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June 6, 2005 VOL. 43, NO. 11Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Impending humanitarian disaster
A Sudanese child looks up in a feeding centre run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders in the village of Paliang, May 25. The United Nations has warned that its food distribution operations in southern and eastern Sudan is facing a funding shortage that could provoke a new humanitarian disaster in the country. The U.N. World Food Programme said it needed $302 million to feed some 3.2 million people in the two regions of Sudan this year but had so far managed to raise only $78 million.

RNS PHOTO/REUTERS/Antony Njuguna

‘Right to know’ initiative qualifies for vote

SACRAMENTO – The Parents Right-to-Know initiative, requiring that parents be notified before an abortion is performed on their minor daughter, has qualified for the next statewide election ballot. Voters could decide on the initiative as early as this fall if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger calls a special election. If that doesn’t happen, the initiative will appear on the primary election ballot in June 2006.

House resolution honors U.S. nun slain in Brazil
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a resolution May 23 honoring the life and work of Notre Dame Sister Dorothy Stang, an advocate of human rights and land reform, who was murdered in Brazil in February. The resolution, which goes to the Senate for consideration, noted Sister Stang’s commitment to “taking a stand with the poor people, especially women and children, in the most abandoned places, and commiting her one and only life to work with others to create justice and peace for all.”

Portland wins extension on sex abuse claims
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris has given the Archdiocese of Portland an extension until Nov. 15 to file a plan to pay the claims of sex-abuse plaintiffs and other creditors.
The archdiocese wanted the extension on its bankruptcy reorganization plan so it could complete the first round of mediation on the claims, estimate the extent of future claims, resolve disputes with its insurance companies over claims coverage, and determine whether parish property belongs to the archdiocese.

K of C gives $1 million for Catholics in military
NEW HAVEN, CT (RNS) – Concerned that there are not enough Catholic chaplains in the armed forces, the Knights of Columbus will spend $1 million on “do-it-yourself” materials to meet the spiritual needs of Catholic military men and women.

The “Catholics Seeking Christ” programs are designed to augment the work of Catholic chaplains by providing “bottom-up” materials, such as DVDs, CD-ROMs and Web sites.

Pope appeals for more aid to support Africa’s needs
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI has appealed to the international community to increase its support of Africa’s needs, and encouraged Catholic organizations to continue their “generous attention” to the continent’s people.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the beloved people of Africa. I encourage our Catholic institutions to continue giving generous attention to their needs, and I hope and pray that the international community will become ever more involved in the problems of the African continent,” he said May 25, speaking in English.

The pope’s remarks drew cheers from groups of Africans — some in colorful costumes — gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

After the audience, the pope met with the Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Toure and Prime Minister Themba Dlamini of Swaziland on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica. The African leaders were in Rome for meetings of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

Baptists seek to gain 50,000 Hispanics
ATLANTA (RNS) – A Southern Baptist task force has urged leaders of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination to take “unprecedented” measures to evangelize the growing number of Hispanics in the U.S. Goals include baptizing more than 50,000 Hispanic converts by 2010 and starting 250 new Hispanic churches each year during that same period.

Pope chides Spain for government policies
VATICAN CITY (RNS) – Pope Benedict XVI told Spanish bishops that he prays the traditional family will survive attempts to “degrade its dignity and attack its freedom” in Spain, once one of Europe’s most Catholic countries.

In a May 23 letter to the bishops, the pontiff did not refer directly to the government of Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, but he made clear that he strongly opposes new laws liberalizing divorce and abortion and legalizing same-sex marriages.

Bush affirms ‘culture of life’ at prayer breakfast
WASHINGTON (RNS) – More than 1,500 Catholics from across the country attending the second annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast May 20 heard President Bush ask for their prayers and affirm “a culture of life.”

During his brief remarks, President Bush referred several times to the late Pope John Paul II, who died April 2. “The best way to honor this great champion of human freedom is to continue to build a culture of life where the strong protect the weak,” he said.

The president also praised Pope John Paul’s successor, Pope Benedict XVI, for his condemnation of the “tyranny of relativism.”

The president was greeted by a protracted standing ovation in the nearly full ballroom. A group of young men wore red T-shirts emblazoned with large lettering that read “You can’t be Catholic and Pro-Abortion.” They cheered and hollered, with one standing on his chair for a better view.

 

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