NEW YORK CITY -- Patriarch Bechara Peter Rai, head of the Lebanon-based Maronite Catholic Church, held up Lebanon's government as a model for emerging Arab democracies because Lebanon separates church and state, Rai said at an Oct. 20 news conference.
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."
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.
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.
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.
LONDON -- A leading Catholic bioethical institute has welcomed the decision of a European court to ban the patenting of any medical treatment derived from destructive experiments on human embryos.
The Oxford-based Anscombe Bioethics Centre praised the decision by the European Court of Justice as a "triumph of ethical standards over commercial interest."
"From the perspective of those who recognize the dignity of the human embryo, this is a small step in the right direction," said David Jones, director of the center formerly known as the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics, serving the Catholic Church in Great Britain and Ireland.
"The court has acted with clear and commendable ethical consistency in judging that if it is wrong to profit from destroying human embryos, then it is wrong to profit from cells that are derived from destroying human embryos," Jones said.
"It should not matter if someone else has destroyed the embryos for you," he added. "Inventions that rely on using human embryos both profit from and encourage their destruction. This clear decision closes a loophole left by the European Patent Office."
VATICAN CITY -- Australian bishops had a special meeting with top Vatican officials in mid-October to discuss the case of a bishop Pope Benedict XVI removed from office after years of tension with a variety of Vatican offices.
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.
CAIRO — Orthodox Pope Shenouda III declared three days of mourning, fasting and prayer for victims of peaceful protests that turned violent, and church and government leaders called for Egypt to reaffirm its commitment to religious freedom.
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.