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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jul-18-2012

By Catholic News Service


Community garden ministry addresses temporal, spiritual needs

CEDAR LAKE, Ind. (CNS) -- What might seem to some as merely an opportunity to play in the dirt, for the Holy Name community garden ministry, it is a way to bring Catholic social teachings to life in a practical way. When Nan Onest, pastoral associate at Holy Name, heard about a similar community garden project sponsored by a church in Chicago, she felt it was something the parish community might fully embrace. "Care of the earth is one of the seven principles of Catholic social teaching and I saw this as an 'outside-of-the-box' teaching moment," Onest told the Northwest Indiana Catholic, newspaper of the Gary Diocese. At least 12 volunteers stepped forward to help in the initial stages. That number continues to grow, according to Onest. With the blessings of Franciscan Father Ed Tlucek, pastor, a 1,000-square-foot plot of land on the parish campus was originally designated for the project. That, too, has increased, Onest said. Vegetables, ranging from tomatoes to peppers, beans, carrots, cabbage, onions, cucumbers, radishes and assorted herbs, are being grown as organically as possible. "Everything is more nutritious fresh out of the garden," noted Tom Lautenschlager, one of the founding members of the group. Lautenschlager started many of the seedlings planted by the group from seed at home. Other parishioners were encouraged to pick up a packet of seeds from the back of church and do likewise. "Think about the yield you can get out of a packet of seeds," Lautenschlager said. "This is a very inexpensive project with the potential for a high yield."

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Kansas Catholic Charities agencies launch healthy marriage campaign

WICHITA, Kan. (CNS) -- A new Catholic-run Kansas public awareness campaign to promote healthy marriages and relationships also can help build stronger families, said the executive director of Catholic Charities in the Wichita Diocese. "Relationships impact the daily fabric of our society. The services we offer provide tangible tools for individuals that enhance the way they interact with everyone in their lives, not just their spouses or partners," Cynthia Colbert said in announcing the campaign. Catholic Charities affiliates in the dioceses of Wichita, Salina and Dodge City and the Archdiocese of Kansas City have launched "Love Letters from Kansas," a public awareness campaign that includes English- and Spanish-language television and radio spots, news stories, promotional materials and a website, www.KansasLoveLetters.com. The statewide effort is being funded by a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded last October. With the grant, the "Love Letters" campaign expands on an existing Catholic Charities' Marriage for Keeps program that focuses on stabilizing families in crisis and strengthening families for life. The expanded campaign provides programming for singles, dating couples, engaged couples as well as married couples from all faiths and backgrounds throughout the state. "As the Holy Father says, we serve out of our Catholic faith," Colbert told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview July 17. "That's our strong social mission," she added, regardless of the faith of those served and "whether the church is providing, shelter, food or counseling."

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Federal judge in Nebraska dismisses one lawsuit against HHS mandate

LINCOLN, Neb. (CNS) -- A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services' mandated contraceptive coverage under the new health reform law July 17, saying it was "based on layers of conjecture." U.S. District Court Judge Warren K. Urbom ruled that the seven states and various other individuals and groups that filed suit in February against the mandate had failed to show that their health insurance plans would not be grandfathered -- and therefore not exempt from the requirement. Joining the attorneys general of Nebraska, South Carolina, Michigan, Texas, Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma in the lawsuit were a Catholic nun, a lay missionary working with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, Pius X Catholic High School in Lincoln, Neb., and the Omaha-based Catholic Mutual Group, a self-insurance fund that covers more than 125 dioceses or archdioceses and 200 Catholic religious congregations in the U.S. and Canada. Spokesmen for several of the attorneys general said they were considering whether to appeal Urbom's ruling. The dismissal does not affect more than a dozen lawsuits brought in May by 43 dioceses and Catholic organizations nor another 10 suits brought by various Catholic and Protestant colleges, organizations or employers. The diocesan lawsuits have continued to add plaintiffs since their filing, with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago joining July 9 with the dioceses of Joliet and Springfield, Ill., and their Catholic Charities agencies and Wheaton College, an evangelical liberal arts college in Illinois, signing on July 18 to a lawsuit that includes the Archdiocese of Washington and The Catholic University of America.

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Crowds flock to New Jersey tree with a scar some claim resembles Mary

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A scar on a tree on a West New York, N.J., street that some claim looks like Our Lady of Guadalupe is "a natural occurrence," said Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the Newark Archdiocese. But he told Catholic News Service he hopes the devotion it has prompted might lead people to think more deeply about their faith. Crowds began to form at the site July 14. News reports indicated that hundreds of people have come to the site, now dubbed the "Virgin Mary tree." Located on the corner of 60th Street and Bergenline Avenue, the tree has been taped off and is under watch by city police and volunteers. "What we can say is that it was looked at by one of the priests in the area. It's deemed to be a natural occurrence in a tree," Goodness told CNS in a telephone interview July 17. "It does have some of the markings of the overall outline of the icon. We are just hoping that when people speak to the priests that they can get guidance ... in terms of looking for this as an opportunity for finding a deeper meaning of faith," he added. Other news outlets reported that the tree site and those gathering around it have caused unrest in the neighborhood, including bickering that broke out when a passing jogger declared the tree "idolatry." Shop owners say they are concerned about how the crowds are affecting business.

