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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Nov-29-2012

By Catholic News Service


Streams of hope, outreach flow to help New Jersey hurricane victims

TRENTON, N.J. (CNS) -- Whether it is through prayer, financial assistance or "boots on the ground" relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts, there has been no end to the number of individuals, churches of all faith traditions and social service organizations in the Diocese of Trenton reaching out to assist people who suffered devastating losses as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Sister Joanne Dress, a Daughter of Charity and diocesan executive director of Catholic social services, said many Catholic parishes and schools in Monmouth and Ocean counties -- shore counties that suffered some of the worst damage -- fully engaged in the effort of keeping Sandy victims warm and fed. So the Diocese of Trenton is now turning its attention to the next phase of outreach to local residents who were most profoundly impacted by the late October super storm. According to Sister Joanne, appointed by Bishop David M. O'Connell to head diocesan relief efforts, the next priority is to ensure that the long-term needs of hurricane victims can be addressed through the network already in place in parishes and other Catholic social service agencies throughout the region. "With many St. Vincent de Paul Society conferences and parish social concerns groups, we already have the framework and the process in place to help address the needs of residents in the impacted areas as they try to get back on their feet," Sister Joanne stated. "By partnering with parishes and other agencies like Catholic Charities, the diocese will seek to provide furnishings, clothing, food, supplies, gift cards and other financial assistance to those whose needs are the greatest," she told The Monitor, the diocesan newspaper.

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Lawsuits' dismissal called disappointing but won't end legal challenge

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- After judges in two separate rulings Nov. 27 dismissed lawsuits filed by Catholic organizations and dioceses in Pennsylvania and Tennessee challenging the federal contraceptive mandate, Catholic leaders in both states expressed disappointment but also some hope the rulings left the door open to refiling their claims. Two days later, a federal appeals court in St. Louis granted a temporary injunction against enforcement of the mandate while a Catholic business owner prepares an appeal of a lower court ruling that rejected his claim the federal requirement is a burden on his religious rights because he is morally opposed to providing contraceptive coverage. In Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik said Nov. 28 that he was disappointed in the U.S. District Court ruling but "very encouraged that it was 'dismissed without prejudice.' That means that we have every right to file again in the future." The Diocese of Pittsburgh, along with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh Inc., and the Catholic Cemeteries Association of Pittsburgh, filed suit in May against a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that requires employers to include coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and some abortion-inducing drugs free of charge, even if the employer is morally opposed to such services. In Tennessee, the Nashville Diocese in a statement said the order of dismissal by the U.S. District Court there "does not foreclose the bringing of similar claims once the alleged administrative change to the mandate takes place." The Diocese of Nashville, joined by Catholic Charities of Tennessee, Father Ryan High School, Pope John Paul II High School, Mary Queen of Angels assisted living facility, Villa Maria Manor and St. Mary Villa Child Development Center and Aquinas College, which is owned and operated by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation filed suit in federal court in mid-September against the HHS contraception mandate.

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Even class trips can present problems for undocumented, says teen

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CNS) -- In most every aspect of her life, Emelia is a normal 17-year-old enjoying her senior year in high school. But every so often, she's reminded how different she is from a lot of her peers. "When we discuss immigration issues in civics class, everybody in the class automatically looks at me and that makes me feel uncomfortable," she said. "I can't just sign up for a class trip if it's going too far away. Kids who were born here don't understand that." For thousands of young immigrants in Arkansas, the story is much the same. Like Emelia (not her real name), they were brought to the United States as children. In the years since, many distinguished themselves through academic achievement and involvement in their churches and communities. However, their undocumented status deprived them of birth certificates, driver's licenses and other paperwork needed to get a job or take advantage of in-state college tuition. All while living under the constant threat of deportation. The Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, announced in June and officially opened in mid-August, has given Emelia and many others like her what they see as a first step toward attaining the American dream. Under the program, known as DACA, immigrants who lack legal status may apply for deferral from deportation for a renewable period of two years. Approval carries with it the opportunity to get a Social Security number and a work permit. When the program opened, Emelia, a student with a 3.9 grade point average and an eye on college, was one of hundreds in Arkansas who jumped at the chance to apply. "I was really excited when I heard about it," she told the Arkansas Catholic, newspaper of the Little Rock Diocese. "I used to think I would not be able to accomplish what I wanted in life because of some papers, but now I can."

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Reading Vatican II as break with tradition is heresy, prefect says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Traditionalist and progressive camps that see the Second Vatican Council as breaking with the truth both espouse a "heretical interpretation" of the council and its aims, said the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. What Pope Benedict XVI has termed "the hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in continuity" is the "only possible interpretation according to the principles of Catholic theology," Archbishop Gerhard Muller said in remarks published Nov. 29. "Outside this sole orthodox interpretation unfortunately exists a heretical interpretation, that is, a hermeneutic of rupture, (found) both on the progressive front and on the traditionalist" side, the archbishop said. What the two camps have in common, he said, is their rejection of the council: "the progressives in their wanting to leave it behind, as if it were a season to abandon in order to get to another church, and the traditionalists in their not wanting to get there," seeing the council as a Catholic "winter." A "council presided over by the successor of Peter as head of the visible church" is the "highest expression" of the Magisterium, he said, to be regarded as part of "an indissoluble whole," along with Scripture and 2,000 years of tradition. The doctrinal chief's remarks were published in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, to present the seventh volume of "The Complete Works of Joseph Ratzinger." The volume collects both published and unpublished notes, speeches, interviews and texts written or given by the future pope in the period shortly before, during and just after Vatican II.

