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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Nov-2-2007

By Catholic News Service


News reports about abuse in public schools are wake-up call, say some

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A recent series by The Associated Press illustrating the "widespread" extent of sexual abuse in the nation's public schools and the failure of those in authority to stop it is a serious wake-up call for the nation say some officials. "The results are shocking, real and, sadly, not surprising," said Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of St. Paul and Minneapolis about the three-part AP series on abuse published in late October. He praised the wire service for doing a "a huge service to the nation by undertaking and publishing this study," but added that the series alone is "just the first step." In a column published in the Nov. 1 edition of The Catholic Spirit, his archdiocesan newspaper, Archbishop Flynn said he would like to see a comprehensive study of sexual abuse in public schools similar to the studies conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice for the U.S. Catholic Church. He also urged the groups that worked with the church after the clergy abuse scandal broke in 2002 to "dedicate their time and resources on the deeply entrenched problem of sexual abuse in our public schools."

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Catholics gather for special Mass in Oklahoma dedicated to immigrants

TULSA, Okla. (CNS) -- On the night before one of the nation's toughest immigration policies took effect, an estimated 1,500 Catholics gathered for a special Mass dedicated to immigrants at St. Francis Xavier Church in Tulsa. The Oct. 31 Mass was celebrated by Tulsa Bishop Edward J. Slattery who opposed the bill even before it was passed by the Oklahoma Legislature last spring. The measure was signed into law by Gov. Brad Henry in May; it took effect Nov. 1. Bishop Slattery spoke in Spanish to the packed and solemn congregation the night before All Saints Day. Loudspeakers broadcasted the Mass and homily to hundreds more who listened outside. "I would like everyone here to know that my prayers are with you, with your families, your children and all those whose lives are being undermined as a consequence of those inhuman laws which are taking effect this night," Bishop Slattery said. The Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act of 2007 makes it a felony to knowingly harbor or transport an illegal alien and creates specific barriers to hiring illegal immigrants. It requires proof of citizenship to obtain certain government benefits and requires all state agencies and contractors to check the immigration status of all workers after July 1, 2008.

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Bishops urge Congress to continue to support Mexico City policy

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ran ads in four publications on Capitol Hill Oct. 30 and 31 to urge members of Congress to continue to support the so-called Mexico City policy, which does not allow federal funds to go to agencies that perform and promote abortion as a family planning method in developing countries. The full-page ads, paid for by a grant from the Knights of Columbus, appeared in Roll Call, The Hill, CQ Daily and Congress Daily AM. They coincided with a hearing held Oct. 31 by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to look into the policy's "impact on family planning and reproductive health." The Mexico City policy, instituted in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan, was so named because it was announced at the U.N. International Conference on Population held that year in Mexico City. It was rescinded by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and reinstated by President George W. Bush in 2001 in one of his first acts as president. The policy is "currently under attack," according to a Nov. 1 USCCB release about the ads.

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Months after Peruvian quake, cities see little progress in rebuilding

PISCO, Peru (CNS) -- At first glance, Freddy Sanchez appears to be one of the lucky ones. When a magnitude 8 earthquake struck this fishing port, his house remained standing while many of his neighbors' homes and the church across the street collapsed. But his luck may be running out. Government officials have said that the soil in the beachfront neighborhood where he lives is unstable, and they might prohibit rebuilding there. Officials have not talked with residents, however, and rumors are rampant. "This is where my great-grandparents, my grandparents and my parents lived," he said of the Pisco Playa neighborhood. "I have title to this land, and they can't force me to move." Sanchez's neighborhood has no running water, and the sewers have backed up, creating a foul-smelling puddle at the end of the street that draws flies and mosquitoes.

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Peruvian Catholic university shares designs to strengthen adobe homes

PACHACUTEC, Peru (CNS) -- Higinia Rupay remembers her terror as the ground began to heave and bricks from the neighbor's wall crashed through the flimsy roof of her home. She rushed into the street, fearing that her simple adobe house would not withstand the magnitude 8 earthquake that struck Peru's southern coast Aug. 15. By the time the tremors stopped, many houses in this tiny farming community, about 150 miles south of Lima, had been reduced to rubble. Hers showed no damage, but like most of her neighbors, she was hesitant to go back inside. Her granddaughter was braver. "She said, 'Grandma, the house doesn't have any cracks -- I'm going to sleep in my room,'" Rupay said. The secret to the house's strength is hidden in the walls, where researchers from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru are testing a system that uses wire mesh to reinforce the corners of the building, typically the weakest part of an adobe house.

