North Carolina bishop asks prayers for tornado victims, survivors
RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh urged Catholics in the diocese to include in their prayers for Holy Week a special intention for the victims and survivors of the deadly tornadoes that ripped through portions of the diocese April 16. According to the National Weather Service, 25 tornadoes swept through North Carolina. On April 20, a 50-year-old woman died of injuries she suffered in the storm, bringing the death toll to 24. It was estimated that more than 800 homes were damaged or destroyed. President Barack Obama declared 18 counties to be a major disaster area. Bishop Burbidge directed the Raleigh Diocese's 95 parishes and mission churches to hold a special collection with the money to be dedicated entirely to disaster relief. In a video message posted to the diocesan website, www.dioceseofraleigh.org, the bishop noted that while pictures of the devastation are dramatic, the fact that people's lives have been traumatically affected is much more significant. "In a matter of seconds," Bishop Burbidge said, "many lost all their possessions, some were badly injured and sadly several lost their lives." Four fatalities were children who lived in the same home in a mobile home park. Two were 8 years old, one was 3 and one was 6 months old. An evening funeral Mass for the four was being celebrated at St. Raphael the Archangel Church in Raleigh April 20.
Jerusalem's Christian leaders pray for Mideast reforms, minority rights
JERUSALEM (CNS) -- In their joint Easter message, the heads of Christian churches of Jerusalem turned their attention to the unrest in the Middle East, noting the need to respect the rights of the minorities in the region. "We pray for reforms that will lead to a modern civil society, where freedom of expression, religion and human rights -- including the rights of those considered minority in number are respected," they said in their message, released April 19. "We call on all peoples of faith and good will to pursue peace, while recognizing that this peace cannot be obtained at the price of silence and submission to corruption and injustice." They also urged all Christians to "pray for reconciliation among people in the Holy Land," where they said the "deteriorating situation" was "making peace and justice seem further away than ever before." The church leaders related Christ's passion to the current situation. "The violence, when it erupts, reminds us that the cross of Christ is ever present for the faithful followers of the prince of peace. The crucifixion is an ongoing reality for many of our clergy and people who continue to seek to live with mutual understanding and cooperation with their neighbors," they said.
Vatican withdraws recognition of international Catholic press group
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Pontifical Council for the Laity has withdrawn the canonical recognition of the International Catholic Union of the Press as a Catholic organization because of operational irregularities. "It is a disaster from a functional point of view," said Guzman Carriquiry, undersecretary of the council. Carriquiry told Catholic News Service April 20 that the council's decision had nothing to do with questions involving faith or morals but were motivated by questions involving the rights of members and the transparency of UCIP's staff and top officers. "For too long, the association has not functioned, and too many Catholic journalists and organizations have abandoned it for this reason," he said. In a letter March 23, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, council president, and Bishop Josef Clemens, council secretary, outlined the Vatican concerns to Bernhard Sassmann, UCIP president. The council sent copies of the letter to UCIP members March 25. Contacted by CNS April 20 while he was traveling in Spain, Sassmann said UCIP would release a detailed statement after Easter, because the laity council's action was based on "misinformation and lies, which are awful for me." The letter from Cardinal Rylko and Bishop Clemens said the laity council, in consultation with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and the Vatican Secretariat of State, revoked its "recognition decree" and "from now on, the UCIP will have to remove from its name the adjective Catholic."
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