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Obama's election a 'divine sign,' African bishop tells synod



tBarack Obama’s election as the first African-American President of the United States could be interpreted as a “divine sign,” according to a senior African prelate, suggesting that in God’s plan for salvation history, 500 years of slavery and racial oppression may be giving way to a new era of reconciliation.

tThe comments came yesterday afternoon from Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as part of the Synod of Bishops for Africa meeting in the Vatican Oct. 4-25.

tMonsengwo called on the synod and the universal church not to “ignore” the significance of Obama’s election, which he said was the result of much more than “a banal game of political alliances.”

tMonsengwo has long been seen as the more impressive Catholic bishops in Africa, and yesterday delivered a formal report on trends in the church since the last Synod for Africa in 1994.

African cardinal on condoms and AIDS



During the course of a Vatican news conference early this afternoon, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana took a number of questions on a wide range of topics. Turkson is the relator, or general secretary, of the Synod of Bishops for Africa currently meeting in Rome.

One of those question was on anti-AIDS efforts in Africa, in the course of which Turkson discussed the always-controversial issue of condoms. The Vatican this evening provided a transcript of Turkson's remarks, which appears below.


The question of HIV/AIDS … I think in Africa there are so very, very many various scenarios involving the HIV/AIDS question. There is a situation in Southern Africa which is tragic, which is very pressing and that’s where most of the references about the situation of HIV refers to. I personally have an experience of this in Botswana where I spent some time and I witnessed the fact that almost every weekend, about four-five people are buried, young people and not. It’s like … it’s dissipating the work-force of the nation and the effect is bad.

'Truly sorry' embezzling priest spared jail time


Fr. Norman Sullivan, a suspended pastor from Buffalo, was spared a jail term for embezzling $213,732 from his parish because the money has been repaid.

State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia ordered Sullivan, 74, to perform 1,000 hours of community service while he is on court-supervised probation for the next five years and ordered him to submit to warrantless searches while he remains under court control.

Sullivan pleaded guilty July 16 to third-degree grand larceny to theft of money from the former Most Holy Redeemer Parish from May 30, 2000 until Jan. 31, 2008. He told the judge "I am truly sorry" and that he is "disgraced and embarrassed."

Since his guilty plea Sullivan has been barred from saying Mass or administering sacraments or even dressing in priestly clothing.

Since 2004, the Erie County District Attorney's Office has prosecuted at least five other embezzlements from Catholic parishes and schools, ranging from $230,000 to $488,000.

Priests: Heroes of Michael Moore's film


When your parish/diocese calls on you for program suggestions for the next Year of the Priest activity, suggest a screening of the just released "Capitalism: A Love Story" by Michale Moore.

Far fetched? May be not.

According to Paul Raushenbush of Progressive Revival, who blogs over at, the heroes of the film are Catholic priests, who, he says, are "voices of clarity and conviction ... they characterize capitalism as evil."

Raushenbush continues, "This must be jarring for most moviegoers who have not had the pleasure of interacting with radical priests ... While the views of the priests in this film may seem strange to some, Christians have been questioning Capitalism's ethical compatibility with Jesus since the effects on the poor of capitalism and industrialization became tragically clear in the 1850s."

Symposium: Year for Priests


The Catholic University of America, in conjunction with Theological College, the national seminary at CUA, will be sponsoring a two day symposium starting tomorrow on the Year for Priests, announced by Pope Benedict XVI. The symposium will feature speakers from the Society of St. Sulpice which runs Theological College, as well as from the university’s Department of Theology.

The Society of St. Sulpice, diocesan clergy who join the society specifically to work in seminaries, has a long history in priestly formation, especially in America. Fleeing the horrors of the French Revolution, a band of Sulpicians came to these shores at the invitation of Bishop John Carroll to open the first seminary in America, St. Mary’s in Baltimore in 1791. When Catholic University started a seminary, it was natural to entrust it to their care. I attended TC in the mid-1980s and they had the foresight and wisdom to direct me towards an alternate career path!

First Woman Cherokee Chief


Wilma Mankiller, the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation, says that when native women assume leadership positions, they take a step forward for women and a step into tribal tradition at the same time.

Her activism began 40 years ago in November, when native students occupied the island of Alcatraz near San Francisco.

Mankiller was honored as an extraordinary older woman at the AARP conference on diversity and aging in Chicago. She was interviewed by New America Media editor Khalil Abdullah.

Sister's transform barn into wellness center

 | reports that the St. Clare Convent of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor is transforming a barn on their grounds into a wellness center for the neighborhood.

When completed, the barn, which is undergoing a $1.5 million renovation, will serve as a sort of community center for the neighborhood, offering classes and programs geared toward building community and providing personal and spiritual growth. Many of these will be targeted to young adults. Classes, which will be rolled out over time, will include topics related to health, wellness, spirituality and ecology, including nutrition, budgeting, yoga, smoking cessation, recycling, organic gardening and other topics.

Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk is to bless the barn at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10.


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