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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Aug-8-2006

By Catholic News Service

U.S.

Holy Family Sisters recommit to New Orleans poor after hurricane

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- Despite being hit by the "full force" of Hurricane Katrina, the Sisters of the Holy Family of New Orleans pledged to continue their work for the poor there and challenged civic leaders "never to commit the errors and the misjudgments of the past" as they rebuild. About 100 members of the order recommitted themselves to work among the poorest of the poor at their quadrennial general chapter in New Orleans in July. "Today, we Sisters of the Holy Family find ourselves at a place in time similar to that of our foundresses" Henriette Delille, Juliette Gaudin and Josephine Charles in the early 20th century, they said in a "post-Katrina declaration" approved at the general chapter. "The sufferings and ills of today may have a different face, but the pain is as intense and severe as during their day," they said. Seven of the nine institutions -- orphanages, schools and homes for the aged and infirm -- operated by the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans were completely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina last year, with losses estimated at more than $18 million.

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Bishop asks for 'new culture of life' as Montana execution approaches

HELENA, Mont. (CNS) -- Days before one of Montana's four death-row inmates was to be executed, Helena Bishop George L. Thomas asked the state's citizens and the governor to "take the road less traveled" and dismantle the death penalty. In an opinion piece published Aug. 6 in the Helena Independent Record daily newspaper, Bishop Thomas said that although the facts surrounding the crime for which David Thomas Dawson was sentenced to death engender little public sympathy for him Christians are obliged to look at the situation through a different lens. Dawson, 48, was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Aug. 11, after he gave up on appeals and attempted to fire the two attorneys who have been trying to stop his execution. He was convicted in 1987 of three counts of murder and four counts of aggravated kidnapping. He murdered David and Monica Rodstein and their 11-year-old son, Andrew, after kidnapping the family from a Billings motel during a robbery. The couple's daughter, Amy, then age 15, was later found alive by police.

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Focus on faith of young adults is at center of national conference

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) -- According to participants at the third National Catholic Young Adult Conference in San Francisco, the Aug. 4-6 gathering provided a heady mix of learning, faith-sharing and fun experiences for young adults around the country as well as those who work in young adult ministry. This mix was captured in a lively BustedHalo.com podcast featuring Paulist Father Dave Dwyer and co-host Mike Hayes during a lunch break Aug. 5. "We try to cover the basic questions related to faith in a relevant and entertaining way," said Father Dwyer, director of Paulist Young Adult Ministries and publisher of BustedHalo.com, an online magazine for people in their 20s and 30s. Hayes is BustedHalo's managing editor. He also gave the keynote address on the first day of the conference, which was held at the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco.

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Catholic Web sites for singles unite Catholic couples

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The use of Catholic singles' Web sites has risen dramatically since the genesis of such sites in the late 1990s, helping many who are looking for friendship, a date, marriage or even support with religious discernment. Catholic singles who become members of these sites create profiles and can elect to meet potential partners or friends in a specific area or age range or according to other defining characteristics. Chris Jones, from Elizabethtown, Pa., and Marjorie Faia, from Williamstown, N.J., met as members of CatholicMatch.com, and they are getting married next May. After talking online for a month, Jones, with his friend, and Faia, with her sister, went on a bowling date. To "make sure we were normal guys," Jones said, he went to Faia's house with his friend before the date started to meet Faia's mother. Upon her approval, the group went bowling. The evening ended with ice cream at a Friendly's restaurant and a game of foosball at Faia's house. Faia, a student at LaSalle University in Philadelphia, was persuaded to use CatholicMatch.com by her mother, who saw an advertisement for it in Faith & Family magazine.

