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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jan-10-2006

By Catholic News Service


Maryland governor allots $4 million for program in nonpublic schools

DUNDALK, Md. (CNS) -- In a Jan. 5 assembly at a Catholic school in the Baltimore Archdiocese, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announced he will allot $4 million in the state budget for the funding of the textbook and technology program in nonpublic schools. The figure represents a $1 million increase from last year, but is $2 million short of what had been requested by Catholic school leaders and Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore. "To make education work in Maryland, we need to have a very strong public school system," Ehrlich said at the assembly at Our Lady of Hope-St. Luke School in Dundalk. "We need to have a very strong parochial school system and we need a very strong private school system. They're all complementary. The state should help -- and it does." Ronald J. Valenti, superintendent of Catholic schools, said he was "very grateful" that nonpublic school students will continue receiving funding for nonreligious textbooks and technology, but he was "a little disappointed" that funding is "still far below" the $6 million allotted when the program began in 2001.

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U.S. court upholds verdict finding Salvadorans liable for abuses

ATLANTA (CNS) -- A federal appeals court has upheld a $54.6 million jury verdict against two retired military officers from El Salvador holding them liable for human rights abuses in their home country during the 1980s. The defendants -- Jose Guillermo Garcia and Carlos Vides Casanova -- served as Salvadoran officials during a 12-year civil war in the Central American country. They were accused in a civil suit by three Salvadoran plaintiffs who said they were tortured by military personnel during the time the two generals were in office. "Our victory in this case is a victory for the entire Salvadoran community. This decision from such an important U.S. court sends a strong message to the Salvadoran military that they will not get away with their crimes," said Neris Gonzalez, one of the plaintiffs. Gonzalez was a catechist and environmentalist in El Salvador when she was arrested and tortured for organizing human rights groups and organizations defending natural resources. She eventually moved to the United States.

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Cardinal Rigali asks Senate to reject House immigration bill

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia has asked the Senate to reject a House-passed immigration bill that stresses law enforcement to prevent illegal immigration. "A more comprehensive and humane approach to immigration reform" is needed, he said in a Jan. 9 statement. The Senate should support legislation "that reforms all aspects of our nation's immigration system, not simply law enforcement," he said. The statement was issued to coincide with National Migration Week, celebrated Jan. 8-14 this year by the U.S. Catholic Church. The cardinal urged the Senate to consider legislation that would allow the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. to legalize their status. This would be an "earned legalization" program that would require immigrants "to work for up to six years before applying for legal permanent residence," he said. "Earned legalization is not amnesty," he said.

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Alito's longer paper trail gives senators much material for questions

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the second Supreme Court nominee in five months faced the Senate Judiciary Committee in early January, Judge Samuel Alito Jr. encountered a hearing markedly more skeptical in tone than the one now-Chief Justice John Roberts sailed through in September. Contributing to the difference were Alito's lengthier record of judicial opinions and a perception -- described by several Democratic members of the committee -- that Alito would be more judicially conservative than Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whom he would replace. One key area on which committee members focused in opening remarks and early questioning was Alito's writings on abortion, including his 1985 application to become deputy assistant attorney general, in which he said he personally strongly believed in the government's position that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion."

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San Antonio Catholics lead retreat for peers in Honduran archdiocese

SAN ANTONIO (CNS) -- The San Antonio Archdiocese has been providing spiritual, social and material help to the people of its sister Archdiocese of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, since Hurricane Mitch dealt a blow to the Central American nation in 1998. Each January, the U.S. archdiocese takes up an annual collection in January to benefit its Honduran counterpart. The multipurpose Centro San Antonio there includes a day care and nutrition center, runs a variety of programs and offers courses in job skills for adults and children. But a new chapter in the San Antonians' outreach was started this past fall when 26 of them, including Auxiliary Bishop Patrick J. Zurek, led a special retreat for 45 Honduran men. Called an ACTS retreat -- an acronym for adoration, community, theology and service -- it is directed primarily to those within a parish to help them enter into a new or deeper relationship with God and fellow parishioners. Founded in San Antonio in 1987, the retreat sprang from the Cursillo movement, which seeks to promote individual and organized apostolic action.

