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 March 22, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 6   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Protesting in Madrid
Thousands of people take part in an anti-abortion march in Madrid, Spain, March 7, to protest changes to Spanish law that make it easier for a woman to terminate a pregnancy. The banner in the center reads, “Spaniards support life.”
2010 Census by the numbers
This month the United States is conducting its 23rd population census, counting the nation’s estimated 309 million residents.

Obama advocates quick immigration reform

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Just over a week before tens of thousands of people were expected in Washington for a rally in support of immigration reform, President Barack Obama told grass-roots and faith leaders that he remains firmly committed to passing legislation this year.

For their part, participants in the meeting with Obama urged Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to release before the March 21 rally their plans for a comprehensive immigration bill — an outline of which the senators brought to their own meeting with the president the same afternoon.

Over the last couple of months, Catholics around the country have been asked to sign postcards to their members of Congress urging them to back immigration reform that keeps families together, unclogs the system for legal immigration and provides an avenue for legalization for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants now in the country.

100 Anglican parishes seek to join Church

ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) — About 100 traditionalist Anglican parishes in the United States have decided to join the Catholic Church as a group. Meeting in Orlando, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America voted to seek entry into the Catholic Church under the guidelines established in Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus” (“Groups of Anglicans”).

The Anglican Church in America is part of the Traditional Anglican Communion, a group of churches which separated from the worldwide Anglican Communion in 1991. The Traditional Anglican Communion claims 400,000 members worldwide.

The request means the 100 Anglican Church in America parishes will ask for group reception into the Catholic Church in a “personal ordinariate,” in which they can retain their Anglican character and much of their liturgy and practices — including married priests — while being in communion with the Catholic Church.

Decision refusing children of lesbians is defended

DENVER (CNS) — The decision to refuse enrollment at a Boulder Catholic school to two children of lesbian parents was the only outcome that was fair to the children, their teachers, school parents and “the authentic faith of the Church,” said Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

“Our schools are meant to be ‘partners in faith’ with parents,” the archbishop said in a column published in the March 10 issue of the archdiocesan newspaper. “If parents don’t respect the beliefs of the Church, or live in a manner that openly rejects those beliefs, then partnering with those parents becomes very difficult, if not impossible.

“It also places unfair stress on the children, who find themselves caught in the middle, and on their teachers, who have an obligation to teach the authentic faith of the Church,” he added.

Abuse cases show need for greater women’s role

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A greater presence of women in decision-making roles in the Church might have helped remove the “veil of masculine secrecy” that covered priestly sex abuse cases, a front-page commentary in the Vatican newspaper said.

The article said that despite calls by popes and others for welcoming women into equal, though diverse, roles in the Church, women have generally been kept out of positions of responsibility. As a result, the Church has failed to take advantage of the many talents and contributions that could have been provided by women, it said.

The article, published March 10 by L’Osservatore Romano, was written by Lucetta Scaraffia, an Italian journalist and history professor who has been a frequent contributor to the Vatican paper in recent years.
“We can hypothesize that a greater female presence, not at a subordinate level, would have been able to rip the veil of masculine secrecy that in the past often covered the denunciation of these misdeeds with silence,” the article said.

Homilies should be under eight minutes

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Homilies should be no longer than eight minutes — a listener’s average attention span, said the head of the synod office. Priests and deacons should also avoid reading straight from a text and instead work from notes so that they can have eye contact with the people in the pews, said Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops.

In a new book titled, “The Word of God,” the archbishop highlighted some tips that came out of the 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Bible. The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reproduced a few passages from the book in its March 10 edition. Priests should spend an appropriate amount of time to craft a well-prepared and relevant sermon for Mass, he said, noting that Pope Benedict XVI starts working on his Sunday homilies on the preceding Monday so there is plenty of time to reflect on the Scripture readings from which the homily will draw.

Vatican official cautions against GMOs

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Genetically modified food crops could be used as “weapons of infliction of hunger and poverty” if they are managed unjustly, said the new head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Cardinal Peter Turkson said he would urge an attitude of caution and further study of the possible negative effects of genetically engineered organisms. Agribusinesses and biotech industries that produce genetically modified organisms are justified in wanting to recoup the expenses laid out for research and development, and they have a right to want to make a profit from their work, said Cardinal Turkson.

But the issue becomes problematic when a company that controls the use of genetically modified seeds and crops is motivated more by profit than by “the declared desire to want to help feed humanity,” he said. There are also doubts about the efficacy and long-term effects of genetically engineered crops, he said.

Father Augustine Tolton

Sainthood process begins for first black U.S. priest

CHICAGO (CNS) — Father Augustine Tolton was the first U.S. priest of African descent and may one day be a saint from the Archdiocese of Chicago. The archdiocese is introducing the priest’s cause for canonization, according to an announcement by Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George.

Having Father Tolton as a saint would be a blessing for the whole Catholic Church but, in particular, for Catholics in Chicago, said Chicago Cardinal Francis George.he said. “First of all, saints intercede,” he said. “We need his prayers and his help, especially to become a more united church. Secondly, his example of priestly dedication, his learning and preaching, are great examples for our seminarians and priests and should inspire the laity.”


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