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April 9, 2007 • VOL. 45 NO. 7 • Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Pro-life in Poland
A woman joins a pro-life demonstration outside a church in central Warsaw March 28. Thousands marched to support a proposed constitutional amendment that would make it a crime to terminate a pregnancy in all cases. Poland has one of Europe’s toughest anti-abortion laws; the procedure is legal only in cases of rape, incest, severe fetal damage or if a woman’s health is endangered.
CNS PHOTO/PETER ANDREWS/REUTERS

Fund raising
at
spring training

Dave Perry, a member of St. Patrick Parish’s Men’s Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., volunteers at a concession stand during a spring training home baseball game for the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale. The club earns a percentage of sales from its stand, which adds $5,000-$9,000 to the group’s coffers.
CNS PHOTO/AMBRIA HAMMEL/CATHOLIC SUN

Bill approves mandating pre-abortion ultrasounds
COLUMBIA, S.C. (CNS) -- Members of the South Carolina House of Representatives have approved legislation that would make their state the first in the nation to require women to see the ultrasound images of their child before an abortion. The vote was 91-23 March 21 after the House rejected two proposed amendments that would have made exceptions in cases of rape or incest. After a mandatory third reading March 22, the measure was sent to the Senate, where it was referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs.

South Carolina law already requires that ultrasounds be performed at abortion clinics in the state, in order to determine the gestational age of the child. Doctors then must tell women the likely age, give them information about fetal development and alternatives to abortion, and wait at least an hour before performing the abortion, which must take place in the first trimester. Under the proposed legislation, women will have to sign a form saying they have seen the ultrasound image.

Zimbabwean bishops urge restraint amid crisis
HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNS) -- Zimbabwe’s Catholic bishops have urged those responsible for the country’s crisis to “repent and listen to the cry of their citizens” and called for restraint among protesters.

Zimbabwe’s crisis is one of governance, leadership, spirituality and morality, they said in a March 27 pastoral letter. To avoid “further bloodshed and avert a mass uprising,” a new constitution is needed to guide democracy “chosen in free and fair elections that will offer a chance for economic recovery under genuinely new policies,” the bishops said.

The country has “Christians on all sides of the conflict, and there are many Christians sitting on the fence,” said the bishops. Officials in President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party and opposition officials serve on parish councils and “profess their loyalty to the same Church,” said the bishops. However, just “a few steps” outside church, “Christian state agents, policemen and soldiers assault and beat peaceful, unarmed demonstrators and torture detainees,” the bishops said.

Cardinal would like to be in House of Lords
LONDON (CNS) -- Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster has said he would like to have a seat in the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the British Parliament. He believes Catholic bishops should be represented in the political chamber and that he would like to be among the first Catholic prelate to have a seat since the Reformation.

“Sometimes I regret that there isn’t a Catholic bishop speaking on the points that do arise,” he said after a lecture in Westminster Cathedral Hall on the role of religion in public life. “Some of my fellow bishops think we would be less free if we sat in the Lords,” said the cardinal. “I don’t quite agree with that.”

Anglican bishops fill 26 seats of the House of Lords. The Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law does not allow bishops to hold political office.

Episcopal bishops to meet over same-sex union issues
NAVASOTA, Texas (CNS) -- The bishops of the U.S. Episcopal Church have requested a meeting with the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion to discuss ways of avoiding a rupture with other Anglican churches over the ordination of an openly gay bishop and the blessing of same-sex unions. The issues have divided the U.S. church, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and alienated the U.S. church leadership from the bishops of many other Anglican churches.

Bishop rededicates site at Camp Pendleton
SAN DIEGO (CNS) -- Standing on the site of a way station established between two of California’s original 21 missions -- Mission San Diego de Alcala and Mission San Juan Capistrano -- Auxiliary Bishop Joseph W. Estabrook of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services rededicated the historic Las Flores Asistencia in memory of men and women of faith “on whose shoulders we stand today.”

Las Flores Asistencia, once home to the southernmost Shoshone tribe, is located on the western edge of what is today Camp Pendleton, a Marine base north of San Diego.

Elderly refugees face unreasonable demands
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Poor, elderly refugees in the United States are being held to unrealistic and overly restrictive standards that result in their losing Supplemental Security Income benefits, known as SSI, according to Candy Hill, senior vice president for social policy for Catholic Charities USA. She told a House committee that, despite efforts to qualify for citizenship, many elderly refugees simply can’t meet the requirements for English fluency and other standards.

A seven-year limit on SSI benefits to noncitizens falls hardest on people who fled persecution or torture in their home countries and came to the United States empty-handed, Hill said in her testimony. The group includes Jews who fled the former Soviet Union, Iraqi Kurds, Cubans, Hmong and Kosovar refugees --all of whom are now disabled or too elderly to support themselves and who rely on SSI to survive.

Amnesty International endorses abortion policy
LONDON (CNS) -- The British section of Amnesty International has endorsed a policy in support of legalizing abortion which could change the human rights group’s global neutral policy on abortion.
The Amnesty International UK move, which formally adopted the legalization of abortion in cases of rape, incest, sexual assault and when the mother’s life is at risk, came despite the results of a yearlong consultation which showed that the majority of regular members did not want to abandon the neutral position.

The International Executive Committee of Amnesty International will decide as early as next month whether to change the current position. If the committee decides there isn’t sufficient support from its branch members for a revision, the British section’s stance would be moot.

S.F. agency joins lawsuit on visas for crime victims
SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) -- Catholic Charities CYO of the Archdiocese of San Francisco has joined a coalition of civil rights groups and individuals nationwide in a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The suit demands compliance with what are said to be congressional requirements for those federal agencies to establish access to special visas for undocumented immigrants who have been victims of serious crime and who have cooperated in the investigation and prosecution of those crimes.

According to the filing, provisions of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 -- also called the Crime Victims Act -- permit such undocumented immigrants to apply for “U visas,” which provide legal status that can eventually lead to lawful permanent residence for them and their children on humanitarian grounds. However, the suit charges, no application regulations have been released and not a single special visa for crime victims has been granted, even after Congress granted an extension to July of last year for the development of regulations and forms for the U visa.

Filipino government urged to stop evictions
MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- A Filipino bishop has urged the local government to stop the “heartless” eviction of about 1,000 families living along a stretch of highway outside Manila. Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, chairman of the Philippine bishops’ Housing Committee, called on the local government to respect the human rights of the poor dwelling in shanties under the bridges and near the canals.

The Metro Manila Development Authority has been forcing settlers to leave their homes since late February.

Priest says Australian troops ruined church
AILEU, East Timor (CNS) -- A priest in East Timor has accused Australian troops of forcing their way into his church and destroying property in their search for a rebel leader. The soldiers ruined the door of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Aileu, outside Dili, the priest said. The soldiers also destroyed property as they ransacked an adjoining guest room located inside the church building.

Alfredo Alves Reinado, who led a revolt that plunged East Timor into chaos in April 2006, has evaded capture by the Australian-led international peacekeeping force in the country. He has been a fugitive since he and 50 other inmates escaped from a Dili jail in August.

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