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Keeping an eye on the news from around the World.
BY John Lilly
German Prosecutors Monitor
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Aug. 15 — German authorities kept a watchful eye on Madonna’s concert in
Düsseldorf to see if the pop diva should be charged with a crime, reported
The stunt, which
has been included from the outset of her worldwide “Confessions” tour, has been
criticized as an act of hostility toward the Church. Representatives for the
singer, 48, have said the scene is not disrespectful.
Johannes Mocken, a spokesman for prosecutors in Düsseldorf, said
that a repeat of the mock crucifixion scene that has drawn fire from religious
leaders could be construed as insulting religious beliefs. Madonna, who is
known for her theatrical, action-packed shows, wears a crown of fake thorns
while performing on a mirrored cross.
Mocken said authorities
relied on media reports rather than sending observers to the concert and that
the show was probably covered by laws protecting artistic freedoms.
Poles Seek Support to Restore
ONLINE, Aug. 12 — A minority party in Poland’s
governing coalition is campaigning for a Europe-wide restoration of the death
penalty for pedophiles convicted of murdering children, the Portuguese news
The League of
Polish Families said it would be looking for support in its campaign from other
European Union Catholic member states such as Portugal,
Italy and Spain.
Currently, abolition of the death penalty is a condition for membership in the
Polish President Lech Kaczynski said in a state TV interview that he would
be backing the move and urged the European Parliament to do likewise.
Wojciech Wierzejski, the vice president of the League of Polish
Families Party, told the Rzeczpospolita
newspaper that the party wants “to collect half-a-million signatures of
European Union citizens on a petition demanding the death penalty for pedophile
murderers of children,” explaining that this would be an exception to the blanket
death penalty ban presently in force across the EU’s
25 member states.
Cardinal Exhorts Flock to Go
Forth and Multiply
DAIJIWORLD, Aug. 14 —
Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil
urged the faithful in southern India
to have more children to offset the dwindling percentage of Catholics in a
region long known as a center of Indian Christianity, the news service
In a letter to
Catholics, the cardinal of the southern state of Kerala
wrote that members of the community need to “lead a life rooted in Christian
values and beliefs.”
Kerala is home to about
31 million, and the percentage of Christians in the state has declined to 19%
from 22% between 1991 and 2001, when the last census was conducted. Church
leaders attribute the decline to a lower birth rate among Christians when
compared with Hindus and Muslims.
The letter said,
“There has been a growing feeling that children are a nuisance to pleasurable
life. Even those who have the resources do not beget for selfish reasons.”
BY Jim Cosgrove
Nun Upstages Da Vinci Code Star
DAILY MAIL, Aug. 16 — Sister Mary Michael led a 12-hour vigil at Lincoln Cathedral to protest the filming of The Da Vinci Code in the historic church, the London daily reported.
The nun led a handful of protesters in prayer on the steps of the cathedral. Parts of the building's interior will serve as a double for Westminster Abbey.
When Tom Hanks, the star of the controversial film, arrived at Lincoln Cathedral Aug. 14, he found himself somewhat upstaged. He, along with director Ron Howard and co-star Sir Ian McKellen, quickly disappeared inside the building.
Sister Mary Michael, 61, said afterwards, “I just don't think it's right that they are filming this story here. I know the bishop and dean argue it is fiction — and it might even be brilliant fiction — but it is against the very essence of what we believe.”
More Than 100,000 Pilgrims Visit Icon
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Aug. 16 — More than 100,000 people converged on an ancient monastery in the hills of northwest Romania to kiss an icon many believe has miraculous healing powers, the Associated Press reported.
Believers, many of whom walked to the monastery, began arriving Aug. 12 and slept in the open, while more than a dozen Orthodox priests and monks held services around the clock at the monastery some 280 miles northwest of Bucharest. More than 100,000 believers were present Aug. 15, according to police and organizers.
According to tradition, the icon of the Weeping Virgin, painted in 1691, wept for 26 days in 1699. The first recorded miracle occurred in 1701 when it is said to have cured an army officer's wife who was going blind.
Todor Soporan, a 68-year-old with severe rheumatism, went round the wooden church at the monastery on his knees. “I came for my troubles and health,” he told the Associated Press. “I have serious rheumatism and I want less pain so I can work for the rest of my life.”
Vietnamese Catholics Flock to Festival
THANH NIEN NEWS, Aug. 15 — More than 100,000 Catholics nationwide and representatives from Catholic communities in the US, Canada, and Southeast Asian countries journeyed to central Vietnam for the La Vang Catholic Festival, the Vietnamese news service reported.
The annual festival began Aug. 13 at La Vang Church in the Hai Lang district of the Quang Tri province.
The report said that municipal authorities in Quang Tri have coordinated with festival organizers to ensure the smooth procession of the festival as well as adequate transport, water, and electricity services for the pilgrimage.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Minister at Ease With Faith in Politics
THE AUSTRALIAN, July 20 — Australia's Health Minister Tony Abbott said his Catholic faith is compatible with his role as politician, The Australian reported.
Delivering the keynote address at St. Thomas More's Forum in Canberra, Abbott said politicians should not shrink from their religious beliefs.
“We shouldn't be embarrassed or mealy-mouthed about our faith,” he said. “If it's okay to be up-front about ethnicity and, in the eyes of some, sexuality, why not be proud of religious affiliations?
The report said Abbott repeated his determination to reduce the number of abortions through education and counseling.
Archbishop Urges Cancellation of Debts
ALLAFRICA, July 19 — Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria, implored world leaders to respect the dignity of every human being and cancel the total debt of the economically strapped African nations.
“There is misery all over Africa, and God did not want it to be so,” Archbishop Onaiyekan said, according to AllAfrica. “He created every man equal.”
He was addressing Catholic faithful from more than 15 African countries July 17 in Abuja. He welcomed the development that creditors had began addressing poverty and under-development in Third World countries, but said much more needed to be done beyond partial debt relief.
Nigeria recently received a debt relief package from its Paris Club creditors that waived about 60% of the $32 billion debt burden.
Church Clashes With Venezuela's President
REUTERS, July 18 — A Venezuelan archbishop told President Hugo Chavez he had failed to behave like a head of state by using a state television broadcast to berate a cardinal who called him a dictator, Reuters reported.
Chavez, who has clashed in the past with high-ranking Catholic critics of his self-styled “revolution,” called retired Cardinal Rosario Castillo a coup-mongering “bandit” after the cardinal referred to Chavez’ rule as a dictatorship.
Speaking out in defense of Castillo, Archbishop Roberto Luckert said Chavez had insulted the cardinal while failing to answer his criticisms of the president's six-year-old rule over the world's No. 5 oil exporter.
“He should give an example of respect if he wants to be respected,” Archbishop Luckert said. “If you disagree with the government, you are immediately dismissed … as a coup-monger, a terrorist.”