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Parish giving goes electronic

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As Americans move increasingly to an electronic economy, Catholic parishes are finding that many of their members prefer making their regular parish offerings by credit card or electronic cash transfer. W. Brian Walsh, founder and president of Faith Direct, said that typically about one-fifth of envelope holders sign up for electronic giving within the first year after a parish offers that option. Faith Direct, based in Alexandria, Va., is one of several U.S. firms that help churchgoers do a better job of stewardship by committing themselves to an automatic monthly bank account deduction or credit card charge for support of their church. "Most people are accustomed to monthly charges" for financial transactions ranging from mortgages and car payments to utility bills and credit card bills, Walsh said.

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Entries for Archbishop O'Meara awards due by Feb. 28

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Feb. 28 is the deadline for entries in the 2006 competition for the Archbishop Edward T. O'Meara Awards, presented annually by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith to honor writing about the missions. Writers for Catholic newspapers are eligible in five categories: visits to the missions, involving trips to the missions by newspaper staff; interviews with missionaries visiting the U.S.; news events from the missions; mission series, involving two or more articles about a specific mission country or aspect of missionary work or life; and original promotion of World Mission Sunday 2005, in cooperation with the diocesan Propagation of the Faith director. Diocesan directors are eligible for awards based on a single article about the missions or for promotion of World Mission Sunday through the diocesan newspaper. Writers for Catholic magazines are eligible for an award honoring the best single article with a worldwide missionary theme. More information is available online at: www.worldmissions-catholicchurch.org.

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EU panel expresses concern over doctor's right to object to abortion

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Criticizing a proposed treaty between the Vatican and Slovakia, a European Union advisory panel said there are limits to a doctor's right to conscientiously object to performing abortions. In mid-December, the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights said conscientious objections cannot be allowed to prevent women from having an abortion when the procedure is legal. In its 41-page report on conscientious objection clauses in Vatican treaties, specifically looking at the proposed treaty with Slovakia, the panel also said such provisions could be seen as granting special status to the Catholic Church and its members in violation of national, European and international laws. The network, an advisory body whose opinions are not binding, was established by the European Commission, an administrative body of the European Union. The commission asked the network to study the Vatican-Slovakian concordat.

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Empty hospital beds in Rwanda show cholera epidemic is fading

KIGALI, Rwanda (CNS) -- Many of the beds set up to deal with a cholera epidemic at the Masaka Health Center are empty. But Joyce Ngoma, a nurse at the church-supported health center on the outskirts of the Rwandan capital, said the empty beds are a recent development. "The other day it was full," she said Jan. 10 while taking a break from treating some of the more seriously ill patients at the health center. A deadly cholera outbreak hit Masaka Dec. 29 and was declared an epidemic by the Rwandan Health Ministry Jan. 2. The outbreak, which has since spread to surrounding areas and reportedly as far away as Ruhengeri in Rwanda's northwest, killed nearly 20 people. None died at the Masaka Health Center. At the height of the outbreak, Ngoma said, the Masaka Health Center filled all 250 beds set up to deal with the outbreak. On Jan. 10, there were only 25 cholera patients, and only four were dehydrated enough to require intravenous fluids.

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German bishop withdraws priest's license to teach theology

COLOGNE, Germany (CNS) -- A German priest suspended for celebrating a high-profile Mass where he invited non-Catholics to partake of the Eucharist has had his right to teach theology withdrawn by his bishop. Father Gotthold Hasenhuttl released a letter dated Jan. 2 from Bishop Reinhard Marx of Trier, who said that Father Hasenhuttl's recent writings "have made it clear that you are not prepared to give way, that you consider your view to be correct and that you see no reason to bow to the ecclesiatical discipline on the issue which led to your suspension." Father Hasenhuttl, who was a professor of systematic theology at the University of the Saarland until his retirement in 2002 and who still teaches there occasionally, was suspended from the priesthood in 2003 after he invited the participation of non-Catholics in a Mass he celebrated on the fringes of an official ecumenical church day in Berlin.

