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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Catholic World News: Aug. 8, 2009






Catholic World News: Headlines:
Vatican City: Pope appoints Nuncio
America: RELIGIOUS MAIL CENSORED:
Europe: FRENCH MINISTER PRAISES CARITAS IN VERITATE:
Africa:JOURNALISTS SENTENCED TO PRISON:
Asia:FAMILIES RETURN TO SWAT VALLEY IN PAKISTAN:
Australia: CARITAS LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN:


VATICAN CITY
POPE APPOINTS NUNCIO





The Pope has appointed Apostolic Nuncio in Serbia S.E. Mons. Orlando Antonini, Archbishop proprietor of Formia, so far Apostolic Nuncio in Paraguay. (SOURCE: http://www.vatican.va/)








AMERICA


RELIGIOUS MAIL CENSORED





CNA reports that Civil rights and religious freedom groups are criticizing the Rappahannock Regional Jail in northern Virginia, charging that the jail illegally censored the letters a Christian mother sent to her jailed son for being “too religious.” Jail authorities cut out so many Bible passages that her letters resembled “Swiss cheese,” the groups said.
The letters of inmate mother Anna Williams were stamped for censorship with the words “Religious Material from Home,” a press release from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty reports. On at least one occasion, all that was left of a three-page letter was its salutation, its first paragraph, and its signature “Love, Mom.”
A July 9 letter from civil and religious liberty groups to the jail’s superintendent, Joseph Higgs, Jr., protested the alleged censorship.
“Ms. Williams, a devout Christian, wanted to support her son spiritually during his confinement at the Jail by sending him religious language, including passages from the Bible,” the letter reports.
“Rather than delivering these letters to Ms. Williams’ son, the Jail expurgated the religious material, citing variously as the reason for censorship ‘Internet Pages’ and ‘Religious Material from Home.’
“Such censorship destroyed the religious messages Ms. Williams sought to convey to her son and reduced her letters to something resembling Swiss cheese. Using scissors or a hobby knife, Jail officials literally cut the religious portions out of Ms. Williams’ letters and delivered only the snippets that did not quote the Bible.”
Sources for the censored passages included the Book of Proverbs, the Book of James and the Book of Matthew. Jail officials also refused to deliver a Christian article titled “Coping with Loneliness.”
The censored portions of the letters were placed in the “personal property” of Williams’ son and were not given to him until he was transferred out of the jail.
“Even the novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky had ready access to Scripture while incarcerated in a Siberian prison camp in tsarist Russia,” the letter to jail officials said.
The letter to the superintendent was signed by officials from the Becket Fund, the Rutherford Institute, Prison Fellowship, the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, the Friends Committee on National Legislation and several local and national American Civil Liberties Union officials.
The letter, expressing hope that the issue could be resolved “without resort to litigation,” requested revisions to jail policy and written guarantees that Biblical passages in letters to detainees would not be censored.
Eric Rassbach, National Litigation Director at the Becket Fund, was a signatory to the letter.
“The citizens of Rappahannock County should be alarmed that their government has decided to join North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Iran in treating the Bible as dangerous contraband,” he said in a statement.
“Although the Bible says, ‘the truth shall set you free,’ prison authorities shouldn't treat the Bible as a security risk,” he added. “In censoring this mother's letters, the prison violated the First Amendment rights of both the prisoner and his mother.”
Kristina A. Arriaga, communications director with the Becket Fund, in a Friday e-mail told CNA that the jail superintendent has said he will start an investigation.
Prison authorities may legitimately censor writings that affect prison security, but U.S. courts have ruled that inmates may have access to religious materials.(SOURCE: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=16795


