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Programs for men help stem violence

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MATIGUAS, Nicaragua (CNS) -- Women in Nicaragua, often too timid to speak for themselves, have been beaten and sometimes killed by their partners or husbands who were unable or unwilling to see this as a crime, as unacceptable, as a way of life that needed to be changed.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reports that nongovernmental organizations "estimate that up to 60 percent of (Nicaraguan) women have been physically abused by a partner at least once."

Enter Catholic Relief Services and its partner agency, Caritas Nicaragua, which joined forces to reduce the violence against women by providing programming for men. The agencies' officials said they saw the potential to reduce the violence, save women' lives and promote healthy families in the process.

Women do not need to be convinced that using violence in their homes can hurt or kill them. They already know all too well what can happen when machismo takes over, said Hugh Aprile, CRS country representative for Nicaragua.

Archdiocese moved money from parishes to pay abuse victims

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DUBLIN -- The Dublin Archdiocese has admitted that money from parishes has been transferred into a special fund used to compensate victims of clerical sex abuse.

However, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin insisted that "none of the funds that have come from parishes have been used for that (compensation) as yet."

Information about the transfer became public after minutes of a May meeting of the Council of Priests were leaked and published in The Irish Catholic newspaper Sept. 22. The minutes revealed that the fund used to cover the cost of abuse claims is running a deficit.

The minutes reported that "it is proposed that the deficit is eliminated by donations from parishes with cash surpluses."

"Significant progress has been made to date, with almost 40 percent of the targeted amount generously donated," the minutes said.

In an interview with Irish state radio, Archbishop Martin confirmed that money from parishes had been transferred to the general fund which, he said, "is used for many purposes, not exclusively for covering clerical sexual abuse."

He said he was unsure how much money the diocese will need to compensate clergy abuse victims.

The treachery undermining Israeli-Palestinian peace

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COMMENTARY

For the last several days, President Barack Obama has rightly been highlighting the U.S. involvement in the rescue of Libya from the oppressive and violent hand of Muammar Gaddafi as an example of 21st century international cooperation. He’s right.

Indeed, the rescue of Libya began when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton authorized an emergency rescue and evacuation of the U.S. embassy personnel in Tripoli. When Gaddafi’s forces reacted with violence to peaceful protest, the U.S. along with most other nations, closed their Libyan embassies. But the hundreds of American, Australian, Canadian, British, Maltese and other personnel still had to get out.

With no commercial carriers available on sea or by air, this transplanted Californian serving as Ambassador in nearby Malta did what you would expect a guy from Malibu to do -- I helped persuade the State Department to rent a catamaran to come to the rescue.

Patriarch: Palestine UN bid step toward solution

BETHESDA, Md. -- The Latin patriarch of Jerusalem said he hoped that an effort to grant full U.N. membership to Palestine would be a step toward eventual peace in the region, leading to the "two-state solution."

In a Sept. 20 interview in the suburban Washington offices of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, Patriarch Fouad Twal told Catholic News Service that "the question of full membership for Palestine does not mean the end of negotiations. On the contrary, they must continue negotiating and speaking to find a solution for everybody, peace for everybody and security for everybody."

Patriarch Twal, a Jordanian-born Palestinian, said that, in preaching about peace, he often says that it must be "peace for all the inhabitants, otherwise nobody can enjoy peace." He and other Christian leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI, often cite a two-state solution as the desired path to peace.

Mission to Iran improves relations with dialogue

UPDATE: The hikers, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, both 29, were released Sept. 21 on $500,000 bail each after the judge signed off on the deal. They were released to Swiss and Omani officials. Switzerland represents U.S. interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

WASHINGTON -- A delegation of Christian and Muslim leaders returned to the United States from Iran hoping that their six-day visit will improve relations between the two squabbling countries in a way that diplomatic channels have not.

The four-member delegation, which included Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, also hoped to be accompanied on the return home Sept. 19 by a pair of American hikers still being incarcerated by Iranian authorities on charges of espionage and entering Iran illegally, but was sidetracked because a judge who could approve their release was on vacation.

Police detain Mexican priest, two migrants

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MEXICO CITY -- A Catholic priest in southeastern Mexico -- known for his outspoken defense of undocumented Central Americans arriving from neighboring Guatemala -- was detained for several hours and threatened by soldiers and state police.

Father Tomas Gonzalez, pastor of the Crucified Christ Parish in Tenosique, near the lawless Peten region of Guatemala, told Catholic News Service that soldiers pulled over his vehicle -- also carrying two migrants and an Amnesty International activist -- and "surrounded us for three-and-a-half hours," after he refused to allow them to search his vehicle Sept. 17.

The soldiers called in Tabasco state police, whom Father Gonzalez said found nothing in his vehicle.

Father Gonzalez was traveling at the time with two migrants and Ruben Figueroa, an activist with Amnesty International.

A state police officer struck Figueroa and told him, "We're going to teach you to respect," Amnesty International said in statement.

Africans: Church needs role in election monitoring

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ACCRA, Ghana -- The church must strengthen its role in observing and monitoring elections in African countries where electoral violence prevails, said church representatives from 20 African nations.

Noting that 12 African countries are scheduled to hold elections before the end of 2011 and 14 others in 2012, participants in a mid-September conference organized by Catholic Relief Services and the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar said that "poor governance is often the source of intimidation, violence or conflicts in Africa during and after elections."

"More often than not," elections in Africa have been manipulated "to satisfy selfish or partisan interests to the detriment of the common good," participants said in statement signed by Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Accra. Other signers included chairs of their national bishops' justice and peace commissions: Bishop Paul Bemile of Wa, Ghana; Bishop Alexio Churu Muchabaiwa of Mutare, Zimbabwe; and Bishop Gbaya Boniface Ziri of Abengourou, Ivory Coast.

In South Africa, outrage gives way to acceptance of translations

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Editor’s note: This is one in an occasional series about the new missal translation that NCR will publish in the run-up to the translation’s official release in November.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA -- In South Africa, where the bishops’ conference mistakenly introduced the new Mass translations into parish use in late 2008, it seems that most Catholics have adapted to the new responses, although they wish it had not been necessary.

When the new responses in the Order of the Mass “were first introduced, it felt like an imposition,” said Fr. Marc de Muelenaere of St. John Fisher Church in the Pretoria archdiocese.

“No one likes the English -- it’s grammatically clumsy and many people view the changes as fiddling around for the sake of change,” he said in an Aug. 16 telephone interview.

“But we’ve become used to the new words and I’ve come to see the great controversies as a storm in a teacup,” de Muelenaere said.

Educators in Syria discuss school year start amid political turmoil

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Like many educators, Gabe and Theresa Kubasak spent the first part of September preparing for a new school year. They did so, however, under unusual circumstances.

Four years ago, the American couple founded the Iraqi Student Project (ISP), a program that seeks undergraduate education in the U.S. for young Iraqis displaced by war and ongoing violence in their homeland. As refugees in Syria and Jordan, these students cannot attend university there.

Located in the Syrian capital of Damascus, ISP is now operating in a country that is in the middle of a brutal crackdown with pro-reform protests eliciting violent government repression.

I recently questioned Huck and Kubasak, via email, on how the turmoil was affecting their work. Here is an edited version of our interview:

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