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Earthquakes are God’s punishment

ROME (SE): Father Giovanni Cavalcoli earned himself a rap over the knuckles from the Vatican when he told La Zanzara talk-back radio on November 4 that he believes two devastating earthquakes in central Italy that claimed almost 300 lives were the result of human sins, such as civil unions between gays.

“They are offensive statements for believers and scandalous for non-believers,” the assistant secretary of state, Monsignor Angelo Becciu, told the Associated Press National Agency. “They date back to the pre-Christian era… Christ revealed the face of God as love, not as a capricious and vengeful God.”

Father Cavalcoli retorted, “The Vatican should go over their catechism.”


Former Vatican media man now assistant to Jesuit provincial

ROME (CWN): The new provincial general of the Society of Jesus, Father Arturo Sosa, has named the former director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, along with Father Douglas Marcouiller, as the assistants in his office.

Both are American and have long experience with the media.


French bishops fast for sex-abuse victims

PARIS (CWN): The Catholic bishops of France spent November 7 in prayer and fasting for sex-abuse victims.

At a regular meeting of the episcopal conference being held at Lourdes, the bishops spent a day in prayer asking “for forgiveness for the sins committed by members of the clergy.”

The chairperson of the conference, Bishop Lucien Crepy, encouraged his brother bishops to “fight against scandalous and criminal actions affecting the little ones.”


Muslims say we’ll pray at the Vatican

ROME (CWN): Police in Rome have closed down a number of informal mosques for safety purposes, but some Muslims have now vowed that if they are not allowed to pray in their own centres, they will pray in the streets—or at the Vatican.

The centres targeted by police are in garages or basements, where as many as 300 people may gather on Fridays to worship. The city of Rome has offered to make a gymnasium available, but Il Giornale reported community leaders as saying, “Give us the mosques or we’ll pray at the Vatican!”


Government officials are religious illiterates

LONDON (CWN): Archbishop Justin Welby said that government officials lack religious literacy and are likely to view Evangelical Christians as extremists.

The archbishop of Canterbury explained that they do not recognise the distinction between Islamist militants and traditional Christians, so are inclined to lump both under the tag of “a bit bonkers.”

It is fine to reject and condemn many the things done in the name of religion, but you still need to understand what causes people to think life itself is not worth living if something contradicts what they believe.


Louisiana court defends confessional seal

BATON-ROUGE (CWN): The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that priests are not required to report child abuse when they hear about sexual abuse in the sacrament of reconciliation.

“A priest when administering the sacrament of confession has no duty to report any confidential communications made during the confession that, by the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church, he is authorised to hear and is also duty bound to keep confidential,” the court ruled on October 28.

Father Jeff Bayhi, from Baton-Rouge, had been directed to testify about what a 14-year-old allegedly told him in confession.

She said she told Father Bayhi about being molested by a member of his parish. Father Bayhi refused to testify, citing the confessional seal.


Christmas tree reaches for the sky

COLOMBO (UCAN): Sri Lanka is building what is billed as the world’s tallest artificial Christmas tree. It is hoped that in reaching for the sky it will promote religious harmony.

The tree will stand 114 metres tall and twinkle with 500,000 multi-coloured lights right next to a six-metre Santa Claus and two three-metre reindeer amidst an imitation cypress forest in Colombo.

Mexico set the current record for the tallest artificial Christmas tree at 90 metres in 2009. The Guinness World Records will visit the Sri Lankan site two weeks prior to its completion to measure it up.

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