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Malawi priests condemn president's attack on bishop


LILONGWE, Malawi -- Malawi's priests and religious have condemned the president's "irresponsible verbal attacks" on the head of the bishops' conference, Bishop Joseph Mukasa Zuza of Mzuzu.

"The threat of war is a major concern, especially coming from the head of state," the Association of Diocesan Catholic Clergy of Malawi, the Association of Religious (Women) Institutes of Malawi and the Association of Men Religious Institutes of Malawi said in a Sept. 3 statement.

Bishop Zuza invoked the ire of President Bingu wa Mutharika when, in a mid-August sermon, he said Malawi's social, political and economic problems "are of our own making, depending on our respective roles."

Responding to the bishop's remarks in an Aug. 25 speech in Blantyre, Mutharika said he would "deal with the nongovernmental organizations which are leading people to protest against my leadership," adding that his "patience is wearing thin, let us fight." He said people thought he was a fool, "but you're wrong because, when I spring up, you'll see."

Irish officials respond to Vatican letter

DUBLIN -- Irish government officials planned to meet in early September to discuss the Vatican response to criticisms by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny over the findings of an Irish judicial report on the handling of clerical sex abuse.

Kenny said Sept. 3 he wanted to read the Vatican's response -- issued that day -- before responding officially. However, in a row that shows little sign of abating, Kenny said he did not regret his July 20 remarks to the Irish parliament in which he accused the Vatican of attempting to "frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago."

The Vatican, in its 11,000 word response, described Kenny's claim as unfounded and said the Irish prime minister had "made no attempt to substantiate" it.

The Irish government's Cloyne Report was issued July 13 and said then-Bishop John Magee of Cloyne paid "little or no attention" to safeguarding children as recently as 2008. But the report also accused the Vatican of being "entirely unhelpful" to Irish bishops who wanted to implement stronger norms for dealing with accusations and protecting children.

Nigerian cardinal addresses president on terrorism

LAGOS, Nigeria -- Lagos Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie urged President Goodluck Jonathan to use all security and intelligence networks at his disposal to unmask the sponsors of the Boko Haram sect and deal with them decisively.

Cardinal Okogie's advice followed the late-August bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja in which at least 23 people died.

The extremist Islamic sect, which has a somewhat undefined leadership and structure, also bombed various public buildings in the northern Nigeria towns of Maiduguri, Kano, Kaduna and Jos, as well as the Nigerian Police Force national headquarters, where several hundred people were killed.

The group says it is fighting against Western culture and education, which it claims negates its beliefs.

The cardinal said the continuous spate of mayhem being unleashed on the nation by members of the sect was becoming a matter of national embarrassment capable of disintegrating the nation if not properly checked. His remarks were released in a statement Sept. 1.

Nuncio praises Turkish decision to return properties


VATICAN CITY -- The Turkish prime minister's announcement that the government will return hundreds of properties confiscated from non-Muslim religious groups or compensate the groups for properties sold to third parties is "a historic decision," said the Vatican nuncio to Turkey.

"Even though the Roman Catholics will not benefit from this, it is an important step that is a credit to Turkey," said Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, the nuncio.

"It is a sign that is not just good, it's an excellent sign that the government wants to reconstruct the unity of the country so there no longer are first-class and second-class citizens," the nuncio told Catholic News Service Aug. 30 in a telephone interview from Ankara.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Aug. 28 that his government would return hundreds of pieces of property -- including schools, orphanages and hospitals -- that were confiscated by the government in 1936. The properties involved belonged to officially recognized religious minorities: Jews, Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and Armenian Catholics, Syrian Orthodox, Syrian Catholics and Chaldean Catholics.

Faith groups seek support for reforms in Malawi

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Faith groups in Malawi are calling for international support as they seek major reforms in the southern African country, a Catholic church official said.

"Malawians are desperate for a government that responds to their concerns," said Chris Chisoni, national secretary of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace.

Nineteen people died in Malawi in clashes with police during July 20-21 protests against government policies and a shortage of fuel and foreign currency.

The Public Affairs Committee, which includes Catholic bishops, Protestant and Muslim representatives, has called for a "proper investigation with the support" of the Southern African Development Community and the United Nations into the clashes and their causes, Chisoni said in an Aug. 26 telephone interview from the capital, Lilongwe.

