Archive of February 18, 2009

Most faithful Catholic colleges are also the most affordable, reports study

Manassas, Va., Feb 18, 2009 (CNA) - In an effort to assist parents and students who are weighing various college options, the Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education has commissioned a study to find the “best buys” at Catholic colleges and universities. The study found that the most faithful colleges are also some of the most affordable for students.


The Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education, the research division of the Cardinal Newman Society recently conducted the study which compares the faithful Catholic colleges recommended in “The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College: What to Look for and Where to Find” with other Catholic and private colleges on issues such as tuition, institutional aid, student debt and overall affordability.


According to a press release from the Cardinal Newman Society, the study found that colleges that were the most faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church, also offered students the most cost savings. 


The research, led by Andrew Gillen, PhD, a leading expert on college affordability issues found that average tuition for students at the recommended faithful Catholic colleges is nearly $3,000 less than at other Catholic colleges and about $1,000 less than the average private college.  In addition, the Newman Guide colleges provide a larger percentage of financial aid (39%) than the average private college (29%).


Gillen and his team also found that students at the recommended Catholic colleges graduate with fewer loans and less debt, about $2,000 less than at private colleges and $1,400 less than other Catholic colleges.


"This study is welcome news to families sacrificing to find ways to pay for a meaningful Catholic college education for their sons and daughters," said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society.


"The Catholic colleges profiled in The Newman Guide were chosen for their quality education and for the priority that they place on Catholic identity in all aspects of campus life. In that sense we have always believed that the recommended colleges were 'best buys' for families based on fidelity to Catholic teachings, but with the publication of this affordability study we now know that they are also truly economic 'best buys' too," noted Joseph A. Esposito, editor of The Newman Guide and director of the Center.


"The combination of faithful Catholic education and lower costs should put Newman Guide colleges at the top of any family's list as they begin to make decisions on which college to attend in the fall," he added.


The recommended Newman Guide colleges are Ave Maria University, Aquinas College (Tenn.), Belmont Abbey College, Benedictine College, The Catholic University of America, Christendom College, The College of Saint Thomas More (Texas), DeSales University, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Holy Apostles College & Seminary, John Paul the Great Catholic University, Magdalen College, Mount St. Mary's University, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, St. Gregory's University, Southern Catholic College, Thomas Aquinas College, The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts (N.H.), University of Dallas, University of St. Thomas (Texas), and Wyoming Catholic College.


The study can be accessed online at:

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Sale of prayer candles of ‘saint’ President Obama sparks controversy

San Francisco, Calif., Feb 18, 2009 (CNA) - A Catholic priest in the San Francisco area has objected to a novelty shop’s sale of a prayer candle with President Barack Obama’s picture on it.

Fr. Tony La Torre of St. Philip the Apostle Church in Noe Valley has called for a boycott of the Just For Fun card and novelty shop, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The $15 candles show the president’s haloed head pasted over the body of St. Martin de Porres, the Peruvian-born friar who is one of the first black saints in the Americas. On the candle, the saint is holding a crucifix.

Fr. La Torre said the candle “mocks Jesus” and “depicts our beloved saints in a not so saintly way.”

"I am appalled that in such a family-oriented neighborhood, any retailer would be so bigoted and so hateful (as) to carry such merchandise just to 'make a buck,'” the priest wrote in the parish newsletter, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Robert Ramsey and David Eiland, the store’s owners, said they have sold more than 700 candles since the Christmas holiday.

"This is just fun stuff," Ramsey said.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the owners posted a copy of the priest’s newsletter in the store window right next to an Obama candle.

The controversy had reportedly sparked demand, with Ramsey saying he had another 72 candles on order.

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Republican leaders tell cardinal pro-lifers will not be caught off-guard in Congress

Washington D.C., Feb 18, 2009 (CNA) - Two Republican leaders have replied to Cardinal Justin Rigali’s Feb. 5 letter on abortion policy in which the prelate urged that “extreme” pro-abortion rights measures be defeated and that pro-life provisions in appropriations bills be maintained.

The cardinal, who wrote the letter to each member of Congress in his capacity as Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Pro-Life Activities, had highlighted the postcard campaign calling for the defeat of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) and any other similar measures.

U.S. House Republican Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, thanked Cardinal Rigali for his letter, saying:

“Despite the limitations of being in the minority, we are committed to working with our pro-life colleagues on both sides of the aisle to proactively defeat efforts to enact the so-called Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) or any similar measure. We are similarly committed to working to retain, and not weaken, laws that prohibit using federal funds for the purpose of promoting or funding promotion of abortion.”

