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Archive of July 17, 2007

Lawsuit filed against vocal critic of President Robert Mugabe, Archbishop Pius Ncube

Harare, Zimbabwe, Jul 17, 2007 (CNA) - Mugabe critic sued for adultery

The outspoken critic of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Archbishop Pius Ncube, is being taken to court for allegedly having an affair with one of his secretaries.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday by the husband of the woman in question, Mrs. Rosemary Sibanda, asks for the equivalent of $160,000 as compensation for emotional damages and the loss of companionship.

In reaction to the filing of charges against the cleric, the Archbishop’s lawyer said that the claims are part of an “orchestrated attempt” to embarrass his client.

Photographs were published yesterday by the state-run media that claim to show the Archbishop undressing in his bedroom with the plaintiff’s wife.

Democracy activist David Coltart, a Bulawayo attorney and longtime friend of Ncube, said the only incriminating photographs were blurred and did not conclusively show the archbishop.

Mr. Onesimus Sibanda, the husband who filed suit, is railroad technician. He was unlikely to have been able mount an elaborate "sting operation" and litigation alone, Coltart said.

Previously, state intelligence agents used a hidden camera in the treason case against Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai was acquitted in 2004 after more than a year of court hearings.

However, in an interview on state television, Archbishop Ncube said, "We all have weaknesses. That's why when we pray we always ask God for forgiveness.”

He continued: "I will not answer this question concerning my private life. Yes, I did take a vow. There are a whole lot of other circumstances that take place in a person's life. I would not be able to answer those items."

The Church leader has said that he will deal with the allegations in the courts and not on a television camera. “Yes I have been served with the summons but at this juncture I am saying let us deal with the courts since the case is already before the courts," according to Reuters.

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Militant Bumble Bee replaces Mickey Mouse look-alike on Hamas TV

Jerusalem, Israel, Jul 17, 2007 (CNA) - Hamas television has created a new cartoon character to replace the Mickey Mouse look-alike, named Farfur, that called for jihad and a global Islamic takeover, reported CNSNews.com.

Nahool is a giant yellow-and-black-striped bumblebee that is suspended from the studio ceiling. During the episode of the children's program "Tomorrow's Pioneers" that aired on Friday, the child hostess, Saraa, looks up and sees Nahool. She asks him who he is and what he wants.

According to a translation by the Palestinian Media Watch, Nahool responds: "I am Nahool [the bee], Farfur's cousin...I want to continue the path of Farfur, -- the path of 'Islam is the solution; the path of heroism; the path of martyrdom; the path of the Jihad warriors. Me and my friends shall continue the path of Farfur."

Farfur was killed-off by an Israeli on the show after Disney protested.

Nahool continues: "And in his name we shall take revenge upon the enemies of Allah, the murderers of the prophets, the murderers of innocent children, until Al-Aqsa will be liberated from their filth." Saraa welcomes Nahool to the show.

Al Aqsa is the mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which is currently under Israeli sovereignty. It is the third holiest site in Islam.

Al Aqsa was also the name given to the violent Palestinian uprising that began in 2000, the name of the Hamas television station, and the military wing of the Fatah faction.

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Christian groups are growing in Europe

London, England, Jul 17, 2007 (CNA) - After decades of secularization, Europe is showing signs of a modest religious comeback, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal.

The July 14 article says surveys show that belief in heaven, hell and religious concepts, such as the soul, has increased in parts of Europe, especially among the young. As well, religion is emerging in public discourse.
 
This increase is explained, in part, by the influx of devout Christian and Muslim immigrants. At the same time, anxiety over social and economic issues has led some people to turn to the spiritual realm for solace and meaning.

The Wall Street Journal reports that some scholars and Christian activists, however, are offering a more controversial explanation: the laws of economics.

As centuries-old churches lose their monopoly, Europe's highly regulated religious market is opening up to a greater number of churches and religious sects. The result is a supply-side stimulus to faith.
 
Eva Hamberg, a professor at Lund University's Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, told the Wall Street Journal that Swedish data suggest a correlation between an increase in religious competition and an increase in churchgoing. While Europeans are deserting established churches, she says, "this does not mean they are not religious."
 
“The enemy of faith, say the supply-siders, is not modernity but state-regulated markets that shield big, established churches from competition,” says the newspaper report.

In the United States, where value is placed on the separation of church and state, more than 50 percent of the population worships at least once a month. In Europe, where the state has often supported churches, church attendance in many countries is 20 percent or less.
 
Europe's new churches are not attracting enough people to offset the post-World War II decline, but they are reviving the market for religion, Professor Rodney Stark told the newspaper. Stark is a pioneer of religious supply-side theory at Baylor University in Texas.
 
Stark first developed the notion of a "religious market" in the 1980s to explain America's persistent faith. It posits that people are naturally religious but their religiosity varies depending on the vigor of “religious suppliers”.

