Russia against Papal visit
THE PRESIDENT of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan has said that "some forces within the region do not want the Pope to visit Russia and, in particular, Kazan".
Vatican spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls had announced that the Pope might make a stopover in the City of Kazan, capital of Tatarstan, to return an ancient icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is in the Vatican, and which belonged originally to the Russian Orthodox Church.
But the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow said that the return of the image is not a sufficient reason for a visit by the Holy Father, and that it is necessary first to overcome the problems that exist between the two Christian communions, separated by a millennium of schism.
Poland asks Pope to return
POLAND'S bishops have invited John Paul II to return to the country next year to consecrate a church and beatify three Poles.
A spokesman said it would depend on the Holy Father "when the visit will be possible and realistic". The Pontiff last visited his homeland in August 2002.
The spokesman said the aim of a visit could be the consecration of the Holy God's Providence Temple, a major church under construction in Warsaw since November, and the beatification of two priests and a nun.
Day of prayer for Fatima
THE INTERNATIONAL charity Aid to the Church in Need is to hold a day of prayer and reflection on the Blessed Virgin Mary's Fatima message.
The event, scheduled for July 11, will include all of the international Catholic charity's benefactors, friends and staff members, who are invited to join this occasion of prayer for all of ACN's intentions and especially for the "Church in silence" in China.
Paulo Bernardino, director of the Portuguese section, in a letter to "my dear brothers and sisters of the contemplative life ", dated June 6, has invited religious priests, brothers and sisters to join the prayer day.
WYD will motivate young
AN AMERICAN cardinal has been speaking about the potential impact of World Youth Day 2005 in reviving an interest in Europe's Christian heritage.
Cardinal James Francis Stafford, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, said the event, which will be held in Cologne, Germany, would offer young people an opportunity to reflect on the future of Europe and its Christian roots.
"Cologne is a very important city for the whole of Europe, especially in this period in which there is an intense debate on its future, on the roots of Christianity in the Old World," the Cardinal said.
Priest judges beauty contest
AN ITALIAN priest is preparing to celebrate the feast of his parish's patron saint by presiding over a beauty contest to choose a candidate for Miss Italy.
Fr Carlo Crucianelli, from Civita Castellana, said; "Beauty is never embarrassing for it is a gift from God."
John Ryan: Page 9
New head for Clerks Regular
A NEW governing body has been elected by the Congregation of Clerks Regular.
The new superior-general of the order is Fr Valerntin Arteaga Sanchez Gujialgo, who, until now, was superior of the Theatines of Spain. The new vicar-general is Father Pio Lana Salinas of Navarre, rector of the Basilica of St Andrew in Rome. The chapter has sent a message to the Theatine world — religious and secular — in which it attests to the order's growth in Latin America.
Immigration fears rising
EXAGGERATED security fears are fuelling divisions over asylum and immigration, the secretary-general of Caritas Europe has said.
Bruno Kapfer, Caritas Europe president, said overreaction to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States overshadowed progress on the treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers and that people who helped refugees had now become targets of "social exclusion".
"There's no immigration policy in place" in the European Union, Mr Kapfer said.
Many falsely assume that illegal immigration will be curbed by more restrictive actions, he told Catholic News Service following a June 12-14 Caritas forum in Madrid, Spain, where speakers urged European Union governments to rethink their approach to asylum seekers and immigrants.
"You can't fight [illegal] immigration without also combating the labour black market that it serves," he said.
Mr Kapfer told CNS that the British Government had been criticised for proposing tough measures, including automatically deporting asylum seekers in European Union nations to processing centres in Morocco, Turkey, Ukraine and other countries.
"The idea of immediately returning refugees to centres outside the European Union's borders would simply mean the end of asylum in Europe. This deserves a harsh response," he said.