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Convert sex-abuse shame to repentance, papal preacher says

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Priest honored for helping migrants

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Scalabrinian Father Florencio Maria Rigoni has been awarded the 2006 Mexican Human Rights Award for his activism on behalf of migrants from Central America. During the recent award ceremony, Mexican President Felipe Calderon called Father Rigoni, a native of Italy, "a Samaritan" for helping people "he doesn’t know." Father Rigoni has been running a shelter for undocumented migrants for 10 years in the southern Mexican town of Tapachula, which borders Guatemala. He is also known for his outspoken criticism of Mexico’s migration policy as well as the U.S. plan to build a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexican border. The priest, who sports a long white beard and walks barefooted, has said: "In 1,000 years no wall has ever stopped migrants."

Court convicts priest in Rwandan deaths

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (CNS) — A United Nations war crimes court sentenced a priest to 15 years in prison for ordering militias to set fire to his church and bulldoze it, killing the 2,000 Tutsis who had sought safety inside during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, found Father Athanase Seromba guilty of genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity Dec. 13. Father Seromba ordered the church destroyed after Tutsis seeking refuge in his church in Nyange Parish in Kibuye, in western Rwanda, repelled an assault by gendarmes and the Interahamwe, the Hutu militia that carried out many of the killings during the genocide. Father Seromba showed the structural weak points of the church to the bulldozer driver, said a statement released by the tribunal.

Australian Parliament OKs cloning

SYDNEY, Australia (CNS) — Australian legislators have legalized the use of embryonic cloning for research despite objections from Australian Prime Minister John Howard. A Dec. 6 parliamentary vote lifted a four-year ban on human cloning by allowing the cloning of embryos through somatic cell nuclear transfer, commonly called therapeutic cloning. Both the Conservative Party prime minister and the leader of the opposition Labor Party, Kevin Rudd, were opposed to Parliament’s decision. "We lie in an age where we have slid too far into relativism. There are some absolutes in our society, and what we’re talking about here is a moral absolute," said Howard. Rudd, a Catholic from Queensland whose mother had Parkinson’s disease, said he could not support a bill designed for the "single and explicit purpose of conducting of experimentation on human life."

Shrine gets $1M Knights gift for mosaic

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington has received a $1 million gift from the Knights of Columbus to make and install a mosaic of scenes associated with the Incarnation. It would be in the ceiling dome above the south nave of the shrine’s upper church. The dome will be known as the Knights of Columbus Incarnation Dome. Its 3,780-square-foot mosaic will include artistic renderings of the Annunciation, the Nativity, the wedding feast at Cana and the Transfiguration. Msgr. Walter R. Rossi, shrine rector, said the Knights’ gift for the new dome was just the latest in the fraternal order’s long association with the shrine.

New Catholic music anthology in stores

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) — A two-CD set of contemporary Catholic music has been released featuring the contributions of 32 performers. "Catholic Music 2007: Illuminating the Darkness" was created by Gary Gersin of Cleveland and Mike Beloud of Los Angeles. The set resembles the popular "WOW" Christian music CDs released annually since 1995. It was released by Spirit Wing Records, whose Web address is, on Nov. 22, the feast of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians.

Papal Message

Meeting Dec. 15 with Roman university students after their traditional Mass at St. Peter

Pope encourages scholarly reflections on Virgin Mary

Encouraging scholarly reflections and publications on Mary, Pope Benedict XVI has awarded a special prize to an African organization promoting the work of young scholars.

Mary not just for Catholics, say Protestants and Muslims

As publications from Time magazine to Christianity Today have discovered recently, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is not just for Catholics anymore.

Catholics tell pollsters bishops doing ‘good job’

For the first time since before the clergy sex-abuse scandal broke in early 2002, the percentage of Catholics who think the U.S. bishops are doing a

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