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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jun-14-2010

By Catholic News Service


Pope is focus of 2010 clergy sex abuse scandal stories, Pew study finds

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI figured in more than half of all of the stories published in print or carried by broadcast news earlier this year regarding the clergy sexual abuse scandal, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. Unlike the 2002 spate of coverage on clergy sex abuse, which had its epicenter in the Archdiocese of Boston, coverage in the six weeks during March and April examined by the study was greater in Europe than in the United States, as newspaper and broadcast stories focused principally on incidents in Ireland and the pope's native Germany. An April poll by the Pew Research Center found that just 12 percent of those polled said Pope Benedict had done a good or excellent job in addressing the scandal, down from 39 percent in 2008, when the pope visited the United States and had an unscheduled meeting in Washington with victims of clergy sexual abuse. Those who said the pope had done a poor or fair job went up from 48 percent in 2008 to 71 percent in 2010. The findings were part of a report, "The Pope Meets the Press: Media Coverage of the Clergy Abuse Scandal," published June 11 by Pew. Coverage of clergy sexual abuse placed eighth in total coverage, accounting for 2.1 percent of all news coverage during the March 12-April 27 period studied, more than nuclear weapons policy coverage and that of the Tea Party movement.

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Webinar explores ways church can respond to mentally ill young people

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The best way church ministry leaders can help a young person struggling with mental illness is not to try to save them but to work to put them in a position where they can save themselves, said panelists at a June 10 Webinar sponsored by the National Catholic Partnership on Disability. Linea Johnson, a recent college graduate from Seattle who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and Robert McCarty, executive director of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry in Washington, agreed that empowerment and communication are crucial in helping young people with mental illness find their way. "The bottom-line resource is the relationship you have formed with this young person," said McCarty, urging those who work with youths to practice "the ministry of wasting time" and to cultivate "the skill of creative loafing." Only that way will youth leaders find "opportunities to pick up what's really going on in a young person's life," he said. Moderated by Paul Myers, director of the University Health Center at the University of Portland and staff psychologist for the Northwest Catholic Counseling Center in Portland, Ore., the Webinar drew participants from more than 200 sites around the United States. The interactive nature of the Webinar allowed participants to report back to the organizers on their own experiences in dealing with youths and young adults experiencing problems that might be related to mental illness.

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Emerging voices influence evolution of 21st-century Catholic theology

CLEVELAND (CNS) -- Shifting demographics within the Catholic Church are allowing new voices to emerge to help guide the development of Catholic theology, several theologians said during the 65th annual convention of the Catholic Theological Society of America. The voices shaping theology include those of women and African, Latin and Asian cultures, providing for a deeper understanding of what the Scriptures can mean to a church that has been dominated by European theological interpretations for centuries. Extending in many cases from broad experiences of witnessing or performing ministry in marginalized and poor communities both in the United States and around the world, these emerging voices are widening traditional theological thought while building recognition that diversity will strengthen the church as it faces growing challenges in the 21st century. The effort is allowing Catholics of all walks of life to "tap into the universal human experience," said Father Bryan Massingale, associate professor of theology at Marquette University, who ended his term as CTSA president June 13 during the organization's convention. "We're trying here to create a Catholic theology that is no longer a European or Eurocentric Catholic theology," Father Massingale explained. "The way I put it we're trying to create a Catholic theology that is truly Catholic, truly universal. And if we're going to be Catholic, genuinely universal, then inclusion is not something of political correctness. Inclusion is a requirement of our faith."

