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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Apr-27-2010

By Catholic News Service


Deep poverty can be reversed, Catholic Charities USA president says

CLEVELAND (CNS) -- One-time industrial powerhouses such as Cleveland that have been hit hard by a long-term economic downturn can still see significant declines in poverty as long as appropriate measures are enacted by the federal government, the president of Catholic Charities USA said. Addressing the eighth in a series of regional leadership summits to discuss poverty as part of Catholic Charities USA's centennial celebration April 22, Father Larry Snyder said steps to provide affordable housing, encourage hiring, enact living wage laws and increase access to food, nutrition programs and health care are needed to lower the country's 13.2 percent poverty rate. Cleveland, which has topped the list of the nation's poorest cities twice since 2003, was targeted by Catholic Charities USA for one of the summits because of its many community-based programs involving poor and unemployed people. The summits are part of the agency's nationwide campaign to cut poverty in half by 2020. Previous summits have occurred in St. Paul, Minn.; Portland, Ore.; San Antonio; San Jose, Calif.; Atlanta; Albany, N.Y.; and Nashville, Tenn. Three more are planned, including April 29 in Chicago, June 17 in Newark, N.J., and Sept. 25 in Washington.

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Bishops ramp up efforts to mobilize church to support new arms pact

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Senate ratification of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is a moral imperative and a necessary step toward the eventual goal of total nuclear disarmament, Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien of Baltimore said. Speaking during an April 26 panel discussion on the ethics of President Barack Obama's nuclear weapons policy hosted by The Catholic University of America, Archbishop O'Brien urged senators to cast aside partisan differences and approve the START agreement, which calls for what he described as "modest reductions" in American and Russian nuclear arsenals. Signed April 8 in Prague, Czech Republic, by Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the START "follow-on" treaty calls for both countries to reduce their strategic arsenals -- weapons deployed on long-range missiles, bombers and submarines -- to 1,550 each. Under the previous START pact, which expired in December, both countries reduced their strategic arsenals to 2,200 weapons each. The Russian Duma also must approve the treaty, and from that point, both countries will have seven years to reach the agreement's targets. The archbishop's call is the most recent public step by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and church leaders to build support for the new round of nuclear disarmament among Catholics in church pews as well as across the wide gap separating Senate Democrats and Republicans.

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Parents in USCCB-commissioned poll express concern over media content

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Parents are concerned about the content of the media to which their children are exposed and are eager to exert more control over that exposure. Those are two principal findings in a national survey commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Parents are right to express concern about their children's exposure to media but have not historically displayed a willingness to follow through, according to Emory Woodard, an associate professor of communication at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. In the USCCB survey, dated March 2010 but not released until April 15, more than 80 percent of those who responded said they wanted to be able to control access to media content depicting sex, violence, illegal drug use, alcohol abuse and profane language. The survey, "Parents' Hopes & Concerns About the Impact of Media on Their Children," found that three-fourths of respondents say makers of media products should do more to help protect children from inappropriate media content, while 58 percent say government also should do more. Parents surveyed were asked about TV programs, TV ads, Internet sites in general, social networking sites, video games and cell phones. Seventy-two percent of respondents cited TV programs as something they were either "concerned" or "very concerned" about, followed by Internet sites (67 percent), TV ads (62 percent), social networking sites (59 percent), video games (57 percent), music (54 percent) and cell phones (43 percent).

