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 September 3 2007• VOL. 45 NO. 15 • Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Surveying flood damage
Father Tom Hemm, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Ottawa, Ohio, stands above floodwaters on a porch at the back of the church, Aug. 23. Several days of heavy rains led to major flooding in parts of the Midwest. Dozens of residents have died and others are still missing.


Reaffirming a peace pact
Costa Rican President Oscar Arias shakes hands with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega as Cardinal Miguel Obando Bravo of Managua, Nicaragua, watches during the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Central America Peace Agreement at the Catholic University in Managua Aug. 21. The 1987 agreement, signed by five Central American presidents, sought to end long-running conflicts in the region and move the countries toward democratic reforms.


Bishops denounce AI’s policy on legal abortions
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops denounced Amnesty International’s recent adoption of a policy to fight for the decriminalization of abortion around the world. “In promoting abortion, Amnesty divides its own members ... and jeopardizes its support by people in many nations, cultures and religions who share a consistent commitment to all human rights.” said Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., president of the conference.

The human rights organization’s International Council — more than 400 delegates from 75 countries — approved the proposals at a meeting of Amnesty leaders in Cocoyoc, Mexico, Aug. 11-17 as part of Amnesty’s Stop Violence Against Women campaign.

Seven new Cristo Rey schools open this fall
WASHINGTON (CNS) — While many Catholic schools in the nation’s inner cities have been struggling to stay open due to declining enrollments and skyrocketing expenses, innovative efforts to revive Catholic high schools in these same neighborhoods are quietly gaining momentum. Seven new Cristo Rey schools are opening, bringing the national total to 19. The Catholic schools, which mean “Christ the King” in Spanish, serve low-income high school students from Los Angeles to New York.

The schools operate a work-study program where students offset tuition costs and gain practical business experience by working entry-level jobs five days a month and attend school for extended days and school year.

Columbian priest’s charge:sexual, financial wrongs
BOGOTA, Colombia (CNS) — The former head of the Archdiocese of Cali’s ecclesiastical tribunal has made charges of widespread sexual and financial misconduct in the archdiocese. Father German Robledo, a 67-year-old priest and head of the tribunal until 2004, went public Aug. 21 with accusations against priests and other church officials in Cali. He said he was doing so because he had not been satisfied with reaction from archdiocesan officials.

In late August, Archbishop Juan Sarasti Jaramillo of Cali acknowledged that some priests had violated their oaths of celibacy but said that it was unfair to make general accusations. He said Father Robledo’s accusations would be investigated.

Oil boom spurs Church’s growth in Kazakhstan
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Catholic Church in the western Asian nation of Kazakhstan is facing unprecedented growth, spurred by the country’s burgeoning economy and an influx of foreigners working in the oil industry.

But as the economy booms, Catholic leaders face challenges in making sure the country’s small Catholic population continues to prioritize spiritual values over financial gains. “In Kazakhstan so many people have one goal: to have lots of money,” said Bishop Janusz Kaleta of Atyrau, Kazakhstan.

In the last 20 years the number of parishes has grown from 50 to 70. Two more parishes will open by the end of this year.

Baptisims to mark cardinal’s birthday

MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — Manila parishes baptized more than 5,000 children 6 years old or younger as part of a Special Day for the Poor set by the archdiocese to commemorate its cardinal’s 75th birthday. Fellowship activities and special services for poor communities were also held. Manila has 84 parishes.

Trafficking victim reunited with son in New Jersey
NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) — Through the work of the Archdiocese of Newark’s Catholic Charities’ refugee resettlement and human trafficking programs, a former trafficking victim was reunited with her 9-year-old son after more than four years of forced separation. Lucy Magambi came to the U.S. in 2003 from Kenya to work for a family in Bergen County as a housekeeper and nanny. She left her young son Brian behind with the hopes of making a new life for them in the United States.

“They were going to pay me $200 a month. I thought I was going to be rich,” she recalled. However, Magambi was pressed to work tirelessly for little pay, forced into seclusion and physically assaulted. Two years ago, Catholic Charities arranged for her rescue.

School offers refund if student doesn’t read
DETROIT (CNS) — Our Lady of La Salette Catholic School in the Detroit suburb of Berkley is making a guarantee: First-graders will be reading at a second-grade level by the end of the year. If not, parents can ask for a full tuition refund.

There’s no catch, but there is a commitment required. Parents must sign a contract promising to spend at least 15 minutes — a time recommended by most educators — reading with their child every day. The first-grader must be new to the school and have passed a test showing readiness to learn and no learning disabilities. At the end of the school year, the child will be given a standardized third-party test to be sure he or she is at a second-grade reading level. If not, parents may request a refund.

Enrollment up in Gulf Coast schools, universities
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Two years after Hurricane Katrina, Catholic schools and colleges in the Gulf Coast region are recovering, but enrollment figures have still not been restored to what they were prior to the storm. At Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, which was severely damaged by floodwaters from the breached levees following Katrina, enrollment is still about 75 percent of the pre-Katrina total of 4,100 students.

Jesuit-run Loyola University in New Orleans, which was not physically damaged by the hurricane but was forced to close for the fall 2005 semester, did not have figures available for the 2007-08 school year, but has seen an overall loss in students since the hurricane.

Bust of first Catholic chief justice may be removed
BALTIMORE (CNS) — A bust of the first Catholic chief justice of the United States may be removed from its prominent perch in front of Frederick’s City Hall if a group of civil rights activists gets its way. Pointing to Chief Justice Roger Taney’s role in writing the Dred Scott v. Sanford decision that declared blacks to be noncitizens and that made slavery legal in all territories, members of the Frederick chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are calling on city leaders to take down the bust.

The movement has drawn a mixed response from the Catholic community, with some leaders arguing that it is wrong to remove a piece of art honoring a historic figure while others said the move could promote a sense of healing.

Bishop leads prayers for trapped miners in Utah
HUNTINGTON, Utah (CNS) — Although he said “fear, anxiety and anger are common human emotions” during the long wait for word on the fate of six miners trapped in the Crandall Canyon Mine since Aug. 6, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City urged the miners’ families, colleagues and rescuers Aug. 9 to place themselves “in God’s presence.”

“God will answer our prayers either with the safe return of the six miners to us, or the grace to see us through our loss,” he said during a Mass in the tiny mission church of San Rafael in Huntington.

After three weeks of drilling and digging, there are no signs of life, but a seventh borehole was being punched into the Utah mine to allow a camera search for the men.


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