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Articles are reproduced with thanks from the Archdiocesan website, unless otherwise stated.

Catholic Bishops and Jesuit Refugee Services Deeply Concerned at Fate of Tamil Asylum Seekers

3 July 2014

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

The Australian Catholic Bishops and the Jesuit Refugee Refuge Service Australia (JRS) are concerned for the lives of more than 150 Tamil asylum seekers who were on board two vessels making their way to Australia, but who have not been heard from since Friday, 27 June.

Fr Maurizo Pettena, Director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office says although the Government has provided little information on the situation he is alarmed by media reports suggesting that asylum seekers may be returned to Sri Lanka without proper processing of their claims for asylum.

He is also deeply troubled by reports that suggest the Australian Government will hand over the asylum seekers believed to be on board an Australian Customs Vessel to the Sri Lankan Navy to be returned to their country of origin.

"While the brutal civil war in Sri Lanka has come to an end, underlying discrimination remains a violent reality for many of the Tamil people," he warns and cites reports from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights of the continuing precarious situation for Tamils including those who have been marked by torture and others who have simply disappeared.

AP issues massive correction on Ireland child burial story

Wednesday 26 June 2014

Catholic News Agency

The Associated Press has retracted key claims from its reports of an Irish Catholic home for unwed mothers supposedly burying hundreds of unbaptised infants in a septic tank.

A correction issued 20 June explained that “the AP quoted a researcher who said she believed that most of the remains of children who died there were interred in a disused septic tank; the researcher has since clarified that without excavation and forensic analysis it is impossible to know how many sets of remains the [septic] tank contains, if any.”

In addition, the AP said that it had wrongly reported that many of the children were unbaptized according to Church teaching.

Egyptian Leader Will Not Intervene In Greste Sentence

26 June 2014

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Egypt's President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has declared he will not intervene in the court decision that sentenced Australian journalist Peter Greste to seven years jail despite mounting international pressure.

Peter Greste and his al-Jazeera colleagues, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, were convicted by an Egyptian court of spreading false news and supporting the banned Muslim Brotherhood. To the shock and dismay of his family, journalists, the Australian Government and the international community, the three were sentenced to between seven and ten years in prison.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said he is shocked and dismayed at the severity of the sentence and completely "bewildered."

His reaction was shared by Australia's ambassador to Egypt, Dr Ralph King.

"On the basis of the evidence we have seen I do not understand this verdict," he said.

Direct evidence relating to the charges was not produced by Egypt's prosecuting lawyers.

Non-partisan Group Lobbies U.S. Government To Press Turkey For Greater Religious Freedom

23 June 2014

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

The Hagia Sophia stands as one of the most imposing monuments to history and religion worldwide. As a museum, it guards its storied past. But all that could change if the Turkish government gives in to internal pressure to change it back into a mosque.

Chair, U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom
"It would send a message that the current government views the sensitivities of Turkey's religious minorities, and in particular its ancient Christian community, as being of no real consequence."

The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom considers the move "provocative." Already, Turkey's prime minister and his ruling party face growing criticism, describing him as an authoritarian who wants to get rid of the country's strictly-enforced secular status. Recent moves, for example restricting sites like YouTube and Twitter, don't help his reputation.

Pope Francis "excommunicates" Mafia

23 June 2014

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

On a visit to one of Italy's most crime-ridden areas Pope Francis condemned organised crime groups, accusing them of practising "adoration of evil" and saying the mafiosi were excommunicated.

"Those who in their lives follow this path of evil, as mafiosi do, are not in communion with God. They are excommunicated," he said in a homily at the end of a day-long trip to the southern region of Calabria.

Tens of thousands attending the Mass applauded when he called the violent local crime group, the 'Ndrangheta, an example of the "adoration of the devil and contempt of the common good".

Pope Francis said the Church will exert its full force in efforts to combat organised crime.

Earlier in the day the Pope comforted relatives of a three-year old, Coco Campolongo who was shot dead in January, executed along with his grandfather, an apparent underworld hit over money.

Bishops of Brazil Issue Red Card to FIFA & World Cup Organisers

19 June 2014

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Caritas Australia has joined the Catholic Bishops of Brazil in expressing concern for Brazil's poor and the estimated 200,000 families in the crowded favelas of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other cities who have been forcibly evicted to make way for the construction of sports stadiums, roads and state of the art World Cup facilities.

As the World Cup competition began on 12 June, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Brazil issued a "red card" to all levels of Brazil's Government and to FIFA, the international body set to make more than $4 billion from the month-long event.

In soccer a "red card" is given to players who commit serious fouls and are expelled from the game, and it was on a "red card" that Brazil's bishops voiced their concerns at the "inversion of priorities" where more than $11 billion of public money, instead of being spent on the basic needs of Brazilians, has been put into a sporting event.

Only Half of Australians Able to Access Palliative Care in Their Final Days of Life

6 June 2014

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Australia is one of the world leaders in palliative care services with the nation's Catholic hospitals and allied health care services caring for up to half of all those in palliative care. However many people who would benefit from specialist palliative care are unable to access these services.
Although more than 30,400 Australians were treated by palliative care specialists in 2012, a 12% increase on the previous year, many thousands in regional and rural Australia missed out.

According to figures presented in Geneva to the recent World Health Assembly by Palliative Care Australia, as many as 50% to 70% of Australians still have no access to quality palliative care.

Quality palliative care is still not available to many of those who live outside main metropolitan areas or the nation's larger regional centres.

Nor is it available to the mentally ill, those in prison, those in psychiatric centres and those on the margins, says Martin Laverty, CEO of Catholic Health Australia who insists quality palliative care should be available to all Australians no matter where they live or whatever their circumstances.

Philippines Rural Missionary Fights Displacement of Poor by Australia Mining Giant

4 June 2014
Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Sister Mary Francis Anõver of the Religious Sisters of Mercy is on a tour of Australia from her home in the Philippines to raise awareness of the plight of the poor in the Mindanao region where thousands of men, women and children face being displaced their homes and villages by Australian-owned mining companies, Xstrata and Sagittarius Mines.

The visit by Sr Mary Francis to Australia comes less than two months after the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines' appealed to President Benigno Aquino II to stop the $5.9 billion Tampakan gold and copper mining project by Xstrata and its subsidiary Sagitarrius Mines from going ahead.

In a letter written by Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, Archbishop of Cotabato and signed by 20 other bishops, the prelates warned the President that the project would dislocate thousands of the region's Indigenous tribes from their ancestral lands as well as uprooting many impoverished peasant farmers and their families.


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