The United States and Britain have cut aid to Malawi, which depends on donors for as much as 40 percent of its budget, because of disagreements with President Bingu wa Mutharika and the police response to protests.

Mexican church officials condemn casino attack


MEXICO CITY -- Mexican church officials have condemned an arson attack on a casino in Monterrey, Mexico, which killed more than 50 bettors and employees and left the nation horrified as a city once considered a crown jewel of industrial development and progress descends deeper into organized crime violence.

"In terms of the criminal groups, we believed that we had seen everything. However, what happened today surprised us," said Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega of Monterrey in a message issued late Aug. 25.

"Hopefully our authorities surprise us with a definite solution to this serious scourge. We join in prayer for those who lost their lives, for their families and so that peace is restored," the cardinal said.

A statement released late Aug. 25 by the Archdiocese of Mexico City labeled the attacks as "cowardly and abominable," and said the deaths "add to the innumerable victims of the cruelty and evil of organized crime."

Maryknoll leader urges reconciliation in South Sudan

NAIROBI, Kenya -- The president of the U.S.-based Maryknoll Sisters urged leaders of the newly independent Republic of South Sudan to prioritize peacemaking and reconciliation within its national concerns.

Maryknoll Sister Janice McLaughlin also suggested that the fledgling country's leaders begin efforts to disarm and demobilization ex-combatants in South Sudan's militia.

Her recommendations came during an interview with Catholic News Service after she spent nearly three weeks in the country July 25 through Aug. 13 leading a series of workshops on conflict transformation.

The workshops were for nursing students, seminarians and radio broadcasters in both Diocese of Wau and the Archdiocese of Juba. She previously served as a missioner in Kenya, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

"It is critical to provide skills training and employment possibilities for former fighters so they have means of making a living and contributing to rebuilding the nation," Sister Janice said. "If they feel left out and have no way to support themselves, they can easily turn to crime or to extortion to survive."

Zambian president expresses sorrow at bishop's death


ZAMBIA, Lusaka -- Zambian President Rupiah Banda, who for years was criticized by retired Bishop Paul Duffy, expressed sorrow upon hearing of the bishop's Aug. 23 death.

Bishop Duffy died of leukemia at the Oblate retirement home in San Antonio. He was 79.

Bishop Duffy, who served in the Diocese of Mongu for 14 years, was known for criticizing the Zambian government for neglecting the needs of poor people.

In a letter to the Zambia Episcopal Conference, Banda said he still remembered the conversation he had with Bishop Duffy when he visited the clergyman at his house in the rural district of Mongu, in western Zambia. He said that even though he differed with the bishop on some issues, he was a very intelligent person.

"The ... government and I are deeply sorry about this loss, and we wish you and the Catholic Church leadership in Zambia God's grace and strength as you handle the various pressures that arise out of this extremely difficult development," the president said.

Libya needs a diplomatic resolution



After a week of destruction, violence and death rebel claims that the authoritarian regime of Muammar Qaddafi is at an end remains elusive. As events continue to unfold in Lybia, it is clear that Qaddafi retains the loyalty of local tribes and the fighting in Libya will continue.

For now, the NATO bombing operations is indispensable to the ultimate military success of the rebels in Tripoli or elsewhere in the country. Is there another way out of this messy business? Yes, diplomacy.

Tripoli fighting continues, bishop stuck in Italy


VATICAN CITY -- As fighting continues in Tripoli and the search goes on for Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the bishop of Tripoli is stuck in Italy but hoping to return to the North Africa nation soon.

"The fact that, as I have been told, some Libyans are trying to return home is a good sign because that means security conditions have improved in some parts of the country. This encourages me because, as soon as possible, I'll go back, too," said Bishop Giovanni Martinelli of Tripoli.

The Vatican's missionary news agency, Fides, interviewed Bishop Martinelli Aug. 26 in Italy. Rebel forces claimed Aug. 22 that they had taken the capital and were hunting Gadhafi, but there were still reports of fighting between rebels and Gadhafi loyalists Aug. 26 in Tripoli.

"I'm anxious to return to Tripoli to be with the community and the priests," he said. "Unfortunately, up to this point, I've been advised not to leave because the usual routes for returning to Libya have been blocked. But the fact that some Libyans are returning gives me hope that I can go back soon," the bishop said.



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October 24-November 6, 2014


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