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 July 6, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 13   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Former Oakland bishop receives pallium
Pope Benedict XVI greets Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit after presenting a pallium to him during a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican June 29. During the Mass, 34 archbishops from 20 countries knelt before the pope and received a pallium, a woolen band worn around their shoulders as a sign of their authority and their responsibility as shepherds. Archbishop Vigneron is a former bishop of Oakland.
Mass wedding
in Manila

Newly married couples kiss during a mass wedding ceremony at a Catholic church in Manila, Philippines, June 19. The city government sponsored the wedding in the largely Catholic country.

Pope to meet Obama July 10 in Rome
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI will welcome U.S. President Barack Obama to the Vatican July 10 for an audience. Obama will visit Italy July 8-10 to participate in the Group of Eight summit in L’Aquila, site of a devastating earthquake in April. It is not clear whether Miguel Diaz, a theology professor tapped by Obama to be the new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, will be present for the papal meeting.

Bishop, donors sue nuns who closed high school

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) — Sacra-mento Bishop Jaime Soto and a group of Loretto High School donors in Sacramento are suing the religious order that closed the all-girls school in June. The bishop and seven other donors contend in the lawsuit, filed June 10 in Sacramento Superior Court against Loretto High School and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that the religious order wants to use proceeds from the sale of the school to help fund their retirement at their motherhouse in Wheaton, Ill., rather than keep the money in Sacramento for Catholic education.

The lawsuit does not seek to stop the sale of Loretto High School to a charter school. The plaintiffs are asking the court to hold the proceeds of the school’s sale and assign an arbitrator to determine how to allocate the money.

Dialogue sought after Notre Dame controversy

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In the wake of the University of Notre Dame controversy involving President Barack Obama delivering its 2009 commencement address, some U.S. bishops and Catholic university presidents are preparing for dialogue aimed at reaching a consensus about speakers on their campuses.

During the early June conference of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities’ board of directors in San Diego, the governing body of the group said they would like to see the U.S. bishops revisit their 2004 statement “Catholics in Political Life,” which says it’s inappropriate for Catholic institutions to honor or provide a platform to someone who holds positions contrary to the teachings of the Church.

Two bishops attending the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spring meeting in San Antonio told the National Catholic Reporter June 17 they also see a need for dialogue with the U.S. Catholic university presidents about this issue, and perhaps revisit the bishops’ 2004 statement.

10,000 migrants kidnapped in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — A nun who works on migration issues for Mexico’s bishops said she was not surprised by a report from Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission that nearly 10,000 undocumented migrants traveling through Mexico on their way to the United States were kidnapped over a six-month period. Scalabrini Sister Leticia Gutierrez, executive secretary of the Mexican bishops’ human mobility ministry, said Church officials’ research and interviews with migrants contributed to the report released June 15.

Those working with migrants report that migrants are being targeted by criminal groups — including many with ties to powerful narcotics-trafficking cartels — who kidnap them and demand ransoms from relatives living in either the United States or the migrants’ home countries. Sixty-seven percent of the victims were from Honduras, while nearly 90 percent of the victims were apprehended by “organized groups.”

Dominican nun vows to remain in Iraq

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Despite growing numbers of Iraqi Christians fleeing their country to escape the violence and persecution, an Iraqi Dominican nun says she will remain in her country. “I am committed to staying in Iraq for those who remain: the poor, the vulnerable, the widows and their children,” Sister Maria Hanna said during a visit to Washington D.C to give Catholic agencies and organizations an update on current conditions in the country. She has set goals to build schools and hospitals for those remaining in Iraq and to give hope to all Iraqis.

Spanish bishops oppose abortion legislation

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Spain’s Catholic bishops have criticized legislation that would liberalize the country’s abortion laws, calling the bill “a very serious danger for the common good. The bill, expected to be considered by the parliament in July, would allow girls as young as 16 to terminate a pregnancy without parental consent. It also would allow abortions to be performed without restrictions up to the 14th week of pregnancy.

Principles ok’d for decisions on unions

WASHINGTON (CNS) — After more than two years of consultations, leaders from Catholic health care, the labor movement and the U.S. bishops’ conference have agreed on a set of principles designed to ensure a fair process as health care workers decide whether to join a union. A 12-page document laying out the principles, titled “Respecting the Just Rights of Workers: Guidance and Options for Catholic Health Care and Unions,” was made public June 22.

“The heart of this unusual consensus is that it’s up to workers — not bishops, hospital managers or union leaders — to decide . . . whether or not to be represented by a union and if so, which union, in the workplace,” said Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington and a participant in the consultations.

12 million trapped in human trafficking

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Efforts to combat global human trafficking suffered setbacks last year, in part because a bad global economy left more people vulnerable to traffickers, a new report says. The U.S. Department of State released its 2009 Trafficking in Persons report June 16. According to the report, an estimated 12.3 million people are currently trapped in some form of modern-day slavery.

The report cited the international economic crisis as a driving factor in the rise of human trafficking. Rising unemployment rates and falling incomes have left desperate workers vulnerable to manipulation by human traffickers, particularly in underdeveloped countries.

World’s hungry reach one billion mark

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — New statistics show that a record 1 billion people — about one in every six — were suffering from chronic hunger in the wake of the economic crisis. The rate is much higher in Africa, where about one in four people suffers from chronic hunger.

Army chaplain dies after injuries in Iraq

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — Father H. Timothy Vakoc, a Minnesota priest who was reportedly the first Army chaplain to be gravely injured in the Iraq War, died June 20 at a nursing home. He was 49 and held the rank of major. Ordained in 1992 as a priest of the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese, he served in two parishes before joining the Army full time in 1996.

In May 2004, Father Vakoc’s Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb while he was returning to his barracks after saying Mass for soldiers on the 12th anniversary of his ordination. He suffered severe head injuries, including the loss of his left eye and brain damage.

Paying women for eggs called ‘grossly unethical’

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (CNS) — An official of the New York State Catholic Conference has criticized as “grossly unethical, dangerous and exploitative” a plan that allows state funds to be paid to women who donate their eggs for research purposes. The move was approved June 11 by the Empire State Stem Cell Board, which oversees $600 million in New York taxpayer funds earmarked for stem-cell research.

Kathleen Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the conference, which represents the state’s bishops in public-policy matters, said the plan “treats women’s body parts as commodities.”


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