They pledged to try to retain abortion funding restrictions like the Hyde Amendment, the Dickey/Wicker Amendment, the Hyde/Weldon Conscience Protection Amendment and the Kemp-Kasten Amendment. 

The two Congressmen said they knew the Democratic majority desires to codify Roe v. Wade.

“We will not be caught off-guard by attempts to achieve this goal, whether directly or incrementally.  We will, as Pope Benedict XVI exhorted during his apostolic visit to the United States last year, ‘proclaim the gift of life, to serve life, and promote a culture of life.’”

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Pope Benedict strongly rebukes Pelosi over abortion

Vatican City, Feb 18, 2009 (CNA) - House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s photo-op with Pope Benedict XVI turned sour when the Pontiff used the 15-minute meeting to reaffirm the teachings of the Catholic Church on the right to life and the duty to protect the unborn.

No photo of Nancy Pelosi and the Pope will be forthcoming, since the meeting was closed to reporters and photographers. The two met in a small room in the Vatican just after the Pope's weekly public audience.

Immediately after the meeting, the Holy See’s press office released a statement saying, "following the general audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage."

"His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in co-operation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."

A significant number of Catholic and pro-life organizations expressed concern over how Pelosi would use the meeting with Pope Benedict to further her position that it is possible to be Catholic and pro-abortion.

Last August, Pelosi was rebuked by several U.S. bishops for attempting to theologically justify her position during an interview with "Meet the Press."

On Tuesday, Jon O’Brien, president of "Catholics for Choice," a small, well-funded organization that provides theological arguments to pro-abortion Catholic politicians, told The Hill that today’s visit between the Speaker and Pope Benedict would be an opportunity to highlight that one can be pro-choice and Catholic, and that there are much bigger issues out there to discuss, such as the fate of the poor in the global economic downturn.

"That would be a real conversation about choice, instead of this micro-obsession with abortion," O’Brien said.

Nevertheless, according to the Holy See's statement, the Pope spent the whole 15 minute conversation talking with Pelosi about the right to life and the need to defend the unborn.

A spokesman for Pelosi, who is now headed to Southern Italy as part of her Italian tour, said she would issue a statement later in the day regarding her meeting with the Pope.

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St. Bede has something to say to modern Christians, Pope says

Vatican City, Feb 18, 2009 (CNA) - This morning in St. Peter's Square Pope Benedict reflected on the teachings of Saint Bede the Venerable, which provide modern Christians in every state of life with a way to holiness.

In the presence of 15,000 people, Benedict XVI explained that St. Bede was born in England in the year 672 and was entrusted by his parents at the age of seven to the care of the abbot at the nearby Benedictine monastery.

The Englishman went on to become a scholar and earn a reputation as a saint.

"Sacred Scripture was the constant source of Bede's theological reflections." "He commented on the Bible, interpreting it in the light of Christology," the Holy Father said. "He listened attentively to what the text says, but he was convinced that in order to understand Sacred Scripture precisely, the key is Christ."

Among St. Bede’s contributions highlighted by the Pope were: his detailed account of the first six ecumenical councils and their developments, his presentations of Christological and Mariological doctrines and his works denouncing the heresies of the Monophysites, the iconoclasts, and the neo-Pelagians.

St. Bede also made significant contributions in the scholastic field. He is called "the father of English historiography" for authoring the book "The Ecclesiastical History of the English People," and is the creator of the B.C. / A.D. calendar that sees history 'ab incarnatione Domini'," Pope Benedict added.

"Bede was also a great master of liturgical theology," the Holy Father exclaimed. Bede educated the faithful "to celebrate the mysteries of the faith with joy, and to reflect those mysteries coherently in their lives while awaiting their full manifestation in the return of Christ."

"Thanks to his approach to theology, which involved a combination of the Bible, liturgy and history, Bede has a modern message for the various 'states' of Christian life," the Pope said.

"He reminds scholars of two essential tasks: scrutinizing the marvels of the Word of God so as to present them in a manner attractive to the faithful, and explaining dogmatic truths while avoiding heretical complications and keeping to 'Catholic simplicity,' with the attitude of the meek and humble to whom it pleases God to reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom."

Pastors, Bede indicates, "must give priority to preaching, not only through sermons and hagiographies, but also by using icons, processions and pilgrimages."

Concerning consecrated people, "Bede recommends focus on the apostolate, both by collaborating with bishops in various kinds of pastoral activities in support of young Christian communities, and by offering themselves for evangelizing missions."

