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Australian bishops urge ban on human cloning
The Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference has called on Australia's politicians to enact uniform legislation which comprehensively bans all forms of human cloning. - ACBC

ACSJC calls for urgent action on Pakistan blasphemy cases
The Australian Social Justice Council is appealing for the community to take up the cases of Ayub Masih, a Christian, and Dr Younnas Shaikh, a Muslim - both Pakistanis who have been condemned to death under the country's blasphemy laws. - ACSJC

Jesuits' Vietnamese 'crimefighter' loses government funding
A Federal Government funding cut threatens to end the work of the "most experienced" Vietnamese-born worker in the Victorian criminal justice system, following an explosive growth in the number of prisoners born in Vietnam. - JSS

Pontifical council to publish handbook on drug addiction
The Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers is set to release a handbook outlining its view on how the Church should respond to the challenge of drug addiction. - CWN

Dalai Lama prays for peace in Fatima
The Dalai Lama, Tibetan spiritual leader and 1989 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, visited Portugal's Fatima shrine Tuesday to take part in a peace meeting of religious leaders. - Zenit

Poll links frequent Mass attendance with support of church teachings
The first of a planned ongoing series of polls on Contemporary Catholic Trends in the US shows that Catholics who attend Mass at least weekly are more likely to support the church's teachings on moral issues. - CNS

Opinion - Charting a future course for the US
As Americans pick up the pieces after the tragedy of 11 September, they will need a framework of moral reflection. Globalisation requires greater moral scrutiny, it is not just a financial reality. - Catholic Weekly

Feature - Saintmaker who promoted Newman's cause
Vincent Blehl was an American Jesuit priest and scholar who devoted his life to making known the life and holiness of Cardinal John Henry Newman, England's most celebrated Roman Catholic convert, most recently as Postulator of the Cause for Newman's Beatification and Canonisation. - The Times (London)

Former Afghan king meets with Vatican officials on eve of talks
A Vatican delegation met with former Afghan King Mohammad Zaher Shah on the eve of talks to determine the war-torn country's political future. - CNS

Bishop disappears, priests confined, convents closed
In the past month, police have arrested a Chinese bishop and his assistant, confined 12 priests for indoctrination courses, closed a monastery and two convents, and sent seminarians, monks and nuns home. - Fides

Archbishop urges Brisbane faithful to prepare for encounter with Holy Spirit
Archbishop John Bathersby has renewed his call for all people of the Brisbane Church to take part in the archdiocese's 2003 synod, which he described as a "critical encounter with the Holy Spirit". - Catholic Leader

NSW minister praises prison chaplains
Corrective Services Minister in the NSW Government, John Watkins, has paid tribute to the work of prison chaplains in the wake of an historic signing of a formal memorandum of understanding between the chaplains and the government. - Catholic Weekly

Further honours for Australians at SIGNIS Congress
Director of the Australian Catholic Television Library and veteran TV documentary producer Peter Thomas, has received the Agnellus Andrew Award for outstanding contribution to Catholic Media in the Pacific region. - ACBC

German cardinal appears in airline ad
The president of the German bishops' conference appeared in an advertisement for an ailing German airline to help rebuild consumer confidence following terrorist attacks in the United States, a church spokesman said. - CNS

Opinion - Church supports Viagra for married men?
As far as we know, the Church has not condemned the use of Viagra. Viagra is a drug that helps males to overcome a pathological condition preventing them from engaging in the conjugal act with their spouses. Is it wrong for a married man? Surely it cannot be. However the use of Viagra by single men would most naturally be condemned as immoral. - Columnist Grace MacKinnon /

Feature - Vatican official praises manual for World Youth Day preparation
A newly released manual aimed at helping young people prepare spiritually for World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto has been hailed as an "extraordinary book" by Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Titled "Salt and Light: Preparing for World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto," the 140-page catechetical handbook contains eight chapters designed to help young people have a more profound faith experience at the event. - CNS

Cloning development provokes Catholic Health call for clarity in ethics
Catholic Health Australia yesterday called for a consistent ethical approach to meeting the challenges imposed by health and aged care related diseases, suggesting that legislators "must not be manipulated by those seeking to profit from placing one human life above another". - CHA

Australian priest to head new world catholic media organisation
Fr Peter Malone MSC has been elected in Rome as the first president of SIGNIS. - Signis

Pope says vocation shortage should not force Church to lower standard
Faced with low numbers of priests and religious, the church cannot lower standards but should instead give greater attention to the selection and formation of candidates, Pope John Paul II has said. - CNS

Cardinal Kasper weighs in on Nazareth Mosque dispute
Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, has denied Israeli press statements that the Vatican would agree to a scaled down version of the controversial mosque being built in Nazareth. - Zenit

Jesuit says Christian response starts with understanding terrorists
The truly Christian response to the terrorist attacks on the US would be to first seriously try to understand the motivations of the people responsible and then try to hold them accountable through the United Nations and the World Court, according to peace activist Jesuit Fr Daniel Berrigan. - CNS

Village rehearses chopping down Christmas tree for Pope
The entire population of a Romanian village has held rehearsals for chopping down the Pope's Christmas tree. - Ananova

Opinion - Hearing asylum seekers' stories would foster compassion
The problem is that politicians tapped into fears that refugees threaten social cohesion or even jobs. This is the deeper problem that must be addressed, partly by Church people providing accurate information about the desperate circumstances of the refugees. More Australians should meet some of the refugees and hear their stories, so we can respond with fairness and compassion. - Fr Bruce Duncan CSsR, Yarra Theological Union / Catholic Weekly

