January 11th 2003

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Paid maternity leave: who benefits?

CANBERRA OBSERVED: 2002: when the chickens came home to roost

EVENTS: Claudio Betti to visit Australia

BIOETHICS: Embryo battle was worth the fight

STRAWS IN THE WIND: To America with love, from Osama bin Laden

LETTERS: Real world (letter)

LETTERS: Comparisons (letter)

PROFILE: Dr George Pell: Australia's leading churchman

SOUTH ASIA: India's ethnic conflicts

COMMENT: In the wake of the Cultural Revolution

BOOKS: The Life of Matthew Flinders, by Miriam Estensen

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Claudio Betti to visit Australia

by Anthony Cappello

News Weekly, January 11, 2003
Claudio Betti, the Vice President of the Community of Sant'Egidio, will visit Australia in February 2003 as a guest of the Thomas More Centre. Mr Betti will be the keynote speaker at the Thomas More Centre's Summer School held at North Melbourne, February 7-8.

The Community of Sant'Egidio was established over 30 years ago by a group of idealistic young Catholics who devoted themselves to helping the underpriviliged in the slums surrounding Rome. Taking up the Gospel injunctions to love your neighbour, help the poor and seek peaceful solutions to life's problems, they established schools, social support and other services.

Their commitment touched a chord and today there are thousands of members in chapters the world over. Headquarters remains in Rome near the Sant' Egidio parish, the founders' initial meeting place, and from which the organisation took its name.

Used to unsettling entrenched interests, the Community enjoys wide support in the Catholic Church, with Pope John Paul II singling it out on many occasions for praise and endorsement. This broad support is reflected in the range of groups helping to sponsor the Betti visit.

The Community of Sant'Egidio was founded in 1968 by ten high school students, headed by Andrea Riccardi. Its initial aim was to help the poor of Rome. Two years later it began to support migrants arriving from southern Italy.

In 1974, it opened a chapter in Naples to work towards relieving the problems and poverty in southern Italy following that city's cholera epidemic.

In 1976, it began to participate in international affairs. In response to an appeal by Dom Jaime Goncalves, Archbishop of Beira, the Community helped to mediate the at times bloody dispute between Renamo (the Mozambique National Resistance) and the Mozambique Government.

In 1980, the Community interceded on behalf of Christian villages to lift the siege mounted by Druse militia in the Chouf mountains in Lebanon.

In 1986 many members took part in the multi-denominational event convoked by Pope John Paul II in Assisi. It was following this that the Community of Sant' Egidio was recognised as a Lay Public Association within the Roman Catholic Church.

It has continued and expanded both its local and international efforts to this day.

For further information about the Betti visit or the activities of the Community of Sant' Egidio, contact Anthony Cappello (03) 9326 5757.

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