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'Saviors in the Night' gets top award from Signis at film festival

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Dutch movie about German farmers who sheltered Jews during World War II won the Signis Award from Signis, the World Catholic Association for Communication, at Filmfest D.C. 2010, which concluded April 25. "Saviors in the Night," directed by Ludi Boeken, "celebrates the extraordinary courage of ordinary people who respond to their best selves in the worst of times," said a statement from the Signis jury that judged the film entries. The Signis jury also gave commendations to two other movies. One was "Mao's Last Dancer," directed by Bruce Beresford, perhaps best known for the movies "Driving Miss Daisy," "Breaker Morant" and "Black Robe." The jury said it was honored "for artfully reminding us of the power of music and dance to uplift the human spirit, and for its ability to draw people together across political divides. The film also celebrates the values of freedom and family love." The other commendation went to the Czech film "El Paso," directed by Zdenek Tyc. The film's documentary style, according to the jury, "captures the gritty reality of a widowed Romany mother of seven caught in the Czech social services system. While subject at times to racism and class discrimination, she is fiercely resistant to the gracious, persistent help being offered by 'gadjos.' The film champions compassion, community and hope without sentimentality."

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Priests must side with abuse victims, says seminarian in Vatican paper

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To emerge from the sex abuse crisis, priests must make it clear that they are on the side of truth and the victims of abuse, said an article in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano. The article, which appeared April 24, was written by Davide Russo, a young Italian seminarian studying at the Pontifical Regional Seminary in Molfetta, Italy. He said he and his fellow seminarians were "following with indignation and concern this sad affair" of revelations of the sexual abuse of minors by priests. "We friends at the seminary have often asked ourselves how all of this could have happened, how is it that the same person could first celebrate the sacred mysteries and then carry out such a serious crime, taking advantage of children who, by nature, need to be defended, safeguarded, welcomed and protected? All of this causes me discomfort and unease," he wrote. Russo said a defensive attitude against critics does not help the church. "Rather than side with those who feel sorry for themselves because they find themselves targeted by 'snipers,' concrete choices need to be made, credible signs that make it understood by everyone whose side we're on," he said. "Who has erred must pay. We are on the side of the truth, we take up the defense of the victims of these atrocities, we start with them, we take care of them. There is no other solution," he said.

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Catholic musician organizes concert to help Chilean quake victims

SANTIAGO, Chile (CNS) -- Within hours of the earthquake that leveled a wide swath of south-central Chile, Francisco Avello began reaching out to his musician friends about organizing a concert for the victims. As a working musician, Avello was familiar with the day-to-day challenges of the profession and had his doubts that others would be able to set aside busy touring and recording schedules. To his surprise, a dozen of the most sought after Catholic musicians from across Latin America told Avello to count them among participants in the United for Chile concert April 29. "The response has been overwhelming," Avello said of his peers. "But more than the money this concert will generate, it responds to a need our Chilean brothers have to feel supported." United for Chile is an initiative of the Catholic Church and is organized by Avello to join Latin American musicians with the goal of delivering a message of hope in the wake of the magnitude 8.8 magnitude quake in Chile Feb. 27. The concert is expected to draw about 2,000 people, and proceeds will help the reconstruction of the church's student housing in the south central town of Talca. "We all want to help, so when Francisco contacted me, I jumped at the chance," said Robert Leon, a Catholic musician from Ecuador. "This was also an opportunity to show our brotherhood with the Chilean community and unity among Catholic musicians."

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At funeral, Archbishop Borders celebrated as optimistic, faith-filled

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- In a funeral liturgy that celebrated his quiet optimism and selfless leadership, Archbishop William D. Borders was laid to rest April 23 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore. The liturgy attracted more than 1,000 mourners from across the archdiocese and around the nation, including about 200 priests and deacons, two cardinals and several archbishops and bishops. The congregation broke into spontaneous applause at the end of the celebration honoring the man who had been Baltimore's spiritual shepherd from 1974 until his 1989 retirement. Archbishop Borders, 96, died April 19 after a battle with colon cancer. In his homily, Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Del., remembered his friend as a giving man who cultivated talents in others. Bishop Malooly recalled that even though Archbishop Borders suffered physical ailments -- including ongoing back problems and a heart attack in his first year in Baltimore -- the archbishop never complained. "He was simple in the best sense of the word," said Bishop Malooly, a former auxiliary bishop of Baltimore, "direct, faith-filled, joyful. You couldn't rattle him because of his unshakable faith in the Lord."


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