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World Youth Day vigil, Mass to be in neighborhood known for its beaches

SAO PAULO (CNS) -- World Youth Day organizers have chosen a spot in Rio de Janeiro's Guaratiba neighborhood, nearly 60 miles from the city center, for the vigil and closing Mass July 27-28. Rio Archbishop Orani Tempesta announced the venue Nov. 28 during a preparatory meeting for World Youth Day, which will run July 23-28. Pope Benedict XVI is expected to attend the closing days of the event in Rio. Organizers expect more than 2 million young people to gather at the 1.35-square-mile venue. Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes said the space is three times the size of the venue use at World Youth Day in Madrid in 2010. Organizers said the area will have pilgrim service islands that will include restrooms, medical and food tents, tents for worshiping, water fountains and big-screen TVs. Special shuttle transportation to and from Guaratiba is also being discussed. Guaratiba is an indigenous word that means "location with great quantity of herons." To this day the area, which has some of Rio's most beautiful beaches, is filled with white herons.

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JRS: In eastern Congo, citizens remain on run, terrified

KINSHASA, Congo (CNS) -- As Congolese rebels initiated what appeared to be a partial withdrawal from the city of Goma, a Catholic organization said the region's civilians remained either on the run or terrified that their community would be the next target for a rebel attack. "We abandoned our homes unable to bring food with us. We fled into the forest with only one objective in mind, our safety. And we don't have any idea of when or how we will return home," a Congolese identified by a pseudonym, Paluku, told Jesuit Refugee Service. Paluku fled his home in Masisi, northwest of Goma, Nov. 25 following the outbreak of fighting between the Congolese army and an ethnic Mai-Mai militia group; he currently is in hiding. "We don't have anything to eat or drink. Above all, the women and children are in a state of shock. And we don't have any idea of when we'll finally have peace," Paluku was quoted as saying. "Today we fled from the Mai-Mai militias; tomorrow it may be from M23." JRS has reported that the Mai-Mai rebels have aligned themselves with M23 rebels in eastern Congo. On Nov. 25, intense fighting with government troops forced JRS to suspend services in Masisi. "When we heard gunfire, we witnessed the mass flight of the population of Masisi. In the beginning, many sought safety in the parish, then they began fleeing toward Nyabiondo. People had a look of fear in their eyes," a staff member was quoted as saying on the JRS blog.

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Bishop, pro-lifers concerned that abortion may widen in Ireland

DUBLIN (CNS) -- An Irish bishop and pro-life activists insisted that any legislation to provide abortion in limited situations would inevitably lead to widespread abortion. "If abortion is introduced, even on a very limited basis, it becomes widespread," Bishop William Murphy of Kerry said during a radio interview Nov. 29. Days earlier, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny promised "swift action" after a report by a study group recommended that the government introduce legislation to provide for abortion in limited circumstances. In practice, abortion is illegal in Ireland. However, a controversial 1992 Supreme Court judgment -- known as the X case -- found that there is a constitutional right to abortion where there is a substantial risk to the life of the mother, including the risk of suicide, up to birth. Six successive governments have not acted on the issue. However, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2010 that Ireland must clarify when women can access abortion under the 1992 ruling. The expert group was charged in January with advising the government in response to the European Court ruling. The Pro Life Campaign, Ireland's largest pro-life lobby, has said that it does not support legislation or statutory regulations on abortion in line with the expert group report. Cora Sherlock, the campaign's deputy chairwoman, described the 1992 Supreme Court decision as "deeply flawed."

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After evacuating, CRS staffer coordinates Congo aid from Rwanda

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The sound of exploding shells near Goma, Congo, was minimal, but it was enough for Catholic Relief Services staffer Brenden Williams to know it was time to leave. Packing up a few belongings and coordinating with the rest of the CRS international staff, Williams, his wife and 19-month-old daughter left their home outside of Goma Nov. 19 and made their way to Gisenyi, Rwanda, a few miles away. After three days, the CRS operation relocated to the Rwandan capital of Kigali, about 100 miles from Goma. Williams, program quality manager for CRS, has since spent his days helping coordinate relief in the face of a growing rebel uprising in the mineral-rich region of eastern Congo. M23 rebels gained control of Goma Nov. 20. "On Monday morning, we heard shelling coming across the border and decided to evacuate," Williams told Catholic News Service Nov. 29. "It was more preventative." Since Williams and his family left, thousands of Congolese have fled their homes in Masisi, northwest of Goma, relocating to five camps around the city. Williams said he kept in touch with Congolese working for CRS who stayed behind in Goma to help in whatever way they could. "The vast majority of the movement of these populations is preventative. We don't get a sense that these civilians are being specifically targeted. They're moving so they don't become collateral damage," Williams said. Four international staff members -- non-Congolese -- returned to Goma and began assessing the needs of the internally displaced people in Mugunga 3, one of the camps. Williams said CRS and its partner, Caritas Goma, planned to begin distributing food to 5,800 households Nov. 30.


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