Feature - The plight of Pakistan's 'invisible' Afghan refugees
At least 150,000 refugees in Pakistan are invisible and abandoned. An estimated 80,000 refugees in Jalozai, 10km south of Peshawar are ignored by the Pakistan government and are therefore ineligible for aid from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees UNCHR. - Fides

Vatican condemns cloning of embryo
The Vatican condemned the first reported cloning of a human embryo, saying yesterday that promises of "sensational" cures from diseases can't justify the step by scientists in the US. - AP

Pax Christi calls for Palestinian state
A delegation from the peace Catholic organisation Pax Christi International has argued that for true and lasting peace in the Middle East, "negotiations should ultimately lead to a sovereign, viable Palestinian state, with Jerusalem the capital of two states, accessible to the followers of three monotheistic religions". - Tablet

Vatican security adviser warns Pope could be Osama bin Laden's next target
Vincent Cannistraro, former head of the CIA's anti-terrorism unit and now a Vatican security adviser, warns that Osama bin Landen may be planning an attack on Pope John Paul II. - Newsmax

Perth Archbishop announces Communications shakeup
Archbishop Barry Hickey has announced a significant revamp of communications for the Archdiocese of Perth in the current edition of The Record newspaper: - Vias Tuas

Fiji Church issues clergy sexual abuse guidelines
Response and Healing, a set of principles and procedures for responding to complaints of sexual abuse by Clergy and Religious of the the Suva Archdiocese, was launched last week by Archbishop Petero Mataca at a diocesan clergy workshop held at Pacific Regional Seminary. - RelPacNews #132

PNG bishop explains motive for priest's murder
Economic desperation - and not hostility towards the Church - is unquestionably the motive for the murder of Marianhill Missionary Fr Hubert Hofmans in Lae on Friday, according to Bishop Cesare Bonivento of Vanimo. - Vidimus Dominum

Opinion - John Paul II's response a tiny drop in Oceania
Apart from the headline-grabbing apologies to indigenous peoples and victims of clerical sexual abuse, Ecclesia in Oceania outlines a conservative blueprint for the church. No bishop disputes that spreading the Gospel is the main work of the church. But many have questioned whether mere proclamation - as distinct from genuine dialogue with other religions and other cultures, including secular culture - is the best way to do it. - Chris McGillion / Sydney Morning Herald

Feature - Lay preachers responding to clergy shortage in US
13% of the 19,000 parishes in the United States have no resident priest. The church in the Midwest and West is experiencing the greatest priest shortages, and lay preachers appear to be a major response. There's increased emphasis from the Dominicans on collaborative preaching teams, and the work of the Catholic Coalition on Preaching. - National Catholic Reporter

Aboriginal Catholic Commission says Pope's apology marks new beginning
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) and have welcomed the Pope's apology to the Stolen Generations. - NATSICC/ACSJC/ABC/AAP

Australian bishops welcome the Apostolic Exhortation
Responding to Friday's launch by Pope John Paul II of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Oceania, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference Archbishop Francis Carroll said expressed the bishops' delight that the Holy Father has taken up the cause of indigenous people. - ACBC

Pope makes four more saints
Pope John Paul II canonised four Europeans yesterday, bringing to 456 the number of people he has canonised in his 23-year papacy. - AP

Catholic communicators meet Pope
Three Australians were among delegates of the new International Catholic Media Association SIGNIS received in a private audience by the Pope on Friday. - ACBC

PNG gangsters kill missionary priest for $23
A missionary priest who gave 30 years of his life to Papua New Guinea has been shot dead by criminals, witnesses said at the weekend. - Age

Brisbane Catholic school praised for quick action in meningococcal case
Health authorities have praised the quick action of school officials at St Mary's College, Ipswich, in recognising the symptoms of the potentially deadly meningococcal disease in a student. - ABC

Opinion - St Thérèse of Lisieux's powerful Little Way
Though Professor Dawkins is the scientist, it is she who is able to deduce, both intellectually and experientially, far more from what she sees around and within her than he does. And what does she see that is essentially anathema to him? That it is precisely the recognised littleness in us that makes us great. - Kate Cleary, Coordinator Caroline Chisholm theological lending library, Melbourne / The Tablet

Feature - Bureaucracy and the stranger in our midst
Fr Robert Reyes, the "running priest of the Philippines", almost didn't make his September visit to Australia because his visa application was turned down. Columban Director for Justice, Peace and Ecology Fr Brian Gore successfully used a mutual friend to intervene. He said: "If that's the level of processing going on with just an ordinary visa, imagine what goes on in the bureaucracy when they don't even care about the people." - Catholic Weekly


Pope's Oceania Exhortation includes apology to Aboriginies
Pope John Paul II apologised to Australia's Aborigines and other indigenous peoples of Oceania for past "shameful injustices" of the Catholic Church, in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Oceania, posted on the Internet late yesterday. - The Age

Caritas help reaching refugees in Pakistan
Caritas Australia National Director Jack de Groot has welcomed news that Australian support is reaching needy Afghan refugees currently in Pakistan. - Caritas

Pope prays for journalists killed in Afghanistan
John Paul II on Wednesday expressed his sympathy and sorrow over the killing of four journalists including an Australian in Afghanistan, and appealed for prayers for their souls and for all victims of violence. - Zenit

