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 December 15, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 21   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Prayers against crime in Tijuana
Lidia Duarte and Patricia Gallegos pray during a Nov. 26 service held in response to rising crime and violence in Tijuana, Mexico. About 2,500 people attended the service in a sports stadium.

Remembering the victims in Mumbai ABOVE
A girl prays during a candlelight vigil in Jammu, India, Dec. 4, held for the victims of Mumbai’s Nov. 26 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 200 people and injured hundreds. Among the victims were a Jewish rabbi and his wife and a Catholic waiter working in one of the two hotels targeted in the attacks.

Funeral for Patriarch LEFT
People pray near a portrait of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow during a public viewing in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior Dec. 7. Pope Benedict XVI asked the world’s Catholics to join prayers with “our Orthodox brothers and sister “for the peaceful repose of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Patriarch Alexy died Dec. 5 at age 79.

No disregard seen for gay Catholics in Prop. 8 vote
LOS ANGELES (CNS) — In a message to homosexual Catholics in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and the six auxiliary bishops of the archdiocese said the recent vote in California defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman “does not diminish in any way (your) importance” nor “lessen your personal dignity and value as full members of the body of Christ.”

The message said Catholic support for Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment approved by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin Nov. 4, “was in defense of the long-standing institution of marriage understood as the lifelong relationship of a man and a woman ordered to the good of the spouses and to the procreation and education of their children.”

The Church’s support was not an effort to harm the homosexual community or to ban same-sex marriage, even though ballot information about Proposition 8 stated that was the initiative’s purpose, the cardinal and bishops said.

“If we had ever thought that the intent of this proposition was to harm you or anyone in the state of California, we would not have supported it,” they said.

Detroit church leaders support auto industry aid

DETROIT (CNS) — Detroit-area religious leaders convened by Detroit Cardinal Adam J. Maida called Dec. 4 for federal assistance to stabilize the American automobile industry. Cardinal Maida said both business and labor leaders had expressed fear of what could happen if there is no government action. “The alternative is not only unwise; it is unthinkable. If nothing is done, one can only imagine what would happen to all of us who call this corner of Michigan home,” he added. The 11 religious leaders represented local Catholics, Anglicans, Protestants, Jews and Muslims.

Carbon monoxide kills 11 Chinese Catholic girls

YAN’AN, China (CNS) — Carbon monoxide poisoning, apparently from burning coal in a school dormitory in Shaanxi province, killed 11 Catholic girls ages 8-10 and left a 12th girl in a coma. The 12 pupils from various Catholic villages were burning charcoal with the windows closed Dec. 1, trying to keep warm in freezing weather. The incident at the state-run Duiziliang School in Dingbian county came to light when the girls failed to appear at the morning assembly in the school playground.

Leaders urge Obama to seek Middle East peace

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Washington’s retired archbishop, has joined Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders in calling upon President-elect Barack Obama to take an immediate leadership role in securing peace between Palestinians and Israelis in the violence-torn Middle East.

“We believe it is essential that the leaders and people of Israel, the Palestinian territories and Arab states be assured that you intend to implement this priority with a sense of urgency following your inauguration,” said members of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East.

The leaders also are seeking meetings with the new president and Hillary Clinton, Obama’s nominee as secretary of state, to offer their ideas and support for U.S. efforts in the region.

Murdered nun honored with human rights prize

UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — A U.S. nun who was murdered in 2005 while she worked to defend the rights of poor farmers in the Brazilian Amazon region has been named a recipient of a prestigious U.N. human rights prize. Sister Dorothy Stang, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, is one of seven recipients of the U.N. Prize in the Field of Human Rights, awarded by the General Assembly every five years.

The others are slain Pakistani leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto; Louise Arbour, former U.N. high commissioner for human rights; Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney general; Carolyn Gomes, executive director and co-founder of Jamaicans for Justice; Denis Mukwege, co-founder of the General Referral Hospital of Panzi in Congo; and Human Rights Watch.

The awards were to be presented at a ceremony in New York on International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, to mark the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

U.S. suspension of aid program decried

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (CNS) — Archbishop Leopoldo Brenes Solorzano of Managua criticized the decision by the Millennium Challenge Corp. to suspend a U.S. aid program over concerns about the results of nationwide municipal elections. Archbishop Brenes, president of the Nicaraguan bishops’ conference, warned that suspending the poverty reduction program would affect the poorest people of the nation.

John Danilovich, chief executive of the Millennium Challenge Corp., a U.S. government corporation designed to work with some of the poorest countries in the world, ordered the agency to re-evaluate its $175 million aid package to Nicaragua. “I am not satisfied that the electoral process in Nicaragua has been conducted in accordance with the principles upon which MCC awards and delivers grants to reduce poverty,” said a statement from the organization Nov. 24.

Vatican ratifies treaty banning cluster bombs

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican has signed and ratified a new treaty to end the production and use of cluster bombs, and appealed to the international community to ban “this inhumane type of weapon.” Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Vatican secretary for relations with states, was one of more than 100 diplomats who signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 3.

The United States and other major countries that produce cluster weapons — including Russia, China, Israel, India and Pakistan — have not signed it. The United States has expressed concern that a ban would restrict what it sees as the legitimate use of such weapons and has said that cluster bombs were essential to U.S. military operations.

S.F. Archbishop: tolerance sought in same-sex debate

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — San Francisco’s archbishop has appealed to people on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue to be tolerant of each other, to “disagree without being disagreeable” and not presume to know “the real motives” behind people’s viewpoint. “We need to stop hurling names like ‘bigot’ and ‘pervert’ at each other. And we need to stop it now,” Archbishop George H. Niederauer said Dec. 1 in an open letter.

Voters in the state Nov. 4 passed a ballot initiative called Proposition 8, which is a constitutional amendment to define marriage as only “valid and recognized” if between a man and a woman. There have been vigorous protests against the outcome in California and around the country by gay rights supporters.


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