Archbishop: Don’t Descend to Level of Terrorists

ASIANEWS, Oct. 17 — Archbishop Celestino Migliore condemned terrorism’s inherent disregard for human life and dignity but also said that states cannot lower themselves to the terrorists’ level to fight terrorism, reported AsiaNews.

The Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations spoke Oct. 16 before the 6th Commission of the 61st General Assembly of the United Nations in New York on Item 100 regarding the measures to be undertaken to eliminate international terrorism.

“It must be firmly stated that the injustices existing in the world can never be used to excuse acts of terrorism,” Archbishop Migliore stated. By the same token, “the fight against terrorism must include a courageous and resolute political, diplomatic and economic commitment to relieve situations of oppression and marginalization that facilitate the designs of terrorists.”

Within this context, interfaith dialogue has “a fundamental role to play in contrasting the terrorists’ preaching of hate and violence … in promoting a culture of peace and mutual respect, and in helping people with grievances to opt for non-violent means. This grave duty falls upon religions, but states and the family of nations can help by fostering an environment in which religions and interfaith dialogue can flourish.”

Priests in Italy Are Fewer and Older

AKI, Oct. 17 — Twenty-three percent of parishes in Italy don’t have a priest due to a crisis of vocations that has seen the number of priests halved in the past century in Italy, the international news service reported.

Even though Italy’s population has doubled, there has been a drop from about 69,000 in 1900 to 31,474 today. It was also revealed that the average age of a Catholic priest in Italy is 60, and as many as 13% are over 80. The data was released at a national meeting of the Italian bishops’ conference.

The bishops’ conference also said in its survey that while in 1969 about 740 priests were ordained in Italy, only 435 were ordained in 2004. This trend has been countered by the Vatican with the presence of foreign priests; 18% of new members of the Italian Catholic clergy in 2003 came from Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia or Latin America.

On the positive side, the bishops reported that the number of cloistered nuns in Italy has increased in the past two years. In 2005, the number of cloistered nuns was 6,672 — 300 more than the previous year.

Vatican Wants to Defuse Anti-Islamic Rancor

REUTERS, Oct. 14 — Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, said the Vatican is willing to do its part to help defuse anti-Islamic feeling that “lurks in many hearts,” according to Reuters.

Cardinal Bertone made his comments in an article for the Italian Catholic monthly magazine 30 Days about the controversy over the Pope’s remarks about Islam last month.

“We have to defuse the anti-Islamic rancor that lurks in many hearts, even though the lives of many Christians are at risk,” he said. The cardinal did not elaborate, but the Vatican has made it known that it is worried about minority Christian communities in predominantly Islamic nations.

Cardinal Bertone said the relationship between the Church and Islam had to be centered on “the promotion of the dignity of every person and raising consciousness about the defense of human rights.” But he said the Catholic Church could not give up the right to preach the Gospel “even to Muslims” as long as it was done in a way that respected freedom of religion.