National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source


Coptic Catholic leader warns of growing rift in Egypt


FRIBOURG, Switzerland -- The patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt blamed Islamic fundamentalists for the increasing number of attacks on Christians and criticized a growing division between Muslims and Christians since the country's February revolution.

Speaking Oct. 30 at St. Nicolas Cathedral in Fribourg, Switzerland, during a day of prayer for persecuted Catholics, Cardinal Antonios Naguib, Coptic Catholic patriarch of Alexandria, said the links between Muslims and Catholics that were reinforced in the period just after the revolution have deteriorated.

"Today, Islamic fundamentalists have come out of the woodwork, and there are recurring attacks on Christians," Cardinal Naguib said.

The attacks left dozens dead and "created a gulf between Muslims and Christians, which is being continually widened under the influence of fanatical leaders," he said during the event organized by the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

The cardinal said the unity that existed during the revolution, which saw Christians and Muslims praying together in churches and mosques for peace and a return to order, has virtually ended.

Day of the Dead takes on new meaning amid violence in Mexico

TEPOZTLAN, Mexico -- "Dia de los Muertos," the traditional Mexican commemoration of deceased loved ones, has taken on a deeper meaning in light of drug-related violence in recent years.

Drug-related killings have been on the rise since 2006, surpassing 15,000 in 2010, according to a study commissioned by the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego.

"We're living in a barbarian age," said Argelia Barcas Bello, a teacher at Santiago in Tepoztlan, a town built on Tepozteco Mountain near Mexico City. The town receives many visitors who come to see a nearby ancient pyramid.

Barcas and other merchants set up shops, selling items for "ofrendas," altars set up to remember deceased loved ones for the annual Day of the Dead observance.

"We're seeing many more deaths because of the delinquency," Barcas said, adding that those who died accidentally or due to violence are remembered in her town Oct. 28.

Alejandro Alvarez, another merchant, said Mexico has many ways of representing death -- the skull, or "calavera," and "Catarinas," dressed-up female skeletons, are two such ways.

"Since the Aztecs, we've been laughing at death," Alvarez said.

U.S. priest released from hospital after attack in Nepal


KATMANDU, Nepal -- An American priest was attacked and robbed in the center of the city as he made his way back to Assumption Church.

Spiritan Father William Headley, who is in his 70s, was struck from behind and robbed of his mobile phone, money and other personal effects as he approached the priest's residence next to the church Oct. 30, said Father Pius Perumana, an official of the Nepalese church.

British monarchs can soon marry Catholics


MANCHESTER, England -- The law that bans a British monarch from marrying a Catholic is to be lifted after more than 300 years.

The reforms were announced following the unanimous agreement of the 16 nations that have Queen Elizabeth II as their constitutional head of state.

But they will not include the repeal of a Catholic becoming monarch because allegiance to the pope might conflict with the sovereign's role as the supreme governor of the Church of England.

The changes will also see the end of the ancient tradition of male primogeniture, the rule under which boys take precedence in the line to the throne over elder sisters.

The reforms will be included in the next British program of parliamentary business to be unveiled in November, while New Zealand will lead a working group to coordinate their implementation in other Commonwealth countries affected.

The announcement, made at an Oct. 28 summit of Commonwealth heads of government in Perth, Australia, was welcomed by Catholic leaders in Britain.

U.S. policy undermines moderate Palestinians



The Palestinians declared an independent state back in 1988, which has been recognized by more than 130 of the world’s nations. The Obama administration, however, insists that it is still too early for Palestine to be admitted into the United Nations.

Though the U.N. has been the arena in which international conflicts -- including those between Israel and its neighbors -- have historically been addressed, the Obama administration insists that this should no longer be the case. Instead, they argue, Palestinian statehood can only be recognized following an agreement resulting from negotiations between the Israeli occupiers and the Palestinians under occupation, facilitated by the United States, the primary military, economic and diplomatic supporter of the occupying power.

