Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
July 5, 2010
World News in Brief
Vatican indignant at raid on Belgian archdiocese
Pope Benedict joined a chorus of criticism of a raid on Belgian Church headquarters by police seeking evidence of alleged clergy sexual abuse.
In a June 27 letter of solidarity to Belgian bishops, he called the blitz on the Mechelen-Brussels Archdiocese "surprising and deplorable" for the heavy-handed way it was carried out.
However, the pope also reiterated his position that accusations of abuse of minors within the Catholic Church should be pursued by civil as well as Church authorities.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, had harsher words regarding the raid June 24, in which bishops gathered for a plenary meeting were detained all day as police confiscated cell phones, documents and computers.
"There are no precedents for this, not even in the old Communist regimes," Bertone told reporters in Rome June 26.
"Magistrates held bishops for nine hours and searched the tombs of two cardinals," he said, likening the "unheard of" episode to a "kidnapping."
News reports said that in the raid, police had sealed off the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels, including the residence of Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard. They also searched the home of Cardinal Godfried Danneels, retired archbishop for the archdiocese.
Oaxaca priest beaten, for anti-mining activism
A Catholic priest known for his environmental activism has been accused of inciting a violent protest against a Canadian mining project in the Mexican state of Oaxaca that led to the deaths of a small-town mayor and a municipal official. Father Martin Octavio Garcia Ortiz denied the allegations stemming from the June 19 incident. He described the accusations as politically motivated revenge. The priest told Catholic News Service that his accusers abducted him, held him for six hours and beat him in a private home until state police rescued him. Garcia was ordered held for 30 days while judicial officials review his case. "I'm a government hostage," Garcia said from his hospital bed in the state capital, Oaxaca city, as six state police officers guarded his room. The unrest reflects the ongoing conflicts over foreign-owned mining operations in Latin America.
Aquinas taught harmony of faith, reason - pope
Christians can come to an understanding of God and his plan through reason that is enlightened by faith, Pope Benedict said as he explained the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. At the weekly general audience June 23, the pope said the 13th-century saint showed in his writings how intellect and faith come together to bring Christians closer to the mystery of God. The pope praised St. Thomas' monumental work, the Summa Theologica. He said that in it St. Thomas posed questions that are relevant today. Pope Benedict said St. Thomas had taught that man's free will and thought must be "illuminated by prayer, enlightened from above." According to St. Thomas, the pope said, moral nature lies in the "free will of man to perform acts of good, integrating reason, will and passion." To this must be added "the grace of God through the virtue and gifts of the Holy Spirit."
Church offers solution to Italy's soccer woes
If today's kids would just turn off their electronic games and kick the ball around in the parish playground, Italian soccer might have a future. That was the suggestion in a commentary June 26 in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, in the wake of the humiliating first-round elimination of the Italian national soccer team in the World Cup. The commentary, under the headline "Let's throw out the PlayStation and get back to the parish playground," said Italy's national squad - defending world champions - lacked preparation, strategy and especially a deep roster of great players. The solution in the past, it said, has been to turn attention to the younger generations playing in the oratorio, the parish playground where countless Italian professionals have developed their soccer legs.
Pamphlet offers help for troubled marriages
As the divorce rate continues to climb, a Catholic organization has advice for those in a troubled marriage who are willing to help fix it. The Christophers has created a new pamphlet titled Hope for Troubled Marriages. The free publication is part of Christophers News Notes, published 10 times a year to address timely topics in a way that reflects hope, encouragement and responsibility. "Successful marriages don't work on autopilot" is one of many points made in the new pamphlet. Among other things, it says husbands and wives need to communicate effectively and listen to each other, make decisions as a unit and always remember to maintain self-respect in arguments that are unavoidable.
Vatican official urges equitable health care
Efforts by international organizations to ensure people in the developing world have access to essential medicines are falling far short of the goal, a Vatican official said. Children are particularly vulnerable and are often not able to receive medication for AIDS and other so-called "diseases of poverty," said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's representative to Geneva-based UN agencies. Speaking at a meeting of the Human Rights Council June 8, Tomasi said equal and nondiscriminatory access to health care is a basic human right guaranteed in several different international conventions. However, he said, those rights "are far from being realized" in the world's poorest nations. Nearly two billion people lack access to essential medicines, he noted. A major impediment to realization of basic health care rights, he said, is the lack of access to affordable medicines and diagnostic tools that can be administered in low-income, low-technology settings.
Smartphone applications integrate prayer life
Praying is now so 21st century. Instead of a paperback missalette, there's iMissal. Instead of prayer cards, there's a touch-screen Saint A Day. Instead of randomly jotting down prayer requests, there's a digitally organized list in PrayerSteward. These three applications - better known as apps - only scratch the surface of faith-related digital materials available in Apple's App Store and, to a lesser extent, in the Android Market and Palm Pre App Catalog. With these digital Catholic resources comes the undeniable convenience of modern-day prayer. "I know people who before they even get out of bed they have their iPod Touch or their iPhone in their hand," said Sister Kathryn James Hermes, a Daughter of St. Paul and director of digital publishing for Pauline Books and Media. "You could be looking at the Psalms or the morning meditation."
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