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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS May-10-2013

By Catholic News Service


Comic book tackles wage theft with goal of empowering aggrieved workers

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Worker advocates have turned to a new tool to educate low-wage employees about wage theft. Welcome the comic book. The first issue of "Wage Theft: Crime & Justice," published by Chicago-based Interfaith Worker Justice, may not be coveted by comic book collectors, but clients at worker centers around the country are poring over the bilingual book to learn how best to regain wages owed to them by deceitful employers. "The combination of story and art can be very powerful," said Jeffry Korgen, executive director of planning and communications for the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., who wrote the book and teamed with artist Kevin C. Pyle in the effort. A longtime worker rights advocate, Korgen said he was inspired to develop a short graphic novel in English and Spanish to tell the stories of workers who were cheated out of wages owed to them under state and federal laws. "Poverty is awful and something we should try to alleviate," Korgen said. "Jesus told us it is essential toward our salvation. But when you look at people working full time, maybe several jobs, and they still can't feed their children or provide health care, and on top of that employers are stealing their wages, that just cries for action."

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Increasing number of men pursuing 'delayed vocation' to the priesthood

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In the parable of the vineyard in the Gospel of Matthew, "I'm the guy who was hired at 3 o'clock in the afternoon," said Deacon Michael Fragoso. A pediatrician for 24 years in central New Jersey, he left his career to enter Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass., and study to become a priest of the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. "The promise ended when my wife died," he told Catholic News Service, explaining that her death after 31 years of marriage made him a single man again, allowing him to discern what he called a "delayed vocation" to the priesthood. Deacon Fragoso, who emigrated from Cuba to the United States as a child, was one of four transitional deacons who spoke to CNS in telephone interviews. All will be ordained to the priesthood this summer. Their vocations illustrate how the age of men feeling the call to the priesthood is gradually increasing, as reported in a new study released by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington. According to "The Class of 2013: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood," the average age of men becoming priests this year is 35.5. Released May 1, it is the annual national survey of men being ordained for U.S. dioceses and religious communities.

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Obama administration won't seek to block injunction in HHS mandate case

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Obama administration told a federal appellate court May 3 that it would not seek to block an injunction the court had granted in November that had allowed a Christian book publisher to not comply with the contraceptive-coverage mandate of the federal Department of Health and Human Services. Tyndale House Publishers, based in Carol Stream, Ill., won the injunction Nov. 16 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Tyndale, which has about 260 employees, did not meet the "religious exemption" clause under the proposed rules governing the HHS mandate. The company filed suit to avoid compliance with requirement, under the Affordable Care Act of 2010, that employers include free coverage of contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health plans. Tyndale publishes Bibles and other Christian materials. It is primarily owned by the nonprofit Tyndale House Foundation, which provides grants to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world. The company's most recent win in court is believed to be the first victory at the appellate level for those seeking to be exempt from compliance with the HHS mandate.

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Annual audit shows number of abuse allegations in church dropped in 2012

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The annual audit of diocesan compliance with the U.S. Catholic Church's "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" found a drop in the number of allegations, number of victims and number of offenders reported in 2012. Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, which gathered data for the report, found "the fewest allegations and victims reported since the data collection for the annual reports began in 2004." Most allegations reported last year were from the 1970s and 1980s with many of the alleged offenders already deceased or removed from active ministry. StoneBridge Business Partners, which conducts the audits, said law enforcement found six credible cases among 34 allegations of abuse of minors in 2012. The credibility of 15 of the allegations was still under investigation. Law enforcement officials found 12 allegations to be unfounded or unable to be proven, and one was a boundary violation. Almost all dioceses were found compliant with the audit. Three dioceses were found to be noncompliant with one article of the charter. The Diocese of Lake Charles, La., was cited since its review board had not met in several years. The Diocese of Tulsa, Okla., was listed because auditors could not determine if parishes provided safe environment training to religious education students and volunteer teachers. The Diocese of Baker, Ore., also was cited because students did not receive safe environment training while a new program was being developed, but the training has now resumed.

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Sourpusses hurt the church's witness, mission, pope says at Mass

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Using a phrase that translates literally as "the face of a pickled pepper," Pope Francis said that when Christians have more of a sourpuss than a face that communicates the joy of being loved by God, they harm the witness of the church. "The Christian is a man or woman of joy," the pope said May 10, giving a homily during his morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. While happiness is a good thing, the pope said, it's not the same as the profound joy that comes from "the certainty that Jesus is with us and with the Father." If one tries to be happy all the time, he said, that happiness ends up "transforming itself into lightness, superficiality and leads to a state of lacking Christian wisdom; it can make us fools, dupes, no? Joy is something else. Joy is a gift from the Lord. It fills us from the inside," the pope said at the Mass attended by staff from Vatican Radio and concelebrated by Venezuelan Archbishop Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo of Merida and Abbot Notker Wolf, the Benedictine abbot primate.

