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 May 21, 2007 VOL. 45, NO. 10Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Pro-family rally in Rome
Hundreds of thousands of people take part in a pro-family event at St. John Lateran Square in Rome, May 12. The sign reads “Say yes to life.”

Tornado’s fury levels town
The cross of St. Joseph Church stands amid rubble in the aftermath of a tornado that swept through Greensburg, Kan., May 4. The tornado, the most powerful to hit the U.S. in eight years, destroyed 95 percent of the town of about 1,500 people.

California suicide bill seen as ‘anti-Catholic’
SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) -- Calling proposed California physician-assisted suicide legislation “strongly and implicitly anti-Catholic” and accusing its advocates of “trying to bend the Catholic Church’s moral teaching to the will of the culture of death agenda,” an international expert on bioethics urged listeners at a May 7 lecture to do everything in their power to help defeat the controversial bill.

The California Compassionate Choices Act, Assembly Bill 374 would allow physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to people diagnosed with a terminal illness, given less than six months to live and declared mentally competent. Wesley J. Smith, keynote speaker at a public policy breakfast at St. Mary’s Cathedral, said the measure seeks to establish “ending life as an appropriate way to relieve suffering.”

Once that premise has been established, he said, it becomes logical to extend what would be seen “as a legitimate medical treatment” to the chronically ill, the terminally ill at any stage, individuals in intractable pain and even those who are depressed.

Amnesty International backs access to abortion
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The International Executive Committee of Amnesty International has declared that a woman should have full, legal access to abortion in cases of rape or incest or if her life or health is at grave risk. The new policy calls for eliminating criminal penalties for anyone who provides an abortion or obtains one.

Last fall, when Amnesty was considering such a policy, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops warned that the human rights advocacy group would risk its “well-deserved moral credibility” if it abandoned its neutral stance on abortion.

Pope OKs stricter norms for mandatory feast days
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has approved stricter guidelines for determining which saints will be remembered with mandatory feast days. The General Roman Calendar, the universal schedule of holy days and feast days for the Latin rite of the Catholic Church, is so packed that more selectivity is needed. The pope determines who makes the universal calendar based on recommendations from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments congregation,.According to the new norms published in the bulletin in mid-May, those recommendations will be more difficult to obtain,

Immigrants have God-given human rights
PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- The basic moral principle that everyone is entitled to God-given human rights is the key to understanding the Catholic Church’s support for immigrants, said Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony May 8 in Philadelphia. The current U.S. immigration system accepts the labor, taxes and purchasing power of immigrants who are separated from their families, Cardinal Mahony said, and yet millions of them who are in the country illegally are not protected by laws.

Vatican says disarmament needed to stop weapons
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If the world is to help stop the spread of nuclear weapons, nations must take positive steps toward nuclear disarmament, a Vatican official said. Nuclear disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation “are interdependent and mutually reinforcing,” said Msgr. Michael W. Banach, the Vatican’s representative to the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.

“Responsible implementation” of international agreements concerning nuclear weapons represents a crucial step “in the fight against nuclear terrorism” and promoting “a culture of life,” peace and human development, he said in a May 1 address.

Spokane parishes to raise funds for abuse claims
SPOKANE, Wash. (CNS) -- Parishes of the Spokane Diocese have started local fundraising campaigns to raise $10 million collectively as their contribution to the diocese’s $48 million clergy sexual abuse settlement with 180 victims. In an assessment based on parish income, two of the largest parishes, St. Mary in Spokane and St. Patrick in Pasco, are responsible for raising more than $600,000 each, according to a parish-by-parish listing in the May 3 issue of the Inland Register, the Spokane diocesan newsmagazine.

Part of the settlement approved April 24 by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams includes a diocese-wide reorganization of the parishes in which each parish will incorporate as a nonprofit, nonmember corporation.

Climate change seen as an ethical issue
UNITED NATIONS (CNS) -- Global warming is not just an environmental issue but must be seen in “ethical, economic, social and political terms as well,” Archbishop Celestino Migliore told a gathering of high-ranking development officials at the United Nations May 10. He warned that global warming and energy shortages could have a disproportionate effect on the world’s poor.
“Many of the most vulnerable societies, already facing energy problems, rely upon agriculture, the very sector most likely to suffer from climatic shifts,” he said.

Irish court rules on abortion for 17-year-old
DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) -- The High Court in Dublin has ruled that the country’s health authorities have no right to stop a 17-year-old girl from traveling abroad for an abortion. The case arose when the girl learned that the child she is carrying suffers from anencephaly and would have a life expectancy of just a few days outside the womb.

Ireland is one of the only countries in Europe where abortion remains illegal.

Mexican bishop threatened for helping victims of rape
GUADALAJARA, Mexico (CNS) -- A Mexican bishop said he has been threatened for advocating on behalf of 13 women allegedly raped by Mexican soldiers. Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo, known as a champion of indigenous and other human rights, said he has been “under pressure and receiving threats not to get involved in the case” of the sex-trade workers who said they were raped last July.

The victims claimed the rapes occurred in July in Castanos, a town near Monclova, a steel-producing center approximately 120 miles south of the Texas border. The alleged attackers were guarding ballots after the disputed July 2 presidential election.

Leaders seek prayers for new government
DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) -- Christian leaders in Northern Ireland have encouraged citizens to pray for the success of the region’s fledgling Catholic-Protestant power-sharing government. Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh issued a statement with the heads of the Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist churches, calling May 8 a “historic day” when enemies joined together to form the power-sharing government.

The new government returns home rule to Northern Ireland after a five-year suspension. The religious leaders, who have been instrumental in persuading members of the paramilitaries to decommission their weapons, said they wanted to “invite Christian people to give thanks to God for all that has been accomplished and to pray that guidance and courage might be given to those who lead our community in the days ahead.”


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