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Democratic Egypt 'best thing possible' for US policy

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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak defied demonstrators request that he resign today, saying in a speech he "can not and will not accept to be dictated orders from outside." Amid reports of the demonstrations spreading yesterday, NCR asked Stephen Zunes, a professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco and chair of their program in Middle East studies, for his take on the upheaval in the North African nation.

Phoenix bishop advises Vatican on Mass translations

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VATICAN CITY -- With the new English translation of the Roman Missal "substantially complete," a committee that advises the Vatican on English translations has added five new members, including two Americans.

The new members of the Vox Clara Committee, established by the Vatican in 2001, included Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix, and Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., former chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Divine Worship.

Other new members of the international committee, which met Feb. 2-3 at the Vatican, were Irish Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam; Auxiliary Bishop David McGough of Birmingham, England; and Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong.

A press release about the meeting was posted on the blog of Vox Clara member Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Ontario.

In Israel, Egypt's unrest raises questions

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The Egyptian uprising has dominated the headlines in Israel over the past weeks.

As anti-government demonstrators continued to press for the removal of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak Feb. 4, NCR spoke with Adam Keller, a founding member of the Israeli peace organization Gush Shalom and editor of The Other Side, a bi-monthly newsletter documenting the struggle for Israeli/Palestinian peace.

Making sense of hell on Earth

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VIEWPOINT

“[The Haitians] got together and swore a pact to the devil ... ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other.”

When I heard Pat Robertson quoted in the news immediately following Haiti’s Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, I imagined his theology to be an extreme anomaly, akin to Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church and its “God hates fags” campaign. Little did I suspect that I would be in Haiti three months later, working side by side with an American missionary who shared Robertson’s perspective.

After historic vote, new challenges on horizon for Sudan

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Southern Sudan has voted to secede from the northern part of the country, an official tally of votes for the historic Jan. 9-15 vote is expected to reveal today.

Final results for the vote are due this afternoon. Christian S.N. Lewis was in the country during the vote as part of a reporting trip to Africa. She filed this report for NCR two weeks ago, when the results of the election were still unofficial.

Bishops pleased by Afghan refugee policy

PERTH, Australia -- Australia's Catholic bishops praised the Australian and Afghanistan governments for signing a deal they hope will be "a shift away from ineffective and cruel policies of deterrence to control forced migration."

The two governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding Jan. 17 with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

In a Feb. 4 statement, the Australian bishops' Migrant and Refugee Office expressed the hope that the agreement represents "a more proactive approach which addresses the underlying issue of war and instability in Afghanistan."

The bishops said that people smuggling activities cannot be controlled by returning unsuccessful asylum seekers to Afghanistan.

"The message is lost on people who are desperate and have no other choice," the statement said, and urged the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen to guarantee "beyond doubt" that those who are returned to Afghanistan will be protected from violence and persecution.

"Australia is paving the way for the rest of the international community to start sending refugees back to Afghanistan. To do so would likely escalate the situation," the statement said.

Fate of Christians, Muslims tied in Middle East

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ROME -- Christians and Muslims are involved together in the democracy and reform movements bubbling up around the Middle East and members of both communities will gain from their success and suffer if they are violently suppressed, said a leading Lebanese Muslim scholar.

With demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt, simmering unrest in Yemen and government changes in Lebanon, "I am both worried and hopeful," said Muhammad al-Sammak, adviser to the chief mufti of Lebanon and secretary general of Lebanon's Christian-Muslim Committee for Dialogue.

Al-Sammak, whom Pope Benedict XVI invited to speak to the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East in October, met with journalists Feb. 4 at the Rome headquarters of the Community of Sant'Egidio, a lay organization active in interreligious dialogue for peace.

"It is true that the situation of Christians in the Middle East is not good," al-Sammak said, adding that the region's governments must do more to protect the religious minorities in their midst.

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July 4-17, 2014

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