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World Reacts to Pope Benedict XVI's Resignation

  • Cardinals, Heads of State Applaud Pontiff's 'Courageous Decision'
  • A vocation "is a response to a divine call," and we must never grow discouraged "in proclaiming Christ to all people, even to the ends of the earth." This was the message of Pope Benedict XVI during his Sunday Angelus, commenting on the Sunday Gospel reading about the call of the first two disciples. The Holy Father said human weakness should not be afraid if God calls. We must rely more and more on the power of his mercy, which transforms and renews. Greeting the faithful after the Angelus, the Pope called for peace, harmony, and gratitude to Heaven to those in the Far East celebrating the Lunar New Year. He then spoke about the World Day of the Sick, which is being celebrating on Monday  

Vatican City, Feb. 1.. (Zenit).─ As news of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation spread worldwide, prelates and dignitaries from around the world reacted with surprise and support for the Holy Father's decision.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales stated that today's announcement has "shocked and surprised everyone." However, Archbishop Nichols said that on reflection that the Holy Father's decision will be recognized as one of "great courage and characteristic clarity of mind and action."

"The Holy Father recognizes the challenges facing the Church and that 'strength of mind and body are necessary' for his tasks of governing the Church and proclaiming the Gospel," Archbishop Nichols stated in a communique released today.


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Religious leaders can help stop wildlife crime

  • Tens of thousands of wild elephants and rhinos are being killed each year to meet the demand for ivory and/or false aphrodisiacs
  • Can spiritual leaders guide their flocks to be stewards of the Earth?

Rhinoceros - endangered species

Feb. 9.─ Curtis Abraham interviews activist Dekila Chungyalpa in Slate magazine. Dekila Chungyalpa is founder and director of the Sacred Earth program for WWF, the international conservation organization. She says religious values are often consistent with conservation efforts, and it's time for religious leaders to start preaching for the environment.

Curtis Abraham: What is the Sacred Earth program?

Dekila Chungyalpa: We are trying to provide faith leaders and religious institutions with a platform on which they can build conservation messages and lead environmental change. It developed from a 2008 project that provided environmental training for Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns in the Himalayas. Following a series of successful pilot projects, we launched it as a fully-fledged program last year.

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Sudden agreement on US immigration reform

Marcos Rubio, Cuban-American Republican Senator for Florida, succeeded in getting senatorial approval for his immigration plan including bypartisan support from Senators Chuck Schumer and John McCain, among others >> More   

Washington, DC, Jan. 29.─ After years of fruitless argument, America now has not one but two serious proposals for comprehensive immigration reform. The first came on Monday, from a bipartisan group of eight senators. The second came today, from Barack Obama, who flew to Las Vegas to give a speech on the subject; not a formal proposal, per se, but an expansion of his blueprint from May 2011. On the issues that were apparently too delicate to discuss in public a year ago, there's now broad agreement: there should be a path to citizenship for immigrants who are already here illegally, the country should issue more green cards for highly-skilled immigrants, and employers who deliberately hire unauthorised immigrants should be penalised for it.

The president's proposal does differ from the Senate framework in several respects. The most notable is that the latter would only allow unauthorised immigrants to become legal permanent residents; citizenship would have to wait until various border-security reforms have been implemented.

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House Republicans' "fiscal cliff" worries: When will we ever get spending cuts?

What riled House Republicans wasn't the taxes on the rich in the Senate's 'fiscal cliff' bill, it was the absence of significant spending cuts. But changes at this late date could have scuttled the bill. So they yielded to pressure

Washington, Jan. 1 (─ At 11 p.m., this first day of the year after the "fiscal cliff" deadline had expired, the House voted with bipartisan support to pass the Senate's "fiscal cliff" bill, 257 to 167. The vote represented a bipartisan agreement with 172 Democrats and 85 Republicans supporting the measure. Among prominent Republicans voting in favor were House Speaker John Boehner (R, Ohio) and former VP candidate Rep Paul Ryan (R, Wis).

Congress broke a rancorous stalemate Tuesday to pass legislation designed to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. But the compromise bill, which blocked most impending tax increases and postponed spending cuts largely by raising taxes on upper-income Americans, left a host of issues unresolved and guaranteed continued budget clashes between the parties.

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UN chief condemns latest violence in Pakistan, calls for perpetrators to be brought to justice

Ban Ki-moon condemns violence in Pakistan Dec. 31 (UN).─ Appalled by the "escalating terrorist violence" in Pakistan, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has spoken out on the matter, calling for those responsible to be held accountable, according to his spokesperson.

In a statement issued on Sunday night, the spokesperson said that the UN chief condemns the "the continued violent targeting of religious minorities" – the latest such incident involving the bombing of three buses carrying pilgrims on Sunday – as well the killing of 21 members of a Government-backed tribal police force last week.

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