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CTSA explores how U.S. bishops' economic pastoral has fared since 1986

CLEVELAND (CNS) -- Economic globalization has meant that the U.S. bishops' 1986 vision that moral principles guide economic decisions so that each person has the basic necessities of life remains an elusive goal in rapidly changing world, a Jesuit priest said at a session during the Catholic Theological Society of America's annual convention. Father David Hollenbach, director of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College, told about 40 people that the world's economy has been altered by globalization and poses far different challenges than the bishops envisioned in their 24-year-old pastoral letter, "Economic Justice for All." Father Hollenbach said: "This challenge remains as demanding and controversial today as it was when the (bishops') document first appeared." The Jesuit's remarks were made during the first of three annual discussions sponsored by the CTSA related to the letter's 25th anniversary in 2011. Future programs examining the pastoral letter will occur at the 2011 and 2012 CTSA conventions. Although Father Hollenbach credited the development of global markets for the decline in the overall number of people worldwide living in extreme poverty from 1.9 billion in 1981 to 1.4 billion in 2005, such progress has been felt in far too few countries. He expressed particular concern for countries of sub-Saharan Africa, where extreme poverty has remained unchanged for decades. Extreme poverty is defined as living on less than $1.25 a day.

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Archbishop says efforts to stop AIDS must include value-based approach

UNITED NATIONS (CNS) --People must be equipped "with more than knowledge, ability, technical competence and tools" to truly combat "the deeper causes" of AIDS and provide "loving care" to those who have it, the Vatican's U.N. nuncio said. Archbishop Celestino Migliore urged more attention and resources be dedicated to "a value-based approach grounded in the human dimension of sexuality, that is to say, a spiritual and human renewal that leads to a new way of behaving toward others. The spread of AIDS can be stopped effectively, as has been affirmed also by public health experts, when this respect for the dignity of human nature and for its inherent moral law is included as an essential element in HIV prevention efforts," he said. The archbishop made the comments June 9 during a daylong review by the General Assembly of international efforts to fight AIDS and HIV. The world leaders were told that progress is being made, but that the epidemic continues to outpace global response. Archbishop Migliore said the Vatican is also concerned about an apparent gap in available funding for antiretroviral treatment for the poor and marginalized groups. He said health care providers associated with Catholic-run agencies in Uganda, South Africa, Haiti, Papua New Guinea and elsewhere have reported they are being told by international donors not to enroll new patients into current programs. These providers have also expressed concern "about further cutbacks even for those already receiving such treatment," he said.

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Rustenburg bishop keeps humor after vuvuzelas keep him up all night

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- The sound of vuvuzelas made for a sleepless night for Rustenburg's bishop as soccer fans watched, then celebrated the U.S.-England tie, and a Detroit-born priest now working in rural South Africa cheered the U.S. performance. Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, who lives less than a mile from the 44,000-seat Royal Bafokeng Stadium, said there was "an incredible sense of celebration" among local residents and visiting fans, who included U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Rustenburg, a mining town in North West province whose name means "Town of Rest" in Afrikaans, is one of the smallest of the nine cities hosting the World Cup. "It is amazing that sport is able to unite the nation like this, and I hope we can build on this spirit of unity when the tournament is over," said Bishop Dowling in a June 13 telephone interview. He laughed as he told of the sound of thousands of people blowing one-meter-long plastic horns and depriving him of sleep. Vuvuzelas are said to be based on kudu horns and rooted in African history. Mariannhill Father Casimir Paulsen, a Detroit priest who has worked in southern Africa for more than 40 years, said he was "very happy" with the U.S. performance against England, though he said he "did feel sorry for England's goalie," Robert Green, whose fumble helped the United States tie the June 12 game, 1-1.

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Pope asks more prayers for priests, cites beatification of two laymen

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The benefits the Year for Priests brought for priests, for the church and for the world cannot be measured, but they will be evident for years to come, Pope Benedict XVI said. Speaking during his midday Angelus address June 13, two days after he formally closed the Year for Priests, the pope said the year's events were a reminder that "the priesthood is a gift from the heart of Christ, a gift for the church and for the world." Thanking God for "all the benefits this year brought to the universal church," he said that "no one would ever be able to measure them, but certainly we can see its fruits and will see even more. Let us continuing to remember all priests in our prayers, thanking Christ for this great gift of his love and asking him to keep them in his grace as faithful friends and ministers." Pope Benedict also used his Angelus address to draw Catholics' attention to the recent beatification of two laymen. Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, presided over the beatification June 12 of Manuel Lozano Garrido, a journalist who lived in Spain 1920-1971 and was paralyzed for the last 26 years of his life. The ceremony was in Linares, Spain.

