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c. 2006 Religion News Service

Pope Prays Turkish Priest’s Death Will Spark Interfaith Dialogue

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Amid appeals for the Vatican to harden its stance toward Islam, Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday (Feb. 8) expressed hope that the murder of an Italian priest in Turkey would strengthen the push for dialogue between religions.

Before a crowd of thousands at his weekly general audience, Benedict praised the Rev. Andrea Santoro for his missionary work among Christian minorities in Turkey.

“May the Lord welcome the soul of this silent and courageous servant of the Gospel,” Benedict said. “May the sacrifice of his life contribute to the cause of dialogue among religions and peace among peoples.”

The tribute came amid a swell of public outrage in Italy over the death of Santoro, who was gunned down Sunday after celebrating Mass at his parish in the predominantly Muslim town of Trabzon, Turkey.

Anger over the death appeared to sharpen Tuesday after Turkish television reported that the priest’s captured assassin cited the publication of Danish cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad as his motive for the killing.

In an interview published Wednesday in La Repubblica of Rome, Italy’s right-wing Reforms Minister Roberto Calderoli said that Benedict “must intervene as did Pius V and Innocence XI” _ Renaissance popes who mounted armies that waged decisive battles against invading Turks.

“Those popes stepped in for the governments. They forged grand coalitions to defeat the Islamic emergency,” Calderoli said.

Future dialogue with the Muslim world, Calderoli said, should focus on the “reciprocity of rights,” or the principle that the religious rights of Muslim minorities in Europe should depend on the rights and safety of Christian minorities living in Muslim countries.

Next fall, Benedict plans to visit Turkey, where he is considered unpopular for views he expressed as a cardinal.

In an interview in 2004, the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger criticized Turkish hopes to join the European Union, asserting that the country’s Muslim history put it in “permanent contrast to Europe.”

_ Stacy Meichtry

With $322 Million, Faith-Based Initiative Takes Its Show on the Road

HARRISBURG, Pa. (RNS) With more than $322 million available for faith-based community organizations, the Bush administration is marketing in the heartland to show social service providers how to apply for the grants.

More than 700 people from 28 states gathered Tuesday (Feb. 7) in a Harrisburg hotel to learn how to apply for federal money for programs for the homeless, hungry, at-risk youths, people with HIV/AIDS, welfare families and people with addictions.

The 21st regional gathering was an “opportunity to come together to share experiences and network and meet a lot of interesting people” who can help them, said Jim Towey, assistant to the president and director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

Sharon Smith, who works with 15 city youngsters through the Hillside Pathfinder Thunderbird Club in Harrisburg, plans to apply for a grant to buy tents for a camping program and uniforms.

The group, which is sponsored by the Hillside Seventh-day Adventist Church, is similar to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

Spencer Corbett, a housing coordinator with RIGHT Inc., drove from Washington for information to fund his work in housing and case management of mothers and single men with HIV/AIDS.

“Funding is an ongoing problem,” he said. “We’ve been blessed that our funding has continued, but funds have decreased.”

President Bush, who proposed a 36 percent increase for the program in his budget released this week, said in a video presentation, “We want to help you to better understand the federal grants process so that your organization will have the federal resources needed to magnify your good works.”

Without alluding to criticism of the response to natural disasters, Bush said he saw “the good work of your `armies of compassion’ when you mobilized to come to the relief of fellow citizens who lost their homes and livelihoods. You showed how faith-based community organizations can deliver millions of meals and shelter tens of thousands of people on short notice.”

Towey warned the group, however, “If you receive government money, you can’t preach with it.” Money cannot be used for evangelizing or to show favoritism for a particular faith or discriminate against a faith.

_ Judith Patton and Brett Lieberman

Church of England Disinvests, Citing Israel’s `Illegal Occupation’

LONDON (RNS) The Church of England has voted to pull its investments out of companies, including the U.S. machinery giant Caterpillar Inc., that it claims are profiting from Israel’s “illegal occupation” of Palestinian territory.

The surprise action, which came Monday at the behest of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, was approved overwhelmingly by the Church’s general synod Monday (Feb. 6) and appears to target the 2.2 million-pound ($3.92 million) holdings it has in Caterpillar.

The disinvestment vote signaled Church of England concerns that the bulldozers that Caterpillar manufactures are used by Israel to demolish Palestinian homes. The same sort of earthmoving equipment is used by the Palestinians in their own rebuilding work.

The holdings in Caterpillar are part of the Church of England’s overall share portfolio that published figures put at $1.6 billion.

The motion approved by the general synod specifically calls on the Church of England “to disinvest from companies profiting from the illegal occupation, such as Caterpillar, until they change their policies.”

During the debate, a message was read to the synod from the Episcopal bishop of Jerusalem, the Right Rev. Riah Abu el-Assai, who complained that “nonviolent instruments such as divestment from companies that produce death rather than life does (sic) not get the same attention” as the church gives to issues such as human sexuality.

The worldwide Anglican Communion called for such a disinvestment move at a meeting last summer. That action was greeted by protests from Israel and Jewish groups.

The Guardian newspaper in London reported that Caterpillar “insists it has not provided the earthmovers directly to Israel but to the U.S. military, which sold them on.”

_ Al Webb

Orthodox Group to Launch whydatejewish.com on Valentine’s Day

NEW YORK (RNS) An Orthodox Jewish organization has decided to launch a campaign on Valentine’s Day aimed at convincing young Jews to marry other Jews.

The National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), the youth movement of the Orthodox Union, chose Valentine’s Day _ which isn’t a Jewish holiday _ because it is a time when “the thoughts of young men and women turn naturally to dating,” an OU spokesman said. “For young Jewish men and women, does this automatically mean dating other Jews? Not always.”

The OU’s new dating Web site (http://www.whydatejewish.com), which will be officially launched Tuesday (Feb. 14), is aimed at reversing the high rate of intermarriage among North American Jews.

Although intermarriage is much less common among Orthodox Jews than it is among those in the Reform and Conservative movements, the entire Jewish community views it as a threat to the future of the Jewish people.

To counter this trend, NCSY just produced a guide for teens called “Dating Jewish” by Rabbi Jack Abramowitz, which includes sections derived from traditional Jewish sources. Additionally, the new Web site will offer a free copy of “Why Marry Jewish?” by Doron Kornbluth.

The campaign will highlight biblical sources that emphasize the importance of a Jew marrying another Jew; the ramifications of intermarriage; and why marrying within the fold is not an example of intolerance or prejudice against non-Jews.

“In our society, people think it’s `intolerant’ to refuse to date people of other religions,” Abramowitz said. “But non-smokers might not date smokers and vegetarians might not date meat-eaters. It’s not intolerant to limit your dating pool to certain like-minded individuals.”

_ Michele Chabin

Quote of the Day: Danish Newspaper Editor Flemming Rose

(RNS) “This whole thing is crazy, totally crazy. I had no idea anything like this would happen.”

_ Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper, on the controversy that erupted over his decision to publish 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that have angered Muslims around the world. He was quoted by The Wall Street Journal.

MO/PH END RNS

Editors: http://www.whydatejewish.com is CQ in last item

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