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 October 19, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Surfer priest
Father Christian Mondor, a retired priest at Sts. Simon and Jude Parish in Huntington Beach, poses with his surf board after the second annual Blessing of the Waves in Huntington Beach, Oct. 4. The event called on participants to show spiritual appreciation for the ocean and all that it gives the planet and its population. More than 1,500 surfers and ocean-minded people attended.

Recovery in Manila
Vendors sell cooked food, despite prolonged flooding, at a public market in Pasig City in greater Manila, Philippines, Oct. 7. A typhoon and heavy rains Sept. 26 had displaced nearly a half million people in the north. Additional flooding about 120 miles from the capital Oct. 8 left thousands of additional people homeless and at least 18 villages underwater. Catholic Relief Services continues to collect funds to support its recovery efforts in the area.

Nobel Prize to Obama greeted with praise
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — News that U.S. President Barack Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize was met with high hopes from the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi.

Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said of President Obama in a statement released Oct. 12: “As he has graciously said, much of the work of realizing a more peaceful and just world for all persons and nations remains to be done; but the prize was given because, as president of the United States, he has already changed the international conversation.”

“In our own country, the remarkable and historic achievement of his election has changed the relationships between men and women of all races,” the cardinal said.

“The rich diversity of United States society is now more surely anchored in a national unity that is better able to foster the peace we all are challenged to pursue. Our prayer is that almighty God will bless the president and his family,” he added.

Charity, Mercy Daughters win housing award

LOS ALTOS HILLS, Calif. (CNS) — A collaboration between the western U.S. province of the Daughters of Charity and Mercy Housing California has been named one of the nation’s best affordable housing developments by readers of Affordable Housing Finance magazine.

St. Vincent’s Affordable Housing in Santa Barbara won in the master-planned/mixed-use category in the magazine’s fifth annual Readers’ Choice Awards. The housing project, the largest development in Santa Barbara in 40 years, includes St. Vincent’s Gardens, home to 75 low-income families, and Villa Caridad, which consists of 95 low-income senior apartments. The site also includes outdoor recreation areas, a basketball court and a small garden area with walking paths along an existing creek.

Amazon bishops: Stop destroying rain forest

LIMA, Peru (CNS) — Catholic bishops say it is time to stop destroying the rain forest of the Amazon and threatening its people’s welfare in the name of progress. At a meeting in Manaus, a bustling commercial center carved out of the Brazilian rain forest, they called for policies that “take responsibility for preservation of the biological and cultural diversity of the Amazon.”

The 30 bishops and 35 other Church workers and experts rejected both the commercial view of the Amazon as an “inexhaustible” source of natural resources and a gene pool that might hold a cure for diseases, and the romantic concept of the region as a pristine green “lung.”

Senior Irish bishops meet with abuse victims

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) — Ireland’s senior Catholic bishops met with representatives of abuse victims in what both parties called a momentous and fruitful effort to bring closure to the issue. In a three-hour meeting, the clerics and representatives of four of the most prominent victims’ groups discussed ways to help the healing process continue.

During the meeting, the victims’ groups asked the Church as a whole to be more responsive to survivors. They also asked the bishops to establish a subcommittee to begin a regular dialogue with victims and to open a fund to help people who may have received redress for being abused but still need additional help such as counseling and education.

The bishops made no commitments during the meeting.

Medal of Honor sought for priest who died POW

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Father Emil Kapaun, the U.S. Army chaplain who saved the lives of dozens of soldiers and died as a prisoner of war in North Korea in 1951, should receive the Medal of Honor, the Army’s top official determined prior to leaving his post in September.

A canonization cause for Father Kapaun formally opened June 29, 2008, with a Mass at St. John Nepomucene Church in his hometown of Pilsen, Illinois.

Nigerian bishops want action against witchcraft

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Two bishops from Nigeria asked the Synod of Bishops for Africa to make a clear commitment to educating Catholics about the fact that, while the devil exists, witchcraft does not. “Suspected witches are abandoned, isolated, discriminated (against) and ostracized from the community,” Bishop Augustine Akubeze of Uromi told the synod .

“Sometimes they are taken to the forest and slaughtered or disgraced publicly and murdered,” he said. Obviously, Bishop Akubeze said, witches do not exist and so the accusations are always false. Even worse, he said, people have been known to accuse someone of being a witch just to settle personal squabbles.
Belief in witches and their curses predated the arrival of Christianity in sub-Saharan Africa and continues to this day despite evangelization and much higher levels of general education, the bishop said.

U.S. geneticists named to Vatican academy

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has named two prominent U.S. geneticists as members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Edward M. De Robertis, a professor of biological chemistry at the school of medicine of the University of California at Los Angeles, are the newly appointed members.

Collins, 59, is the former director of the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute, which made a complete map of the human genome under his leadership. De Roberti, 62, isolated the first gene responsible for controlling the development of vertebrates while he was a professor of cellular biology at the University of Basel, Switzerland.

Appeals made for release of kidnapped priest

PAGADIAN, Philippines (CNS) — Catholic and Muslim leaders in the southern Philippines have appealed to kidnappers to release Irish Columban Father Michael Sinnott, 79. No group has claimed responsibility for the Oct. 11 kidnapping of the priest in Pagadian City. However, police told media they suspect the gunmen came either from the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group or from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, two separatist groups active in the area. Father Sinnott, who needs daily medication, had only one day’s supply with him when he was taken.

Court to consider whether cross is constitutional

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A dispute over a war memorial on federal land raised questions among Supreme Court justices Oct. 7 over whether allowing a cross to stand in the remote California desert might have implications for other religious symbols on government property. The memorial, placed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1934 on a rock in an isolated part of the 1.6 million-acre Mojave National Preserve in San Bernardino County, has been replaced several times by private organizations or individuals.

Solicitor General Elena Kagan, arguing on behalf of the Department of the Interior, suggested that any confusion over whether the federal government is responsible for a religious symbol might be resolved by posting signs explaining the war memorial’s nonsectarian history and purpose.

Support for legal abortion declines among groups

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Results from a new poll by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life shows a significant decline in support for abortion in the United States. Overall, Pew reported that 47 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 45 percent said it should be illegal in all or most cases.

A year ago in a similar Pew poll, 54 percent said it should be legal in all or most cases, while 41 percent said it should be illegal in all or most cases. The margin of error for the most recent survey was plus or minus 2 percentage points.


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