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Commission demands release of jailed priest


This image from TV shows a security officer silencing the Rev. Nguyen Van Ly after the priest yelled out ‘Communist court.’

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has condemned the Vietnamese government for taking the Rev. Nguyen Van Ly, a Roman Catholic priest and religious freedom advocate, from his home in Hue on Monday.

Father Ly, 64, needs special medical treatment after suffering strokes and an apparent brain tumor, the commission said in a statement. He has been on medical parole from a sentence he received in May, 2007.

Leonard Leo, the commission’s chairman, urged President Obama to designate Vietnam as a “Country of Particular Concern,” a term applied to nations with “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.”

Father Ly was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2001 after he submitted testimony to the commission on abuses of religious freedom. He was released in 2005 and rearrested in 2007. He was released on medical parole last year.

MultiFaith offers garden tips during self-drive tour

MultiFaith Grows, a project of the MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio, will be offering tips on gardening and other topics in a 2½-hour, self-guided tour Aug. 6.

The four-stop, self-drive tour starts at 10 a.m. at the Franciscan Center greenhouse on Convent Boulevard in Sylvania, then proceeds to Christ Presbyterian Church, the Boston Place garden of Muhammad’s Mosque No. 91, and the Toledo GROWS’ greenhouse on Oneida Street near downtown.

A brief talk will be given at each stop. Information: or 419-475-6535.

U.S. bishops send prayers to bishops in Norway

WASHINGTON — U.S. Catholic bishops offered prayers and solidarity with the bishops of Scandinavia after the bombings at government buildings in Oslo and shootings at a nearby youth camp in Utoya.

“Please accept the deepest condolence of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at this moment of terrible sadness in the beautiful nation of Norway,” Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, conference president, wrote to bishop Anders Arborelius, chief of the Scandinavian Episcopal Conference, and Bishop Bernt Ivar Eidsvig of Oslo.

Group raises aid package to Africa from $4M to $7M

The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee announced this week that it has boosted its aid package from $4 million to $7 million to help victims of the severe drought in East Africa.

The aid will include food supplies and drinking water as well as fodder for livestock, helping more than 100,000 Kenyans until the next harvest expected in January.

The United Nations reported in June that 3.5 million Kenyans need aid because of drought and famine.

Islamic school ousts leader after just months

NEW DELHI — One of the world’s most revered schools of Islamic learning ousted its reformist leader just months into his term, after he praised a Hindu nationalist politician loathed by many Muslims in India.

Ghulam Mohammed Vastanvi had pledged to update the Darul Uloom seminary’s curriculum and rein in hard-line religious edicts when he became vice chancellor in January.

But within days he upset conservatives and sparked protests by praising Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s development policies and reportedly saying Muslims in that western state should move on from the 2002 communal riots that left hundreds dead.

The board of the 150-year-old institution in the northern town of Deoband voted Sunday to replace 60-year-old Vastanvi with Maulana Abdul Qasim Nomani.

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