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Agape Community promotes simple living, tries 'energy fast'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Members of a Catholic community in the Diocese of Springfield, Mass., who follow a Franciscan way of life added another element to living simply this summer -- they went on an energy fast, spending three days without using any fossil fuels. While the energy fast was a voluntary act, Casey Stanton, a summer intern at Agape Community who will be a senior in the fall at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, said, "For people all around the world, this isn't a choice. Our energy fast was an act of solidarity with their suffering in such a small, small way." The mission of Agape Community in Ware, Mass., includes simple living and promoting nonviolence. It was founded in Brockton, Mass., in 1982. Co-founders Suzanne Belote Shanley and her husband, Brayton Shanley, moved the community to its current location in 1987. In addition to a main house, Agape has a second building on its 34-acre property. It is a straw-bale structure fueled by solar power, has a compost toilet and wood cooking and heating stoves.

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WORLD

Jesuit: Wars will persist if Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A cease-fire may stop the immediate destruction in Lebanon, but new wars are bound to erupt in the region as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues, said a church expert on the Middle East. Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir, an Egyptian-born expert on Islam who teaches in Beirut, Lebanon, said a long-term solution must include Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state, Arab recognition of the state of Israel, and the disarming of all militias, including Lebanese-based Hezbollah. "What is needed is the courage to find a definitive solution. This problem has been going on for decades, and it's like a cancer that keeps changing forms," Father Samir wrote in a commentary published Aug. 5 by AsiaNews, a Rome-based missionary news agency. Father Samir said Hezbollah should have been disarmed years ago, in line with U.N. resolutions, but the organization has gained popular support largely because of the expansionist policies of Israel.

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Iraqi children receive first Communion amid sounds of gunshots, bombs

ROME (CNS) -- The children of Holy Spirit Parish in Mosul, Iraq, received their first Communion Aug. 4 to the sounds of gunshots and bomb blasts. Father Ragheed Ganni, pastor of the Chaldean Catholic parish, told the Rome-based AsiaNews that the day was marked by "immense joy" that 80 children had completed their preparation for the sacrament, but also "terrible panic" over renewed fighting in their neighborhood. The priest said the celebration began at 7:30 a.m. and the church was packed. "Suddenly we heard explosions and shots close to the church," he said. "Although people are used to it and remained reasonably calm, they started to wonder whether they were going to make it back to their homes or not. I was aware of the immense joy of the 80 children receiving their first Communion, so I turned the subject into a joke and said to them, 'Do not panic, these are fireworks. The city is celebrating with us,'" the priest told AsiaNews in the Aug. 7 interview.

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Cardinal urges Catholics in India to have more children

NEW DELHI (CNS) -- While the population control lobby in India is clamoring for stringent measures to curb population growth, a cardinal has urged Catholics to have more children. "In pursuit of their selfish joys, even those who can afford to bring up children do not want them," said Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, head of India's Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, in a pastoral letter. "There is sin and injustice to society behind the decision of not having children by those parents who have the means and normal health." Cardinal Vithayathil said in the letter, which is to be read Aug. 13 in the 25 dioceses of the Eastern Catholic church, that "those who have the means should come forward to have more children and bring them up. Responsible fatherhood and motherhood demand this." Cardinal Vithayathil told Catholic News Service Aug. 7 from his office in Cochin, India, that even rich Catholic families do not have more than two children. Despite calls for population control measures, Cardinal Vithayathil said, "The size of the family should be determined by the couple and not by the state or any other force."

- - -

Nine months after Pakistani quake, housing remains a problem

BARI BANDA, Pakistan (CNS) -- A rock as big as a sport utility vehicle smashed Abdul Qazzum's house last October when a massive earthquake shook the villages that cling to the side of the Sirian Valley as it reaches into the foothills of the Himalayas. The rock remains today where it fell; Qazzum admits it would be impossible to move it. But life goes on for Qazzum and his family, centered on a new home they built alongside the old one. Qazzum's new house, one of 20,000 shelters built by earthquake survivors with assistance from Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' international relief and development agency, does not have the time-worn solidity of the old house. The new house was built in a hurry as winter threw a blanket of snow over the valley. Yet Qazzum says it kept his family alive and able to remain for the winter in their home village instead of fleeing to nearby cities like Mansehra, where sprawling tent cities housed hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the disaster. "It's a place for us to start anew," Qazzum told Catholic News Service. "As soon as we can, we're going to add on another room and a kitchen."

