile workers, not covered by labour laws. Two years later, she founded the SEWA Cooperative Bank, which provides small, low-interest loans to poor women to help them start their own businesses. Some three million women have been assisted by the bank's lending program. Bhatt served as a member of the upper house of the Indian Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, from 1986 to 1989. The Niwano Peace Foundation honours individuals and organizations that have contributed significantly to interreligious cooperation and peace.
Legionaries of Christ apologizes for founder
The general secretary of the Legionaries of Christ asked for forgiveness from the people who were harmed by the "immoral actions" of the order's founder, Father Marcial Maciel. "We ask forgiveness because we are sincerely sorry for what the Church and people have suffered," Father Evaristo Sada said in a Feb. 20 talk in Mexico City. The comments were the most recent in an effort by the order to overcome allegations of sexual abuse of young seminarians by Maciel and the subsequent revelation the Mexican priest fathered at least one child. Maciel died Jan. 30, 2008, at 87. The Vatican has ordered an apostolic visitation of the Legionaries.
Thousands join campaign to delay Mass changes
A Seattle pastor who was present in St. Peter's Square as a seminarian in 1963 when Pope Paul VI presented the Second Vatican Council's liturgical document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, is leading a campaign to delay implementation of the latest English translation of the Roman Missal. Father Michael Ryan has gathered almost 18,000 signatures from English-speaking Catholics around the world asking that the new translations of the prayers used at Mass be tested through a pilot program at selected parishes for a year before their full implementation. "It is ironic, to say the least, that we spend hours of consultation when planning to renovate a church building or parish hall, but little or none when 'renovating' the very language of the liturgy," Ryan wrote in America magazine recently. As of March 2, his website at www.whatifwejustsaidwait.org had registered 17,796 signatures. But Bishop Arthur Serratelli, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Divine Worship, said in the March 1 edition of America magazine, "The texts may be unfamiliar now, but the more one understands their meaning, the more meaningful their use will be in the liturgy."
Pope expresses sorrow over murder of Christians in Iraq
Pope Benedict has expressed his deep concern and sorrow over the continuing wave of violence against Christians in Mosul, Iraq. Although the pope is on retreat, he expressed his sorrow that "in the area of Mosul, the killing of Christians continues." Earlier that day, funerals were celebrated for the murdered father and two brothers of a Syrian Catholic priest, Father Mazen Ishoa, who himself had been kidnapped in 2007. Murdered in their home Feb. 23, the three deaths brought to seven the number of Christians murdered in Mosul in a 10-day period.
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