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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS May-10-2007

By Catholic News Service

U.S.

Religious groups launch sanctuary program for immigrants

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- With immediate plans to shelter families in Los Angeles, New York and San Diego, an interfaith coalition calling itself the New Sanctuary Movement announced plans to try to protect families from deportation in churches and other faith-affiliated places around the country. Following the example of the 1980s church-based network that sheltered Central American immigrants who sought refuge from civil wars at home, the New Sanctuary Movement hopes to enlist religious congregations around the country to publicly shelter people who are at risk of deportation. The organization is particularly focusing on "mixed-status" families, or those that include a combination of people who are in the country illegally and legal residents or U.S. citizens. "Our concern is the separation of families, the anguish and suffering they endure under the current law that doesn't have a heart," said Father Juan Carlos Ruiz, a New Jersey priest who is founding director of Asociacion Tepeyac, an immigrant community services agency in the Bronx borough of New York City. Press conferences announcing the launch of the New Sanctuary Movement were held in New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago and Seattle.

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Spokane parishes start to raise $10 million for abuse claims

SPOKANE, Wash. (CNS) -- Parishes of the Spokane Diocese have started local fundraising campaigns to raise $10 million collectively as their contribution to the diocese's $48 million clergy sexual abuse settlement with 180 victims. In an assessment based on parish income, two of the largest parishes, St. Mary in Spokane and St. Patrick in Pasco, are responsible for raising more than $600,000 each, according to a parish-by-parish listing in the May 3 issue of the Inland Register, the Spokane diocesan newsmagazine. In an article in that issue Father Steve Dublinski, diocesan vicar general, explained that part of the settlement approved April 24 by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams includes a diocesewide reorganization of the parishes. "The parishes of the diocese will cease being unincorporated associations which cannot by law hold their own property and will incorporate as nonprofit, nonmember corporations," he wrote. "The parish will now own and hold its property. Who owns parish property will never again be a question."

- - -

Metuchen Diocese named as one of top 100 adoption-friendly workplaces

METUCHEN, N.J. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Metuchen has been named one of the 100 best adoption-friendly workplaces in the United States for 2007 by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. The diocese was recognized as 92nd best among small, medium and large employers and industry leaders, and fourth best among nonprofit organizations, the foundation announced May 1. "We are pleased to assist families as they respond to God's call to love and discipleship," said Metuchen Bishop Paul G. Bootkoski. "Adoption is the deliberate choice families make to extend the natural boundaries of their family. "The church is grateful for these parents who are generously giving their children not only the gift of their hearts but the gift of faith in Jesus Christ," he added. "Families are all part of God's plan. We see the adoption program as another way to help families live out their vocation as God intended." According to diocesan officials, the Diocese of Metuchen was the first Catholic diocese in the United States to provide adoption assistance to employees when it unveiled its program in November 2005.

- - -

WORLD

Vatican tones down papal remarks on pro-abortion Catholic politicians

SAO PAULO, Brazil (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI's comments on excommunication for pro-abortion Catholic politicians touched on huge and sensitive issues -- so sensitive that the Vatican issued a toned-down version of his remarks the following day. Speaking with journalists on the plane taking him to Brazil May 9, the pope left the impression that he agreed with those invoking excommunication for Catholic legislators in Mexico City who had voted in April to legalize abortion. When reporters pressed the pope on whether he supported the excommunication of the Mexican deputies, he answered: "Yes, this excommunication was not something arbitrary, but is foreseen by the Code (of Canon Law). It is simply part of church law that the killing of an innocent baby is incompatible with being in communion with the body of Christ." Referring to Mexican bishops, the pope continued: "Therefore, they did not do anything new, surprising or arbitrary. They only underlined publicly what is foreseen in (canon) law, a law based on the church's doctrine and faith, on our appreciation for life and for human individuality from the first moment." On May 10, the Vatican press office released the official transcript of the pope's 25-minute session with reporters. The pope's opening "yes" to the direct question about excommunication had disappeared, and so had the references to Mexican bishops.

