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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jun-7-2011

By Catholic News Service

U.S.

Court declines to hear appeal of law on in-state tuition for immigrants

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. Supreme Court declined June 6 to hear an appeal of a decade-old California law that allows undocumented immigrants and others without state residency to attend college at in-state tuition rates. The action allows the policy to continue. Without comment, the court declined to hear the appeal of a November ruling by the California Supreme Court upholding the statute. The court often declines to intervene in issues until there are rulings from lower federal courts or state supreme courts that are in conflict on matters of federal law. Since January 2002, California has allowed students to pay lower in-state tuition if they graduated from a California high school after attending the school for three or more years. In the case of students without lawful immigration status, California requires them to file to legalize their status as soon as possible and requires that information about immigration status remain confidential. Eleven other states have similar laws. In Maryland, which passed its version this year, opponents are gathering signatures to put a question on the 2012 ballot seeking to repeal the law. Another 12 states explicitly refuse to allow in-state tuition for people who are not in the country legally. The California Supreme Court ruled that the law did not conflict with a federal prohibition on states granting residency status to undocumented immigrants, because it also allows U.S. citizens who meet its provisions to attend California colleges at in-state rates even though they lack state residency.

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Maryland Episcopal community says faith journey led to Catholic Church

BLADENSBURG, Md. (CNS) -- In the fall of 2009, Pope Benedict XVI issued an apostolic constitution called "Anglicanorum coetibus" to provide a means for entire Anglican parishes or groups to become Catholic while retaining some of their Anglican heritage and liturgical practice. That document "opened up a door that had previously been closed," said the Rev. Mark Lewis, rector of St. Luke Episcopal Parish in Bladensburg. At that same time, he had been studying a book on Catholicism and Anglicanism. After a long period of discernment, the Maryland congregation announced June 6 that it would seek entry into the Catholic Church. "I'm thrilled and tremendously humbled to take this journey with my people at St. Luke, and humbled that I could become a priest of the Roman Catholic Church," Rev. Lewis said in an interview with the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Washington Archdiocese. Ordained as an Episcopal priest in 2001, he has been rector of St. Luke since 2006 and hopes to begin the process to be ordained a Catholic priest. Members of St. Luke will begin formal preparation to be received into the Catholic Church, likely later this year. Patrick Delaney, a junior warden with the congregation, joined the rector in the interview, and said the community's taking that step reflected "the presence of the Holy Spirit at work." Prayer and study, not any controversies, led the congregation toward unity with the Catholic Church, Rev. Lewis said, when asked whether Episcopal doctrine on the priesthood or sexual issues had precipitated the move. Over the past several years, the Episcopal Church, the U.S. member of the Anglican Communion, has approved ordaining women priests and bishops, ordaining homosexuals and blessing same-sex unions. "Those issues on the priesthood and sexuality have been around. The real issue that drove us was our study of the Catholic faith," he said. "The more we looked at it and compared it to Anglicanism, we were drawn to the Church of Rome. It was a natural progression."

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Massachusetts diocese seeks prayers, assistance during tornado recovery

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (CNS) -- The powerful tornado that ripped through cities and towns in western Massachusetts "left debilitating aftereffects," said Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell said in a letter to all in the diocese. "We mourn those who were killed or injured even as we thank God that the toll in human life was not greater," he said. "The images of homes damaged or destroyed, of businesses wiped out, of institutions crippled, of mighty trees reduced to kindling, will long be seared in our memories." The death toll from the storm numbered at least four, and about 200 others suffered injuries. The bishop said the devastation to the diocesan buildings was "especially heartbreaking to the diocese." Diocesan ministries were especially hard-hit in one section of Springfield. Cathedral High School, St. Michael's Academy pre-school and middle school campuses and St. Michael's Residence for retired priests suffered significant damage. The tornado ripped apart homes, businesses, wooded areas and many, many lives. The chapel at St. Michael's Residence is now a pile of rubble. Windows were blown out of the residence and Cathedral High School's science wing. A large portion of the back wall of Cathedral's gymnasium collapsed and a portion of the roof of the school was torn off. A wall also was blown away at the rear of the pre-school. Diocesan spokesperson Mark Dupont said, "These facilities were hit very hard, nonetheless we are grateful that the injuries were minimal." Cathedral students ended their academic year with a final day of classes June 7 at Our Lady of the Elms College. Students from St. Michael's Academy Middle School division were to conclude their academic year at Western New England University in Springfield. St. Michael's Academy Preschool has been moved to the elementary school campus.