Additionally, Bede the Venerable instructs the laity that "Christ wants an industrious Church, tanned from the efforts of evangelization," "which must be supplemented by being "assiduous in their religious education."

"It is a fact," Pope Benedict continued, "that with his works he made an effective contribution to the construction of a Christian Europe."

"Let us pray," the Pope concluded, "that today as well there may be figures like the Venerable Bede, and that we ourselves may be willing to rediscover our Christian roots, and thus be builders of a Christian, and therefore profoundly human, Europe."

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President of Academy for Life: food and hydration do not fall under therapy

Rome, Italy, Feb 18, 2009 (CNA) - The President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, said this week that there “must be a distinction between the medical act by which feeding tubes are inserted and food and hydration itself which we do not consider to fall under therapy.”

According to the SIR news agency, the archbishop made his remarks in response to questions from reporters about the Eluana Englaro case, the Italian woman who died after her food and water were slowly withdrawn at a hospital in Udine at the request of her father. 

He pointed out that there are “hundreds and thousands of doctors and scientists who do not consider food and water to be therapy. These are elements essential for the lives of persons and we think they should always be guaranteed, because giving food and water to a person can never be considered extraordinary means.”

Commenting later about the law on the “end of life” currently being debated in the Italian congress, the archbishop noted that “in the Church there is always a reflection on the beginning, the development and the end of life” because “we should always keep alive the question about the meaning of life, of sickness and of suffering.”  In addition, he stated, “at certain historical moments,” this reflection “is more urgent.” In this case, the archbishop explained, “the Church is called to make a judgment, and her way of thinking should never be marginalized.”

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Catholics hold vigil praying for Obama’s conversion on FOCA

Mesa, Ariz., Feb 18, 2009 (CNA) - This morning when President Obama arrived in Mesa, Arizona to announce his $75 billion "Homeowner Stability Initiative," a group of about 200 Catholics were holding a prayer vigil across the street. The group was praying that Obama will change his mind about supporting the unpopular Freedom of Choice Act.

Fr. Jack Spaulding, the pastor of St. Timothy’s Catholic Church, led a prayer vigil that lasted about 45 minutes.

"As Catholics, this is a tremendous opportunity for each one of us to put our faith into action through a peaceful and prayerful acknowledgement that everyone, including our president, must respect the sanctity of all human life, especially the unborn," Fr. Spaulding said.

Walter Zorich, 71, told the Arizona Republic that he came to the vigil to "pray for the president and his staff that they make good decisions."

If there was one thing that Zorich could say to the president, it would be that "life is more important than the economy."

"Our church, we value life, and the thing that is scary is that he would sign the Freedom of Choice Act," Spaulding said, according to the Free Republic.

The Freedom of Choice Act is being opposed by Catholics across the country because it would eliminate the modest restrictions on abortion passed since 1973 and remove restrictions on other government entities that prevent them from requiring Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is conducting a postcard campaign nationwide to urge legislators to abandon their support for FOCA and other measures that would promote abortion. Hundreds of thousands of postcards have already been sent.

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Art expo on the travels of St. Paul opens in Hong Kong

Rome, Italy, Feb 18, 2009 (CNA) - “The missionary trips of St. Paul through the paintbrushes of young people” is the name of an art exhibit that will be on display through June 28, the end of the Pauline Year, at the Parish of the Miraculous Virgin in the Diocese of Hong Kong. Some 30 artists are participating in the exhibit with a total of 10 paintings on display.

According to Fides news agency, “the parish, motivated by the spread of the Pauline spirit, invited three local schools to participate in the initiative.”

The result is that more than 30 Catholic and non-Catholic students from Hong Kong Tang King Po College and St. Francis’ Canossian College participated in the creation of 10 paintings that portray the conversion of St. Paul and his three important missionary trips.

According to the director of the exhibit, “more than half of the students are not Christians, but they have come to know the Christian faith through their paintbrushes.”

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Nancy Pelosi tries to spin meeting with Pope Benedict

Rome, Italy, Feb 18, 2009 (CNA) - After her meeting with the Holy Father this morning, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi released a statement highlighting the positive aspects of the meeting but ignoring the Pope’s correction of her support for legal abortion.


In her statement, Pelosi says:


“It is with great joy that my husband, Paul, and I met with His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, today. In our conversation, I had the opportunity to praise the Church’s leadership in fighting poverty, hunger, and global warming, as well as the Holy Father’s dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel. I was proud to show His Holiness a photograph of my family’s papal visit in the 1950s, as well as a recent picture of our children and grandchildren.”


