Media Watch

Israelis Angered Over Defense of Pope Pius XII

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Feb. 28 — Comments by the Vatican's top diplomat in the Holy Land have angered some Holocaust historians in Israel, the news service reported.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi said Pope Pius XII kept silent about the Nazi genocide during WWII because he wanted to save Jewish lives. The defense outraged some Holocaust historians and was used as ammunition by Israeli nationalists who called for a boycott of Pope John Paul II's upcoming visit to Israel.

The Vatican has said that Pope Pius had not been informed of the extent of Hitler' s purges, which killed 6 million Jews. In defending Pope Pius‘silence, it has cited a 1942 incident in which, after Dutch bishops spoke out against the deportations of Jews, the Nazis sent 300 Catholic converts of Jewish families to Auschwitz. The news service said the archbishop's nationally broadcast comments and the bitter reaction they have drawn could overshadow hopes for reconciliation during the pilgrimage.

Christians Lead Rebuilding in Sierra Leone

RELIGION TODAY, March 6 — Christian compassion is helping to rebuild war-torn Sierra Leone, the online news service reported. “Churches are at the heart of the West African nation's efforts to rebuild its society after a brutal civil war,” said Ian Gary of Catholic Relief Services. Protestant and Catholic churches are caring for refugees, pursuing long-term development programs and working to promote peace and reconciliation ministries in the nation.

“Christians are making the biggest contribution” to the rebuilding efforts, Sierra Leone President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah told World Relief's Clive Calver. Most of the country's residents are Muslim, but Kabbah said the churches “consistently outperformed the Muslims in terms of their commitment to the people,” Calver said.

People are scarred from the war, in which 200,000 died. Rebel soldiers maimed civilians, including women and children, by chopping off their limbs with machetes, news reports said. As many as 3,000 people lost arms and legs, World Relief said.

About 2 million people lost their homes or were forced to flee because of the fighting. According to Religion Today, Catholic churches are feeding displaced people, caring for orphaned children, and rebuilding homes. More than 5,000 young people are cared for at 27 centers supported by Catholic Relief Services, and the ministry has helped build 1,500 homes.

New African King Remembers His Catholic Education

THE UNIVERSE, Feb. 27 — The practice of polygamy has been ended in the tiny African nation of Lesotho by King Letsie III, a Catholic who recently married for the first time earlier this month, the British Catholic weekly reported.

More than 6,000 people filled a stadium in the capital city of Maseru to watch the 38 year old King Letsie, who was educated by Benedictine monks in England, marry Karabo Motsoeneng. Maseru's archbishop, Bernard Mohalelefi, performed the ceremony. Nelson Mandela was among the guests, as were the presidents of Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique, along with former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda, the Universe said.

Letsie functions as a chief of state in this poor, Belgium-sized country of 2.1 million that lies within the borders of South Africa. The nation's politics have been paralyzed since South African and Botswanan troops invaded in 1998 to dislodge opposition protesters from the royal palace and quell an army revolt after a disputed election.

The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy