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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.

Intervention in Syria will only escalate violence

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Viewpoint

Although the impulse to try to end the ongoing repression by the Syrian regime against its own people through foreign military intervention is understandable, it would be a very bad idea.

Empirical studies have repeatedly demonstrated that international military interventions in cases of severe repression actually exacerbate violence in the short term and can only reduce violence in the longer term if the intervention is impartial or neutral. Other studies demonstrate that foreign military interventions actually increase the duration of civil wars, making the conflicts longer and bloodier, and the regional consequences more serious, than if there were no intervention. In addition, military intervention would likely trigger a “gloves off” mentality that would dramatically escalate the violence on both sides.

Vatican laments Irish dissent, silences priests

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DUBLIN, IRELAND -- Just weeks after a report from a Vatican inquiry into the Irish church lamented what it described as “fairly widespread” dissent from church teaching, it was revealed that the Vatican has “silenced” Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery.

The Holy See’s move provoked fury among the members of the 800-strong Association of Catholic Priests, which has accused the Vatican of issuing a fatwa against liberal clerics.

Peace seekers gather on Kenyan plain

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NAIROBI and LAIKIPIA NATURE CONSERVANCY, KENYA -- A pressing reality of the 21st century is that an ever-diminishing globe will require an ever-expanding degree of tolerance and cooperation among an astounding array of differing convictions -- religious and political among the most contentious -- if we’re ever to approach anything resembling world peace. We simply can no longer ignore or avoid the other.

Archbishop challenges graduates to imitate Christ in face of unemployment

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MANILA, Philippines -- Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila challenged new graduates Friday to imitate Christ's example of loving relationships, humility and service to God as they face unemployment and other post-college struggles.

"This is the hour we've been waiting for," Tagle told 446 graduates and their parents and guests at San Beda College in Mendiola, Manila. "This is the hour when true persons formed after the very person of God will glorify God."

Before handing out students' diplomas, San Beda officials, led by Rector-President Fr. Aloysius Maria Maranan, conferred on Tagle the honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities.

"Tagle deserves this honor from the school because he embodies San Beda College's ideals of fides (faith), virtus (virtue) and scientia (knowledge)," wrote San Beda College's Board of Trustees in its petition to the government Commission on Higher Education.

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