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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Aug-2-2013

By Catholic News Service


Pro-lifers hope North Carolina law leads to day when all choose life

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CNS) -- A new law that tightens regulations on North Carolina's 16 abortion clinics, bans abortions based on the child's gender, and expands conscience protections for health care providers is to go into effect Oct. 1. Signed into law by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory July 29, the legislation requires the state's Department of Health and Human Services to adopt procedures making abortion clinics conform to similar safety standards as outpatient surgery centers -- the first regulatory overhaul for abortion clinics since 1994. It also prevents so-called "webcam" abortions by requiring a physician to be in the same room as the patient who is receiving abortion-inducing drugs, rather the doctor watching from a remote location via closed-circuit television while another clinic staff member administers the drugs. Both of North Carolina's Catholic bishops, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh and Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte, had expressed support for the legislation, calling the proposals "significant protections for the unborn in North Carolina." Through their public policy arm, Catholic Voice North Carolina, the bishops issued a joint statement of thanks July 31 commending everyone who supported passage of the bill.

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Initiative brings Jesuit education to refugees

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Jesuit education strives to find God in all things, and thanks to an initiative of the Society of Jesus, about 500 refugees are able to experience that education through online courses from Jesuit institutions around the world. The opportunity is made possible by Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins. "None of this would be possible without the explosion of technology that has occurred in the last few years and made some incredible things possible," said Jesuit Father Charles Currie, executive director of Jesuit Commons. The concept originated in 2006 during a worldwide conference on adult and online learning at Regis University in Denver. About 125 Jesuits and their colleagues from 18 different countries gathered to discuss ways in which they could internationalize both efforts more effectively. After a young Jesuit from Australia talked about providing online courses for Burmese refugees in a camp in Thailand, Jesuit Commons embraced this concept and developed over the next few years to create a collaborative effort among Jesuit organizations, universities, and the refugees. The program currently exists in three refugee camps: One in Kakuma, Kenya, one in Dzaleka, Malawi, and one in Ammon, Jordan (originally in Syria) with faculty from about a dozen U.S. Jesuit universities. However, Jesuits around the world are beginning to gain interest as well.

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Pope writes to world's Muslims at end of Ramadan, urges mutual respect

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As a sign of his "esteem and friendship," Pope Francis said he personally wanted to write this year's Vatican message to Muslims about to celebrate the end of their monthlong Ramadan fast. The pope's message, released by the Vatican Aug. 2, focused on the need for Catholics and Muslims to promote respect for one another, especially through the way they educate their youth. Catholics and Muslims must respect "the religion of the other, its teachings, its symbols, its values," he said. "Particular respect is due to religious leaders and to places of worship. How painful are attacks on one or other of these!" Most Muslims around the world will begin their Eid al-Fitr celebrations marking the end of their 30-day fast Aug. 7 or 8. Since 1973, the Vatican has sent formal greetings to Muslims to mark the feast and propose a theme for common reflection. The message is distributed by Vatican diplomats and by Catholic leaders taking part in Eid celebrations. Usually the president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sign the message, but in 1991, after the Gulf War, Pope John Paul II wrote the message himself, expressing condolences to all who lost loved ones in the war and calling for a new commitment to peace, dialogue and ensuring that "each one everywhere will be able to profess freely and authentically his or her own faith."

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Zimbabwe church leaders cite irregularities, laud 'peaceful' election

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- Zimbabwe's general elections took place peacefully and have put the country "on the path to a democratic dispensation," said Father Frederick Chiromba, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference. While the results of the July 31 polls to select a president, legislators and local councilors were yet to be announced and the "fairness of the process is in dispute," Zimbabweans were able to cast their votes in a peaceful environment, Father Chiromba said in an Aug. 2 telephone interview from Harare. With Zimbabwe "certainly on the right track, we hope the country will be welcomed back into the international and regional community and be properly integrated there," he said. Observers from the Southern African Development Community described Zimbabwe's elections as free and peaceful, while the European Union said the polls were peaceful and withheld judgment on whether they were fair. The first official results showed President Robert Mugabe's party taking the lead. The 89-year-old president has been in power since 1980 and was running for a seventh term.

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Senate confirms Hackett, retired CRS leader, as ambassador to Vatican

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Ken Hackett, retired president of Catholic Relief Services, received Senate confirmation Aug. 1 as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. "We are overjoyed that the country will be represented by a man who through his decades of service has demonstrated his commitment to the dignity and sanctity of life and fighting global poverty," said Carolyn Woo, current CRS president and chief executive officer, in an Aug. 2 statement. "We look forward to working with the new ambassador as he engages the Vatican and Pope Francis towards the common goal of advancing peace and justice in the world." President Barack Obama nominated Hackett June 14 for the position on the same day he announced nominees for ambassador posts in Brazil, Spain, Germany, Denmark and Ethiopia. "It gives me great confidence that such dedicated and capable individuals have agreed to join this administration to serve the American people. I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come," the president said. Hackett retired in December 2011 after 18 years as president of CRS, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency. As U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, he succeeds Miguel Diaz, who left the post in late 2012. Diaz now is a professor of faith and culture at the University of Dayton, Ohio.

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Motherly tenderness: Pope says church must embody, mirror God's mercy

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Mercy is a word Pope Francis uses often, and an attitude he believes the Catholic Church must embody and all Catholics must mirror. "This is the time for mercy," Pope Francis told reporters July 28 during his flight back to Rome from Brazil. "The church is mother and must follow the path of mercy, and find mercy for everyone. This age is a 'kairos' of mercy," he said, using the Greek word for a special or particularly opportune moment. The church has a special obligation particularly to the many who are suffering because "of the not-so-beautiful witness of some priests, also the problem of corruption in the church, and the problem of clericalism, for example, which have left so many wounds, so many wounded," he said. "The church, which is mother, must go and heal those wounds." Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told Vatican Radio July 30 that one of the things that strikes people most about Pope Francis is his "great effectiveness in helping people understand the theme of God's love and mercy, which reaches out to soothe and heal the wounds of humanity."


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