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Vatican official hopes Olympics in China will promote rights, peace

UNITED NATIONS (CNS) -- A Vatican official said he hoped the 2008 Olympic Games in China would help promote international peace and respect for human rights. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, addressing the U.N. General Assembly Oct. 31, said the Vatican views the Olympics as an important moment of dialogue that can help countries bridge political and other differences. "Dialogue and encounter through sport hold great potential in the area of peacebuilding and conflict prevention," said Archbishop Migliore, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations. "While the rule of law and justice remain the foundation of durable peace, sport provides the tool for warring factions to come together for a common purpose," he said. The archbishop noted that Beijing will host the 2008 games, and that the world is already preparing for the event. He said one lesson of the Olympics is that the important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle.

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Jesuit: Globalization is not just economics, it's also about ethics

TORONTO (CNS) -- If globalization is necessary and inevitable, then economic progress everywhere is connected ethically to development in countries like Zambia, said a prominent U.S. Jesuit. True globalization is not just economic, Jesuit Father Peter Henriot, director of the Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection in Lusaka, Zambia, told audiences in Canada as they marked the 40th anniversary of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. He said if Canadians look at today's economy through the eyes of Catholic social teaching, they will embrace globalization. "It's beyond the economic and political interdependence," he said. "We're ethically interconnected." Father Henriot said when he arrived in Zambia 19 years ago, life expectancy in the landlocked, southern African country was a rather dismal 52 years. Today, life expectancy of Zambians is about 37 years. While Zambia's life expectancy has dropped, the country's economic indicators, such as gross domestic product and investment, are looking up.

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Pray for the dead in case they're in purgatory, says Vatican official

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While Christians should hope that their deceased loved ones are in heaven, they must pray for them in case they are in purgatory, said Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze. Vatican Radio asked the cardinal, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, about a frequent comment at funerals that the deceased is now with God in heaven. "The people present at a funeral have no authority to canonize anyone," the cardinal said in the interview broadcast Nov. 2, the feast of All Souls. "They can hope that the person has arrived in the house of the Father in heaven, but it is just as possible that the person is in purgatory," he said. "Only God knows if that person is already in heaven; we cannot know and, therefore, we pray for that person because he could be in purgatory. However, if the person already is in heaven, God certainly will use all of those prayers for another person," Cardinal Arinze said.

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Party of five: Quintuplets bring couple joy, teach lesson in patience

OLATHE, Kan. (CNS) -- It takes a village to raise a child. When Kate and David Brooks found out they were expecting for the second time, they had no idea how true those words would become for their family. Shortly thereafter, the couple found out that Kate was carrying not one, but five babies. Quintuplets." It was shocking, numbing, and exciting all at once," said Kate. "The first two weeks after we found out about the pregnancy were overwhelming. I kept thinking, 'What am I going to do?'" The options given to the Brookses, who were already parents to 1-year-old Mallory, were to reduce the pregnancy to two or three babies, terminate the entire pregnancy or carry the pregnancy as it was to term. The doctors gave them a few weeks to make a decision. Kate said one Sunday at church she just knew the answer." This is what I'm supposed to do. I'm supposed to be a mom of six kids," she said. "This is my mission."

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Alabama bishop praises movie 'Bella' for being about real life

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CNS) -- Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham is urging Catholics in his diocese to see "Bella," a movie which he has seen three times and said he found "more thought provoking" each time. "This is the kind of movie that should reflect a people's choice judgment rather than the typical movie reviewer's opinion. So, people get out and see this movie, preferably today, if possible," he said in an Oct. 29 commentary on the film. The movie, which opened nationwide Oct. 26, tells an unconventional story about a young unmarried woman who finds out she is pregnant and her friend who makes sacrifices for her and convinces her to have the baby. The female character, Nina, is an unwed restaurant waitress who gets fired from her job the morning she confirms she's pregnant, only to have the restaurant's best cook, Jose, abandon his own duties and hang out with her throughout the day. "The movie powerfully and, I believe, credibly unravels the woundedness of both Nina and Jose and underscores the difficulty people have who face the prospect of giving birth to a child born out of wedlock, if no one is there to help that person," he said.


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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