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Jesuit expelled from Syria says country needs regime change

ROME (CNS) -- Italian Jesuit Father Paolo Dall'Oglio was expelled from Syria in mid-June after he intensified his public calls for democratic change in the country. "The blood on the ground must be respected and religious leaders must speak out," Father Dall'Oglio told Catholic News Service in Rome July 18. The Jesuit had been based in Syria for 30 years, and since 1982 had been restoring an ancient monastery in the desert and forming a religious community dedicated to Christian-Muslim dialogue and harmony. With the priest back in Italy and with Syria embroiled in violence, the Mar Musa monastery continues to operate "normally -- or as normal as possible in Syria today," he said. Since he was kicked out of the country June 16, fighting has spread to Damascus, the Syrian capital, "which was to be expected," he said. "Whether it will be a momentary fever depends on how many weapons the opposition has. If they are able to get weapons, the revolt will speed up in the worst possible way," hardening positions on both sides and increasing the violence. Father Dall'Oglio said the government initially asked the local bishop to send him home last November, but public support put the move on hold. Then, in late May, the rising violence made him feel he had no choice but to speak out more loudly. He published an open letter to Kofi Annan, the U.N. envoy to Syria, saying a regime change in the country was necessary in order to restore peace and bring democracy. The letter, he said, "was the immediate reason I was expelled."

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Vatican passes first test against money laundering, finance crimes

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As the Vatican continues working to comply with international standards against money laundering and financing terrorism, it still needs to beef up internal inspection and supervisory powers, said a long-awaited report by European finance experts. Overall, the Vatican met nine out of 16 "key and core" recommendations, thereby passing its first major test in an effort to become more financially transparent and compliant with international norms. "The Holy See has come a long way in a very short period of time and many of the building blocks" of a system to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism "are now formally in place," said the first report on the Vatican by "Moneyval" -- the Council of Europe's Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism. However, "further important issues still need addressing" to tighten remaining loopholes, fill in legal gaps and guarantee laws are effectively being carried out, it said. The 240-page report was released to the public July 18. Moneyval said the Vatican needs to expand the legal powers and guarantee the independence of its Financial Information Authority, the Vatican oversight agency charged with monitoring all Vatican agencies that have financial dealings or commercial transactions.

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Catholic relief agencies weigh new tool to assess world food security

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A new index that measures food security factors in more than 100 countries is being eyed by Catholic relief organizations as an aid to pattern their responses to starving communities. Bruce White, policy adviser for food security and hunger for Catholic Relief Services, said the Global Food Security Index "will be very helpful in tracking national indicators to contribute to a nation's ability to address broad-based food security issues." The index, released July 10 by a research program of The Economist magazine, rates and ranks 105 countries using 25 indicators such as food affordability, availability, quality and safety as well as access to roads and ports, financing and safety net programs to provide an overall understanding of each country's ability to feed its people. Leo Abruzzese, global forecasting director for the Economist Intelligence Unit, explained that food security, as defined by the index, represents the access to sufficient and nutritious food for a healthy and active life. The index also analyzes national policies and public assets to measure food security. "I like the use of information from a wide variety of sources and a lot of indicators," said Sarah Montgomery, an economic justice policy analyst for the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, the aid agency of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. "We would probably use it but with caution because it is a new tool," she told Catholic News Service in a phone interview. Abruzzese told CNS that "humanitarian relief workers or policymakers can use the tool to prioritize funding or policies."

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Father Morozowich named dean of CUA theology, religious studies school

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Father Mark Morozowich, acting dean of the school of theology and religious studies at The Catholic University of America for the past year, has been named dean of the school. A priest of the Ukrainian-rite Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma, Ohio, he is the first Eastern Catholic to head the school. Father Morozowich joined the theology and religious studies faculty in 2003 as an assistant professor of liturgical studies and sacramental theology. He served as associate dean for seminary and ministerial programs from 2006 to 2011 and as acting dean of the school since July 2011. He holds a bachelor's degree from St. Basil College Seminary in Stamford, Conn.; a master's in theology from Catholic University; and a licentiate and doctorate in Eastern Christian studies from the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. "Father Morozowich has the skills and the experience to lead our university's oldest school and to address the challenge of leadership in the church's intellectual life," said John Garvey, Catholic University president.

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Father Barron appointed rector/president of Illinois university, seminary

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Father Robert L. Barron, professor of faith and culture at Mundelein Seminary and founding director of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, is the new rector/president of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago made the appointment, which took effect July 1. Father Barron, who has taught at the seminary since 1992, succeeds Msgr. Dennis J. Lyle, who completed six years as rector. A native of Chicago who was ordained for the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1986, Father Barron holds a master's degree in philosophy from The Catholic University of America in Washington; a master of divinity degree and licentiate in theology from St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein; and a doctorate in theology from the Institut Catholique de Paris. He is the author of 10 books, including "Catholicism," which was made into a series that aired on public television in 2011. He has held visiting professor appointments at the University of Notre Dame and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome and was twice scholar in residence at the Pontifical North American College, also in Rome.


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