Cardinal Kasper warns Israel about Nazareth Mosque
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism, has warned Israeli government officials that the construction of the mosque in Nazareth "does not help relations between Christians and Muslims." - Zenit

Brisbane Bishop denounces witchcraft
Brisbane Auxiliary Bishop John Gerry has given an unqualified assurance of the archdiocese's adherence to Catholic teaching after allegations that nuns are involved with a community centre which has been promoting or hosting witchcraft, new age and pro-abortion causes. - Catholic Leader

Safe sex nun told 'remove Aids posters'
Bishop Michael Bowen of the London Archdiocese of Southwark has asked Sister Dorothy Bell, the archdiocese's Aids co-ordinator, to remove posters she sent to parish churches. - Telegraph (London)

Opinion -
Man of peace point finger at nation as whole
2001 Sydney Peace Prize recipient, former Governor General Sir William Deane, has asserted that past injustices towards Indigenous peoples were not inflicted by individuals, but by the nation as a whole. The tag for this fiction can't be tied to any one individual. We all must wear it. - Catholic Weekly

Feature -
Praying for peace: The more things change, the more they remain same
When Pope John Paul II first convened an interfaith prayer gathering in 1986, the biggest danger on the world horizon was the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, with the spectre of Europe as a potential nuclear battleground.
The pope again has invited religious leaders to the Italian hill town of Assisi to pray for peace, and this time the international community faces a new threat: terrorism capable of mass destruction. - CNS

Muslims and Jews taking up Pope's invitation to Assisi
Muslim and Jewish communities responded enthusiastically to John Paul II's invitation to world religious leaders to attend a prayer meeting for peace in Assisi on 24 January. - Zenit

Pope stresses 'conscience' role for new media organisation
In describing the challenges faced by the Catholic media group Signis, Pope John Paul II on Tuesday outlined a wider education role for its member broadcasters, who have traditionally focused on audio visual resources. - Zenit

Mass attendance back to normal
The crowds that flocked to masses and paraliturgies across Australia following the 11 September terrorist attack on America have dwindled. - Catholic Leader

Australian Marist to join Order's General Council in Rome
Local Marist Brother Peter Rodney is headed to Rome for the next eight years after being elected to the Order's General Council. - Catholic Weekly

Fresh Muslim-Christian violence in Moluccas
The Muslim-Christian conflict in the Moluccas has erupted once more after a two-month lull, with new attacks against Christian communities. - Zenit

Slovak church seeks beatification of girl who resisted advances
Slovakia's Catholic Church is seeking the beatification of a 16-year-old girl killed for rejecting the advances of a Russian soldier. - CNS

Opinion - Opus Dei reassessed
Opus Dei has changed. Members seemed balanced and fulfilled. I admire the emphasis on the "little things" in life, such as small acts of patience and kindness, although there is something self-punishing about it which could so easily lead to obsession. - The Tablet

Feature - Being Christians in a Sultanate
The Muslim majority has no reason to be kind to us. Officially we are recognised by the Constitution, but it is not easy to use the law to demand our rights. In the Islamic world you don't speak of rights. The situation of the Church is very complex, but we have the strength of the Gospel. - Fides

Pope to use Internet to promulgate Oceania document
Pope John Paul II is preparing to publish an official document over the Internet for the first time, underlining the Catholic Church's commitment to modern forms of social communication, the Vatican said on Monday. - CNN

Cardinal Sodano hopes Taliban fall foreshadows new era For Afghans
The Vatican's Secretary of State has voiced the hope that the fall of the Taliban regime will allow "the formation of a democratic state, respectful of human rights, freedom, and especially religious liberty." - CWN

Vatican changes rules for Australian Bishops Conference
The Vatican has approved a new set of statutes that affect the way the Australian bishops function as a group. - ACBC

Farewell Mass for Adelaide Archbishop
Adelaide's retiring Archbishop Leonard Faulkner will be presented with gifts symbolising his life and leadership of Adelaide's Catholic community at his farewell Mass in St Francis Xavier's Cathedral tonight. - Catholic Communications (Adelaide)

Kidnapped Italian priest still alive but not well
Italian missionary in the Philippines Fr Giuseppe Pierantoni is alive but is not well, the country's military said on Monday. - Inq7

Pope calls Burma Bishops to interreligious dialogue
John Paul II has urged a visiting delegation of bishops from Burma to promote interreligious dialogue. - Zenit

Opinion - World Trade Centre destruction highlights globalisation's mixed blessings
Globalisation which those Towers symbolically represented expressed several positive aspects. However we should ask the victims of our current world what globalisation has brought them. Has it really lead to more humanisation? - Jesuit theologian Fr Job Sobrino / Vidimus Dominum

Feature - Making room in the inn this Christmas
Several low income families will spend a few days away from Melbourne, thanks to a new program of Jesuit Social Services. Named after a Benedictine monastery near Barcelona, "Montserrat" will provide a peaceful place for families who could not otherwise afford a short vacation. - Kairos

Catholic Health calls for doctor education on care for dying
A University of Newcastle's survey of doctors' attitudes to assisted death reveals that many surgeons are either confused or acting illegally in hastening the death of patients, according to Cathoilc Health Australia. - CHA

Archbishop says journalists blinded by medical science
Medical breakthroughs are not always respectful of human life, and journalists should say so, warned Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, at an international conference on Health and Power. - Zenit

