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Bishop: Fire that destroyed church-run radio was deliberate

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SAN JOSE, Philippines -- A fire that destroyed Catholic radio station DZVT and the records section of the chancery's finance office in Mindoro Occidental province was arson, said the local bishop.

"It was deliberate," alleged Bishop Antonio Palang of San Jose. He told the Asian church news agency UCA News that the Oct. 26 attack was timed for when several members of the clergy were out of the province attending various events.

No injuries were reported, but Program Manager Daisy Leano estimated the damage could exceed 10 million pesos ($230,000). The destroyed radio transmitter was built with donations from the U.S. Archdiocese of San Francisco and other foreign donors, UCA News reported.

Someone tried to set the station on fire Oct. 21, but employees were able to contain the blaze, which damaged the building housing the station's generator and part of the finance office, he said.

Police have yet to identify any suspects or motive behind the Oct. 26 attack.

Shifting course, St. Paul's orders protesters out

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LONDON -- More than a week after welcoming anti-corporate protesters onto its grounds, London's historic St. Paul's Cathedral now wants them to go away because their presence is costing too much money.

Asking the demonstrators to leave peacefully after nine days of occupying a makeshift tent city in the churchyard, St. Paul's dean, the Rev. Graeme Knowles, said, "We have done this with a very heavy heart."

At first, the cathedral opened its doors to the Occupy London Stock Exchange group and ordered police to stay away.

But after nine days, the demonstrators -- protesting against what they described as corporate injustices and greed -- showed no signs of leaving, and the iconic cathedral decided to roll up the welcome mat.

Tourism is one of St. Paul's biggest income sources, and every day the protesters remained was costing the cathedral £16,000 (about $25,000) in income from tourists, church authorities said.

But Knowles said the protestors' tent village poses insurmountable safety hazards.

"It is simply not possible to fulfill our day-to-day obligations to worshippers, visitors and pilgrims in current circumstances," Knowles said.

Catholic students use Jesuit house as base to help Thai flood victims

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BANGKOK -- Catholic university students and staff used the Jesuit residence Xavier Hall as a base for relief efforts for flood victims on the outskirts of the capital.

About 30 students from the Catholic Undergraduate Center of Thailand joined hundreds of other volunteers at two relief centers in Don Muang and Chatuchak sections of the city, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

The students helped fill sandbags and prepare emergency relief packages -- distributed by the Thai military -- for residents displaced by flooding.

"During this semester break, our students had planned to go to Mae Hong Son (province), but because of the flood situation the CUCT committee decided to cancel the trip and offer volunteer service for flood relief work," said Jesuit Father Maharsono Probo, chaplain at the Catholic center.

"We students have to contribute our support when society is facing a crisis," said CUCT president Setthawut Chanpensuk, a student at Assumption University.

Setthawut has also volunteered in Rangsit, north of Bangkok, to help fill and place sandbags, noting, "People there are facing a very difficult situation."

Vatican calls for global authority to regulate markets

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VATICAN CITY -- A Vatican document called for the gradual creation of a world political authority with broad powers to regulate financial markets and rein in the "inequalities and distortions of capitalist development."

The document said the current global financial crisis has revealed "selfishness, collective greed and the hoarding of goods on a great scale." A supranational authority, it said, is needed to place the common good at the center of international economic activity.

The 41-page text was titled, "Toward Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority." Prepared by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, it was released Oct. 24 in several languages, including a provisional translation in English.

The document cited the teachings of popes over the last 40 years on the need for a universal public authority that would transcend national interests. The current economic crisis, which has seen growing inequality between the rich and poor of the world, underlines the necessity to take concrete steps toward creating such an authority, it said.

Catholics don't rejoice, but recall Gadhafi's brutality

BEIRUT -- Catholic leaders said they could not rejoice at the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, but they recalled some of his more brutal moments and speculated on the future of Christians in the region.

"Gadhafi brutalized people for 42 years. He lived by the sword and, therefore, it's not surprising that he would die by the sword," said Habib Malik, associate professor of history at the Lebanese American University, Byblos campus.

"The manner of his death was gruesome and, no matter how evil a person might have been, such an ending is never something to rejoice about; however, he is now dead and his people are justifiably relieved and hopeful about starting a new chapter in their history," he said.

Malik, a Lebanese Catholic, recalled Gadhafi's role at the outset of the Lebanese war in 1975.

"He sent mercenaries and snipers to Beirut as well as to Christian coastal towns, where they murdered scores of innocent civilians, and he made many outrageous statements at the time against Lebanon's Christians," said Malik, author of the 2010 book "Islamism and the Future of the Christians of the Middle East."

Cardinal: We must remember the individual in globalization

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The following was written by H.E Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and translated from Italian. This reflection was originally delivered by Monsignor Khaled Akasheh at the Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s seminar on faith and globalization in collaboration with Fondazione per la Sussidiarieta, held at Luiss Guido Carli University, Rome.

New archbishop of Manila named

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Archbishop-elect Luis Antonio Tagle has revealed he was "overwhelmed" and "humbled" after being appointed to head the Manila archdiocese.

"I can't understand what I'm feeling right now; it's like I don't have emotion. I feel dizzy, I have nothing in mind. I don't know what is going on with me," the prelate told Church-run Radio Veritas in an interview last weekend.

Chinese cardinal starts hunger strike

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HONG KONG -- Chinese Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun launched a hunger strike protesting a court decision on educational reform that threatens the management of Catholic schools.

Cardinal Zen, retired bishop of Hong Kong, began the three-day hunger strike Wednesday and said he would consume only water and communion until Saturday.

In 2004, the Chinese government implemented the "Amended Education Ordinance," which requires government-aided schools to form management committees, according to the Asia church news agency, UCA News.

The Hong Kong Catholic diocese appealed the ordinance, saying that the committees could lead to increased government control and jeopardize the mission and autonomy of Catholic schools by infringing on their right to manage their own schools.

In the appeal, the diocese asked that Catholic schools be excluded from the committees. The court delivered its final ruling last week, rejecting the appeal.

Cardinal Zen said the ordinance refutes constitutional law, "which guarantees religious organizations' right to run schools according to practices in place prior to the handover of Hong Kong from the U.K. in 1997" to China, UCA News reported.

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