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Survivors' groups leave talks with church over abuse

LONDON -- Two sex abuse survivors' groups have withdrawn from "exploratory talks" with the Catholic Church in England and Wales on ways to improve the pastoral response to victims of clerical sex abuse.

Representatives of Ministry and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors and the Lantern Project said Oct. 11 that they would no longer participate in negotiations with the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service, which oversees the protection of children and vulnerable adults in the Catholic Church in England and Wales, because the church was continuing to "deny justice" to victims.

"I can see no merit in continuing to deliberate with the Catholic Church ... while at the same time I am having to support victims who are being crushed by the Catholic Church in the courts," Graham Wilmer, founder of the Lantern Project, said in a letter to colleagues.

"I personally can no longer stomach the idea of being an active part of the illusion of goodness and understanding the church is trying to create, so I am withdrawing from this particular endeavor," he said.

In Mexico, priests face death, extortion

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CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (CNS) -- Ministering in a city where crime is pervasive and murders occur at an alarming rate, Columban Fr. Kevin Mullins knows he's been very fortunate.

While he has personally escaped the violence, the Australian-born priest has been touched by it through the lives of his parishioners at Corpus Christi Church in the poor neighborhood of Puerto de Anapra.

During Advent 2008, though, there was a time when parishioners and fellow priests were praying for his soul, thinking he had been killed during an attack by drug cartel gunmen.

"I have been quite lucky," Mullins said in a thick Australian accent. "It was actually an Anglican minister who had a heart attack and was found in his car a few blocks away from my house."

In Mexico, the sight of a priest slumped over in a car is not all that unusual. In 2005, Fr. Luis Velasquez Romero was found in his vehicle in Tijuana, handcuffed and shot six times. In 2009 a priest and two seminarians were gunned down in their car, dragged out then shot again because a relative of one of the seminarians was believed to be associated with one of the country's notorious drug cartels.

Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war against the cartels in 2006 more than 40,000 people have been killed, including 12 priests. A survey from the Catholic Media Center in Mexico found that in 2010 more than 1,000 priests were extorted, 162 threatened with death and two kidnapped and killed.

Church programs help stem violence in Nicaragua

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MATIGUAS, Nicaragua -- Women in Nicaragua, often too timid to speak for themselves, have been beaten and sometimes killed by their partners or husbands who were unable or unwilling to see this as a crime, as unacceptable, as a way of life that needed to be changed.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reports that nongovernmental organizations "estimate that up to 60 percent of (Nicaraguan) women have been physically abused by a partner at least once."

Enter Catholic Relief Services and its partner agency, Caritas Nicaragua, which joined forces to reduce the violence against women by providing programming for men. The agencies' officials said they saw the potential to reduce the violence, save women' lives and promote healthy families in the process.

Women do not need to be convinced that using violence in their homes can hurt or kill them. They already know all too well what can happen when machismo takes over, said Hugh Aprile, CRS country representative for Nicaragua.

Programs for men help stem violence

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MATIGUAS, Nicaragua (CNS) -- Women in Nicaragua, often too timid to speak for themselves, have been beaten and sometimes killed by their partners or husbands who were unable or unwilling to see this as a crime, as unacceptable, as a way of life that needed to be changed.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reports that nongovernmental organizations "estimate that up to 60 percent of (Nicaraguan) women have been physically abused by a partner at least once."

Enter Catholic Relief Services and its partner agency, Caritas Nicaragua, which joined forces to reduce the violence against women by providing programming for men. The agencies' officials said they saw the potential to reduce the violence, save women' lives and promote healthy families in the process.

Women do not need to be convinced that using violence in their homes can hurt or kill them. They already know all too well what can happen when machismo takes over, said Hugh Aprile, CRS country representative for Nicaragua.

Archdiocese moved money from parishes to pay abuse victims

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DUBLIN -- The Dublin Archdiocese has admitted that money from parishes has been transferred into a special fund used to compensate victims of clerical sex abuse.

However, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin insisted that "none of the funds that have come from parishes have been used for that (compensation) as yet."

Information about the transfer became public after minutes of a May meeting of the Council of Priests were leaked and published in The Irish Catholic newspaper Sept. 22. The minutes revealed that the fund used to cover the cost of abuse claims is running a deficit.

The minutes reported that "it is proposed that the deficit is eliminated by donations from parishes with cash surpluses."

"Significant progress has been made to date, with almost 40 percent of the targeted amount generously donated," the minutes said.

In an interview with Irish state radio, Archbishop Martin confirmed that money from parishes had been transferred to the general fund which, he said, "is used for many purposes, not exclusively for covering clerical sexual abuse."

He said he was unsure how much money the diocese will need to compensate clergy abuse victims.

The treachery undermining Israeli-Palestinian peace

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COMMENTARY

For the last several days, President Barack Obama has rightly been highlighting the U.S. involvement in the rescue of Libya from the oppressive and violent hand of Muammar Gaddafi as an example of 21st century international cooperation. He’s right.

Indeed, the rescue of Libya began when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton authorized an emergency rescue and evacuation of the U.S. embassy personnel in Tripoli. When Gaddafi’s forces reacted with violence to peaceful protest, the U.S. along with most other nations, closed their Libyan embassies. But the hundreds of American, Australian, Canadian, British, Maltese and other personnel still had to get out.

With no commercial carriers available on sea or by air, this transplanted Californian serving as Ambassador in nearby Malta did what you would expect a guy from Malibu to do -- I helped persuade the State Department to rent a catamaran to come to the rescue.

Patriarch: Palestine UN bid step toward solution

BETHESDA, Md. -- The Latin patriarch of Jerusalem said he hoped that an effort to grant full U.N. membership to Palestine would be a step toward eventual peace in the region, leading to the "two-state solution."

In a Sept. 20 interview in the suburban Washington offices of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, Patriarch Fouad Twal told Catholic News Service that "the question of full membership for Palestine does not mean the end of negotiations. On the contrary, they must continue negotiating and speaking to find a solution for everybody, peace for everybody and security for everybody."

Patriarch Twal, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, said that, in preaching about peace, he often says that it must be "peace for all the inhabitants, otherwise nobody can enjoy peace." He and other Christian leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, often cite a two-state solution as the desired path to peace.

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