Bishop says lack of church ties a big hurdle in aiding Afghanistan
One of the biggest hurdles for Catholic relief organisations in trying to provide help in Afghanistan is the lack of any church institutions after years of rule by the fundamentalist Taliban, according to the bishop who chairs the US Catholic relief agency's board of directors. - CNS

National abuse unit for British Church
The Catholic Church in England and Wales is setting up a national child protection unit in response to sex abuse scandals involving priests and young boys. - BBC

Franciscans get new habit designed by Milan fashion house
Franciscans in Assisi have engaged a Milan fashion designer to create a new habit for them. - Zenit

Fury over removal of crucifix
A dispute over a teacher's decision to remove a crucifix from a classroom wall, so as to make a Muslim student feel "more at home," is having recupercussions throughout Italy. - Catholic Herald

Opinion - Re-elected government must revamp asylum policy
The Australian Government has deliberately confused the issue of asylum seekers since the terrorist attacks against the US on 11 September, saying asylum seekers had become synonymous with 'illegals' at best and 'terrorists' at worst. However, despite widespread criticism of its policies, the government does not show any signs of reforming them. - Jesuit Refugee Service Alert (International)

Feature - Jerusalem checkpoints designed to hinder spirit of Palestinian people
There are so many roadblocks, and each one is different. Yet all have the same purpose, to hinder freedom of movement and inconvenience the indigenous people of this land. The people there, weaving in and around the moving vehicles, were looking out for each other as they put up with having their lives controlled and disrupted by the occupation of their land. The Palestinians moved on undaunted and I was honoured to walk beside them. - Sr Mary OSU / Independent Catholic News

Pope invites world religions to January peace summit
Pope John Paul yesterday called leaders of all the world's religions to a summit in January to pray for peace and to work to overcome armed conflict at what he said was an historic moment for humanity. - Reuters

German Cardinal says killing bin laden morally justified
A German cardinal said in a magazine interview last week that killing Osama bin Laden would be morally justified, although trying him in court would be better. - CWN

Melbourne Archbishop wants halt to 'IVF as lifestyle choice'
Melbourne's Archbishop Denis Hart has called for a halt to the extension of IVF of the grounds for IVF and associated technologies until there has been genuine community consultation - and the agreement of the whole Parliament. - Catholic Information Office (Melbourne)

Perth Archbishop attacks university over sacking of Catholic Chaplain
Edith Cowan University in WA has been attacked by Archbishop Hickey for not following the correct procedures in the sacking of University Catholic Chaplain, Fr David Watt. - Vias Tuas

Catholic personnel told not to attend US woman's ordination
Rochester Bishop Matthew H. Clark told priests, deacons, pastoral administrators and pastoral ministers in his diocese they were forbidden to attend Saturday's ordination of a woman who belongs to a local breakaway Catholic church called Spiritus Christi. - CNS

Catholic college professor sees moral vision in Harry Potter books
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling "has created a very moral vision", says Robert M. Otten of Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, where he teaches courses on classic children's literature. - CNS

Opinion - Ruling on inter-communion sends signals
An recent obscure Vatican ruling on inter-communion among Assyrian Christians is "perhaps the most significant decision to come out of the Holy See in a half-century." The ruling, which holds that the Assyrian prayer expresses "the intention to carry out in practice precisely what Christ established by his words and actions", is intended to address cases of "pastoral necessity" in which Chaldeans cannot attend one of their own liturgies but can go to an Assyrian service, and vice versa. - National Catholic Reporter

Feature - Pastoral crossroads: Vatican discusses healing with charismatics
In a little-noticed meeting on the outskirts of Rome, Catholic charismatics and Vatican officials began a bridge-building effort on a controversial topic: prayers for healing. Participants said last week's encounter was important because it demonstrated a new atmosphere of cooperation between the hierarchy and the charismatic renewal movement and laid down some markers for development of healing ministry in the church. - CNS

Pell says Catholics reject race war
Speaking at a gathering of religious leaders in the NSW Parliament yesterday, Sydney's Archbishop George Pell affirmed the Catholic Church's support for racial and religious tolerance. - Catholic Communications (Sydney)

SVdP challenges Govt to keep promise on GST compensation
The St Vincent de Paul Society in Queensland has called on the re-elected Coalition Government to honour its promise on GST compensation for charities. - Catholic Leader

Parish near plane crash holding on to faith, seeking God, says priest
The parish priest of St Francis de Sales Parish in Queens, New York, said his parishioners, who were still reeling from the World Trade Centre attacks, were "asking God for help" and "holding on to their faith" after an American Airlines jet crashed on Monday near the church. - CNS

Cardinal says attacks give church chance to influence mainstream culture
The recent terrorist attacks in the United States are an opportunity for the Catholic Church to significantly influence American culture, said Cardinal Avery Dulles, an internationally recognised US Jesuit theologian. - CNS

Charismatic renewal meeting ends with warning against abuse
At a meeting held in Rome earlier this week, Roman Curia officials and representatives of the Catholic charismatic renewal agreed that the gift of healing should never be regarded as the "private property" of any individual or movement, but as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the universal Church. - CWN

Franciscan Custody protests against Nazareth mosque building resumption
Work resumed earlier this week on the laying of foundations for the Nazareth Mosque that the Israeli government has conceded to Muslim radicals. - Fides

Opinion - Debriefing at Ground Zero
First thing I do is grab a banana. I walk around looking for a single person or family not already being helped by a Chaplain. I walk up with a smile and ask if I may join them. They can tell I am a Chaplain because of the clergy collar. I am always invited to sit down and join them. -

