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In Brazil, a Catholic Mass you'll never forget

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São Paulo, Brazil

I realize this is a bold claim, but I'm going to make it anyway: If you haven't been to Mass with Padre Marcelo Rossi, you haven't really been to Mass.

Theologically, of course, that's ridiculous, because every validly celebrated Mass has the same spiritual value. Sociologically, however, I guarantee that a Mass with Padre Marcelo is an experience you won't soon forget.

German court upholds church tax challenge

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In a landmark ruling, a German court has upheld the right of Catholics in Germany to refuse to pay church tax but remain members of the Catholic church.

The judgement of the Administrative Court in Freiburg of July 15 dismissed the case brought by the Catholic church against Staufen-im-Breisgau, which, as the hometown of Hartmut Zapp, had certified his unorthodox application to leave the church.

Delegation asks for decisive U.S. action in Honduras

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David Murillo sat in a police station in Juticalpa, Honduras. He was presented with a blank piece of paper, and told to sign it. The gun on the same table told him his fate if he refused. He signed, and then a woman in a ski mask came in and typed his supposed “confession” above his signature. It included murder and rape, and it was published everywhere to discredit him.

Such is life for many who dare to protest the coup d’etat that took place in Honduras on June 28th in the wee hours of the morning. At 5 a.m., members of the Honduran military ousted the elected President, Manuel Zelaya, from bed and flew him out of the country to Costa Rica, literally in his pajamas.

The OAS, the European Union, and President Obama immediately condemned the coup. But many analysts close to the situation say the United States – which has overwhelming influence in Honduras – has not taken effective actions which can literally end the coup. Even U.S. rhetoric has moved away from the word “coup” since the initial condemnation, since that would trigger several required actions, like suspension of aid.

Top Thai prelate steps down after 37 years

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BANGKOK
UCA NEWS -- Cardinal Michael Michai Kitbunchu is set to stand down on Aug. 16 as administrator of Bangkok archdiocese after 37 years at the helm of the Church in Thailand.

The first cardinal of Thailand, who turned 80 on Jan. 24, has been a priest for almost 50 years, archbishop of Bangkok for more than 36 years and a cardinal for over 26 years.

During that time, the Catholic Church in predominantly Buddhist Thailand has changed from being a missionary Church to one that is rooted in the local community, said the cardinal in an interview with UCA News.

He also gave his views on the current challenges the country is facing, including political conflict that has sometimes turned violent, and the violence in the Muslim-majority deep south that has reportedly claimed more than 3,500 lives since 2004.

He sees the Church’s role in education and social services as one of its biggest contributions to the predominantly-Buddhist country.

Filipinos mourn death of their former president

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VATICAN CITY
Pope Benedict XVI expressed his sadness at the death of former Philippine President Corazon Aquino and praised her commitment to freedom and justice for Filipinos.

Aquino, 76, died Aug. 1 after a battle with colon cancer. Tens of thousands of Filipinos lined the streets Aug. 3 as her coffin made its way from San Juan City to Manila's cathedral for a wake and an Aug. 5 funeral.

The pope, in a telegram to Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales of Manila, the Philippine capital, recalled Aquino as "a woman of deep and unwavering faith" who took on a crucial political role.

Pope Benedict praised Aquino's "courageous commitment to the freedom of the Filipino people, her firm rejection of violence and intolerance, and her contribution to the rebuilding of a just and cohesive political order in her beloved homeland."

Aquino was installed as president in 1986 after a church-led people's uprising in Manila deposed President Ferdinand Marcos and paved the way for restoring the country's democratic institutions. She served as the country's first female president until stepping down in 1992.

Former Korean military officer now clearing mines

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SEOUL, KOREA
Seeing colleagues injured by landmines and knowing how many more people fell victim to the devices opened Joseph Kim Ki-hoto to a life of service.

"Before, I lived only for myself and my family," said the former military warrant officer. “Now I work for others.”

His Catholic faith has sustained the 54-year-old director of the Korea Mine Clearing Research Institute in his commitment. He converted to the faith just after he married a Catholic woman more than 30 years ago.

“Without the Catholic faith teaching us to cherish life and love others, I would not be able to engage in this work," he said in a recent interview.

Kim’s life changed after he witnessed a mine accident that injured two military officers in 2000. All three were working to remove landmines in order to rebuild a railway through the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ), which has divided the Korean peninsula since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

Upset by the accident, he devised a mine-clearing vehicle that year. Christened the "Millennium Dove," it clears landmines without danger to human life and the environment.

Bolivian bishops rebut 'prayer as anesthesia' charge

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LA PAZ, Bolivia -- Responding to comments by Bolivian President Evo Morales -- who said in regard to the coup in Honduras that the "church hierarchy used prayer as an anesthesia so the people would not become free" -- two of the Bolivia's leading bishops came to the defense of Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Mariadaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and the practice of prayer.

Bishop Jesus Juarez Parraga of El Alto, secretary-general of the Bolivian bishops' conference, said July 17 that prayer gives people "the strength to commit to the changes necessary" for a more just society, and that "this vision of faith ... is far from old ideologies that see religion as a threat to their power."

Priest ends ministry to run for presidency

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MANILA, Philippines -- A Catholic priest who serves as governor of the Philippine province of Pampanga has declared he is running for president of the country in the May 2010 election.

"I have every intention to file my candidacy," Father Eddie Panlilio told reporters at a weekly forum organized in Manila by Catholic media groups July 21, according to the Asian church news agency UCA News.

The priest turned politician, who is currently on leave from his religious ministry, also announced his plan to apply for a dispensation from the priesthood before filing his certificate of candidacy prior to the Nov. 30 deadline.

"I'm ready for all the consequences," Panlilio said. "This priesthood that I love so much I'm willing to give up for a greater love and that's love for the country," said the 55-year-old priest of the San Fernando archdiocese in Pampanga.

"I'm doing this not for me, not for myself," he explained. "I felt God wanted me to go on a higher service.

"For me the heart of priesthood is accepting the love of God and working for other people, especially the poor," he added.

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September 12-25, 2014

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