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Vatican expresses indignation at Belgian raid

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VATICAN CITY
In a strongly worded statement, the Vatican expressed surprise and indignation at the way Belgian police carried out a raid on the headquarters of the Belgian Catholic Church in connection with an investigation into alleged priestly sex abuse.

The statement June 25 from the Vatican Secretariat of State expressed "true surprise" for the nine-hour-long police blitz and "indignation" for what it said was the violation of tombs of two late cardinals during the search June 24.

News reports said that in the raid, police had sealed off the headquarters of the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels, including the residence of Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard. They also searched the home of Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the retired archbishop for the archdiocese.

The Vatican statement included the description of the raid provided by a spokesman for the Belgian bishops' conference, detailing how bishops gathered for a scheduled meeting at the headquarters had been surprised by police who then confiscated documents and cell phones of all present.

Indian Presbyterians to 'discipline' homosexuals

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KOCHI, India (RNS/ENInews) The Presbyterian church in the northeast Indian state of Mizoram has said it will “discipline” homosexuals by preventing them from taking part in important church rituals because their lifestyle is incompatible with Christianity.

The executive committee of the synod of the Mizoram Presbyterian Church, the largest church in the Christian-majority state, said the church will not condone homosexuality in any way, and may excommunicate some homosexuals.

“Our church will discipline such people, and they will not be allowed to take part in sacraments,” the Rev. C. Rosiama, a leader of the Mizo church and former moderator of the Presbyterian Church of India, told Ecumenical News international from Aizwal, the capital of Mizoram.

The Presbyterian Church of India is made up of eight independent church synods all based in northeast India, a region sandwiched between Bangladesh, Bhutan, China and Myanmar.

Rosiama said the Mizo synod had decided that homosexuals living together as couples will not be excommunicated from the church.

Prince Charles praises Islamic principles on environment

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LONDON (RNS) Prince Charles, heir to the British throne and next in line as titular head of the Church of England, says Western society should learn from Islamic principles to save the environment.

Charles told an audience at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies on Wednesday (June 9) that “the Islamic world is the custodian of one of the greatest treasures of accumulated wisdom and spiritual knowledge available to humanity.”

The prince is a lifelong Christian and the heir to the crown now worn by his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. With his accession will come the centuries-old job of leading the Church of England.

Charles, who has studied the Quran, and who has been the Oxford center's royal patron for the past 17 years, added that “my understanding of Islam is that it warns that to deny the reality of our inner being leads to an inner darkness which can quickly extend outward into the world of nature.”

“If we ignore the calling of the soul,” he said, “then we destroy nature.”

Aquino election brings hope, nostalgia to Philippines

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The landslide victory of the new president-elect Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III was elected on a wave of hope and nostalgia that began with an emotional tsunami during the long 8-hour funeral procession of his mother, Corazon "Cory" Aquino last August 2009.

She was much loved, not only as the first democratically-elected woman president of the Philippines but in Asia, but also because of her integrity. She is revered and respected by Filipinos because she helped topple the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos and restore democracy in the Philippines. She ignited respect for human rights and non-violence and high hopes for an end to corruption, assassinations and forced disappearances. However, they were not widely realized in her presidency.

It is these same desires and longings that the Filipino people want to be actualized through her son. They see her integrity embodied in him. These are certainly challenging times for the president-elect and his future administration. Against them, there is an arrayed culture of political violence and powerful elite determined to get what they want and to bring them down to succeed.

Vatican deplores Israeli assault on flotilla; priest fears reprisals

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican deplored the "useless loss of life" in an assault by Israeli commandos on a flotilla of ships taking aid to the Gaza Strip.

In a written statement released May 31, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, called the incident "a very painful event" that church officials were following closely.

Greek Catholic church in Ukraine may be at risk

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Given its history of persecution under the Soviets, the renaissance of the Greek Catholic church in Ukraine over the last 20 years is nothing short of miraculous. Greek Catholics played key roles in the "Orange Revolution" of 2004-05, which for a brief moment, promised to bring democracy and the rule of law to Ukraine. Today, however, Catholicism in Ukraine may once again be at risk, as a new government has come to power which seems bent on reviving Soviet-style authoritarianism.

Read the full story here: A great Catholic renaissance in Ukraine may be at risk

War dead remembered

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COLOMBO, SRI LANKA -- Christians in Colombo organized a prayer vigil for “innocent civilians” who died in the country’s decades-long civil war between the government and tamil tiger rebels. hundreds of Catholics, Methodists and Anglicans, including clergy and nuns, took part in the May 17 event organized by the christian solidarity movement.

Church election monitor closes its vote count

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MANILA -- The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) is to close its parallel count of election results on May 19, with Benigno Aquino III leading the presidential race and Jejomar Binay in the lead for vice president.

The accredited poll monitoring group said it will shut down its command center at Pope Pius XII Center in Manila after receiving 90.2 percent of the votes transmitted directly from voting machines.

On the Catholic frontier

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WEST SIKKIM, INDIA -- Bishop Stephen Lepcha gasps for a breath in the thin air. He trudges a few more steps along the narrow path etched into the side of the mountain, here in the craggy foothills of the Himalayas, then stops, his chest heaving. We are enveloped in an inky blackness except for the weak beam of a flashlight four of us share. The road we left behind an hour ago is far below, yet the lights of Behga, the tiny village atop this mountain five miles from the border with Nepal, still look distant.

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July 18-31, 2014

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