"Wherever churches are a little more energetic and competitive, you've got more people going to church," he was quoted as saying.
 
Stark told the Wall Street Journal that religious practice in the U.S. is relatively recent. In 1776, only 17 percent of Americans belonged to churches. (This is the same as the percentage of people who currently worship once a month in some European countries.)
 
But things changed with the American Revolution. Church authority in the 11 colonies ended and religious diversity and competition were unleashed. As Methodists, Baptists, Shakers and other churches proliferated, churchgoing increased, reaching around 50 percent in the early the 20th century, he told the newspaper.
 
Churches in Europe did not live through the same revolution. The Church of Sweden, the Church of England, and the Catholic Church in Italy and France, state-funded churches in Germany held their unchallenged monopolies for centuries on end, the newspaper notes.

However, as Europe begins to experience religious diversity and the emergence of new churches — many in the style of U.S. evangelical churches — the sense of the spiritual and the religious is on the rise.

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Divorce dropping among college-educated, says public policy expert

Boston, Mass., Jul 17, 2007 (CNA) - A recent study shows that no-fault divorce leads to a 10-percent increase in the divorce rate and that divorce is dropping among college graduates.

The study was released by the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy. The institute’s founder, Maggie Gallagher, shared the results of the study she coauthored with Douglas Allen in an interview with Newsweek. The interview is featured in the July 23 edition of the magazine.

Gallagher and Allen examined every empirical study of no-fault-divorce rates in the U.S. and abroad. They found that in 17 of the 24 studies, the divorce rate increases in the first 20 years after no-fault divorce is legalized. Furthermore, she says, “there is a long-term increase in divorce rates after no-fault laws are implemented, most [of the reports say it’s] between 5 and 30 percent.”

Gallagher explains that no-fault divorce increases the divorce rate because “it becomes easier to divorce, less penalized by law.” However, it tapers off after 10 years or so because “young couples delay marriage and search harder for a better spouse.”

Gallagher notes that the increased divorce rate cannot be attributed solely to no-fault divorce. Other factors she cites include: the sexual revolution, the increase in women working outside the home, the general decline of social norms and support for marriage behavior, and declining wages for non-college-educated men.

Marriage is important, says Gallagher, because it protects children. “Children born inside a marriage have all sorts of financial and psychological advantages,” she adds.

She also notes that the risk of divorce is dropping among college-educated people.

“Meanwhile, divorce rates for the rest of America are rising, as is childbearing outside of marriage,” she says.

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Vatican spokesman says sexual abuse not just Catholic problem

Vatican City, Jul 17, 2007 (CNA) - Sexual abuse of children is not just a Catholic Church problem and other institutions should take steps to acknowledge and deal with such "wickedness" within their own ranks, the chief spokesman for the Vatican said today.

Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, said in an interview with Vatican Radio that the record $660 million settlement between the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and victims of sexual abuse was an attempt to "close a painful chapter and look forward".

"The Church is above all clearly pained by the suffering of the victims and their families, by the deep wounds caused by the grave and inexcusable behavior of some of its members," Lombardi said.

"It has decided to commit itself in every way to avoid a repetition of such wickedness," he said, adding that the Church now had a "a policy of prevention and creation of an ever more secure atmosphere for children and young people in all aspects of (its) pastoral programs".

Fr. Lombardi, also drew attention to the fact that other institutions should deal with the problem of pedophilia as openly as the Catholic Church has.

"The problem of the abuse of childhood and its adequate protection certainly does not regard only the (Catholic) Church, but also many other institutions and it is right that these take the necessary decisions as well," he said.

Lombardi also mentioned that the Church is conscious of her educational responsibilities to young people and that she intends to be "a protagonist in the struggle against pedophilia", which he said was on the rise worldwide.

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Benedict XVI dedicates part of his vacation to new book and future encyclical

Lorenzago di Cadore, Jul 17, 2007 (CNA) - The spokesman for Pope Benedict, Fr. Fredrico Lombardi, has confirmed that the Pope is dedicating part of his vacation to writing the second part of his book "Jesus of Nazareth," and to reflecting upon his next encyclical "which will have a social theme."

During a brief interview given at Lorenzago di Cardore on Sunday July 15, Fr. Lombardi said that the Holy Father "is working mainly upon the continuation of his book on Jesus of Nazareth, while as far as his second encyclical is concerned, it is still at the initial stages of ideas and reflection."

The Holy See Press Office Director recalled that on September 1 and 2, the Pope is due to go to Loreto, Italy to participate in a meeting of Italian youth, and that on the 7 and 8 of that month he will make an apostolic trip to Austria to visit the Shrine of Mariazell.

In the year 2008, said Fr. Lombardi, apart from visiting Sydney, Australia, in July for World Youth Day, it is highly probable that Benedict XVI will make a trip to the United Nations headquarters in New York, and a pilgrimage to Lourdes for the 150th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin there.

