Nation and World News

World and National News Briefs

Kidnapped Franciscans are released

ROME (CNS) — Two friars kidnapped July 20 in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, were freed unharmed by their captors late the next day. A day after appealing for the friars’ safe release, the Franciscan order confirmed the two men had been released July 21 at 9:30 p.m. and that they were in good health. Brother Cesar Humberto Flores, 50, of El Salvador and a young Haitian postulant were abducted July 20 by unidentified assailants. Brother Flores is responsible for formation as head of the novices in the Port-au-Prince friary, located in one of the capital’s poorest neighborhoods. The Franciscan provincial for Haiti said the abductors had contacted him and had asked to be paid a ransom. A spokesman for the Franciscans in Haiti said the kidnappers had been seeking a large ransom and the order had been looking for a way to negotiate with them. In a July 22 statement, the Franciscan headquarters in Rome did not say whether a ransom had been paid to secure their release.

Papal nuncio tried to free Israeli soldier

JERUSALEM (CNS) — The papal nuncio to Israel and the Palestinian territories said he tried to secure the release of a kidnapped Israeli soldier soon after his capture by Hamas forces. The nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Franco, told Catholic News Service he tried to secure the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit through a Gazan parish priest, Father Manual Musallam, who contacted Hamas and asked for the soldier’s release in the name of the Vatican for "humanitarian reasons." "He contacted the people in Hamas, and then there were all the complications and there was no follow-up, and the soldier was not released," said the archbishop, who declined to elaborate on the content and type of communication between Hamas and the priest. The Palestinian militant faction Hamas kidnapped Shalit June 25 as the militants called for the release of all Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons. Palestinian advocacy groups claim some 10,000 Palestinian and Arab prisoners — including women and children — have been held in Israeli jails for years.

Priest says Lebanon not divided by war

FORDS, N.J. (CNS) — The war in Lebanon has failed to divide Lebanese Christians and Muslims, said a Maronite Catholic priest in Lebanon, and "their unity is the only way to survive." "Dialogue is the only way to solve problems between countries," said Father Charles Ksas, a parish priest in Bziza, Lebanon, a village near Tripoli, in northern Lebanon. "This war failed to divide the Lebanese," Father Ksas said in an e-mail from Lebanon July 21. "Christians and Muslims are both damaged, and they have found that their unity is the only way to survive." Father Ksas said relatives of his parishioners traveled to Bziza to escape the dangers of Beirut. The parish was hosting four Muslim families — women and children — whose homes were destroyed. "We support all and help all. Christians and Muslims alike, there is no difference," the priest said. Father Ksas said the Lebanese did not expect to be drawn into a war.

Ignatius Press stops selling singer’s works

LONDON (CNS) — The U.S. publishing company Ignatius Press has refused to sell any works by Welsh singer Charlotte Church after she called German-born Pope Benedict XVI a Nazi and mocked the Catholic Church. The directors of Ignatius Press said they were offended when the Welsh singer mocked the Catholic Church in the pilot of a proposed eight-part television chat show. Church, dubbed the "Voice of an Angel" before she turned her talents to popular music, also dressed up as a nun and pretended to hallucinate while eating "communion" wafers imprinted with smiling faces signifying the drug Ecstasy. Ignatius Press announced that Church’s products have been withdrawn from its Web site and catalogue.

Methodists adopt justification statement

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Methodist, Roman Catholic and Lutheran leaders said their communities will be able to work more closely in proclaiming the Gospel message of salvation after the World Methodist Conference adopted the Catholic-Lutheran joint declaration on justification. "This is a historic day. This is a gift of God. We can be grateful for it," Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said at the July 23 signing ceremony in Seoul, South Korea. The agreement on justification — how people are made just in the eyes of God and saved by Jesus Christ — "provides a basis for a more profound common witness before the world," said the cardinal. Delegates to the World Methodist Conference voted unanimously July 18 to adopt the declaration, which was approved in 1999 by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation. Cardinal Kasper’s office at the Vatican released his statement and other texts from the signing ceremony.

Cardinal says commission to review Medjugorje claims

Cardinal Vinko Puljic of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, announced a commission would be formed to review the alleged Marian apparitions at Medjugorje and pastoral provisions for the thousands of pilgrims who visit the town each year.

Saudi Arabia said to be taking steps against extremism

Saudi Arabia has made

Vatican asks Syria to open borders to refugees, workers

As North American and European navies finished evacuating their nationals from Lebanon, a Vatican official pleaded with Syria to open its borders to refugees and to the international community to help foreign workers trapped in Lebanon.

Religious silence won’t mean peace, Pope Benedict says

In the name of peace, many people are tempted to think it is better not to speak about religion or their specific faith.

Mideast Church leaders pray for peace, dialogue

Catholic Church leaders prayed for peace and dialogue as Mideast violence escalated, and churches and local government buildings opened their doors to the displaced.

Syndicate content