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WORLD

Meeting of bishops' representatives hear from sex abuse victim

ROME (CNS) -- For the first time, an international meeting of bishops' representatives heard testimony from a survivor of clergy sex abuse in an effort to help clerics be more aware of the impact of abuse and to show how the church can better help victims. The Anglophone Conference on the Safeguarding of Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults has been meeting since 1996, and this year organizers invited Colm O'Gorman, who was abused by a priest in the diocese of Ferns, Ireland, in the 1980s. Teresa Kettelkamp, head of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, told Catholic News Service it was critical for church representatives from countries where the abuse problem has not yet been fully addressed to hear directly from a victim so they can have a "fuller understanding of the seriousness of this issue. We can always learn more of how we can better help victims-survivors heal and find reconciliation, but actually hearing directly from them and the impact the abuse had on them is always very powerful." The conference met in Rome May 30-June 3. The conference is held in different countries each year.

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Vatican official says new UN protocol important tool for child rights

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A Vatican official encouraged passage of an international protocol that would give children a direct line of communication to local and international authorities when they are victims of violence or their rights are violated. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's envoy to U.N. agencies in Geneva, said the measure "will become a significant instrument of the human rights system." The document is an addition to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Archbishop Tomasi spoke of it June 6 in Geneva during a meeting of the Human Rights Council. The archbishop said that the protocol "provides a word of hope and encouragement to those children and those young people whose innocence and human dignity have been wounded by the cruelty that can be present in the world of adults." According to the Child Rights Information Network, a Britain-based advocacy network, children have the right under the Convention on the Rights of the Child to express their views and expect to be heard. However, a formal mechanism for the communication of complaints or accusations is lacking, and the new protocol would make it easier for children, or their representatives, to report human rights violations. Archbishop Tomasi said he hoped implementation of the protocol "may bring us closer to our ultimate goal: the unconditional preservation and respect of the dignity of every single person, woman or man, adult or child."

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Philippine prelates criticize Congress' decision to delay Mindanao vote

MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Church leaders have criticized Congress' decision to postpone August elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. "The law is not respected, and we, here in Mindanao, are not given the opportunity to choose our own leaders," said Bishop Martin Jumoad of Isabela, in Basilan province. "We want the elections and not the imposition of leaders," the prelate said. His remarks were reported by the Asian church news agency UCA News. On June 7, the Philippine Senate and House agreed to postpone the elections in the region to coincide with Philippine midterm elections in 2013. Proponents of the legislation said this allowed more time for the government-rebel peace process as well as allow time for reform in the region, site of decades of fighting by Muslim separatists. The Commission on Elections stopped preparing for the elections while it waits to see if the Supreme Court upholds or overturns the congressional decision. Auxiliary Bishop Jose Bagaforo of Cotabato said the principle of autonomy was violated with the vote and the decision would fuel protests in the region. Bishop Jumoad said the postponement of the elections will result in renewed political tension in the region. "The possibility of discontentment breeds lawlessness. ... If the heat is too much, the pressure cannot be controlled," the bishop said.

