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 May 5, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Retired bishop new president in Paraguay
Winning candidates for vice president and president in Paraguay, Federico Franco, left, and retired Catholic Bishop Fernando Lugo Mendez, celebrate their victory in front of the Pantheon of the Heroes in Asuncion April 20. Their victory ended more than 60 years of one-party rule. Lugo had nearly 41 percent support, a lead of 10 percentage points over ruling party candidate Blanca Ovelar.

Homeless occupy basilica
Children play cards inside the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Naples, Italy, April 22. A group of 348 homeless people, including 115 children, occupied the historic basilica, demanding government officials find them permanent public housing. They left the basilica April 26 under police orders and were taken to temporary shelter in an unused post office.

Assisi institutes ban on begging
ASSISI, Italy (CNS) — Assisi — the birthplace of St. Francis, saint of the poor — has instituted a ban on begging. Mayor Claudio Ricci has signed an ordinance that prohibits begging within 500 meters (550 yards) of any church, square or public building — a decree that effectively makes the entire hill town off-limits to beggars.

Ricci said he instituted the ban after numerous complaints from pilgrims, tourists and citizens about aggressive and insistent forms of begging outside the city’s medieval churches. “The phenomenon was reaching proportions that went far beyond the poor beggar who occasionally asks for charity. This has become an organized and profitable activity,” Ricci said.

Conventual Franciscan Father Vincenzo Coli, the custodian of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, said the mayor’s action may be a good thing. St. Francis sometimes begged alms to share the experience of the poor, but said this should be done only when it was not possible to support oneself through work, Father Coli said.

Calls for justice after murder in Amazon

PUERTO MALDONADO, Peru (CNS) — The recent murder of a local government official who was killed when he tried to stop a truckload of illegal timber has prompted Church leaders to call for justice and better stewardship of Peru’s southeastern Amazon region.

In a statement issued after a pastoral meeting in mid-April, Bishop Francisco Gonzalez Hernandez of Puerto Maldonado, priests, sisters and lay Church workers called on the government to investigate the murder of Julio Garcia Agapito, “so this case does not go unpunished, like so many others.”

Garcia was shot eight times Feb. 26 as he sat in the office of the National Institute of Natural Resources in Alerta, a small town near the border with Bolivia. He had been called to help with the inspection of a truckload of timber that apparently had been brought into Peru illegally from Bolivia.

During the inspection, the driver tried to escape with the truck. While police were chasing him, the gunman, whom witnesses identified as a relative of the driver, killed Garcia and fled. He has not been arrested.

Liturgical renewal called ‘irreversible path’

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Liturgical renewal launched by the Second Vatican Council is an “irreversible path” and has not been affected by Pope Benedict XVI’s concession on wider use of the Tridentine rite, said Archbishop Piero Marini, who arranged papal liturgies for more than 20 years. “His gesture was only one of service to unity.”

The pope’s decree “does not intend to introduce modifications on the current Roman Missal or express a negative judgment on the liturgical reform desired by the council,” he said.

Archbishop Marini said his own experience in organizing papal liturgies in more than 100 countries has convinced him that the liturgical reform movement has brought overwhelmingly positive results.

Traditionalists won’t reconcile with Vatican

ROME (CNS) — The head of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, said the time is not right for reconciliation with the Vatican, despite expanded freedom to use the Tridentine rite. The reason, Bishop Fellay said, is that the liturgical move has not been accompanied by other measures aimed at reversing the “crisis” introduced by the Second Vatican Council.

Bishop Fellay repeated the society’s frequent accusation that Vatican II introduced a mistaken vision of the Church that is evident in the modern Church’s relationship with the world, with other religions and with states. He said the society “rejoices” that Pope Benedict XVI has allowed wider use of the preconciliar Tridentine rite, but said resistance among bishops to the older rite has been “at times brutal.”

Papal medallion features Capitol, U.N.

WASHINGTON (CNS) — People who had the opportunity to greet Pope Benedict XVI personally during his U.S. visit received a special bronze commemorative medallion featuring a bas-relief of a bust of the pope on the front.

On the obverse are bas-reliefs of the U.S. Capitol on the right, commemorating the Washington leg of his visit, and of the U.N. building in New York on the left, with the U.N. logo superimposed over it, to mark his U.S. stop in New York.

Pope Benedict distributed the medallions to those chosen to greet him at a variety of venues during his April 15-20 trip to the U.S.

Bill amended to protect religious criticism of gays

LONDON (CNS) — British legislators have voted into the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill a clause to ensure that people are not prosecuted for criticisms based on their beliefs about homosexual lifestyles. The House of Lords voted April 21 for the amendment to the bill that Catholic and Anglican leaders said would have stopped Christians from expressing their beliefs about marriage and family.

The amendment said that “the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.” The amendment must pass the House of Commons before it becomes law later this year.

USF honors entrepreneur who helps relief groups

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — Lynn C. Fritz, a San Francisco entrepreneur with a mission to help aid agencies speed relief to the neediest victims of natural disasters, is the recipient of the first California Prize for Service and the Common Good established by the University of San Francisco. The prize from the Jesuit-run university comes with a $10,000 award and a handcrafted medal.

The university wanted to honor an individual who is a product of Jesuit education and who exemplifies the ideals of Jesuit education. Fritz is a graduate of St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco and Georgetown University in Washington.

Roadside bomb kills Sri Lankan priest

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CNS) — A Jaffna diocesan priest active in promoting human rights was killed April 20 by a roadside bomb on the way back to his church after celebrating Mass in a parish substation. Father Mariampillai Xavier Karunaratnam was driving the car and reportedly died instantly of head wounds in the explosion. The jungle area is under the control of the rebel group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Both government forces and the Tamil rebels have denied responsibility for the priest’s death.


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