EUROPE


FRENCH MINISTER PRAISES CARITAS IN VERITATE








CNA reports that France’s Minister of Labor, Xavier Darcos, said the new social encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI, “Caritas in Veritate,” has “come at an opportune moment, like a ray of light amidst the dark clouds” and makes the Church’s social teaching shine as a clear response to “ the cynical laws of unregulated economic advantage-taking and interdependence.”
In an article published by L’Osservatore Romano, Darcos said the new encyclical by the Pope “proclaims that other ways are possible and necessary. With the Christian message as its source, it points to hope and to innovative solutions.”
Benedict XVI celebrates charity as the “master way of the social doctrine of the Church,” and he is guided by Leo XIII’s “Rerum Novarum” and Paul VI’s “Populorum Progressio,” Darcos continued. “The Pope brings back the foundation of Christianity: love, sharing, and justice, in order to discover the remedy to the selfish tactics of today. He also notes that the Gospel opens a path towards a society based on equality and freedom,” the French minister said.
Noting that the Pope’s analysis is precise and documented, Darcos underscored that in response to the grave economic crisis facing the world, the Church, in the voice of the Holy Father, “proposes another choice: a ‘comprehensive development’ that assures a shared humanistic emancipation.” Because growth is a benefit, Darcos added, globalization is not bad in and of itself, but it must be “subordinated to an ethic.”
He went on to stress that the Pope is asking the world to explore “the path of gift, gratuity and sharing. He condemns the emptiness of blind relativism which deprives men of the sense of their collectivity.”
The Pope “calls for a new alliance between faith and reason, between divine light and human intelligence,” Darcos continued. The crisis should force us to reconsider our ways because while the world’s riches are growing, the disparities continue to increase,” he said.
People need to understand they are part of one human family,” he continued, “which demands that there be a return to values: gift, the rejection of the market as a method of domination, the abandonment of hedonistic consumerism, redistribution and cooperation.”
The French Minister of Labor said it was “rare” for a Pope to have such a deep grasp of reality in analyzing societal ills and proposing the best anti-dotes. “May his message be understood!”





(SOURCE: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=16760)





AFRICA


JOURNALISTS SENTENCED TO PRISON






CISA reports that six Gambian journalists, including three executive members of the Gambian Press Union were on Thursday sentenced to a mandatory sentence of two years’ imprisonment and fined US$10,000 on two of the six counts.Failure to pay the fines will result in having to serve two extra years for each count.The journalists were convicted on six counts of sedition and defamation. They were sent to Mile 2 State Central Prison.The six convicted journalists are: Emil Touray, Secretary General of the Gambian Press Union (GPU); Sarata Jabbi Dibba, Vice President of the GPU, Pa Modou Faal, Treasurer of the GPU; Pap Saine and Ebou Sawaneh, publisher and editor of Point newspaper; and Sam Sarr, editor of Foroyaa newspaper. The international human rights organization Amnesty international condemned the convictions and called for immediate release of the journalists.“These journalists are prisoners of conscience, who are being punished for peacefully expressing their views. They should be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Erwin van der Borght, Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme.Initially, seven Gambian journalists were arrested on June 15 after publishing a Press Union statement that criticized President Yayha Jammeh for "inappropriate" comments made on state television about the unsolved 2004 murder of Point Editor Deyda Hydara. In a June 8interview on state-run Gambia Radio and Television Service, President Jammeh said the government investigation into Hydara's slaying had stalled and suggested that interested journalists should "ask Deyda Hydara who killed him", according to media reports.On June 18, seven journalists were charged with sedition, one was released on bail and the others were held in Mile 2 Prison.Repression of the media has a long history in The Gambia, Amnesty says. The lack of independence of the judiciary in cases involving journalists and human rights defenders is also increasing.On 22 July 2009, Amnesty International, along with civil society groups across Africa, organized a day of action to protest continuing human rights violations in The Gambia, including repression of the media. (Edited from http://www.cisanewsafrica.org/story.asp?ID=4063)








