National Catholic Reporter

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Six American activists arrested in, deported from Bahrain


Bahraini authorities arrested and deported six Americans on Tuesday who say they were in the country as part of a monitoring mission during a security crackdown on the first anniversary of the country's popular uprising.

The Americans activists are members of Witness Bahrain, a newly created U.S. group of civilian observers. All six were arrested in the capital of Manama while accompanying human rights activist Nabeel Rajab during a protest march toward the Pearl Roundabout, the epicenter of last year's anti-government protests that were crushed weeks after they began.

In addition to the six Americans, police arrested dozens of protestors, including women and children, according to Al Wefaq, the country's main political opposition party, which is aligned with Shi'a Islam. Also detained were several human rights activists, among them Rajab, who was later released.

Sealed accounts and mystery sources blur Filipino impeachment trial


The text message from a lawyer flashed on my phone Sunday: "Tonight at 7 p.m. Defense Panel will hold a presscon at the Club Filipino. Inviting everybody to come for an important announcement."

At a sports club packed with journalists and TV and radio crews, impeached Philippines Chief Justice Renato Corona's nine lawyers interrupted their Sunday evening routine to tell the media they received "very reliable information" that Malacañang, the office of President Benigno Aquino, was offering 100 million pesos ($2.356 million) for projects to every senator who would defy the Supreme Court's temporary restraining order to stop the opening of Corona's dollar accounts.

Attorney Dennis Manalo, reading the Corona defense team's statement at the Feb. 12 press conference in San Juan City, Metro Manila, said the team received information that Aquino's executive secretary, Paquito Ochoa, "acting on behalf of the president was personally phoning the senator-judges to persuade or pressure them to defy the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court in favor of Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank)."

New papal representative to Ireland promises to strengthen relations


DUBLIN -- Pope Benedict XVI's new representative to Ireland has promised to strengthen relations between the country and the Holy See.

Archbishop Charles Brown, a native of New York, spoke while presenting his credentials as apostolic nuncio to Ireland and dean of the country's diplomatic corps to President Michael Higgins.

In brief remarks to Higgins, Archbishop Brown said that Pope Benedict XVI had asked him to "solidify and strengthen" the relations between Ireland and the Holy See.

The meeting came three months after the Irish government provoked controversy by closing its embassy to the Vatican. While ministers blamed the closure on economic concerns, the move was widely interpreted as representing a chill in relations: The government had been highly critical of the Vatican's approach to child abuse scandals in the country.

The truth will out, even for dictators


The news that former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt will stand trial on charges of genocide is a welcome sign that some of Guatemala’s institutions are able to begin squaring off with the darker episodes of a 36-year civil war that ended in 1996.

The 85-year-old Ríos Montt represents a particularly evil and bloody approach in a conflict that never lacked for producing horrors.

Middle East Christians keep wary eye on Arab Spring


CAIRO -- From her home, Samia Ramsis holds a key chain bearing the face of the Virgin Mary as visitors outside come to look upon the spot where Egypt's Coptic Christians believe Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus found refuge after fleeing Bethlehem.

Once crowded with Christians, Cairo's Coptic quarter where she lives with her husband, Mounir, and two children is now home to fewer than 50 Christian families.

"We know many Christians have left," said Mounir Ramsis, speaking not only about this quarter but about all of Egypt. "But we love this country and will stay until death."

The Arab Spring uprisings that toppled secular dictatorships have unleashed long-suppressed freedoms that have allowed Islamic parties to gain a share of political power they have been denied for decades. Their rise is creating near-panic among ancient Christian communities that dot the Muslim world and predate Islam by centuries.


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In This Issue

March 27-April 9, 2015


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