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 May 11, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Speaking the truth
Tobasonakwut Kinew of Canada’s Assembly of First Nations holds an eagle staff as he walks near St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, April 29. He was part of a delegation that met with Pope Benedict XVI to discuss forced acculturation and, in some cases, physical and sexual abuse inflicted on native children at residential schools in Canada run by the Church. The pope expressed his “sorrow at the anguish caused by the deplorable conduct of some members of the Church.”
Internal refugees
Tents house displaced civilians at a camp near the town of Vavuniya in northern Sri Lanka. Tens of thousands of people have been recently displaced or trapped by fighting between the government and Tamil Tiger separatists in the region.

Shroud of Turin to be on display in 2010
ROME (CNS) — The Italian Archdiocese of Turin has announced that the Shroud of Turin, which many believe is the burial cloth of Christ, will be on public display April 10-May 23, 2010, the first time in a decade. The public exposition in Turin’s cathedral will offer members of the public their first opportunity to see the shroud since it underwent major cleaning and restoration in 2002. The work involved removing 30 fabric patches and a fabric backing, known as the Holland Cloth, sewn onto the shroud in 1534 after a fire.

At the time of the work, Cardinal Severino Poletto of Turin said trapped particles of dirt and scorched fabric had darkened parts of the Shroud of Turin and eventually could have made it difficult to see the shroud’s image of a crucified man.

No 2009 Laetare Medal after Glendon rejection

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The University of Notre Dame announced April 30 it will not award its prestigious Laetare Medal during the May 17 commencement ceremony after Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, turned down the honor.

Glendon cited growing controversy over President Barack Obama’s presence at this year’s event as the reason for her rejection of the award. Instead, the Catholic university announced that its 1984 recipient of the medal — Judge John T. Noonan Jr. — will deliver an address during the school’s 164th commencement ceremony. This year will mark the first time the Indiana university has failed to bestow the Laetare Medal — presented to an American Catholic for outstanding service to the Catholic Church and society — since it was established in 1883.

A former professor at Notre Dame, Noonan was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan and is the author of numerous books. Born in Boston, Noonan, 82, resides in Berkeley and is a member of Holy Spirit/Newman Parish.

Pope visits quake zone to encourage survivors
ONNA, Italy (CNS) — In a visit aimed at strengthening people’s faith and hope for the future, Pope Benedict XVI called for concrete and immediate measures to rebuild towns and villages devastated by a deadly earthquake April 6. The pope’s April 28 visit took him first to Onna — a tiny village that had once been home to some 300 people. The magnitude 6.3 earthquake reduced buildings in the town to rubble, killing some 40 people and rendering the entire population homeless.

Pregnant Women Support Act touted by cardinal
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Whatever their position on abortion, any House members who agree that “no woman should ever have to undergo an abortion because she feels she has no choice” or alternatives should co-sponsor the Pregnant Women Support Act, said Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia.

The legislation, introduced by Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn., “provides an authentic common ground, an approach that people can embrace regardless of their position on other issues,” said the cardinal in an April 24 letter to House members.

Plan B for minors called contrary to common sense

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Food and Drug Administration’s decision not to appeal a court decision that the morning-after pill marketed as Plan B should be available over the counter to minors “flies in the face of common sense,” said the U.S. bishops’ pro-life spokeswoman.

“Wider access to Plan B could endanger the lives of newly conceived children, and will put minors at risk for unnecessary side effects, undermine parental rights and contribute to higher” rates of sexually transmitted diseases, said Deirdre McQuade, assistant director for policy and communications at the bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.

The FDA announced April 22 that the Obama administration would not appeal a March 23 decision by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman making Plan B available to 17-year-olds without a prescription. A prescription had previously been required for anyone under 18.

Former bishop apologizes for fathering children

ASUNCION, Paraguay (CNS) — Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, a former Catholic bishop facing accusations that he fathered children with three women, asked the country’s forgiveness but said he would not resign.

Meanwhile, the archbishop of Asuncion, the Paraguayan capital, called for the country’s Catholics to see the crisis as an opportunity for grace. During a press conference April 24, Lugo said: “I am human, and therefore nothing human is alien to me. While asking forgiveness for these circumstances, I must insist that I always told the truth.”

Caritas director injured in Sri Lankan fighting

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A local Caritas director was seriously injured in fighting in Sri Lanka’s war-torn Vanni region, where tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced. Father T. R. Vasanthaseelan, director of Caritas Vanni-Hudec, had to have one leg amputated after shells struck St. Anthony Church in Valaignarmadam April 23. Many civilians had sought safety in the church. Another priest was also injured.Caritas is an international confederation of Catholic relief, development and social service organizations.

Michigan Catholics help plant 12,000 trees

MARQUETTE, Mich. (CNS) — Catholic parishes across northern Michigan planned to participate in an interfaith project sponsored by the Upper Peninsula EarthKeepers to plant 12,000 native trees across the state in honor of Earth Day 2009. However, snowy April weather delayed the planting of most of the trees until May 3.

On April 22, Bishop Alexander K. Sample of Marquette and other leaders of local faith communities blessed the first of thousands of white spruce and red pine trees.

The trees were to be planted at numerous locations, including the grounds of churches and temples, across 400 miles of northern Michigan.

Peru archbishop urges cleanup near smelter

LIMA, Peru (CNS) — A Catholic archbishop has delivered more than 9,500 letters to Peru’s president, demanding the cleanup of a town where many children suffer from lead poisoning because of pollution from a smelter.

Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo, whose jurisdiction includes La Oroya, a town of about 40,000 people high in the Andes, delivered the letters to the office of President Alan Garcia April 21.

The letters, sparked by talk of a government bailout of the smelter’s owner because of a financial crisis, urged the president to “protect and safeguard the development and well-being of all residents of La Oroya” and the surrounding region.

In 2004 Peruvian Health Ministry studies found that more than 99 percent of children living within half a mile of the smelter had dangerously high lead levels in their blood.


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