Feature - Living the Opus Dei commitment
She began to go to Mass more often, then heard "a clear call" from God to join Opus Dei. It felt, according to Marianne, like an invitation to an "amazing adventure". Now she is an Opus Dei numerary (celibate full member), living in the organisation's hostel for women in London. - The Tablet

Justice body urges end to Afghanistan bombing
Bishop William Morris, Acting Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, has today yesterday issued a statement expressing the Australian Social Justice Council's opposition to the current bombing of Afghanistan. - ACSJC

Bishops travel to Rome for Synod document promulgation
Four Australian bishops have been invited to Rome to attend the promulgation of "Ecclesia in Oceania", Pope John Paul II's response to the 1998 Synod for Oceania. - ACBC

Archbishop orders probe into witchcraft claims
Brisbane's Archbishop John Bathersby has asked the archdiocese's vicar for religious to investigate allegations that nuns are involved with a centre offering pagan and new age feminist rituals. - Catholic Leader

Melbourne Vicar General skeptical about 'psychological infertility'
Monsignor Christopher Prowse has criticised 'radical new guidelines' from the Victoria's Infertility Treatment Authority that will allow artificial insemination and IVF for 'psychologically infertile' women who feel they cannot have sex with men. - Catholic Information Office (Melbourne)

Pope affirms that ecumenism is a priority of his pontificate
John Paul II has reaffirmed that ecumenical dialogue is an "irreversible" commitment of the Catholic Church and a priority of his pontificate. - Zenit

Catholic MPs' divided thoughts in election aftermath
Catholic members of parliament on both sides of politics remain divided about the election issues and other factors that resulted in the Coalition's re-election in Saturday's federal poll. - Catholic Leader

Opinion - Telling the truth, even if it causes trouble
In religion and in politics, there is a tendency to confuse truthfulness and an obligation to allegiance, particularly as it is demanded by those in power. Where it is felt and particularly in times of stress or crisis, what is thought to matter the most is the cohesion of the group. - Fr Andrew Murray / Catholic Weekly

Feature - New York priest's ministry of 'just being there'
The calm, yet desperate, young man walked into the rectory, seeking a priest to immediately go to his aunt's house where family members were comforting a woman who had just lost her son in Monday's crash of American Airlines Flight 587. In less than 40 minutes, Monsignor Gerald T. Walsh went to the West 192nd Street home of Felix Sanchez, 28, an up-and-coming financial wizard, who died in the crash. - New York Post

Pope says helping refugees is a duty, not charity
Aid to refugees is an act of justice based on the rights of the human person and the vision of religions, John Paul II said on Monday as he met with the Council of the International Catholic Migration Commission. - Zenit

Pope appeals for help for Afghanistan
John Paul II made an urgent appeal on Sunday for aid for the civilians of Afghanistan, as US-led bombings against the Taliban regime continue and winter approaches. - Zenit

Nun calls for ban on cluster bombs
Sr Patricia Pak Poy, Australian coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) has called for an immediate moratorium on the use of cluster bombs in Afghanistan. - Catholic Weekly

Vatican rep at UN says it's time to end nuclear weapons tests
The Vatican nuncio to the United Nations said on Sunday that "the time has come for the world to end all nuclear weapons testing." - CNS

US bishops draft statement on war
The Catholic bishops in the United States began reviewing their position on the war on terrorism on Monday, acknowledging a moral right to a military defense but warning that force alone is not the answer. - AP

Bishops elect first black president
The US Catholic Bishops elected Bishop Wilton Gregory of Belleville, Illinois as its first black president on Tuesday. - AP

Opinion - Islam has a purity and energy that Christianity has lost
According to many Muslims, the Christian West is decadent, perhaps irredeemably so. Islam has a purity and energy that Christianity seems to have lost. This transcendental quality is the reason for Islam's extraordinary success: it is austere and simple, religion in its purest form. - Fr David McLaurin, Rome-based British priest / Telegraph (London)

Feature - Helping rural communities in East Timor
Br Dan Courtney is struggling in hospital in Brisbane to survive the accident which occurred recently when his motorbike collided with a truck in the hills of Railaco, East Timor. Br Dan was in East Timor working with Comunidade Edmund Rice (CER), a network he established in East Timor just before the 1999 referendum to work with rural villagers in the Railaco area. His work continues, carried on by volunteers. - Catholic Weekly

Pope calls 'clash of religions' a contradiction in terms
Pope John Paul II made it clear on Friday that the events unleashed by the 11 September terrorist attacks are not a "clash of religions," because that would be a contradiction of the very essence of religion. - Zenit

Cardinal urges Muslims to step up anti-bin Laden rhetoric
French Cardinal Paul Poupard has said that Muslim authorities should condemn "ever more strongly" the "degrading objectives" of Osama bin Laden. - Zenit

Nazareth bishop says most Palestinians are not extremists
Palestinians who celebrated the 11 September attack on the United States and the suicide bombings inside Israel are not representative of the majority of the Palestinian people, a bishop from the Holy Land has said. - CNS

Holy Land Christians plead for return of pilgrims
The Custody of the Holy Land has appealed to pilgrims to return to Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem, in order to help sustain the region's Christians and economy. - Zenit

US Bishops likely to elect black leader
Bishop Wilton Gregory is expected to become the first black president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in a four-day meeting that began yesterday. - AP