Irish priests pledge to 'stimulate a groundswell'


DUBLIN, IRELAND -- Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests marked its first year in existence with a Dublin meeting at which more than 300 priests heard a call for an end to mandatory celibacy and for the ordination of women.

The growth of the association has been rapid, with 540 Irish priests -- or one in eight -- now opting for membership. However, the absence of younger priests, sometimes called the “John Paul II generation,” was evident at the gathering.

Faith plays a key role in global development



The following is a speech given by Ian Linden, the director of policy of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, at the second of four seminars on faith and globalization. The initiative is a collaboration with the Fondazione per la Sussidiarietà, LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome, University of Bologna, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan and Ca' Foscari University in Venice to analyze the importance of religion in the interconnected world of the 21st century.

Read the first segment here.

It seems a long time since Jim Wolfensohn, then head of the World Bank, declared in 1999 that international development programs that ignored the importance of religion were doomed to failure. Religion for most of the world provided the core software of life's interpretative keys. If you hadn't figured that out, you might not have noticed that standard-issue development discourse often elicited polite incomprehension from its supposed beneficiaries. A lot of money went down the drain, assuming there was a drain, as a result.

Bishop: Fire that destroyed church-run radio was deliberate


SAN JOSE, Philippines -- A fire that destroyed Catholic radio station DZVT and the records section of the chancery's finance office in Mindoro Occidental province was arson, said the local bishop.

"It was deliberate," alleged Bishop Antonio Palang of San Jose. He told the Asian church news agency UCA News that the Oct. 26 attack was timed for when several members of the clergy were out of the province attending various events.

No injuries were reported, but Program Manager Daisy Leano estimated the damage could exceed 10 million pesos ($230,000). The destroyed radio transmitter was built with donations from the U.S. Archdiocese of San Francisco and other foreign donors, UCA News reported.

Someone tried to set the station on fire Oct. 21, but employees were able to contain the blaze, which damaged the building housing the station's generator and part of the finance office, he said.

Police have yet to identify any suspects or motive behind the Oct. 26 attack.

Shifting course, St. Paul's orders protesters out


LONDON -- More than a week after welcoming anti-corporate protesters onto its grounds, London's historic St. Paul's Cathedral now wants them to go away because their presence is costing too much money.

Asking the demonstrators to leave peacefully after nine days of occupying a makeshift tent city in the churchyard, St. Paul's dean, the Rev. Graeme Knowles, said, "We have done this with a very heavy heart."

At first, the cathedral opened its doors to the Occupy London Stock Exchange group and ordered police to stay away.

But after nine days, the demonstrators -- protesting against what they described as corporate injustices and greed -- showed no signs of leaving, and the iconic cathedral decided to roll up the welcome mat.

Tourism is one of St. Paul's biggest income sources, and every day the protesters remained was costing the cathedral £16,000 (about $25,000) in income from tourists, church authorities said.

But Knowles said the protestors' tent village poses insurmountable safety hazards.

"It is simply not possible to fulfill our day-to-day obligations to worshippers, visitors and pilgrims in current circumstances," Knowles said.

Catholic students use Jesuit house as base to help Thai flood victims


BANGKOK -- Catholic university students and staff used the Jesuit residence Xavier Hall as a base for relief efforts for flood victims on the outskirts of the capital.

About 30 students from the Catholic Undergraduate Center of Thailand joined hundreds of other volunteers at two relief centers in Don Muang and Chatuchak sections of the city, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

The students helped fill sandbags and prepare emergency relief packages -- distributed by the Thai military -- for residents displaced by flooding.

"During this semester break, our students had planned to go to Mae Hong Son (province), but because of the flood situation the CUCT committee decided to cancel the trip and offer volunteer service for flood relief work," said Jesuit Father Maharsono Probo, chaplain at the Catholic center.

"We students have to contribute our support when society is facing a crisis," said CUCT president Setthawut Chanpensuk, a student at Assumption University.

Setthawut has also volunteered in Rangsit, north of Bangkok, to help fill and place sandbags, noting, "People there are facing a very difficult situation."



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