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Indian priest dies trying to save woman

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COCHIN, India -- A Syro-Malabar Catholic priest who had a role in the 2008 canonization of St. Alphonsa Muttathupandathu, India's first woman saint, was killed while trying to save a parish worker who had become entangled in a power line.

Father Mathew Thondamkuzhy, 72, of St. George Church in Lalam, Kerala state in the Syro-Malabar Palai Diocese, was electrocuted while trying to free the female staff member, said Father George Choorakkat, diocesan vicar general.

The worker, Achamma George, 63, became entangled in the high-voltage power line while working on the parish grounds, the diocesan spokesman said.

Father Thondamkuzhy reportedly rushed to save the woman after hearing her cries for help, said Father Choorakkat.

"He tried to use a plastic rod to save her, but was also electrocuted," he said.

Engineers found the bodies of the two victims when they went to switch off a transformer before doing maintenance work.

Bangladesh mourns tribal evangelizing bishop

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MYMENSINGH, Bangladesh -- Retired Bishop Francis A. Gomes, who pioneered evangelization among tribal people in his northeastern Bangladesh diocese, died Feb. 17 following a lengthy illness. He was 79.

Catholics across the country mourned the death of the bishop, who had been seriously ill since his retirement in 2006, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News. His health worsened after he became paralyzed following a massive stroke in 2008.

"He was taken to Bangkok for treatment, but doctors informed he wouldn't improve anymore," said Salesian Sister Maria, one of the two nuns who cared for Bishop Gomes.

He was born April 30, 1931, at Rangamatia parish in the Dhaka Archdiocese. He was ordained a diocesan priest in December 1959.

Bishop Gomes pioneered evangelization among tribal people throughout the Mymensingh region and was the first local Bengali priest to work among tribes in the area.

He led Mymensingh to erection as diocese in 1987, and he became the first bishop of the new diocese. Mymensingh had been part of the Dhaka Archdiocese.

Church offers lessons for post-conflict development

WASHINGTON -- With countries around the world undergoing reorganization after wars, nonviolent revolutions and in one case, a vote to split apart, the Catholic Church's example for development holds valuable lessons, according to economist Paul Collier.

"The cry for justice runs from top to bottom" among the world's poor people, said Collier in a plenary address Feb. 15 to the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering. And the church, with its long experience in aid and development at the grass-roots level can provide an example and the capacity for helping address issues faced by developing countries, he said.

Collier, author of "The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It," is professor of economics and director of the Center for the Study of African Economics at the University of Oxford.

His talk was followed by half a dozen workshops on international policy issues, including peace-building, the realities facing Sudan, and the soon-to-be-independent South Sudan, and the transitions facing Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Catholic Relief Services plans 'strategic rethink' after Egyptian uprising

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The 17-day popular uprising in Egypt, which saw hundreds of thousands demonstrate in cities across the country, has prompted a "strategic rethink" for Catholic Relief Services operations across the region, said Mark Schnellbaecher, the agency’s regional director for Europe and the Middle East.

In Mexico's drug war, church caught in the storm

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Benjamín Jiménez Hernández, the bishop of Culiacán, Sinaloa, extended his arm. Speaking in his packed and sweltering church in northwestern Mexico, he called for action, as his flock sweated it out. “We must fight for our faith, we must fight for our future. ... This heat we’re living in today, we must use our faith to conquer it.”

A group of young narcos, as Mexico’s drug traffickers are known, had been killed the day before in Jiménez’s violence-plagued city. Hundreds of locals had turned up to the church to hear his words of calm, braving the 90-degree heat inside to hear what they hoped might be solutions.

There were none. As they filed out of Mass, many of the faithful simply shook their heads. They headed back to their homes, dismayed, perhaps comforted, but nothing more. The next day, the headlines offered up more of the same: three more Culiacán narcos butchered.

Democratic Egypt 'best thing possible' for US policy

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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak defied demonstrators request that he resign today, saying in a speech he "can not and will not accept to be dictated orders from outside." Amid reports of the demonstrations spreading yesterday, NCR asked Stephen Zunes, a professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco and chair of their program in Middle East studies, for his take on the upheaval in the North African nation.

Phoenix bishop advises Vatican on Mass translations

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VATICAN CITY -- With the new English translation of the Roman Missal "substantially complete," a committee that advises the Vatican on English translations has added five new members, including two Americans.

The new members of the Vox Clara Committee, established by the Vatican in 2001, included Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix, and Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., former chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Divine Worship.

Other new members of the international committee, which met Feb. 2-3 at the Vatican, were Irish Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam; Auxiliary Bishop David McGough of Birmingham, England; and Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong.

A press release about the meeting was posted on the blog of Vox Clara member Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Ontario.

In Israel, Egypt's unrest raises questions

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The Egyptian uprising has dominated the headlines in Israel over the past weeks.

As anti-government demonstrators continued to press for the removal of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak Feb. 4, NCR spoke with Adam Keller, a founding member of the Israeli peace organization Gush Shalom and editor of The Other Side, a bi-monthly newsletter documenting the struggle for Israeli/Palestinian peace.

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October 10-23, 2014

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