In contrast, the Holy See released a statement regarding the meeting noting that Pope Benedict spoke “of the requirements of the natural moral law” and also “the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception until natural death, which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists, and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of development.”


Comparing the two releases, Catholic commentator and author George Weigel responded saying that the statement from the office of Pelosi makes it obvious that there is more to the story: “that Pelosi, who shamelessly trumpets her ‘ardent’ Catholicism while leading congressional Democrats in a continuing assault on what the Catholic Church regards as the inalienable human rights of the unborn, was trying to recruit Benedict XVI to Team Nancy.”


But Pope Benedict wasn’t swayed, Weigel told the National Review Online.


During the meeting, the Holy Father told her “politely but unmistakably” that her pro-abortion support puts “her in serious difficulties as a Catholic, which was his obligation as a pastor.”


Furthermore, Weigel asserts, Pope Benedict was directing his words to other pro-abortion Catholics in the United States:  Joe Biden, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Barbara Mikulski, Rose DeLauro, Kathleen Sebelius, and others clarifying to them that the Catholic stance against abortion “is not some weird Catholic hocus-pocus; it’s a first principle of justice than can be known by reason.”


“It is a ‘requirement of the natural moral law’,” says Weigel, “that is, the moral truths we can know by thinking about what is right and what is wrong — to defend the inviolability of innocent human life. You don’t have to believe in papal primacy to know that; you don’t have do believe in seven sacraments, or the episcopal structure of the Church, or the divinity of Christ, to know that. You don’t even have to believe in God to know that. You only have to be a morally serious human being, willing to work through a moral argument — which, of course, means being the kind of person who understands that moral truth cannot be reduced to questions of feminist political correctness or partisan political advantage.”

Though it is apparent that Pelosi is “deeply confused about what her church teaches on the morality of abortion,” Weigel continues, she “has now been informed, and by a world-class intellectual who happens to be the universal pastor of the Catholic Church, that she is, in fact, confused, and that both her spiritual life and her public service are in jeopardy because of that.”

Weigel adds that even though President Obama is not Catholic, “he should understand that he will get the same message if, as expected, he meets with His Holiness later this year.”

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Supreme Court ruling in Spain rejects indoctrination in schools

Madrid, Spain, Feb 18, 2009 (CNA) - Organizations opposed to Education for the Citizenry are praising four rulings from the Supreme Court which, while they refuse to acknowledge conscientious objection, recognize the essence of the debate and reject any kind of ideological indoctrination in Spanish schools.

“What the Supreme Court has done is issue a serious warning to the government, to the entire educational system, to schools and teachers, that they should not fall into the temptation to use Education for the Citizenry to indoctrinate Spanish children,” the civil rights watchdog website stated.  “By rejecting indoctrination by the government, the rulings make conscientious objection unnecessary, as long as the education officials follow them and implement them.”

The website noted that parents who objected were not against their children being taught morals in the abstract, but that they were against the “indoctrination it [the course] masks.”  It praised they “total” triumph of the Court rulings which warned that “in a democratic society, it should not be the educational Administration—or the schools or specific teachers either—who set themselves up as the arbiters of controversial moral questions.”

In addition, the rulings point out that if a particular educational program or textbook is shown to contain indoctrination, the Courts can be petitioned to use “whatever means necessary to immediately halt that activity.”

Jaime Urcelay, president of Professionals for Ethics, said the Supreme Court “has addressed the underlying demands made by parents by giving them new legal arguments to defend themselves from school indoctrination.”

“The legal battle for freedom of education and of ideology has only just begun because conscientious objection is not an end in itself but just a means,” Urcelay said. “As we have always stated, we will stand by the parents who want to move ahead in defending their fundamental rights.”

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Poor must not be forgotten in financial rescue plans, Caritas entreats

Rome, Italy, Feb 18, 2009 (CNA) - Caritas International has expressed its hope that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s visit with Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday will inspire him and other G8 leaders to become newly dedicated to solidarity for the poor amidst the global economic crisis.   

In a press release, the secretary general of Caritas International, Lesley-Anne Knight, said “Caritas hopes that the inspiration of Pope Benedict XVI will act as a reminder to the leaders of the world about the fact that the poor do not have to be excluded from the plans to rescue the world economy. Leaders should resist national pressure and show genuine leadership in order to convince voters that to help the poor is not only a positive choice but a moral responsibility.”

Caritas warned against “populist actions” that neglect the 100 million people in the least developed nations of the world who live in absolute poverty. 

Knight said, “2009 will determine what kind of world we live in when the economic crisis has passed.” 

