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Pope John Paul II tried to end 1981 Irish hunger strike

DUBLIN (CNS): Declassified British documents reveal the extent to which Pope John Paul II offered to intervene and bring and end to the 1981 hunger strike by Provisional Irish Republican Army prisoners in a British jail in Northern Ireland. 

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Extremists issue more threats against Christians in Nigeria

MAIDUGURI and VATICAN CITY (CNS/agencies): In the wake of the Christmas Day bombings of churches and other targets in Nigeria by Boko Haram, a Nigerian group that purports to be inspired by Islam, the country’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, declared a state of emergency in parts of four states hard hit by violence. 

The bombings killed more than 40 people, including Muslim passersby (Sunday Examiner, January 1). The country’s mainstream Muslim leaders condemned the attacks.

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Pope names new major penitentiary

VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope Benedict XVI has named Portuguese Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, the 73-year-old secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, to head the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Church court dealing with indulgences, serious sins and matters of conscience. The Vatican announced the appointment January 5.

Archbishop Monteiro de Castro was born 29 March 1938, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1961 for the Archdiocese of Braga, Portugal. 

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Keep vigilant says Boston cardinal on abuse scandal

BOSTON (CNS): “Our Church will never forget the clergy sexual abuse crisis,” said Sean Cardinal O’Malley of Boston, in a document marking the 10th anniversary of the scandal that first rocked the archdiocese in January 2002, the reverberations of which continue to be felt. 

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Vatican issues recommendations for celebrating Year of Faith

VATICAN CITY (CNS): The Vatican issued a list of pastoral recommendations for celebrating the Year of Faith in an effort to help Catholics have a better and correct understanding of their faith and become authentic witnesses to Christ. 

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a note on January 7 outlining the aims of the special year and ways in which bishops, dioceses, parishes and communities can promote “the truth of the faith.” 

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Monks brawl at Bethlehem basilica

BETHLEHEM (CWNews.com): An ugly brawl broke out between Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic monks at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem on December 28.

Police were called in to separate the angry monks. No major injuries were reported.

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Woman named new secretary-general to South African bishops’ conference

CAPE TOWN (CNS): “I see my appointment as recognition from the bishops of the work that women are doing in this part of the world,” said Sister Hermenegild Makoro, the new secretary-general of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference on December 12. 

She pointed out that “in parishes, women are talking the lead” and her appointment is natural extension of the many tasks performed by women in the Church. 

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Ordinariate set up for former Anglicans in the United States

WASHINGTON (CNS): The Vatican announced on January 1 that Pope Benedict XVI has established an ordinariate in the United States of America (US) for former Anglicans who wish to become Catholics and named a married, former bishop of the Episcopal Church to head it. 

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Cuba to free 2,900 political prisoners ahead of papal visit

HAVANA (CNS): In a speech to Cuba’s National Assembly on December 23, the country’s president, Raul Castro, announced that 2,900 political prisoners would be freed in the spring, a move he partially attributed to Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming visit.

The pope has said he will visit Cuba and Mexico before Easter, although the official dates have not yet been announced.

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Archbishop remembers Havel as friend and fellow prisoner

PRAGUE (CNS): “He knew the loss of freedom, the denial of human dignity, oppression and imprisonment,” Archbishop Dominik Duka, of Prague in Czechoslovakia, said of the former president of the country, Vaclav Havel, on the day of his death.

The archbishop called him a “friend and fellow prisoner.”

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