Barricaded Irish priest appeals to Vatican
A 70-year-old priest who refused to leave his presbytery to make way for a younger successor has appealed to the Vatican Congregation for Clergy against Bishop Brendan Comiskey's decision to move him. - CWN

Opinion - Women should not look to male role models
Being a strong women is about becoming truly feminine. We do not have to view the world through masculine structures or access those structures in order to become strong and Holy women. Feminists have slavishly assumed that masculine spirituality was the only and best model. This notion has always struck me has being deeply misogynist. - Jane Wilks, Magdalene Foundation National Coordinator

Feature - Author of Dead Man Walking links war with capital punishment
The war in Afghanistan has given a new dimension to Sr. Helen Prejean's campaign to stop people from killing people. Prejean, the author of Dead Man Walking, a book about the case of executed murderer Matt Poncelet, opposes state-sanctioned killing whether it's done by lethal injection in an execution chamber or by a cruise missile fired from an Air Force jet. - National Catholic Reporter

Aboriginal Catholic Ministry 'stands in solidarity' with asylum seekers
The Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Council of Adelaide has declared its "stand in solidarity" with asylum seekers and refugees describing them as sisters and brothers. - CathcommSA

CEO welcomes new trial for strapping case
Sydney's Catholic Education Office is "pleased" with the decision to order a new trial to determine damages in the case of Paul Hogan, who sued the Catholic Church over a strapping he received at school 17 years ago. - Catholic Weekly

Pakistan's bishops call for extra security measures during services
Catholic bishops of Pakistan have called for "extra security measures during church services" following the massacre of Christians in a Catholic church. - CNS

Vatican steps up security as war on terrorism continues
There are new fears in Italy that terrorists could attack symbolic monuments in Rome, including St Peter's Basilica, during the Christmas holidays. - The Tablet

Vatican slams UN refugee sex manual
The Vatican harshly criticized a UN manual for handling sexual issues in refugee camps, saying that it raised "serious and numerous concerns" for the Church. - AP

Pope prays with New York firefighters
New York City firefighters have presented Pope John Paul II with the white helmet of their chaplain, who was killed at the World Trade Centre, and the Holy Father prayed at the weekend for the families of the 343 firefighters who died in the rescue effort. - AP

Opinion - Islam's televangelist
'A half-baked mullah is a danger to your faith. But, unfortunately, bin Laden doesn't seem to strike enough people as half-baked.' And so, given a leadership vacuum in the Muslim world, many take his reading of the Koran seriously. - Dan Madigan SJ, Gregorian University Rome, author of 'The Koran's Self-image' / The Tablet

Feature - Media dialogue nuns anxious to return to Pakistan
Since military operations commenced in Afghanistan, Philippine Sister Aida, cannot wait to return to Pakistan where for four years she has been superior of a community of 18 Daughters of St Paul Sisters. She fears for her community after news of demonstrations by fundamentalist Muslims: some fanatics threaten to kill all converts to Christianity. - Fides

Catholic Health weighs up rival aged care strategies
Following its final analysis of the major parties' policies, Catholic Health Australia has concluded that the major parties differ on specifics, not general direction, and "fall well short of addressing the community's need". - CHA

ACU vice-chancellor urges tighter control on Internet
New Internet censorship legislation to be introduced by the NSW Government is just one step in the right direction says Professor Peter Sheehan, vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University. - Catholic Weekly

Vatican UN observer says agricultural reform will defeat poverty
The international struggle against poverty begins by improving life in rural communities -- and that calls for the cooperation of rich countries, Archbishop Renato Martino has told the United Nations. - Zenit

Leading cardinal questions Holy War doctrine
In an article published in the Italian magazine Famiglia Cristiana, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray has insisted that there cannot be a "holy" war, and questions whether even a "just" war is possible. - CWN

Pakistani Christian fears raised after Catholic killed
A Catholic security guard in Pakistan was shot dead on Tuesday in a border town near Afghanistan, raising fears among Christians, church people said. - CNS

Pax Christi International calls for end of bombing of Afghanistan
The Catholic peace group Pax Christi International called for an end to the US-led bombing of Afghanistan. - CNS

Opinion - Models of leadership in the Church
Loyalty and obedience are concepts often invoked in association with church discipline or teaching, as if it were a flag to which we ought to rally. By contrast, we have many examples of leadership — that of the head of a research team, or a schoolteacher, for example — where leadership is exercised not by issuing commands, but by suggestion, provocation, challenge, and where space for the led to propose alternatives and even make mistakes is an accepted part of the process. - Eamon Duffy, historian / Priests and People

Feature - Sociologist says today's priests under increasing pressure
The proportion of priests to laity is roughly the same as 50 years ago, but priests face greater pressures these days, according to Dr Michael Mason, National Church Life Survey researcher. He told 75 priests at a recent conference: "The Catholic world is very different, and many are under strain in an attempt to provide adequate pastoral care in the present model." - Catholic Weekly

Pell to help Pope draft post-Synod exhortation
Sydney's Archbishop George Pell is one of 12 bishops chosen to assist Pope John Paul in drafting the apostolic message following the worldwide Synod of Bishops held in Rome last month. - Catholic Weekly

Pope's World Communications Day message to focus on Internet
Pope John Paul II's message for World Communications Day 2002 will focus on Internet, in part because of the medium's special interest to young people. - Zenit