- - -

Cultural issues complicate quake reconstruction in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNS) -- As residents of Pakistan's rugged northern mountains continue to recover from the earthquake that shook the region last October, new fault lines have emerged in the political and cultural landscape, complicating the challenge of reconstruction. The quake seemed to do the most damage in communities where traditional culture holds tremendous power over people's daily lives, where women pass their days secluded from public life and where representatives of Western aid agencies are looked at with suspicion. Nongovernmental organizations operating in the quake zone have security officers who hang around mosques on Fridays to listen to the preaching of Islamic fundamentalist leaders, some of whom lead organizations that are officially banned by the government because of terror links. In a March report, the independent nonprofit International Crisis Group claimed the government's tolerance of the banned groups has "empowered extremists" and could "further undermine the prospects of democratization in Pakistan."

- - -

PEOPLE

U.S. Jesuit resigns as head of Jamaican diocese for health reasons

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Bishop Gordon D. Bennett, a U.S.-born Jesuit, has resigned as bishop of Mandeville, Jamaica, for health reasons. Bishop Bennett, who will turn 60 in October, has headed the Mandeville Diocese since September 2004. The Vatican announced his resignation Aug. 8. Father John P. McGarry, provincial of the Jesuit California province, to which Bishop Bennett is attached, said in an e-mail to province members that Bishop Bennett "will be returning to California for medical assessment and treatment for fatigue and depression." Msgr. Michael Palud, Mandeville diocesan vicar general under Bishop Bennett, told Catholic News Service that Bishop Charles H. Dufour of Montego Bay has been named apostolic administrator of the Mandeville Diocese.

- - -

Patrick Brannigan named New Jersey Catholic Conference director

TRENTON, N.J. (CNS) -- Patrick J. Brannigan has been named executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference, the Trenton-based public policy arm of the state's Catholic bishops. He succeeds William F. Bolan Jr., who recently announced his retirement as executive director after 22 years of service to the organization. Brannigan, who brings some 40 years of experience in higher education and state government administration to his new post, served most recently as deputy chief of management and operations for the New Jersey governor's office. "We believe he will serve the conference and the New Jersey bishops well as we seek to maintain a strong, solid voice in the shaping of laws and policies that deal ethically, fairly and justly with everyone in our society," said Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, who announced Brannigan's appointment July 25.

- - -

Chicago cardinal returns to intensive care to monitor minor bleeding

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George returned to intensive care at Loyola University Medical Center Aug. 5, after some bleeding was discovered as he recovers from cancer surgery. On July 27 Cardinal George, 69, had a five-hour operation to remove his bladder, prostate gland and sections of his ureters -- the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder -- at the hospital in Maywood, Ill. Just before midnight that night, he went back into surgery after his blood pressure became unstable; doctors found a small bleeding artery and closed it off. A few days later he was moved to a general medical/surgical wing. On Aug. 5 the Archdiocese of Chicago announced in a brief statement that the cardinal had that morning undergone an upper endoscopy and other tests to investigate what was described as "usually minor" bleeding that tends to stop on its own. As of early Aug. 8 he was still in intensive care.

- - -

Peruvians watch to see if new president will keep promises

LIMA, Peru (CNS) -- As the excitement of inauguration day faded and the new government got down to work, Peruvians were watching to see if President Alan Garcia would keep the promises he made in his inaugural address. Garcia, who took office again July 28 after governing the country from 1985 to 1990, immediately sent several clear signals to his constituents. He appointed six women to his Cabinet and decreed a decrease in public officials' salaries, setting his own at about $4,850 a month and legislators' salaries at about $4,700 a month. Garcia's first presidency was marked by political violence, hyperinflation and long lines for staples such as bread and sugar. After his first Cabinet meeting July 30, he announced other austerity measures and took steps to speed up the way customs officials handle items donated to organizations in the country. Austerity, social programs such as health care and education, and combating poverty were recurring themes in Garcia's inaugural address.

END


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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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