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News in brief

Wednesday update

In 2011, 26 religious and lay Catholics died for their faith

Twenty-six priests, nuns and lay Catholics were killed worldwide in 2011, with the highest number of victims in Latin America, according to the Vatican’s news agency Fides.

“Some were victims of the violence they risked their lives to fight against, and this year many were killed in theft or kidnap attempts, or were surprised in their homes by bandits,” Fides said.

During 2011, the number of pastoral care workers killed was one more than the previous year. Eighteen priests, four religious sisters and four lay Catholics were killed last year.

Archbishop of Cardiff condemns ‘presumed consent’ policy on organ donation

Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff has condemned Welsh Government plans to introduce a ‘presumed consent’ policy on organ donation.

The archbishop warned that ‘our bodies are not an asset of the state.’ His attack on the proposals from the Labour Welsh Government follows similar opposition by Anglican Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan.

Cardinal Seán Brady warns of suicide risks in Ireland

Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady used his New Year’s Day sermon at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh to highlight the scourge of suicide. He said it was ‘now the biggest killer of young men in Ireland, but not only young men.’

Science cannot explain the Turin Shroud

The Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has said that science cannot explain the Turin Shroud and has endorsed recent suggestions of its authenticity.

The newspaper cited research by Italian scientists it says suggests the shroud, which many believe bears an imprint of the body of Jesus, cannot be a medieval fake and may be the authentic burial cloth of Christ.

Kept in Turin Cathedral, the shroud is imprinted with the figure of a crucified man with wounds to his hands and feet.

Pope’s tribute to late Czech president

Archbishop Domink Duka of Prague read out a tribute from Pope Benedict XVI as world leaders gathered to bid farewell to former Czech president Vaclav Havel at a state funeral at Prague’s St Vitus Cathedral on December 23.

Pope Benedict praised Mr Havel’s courageous defence of human rights and his visionary leadership in creating a new democratic system.

Mr Havel, who helped lead the 1989 overthrow of Communism, died last month at the age of 75.

Fight after Midnight Mass

A priest in Southampton described how a fight broke out at the back of his church during Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.

Mgr Vincent Harvey said he had just finished his sermon at St Edmond’s Church when an ‘almighty fight’ broke out, spreading fear across the congregation.

Three men were later arrested on suspicion of affray. Nobody was injured buy many of the congregation at St Edmond’s were left shaken by the incident.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols prays for families in Bethlehem

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, has offered prayers for families in Bethlehem facing eviction.

During his homily at Midnight Mass at Westminster Cathedral, the archbishop prayed for 50 families in Beit Jala on the West Bank who face losing their land and homes, as Israel completes the separation wall across the district of Bethlehem.

Renewal of the Catholic Church must come from within

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has said that renewal of the Catholic Church must come from within.

“Conversion is not about fleeing from the realities of the world and society and culture and secularisation, it is about understanding them in a different light,” Archbishop Martin said during his Christmas Eve homily. “Jesus is the light that enlightens us, but also the light that enables us to discern the realities of our life in a different way.”

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