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Put people at center of economic policies, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said the current economic crisis has highlighted the need for European financial institutions to place people at the center of their policies and practices. "Economics and finance do not exist for themselves, but are mere instruments or means. Their end is solely the human person and his full realization in dignity. This is the only capital worth saving," the pope said June 12 to members of the Council of Europe Development Bank. The bank was established in 1956 as a development tool with a special focus on helping refugees and later expanded its efforts to include other social areas. The pope praised the bank's work and said members must keep in mind that it exists primarily to promote solidarity -- a goal that goes beyond economic profit and that includes a "space for gratuity." The pope encouraged the rediscovery of Europe's rich tradition of "economic experiences based on brotherhood. There are enterprises that have a social purpose or are mutual benefit institutions. They have suffered under the laws of the market but wish to rediscover their original strength of generosity," he said.

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Pope asks Vatican diplomats to be bridge to local church communities

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said the Vatican's diplomats have a difficult and unique job because they must act as his spokesmen to governments and local church communities. The diplomats are called upon to clearly enunciate the Vatican's positions, but in a way that allows them to be a bridge between local communities and the Vatican, he said. The pope made the remarks June 14 to students and faculty of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the school where Vatican diplomats are trained. The Vatican diplomats, who are all priests, typically work at the Vatican or in embassies around the world. The pope said their task includes several important dimensions. First, Complete personal unity with "the person of the pope, his magisterium and his universal ministry." Unlike other forms of diplomatic representation, representing the pope is never just an external or impersonal duty, he said. Second, a passion for communion in the church, as a daily priority. Third, the capacity to act effectively as a channel of communication between the Vatican and the local church community. The pope said a papal representative must be able to work in two directions. On one hand, he needs to provide the pope and his collaborators with "an objective, accurate and in-depth view of the ecclesial and social reality" in the country where he is stationed.

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Chinese Catholics criticize lack of church help after factory suicides

HONG KONG (CNS) -- Catholic employees at a Foxconn electronics factory in Shenzhen, China, have criticized a lack of church support for migrant workers following a string of suicides since January. The Asian church news agency UCA News reported that some migrant workers from the company, which produces the iPhone and other products for Apple, have set up their own online mutual support site in the wake of at least 13 suicides or attempted suicides at the firm. They were joined by Catholics working in other Shenzhen factories. Catholics at the firm have little contact with local Christians. "I am unfamiliar with the local environment and know few parishioners, as I sometimes have to work Sundays," said a person identified only as Chen, a Catholic layman who works for Foxconn. In the absence of the local church support, Chen and about 30 other Catholics set up the online forum. A priest identified only as Father Joseph, from the Catholic parish in Shenzhen, admitted his church needed to mobilize the faithful to care for migrant workers. "Our action has been slow, probably due to immaturity of our faith formation," he told UCA News. However, local Catholics do have a sense of social concern, he said.

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Bishop killed in Turkey buried in Italy; motivation for murder unclear

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bishop Luigi Padovese, an Italian who served in Turkey and was murdered there, generously witnessed to the Gospel and untiringly worked to promote dialogue, said a papal message to those attending the bishop's funeral. Stabbed to death -- and, reportedly, almost decapitated -- by his driver, Bishop Padovese died June 3 in Iskenderun, Turkey, his residence as apostolic vicar of Anatolia. The driver, Murat Altun, confessed to the murder, although there were still many conflicting stories about why he did it. Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi of Milan presided over Bishop Padovese's funeral June 14 in the Milan cathedral. The bishop was born in Milan 63 years ago and was buried in the cemetery of the Capuchin order to which he belonged. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, sent Pope Benedict XVI's condolences to those attending the funeral and said the pope "joins all those present in commending the noble soul of this beloved pastor to the infinite mercy of God and in giving thanks for his generous witness to the Gospel and for the firm commitment to dialogue and reconciliation that characterized his priestly life and his episcopal ministry." In his homily, Cardinal Tettamanzi said Bishop Padovese was like the Gospel's grain of wheat that dies to bring new life. "A grain of wheat that silently bears fruit was what Father Luigi was in his incessant efforts to construct spaces of dialogue and encounter between cultures, between religions and among Christians themselves," the cardinal said.