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Cardinal Bertone notes positive reactions to Pope’s letter to Chinese Catholics

Vatican City, Jul 17, 2007 (CNA) - The Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said this week the reactions of the faithful and the bishops to the Pope’s letter to Chinese Catholics have been quite positive.  “The amount of meditation and reflection, especially on the internet, by the Patriotic and clandestine communities has been extraordinary,” he said.

In considering the history of China, Cardinal Bertone pointed out that the moral thought of Confucius “has roots close to Christian roots.” “Confucius said that the man who is not a moral being is not truly a man.  The great tradition of Confucius was morality. The natural moral law is objectively insufficient not only in relation to the salvific design of God in Jesus Christ but also in regards to social life in the confines of the State and civil community in the confines of religious life,” the cardinal explained.

The Vatican Secretary of State said that so far Chinese institutions have not given any clear signals in response to the letter, “which we are awaiting.”  “We are at a moment of reflection and of re-thinking.  The letter has a sense of faith in the Chinese people and in their leaders because it looks again at the considerations towards the Catholic Church, which desires to collaborate with the good of the Chinese people.”

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8,000 people join in Act of Reparation in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Jul 17, 2007 (CNA) - Some eight thousand people joined this past Sunday in an “act of reparation” called for by Archbishop Fernando Sebastian Aguilar of Pamplona for the “blasphemous poster” displayed by the Mulhiko Alaiak club during the traditional San Fermin Festival.

The ceremony began at 11:30am amidst applause and prayers followed by total silence during the procession of the Crucified Christ.

Archbishop Sebastian, accompanied by a large number of priests, walked barefoot in the procession as an act of penance, and afterwards presided at Mass.  During his homily he recalled that one of the clubs participating in the festival “walked through the streets of Pamplona with an irreverent caricature of Jesus Christ,” which has been “connected to a political movement that is very distant from the teachings of the Gospel and of the Church.”

“The San Fermin Festival this year has been somewhat different for Christians,” since “we have not been able to spontaneously share the joy” because “we have had to bear the sorrow of a painful reminder like a thorn in the side,” Archbishop Sebastian said.  He called it an “error” and a “sin of pride” to try to reach the highest goals of humanity by scorning and ignoring Jesus Christ.”

Referring to those responsible, the archbishop said, “Although we could we would never try to impose anything on them by force.  We don’t seek power, nor do we pretend to attain privileges of any kind. We simply ask for respect and esteem in order to live together without attacks or aggressions of one against another.”

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Pope names first bishop for new diocese in Malaysia

Vatican City, Jul 17, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has erected the Diocese of Sandakan in the country of Malaysia, where the official religion is Islam, and he has named Father Julius Dusin Gitom as its first bishop.
 
The bishop-elect was born in 1957 in Kampung Loltos (Malaysia) and was ordained a priest in 1989.  Up to now he has been a priest in the Diocese of Kota Kinabalu.  The new diocese covers an area of almost 17,000 square miles, with a population of one million, of which 64,000 are Catholics.  The diocese has six priests and two religious.

Malaysia has nearly 25 million inhabitants, half of which are Malaysian and the rest of Chinese, Indian and other ethnic origins.

The official religion is Islam.  Christians make up seven percent of the populace.

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Prison where renowned Colombian drug lord was held to become Benedictine monastery

Bogotá, Colombia, Jul 17, 2007 (CNA) - An old prison in Colombia near the city of Medellin, where the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar was once held in 1992, will soon be converted into a monastery and pilgrimage center.

“The Cathedral,” as it was ironically called at the time Escobar was a prisoner there, has been entrusted to the Benedictine monks through the efforts of Father Gabriel de Jesus Jaramillo.

Father Jaramillo said he hoped the plan would “remove the stigma that the area has as a center of drug trafficking and violence and transform it into a place of pilgrimage and prayer.”

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Priests for Life to launch Humanae Vitae observance

Amarillo, Texas, Jul 17, 2007 (CNA) - Priests for Life will launch a special yearlong observance, leading up to the 40th anniversary of the encyclical Humanae Vitae.

The observance will be launched on July 25th the same day that Pope Paul VI proclaimed Church teaching on human sexuality and contraception.

“Pope Paul VI proclaimed in a clear and prophetic way the demands of the Gospel regarding how we approach human life and sexuality," said Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. 

"Thirty-nine years later, his message is even more timely and urgent to hear.  The purpose of this observance is to help people hear it, starting with churchgoing Catholics,” he continued.

Fr. Pavone urges Catholics to read the Church encyclical as a first step in preparation for the anniversary.

For resources and a listing of special events for the yearlong observance, go to: www.HumanaeVitae40.org

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August 21, 2014

Saint Pius X, Pope

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Mt 19:23-30

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First Reading:: Ezek 36: 23-28
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