World News in Brief

Mali Church leaders insist friendship with Muslims will continue

Relations between Catholics and Muslims in Mali will not be affected by the November 20 attack on Bamako’s Radisson Hotel, according to the secretary-general of Mali’s Catholic bishops’ conference.

While conceding that the attack, in which at least 20 people were killed, was part of a wider Islamist campaign, Msgr Edmond Dembele recalled how it took place during to the Church’s national annual pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Mali at Kita, in which Muslims also participated.

“Ordinary Christians and Muslims live well together here, attending each other’s ceremonies and sharing in community life,” he said, continuing, “I think this crisis, far from weakening ties, will actually strengthen them.”

Bamako’s Archbishop Jean Zerbo told Vatican Radio that poverty and poor prospects among Mali’s youth had boosted the growth of jihadi groups, but maintained that the “deep communion” between Mali’s Christians and Muslims would survive.


Nuncio urges continued coexistence in Lebanon

Lebanon’s “message of coexistence” needs to be preserved, according to the country’s Apostolic Nuncio.

Speaking during a visit to hospitalised victims of the November 12 suicide bombings that killed at least 46 people and wounded more than 200 in Beirut, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia said: “God loves tolerance and he is bigger than any desire for vengeance.” 

Insisting that the country’s tradition of coexistence needed to be preserved, he said Lebanon’s message of diversity should prevail “despite all crises”.  

The visit was organised by the Lebanese religious order Mission de Vie (Mission of Life), devoted to serving the country’s poorest. All those the nuncio visited were Muslim. 

Religious freedom is central to the debate over the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate, according to Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik, challenging those who believe it is primarily a Catholic matter.

Regulations put in place by the Department of Health and Human Services in implementing the new health care law represent “a slippery slope” that would undermine religious freedom for many Americans, he said.

Under the Affordable Care Act of 2010, most religious and other employers are required to cover contraceptives, sterilisation and abortifacient drugs through employer-provided health insurance.

Last year several circuit courts ruled that religious entities, such as the Denver-based Little Sisters of the Poor, were not substantially burdened by opt-out procedures intended to allow them to avoid the requirement, with just one circuit court accepting the argument that complying with the opt-out provision would violate the non-profits’ religious beliefs.

The US Supreme Court is to hear seven pending appeals on the issue in lawsuits brought by several Catholic and other faith-based entities.