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U.S. recognizes French Dominican for work against trafficking in Brazil

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The State Department has recognized a French Dominican friar as one of nine "TIP Heroes" for his efforts to combat a form of modern day slavery -- human trafficking -- in Brazil. U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca praised Dominican Brother Xavier Passat for his "courageous leadership" and "intrepid advocacy for enforcement of laws" at a June 14 news conference to release the State Department's 2010 Trafficking In Persons Report. Brother Passat began working in northern Brazil in 1983 with the Brazilian bishops' Pastoral Land Commission, which works with the rural poor. In 1997 he became the coordinator of the organization's National Campaign Against Slave Labor, which denounces forced labor, gathers and publishes data about the issue and pushes for legal enforcement and public policy to eradicate the crime. As head of the campaign, he coordinates a nationwide network of volunteers that also provides freed laborers with rehabilitation services, job training and employment. He has been honored by Brazilian organizations for his work. The 177-country Trafficking In Persons Report focuses on governments' efforts to fight human trafficking.

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Maryland Catholic parish rooting for one of its own in World Cup

DAMASCUS, Md. (CNS) -- When the U.S. men's national soccer team took the field in South Africa June 12 to face England in the World Cup, parishioners from St. Paul Parish in Damascus were rooting for one of their own. Defender Oguchi Onyewu, 28, attends Mass at St. Paul when he is home with his parents, Peter and Dorothy Onyewu. He and his teammates tied, 1-1, against England in the teams' opener June 12. The United States was to play Slovenia June 18. The soccer player's family has belonged to the parish in suburban Washington since 2004, said Sherrie Wade, parish director of social concerns. He comes from a family of five -- he has two brothers and two sisters. "It's very obvious their faith is important to them," Wade added. Wade recalled a gathering at the Onyewu home two years ago, when more than 100 people from the parish attended, including children who brought soccer balls for Oguchi to autograph. The soccer standout was "very kind, very patient with all the parishioners," Wade recalled in an interview with the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Washington Archdiocese. On a recent Sunday, Father Joseph Pierce, St. Paul's pastor, announced that Onyewu would be participating in the World Cup. "Now there is a lot more interest and excitement in the community," the priest noted. He also urged the parishioners to pray for Onyewu as well as cheer for him.

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Gingriches' film on Pope John Paul II made as an 'act of devotion'

SAN DIEGO (CNS) -- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich seems to be everywhere these days. Turn on the Fox News Channel and you'll find the former Republican congressman providing analysis of current political events. Stroll through the local bookstore and you'll come across copies of his more than 20 books, including the recently released "To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine." On top of it all, he is considering a run for the presidency in 2012. And in early June, Gingrich and his wife, Callista, were in Warsaw, Poland, and then Rome for the debut of their new documentary, "Nine Days That Changed the World." It chronicles Pope John Paul II's nine-day pilgrimage to Poland in 1979 and examines the event's significant role in the fall of Soviet communism. "If you look at most of the secular history of the period, they don't cover the impact of the church," Gingrich said in a May 24 telephone interview with The Southern Cross, newspaper of the Diocese of San Diego. The couple made the documentary "almost as an act of devotion," Gingrich said. He explained that the idea for the film came about while he and Callista were interviewing various Cold War icons for an earlier documentary on former President Ronald Reagan. The couple planned to discuss the film and other religious-themed projects of theirs when they address the Mother of Life Conference in San Diego Aug. 14.


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