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Bishops offer prayers upon tragedy

Here is the text of a Sept. 11 statement issued by the Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the wake of terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

WASHINGTON (CNS) - Here is the text of a Sept. 11 statement issued by the Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the wake of terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

This is a day of national tragedy. Though we do not yet know its full extent, we mourn those who have lost their lives and pray for their eternal rest and for the consolation of their families.

We pray for the living victims that they may know that God is with them in their sufferings. We pray for those who are rescuing and ministering to the injured, that God may strengthen them in their heroic and often heartbreaking work. We pray for our national community that we will be of support to one another in the days ahead as we come to grips with the enormity of what has happened.

We express our support for our president and other government leaders, both national and local, who bear the tremendous responsibility of dealing with the aftermath of these unbelievable events. They are in our prayers in a special way.

If, as seems likely, this tragedy is the result of acts of terrorism, then we pray also for those whose hatred has become so great that they are willing to engage in crimes against our common humanity. May they realize, at last, that such violence creates not justice but greater injustice.

On Friday and Saturday, we celebrate the feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross and then honor our Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Sorrows. These are particularly apt days for Catholics to reflect on the ways in which we are called to take up the cross and follow our Lord.

We call upon all our fellow citizens to renew their trust in God and to turn away from the bitter fruits of the kind of hatred which is the source of this tragedy. Especially let us not engage in ethnic, religious, or national stereotyping for what may be the acts of a few irrational terrorists. As the Catholic bishops of the United States, we unite in prayer to the Lord our God in the words of the psalmist:

In you, O Lord, I take refuge ...

Incline your ear to me, and save me.

Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety. (Psalm 71)

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Pontiff urges people to pray the rosary

VATICAN CITY (CNS) - Pope John Paul II asked people around the world to pray the rosary daily to help protect humanity from the "evil scourge" of terrorism. In the wake of deadly attacks in the United States, the Pope said the Church wants to make a prophetic call for world peace - a peace that involves justice but that is motivated by moderation and love. The Pope made the remarks at a noon blessing at the Vatican Sept. 30 after celebrating Mass with more than 240 bishops at the start of a monthlong Synod of Bishops.

Mandatory contraceptives case to be heard

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) - The California Supreme Court Sept. 26 agreed to review an appeals court decision requiring Catholic Charities of Sacramento to comply with a state law requiring employers to include contraception in health plans that cover prescriptions. Without comment, the high court's six judges voted in private in San Francisco to review the July 2 decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento. Catholic Charities argued in a suit filed last year that the law should be set aside because it violates the group's religious freedom.

Group goes to Pakistan to aid Afghans

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CNS) - Mother Angelica, founder of Eternal Word Television Network in Birmingham, returned to her "Mother Angelica Live" TV show Sept. 25 after a three-week absence due to a stroke. In a posting on its Web site, EWTN described the stroke as "minor" and said, "Her doctors firmly believe that the impact of this stroke is temporary and will result in little, if any, lasting effects." At the start of her Sept. 25 show the 78-year-old nun, a Poor Clare of Perpetual Adoration, joked about an eye patch she was wearing because she could not close her eye properly - one of several signs of slight facial paralysis resulting from the stroke

Conference leader supports call for truce

WASHINGTON (CNS) - The head of the Colombian bishops' conference expressed hope that a peace commission's proposal for a six-month truce between the armed forces and Colombia's largest guerrilla group would be accepted. "The proposal will be well-received. The entire country is hoping for a cease-fire," said Archbishop Alberto Giraldo Jaramillo of Medellin, bishops' conference president, in a telephone interview. The Archbishop was interviewed Sept. 26 after a peace commission proposed the truce between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, called FARC after its Spanish initials.

Flags in church? It's up to bishop, pastors

WASHINGTON (CNS) - What are the Roman Catholic Church's rules on flags in church? None, really, says the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Liturgy. So it's up to the local bishop, who in turn can leave it to the discretion of his pastors. Father James P. Moroney, executive director of the secretariat, told Catholic News Service that the secretariat posted information on flags in church on its Web site Sept. 25 after receiving about a dozen inquiries in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

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Catholic University calls effort success

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Muslims to attend Jan. 24 Assisi event

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Pro-lifers to send baby rattles to senators

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