“The leaders of the world do not have to use the financial problems as an excuse to cut off aid, but rather as an opportunity to reform globalization in a greater effort for development and justice. When 70% of your financing for health care services comes from foreign donations, as is the case with many African countries, cutting off aid could cost lives,” Knight stated.

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Jesuits’ Oregon Province becomes first order to file for bankruptcy

Portland, Ore., Feb 18, 2009 (CNA) - The Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday following additional sexual abuse lawsuits, thus becoming the first religious order to do so.

The bankruptcy petition was filed in Portland Federal Bankruptcy Court as an additional 200 claims of sexual abuse of primarily Alaskan children were pending or threatened against the Jesuit province, the Daily News-Miner reports.

The Oregon province has 235 Jesuit priests and brothers in the five states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

Fr. Patrick J. Lee, SJ, the provincial of the Oregon Province, released a statement early Tuesday.

“It is the only way we believe that all claimants can be offered a fair financial settlement within the limited resources of the province,” Fr. Lee said.

“Our hope is that by filing Chapter 11, we can begin to bring this sad chapter in our province’s history to an end.

“We continue to pray for all those who have been hurt by the actions of a few men, so that they can receive the healing and reconciliation that they deserve.

“Chapter 11 will allow the Oregon Province to resolve pending claims, manage its financial situation and continue its various ministries in the Northwest in which it has been engaged since 1831,” he continued.

Fr. Lee’s statement reports that since 2001 the province has settled more than 200 claims and has paid in excess of $25 million from its own resources in addition to payments made by insurers.

Ken Roosa, an Anchorage attorney representing alleged sexual abuse victims, told the News-Miner that the bankruptcy filing is “ultimately an acknowledgment of what we have been saying for years is true, that Alaska was used as a dumping ground for problem priests and by filing bankruptcy they can shut off once and for all the plaintiffs opportunity to gain discovery and get evidence of what was going on here.”

He claimed that the bankruptcy move protects the province from further investigation by barring access to Jesuit records.

Roosa also said the filing will allow for more rapid settlement for victims.

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Archbishop of Melbourne assigns priest to help bushfire victims

Melbourne, Australia, Feb 18, 2009 (CNA) - Following the disastrous bush wildfires in Australia, Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart has appointed Fr. Greg Bourke as Bushfire Recovery Chaplain as part of the Church’s “sustained effort” to help victims of the fires.

The Bushfire Recovery Chaplain will be a liaison between state and civil authorities, key Catholic agencies such as the Catholic Education Office (CEO), Centacare Catholic Family Services and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

He will also collaborate with parish priests and pastoral teams in the affected communities, a statement from the Archdiocese of Melbourne reports.

Archbishop Hart said the Catholic Church’s presence in affected communities during the initial crisis and recovery stages will need to go beyond its normal presence.

“The Church in Melbourne is committed to a sustained effort to meet the pastoral, welfare and education needs of the affected communities and to the rebuilding of those communities over the coming years,” Archbishop Hart said.

The Catholic Education Office (CEO) has waived school fees for 2009 for families that have lost their homes and is providing additional funds to assist with educational and relocation costs. CEO psychologists and counselors are available to support teachers and students of Catholic schools in the affected areas.

Centacare, the welfare arm of the Catholic Church in Australia, has offered the Australian Department of Human Services professional social workers and psychologists to help meet the needs of affected communities.

Fr. Bourke will also work to coordinate with priests and pastoral teams in parishes in unaffected parts of the archdiocese to help them support and assist parishes and religious communities in the fire ravaged areas.

Fr. Bourke will connect with individuals and families displaced by the brushfires as well as help those families who need extra assistance for funeral services.

On Tuesday Archbishop Hart visited communities in the fire zones around Healesville, Tarrawarra, Alexandra and Yea. In Healesville he spoke with emergency personnel and told them of his enormous admiration for their work.

Voicing his concern for the wellbeing of priests and pastoral teams in the affected areas, he said on Wednesday, “They have been working tirelessly and selflessly in what are exceptionally demanding circumstances… I wanted to give them my encouragement and remind them that they are human too and that they also need our care and prayers.”

The archbishop has also announced the committee which will advise him on the management of funds raised in the Catholic Archbishop’s Charitable Fund Bushfire Appeal.

Saying he was conscious that it will take many years for the communities to recover from the trauma and destruction of the bushfires, Archbishop Hart said he wanted to make sure that the donations are used to directly assist affected communities “both immediately and over the coming months and years as they courageously take up the challenge of recovery and rebuilding their lives and communities.”

Over 180 people were killed in the recent fires, some of which were started by arsonists.

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