Pope says Gospel consoles those saddened at death of loved ones
While people naturally are saddened by the death of their loved ones, the Gospel consoles them with the promise that all the faithful will be together with God at the end of time, Pope John Paul II said. - CNS

Theological schools to share resources with ACU
Theological study and research will take a significant step forward with affiliation agreements being signed between the Australian Catholic University and Catholic theological institutes in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. - Catholic Leader

Catholic Health head honoured
Catholic Health Australia head Francis Sullivan has been honoured with two high profile pontifical appointments. - Catholic Weekly

Church in France worried about threat to secrecy of confessional
France's judiciary is threatening the secrecy of the confessional and the Church's professional secrecy, warns Cardinal Louis-Marie Billé of Lyon. - Zenit

Opinion - History of hurt
The world of Islam has felt the incursion of the West in notably negative terms. Peoples have been hurt, their cultures threatened and their religion disdained. This has reached a critical stage, made evident in acts of terrorism. Terror is the last desperate act of a group who feels its very existence is under threat. - Columban missionary Fr Frank Regan / Independent Catholic News

Feature - Britain's three main political parties 'led by two and a half Catholics'
Since Duncan Smith's recent election as leader of the Conservative party, Britain's three main political parties have been led by two and a half Catholics. The half, of course, is the officially Anglican Tony Blair, who often worships at Westminster Cathedral, has harnessed his undoubtedly genuine religious beliefs to his political agenda with fervour. - The Guardian

Lobby group says refugee policies fall short of Catholic Social Teaching
The policies being presented to Australians in the lead-up to Saturday's election fall short of what's required by Catholic Social Teaching, according to the Australian Political Ministry Network (PolMin). - PolMin

Pope says 11 September must not affect struggle against hunger
The international community's struggle against hunger and its commitment to help poor countries handle their foreign debt must not be abandoned in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Pope said. - Zenit

Pope sends message to Lourdes pilgrims
Pope John Paul II has sent a message to pilgrims celebrating the centenary of the consecration of Our Lady of the Rosary Basilica in Lourdes, encouraging them to pray the rosary to obtain a deeper knowledge of Christ. - Zenit

Archbishop's 'horror' at bomb
Birmingham Archbishop Vincent Nichols has condemned the terrorists who planted a car bomb in the city centre at the weekend. - BBC

Call for Scottish archbishop to lift curse on stone
A bishop has said the yet to be named new Archbishop of Glasgow should lift a curse put on a stone almost 500 years ago which, it is said, continues to invoke evil on people to the present. - BBC

Sicilian priests threatens communion ban for racists
A priest in Sicily has threatened to ban racist parishioners from receiving holy communion at his masses, a local newspaper reported last week. - AFP

Opinion - Refugee drowning tragedy is our problem
The message from all sources of truth is clear: We are all one. The drowning of 350 men, women and children on 19 October has riveted us all into a state of shock and revulsion because of the callous dismissal of the tragedy, as not being our problem, There seems to be a deliberate appeal to the worst of the prejudices, bigotry and ignorance of some. This is the politics of difference and intolerance. The contest of ideas is nowhere to be seen. - Fr Ted Kennedy (homily, St Vincent's Redfern, Sydney, 4/11/01)

Feature - Cardinal Kung's nephew keeps uncle's legacy alive
Though the penalty for attending Mass in 'underground' Catholic Churches in China is about one month's salary for the first offence, there are still many priests, nuns and lay people who are faithful to the Church and the Pope. The Cardinal Kung Foundation, which was organised in opposition to this state-sanctioned persecution, keeps alive the legacy of the would-be martyr following his death last year. - The Catholic Servant /

Papal envoy says Afghan refugees need aid now -
Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, has appealed for immediate aid for Afghan refugees upon his return from a visit to Pakistan as John Paul II's special envoy. - Zenit

Pope beatifies eight on Sunday
In a Mass that included a special prayer for peace, Pope John Paul beatified eight Catholics on Sunday, including two considered martyrs for their suffering under communism. - AP

Pope confirms plans to attend Toronto World Youth Day
Pope John Paul II has confirmed his intention to visit Toronto in July of next year for the celebration of World Youth Day. - CWN

China allows religious to open facility for terminal patients
China is opening its doors to the St John of God Brothers, who will work with terminally ill cancer patients. - Zenit

Indian Bishops defend mass conversion of Dalit to Buddhism
India's Catholic Bishops have issued a statement supporting the conversion of 20,000 Dalits to the Buddhist faith. - MISNA

Monks make it to prayers on time with fireman's pole
A monastery in Austria has installed a firemen's pole from its sleeping quarters to the ground floor to ensure that monks get to their prayers on time. - Catholic Herald

Opinion - Peace is in doubt in Northern Ireland
The IRA has finally decided to decommission its weapons. But it is still early days. As long as the IRA was the focus of the international media, no one noticed the active violence of the Protestant paramilitaries. Now it is clear how dangerous they are, how they represent the far extreme of the Protestant intransigents who want at any cost to stop the peace process. The outcome is still in doubt. - Fr Andrew Greeley / Daily South Town

Feature - Prayers sustain Pakistani church in hard times
Christians in Pakistan are a tiny minority in a Muslim nation, and have not been spared from religious tensions, with 15 worshippers killed during a Protestant service nine days ago. In other parts of the country, Christians go on with their lives, including Sr Monica Smith, an Irish missionary working in Pakistan for 68 years. - New York Times

Pope to visit Bulgaria next May
Pope John Paul II will visit Bulgaria next May, the country's foreign minister announced on Thursday. - AP

