Germans Flock to World Youth Day Website

THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH, Oct. 15 — Perhaps bolstered by the success of World Youth Day 2006 in Cologne, Germans have shown the most interest in World Youth Day Sydney in 2008, the Australian newspaper reported.

Cardinal George Pell of Sydney said in a column that the upcoming event “will be bigger than the Sydney Olympics as about half a million people will attend the final Mass.

He said he was pleasantly surprised that Germans topped the list of visitors to the official website ( with 2.2 million hits, followed by Australia with 1.67 million, the United States with 1.51 million and Italy with 670,000. Since the website was launched April 9, there have been 9.3 million hits, with more than 50,000 daily.

“Ten days ago a delegation of three came from the Vatican to monitor preparations.” Cardinal Pell said. “They were well pleased by progress so far and pleasantly surprised by the level of support outside the Catholic community and especially from the Federal and New South Wales governments. Such cooperation does not occur everywhere. We have started well, but the major challenges are yet to come.”


North Korea Under an Immoral Cloud

THE SUNDAY TIMES, Oct. 15 — The North Korean regime’s obsession with racial purity has led to the killing of disabled infants and forced abortions for women suspected of conceiving their babies by Chinese fathers, reported the British newspaper.

The latest description of Kim Jong-il’s policy of state eugenics came from a North Korean doctor, Ri Kwang-chol, who escaped last year and told a forum in Seoul that babies with deformities were killed soon after birth. “There are no people with physical defects in North Korea,” Ri said. Such babies were put to death by medical staff and buried quickly, he claimed. He denied ever committing the act himself.

Ri’s account added to the evidence that the Kim family dictatorship is founded on mystical notions of Korean racial superiority rather than Marxism — a reality that explains its deepening estrangement from China.

“It’s vital to recognize that juche (the dogma of self-reliance) is not a theory but a cult, and that Kim is worshipped as the leader of a religion,” said a veteran Western diplomat who negotiated with the North Koreans on 19 visits. “These Koreans genuinely believe they are a master race and that the peninsula will be united under the rule of the Kim dynasty.”

Murderers Demanded Apology for Pope’s Comments

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Oct. 12 — Relatives of an Orthodox priest who was kidnapped and found beheaded three days later said that his captors had demanded his Church condemn the Pope’s Regensburg comments about Islam and pay a $350,000 ransom, reported the Associated Press.

More than 500 people attended a memorial service Oct. 12 for Father Amer Iskender in the northern city of Mosul after his decapitated body was found the day before in an industrial area of the city. Father Iskender was a priest at the St. Ephrem Orthodox Church in Mosul.

“He was a good man and we all shed tears for him,” said Eman Saaur, a 45-year-old schoolteacher who said she attended Father Iskender’s church regularly. “He was a man of peace.”

“It was a tragedy,” said Hazim Shaaiya, 60, who had come to the memorial service to pay respects. “Father Amer Iskender was a peaceful, kind, religious man.”