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South Africa rolls up welcome mat for Zimbabwe workers

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BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabweans living in neighboring South Africa will soon find themselves deported in droves after the South African government announced it was revoking a special permission that has allowed Zimbabweans to live and work in Africa’s largest economy.

A directive issued in September will withdraw in December a special dispensation announced last year that waived visa requirements for foreign migrant workers.

The visa suspension came into force as demand for labor peaked, especially in the construction industry as South Africa prepared to host the soccer World Cup in June. This provided employment opportunities for millions of Zimbabweans and inevitably opened the immigration floodgates.

While this allowed millions to stay in the country without official documents, it made it impossible to document the exact number of Zimbabweans scattered across the region’s economic powerhouse. This in turn raised the specter of xenophobia as locals complained Zimbabwean cheap labor was depriving them of jobs.

Protest, disbelief follow Belgium archbishop's AIDS statements

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BRUSSELS -- A storm of protest and disbelief is blowing across Belgium once again. This time the eye of the storm is Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, the 70-year-old successor to Cardinal Godfried Danneels as Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels.

In a new book, Gesprekken met Monseigneur Léonard, (Conversations with Archbishop Léonard), recently published by the Belgian publisher Lannoo, the archbishop asserts that the world-wide AIDS epidemic is a matter of “immanent justice.”

Especially in the Belgian political world the protest against Léonard is strong and trenchant. “Repugnant” and “stupid” were the reactions from key members of the Flemish parliament. Eva Brems, from the Green party, has called her colleagues to support a parliamentary resolution that "the disgusting statements of Archbishop Léonard be condemned in no uncertain terms."

Search begins for new CRS president

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BALTIMORE -- Catholic Relief Services has begun a nationwide search for a successor to its president, Ken Hackett, whose career with the international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic community spans nearly four decades.

"The good news is that we can do this patiently and carefully, because we are able to approach any leadership changes from a position of strength, success and stability," New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the CRS board, said in a Sept. 29 statement announcing the search.

Sharp satire illuminates farmersí plight

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Until I saw Indian producer Aamir Khan’s new film, I had never heard of the suicide epidemic among India’s poor farmers between 1997 and 2007, when an estimated 125,000 died by their own hand.

Khan (his 2001 film “Lagaan” was nominated for an Academy Award) has not made a Bollywood film with singing and dancing, though his shrewd use of color and music shows how these cultural motifs can mask the perception of reality. “Peepli Live” is a satire about India’s ineffectual and corrupt government, the media, and the human collateral damage of single-crop farming using genetically modified seed provided by global agribusiness. Both government and industry envision a big financial return for this policy.

In 2010, “Peepli Live” became the first foreign film ever to be shown in competition at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.

Anusha Rizvi wrote the screenplay and codirected it with her husband, Mahmood Farooqui. Their freshman effort has created a film that is as entertaining as it is dreadful.

Natha (Omkar Das Manikpuri) and Budhia (Raghuvir Yadav) are brothers who live in the small farming village of Peepli.

Violent mobs threaten Christian buildings in Kashmir

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VATICAN CITY -- Police in India-controlled Kashmir surrounded Catholic churches and schools to protect them after violent mobs went on a rampage Sept. 13, throwing Molotov cocktails at government and Christian buildings.

"There are policemen everywhere, wherever there are churches and schools, to protect Christian sites," Bishop Peter Celestine Elampassery of Jammu and Srinagar, India, told Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Oberammergau Passion Play 'inter-religiously triumphant'

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Review

I saw the Oberammergau Passion Play (first performed in 1634) for the sixth time last August – and it was superb! It was profoundly moving, stunningly professionally performed, esthetically sweeping – and inter-religiously triumphant!

I say the latter not at all lightly, for I have been working closely with the play directors, the town officials, the Archdiocese of Munich (the head of which for several years was my former colleague at the University of Tübingen Catholic Theology faculty, Pope Benedict XVI), the German Bishops’ Conference, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith (ADL), and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) – for over thirty years!

The changing face(s) of moral theology

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Commentary

Trent was a follow-up to an initiative taken four years ago at Padua, Italy, where 375 ethicists from 75 countries gathered for the first time in history. The idea for that meeting arose because moral theologians, or as we are called today, theological ethicists, discourse with many experts from all different fields by the nature of our work: from human rights lawyers and physicians to geneticists, philosophers, theologians and economists. We are the pragmatic side of theology.

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September 12-25, 2014

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