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 July 5, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 13   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Multi-faith reality
A Kosovar Muslim woman wearing a headscarf walks near the construction of the Cathedral of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in Pristina, Kosovo, June 24. The Kosovo education ministry banned religious garb in primary and high schools in 2009. While few countries ban headscarves in schools, analysts say Kosovo did so to ensure respect for the secular constitution in the young country.
Music for the pope
Musicians from Malawi perform during Pope Benedict XVI’s general audience at the Vatican, June 23.

Catholic center fights rule for pregnant women

SILVER SPRING, Md. (CNS) — Centro Tepeyac Women’s Center in Silver Spring has filed a lawsuit in federal court against a Montgomery County regulation that forces the county’s four pregnancy centers — but not abortion clinics — to post a sign recommending that any woman who is or could be pregnant consult a licensed health care provider.

“The government cannot create certain speech rules just because people want to talk about pregnancy choices,” said Mark Rienzi, a law professor at the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America and lead counsel in the center’s lawsuit against the regulation.

“And it certainly cannot target pro-life speakers for special sign requirements and fines while leaving speech by abortion clinics entirely unregulated,” he said. “This new regulation violates every core principle of free speech law.”

$20 million gift to Boston College to train principals

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (CNS) — Boston College’s Lynch School of Education has received a $20 million gift to fund a new educational leadership academy that will be the first in the nation to jointly train and support new principals from Catholic, public and charter schools. The money is from Carolyn and Peter Lynch, who are longtime supporters of educational initiatives and benefactors of the Jesuit-run college and Boston’s inner-city Catholic schools.

Peter, a 1965 Boston College graduate, is vice chairman of Fidelity Management and Research Co., and Carolyn is a noted philanthropist and the president and chief executive of the Lynch Foundation.

‘Grave concern’ about abortion-causing drug

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The head of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities expressed “grave concern” about a drug labeled as an emergency contraceptive and the Food and Drug Administration’s process for approving it. He said it was misleading to call it a contraceptive, as it is also known to cause abortions.

The drug, ulipristal, is being marketed under the brand name ellaOne or ella, and would be available only by prescription. It is said to prevent pregnancy five days after sex — two days longer than the morning-after pill known as Plan B, which is sold over-the-counter to women 17 and older. The FDA’s advisory panel of 11 reproductive health experts voted unanimously for ulipristal’s approval and called it safe and effective.

Oaxaca priest beaten, detained for activism

OAXACA, Mexico (CNS) — A Catholic priest known for his environmental activism has been accused of inciting a violent protest against a Canadian mining project in the state of Oaxaca that led to the deaths of a small-town mayor and a municipal official.

Father Martin Octavio Garcia Ortiz denied the allegations stemming from the June 19 incident. He described the accusations as politically motivated revenge and said they come in the run-up to local elections July 4 that will try to unseat the incumbent party after 80 years of uninterrupted rule.

The priest said his accusers abducted him, held him for six hours and beat him in a private home until state police rescued him. He was subsequently ordered held for 30 days while judicial officials review his case.

“I’m a government hostage,” Father Garcia said from his hospital bed in the state capital, Oaxaca city, as six state police officers guarded his room. “The state government has been in favor of this project,” he said. “If I’m out of the way, they can work freely.”

The unrest reflects the ongoing conflicts over foreign-owned mining operations in Latin America, which often split communities between those in favor of job creation and economic growth and opponents who fear negative environmental and social consequences.

Florida Gov. Crist vetoes ultrasound bill

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Although Florida Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a bill that would have required women to have an ultrasound before a first-trimester abortion, similar legislation is having more success in other states.

In Louisiana, a bill requiring ultrasounds before all abortions is awaiting the signature of Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has said he supports the legislation. In Michigan, where an ultrasound already is required before an abortion, a Senate committee is considering a bill that would mandate high-quality images from the best ultrasound equipment available at the facility where the abortion is performed.

Currently in Florida, ultrasounds are required before all second- and third-trimester abortions in order to determine the gestational age and location of the fetus. The Florida Catholic Conference estimated that more than 80 percent of abortion clinics in the state already perform ultrasounds before first-trimester abortions.

Empire State Bldg. denies tribute to Mother Teresa

NEW YORK (CNS) — Brushing off calls from political leaders and others to reconsider, the Empire State Building management stood by its decision to deny a request that the building pay tribute to Blessed Mother Teresa with a lighting display on the 100th anniversary of her birth Aug. 26.

A protest outside the iconic Manhattan building will be held instead, led by William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. The U.S. Postal Service is scheduled to issue a commemorative stamp bearing Mother Teresa’s image the same day.

Building owner Anthony Malkin said his decision not to light the building is “final and irrevocable.”
Mother Teresa, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, died Sept. 5, 1997. Pope John Paul II beatified her in 2003.

Pope urges fair treatment for world’s refugees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI appealed for fair treatment of the world’s refugees, saying they deserve to be welcomed with respect for their rights and human dignity. At the same time, the pope said refugees should show respect for the identity of their host countries. Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, head of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, said at a prayer vigil June 17 that refugee movements in recent years have become “real humanitarian crises” of biblical proportions.

BP oil leak offers ‘lesson in humility’

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The “sense of powerlessness and delay” in resolving the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history offers a lesson about the limits of technology, a Vatican official said. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said the leaking BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico was a disaster “of enormous proportions, and getting worse.”

He compared it to the 1984 chemical factory explosion in Bhopal, India, or the 1986 meltdown of the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine. “What is striking in this case is the sense of powerlessness and delay in finding a solution to this disaster faced by one of the largest and most technologically advanced oil multinationals in the world, but also by the most powerful country on earth,” Father Lombardi said. “This is not the eruption of a volcano, but a relatively small man-made hole in the seabed.”

He said he hoped people would draw from the disaster a lesson of prudence and care in the use of the earth’s resources. “Perhaps we can also draw a lesson in humility.”

Naples cardinal subject of kickbacks inquiry

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As Italian magistrates continue a wide-ranging investigation into public works contracts and suspected kickbacks, they have informed Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples that he is a subject of the investigation. The investigators are looking at contracts Cardinal Sepe made with government officials while he was head of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in 2001-2006.

Italian newspapers speculated that the cardinal sold property below market value to a government minister who then allocated public funds for work on the Vatican building housing the congregation. There are also questions about how the cardinal helped a government official — now under investigation — find an apartment.

At a press conference in Naples June 21, Cardinal Sepe said, “I always did everything with maximum transparency. I always acted in accordance with my conscience, having the good of the Church as my only objective,” he said.


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