ASIA


FAMILIES RETURN TO SWAT VALLEY IN PAKISTAN



UCAN reports Christian and Sikh families have started returning to the Swat Valley and surrounding areas following their displacement during military operations against Taliban militants.
The federal government announced the start of the repatriation process on July 13 following the three-month offensive against the Taliban in North West Frontier Province.
The military claims that more than 1,800 militants and 166 security personnel died in the operation. Security forces are still conducting search operations in the northern tribal areas.
According to Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, 177,610 out of the 329,792 registered families displaced from Malakand division have returned home.
The refugees also include Christian and Sikh families who were ordered by the army to leave their homes.
The Church of Pakistan has been running three camps for about 600 displaced families in Mardan and Peshawar using two churches and a technical center. About 350 of these families have returned home since the repatriation process began.
The family of Ayub Masih, who have been living at Sarhadi Lutheran Church in Mardan, will be returning home too.
Speaking to UCA News on Aug. 6, the sweeper from Batkhela near Swat said, "We are happy to leave today for home after having waiting three months for this moment." He said the money the government has given as compensation to displaced families "might last for a few months during which I will keep searching for a job."
Masih hopes that things would improve in his town where there have been severe food shortages because of lengthy curfews.
Caritas workers distributing relief items to displaced Christians at Sarhadi Lutheran Church -- Most of the 485 Sikh families taking refuge at gurdawar (Sikh places of worship) in Peshawar and Hasan Abdal also left in late July. "About 80 per cent have returned and those staying are the ones whose houses were completely destroyed," said Sardar Kalyan Singh Kalyan, secretary-general of the Guru Nanak Ji Mission, a Sikh organization.
However Kalyan still has doubts regarding the security of minorities in the conflict-hit areas. "I cannot predict a peaceful existence for Sikh minorities. They might have to move to other provinces in the near future," he said.
"The government has to make plans to address not only reconstruction but also the root causes of extremism," she said. "The Taliban kidnap young boys and train them in camps to become mujahid (warriors of God). The militant groups have their recruiting centers in all provinces especially in parts of Punjab both in the north and south. Thus terrorism is not only limited to Swat."
According to Caritas Pakistan's Disaster Management Department, the organization has distributed tents, mattresses, pillows, bed sheets and fans to those displaced. (Edited from:


http://www.ucanews.com/2009/08/07/displaced-minorities-return-to-swat-valley/











AUSTRALIA


CARITAS LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN



CathNews Australia reports that Caritas Australia is launching a campaign to further social and environmental justice from the base of their "Be More" website, where people can create profiles and set themselves challenges to meet.
It is kicking off a "Be More Weekend", from August 7 to 9 inspired by South American Archbishop Oscar Romero's call "not to have more, but to be more."
"It is a weekend away not from a place but from the business as usual approach," said Caritas CEO Jack De Groot. "It is a time to reflect what things would be like if we were true stewards of creation, if we lived in solidarity with the poor and if we always attempted to be more in our daily lives."
The organisation said over 6,000 people have registered to take part in the weekend, designed as an opportunity to rethink "their lifestyles in regards to food, water, energy and consumption" while learning about Caritas projects.



"Activities include schools planting vegetable gardens and turning off the lights for the entire day, families sharing a global reality meal while playing the Be More Board game, local communities having environmentally friendly street parties and parish communities running social justice workshops and community picnics," said Mr De Groot.
"While the primary tool for the Be More Challenge is the social action networking website, the Be More Weekend ensures that you don't have to be on the web to be part of this exciting initiative," he added.
(SOURCE http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=15614



TODAY'S SAINT





St. Dominic
FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF PREACHERS, THE DOMINICANS
Feast: August 8
Information:
Feast Day:
August 8
Born:
1170, Calaruega, Province of Burgos, Kingdom of Castile (now modern-day Castile-Leon, Spain)
Died:
August 6, 1221, Bologna, Province of Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Canonized:
1234
Major Shrine:
San Domenico, Bologna
Patron of:
Astronomers; astronomy; Dominican Republic; falsely accused people; scientists

Founder of the Order of Preachers, commonly known as the Dominican Order; born at Calaroga, in Old Castile, c. 1170; died 6 August, 1221. His parents, Felix Guzman and Joanna of Aza.http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/D/stdominic.asp






TODAY'S GOSPEL



Matthew 5: 13 - 16

"You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.
Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
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