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Friends of NCR annual appeal kicks off

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It's October and here at NCR that means we kick off our annual Friends of NCR fundraising campaign.

So now, many of you are probably thinking ... "Oh great, one more request for money." And although in actuality, this is a request for financial assistance for NCR, our Friends campaign is so much more. It's your opportunity to be involved, to be a part of a group of people dedicated to the belief that a light must keep shining on the issues in our church and in our world. It's people who know how important this information is, to all of us, and know that NCR oftentimes is the only place where it can be found. That's why we need your help, so we can keep the NCR light shining, doing our work of keeping you informed.

Activist: It's up to us to stop nuclear war

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Last Thursday, 14 anti-nuclear weapons activists were found guilty of illegal trespassing. Back in August they had stood in front of earth moving equipment at the construction site for a new nuclear weapons production plant in Kansas City, Mo.

One of the activists, Felice Cohen-Joppa has written a reflection at CommonDreams.org about the trial and the reasons she feels the activists' trepass was completely legal. Cohen-Joppa is the co-editor of the Nuclear Resister, a newsletter which tracks nonviolent resistance to war. Her letter follows:

The judge found me guilty. Even after I'd testified under oath that I had committed no crime when standing in front of a bulldozer in a muddy soybean field being cleared for the new Kansas City Plant, arm in arm with 13 others. On August 16, we had tried to stop preparation of the site for the first U.S. nuclear weapons plant to be built in 32 years. That's what brought us to Judge LaBella's Kansas City courtroom on October 7.

Israel deports Nobel Peace prize laureate

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After a week of fighting an Israeli deportation order, Nobel Prize laureate Mairead Maguire was flown back to Ireland Oct 5. Israel claims Mairead, 66, had violated a 10-year ban imposed on her following her participation in the Gaza-bound flotilla last summer. But Mairead, who flew to Israel in late September, expecting to lead a women’s peace delegation, said she was “shocked” to learn of the 10-year deportation order pending against her.

Christopher Columbus, the quiz, and me

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Childhood memories of Columbus Day hold for me a slight shiver of anxiety mixed with a bit of ethnic pride. The anxiety of that era had nothing to do with the horrors that were wrought, I later learned, in the wake of our hero discoverer. It had everything to do with the dual expectations of parents and nuns.

You see, during the years (late 1950s) I attended St. Aloysius Elementary School in Pottstown, Pa., the local Knights of Columbus Chapter, which occasionally held dances for Catholic youth on Saturday nights, also sponsored an annual Columbus Day Quiz.

The competition was among several of the Catholic schools in the region, each of which was allowed to send representatives to the final competition from various grade levels.

You knew this was coming. Still . . .

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If you think the digital revolution has been an unalloyed joy, Google has some good news for you. Everyone else -- buckle up for a bumpy ride.

According to a report in The New York Times, engineers at Google up in Silicon Valley are hard at work on developing a car that drives itself. You just climb inside, press a button, enter in some destination information, and sit back.

On Israel, synod walks line between criticism and bashing

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Rome

From a PR point of view, one quietly expressed worry by Vatican officials heading into the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East was that it not turn into a platform for bashing Israel. The concern is based on the fact that the tiny Christian minority of the region, anxious to prove its Arab credentials, is often outspokenly supportive of the Palestinians and thus critical of Israeli policy.

Read NCR's full coverage of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East: Index of stories from the Synod.

Religious freedom synod's signature issue

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tIt’s only day one of the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, but already its signature issue has come into focus: Religious freedom, seen as the cornerstone of a healthy democratic society, and as a universal cause rather than special pleading for the region’s embattled Christian minority.

tFreedom of conscience is “not so much a right to be claimed for Christians,” said Patriarch Antonios Naguib of the Egyptian Coptic church this morning. Instead, he said, it’s a “universal right, which Christians and Muslims defend together for the common good.”

Beyond exodus, a Christian influx in the Middle East

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tWhile pundits and activists sound alarms about an “exodus” of Christians out of the Middle East, raising questions about whether Christians may be an endangered species in the land of Christianity’s birth, the Synod of Bishops this morning heard a reminder that there’s an opposite, if not exactly equal, movement of Christians into the region.

tOf the sixteen nations that make up the Middle East, seven have actually seen significant spikes in their Catholic population since 1980: Saudia Arabia, Bahrein, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Yemen. All are part of the Arabian Peninsula.

Pope sketches 'positive secularism' for Middle East

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tWhile emphasizing that the primary purpose of the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East is pastoral, Pope Benedict XVI yesterday sketched a vision of “harmonious development” for the region that the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera summarized as “positive secularism” – premised on justice, peace, and respect for the human rights of all peoples and religions.

tThe pontiff spoke in the context of a homily for the synod’s opening Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. The working calendar begins today with the table-setting speech “before the discussion” by the synod’s relator, or general secretary, Patriarch Antonios Naguib of the Egyptian Coptic church.

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