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 February 19, 2007VOL. 45, NO. 4Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Seeking Guantanamo release
Demonstrators demand the release of Australian David Hicks from the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during a march from Parliament to the U.S. Embassy in Canberra, Australia, Feb. 6. Bishop Chris Saunders, chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, called for Hicks to be given a prompt and just trial or be returned to Australia.
CNS PHOTO/REUTERS

Abortion vote in Portugal
Poll station workers collect ballots with “yes” votes during a nationwide referendum on abortion in Lisbon, Portugal, Feb. 11. The referendum on legalizing abortion for the first 10 weeks of pregnancy was approved by 59.3 percent of voters but was not valid due to low voter turnout.
CNS PHOTO/JOSE MANUEL RIBEIRO/REUTERS

Pope is consoled by stories of apostles arguing
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said he finds consolation in the New Testament stories of the apostles and first disciples arguing with each other. Continuing his series of audience talks about the leaders of the early Church, Pope Benedict spoke Jan. 31 about St. Paul and St. Barnabas arguing over whether they should take another person with them on a mission. “So, even among saints there are contrasts, disagreements, controversies,” the pope said.

“This appears very consoling to me, because we see that the saints did not drop as saints from heaven. They were men like us with problems and even with sins,” the pope said before he was interrupted by applause. “Holiness consists not in never having made a mistake or sinned,” he said, but rather it grows with “conversion, repentance, with a willingness to start over and, especially, with the ability to reconcile and forgive.”

Rape victim urge end to Marianas trafficking
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Filipina forced into the sex trade and raped hours after her arrival in the Northern Mariana Islands appealed to U.S. senators to change immigration and labor laws in the commonwealth. Kayleen Entena was joined by Good Shepherd Sisters and a laywoman working with the nuns, who run shelters for victims of human trafficking on the islands and around the world.

While living with her family in the Philippines, Entena, 23, was recruited to work in a restaurant on Saipan, one of the Mariana Islands. However, Entena said, she was tricked into the sex trade and was forced to have sex with male customers.

Sisters of the Poor due $1.4 million from FEMA
MOBILE, Ala. (CNS) -- Almost 18 months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the Little Sisters of the Poor still have not received a $1.4 million reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for first responders’ emergency use of Mary Joseph Residence for the Elderly in New Orleans after the hurricane.

FEMA announced Jan. 17 that it had allocated the money to reimburse the nuns, but clearance to release the funds had to go through local government channels, a time-consuming bureaucratic process.

Group condemns stunting growth of disabled child
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The governance board of directors of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability has condemned “growth attenuation,” the process by which doctors in Seattle deliberately stunted the growth of a severely disabled 9-year-old child to keep her from growing too large for her family members to carry her. The child was given high doses of estrogen over several years to inhibit her growth and underwent a hysterectomy and the removal of her breast buds to avoid menstrual cramps and the possibility of pregnancy and to decrease the likelihood of sexual abuse.

‘Complete reversal’ of U.S. Iraq policy urged
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pax Christi U.S.A. has been gathering signatures for an advertisement that will call for “a complete reversal of U.S. policy” in Iraq, including a withdrawal of U.S. troops. “The U.S. is not the honest broker who can craft peace among the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. Our continued military presence is counterproductive,” says the ad, which Pax Christi plans to run in the March 16 issue of the National Catholic Reporter. “For all who would believe that violence can serve any productive purpose, the tragic experience in Iraq should be ample evidence to the contrary,” the ad says.

Polish nuns withstood secret police pressure
WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- Polish nuns withstood pressure from communist secret police better than male clergy, according to research by the country’s women religious orders. Nuns who researched Interior Ministry files found that no more than 30 people associated with women religious had been recruited by secret police during the 1980s, when collaborators were most active.


Two Catholics in election or Hong Kong executive
HONG KONG (CNS) -- A Catholic legislator is running for the post of Hong Kong’s chief executive against the incumbent, also a Catholic, making it the first contested election for the office since Hong Kong reverted from British to Chinese control in 1997. Civic Party legislator Alan Leong Kah-kit, 48, will run against the current chief executive, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, 62, in the March 25 election. Both candidates are alumni of Jesuit-run high schools in Hong Kong.

Church leads march against violence in Mexico
MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church teamed up with six other religions to lead thousands in a silent march to protest a recent wave of killings and kidnappings in northern Mexico. Wearing white and bearing banners saying “In Favor of Peace,” an estimated 4,000 residents of Monterrey, Mexico’s third-largest city, were led by local heads of the Catholic, evangelical, Jewish, Muslim, Anglican, Latter-day Saints and Buddhist religions Feb. 4.

The state of Nuevo Leon, where Monterrey is located, has seen a spike in organized crime-related activities over the last year. Local press reported that in 2006 55 people were killed. As of early February this year, at least 10 people -- including six police officers -- had been killed. An increase in kidnappings also has been reported. Authorities have said the murders likely were the result of drug smugglers settling scores and fighting over turf.

Alumni value Catholic college experience
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Alumni of Catholic colleges and universities rank their education and the values they learned in those institutions far more highly than alumni of major public universities do, education researcher Jim Day told a national gathering of Catholic college and university presidents Feb. 4.

The alumni of Catholic schools were considerably more likely than their public university counterparts to say they benefited from opportunities for spiritual development in their college years, experienced an integration of values and ethics in classroom discussions and were helped to develop moral principles that can guide actions, he reported.

Bishop denied laicization to run for president
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican turned down a laicization request from a Paraguayan bishop who wants to run for president and suspended the bishop from exercising his priestly ministry.
Bishop Fernando Lugo Mendez of San Pedro, Paraguay, 57, had announced Dec. 25 that he would ask the Vatican to return him to the status of a layman so he could run for president.

Vatican Radio reported Feb. 1 that Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, had informed Bishop Lugo in a Jan. 20 letter that his request to return to the lay state had been denied because “the episcopacy is a service accepted freely forever.”

However, the radio said, because of Bishop Lugo’s decision to continue his political activity, Cardinal Re also informed him that he had been suspended from exercising his ministry as a bishop and priest.

Cardinal burned in effigy during protest in India
RANCHI, India (CNS) -- Activists affiliated with radical Hindu groups burned effigies of a Catholic cardinal and political leaders during a rally protesting an Indian state’s removal of a religious identification requirement on caste certificates. Caste certificates are required for benefits such as free education and government jobs.

The Indian Constitution guarantees the benefits to tribal people and members of the former untouchable caste. Critics of the decision argue that Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi, the first tribal or indigenous cardinal from India, forced the state government to remove the religion identification, inserted in 2003 by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

 

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