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Pope asks French Catholics to open doors to poor, suffering

LOURDES, France (CNS) -- Pope Francis asked Catholics in France to ensure their parishes have "open door" policies so that anyone seeking a listening ear or a helping hand can find it in the church. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, conveyed the pope's encouragement to some 12,000 French Catholics meeting at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes May 9-11 to discuss their care of the poor and the sick. "The mission of the church is to bring the light of the risen Christ to the darkest places where suffering reigns in hearts and bodies," Cardinal Bertone's message said. "This is why the love of Christ impels us to care for those who suffer because of economic, social and psychological poverty. The world today is facing serious financial, economic and ecological crises that cause much suffering, particularly among the most vulnerable," the cardinal wrote. The roots of the crises, he said, are attitudes "where man is no longer viewed as an image of God."

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Canada's March for Life frames abortion as human rights issue

OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) -- Canada's National March for Life framed abortion as a human rights issue, damaging especially to women and girls. "Gendercide is the systematic elimination of girls just because they are girls," Conservative member of Parliament Mark Warawa, who represents Langley, British Columbia, told the crowd on Parliament Hill May 9. "There are 200 million missing girls in the world right now, which is creating a huge problem for society," said Warawa, who introduced a motion earlier this year to condemn female gendercide. The political debate engendered by the motion gave rise to the march's theme: "End Female Gendercide: 'It's girl' should not be a death sentence." Warawa said 92 percent of Canadians say gendercide is wrong: "I say that's wrong. You say that's wrong. So together we will keep up the fight and we will win."

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Under soot: Spring cleaning means sometimes finding forgotten gems

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A little bit of spring cleaning or a much needed renovation can turn up the most unexpected things -- especially if you're sprucing up or digging through the Vatican. Home of hundreds of thousands of artifacts, archived documents, ornate frescoes, plaster niches and underground tombs, it can be heavenly for a treasure hunt. The latest precious find came after restorers tackled the Borgia Apartments, which were decorated by the Renaissance master, Bernardino di Betto, better known as Pintoricchio. The Vatican Museums' director thinks what restorers found under soot and successive coats of color are the very first painted depictions of Native Americans. Antonio Paolucci told the Vatican newspaper the recently unveiled portion of the fresco shows a cluster of "nude men, ornate with feathers, in the act of what seems to be dancing." The mysterious men appear in the background under a Risen Christ in Pintoricchio's fresco of "The Resurrection" in the Room of the Mysteries of Faith in the Borgia Apartments. Paolucci said it wasn't inconceivable that the Renaissance painter included the then-recently discovered inhabitants of the New World.

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Australian prelates welcome chance to attend state hearing on abuse

MELBOURNE, Australia (CNS) -- Two prominent Catholic leaders said they welcomed a chance to attend hearings on child abuse at the Victoria state parliament. A statement posted on the website of the Archdiocese of Melbourne said Archbishop Denis Hart and his predecessor, Sydney Cardinal George Pell, had been consistent in their support for the inquiry, which is looking at the response to child sexual abuse by religious and nongovernmental institutions in the state. "These shocking and vile crimes are a national disgrace that were not confined to religious organizations but have been a blight against all levels of society," the statement said. It said Archbishop Hart would attend the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry Into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government Organizations May 20. Cardinal Pell, who served as archbishop of Melbourne from 1996 to 2001, will attend May 27. The Victorian inquiry was established last year. The process includes a series of hearings, testimony and right of reply when accusations are made. The church in Victoria has set up a website, www.cam.org.au/facingthetruth, with links to documentation.

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Pope says Catholics, Coptic Orthodox united by 'ecumenism of suffering'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Marking 40 years of ecumenical dialogue, Pope Francis told the leader of 10 million Coptic Orthodox that their churches are united by an "ecumenism of suffering. Just as the blood of the martyrs was a seed of strength and fertility for the church, so too the sharing of daily sufferings can become an effective instrument of unity," Pope Francis told Pope Tawadros II May 10. The remark appeared to refer to increased violence over recent decades against Coptic Christians in Egypt, including a car bomb that exploded outside a church in Alexandria on New Year's Eve 2011, killing at least 21 people. The principle of unity through suffering "also applies, in a certain sense, to the broader context of society and relations between Christians and non-Christians," Pope Francis said. "From shared suffering can blossom forth forgiveness, reconciliation and peace, with God's help." Orthodox make up about 9 percent of Egypt's population of 85 million, which is 90 percent Muslim. Catholics in Egypt, who are in full communion with Rome, number about 165,000.

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International group of women's superiors elect new officers

ROME (CNS) -- Delegates to the International Union of Superiors General have elected a Maltese sister as their new president and a sister from the United States as their group's vice president. Sister Carmen Sammut, the Maltese superior general of the Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa, was elected to a three-year term as president May 9. She succeeds U.S. Sister Mary Lou Wirtz, superior of the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. U.S. Sister Sally M. Hodgdon, superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery, was elected vice president of the group, which includes the superiors of some 1,900 religious orders of women with a total membership of about 700,000 sisters around the world.


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