- - -

British church leaders acknowledge ups, downs of Blair's service

LONDON (CNS) -- Church leaders in the United Kingdom acknowledged the ups and downs of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's decade in office. While they commended Blair for helping to secure peace in Northern Ireland, church leaders also raised questions over the wisdom of taking Great Britain to war in Iraq. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said in a statement May 10 that he recognized the "serious divisions of opinion on the war in Iraq," but added that "history will make a better judgment than today." Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor thanked Blair "for his dedication and whole-hearted commitment to the service of his country." However, the bishops' Catholic Agency for Overseas Development said Blair had failed to meet expectations in the fight against extreme poverty. The British government under Blair delivered more aid and worked to use it more effectively, but ultimately "delivered generosity but not justice," CAFOD said in a statement.

- - -

Chinese Catholic immigrants build a new life in Canada

RICHMOND, British Columbia (CNS) -- Attend Mass at Canadian Martyrs Church in Richmond and there's a good chance that not only will the congregation be Chinese, but so will the liturgy. All but one of the weekend Masses in the parish are in Cantonese or Mandarin, a reflection of the growing Asian face of Greater Vancouver, which now has the highest percentage of people of Chinese heritage of any North American city. Chinese-Canadians make up 16 percent of the population in the region, and in Richmond the percentage is even higher, with 36 percent of the population claiming Chinese heritage. Canadian Martyrs is one of several parishes in the Archdiocese of Vancouver that offer Mass in Chinese. In the brief decade since the parish was established, Canadian Martyrs has gone "from zero to abundance," said the pastor, Father Paul Chu. The parish mission, he said, has always been to give parishioners a strong home base from which to connect to the wider community. "We have been blessed by the Holy Spirit to be a place of welcome for our entire community," he said.

- - -

New wave of mainland Chinese challenges church in Toronto area

TORONTO (CNS) -- Earlier this year, a young Chinese man approached Redemptorist Father Peter Chin and asked him if he were a Catholic priest. When Father Chin said "Yes," the young man unburdened himself of a secret he had carried across an ocean and through 12 time zones. Before the young man left his village in China's Fujian province, his grandmother had taken him aside and whispered in his ear that when he got to Toronto the first thing he had to do was find a Catholic priest and tell him he was a baptized Catholic. Like many Fujianese, the young man's family has been Catholic since the first wave of missionaries hit the Chinese coast in the 16th century. Through nine or 10 generations, through the official disapproval of the Qing Dynasty and the official atheism of the communist revolution, Fujianese Catholics kept the faith. When the government established the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in 1957, Fujianese took their faith underground rather than accept public separation from the worldwide church. Before he was bound for Canada, the young man had never known about his secret baptism -- his grandmother had wanted to ensure that he was eligible for heaven. As he left for the West, the grandmother wanted him to learn about his spiritual heritage.

- - -

Irish court rules 17-year-old girl can travel abroad for abortion

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) -- The High Court in Dublin has ruled that the country's health authorities have no right to stop a 17-year-old girl from traveling abroad for an abortion. The case arose when the girl -- known only as Miss D, a ward of the court -- learned that the child she is carrying suffers from anencephaly and would have a life expectancy of just a few days outside the womb. Anencephaly is a head disorder caused by a neural tube defect, resulting in the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull and scalp. Medical experts say the life prognosis after birth for babies with anencephaly is a maximum of three days. Ireland is one of the only countries in Europe where abortion remains illegal. Miss D was expected to travel to neighboring Britain for an abortion. Ireland's Health Service Executive had sought the support of the Irish police force to keep the girl from leaving the country to seek an abortion elsewhere. A lower court had ruled that it could not give permission for the girl to travel.

- - -

To attract young people, win them with warmth, says Brazilian priest

SAO PAULO, Brazil (CNS) -- On the Sunday evening before Pope Benedict XVI arrived, more than 100 young people and a sprinkling of older people crowded into a small church, singing and clapping as the music of guitars, bass and drums drifted out into the street of their working-class neighborhood. About 50 young people had just finished an all-day retreat as part of their confirmation preparation; others were regular participants in parish youth activities, including the pizza supper that followed the Mass. Several times during the May 6 liturgy, Father Cilto Rosenbach led the young people in collective prayers for youth, at one point having them repeat "God created me to be happy." In a country of 188 million people in which about one-quarter of the population is between ages 15 and 29 and the 19 percent youth-unemployment rate is double the level for adult workers, that message is sometimes hard to reinforce. For parishes, the key is "for young people to evangelize young people," Father Rosenbach said.