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Lebanon's bishops urge government leaders to strive for stability

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNS) -- Lebanon's Maronite Catholic bishops urged government officials to work toward strengthening stability in the country and said recent allegations about Syria's involvement in the assassination of a former Lebanese leader demonstrate the strong influence Syrian intelligence and military have wielded in Lebanon. "The series of bomb explosions and assassinations which occurred in Lebanon last year spread a heavy atmosphere of fear and caution throughout the country," said the Maronite Council of Bishops in a statement following their monthly meeting. "The Lebanese authorities should exert their utmost to resolve this atmosphere, which has greatly damaged the country on all levels, especially the economy." The bishops also referred to the recent statements made by a former Syrian vice president alleging that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad had personally threatened former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri before Hariri's assassination. The bishops said the allegation "brought to light the great effect which the Syrian military and intelligence presence had in shaking the bases upon which stands the Lebanese state. Nevertheless, it is a statement which should inspire the authorities in both countries to establish true relations that will yield a benefit for both peoples."

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Bishop McAuliffe, retired bishop of Jefferson City, dies at 85

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CNS) -- Retired Bishop Michael F. McAuliffe of Jefferson City died in his sleep Jan. 9 in the Jeanne Jugan Home of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Kansas City. He was 85. His successor, Bishop John R. Gaydos, described Bishop McAuliffe as "a gentle man of God" and said "it was in keeping that he gently slipped the traces of this earthly existence." His funeral Mass was scheduled for Jan. 14 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Jefferson City, followed by burial in Resurrection Cemetery, also in Jefferson City. A priest of the Diocese of Kansas City, later renamed the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, Bishop McAuliffe headed the Jefferson City Diocese from 1969 until his retirement in 1997. Although he headed a relatively small diocese, with about 90,000 Catholics, Bishop McAuliffe became nationally known when he chaired the U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Women in Church and Society from 1974 to 1982.

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Catholic parents renovate house to raise school funds

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- Besides the usual auctions and candy sales, St. Luke School in Woodburn has added real estate as a fundraiser. Along the way, school parents and members of St. Luke Parish have generated a stronger sense of community. It started last fall when parishioners Monica and Mark Nyman, temporarily flush with cash from the sale of a Willamette Valley farm, bought a $92,000 house as an investment. Experienced homebuyers and renovators, the couple asked other parents to volunteer to help rehabilitate the three-bedroom house, a mile from the church. When they resold the home early in December, their profit of $30,000 was donated to the school. The money likely will go to student financial aid. "It was kind of a fun thing," Monica Nyman told the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Portland Archdiocese. She is on the school's fundraising team and husband Mark serves on the school advisory council.

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Pope appoints new archbishop for Winnipeg Ukrainian Catholic Church

OTTAWA (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a new archbishop for the Ukrainian Catholic Archdiocese of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Ukrainian Bishop Lawrence Huculak of Edmonton, Alberta, has been appointed the Ukrainian archbishop of Winnipeg. "I'm quite honored to have been chosen for this," Archbishop Huculak said in a telephone interview from Edmonton Jan. 9. His installation will take place Feb. 11 at Sts. Volodymyr and Olga Cathedral in Winnipeg. The worldwide head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Kiev-Halych, Ukraine, will officiate. Archbishop Huculak will replace Ukrainian Archbishop Michael Bzdel, who formally requested retirement following his 75th birthday July 21.

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Bishop Wuerl elected chairman of NCEA board of directors

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Bishop Donald W. Wuerl of Pittsburgh has been elected to a three-year term as chairman of the board of directors of the National Catholic Educational Association. When he begins his term in April, he will succeed Bishop Gregory M. Aymond of Austin, Texas, who had held the post since 2002. In a statement, Bishop Wuerl said Catholic education "has played a significant role in the United States, exercising an extraordinary impact on the life of individuals, the church and our society." He said it would be "a privilege and joy to serve as NCEA's board chairman and work with all to continue the important contributions that the NCEA makes to so many."


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