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Fr John Paul MacKinnon The Island Parish star on coping with fame P7

Bishop Michael Evans PAGE 2

‘I see my dying as a journey of joyful hope’

No. 6500

April 1 2011 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)

Church seeks end to Libya conflict

Nuncio calls for ceasefire at conference of world leaders Pope appeals for dialogue to replace use of force North African bishops back Benedict XVI’s plea


THE CATHOLIC CHURCH wants “peaceful and lasting solutions” to the war in Libya, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain has said before a meeting of foreign ministers in London.

Archbishop Antonio Mennini was attending a meeting of ministers from 40 nations in London on Tuesday to discuss events in Libya, where Nato nations are carrying out a UN resolution aimed at protecting Libyan civilians from Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Prime Minister David Cameron met US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as Libyan opposition leader Mahmoud Jibril before attending a private meeting with dozens of officials at Lancaster House.

Before the event, where the Holy See was acting as an observer, the archbishop told Vatican Radio that he hoped the international community would find a way to enforce a ceasefire that would allow for effective humanitarian care to be given to those in need.

He said: “There first of all should be a ceasefire in order to bring a concrete and effective peace to all sides. People in Libya are suffering, not just because of the current situation but previous sufferings too.”

He also said there needed to be a “road map to facilitate the preparation and create conditions for a concrete and effective peace for all people in Libya, apart from their political, religious or ethnic identity”.

Nato took over command of military operations to help antiGaddafi rebels in eastern Libya last week, as part of an operation led by Britain and France.

In his Angelus address in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, the Pope said he was increasingly concerned at the news from Libya.

Archbishop Mennini, nuncio to Britain, attended a meeting of world leaders this week to discuss action on Libya. Above, Libyans celebrate news of a UN resolution CNS

He said: “My fear for the safety and well-being of the civilian population is growing, as is my apprehension over how the situation is developing with the use of arms.”

He urged that dialogue, not military force, be used in order to reach a peaceful solution, and appealed to Nato and its member countries to bring about the end of fighting.

He said: “To international agencies and to those with political and military responsibility, I make a heartfelt appeal for the immediate start of a dialogue that will suspend the use of arms.”

Pope Benedict said that in times of international tension there was more urgency for diplomatic efforts that take advantage of “even the weakest sign of openness to reconciliation” among the parties in conflict. Solutions should be “peaceful and lasting”, he said.

The Pope also prayed for “the return of harmony in Libya” and throughout North Africa, and expressed concern for the entire Middle East.

In Syria security forces killed at least 100 people after protests last week, while Yemen is on the brink of civil war following defections by senior military figures to the side of protesters.

Tensions in the Holy Land have sharply escalated following a week in which Hamas and Israel exchanged rocket fire. Last Wednesday a bomb exploded in Jerusalem, killing a British tourist.

“My thoughts go to the authorities and citizens of the Middle East,” the Pope said. “There, too, the path of dialogue and reconciliation should be chosen for a just and brotherly co-existence.”

L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, has criticised what it described as “great confusion” about the aims of the Libyan operation. The United Nations resolution 1973 was designed to create a no-fly zone but allows member nations to use “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians, which has enabled coalition forces to attack Libyan government forces. The Vatican newspaper said France had undertaken the military operation “in haste and without any co-ordination” with other key members of the international community.

As The Catholic Herald went to press Libyan rebel forces, many of them driving their own cars into battle, were poised to attack Colonel Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte, 250 miles from Tripoli, in what one commentator described as “Gaddafi’s Stalingrad”.

The bishops of North Africa have also called for an end to violence. The Episcopal Conference of the North African Region (CERNA), which includes bishops from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, released an “urgent appeal to find an end to this painful conflict, just and dignified for all”. Editorial comment: Page 13

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Man with paralysed leg walks 1,000 miles after visit to Lourdes BY ED WEST

A MAN with a paralysed left leg has set off on a 1,000-mile hike to Santiago de Compostela after being cured at Lourdes, it has been reported.

Television repair man Serge François, 40, said he felt a warm glow spread down his herniated leg during a visit to Lourdes in 2002.

He said he had been praying at the grotto where Bernadette Soubirous first had visions of the Virgin Mary in 1858, and all of his suffering suddenly disappeared.

After regaining the use of his leg, Mr François walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (the Way of St James), the pilgrimage route spanning France and Spain.

Mr François, from La Salleet-Chapelle-Aubry in Maine, western France, reported what happened to the International Medical Committee of Lourdes and 20 doctors have now concluded that it was indeed “remarkable”.

Archbishop Emmanuel Delmas of Angers said: “In the name of the Church, I publicly recognise the ‘remarkable’ character of the healing from which Serge François benefited at Lourdes on April 12, 2002. This healing can be considered a personal gift from God to man, as an event of grace, as a sign of Christ the Saviour.”

Archbishop Delmas said the bureau of medical experts at Lourdes had concluded that the recovery was “sudden,

complete, unrelated to any particular therapy and durable”.

The healing could be considered “as a personal gift of God for this man, as an event of grace, as a sign of Christ the Saviour”, he said, avoiding the word “miracle”.

More than 7,000 cases of unexplained healings have been recorded in Lourdes, but only 67 have been recognised as miraculous by the Church. The healing of Mr François may be the 68th.

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Nun to write Good Friday meditations BY ANNA ARCO

TWO NUNS have been asked to prepare Pope Benedict XVI’s traditional Good Friday Stations of the Cross this year.

Mother Maria Rita Piccione, the president of the federation of Augustinian nuns, will this year write the meditations for the Pope’s annual public recitation of the Stations of the Cross in the Coliseum. Sister

Elena Manganelli, an Augustinian nun of the monastery of Lecceto close to Siena, is preparing the accompanying illustrations for the booklet.

This is the first time Pope Benedict has asked a woman to write the Good Friday meditations. John Paul II asked a Benedictine nun to write the meditations in 1993 and a Swiss Protestant woman to write them in 1995.

Woody Allen plays clarinet for hospital BY ED WEST

FILM director Woody Allen has raised money for a Catholic children’s hospital in Rome by playing the clarinet. Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band played to a packed house in the Conciliazione Auditorium, Italy’s top classical venue, next door to the Vatican, with the New

York-born Jewish comedian on clarinet. They played for nearly two hours to raise money for the Bambino Gesù, Italy’s top children’s hospital, which helps sick infants from across the world. Among the dozen tracks they played was the spiritual “Take My Hand Precious Lord”.

The hospital, established in the 1860s, is run by the Holy See.


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