APRIL 10, 2011, Vol 61, No7

Rebel fighters gesture in front of burning vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after an airstrike by coalition forces along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiya. CNS photos

Bishops of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya want end to ‘painful conflict’

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI has appealed for a stop to fighting in Libya and the immediate start of a serious dialogue aimed at restoring peace to the North African country.

Speaking at his weekly blessing on March 27, the pope said he was increasingly concerned about the situation, where rebels supported by US and European airstrikes have battled the forces of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

“My fear for the safety and well-being of the civilian population is growing, as is my apprehension over how the situation is developing with the use of arms,” the pope said.

“To international agencies and to those with political and military responsibility, I make a heartfelt appeal for the immediate start of a dialogue that will suspend the use of arms.”

Echoing the pontiff’s call were the bishops of northern Africa, representing the Church in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya.
Teens from the Chicago archdiocese sign on a World Youth Day cross in late February. CNS photo

VATICAN CITY – With more than 1 million youths expected to converge on Madrid for World Youth Day (WYD) in August, organisers are busy making final preparations and ensuring minimum environmental damage.

The traditional bond between the faith and art will be highlighted, especially during the Stations of the Cross, Mr Yago de la Cierva, executive director of WYD 2011, told reporters at the Vatican on March 15.

And “there will be many events late at night. We Spaniards eat dinner at about 10 [pm] and we don’t go to bed before midnight”, he said. “Obviously, the catechesis in the morning will begin later” than was usual at World Youth Day in other cities.
With the chequebook gradually becoming obsolete and more people shopping online, the Catholic Church and its related charities are learning about spending habits. – Mr Michael Murphy of the Washington-based International Catholic Stewardship Council

WASHINGTON – Within a decade, church collection baskets may be collecting more dust than cash as more Catholics switch to electronic giving.

With the chequebook gradually becoming obsolete and more people shopping online, the Catholic Church and its related charities are learning about spending habits, says Mr Michael Murphy, executive director of the Washington-based International Catholic Stewardship Council.

“I think it is an exciting new way for people to give to the Church,” he says.

His council provides educational resources, networks and information to promote Catholic philanthropy and advance the ministry of stewardship in parishes and dioceses.

Online giving has increased donations for many non-profit organisations in the US. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, a study of 600 charities that used such a system showed that 79 percent of them raised more in 2010 than they did in 2009, while 21 percent raised less.
KOZHIKODE, INDIA – The first political party launched by Catholic laypeople in Kerala has decided to contest state assembly elections slated for April 13.

“We are compelled to field our own candidates because no political party provides justice for Christians,” said Mr Joy Abraham Parikkapallil, general secretary of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Mr Parikkapallil said the new party would show its strength in Malabar, Kerala’s northern region, which is home to one third of the state’s six million Christians.

The Catholic lay leader said the party plans to contest a total of six constituencies where a Christian presence is strong.

He said their party “aims to get Christians to stand together and demand their rights since it has now become the voice of Christians in Kerala”.
Religious leaders sit below a large crucifix during a Mass and protest against a reproductive health bill held in Luneta Park in Manila. CNS photo

MANILA – Thousands of Philippine Catholics have rallied in Manila against the government’s proposed reproductive health law.

The Archdiocese of Manila and various pro-life groups led the March 25 prayer rally, and Mass was celebrated by Manila Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales.

The rally had the theme Filipinos! Unite Under God for Life and coincided with the feast of the Annunciation, which the activists have declared as the Day of Unborn Children.

Hours before the rally, sponsors of the House version of the bill withdrew several provisions, including a section that encouraged limiting families to two children.

In a letter to priests, Religious and laity of the archdiocese, Cardinal Rosales said the rally was for all those who value family and life values. He urged the clergy and all Catholics to join the event to show “that our country will never allow the repressive bill to be passed”.