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from Photographers' Blog:

Stop the parade! The croc hunt must go on

It was Easter Holy Week and I headed over to the small village of Ortega about 325 kilometers (203 miles) north of the Costa Rican capital, San Jose.

My expectation for the trip was to cover the festivities of Good Friday from an entirely different angle from the way the rest of the world celebrates it.

This town has a Good Friday tradition: go hunt down a crocodile. A group of 30 men go in the river La Palma, pounding through the water in search of a crocodile. Meanwhile, a kilometer ahead, another group waits with nets to trap the big critter.

As this unfolds, hundreds of people from all over the country stand along the banks of the river to watch the hunt.

from FaithWorld:

Cuba’s Catholic Church to open first new seminary in decades

havana cathedral (Photo: Havana's Catholic cathedral, June 14, 2010/Desmond Boylan)

The Roman Catholic Church will open on Wednesday its first new seminary in Cuba in more than half a century in a further sign of its improving relations with the island's communist-led government.

The seminary replaces a similar school for future priests that was  expropriated by Cuba's communist authorities in 1966 and transformed first into a military barracks, then a police academy.

from FaithWorld:

Analysis: Catholic Church raises hopes of role in Cuban change

cuba 1The Roman Catholic Church has won praise for securing the release of political prisoners in Cuba, raising hopes it can do more to broker reforms on the communist-ruled island and perhaps even help improve U.S.-Cuba ties.

Sidelined for decades by the communist authorities until Pope John Paul II's visit in 1998, the Church has now carved out a visible role as an interlocutor with the government, and as a possible catalyst of change.

from FaithWorld:

Vatican official visits Cuba amid local Catholic Church calls for change

cuban prisonerVatican Foreign Minister Archbishop Dominque Mamberti visits Cuba this week at a time when the Catholic Church is flexing its political muscle and calling for change on the communist-led island.  His five-day visit, starting on Tuesday, follows the release of one of Cuba's estimated 190 political prisoners and the transfer of 12 others to jails closer to their homes in moves requested by church leaders.

The concessions by the Cuban government have raised hopes that more prisoners will be freed in a gesture to Mamberti, who is the third Vatican official to come to Cuba since Raul Castro succeeded older brother Fidel Castro as president in 2008.

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