'Secret' synod proposals go to Pope
In secret proposals to the pope, the Synod of Bishops has called for regular dialogue between representatives of bishops' conferences and the Roman curia, greater respect for the conferences, and a special synod to discuss reform of the synod itself. - NCR

Cardinal challenges British Government to increase overseas aid
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has challenged the British government to make real its commitment to setting 0.7% of GNP for overseas aid, and to do this by 2012. - ICN

Brisbane Social Action Office challenges politicians on global warming
The Social Action Office (SAO) of the Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes in Queensland has called on political leaders to make "the same commitment to addressing global warming as they have to combating terrorism". - Social Action Office

Sydney Catholic community opens heart to Australian Muslims
A service was held yesterday at a Sydney inner city Catholic Church to express solidarity and compassion for those who drowned recently while attempting to come to Australia, and for all Australian Muslims currently experiencing anguish. - St Vincent's, Redfern

Catholic hub proposed for Hobart
An innovative approach to the development of Catholic life was unveiled in Hobart last week when Archbishop Adrian Doyle made public plans for a multi-purpose centre for community, educational and parish services. - Catholic Media Tasmania

Opinion - Priests, older Catholics, 'fear' youth
Too many older people, including priests, are afraid of young people. We're not sure we know how to speak to them, how to relate, or what they're saying. Sometimes they are not sure what we're saying. - Archbishop Francis Carroll of Canberra-Goulburn / Catholic Voice

Feature - Adelaide Archbishop's farewell pastoral journey
Over the past two months, I have accompanied Archbishop Leonard Faulkner on his last parish pastoral visitation after 17 years of leading this diocesan church. The experience of visitation is an ancient church practice, going back to the journeys of St Paul. Those who were present in these churches each Sunday choose to be there as a community of faith, their Catholicism doesn't stop as they leave the Sunday Eucharist. - Sr Clare Condon / Southern Cross

Big brother threat to human embryos
Key health bureaucrats in Australia are considering plans to legalise destructive experiments on human embryos cloned for that purpose, leading Catholic bioethicist Fr John Fleming has warned. - Southern Cross

Pope to beatify two communist era martyrs from Slovakia on Sunday
This Sunday's beatification of two communist-era martyrs from Slovakia will show the "unity of Eastern Catholics with Rome," said a Slovakian church spokesman. - CNS

Philippine kidnappers request medicines for hostage priest
Fr Giuseppe Pierantoni's kidnappers in the Philippines have asked for shoes and medicines for the Italian missionary. - Zenit

Differences on ordained ministry 'main obstacle' to ecumenism
Differing views of ordained ministry present the main obstacle to ecumenical progress between Catholics and Protestants, even following a breakthrough doctrinal accord in 1999, participants in a Rome conference said. - CNS

Bush bishop urges new deal for rural Australia
Australia needs a change of heart if it is to redress the disadvantage faced by rural, remote and isolated Australia, according to Bishop Eugene Hurley of Port Pirie. - Southern Cross

Irish cardinal apologies for snubbing Anglican colleague
The Archbishop of Dublin has apologised for remarks in which he questioned the theological qualifications of his Anglican (Church of Ireland) counterpart. - CWN

Opinion - Women need to be affirmed in the Church
We show young women and men how to be Christian within the walls of the church, prayer group and retreat weekends. But then young women must return to live in the world, which is quick to suffocate their flame. - Mrs Renae Wiencke, Temora (NSW) welfare worker / Catholic Voice

Feature - Priest's ministry of tattoo removal
A US missionary is trying to give Honduran street children a better chance in life - by removing their tattoos. Gang members have been blamed for much of Honduras' violence, and their graphic tattoos often keep them from getting jobs or an education, says Fr David La Buda. - AP

Pope meets Arafat in Vatican
Two days after Israeli troops withdrew from Bethlehem, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat met with Pope John Paul II to brief him on the most recent wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence. - CNS

Irish primate applauds IRA disarmament
The Catholic Church in Ireland has welcomed the announcement that the Irish Republican Army is disarming. - Zenit

Interfaith dialogue hit by terror attack
A leading Irish ecumenist has told a Brisbane gathering that the terror attacks on the United States challenge interfaith relations in a fundamental way because of their association with Islamic militancy. - Catholic Leader

Pakistan Church massacre survivor receives death threat
An elderly woman who helped police draw sketches of gunmen who killed 16 people in the Pakistani church massacre says she has received death threats. - Ananova

Documentary named Catholic Film Office Film of the Year
Australia's Catholic Film Office has for the first time given its Film of the Year award to a documentary, 'Facing the Music'. - ACBC

Skeletons have the last word: French bishops' Halloween message
The French Bishops have issued a statement suggesting to parents and teachers that Halloween is an opportunity to explain to children that the Church has released us from fears and ghosts. - Zenit

Opinion - Memories of Crusades live on in today's war
"This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a long time." President George W. Bush thought he'd used the term innocently enough. The BBC in its Persian and Uzbeck broadcast news services, had translated Bush's remark in the way the Islamic world understands it, as "the war of those signed with the cross," and "the holy, religious war of the Christians." - NCR

Feature - Why do boys lag behind?
A national symposium in Sydney examined the widening gap between boys' and girls' academic achievement. When asked what's the most difficult year to teach, most teachers would agree it's Year 9. And, in particular, year 9 boys. - Catholic Weekly