KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- From Aug. 2-4, people from 17 countries met to discuss the world hunger situation at the annual International Food Aid & Development Conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and USAID. The 650 conference participants looked at what is being done to address both immediate needs and to support long-term development of sustainable agriculture in afflicted countries.
KANSAS CITY, MO. -- Last month The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that Catholic Relief Services has used only $30.6 million of the $140.8 million it raised after the January earthquake in Haiti.
CRS officials Sean Callahan and Frank Orzechowski told NCR at the International Food Aid Conference that Catholic Relief Services has made strides in meeting the desperate need in Haiti since the quake, feeding some 900,000 people and providing food, water, sanitation, shelter materials, and medical care for hundreds of thousands in Port-au-Prince and beyond.
BANGALORE, India -- Church charities in Pakistan stepped up their efforts Aug. 12 to distribute vitally needed relief supplies to some of the millions of people affected by the worst flood in the South Asian nation's history.
The response gained momentum as Pope Benedict XVI expressed his condolences in a telegram to Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore, head of the Pakistan bishops' conference. "The Holy Father commends the deceased to the Almighty" and "prays for all involved in providing assistance to the victims," the pope said in his message.
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BURMA -- As a Catholic boy growing up in 1970s Burma, Thomas saw only two paths in front of him. He was idealistic, loved his country, and hated the ruling junta. He could take up arms alongside ethnic rebels fighting the oppressive military regime that had ravaged his village so many times. Or he could join a Catholic order he saw serving the poor and educating young people.
Part 2 of 3
Shrouded in darkness save for the light of a solitary candle flickering across his drawn face, Augustine stares thoughtfully at the well-worn chess board between himself and this reporter. The old man’s body is feeble, but his mind -- and his English -- are as sharp as ever. “I’ll tell you, studying English and chess are the best ways for a young man to sharpen his mind,” he declares. Augustine’s grown-up daughter, Elizabeth, rolls her eyes and reminds her loquacious father that it’s getting late. But the teacher is just getting started.
A reporter for NCR recently went to Burma to look into what many call a troubling relationship among the church’s hierarchy, clergy, ordinary Catholics, and the military dictatorship. Because Burma’s internal spy agencies follow coverage of Burma in the foreign press and harshly punish citizens suspected of talking to reporters, names have been changed and geographical locations, occupations and other identifying details are not used.
On the 4th of July, America’s birthday, we stood together before an estimated 1000 of our countrymen to celebrate our mutual commitment to the self-evident truth that all men and women are created equal before the law.
Both of us reflected in our remarks how much Malta is known today, and praise God, shall always be known for her kindness. Our nations understand that all people -- of whatever color or ethnicity or belief -- are unique; that each of us hold within our hearts the desire to know, love, and serve others; that each of us try to find our way in this world, and we rely upon God and each other to carry us at times farther than we can go ourselves. This is realized every day in Maltese and American homes alike, where mothers and fathers look upon their children and silently hope that each child will see the meaning of life more clearly and purposefully than they have.
SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Cuba
The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops visited Cuba's most revered religious site, the sanctuary of the Virgin of El Cobre, celebrating Mass with several Cuban bishops there as well as at the cathedral of the country's second-largest city during a two-day trip to the country.
The visit by Cardinal Francis E. George June 23-24 was part of an exchange between the U.S. and Cuban churches, said Archbishop Dionisio Garcia Ibanez of Santiago, president of the Cuban bishops' conference.
"This visit ... adds to our mutual understanding, because we have always encountered understanding from the North American church," Archbishop Garcia said.
He added that the U.S. church has long been in solidarity with the Cuban bishops, who have hosted visits from their U.S. counterparts many times.
Welcoming Cardinal George and his companions to the Mass at the Metropolitan Basilica Cathedral of Santiago, Archbishop Garcia said "we are seeing here a sign of the unity of the church, a sign that there is another world where it is possible to dream of and build a world of solidarity and brotherhood."
In a strongly worded statement, the Vatican expressed surprise and indignation at the way Belgian police carried out a raid on the headquarters of the Belgian Catholic Church in connection with an investigation into alleged priestly sex abuse.
The statement June 25 from the Vatican Secretariat of State expressed "true surprise" for the nine-hour-long police blitz and "indignation" for what it said was the violation of tombs of two late cardinals during the search June 24.
News reports said that in the raid, police had sealed off the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels, including the residence of Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard. They also searched the home of Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the retired archbishop for the archdiocese.
The Vatican statement included the description of the raid provided by a spokesman for the Belgian bishops' conference, detailing how bishops gathered for a scheduled meeting at the headquarters had been surprised by police who then confiscated documents and cell phones of all present.
KOCHI, India (RNS/ENInews) The Presbyterian church in the northeast Indian state of Mizoram has said it will “discipline” homosexuals by preventing them from taking part in important church rituals because their lifestyle is incompatible with Christianity.
The executive committee of the synod of the Mizoram Presbyterian Church, the largest church in the Christian-majority state, said the church will not condone homosexuality in any way, and may excommunicate some homosexuals.
“Our church will discipline such people, and they will not be allowed to take part in sacraments,” the Rev. C. Rosiama, a leader of the Mizo church and former moderator of the Presbyterian Church of India, told Ecumenical News international from Aizwal, the capital of Mizoram.
The Presbyterian Church of India is made up of eight independent church synods all based in northeast India, a region sandwiched between Bangladesh, Bhutan, China and Myanmar.
Rosiama said the Mizo synod had decided that homosexuals living together as couples will not be excommunicated from the church.