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Peruvian archbishop: President-elect faces dual challenge

LIMA, Peru (CNS) -- Peru's president-elect faces the challenge of maintaining investors' confidence in the country's growing economy while improving the lives of the millions of poor Peruvians, said the head of the Peruvian bishops' social action commission. Ollanta Humala, who was elected in a close race June 5, must implement policies that "not only recognize the value of the country's riches, but also recognize the value of the defense of life, human beings and the environment," Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo told Catholic News Service. "Democracy has allowed the cry of the poorest Peruvians to be heard," Archbishop Barreto said. "Professional people who have a faith commitment must now carry out their mission to help the new government seek a new development model that is inclusive, integral and characterized by greater solidarity." Humala, a retired army officer making his second run at the presidency, narrowly defeated Keiko Fujimori, whose father, former President Alberto Fujimori, is serving a 25-year prison sentence for human rights violations and corruption. On June 7, with 96 percent of the votes counted, Peruvian election officials gave the left-leaning Humala 51.6 percent of the vote to the more conservative Fujimori's 48.4 percent. The two went to the runoff after three other candidates split the moderate vote in the first round of voting April 10. Humala ran on a platform of economic restructuring with more equitable redistribution of wealth. Keiko Fujimori's supporters warned that if Humala won, investors would flee, reversing the country's recent economic boom.

- - -

PEOPLE

Catholicism prominent in public life of Canada's new House speaker

OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) -- The newly elected speaker of the House of Commons, Andrew Scheer, 32, has never hidden his Catholic faith from public life. But the Saskatchewan representative's stands on issues have not given him a reputation for divisiveness. Instead, his record helped him make history as the youngest man to be elected to the leadership role that comes with huge responsibilities and accompanying perks. Scheer was elected June 2 after seven hours of voting on a field of eight candidates. The speaker only votes on issues in the event of a tie. "I have often said that we are all motivated by the same thing," Scheer told the House after the final ballot. "We may disagree fundamentally on issues and ideas, but we all do sincerely want Canada to be the best country it can be. I have come to appreciate that on a personal level with each and every member." Campaign Life Coalition has rated him pro-life and pro-family based on his voting record and public statements. For instance, Scheer, speaking about the bill to change the definition of marriage, told the House it was "abhorrent to me, to other Catholics and to every member of every faith community."

- - -

Erlandson elected president of Catholic Press Association

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Veteran journalist Greg Erlandson, president and publisher of Our Sunday Visitor, has been elected president of the Catholic Press Association. In ballot results announced June 2, Robert DeFrancesco, associate publisher of The Catholic Sun in Phoenix, was elected vice president. Mark Zimmermann, editor of the Catholic Standard in Washington, also was nominated for the position. Franciscan Father Pat McCloskey, an editor at St. Anthony Messenger and a longtime educator, also was nominated for the president's post. Matthew Schiller, business/advertising manager at Catholic New York, is the association's new treasurer and Malea Hargett, editor of the Arkansas Catholic, was elected secretary. Erlandson has held editor positions with Our Sunday Visitor and its publishing division and worked for Catholic News Service in its Rome bureau from 1986 to 1989. Previously, he was news editor of the National Catholic Register when it was based in Los Angeles. Officers are elected by members to two-year terms. Their terms begin at the close of the Catholic Media Convention, which is being held June 22-24 in Pittsburgh.

- - -

Kansas man, 75, walks 8,000 miles to show solidarity with the poor

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Seventy-five-year-old Bob Hentzen, the president and co-founder of the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, ended his 17-month, 8,000-mile walk across 12 countries to show solidarity with the poor June 6. "I think walking is a natural outcome from the concept of getting close to God's people," Hentzen told Catholic News Service via Skype June 3. Hentzen, a former Christian Brother, began his journey in Guatemala Dec. 29, 2009. Speaking to CNS from Chile, Hentzen said he would reach Valparaiso, Chile, his final destination, on time. Hentzen's walk, Walk2gether, covered 12 countries in Latin America; he crossed the Andes mountains at least three times. His goal was to gain sponsorship for a child for each mile he walked in one of 22 countries served by the foundation, which is based in Kansas City, Kan. Along the way, Hentzen visited and walked with some of the 182,000 families helped by the foundation. While Hentzen's goal of gaining 8,000 sponsors had not been reached, he earned support for more than 5,000 children. He told CNS that his goal was to reach as many as possible. "Numbers haven't been that important to me."

END


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