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Pope Francis calls for end to death penalty, life imprisonment

November 3, 2014
FRANCIS ROCCA
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has called for abolition of both the death penalty and life imprisonment. In an Oct. 23 meeting with representatives of the International Association of Penal Law, the pope also denounced what he called a "penal populism" that promises to solve society's problems by punishing crime instead of pursuing social justice. "It is impossible to imagine that states today cannot make use of another means than capital punishment to defend peoples' lives from an unjust aggressor," the pope said

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Family drills water wells for Guatemalan poor

Ted van der Zalm

November 3, 2014
MICHAEL SWAN
THE CATHOLIC REGISTER

Ted van der Zalm and his wife Miriam gambled their house on a call from God more than 10 years ago and it's paid off. They hit a gusher, or more accurately, a dozen of them over the last decade. The van der Zalms are the founders and driving force behind Wells of Hope, a little charity that has blossomed into a small development NGO in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. The little organization has used the money it has raised to drill 12 wells, build 15 elementary schools and distribute 15,000 backpacks full of school supplies to Guatemalan students.

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U.S. Catholic media strive to overcome polarization

Gregory Erlandson

November 3, 2014
PATRICIA ZAPOR
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Pope Francis' call to Christians to examine and reconsider the way they treat others brings challenges for Catholic publications in combatting polarization within the Church, said a panel of editors and publishers Oct. 16. Although their publications represent a wide range of readers, the editors on the panel raised common problems in reporting on Pope Francis. Too few Catholics are well enough versed in the Church's teachings to understand what he says in context, they said. As well, Americans tend to think of every issue as a win/lose proposition between two opposing sides.

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S. Sudan war puts 4M at risk of starvation

November 3, 2014
KIPLY LUKAN YAWORSKI
PRAIRIE MESSENGER

SASKATOON – Civil war and famine are threatening the lives of innocent people in South Sudan, says a Saskatoon diocesan priest who hails from the east African nation. "Close to four million people are at risk of starvation," Father Martin Francis Vuni Asida told an Amnesty International meeting at a local Lutheran church. Conflict between government troops and those who support the country's former vice-president broke out in December 2013. Since the violence began, an estimated 1.3 million people have been displaced, and tens of thousands have been killed.

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Is history repeating itself?

Pope Francis

November 3, 2014
FRANCIS ROCCA
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Even before the start of the Oct. 5-19 Synod of Bishops on the family, observers were likening it to the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65. In both cases, an innovative and charismatic pope called an assembly in the first months of his pontificate, seeking to preach the Gospel in terms of contemporary culture and apply Catholic teaching with what St. John XXIII called the "medicine of mercy." As it turned out, history also repeated itself in the institutional dynamics of this year's event, as bishops from around the world asserted their collective authority, leading the assembly's organizers in Rome to revise some of their best-laid plans.

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Francis lauds synod's frank exchanges

Synod Logo

November 3, 2014
FRANCIS ROCCA
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

After several days of animated debate over its official midterm report, the Synod of Bishops on the family agreed on a final document more clearly grounded in traditional Catholic teaching. Yet the assembly failed to reach consensus on especially controversial questions of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried and the pastoral care of homosexuals. The synod's last working session, Oct. 18, also featured a speech by Pope Francis, in which he celebrated the members' frank exchanges while warning against extremism in the defence of tradition or the pursuit of progress.

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Catholic leaders say Church contributes by fostering values

Cardinal Lubomyr Husar

November 3, 2014
CINDY WOODEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

KYIV, UKRAINE – The task of the Catholic Church is not only to teach people how to pray, but how to live authentically Christian lives, two leaders of the Ukrainian Catholic Church said. The Church's ministers also have an obligation to support and minister to their followers in the midst of strife and even danger, said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, and 81-year-old Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, the retired head of the Church. That belief led the two leaders and fellow priests to Kiev's Independence Square – the Maidan – from November 2013 to February 2014 in long-term protest against the government of former President Viktor Yanukovych.

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Ukraine has changed forever

Ukraine demonstrations

November 3, 2014
CINDY WOODEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Although they disagree about how unstoppable the process is and they have a varying degree of fear about what Russia might do, religious and political leaders in Ukraine say their society underwent a fundamental shift in February. Ukrainians now realize they have both dignity and responsibilities for their country's future, the leaders said in interviews prior to the Oct. 26 parliamentary elections.

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TRC discriminated against Catholic entities – lawyer

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November 3, 2014
DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS

The Catholic entities involved in Indian residential schools have been unfairly targeted by the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), says lawyer Pierre Baribeau. "We have a feeling that we have been discriminated against by the TRC, compared to the way they have treated the other churches," said Baribeau. "That's a strong feeling, and it's very unfortunate." "We have had some very difficult times," he said. "We have felt targeted by the TRC and by other parties."

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'Be not afraid,' Prendergast says in wake of Ottawa shootings

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November 3, 2014
DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS

OTTAWA - Recalling the words of Pope St. John Paul II, Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast called upon Canadians not to be afraid in the wake of the Oct. 22 shooting that left a Canadian soldier dead. In an email interview a day after the incident, Prendergast noted that the violence occurred on the feast of St. John Paul and recalled the saint's first words when he was elected pope in 1978 were, "Don't be afraid! Open your hearts wide to Christ."

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