- - -

Enthusiastic Brazilian youths welcome pope with song, dance, prayers

SAO PAULO, Brazil (CNS) -- A stadium full of enthusiastic Brazilian youths welcomed Pope Benedict XVI with song, dance and prayers, in the most animated event of his Latin American visit so far. Some 40,000 young people crowded into the Paulo Machado de Carvalho soccer stadium for the papal encounter May 10, and others spilled out into the Pacaembu neighborhood of Sao Paulo. Cheers rang out as the pope, smiling and waving, rode his popemobile through the stadium and arrived on a white stage built in the shape of a dove. The youths began streaming into the area many hours before the pope arrived for the evening encounter. Nineteen-year-old Emanuel Vega, who had spent four days traveling from Mendoza, Argentina, with nine friends, said they had come to see the pope because "for us he is Christ on earth."

- - -

Pope, Brazilian president discuss youths, family, social concerns

SAO PAULO, Brazil (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva discussed youths, the family and social concerns when they met May 10. Before the meeting, some analysts speculated that the president would try to steer the conversation away from abortion, which was in the news in Brazil in the days before the pope's visit. A Vatican spokesman said the issue did not come up during the meeting, which lasted more than half an hour and was attended by first lady Marisa Leticia da Silva. The pope expressed his hope that a concordat, an agreement on church-state relations, would be signed during his pontificate and the president's term in office. However, da Silva reiterated his commitment to a lay state. According to local media, Vera Barrouin Machado, Brazil's ambassador to the Vatican, quoted da Silva as saying, "It is our intention to preserve and conserve the lay state, with religion as a tool for addressing spiritual matters and social problems." Machado noted that otherwise there was "great harmony" between the pontiff and the president.

- - -

PEOPLE

Mexican bishop says he's been threatened for helping victims of rape

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (CNS) -- A Mexican bishop said he has been threatened for advocating on behalf of 13 women allegedly raped by Mexican soldiers. Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo, known as a champion of indigenous and other human rights, said he has been "under pressure and receiving threats not to get involved in the case" of the sex-trade workers who said they were raped last July. Bishop Vera, whose diocese is in northern Mexico, said that he has received phone calls at home in the middle of the night. One of the calls told him to "be extremely careful," he said, adding that another spoke of sending him a ticket for a journey "to the other side." Bishop Vera responded to journalists' questions at a May 9 press conference about migration at ITESO, a Jesuit university in the Guadalajara area. The victims claimed the rapes occurred in July in Castanos, a town near Monclova, a steel-producing center approximately 120 miles south of the Texas border. The alleged attackers in Castanos were guarding ballots after the disputed July 2 presidential election.

- - -

Arab-American group honors Cardinal McCarrick for his work for peace

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, received a top honor from an Arab-American civic and political organization for his work of supporting human rights and social justice measures. He was awarded the Kahlil Gibran "Spirit of Humanity" Award for individual achievement by the Arab American Institute Foundation at an April 25 gala dinner in Washington. James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute, told about 800 gala attendees that Cardinal McCarrick not only served his own community while he was archbishop of Washington, but he also spoke out against war and was an advocate for several issues including Palestinian rights, an Israeli-Palestinian peace, immigrant rights and Muslim-Christian dialogue. "Not fearing controversy, he has always chosen to do what is right, serving the powerless who needed protection and a voice. His work and life have been exemplary," Zogby said.

- - -

Catholic advertising giant W. King Pound dies at 82

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- W. King Pound, who obtained national ads for Catholic newspapers and magazines during most of his 57-year career in advertising, died May 8 at his home in Baltimore. He was 82. A memorial service was to take place May 15 at Loudon Park cemetery in Baltimore, with interment to follow July 3 at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Pound started his career in the Catholic press at The Catholic Review, Baltimore archdiocesan newspaper, and helped found the Catholic Standard newspaper in the Washington Archdiocese in 1951. He served as advertising manager and later general manager of the Washington newspaper. "We've lost one of our founding fathers," said Mark Zimmermann, current editor of the Catholic Standard. "King Pound played a key role in our paper's growth and development, serving as the paper's advertising director for decades. We owe him a great debt for his dedicated service to our readers."

END


Copyright (c) 2007 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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