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Deacons, nuns, laity and even athlete-priests to be Olympic chaplains

MANCHESTER, England -- Some people are simply gifted at sport; they excel at any challenge involving a ball, a stick or a physical contest nearly as soon as they turn their hands to it.

One such person is Fr. Geoff Hilton, a priest from Salford Diocese in the north of England, who will be serving as a chaplain to athletes competing in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Irish eyes aren't smiling over New York cardinal's seminary probe

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NEW YORK -- Cardinal Timothy Dolan loves to play up his Irish roots, which is no surprise given Dolan's famous Gaelic gregariousness and his role as spiritual leader of such a prominent community of Irish-American Catholics.

But in the wake of Dolan's scathing verdict on the orthodoxy of a major Irish seminary and the sharp pushback by Ireland's leading bishops, America's best-known churchman might want to stick to his throne at St. Patrick's Cathedral and steer clear of the old sod for a while.

Bishops told religious liberty is in growing 'global crisis'

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ATLANTA -- There is an increasing "global crisis" of "government restrictions on religion and social hostilities toward religion," an expert on religious liberty told the U.S. bishops Wednesday during their spring national meeting in Atlanta.

That crisis has "enormous consequences for the church, the United States, the success of democracy, the defeat of religion-based terrorism and the cause of international justice and peace," said Georgetown University's Thomas F. Farr, a former U.S. diplomat who has devoted the last 13 years to studying religious liberty.

Farr teaches at Georgetown's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and is the director of the Religious Freedom Project at the university's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs.

In a three-hour afternoon session devoted almost entirely to issues of religious freedom at home and abroad, Farr led off the international segment.

Also speaking was Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate of Babylon, who is also president of Caritas Iraq, the aid agency of the church in Iraq.

Catholics central in fight to close Indian nuclear facility

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From humble housewives to archbishops, Indian Catholics are deeply involved in the nonviolent campaign against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant, dubbed by a nuclear watchdog group as the “largest and most important anti-nuclear protest you don’t know about.”

Located in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the Russian-designed plant is slated to have six 1000MW reactors, making it perhaps the biggest nuclear power station in the world. One of the two reactors that have already been built is scheduled to go online in June.

To put it all in a nutshell, this is a classic David-Goliath fight between the ordinary citizens of India and the powerful Indian government supported by the rich Indian capitalists, MNCs (multi-national corporations), imperial powers and the global nuclear mafia.

They promise FDI (Foreign Direct Investment), nuclear power, development, atom bombs, security and superpower status. We demand risk-free electricity, disease-free life, unpolluted natural resources, sustainable development and harmless future.

Irish association calls for resurgence of Vatican II's spirit

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DUBLIN, Ireland -- "A real experience of hope and of the presence of the Spirit among us all" -- that's how organizers of a major meeting of Irish laity, religious and priests to discuss the future of the Irish church described the May 7 event.

Hosted by the Association of Catholic Priests, which represents about 25 percent of Ireland's active clergy, the event heard repeated calls for a return to the spirit of the Second Vatican Council and a culture of dialogue within the church.

Europe's Catholics react to election drama in France, Greece

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When voters in France and Greece went to the polls in early May, the outcome caused consternation by threatening to deepen the crisis currently engulfing the continent.

Although reflecting social and economic discontent, the election results have wide implications -- not least for churches, who operate in different circumstances but also face some common challenges.

Ireland assembly of religious and laypeople calls for open church, re-evaluation

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DUBLIN, Ireland -- An assembly of the entire church in Ireland took one step closer Monday with an overflow meeting that saw more than 1,000 priests, religious and laypeople gather to discuss the future of the church.

Organizers say they expected about 200 participants to attend the event, which the Association of Catholic Priests sponsored. However, Dublin's Regency Hotel was packed to capacity, with many at the event forced to stand.

Pope orders German Catholics to make the 'for many' change

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The struggles German Catholics are having with changes in the eucharistic prayer will be familiar for U.S. Catholics whose Mass language changed in 2011. In 2013, Germans who are used to praying that Jesus died für alle (for all) will be praying that Jesus died für viele (for many).

And the order to make the change is coming directly from Pope Benedict XVI.

Austrian parish listens to priest, none receive the host

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VIENNA, Austria -- The parish church of Amras, Austria, near Innsbruck in Tyrol, was chock-a-block full for the first-Communion Mass on April 22. Shortly before Communion, the parish priest, Norbertine Fr. Patrick Busskamp, announced that only Catholics who were in a state of grace should come forward to Communion. Catholics who are divorced and remarried and Catholics who do not attend Mass every week were not worthy to receive the Eucharist, he said.

When Communion time came, not a single adult came forward. The entire congregation demonstratively remained seated. Only the children received Communion.

In an interview with Austrian state radio in Tyrol, Busskamp confirmed that his words to the congregation had been accurately reported, but added, "I wouldn't have refused anyone Communion had they come forward."

Abbot Raimund Schreier of the Premonstratensian Monastery of Wilten, to which the parish belongs, said he regretted what had happened.

"It was most unwise of him to act like this at such a ceremony. I have told him that. Behaving like a policeman shows a lack of pastoral sensitivity," Schreier told the press.

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