Cardinal Pell Ponders Muslim Extremism

THE AGE, May 5 — Cardinal George Pell of Australia questioned the tolerance of Islam but remained committed to the dialogue between the two faiths, the Australian daily reported.

The cardinal made the comments in an address to Catholic business leaders in Florida in February. He received the backing of Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who said he knew for a fact that Cardinal Pell is “a strong proponent of good relations between Christianity and Islam.”

In the cardinal’s address, he said, “Islamic terrorists are not a figment of anyone’s imagination and the history of relations with Islam is full of conflict,” he said in a statement.

 “We need a lot of continuing dialogue, based on truth, history and the current situation,” he added. “I continue to be completely committed to dialogue with Muslims, to supporting moderate forces on all sides ... and recommend that people read the Koran ... and judge for themselves.”

Rebuilt Catholic Church in Seen as Sign of Vital Faith

UCANEWS, May 8 — The rebuilding of a Catholic church in northern Vietnam after 40 years of decrepitude was seen as a sign of recovery of faith life and religious activities, the Indian news service reported.

Bishop Joseph Nguyen Van Yen of Phat Diem consecrated the new Ninh Binh parish church at a Mass April 20. The Mass drew more than 5,000 faithful, including about 70 priests. The day before, the bishop ordained five priests aged 36-51 at Phat Diem cathedral.

Statistics from 2004 said Phat Diem Diocese, based in Ninh Binh province, had 144,564 Catholics among a total population of 905,985.

“The new church has a very important meaning as it marks the recovery of the parish after 40 years in ruins, and it also shows the presence of Catholics in the town of Ninh Binh,” Bishop Yen, 62, said.

Sectarian Gang Beats Catholic Teenager to Death

THE TELEGRAPH, May 9 — A Catholic teenager was killed in Ballymena in the latest in a string of sectarian incidents in a Protestant Democratic Unionist Party stronghold with a small Catholic population, the London daily reported.

Michael McIlveen, 15, was beaten with baseball bats by a gang in a parking lot. Police said the teenager was walking home with friends between midnight and 1 a.m. when they were set upon. His friends escaped but Michael was cornered.

Detectives arrested two men after the assault early on Sunday and another two suspects were taken in for questioning yesterday. Police believe that the attack was motivated by religious hatred.

Peter Hain, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, said: “This is an awful attack and these attacks, although they are mercifully infrequent compared to the dark days of the past, must stop. This is an awful sectarianism which harks back to Northern Ireland’s dark and brutal past, and we are going to work to hunt down those responsible and make sure this kind of thing does not happen.”