World News in Brief

Papal visit to Central African Republic later this month is confirmed

The Holy See has confirmed that Pope Francis is to visit the Central African Republic later this month, after doubts were raised about the planned trip when the Pontiff said it was his “hope” that he could visit the conflict-riven country.

Despite the country’s instability, the Vatican has announced that the Holy Father will spend about 33 hours in the country, visiting a refugee camp, holding a meeting with evangelical Christians and visiting a mosque in the capital city Bangui.

The Pope’s first stop on his November 25-30 African tour will be Kenya, where the local bishops have appealed for national unity during the visit. After visiting Kenya Pope Francis will travel to Uganda to honour the 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic Ugandan martyrs killed in the 1880s, before concluding his visit in the Central African Republic. 


Catholic-Lutheran document maps path towards unity

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have drawn up a document marking the progress in Catholic-Lutheran relations since the Second Vatican Council and identifying remaining steps needed to restore full unity. 

The 120-page “Declaration on the Way” is intended to mark the 50th anniversary of Catholic-Lutheran dialogue and the upcoming 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation in 2017.

“It’s amazing to think that 500 years ago we were killing each other over issues on which there is now consensus between the two communions,” said ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.


Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden of Baltimore said Pope Francis has emphasised “a culture of dialogue” that is reflected in the new declaration.


No new ivory in churches


New ivory should be barred from churches in the Philippines, the country’s bishops’ conference has urged. “I appeal to my brother bishops of the Philippines to prohibit the clerics from blessing any new statue, image or object of devotion made or crafted from such material as ivory or similar body parts of endangered or protected (species), nor shall such new statues or images be used as objects of veneration in any of our churches,” appealed Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan in a pastoral letter signed on behalf of the bishops.

Death of respected French intellectual

Leading Catholic intellectual René Girard died on November 4 after a long illness. Born in France in 1923, Prof. Girard studied in Paris before moving to the US in 1947. After earning his doctorate in Indiana University he held several academic posts, in 1981 becoming the Andrew B. Hammond Professor of French Language, Literature, and Civilization at Stanford University, where he remained until his retirement in 1995. 

The author of over two dozen books, his work led to him being hailed as the “Darwin of the Human Sciences”, with his theories being seen as keys to understanding the centrality of conflict to human life.