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November 19, 2007   •   VOL. 45, NO. 20   •   Oakland, CA
 
News in Brief


 
First new church
in 100 years

Women light candles during the dedication of the Church of St. John Chrysostom in Novokuznetsk, Russia, Oct. 14. The church is the first Byzantine Catholic church built in Russia in nearly a century.

CNS PHOTO/JANEZ A. SEVER, SJ


 
Destruction in Somalia

A displaced Somali woman walks through a camp destroyed by fire near Mogadishu, Somalia, Nov. 3. About 88,000 Somalis have fled during recent heavy fighting in Mogadishu, adding to hundreds of thousands who ran away earlier this year, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency.

CNS PHOTO/ISMAEL ABDI/REUTERS

Pope to visit U.S. April 15-20, 2008
WASHINGTON—Pope Benedict XVI will be in the United States, April 15-20, to visit Washington D.C. and New York City where he will address the United Nations.

While in Washington, he will meet with the bishops of the United States at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

“This is a blessed moment for our nation,” said Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “Pope Benedict is not just the leader of Catholics, he is also a man of inspiration for all those who work for peace.”

Bishop urges diplomacy, not military action in Iran
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Although “the prospect of Iran developing nuclear weapons is unacceptable,” the U.S. government must exhaust every option before considering military action to resolve the situation, the chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on International Policy told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

“The use of force must always be a last resort,” Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Fla., said in a letter to Rice made public Nov. 9. “In addition, the failure to be transparent about one’s nuclear energy program is not grounds for military intervention, nor is the possession of nuclear weapons or the issuing of bellicose statements,” he added.

In U.S. efforts to ensure Iran’s compliance with international law in developing its nuclear energy program, “dialogue is essential,” the bishop said. “It is not a reward for good behavior, but rather is a means to achieve important ends.”

Natural family planning gets insurance recognition
ST. LOUIS (CNS) — The medical coding system used by the government, insurance companies, medical clinics and health care providers now includes two codes specifically for natural family planning. Behind the push for the new codes was the American Academy of FertilityCare Professionals. Diane Daly, director of the Office of Natural Family Planning for the St. Louis Archdiocese and a member of the academy, headed the committee that worked several years for the new codes.

Bishops defend refusal to sell morning-after pill
SANTIAGO, Chile (CNS) — Chilean Catholic bishops have defended a Chilean pharmaceutical company’s right to refuse to sell the morning-after pill because it considers the drug abortive. Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Chomali Garib of Santiago, a member of the bishops’ bioethics commission, wrote in early November that forcing the pharmaceutical industry to sell the drug is wrong.

At least one pharmaceutical company said the government is forcing it to sell the drug. In mid-October, the Chilean Health Ministry fined three pharmaceutical companies that control 90 percent of the Chilean market for not selling Levonorgestrel 0.75 as required by law. The companies are appealing the fines of $68,000 each.

New document urges compassion to animals
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Religious leaders have signed a document urging people of faith to make compassion to animals an integral part of their religious teachings. The document says in part that animals “have intrinsic value as part of God’s creation and are entitled to live lives free of cruelty and exploitation.”

The document was signed by members of at least 20 faith traditions, including Catholic, Baptist, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Quaker representatives. They called on people of faith to stop wearing fur, reduce meat consumption and buy only from farms that use humane methods, as opposed to practices such as confining chickens in small cages and raising livestock in factory farms.

English bishop supports legalizing prostitution

PORTSMOUTH, England (CNS) — A Catholic bishop has said he supports a controversial campaign to legalize prostitution in Britain. Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth said he did not condone prostitution but could see the merits of regulating the practice. “If you are going to take a pragmatic view and say prostitution happens, I think there’s a need to make sure it’s as well-regulated as possible for the health of people involved and for the safety of the ladies themselves,” said the bishop.

“That’s not to say I approve of prostitution in any way. I don’t. I would be very much happier if there was no prostitution in Portsmouth or anywhere else, because I do regard those involved in any way as involved in some form of immorality,” the bishop said. “But it’s going to be there whatever we do — it has been from time immemorial, so I think that’s something we have to be realistic about,” he added.

Seven Catholic schools in D.C. to be charter schools
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Archdiocese of Washington has finalized its decision to reconfigure its current 12-school center-city consortium. Four schools will make up a new smaller consortium. Seven schools will be converted into charter schools and one will become a parish-run school.

The Center City Consortium began in 1997 to help schools facing decreasing enrollment, budget deficits, deteriorating buildings and the threat of closure. Through the consortium, schools pooled their resources and have been assisted by consortium staff with development, fundraising and purchasing.

The shift to charter schools was developed in response to several crises facing the consortium, including a $7 million shortfall this school year, a projected $56 million deficit over the next five years, a 19 percent decline in enrollment and an increase in the number of the city’s tuition-free public charter schools.

Collapsed economy puts Zimbabwe on the brink
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Continued drought and a collapsed economy have put Zimbabwe on the brink of a major humanitarian crisis, said the second-largest aid network in the world. Caritas Internationalis, an umbrella group of Catholic humanitarian aid and development agencies, made the warning Nov. 5 as it launched a $7 million appeal to help stave off disaster.

More than 4 million people are at risk of not having enough basic food supplies if they do not receive immediate aid, the Vatican-based organization said. Failed harvests due to insufficient rainfall and poorly planned land reform are some of the elements generating increased suffering for the people of Zimbabwe.

Lay Catholics call for greater civility in politics
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Charging that the debate leading up to the 2008 elections “is increasingly filled with attacks on private conduct and recriminations,” a group of prominent lay Catholics called for a “spirit of civility” in all political discussions and said the Church must be protected “from being stained by the appearance of partisan political involvement.”

Signers of the “Catholic Call to Observe Civility in Political Debate,” released on Election Day 2007, include 11 former U.S. ambassadors, former chairmen of both the Democratic and Republican national committees, a retired undersecretary-general of the United Nations, past and current university presidents, business executives, attorneys and former officeholders.

 

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