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 October 6, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 17   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

St. Paul Church in Sabine Pass, Texas, sustained major damage from the storm surge of Hurricane Ike, which made landfall in the Gulf Coast area Sept. 13. Officials at Catholic Charities USA say the economic crisis and low media focus have resulted in scant storm relief gifts.


Vatican reforestation project begins in Nov.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The first saplings of the Vatican Climate Forest, a reforestation project to offset the Vatican’s carbon dioxide emissions, will be planted in November. The U.S.-based Planktos Inc. and its Hungarian partner, KlimaFa Ltd., are restoring more than 600 acres of forests in Hungary along the Tisza River to offset emissions of carbon dioxide.

A 20-year management project is planned for the forest, which will become a permanent part of the Hungarian national forest system. The planting will include 125,600 oak, white willow, black poplar and wild fruit trees.
The project deals only with compensating for the greenhouse gases emitted by heating and cooling Vatican buildings and driving Vatican cars.

Bill proposed to ban sex-selection abortions

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Despite evidence that sex-selection abortions may be occurring in the United States, U.S. law affords “less protection from sex-based feticide” than India or China do, according to proposed legislation that is to be introduced soon in the House of Representatives. The proposed bill would “prohibit discrimination against the unborn on the basis of sex or race,” said Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona.

“Today we put forth a principle that all Americans of good will can warmly embrace — that no child should be marked to die based on their sex or their race. And we put it forth in the backdrop of over 100 million little girls having been aborted simply because they were little girls instead of little boys,” he added.

Father Ernesto Cardenal

Priest: persecution by Nicaraguan government

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (CNS) — A Nicaraguan priest and poet says he is being persecuted by his country’s government. Father Ernesto Cardenal, 83, was convicted in August of defaming a German businessman and was fined $1,025, which he has refused to pay. His bank accounts were frozen in September.

A top figure in the liberation theology movement and a poet who has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature, Father Cardenal accused Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega of orchestrating his conviction as “vengeance” for the priest’s political opposition and criticism. The two men were close allies during the 1980s, when Father Cardenal served as culture minister during Ortega’s first government.

However, Father Cardenal resigned from the Sandinista Front in 1994 because he said Ortega and his supporters would not allow moderates a voice in the party.

Tribal Indians burn cardinal’s effigy

RANCHI, India (CNS) — A group of tribal people in India has burned effigies of Ranchi Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, holding him responsible for a Protestant Bible they say insults their indigenous religion. On Sept. 22 protesters shouted slogans against the prelate, the first Asian tribal cardinal.

The protesters hold Cardinal Toppo, an ethnic Oraon, responsible for the Protestant translation because they do not understand denominational differences and consider the cardinal head of all tribal Christians in the state.

Sacto. diocese in dispute with Western Dominicans

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) — The Diocese of Sacramento has asked the metropolitan tribunal in the Archdiocese of San Francisco to settle an ongoing dispute with the leaders of the Dominican order’s western province, based in Oakland. The ruling concerns responsibility for the actions of Dominican Father Jerome Henson, who was accused of sexual abuse while serving at St. Dominic Church in Benicia during the early 1980s.

In a settlement with sex abuse victims and their attorneys reached in June 2005, the Diocese of Sacramento agreed to pay $35 million to 33 victims of sexual abuse in resolving all outstanding legal claims against the diocese and all religious orders operating within the diocese. Two of those claims involved Father Henson.

More than two years later, the diocese was partially reimbursed by the Dominican’s insurance carrier for the claims against the priest, but so far the province itself has declined to accept any responsibility for the substantial remaining damages, which total $1.5 million.

Franciscan nuns launch label of fair-trade coffee

PITTSBURGH (CNS) — A Pittsburgh community of Franciscan Sisters has entered the world of private-label coffee brands, aiding both their own aging Sisters and poor Honduran coffee farmers in the process. They launched their own coffee label — Franciscan Blend — earlier this spring, using fair-trade beans imported from the Central American country. The Sisters will use the income to help support their elderly and infirm sisters.

And through fair trade, the farmers are guaranteed a stable, fair price for their products, giving them economic security. The farmers are organized into cooperatives which link them directly to coffee importers.

Polish theologian refuses to retract article

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — A top Polish theologian known for his work in the field of ecumenism has rejected a demand from the Vatican to retract and rewrite an article criticizing the Vatican’s attitude toward Christians of other denominations.

Oblate Father Waclaw Hryniewicz, 72, refused to publish an “approved retraction” and could now face a publishing ban and suspension. The priest retired in 2005 from the Catholic University of Lublin and had surgery for cancer this summer. “I am close to death and do not see how I can now go against my conscience by writing an article with clarifications and rectifications, even though I’ve been told to expect disciplinary sanctions. What worries me most of all is that this judgment may now be expanded to cover all my previous work as well, in which I expressed similar views and convictions.”

Creationism, intelligent design to be excluded

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Speakers invited to attend a Vatican-sponsored congress on the evolution debate will not include proponents of creationism and intelligent design, organizers said. The Pontifical Council for Culture, Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University and the University of Notre Dame in Indiana are organizing an international conference in Rome March 3-7 as one of a series of events marking the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species.”

Jesuit Father Marc Leclerc, a philosophy professor at the Gregorian, said organizers “wanted to create a conference that was strictly scientific” and that discussed rational philosophy and theology along with the latest scientific discoveries. He said arguments “that cannot be critically defined as being science, or philosophy or theology did not seem feasible to include in a dialogue at this level and, therefore, for this reason we did not think to invite” supporters of creationism and intelligent design.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore

Archbishop urges U.N. to meet millennium goals

UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — Not meeting the U.N. Millennium Development Goals meant to bring the world’s poorest countries out of poverty would be “a moral failure of the whole international community,” said Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vati-can’s permanent observer to the United Nations.
Failure to meet the goals, he added, would have “political and economic consequences even beyond the geographic boundaries of the LDCs (least developed countries).”

Archbishop Migliore made his remarks Sept. 25 during a special U.N. session on the Millennium Development Goals, established in 2000 and intended to be reached by 2015. They address hunger, education, inequality, child and maternal health, HIV/AIDS and the environment.


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