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 September 6, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Prayers for trapped miners
A relative of one of the miners trapped underground in a copper and gold mine near Copiapo, Chile, holds a sign and a statue of Mary outside the mine, Aug. 29. A top official at NASA says the U.S. space agency will send a team of experts to Chile to help advise how to keep 33 miners trapped deep underground physically and mentally fit until they are rescued, a process that could take four months.

Remembering Blessed Teresa
Missionaries of Charity pray beside the tomb of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in Calcutta, India, Aug. 26, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of her birth. Other members of the community held a Eucharistic procession in the South Bronx section of New York, walking past the first convent established in the United States by Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity.

Mexican Catholics pray for 72 massacred migrants

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Catholics in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas offered prayers for the 72 undocumented migrants from Central and South America whose bodies were discovered Aug. 24 in what was possibly the largest mass slaying since the country began cracking down on drug cartels and organized crime.

Father Alan Camargo, spokesman for the Diocese of Matamoros, said four priests in the municipality of San Fernando, where members of the Mexican navy discovered the bodies on a ranch, were offering pastoral support to local residents, who were gathering in private homes to pray.

Poll says religion losing influence

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A new Pew Research Center poll on religion and public life showed that two-thirds of Americans think religion is losing its influence on American life.

The poll’s results, released Aug. 19, showed a mixed view about how churches should be involved in politics. A slim majority — 52 percent — said churches should keep out of political matters while 43 percent said they should express their views on day-to-day social and political issues. The poll also showed that while people have reservations about churches’ involvement in politics, they feel strongly that politicians should be religious.

Protest against refusal to honor Mother Teresa

NEW YORK (CNS) — More than 1,000 people dressed in blue and white filled a cordoned traffic lane across from the Empire State Building Aug. 26 to protest the decision of the building’s owner to deny a request to illuminate the upper floors in honor of the 100th birthday of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

The event, organized by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, featured local political, religious and entertainment personalities who addressed the crowd from a podium set on the back of a flatbed truck.

Since 1976, the top 30 floors of the Empire State Building have been lit regularly with colored lights to mark national holidays and recognize events as diverse as home team World Series victories, the death of Pope John Paul II, the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China and the DVD release of “The Simpson’s Movie.”

Pope urges more tolerance as Gypsies are deported

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — As France continues its campaign to repatriate foreign-born Gypsies, Pope Benedict XVI called for greater acceptance of cultural differences and urged parents to teach their children tolerance. The pope’s invitation came amid a government-led campaign to expel foreign-born Roma, or Gypsies, from France and dismantle illegal camps.

French Immigration Minister Eric Besson said that by Aug. 31, approximately 950 Roma from 88 camps would have been sent back to Romania and Bulgaria. The expulsions were part of a voluntary repatriation program in which the government paid each adult about $380 and each child about $130 to return to his or her country of origin, even though the Gypsies are members of the European Union. The French government, however, demands that the Gypsies have work permits and prove they are able to support themselves.

Alaska’s Catholics aided parental notice law

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNS) — Alaskans passed a ballot initiative Aug. 24 that requires abortionists to notify a parent before performing an abortion on a minor girl in Alaska. Passage of Proposition 2 was a long-sought and welcome victory, particularly for parents and Catholics around Alaska — many of whom had collected petition signatures, waved signs on street corners and prayed hard to ensure the protection of parental rights.

Praise for ruling on embryonic stem cells

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo praised a federal judge’s recent ruling that temporarily stopped federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, but the U.S. Department of Justice said it would appeal the decision. The cardinal, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called the Aug. 23 decision by Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia “a victory for common sense and sound medical ethics.

“It also vindicates the bishops’ reading” of the Dickey-Wicker amendment, approved by Congress since 1996, which prevents federal funding of research in which human embryos are harmed or destroyed,” the Cardinal DiNardo said.

Haitian institutions buckle under strain

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (CNS) — Catholic schools and orphanages in the Haitian countryside that took in thousands of children displaced by the January earthquake are buckling under the increased financial strain, administrators say. Many say they are struggling to pay the bills.

The January earthquake that destroyed Port-au-Prince and affected 20 percent of the country did not physically damage many of the social projects of religious orders outside of the capital. But the Catholic missions that opened their arms to people who fled the city say they are now struggling, and the local Church is not helping.

“The Church? What Church? There has been no support to help most of the families that left Port-au-Prince,” said Father Marc Boisvert, a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He relies on donations from the United States to fund Project Hope South, which has an orphanage, five schools and a carpentry-training center outside of Les Cayes that took in many child refugees.

Anti-Christian bias seen: Pakistan aid distribution

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians and other minorities affected by severe flooding in Pakistan are being discriminated against in government-run rescue and aid programs, said the director of pontifical missionary societies in Pakistan.

Father Mario Rodrigues, the Lahore-based director of the mission awareness and funding agencies, said, “While Caritas and the pontifical mission societies are working on providing humanitarian relief to displaced persons without discrimination of origin, race or religion, in other areas, the Christian refugees, even in the midst of this tragedy, are being treated as second-class citizens.”

Christians make up less than three percent of Pakistan’s population.

Lay Africans, nuns feel left out by synod process

LUSAKA, Zambia (CNS) — Lay people and women religious across Africa are concerned that they are being marginalized by clergy as they undertake pastoral work, despite a call from last October’s Synod of Bishops for Africa to include all people in ministry.

Members of both groups told Catholic News Service their evangelization activities have been underfunded, and some said they have been left out of the synod process since the beginning. Some lay leaders and women religious who participated in recent synod implementation workshops conducted by the Zambian bishops said priests have threatened to discipline them if they disobeyed clerical directives. Similar concerns have arisen in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Malawi and Kenya.


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