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 November 17, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 20   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Crisis in Congo
A woman flees from fighting in Kiwanja toward the town of Rutshuru, in eastern Congo Nov. 6. U.N. peacekeepers found the bodies of a dozen civilians who had been shot Nov. 6 in an eastern Congo village occupied by Tutsi rebels who have seized fresh territory in North Kivu province. Pope Benedict XVI condemned the systematic atrocities, killings and violence targeting innocent people in Congo and called for all sides to work for peace.
Protest in Pakistan
Students and peace activists in Lahore, Pakistan, Nov. 5 carry signs for peace during a protest against U.S. military strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas along the Af-ghanistan border. President-elect Barack Obama’s victory fostered hopes in Pakistan that the United States would nurture Pakistan’s recent return to civilian-led democracy.

Pope sends Obama a congratulatory message
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI sent a personal message to President-elect Barack Obama Nov. 5, congratulating him and offering his prayers for Obama and for all the people of the United States. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said that because the message was addressed personally to Obama the Vatican did not plan to publish it. However, he said, the papal message opened by referring to the “historic occasion” of the election, marking the first time a black man has been elected president of the United States. The pope congratulated Obama, his wife and family, Father Lombardi said.

“He assured him of his prayers that God would help him with his high responsibilities for his country and for the international community,” Father Lombardi said. The pope also prayed that “the blessing of God would sustain him and the American people so that with all people of good will they could build a world of peace, solidarity and justice,” the spokesman said.

Two Italian nuns kidnapped in Kenya

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Two Italian nuns, both in their 60s, were kidnapped Nov. 10 in northeastern Kenya near the border with Somalia. Sister Caterina Giraudo, 67, and Sister Maria Teresa Oliviero, 61, both from Cuneo, Italy, where their religious order, the Contemplative Missionary Movement of Father Charles de Foucauld, is based, have been working for years with Somali refugees in Kenya.

Members of the Kenya Red Cross Society told authorities the nuns were taken by a group of armed men, who also stole three vehicles.

Father Pino Isoardi, head of the Contemplative Missionary Movement, said he hoped that in Kenya “the elders, who have authority in that area, are able to make contact” with the kidnappers and arrange the sisters’ release.
The Contemplative Missionary Movement, founded in Italy in the mid-1950s, is made up of religious who live in small communities in the midst of slums, refugee camps and other areas of great poverty.

Latino voters key to Obama’s win

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Hispanic voters supported President-elect Barack Obama by a ratio of more than 2-1 over Sen. John McCain, or 67 percent to 31percent, marking a swing away from their previous support for President George W. Bush.

Among the four breakouts by ethnicity in the exit polls, only Hispanics changed their majority support across party lines this year. Hispanics accounted for 9 percent of this year’s electorate, up by 1 percentage point over four years ago, at a time when there was a record turnout across the board.

A massive voter registration and get-out-the-vote drive among Latinos over the last two years proved its success in a 62 percent increase in voter turnout over 2004, said Brent Wilkes, executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, which helped run voter registration drives in some states.

Catholic voters overall supported Obama over McCain by 54 percent to 44 percent. But like white voters overall, white Catholics more strongly supported McCain over Obama, by 52 percent to 47 percent. Latinos make up about 40 percent of U.S. Catholics.

Black Catholics celebrate Obama’s historic election

BALTIMORE (CNS) — The historic significance of Barack Obama’s election as the first African-American to become president of the United States became part of a Nov. 5 celebration of Black Catholic History Month at the Baltimore Archdiocese’s Catholic Center. Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden said it was fitting that the annual archdiocesan celebration was held the day after the presidential election. “Now we celebrate that today a landmark change has come to our country in our first African-American president,” Bishop Madden said, drawing loud applause. “We pray for President Obama and look forward to supporting him throughout his presidency.”

Bishop urges Biden to examine conscience

PENSACOLA, Fla. (CNS) — A Florida bishop is urging Vice President-elect Joseph Biden to examine his conscience before receiving holy Communion in light of his public support of keeping abortion legal. Saying he was writing with a sense of “urgency,” Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., sent a letter Nov. 4 to Biden stating his views on worshipping at Mass and the reception of Communion. The letter was posted on the diocesan Web site two days after Biden attended Mass Nov. 2 at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Tallahassee.

At no point in the letter did the bishop bar the vice president-elect from receiving Communion in the diocese, instead seeming to leave the decision to Biden. A spokesman for Biden said in an e-mail message to Catholic News Service that the vice president-elect would have no comment.

Uruguay moves closer to legalizing abortion

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (CNS) — After 12 tense hours of debate, the Uruguayan Chamber of Deputies approved a bill to legalize abortion, 49-48. The legislation now must be approved by the Senate. Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez, whose wife is Catholic, has signaled he would veto the bill. The Nov. 5 session in the Chamber of Deputies was suspended for 40 minutes after officials received bomb threats.

Pro-life groups said recent surveys have shown that Uruguayans have shifted their views on the subject. In 2005, 68 percent of those interviewed were in favor of the legalization of abortion; this year the percentage has fallen to 49 percent, they said. Pro-abortion groups argued that there has not been a decrease, with approximately 60 percent of Uruguayans in favor of allowing the woman to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.

Singing Irish priests sign major record deal

NEW YORK (CNS) — Three tenors, who are diocesan priests from Northern Ireland, have been signed to a recording contract with the RCA Victor label of Sony BMG for 1 million euros (US$1.27 million). Their debut album, titled “The Priests,” is scheduled to go on sale Nov. 18. They sing sacred music, including “Panis Angelicus” and “Ave Maria.” Their album was recorded, in part, in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, during a break from their pastoral duties.

Cardinal: 1968 encyclical cut off Church from people

ROME (CNS) — Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini said the 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”) has cut off the Church from many of the people who most need its advice about human sexuality. The encyclical, which taught that artificial birth control was morally wrong, caused a large number of people to stop taking the Church’s views into serious consideration, Cardinal Martini said.

Cardinal Martini, an 81-year-old Jesuit and the former archbishop of Milan, made the comments in a book-length interview titled “Nighttime Conversations in Jerusalem.” The cardinal did not address specifically the issue of the morality of contraception. He suggested, however, that the whole question might be better approached from a more pastoral perspective.


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