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British monarchs can soon marry Catholics

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MANCHESTER, England -- The law that bans a British monarch from marrying a Catholic is to be lifted after more than 300 years.

The reforms were announced following the unanimous agreement of the 16 nations that have Queen Elizabeth II as their constitutional head of state.

But they will not include the repeal of a Catholic becoming monarch because allegiance to the pope might conflict with the sovereign's role as the supreme governor of the Church of England.

The changes will also see the end of the ancient tradition of male primogeniture, the rule under which boys take precedence in the line to the throne over elder sisters.

The reforms will be included in the next British program of parliamentary business to be unveiled in November, while New Zealand will lead a working group to coordinate their implementation in other Commonwealth countries affected.

The announcement, made at an Oct. 28 summit of Commonwealth heads of government in Perth, Australia, was welcomed by Catholic leaders in Britain.

U.S. policy undermines moderate Palestinians

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Viewpoint

The Palestinians declared an independent state back in 1988, which has been recognized by more than 130 of the world’s nations. The Obama administration, however, insists that it is still too early for Palestine to be admitted into the United Nations.

Though the U.N. has been the arena in which international conflicts -- including those between Israel and its neighbors -- have historically been addressed, the Obama administration insists that this should no longer be the case. Instead, they argue, Palestinian statehood can only be recognized following an agreement resulting from negotiations between the Israeli occupiers and the Palestinians under occupation, facilitated by the United States, the primary military, economic and diplomatic supporter of the occupying power.

Irish priests pledge to 'stimulate a groundswell'

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DUBLIN, IRELAND -- Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests marked its first year in existence with a Dublin meeting at which more than 300 priests heard a call for an end to mandatory celibacy and for the ordination of women.

The growth of the association has been rapid, with 540 Irish priests -- or one in eight -- now opting for membership. However, the absence of younger priests, sometimes called the “John Paul II generation,” was evident at the gathering.

Faith plays a key role in global development

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Opinion

The following is a speech given by Ian Linden, the director of policy of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, at the second of four seminars on faith and globalization. The initiative is a collaboration with the Fondazione per la Sussidiarietà, LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome, University of Bologna, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan and Ca' Foscari University in Venice to analyze the importance of religion in the interconnected world of the 21st century.

Read the first segment here.

It seems a long time since Jim Wolfensohn, then head of the World Bank, declared in 1999 that international development programs that ignored the importance of religion were doomed to failure. Religion for most of the world provided the core software of life's interpretative keys. If you hadn't figured that out, you might not have noticed that standard-issue development discourse often elicited polite incomprehension from its supposed beneficiaries. A lot of money went down the drain, assuming there was a drain, as a result.

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.

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