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September 9, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Challenges remain after 50 years
People gather around the reflecting pool of the Lincoln Memorial for the ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington Aug. 28. The setting was the same and some of the issues of the 1963 March on Washington remain, but in many respects, the observance at the Lincoln Memorial showed the progress of the nation in the intervening years. For instance, the speaker who concluded the program of politicians, celebrities, preachers and performers this time also was African-American, President Barack Obama, the first of his heritage to be elected U.S. president. His address, among the longest of the more than 50 speakers who took the stage, recalled that on that day in 1963 the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., "offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike. His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time."
James Lawler Duggan/Reuters, cns

Flooding in The Philippines
People make their way by boat past a church along a flooded road in Bulacan, Philippines, Aug. 21. Hundreds of thousands of people in metro Manila and surrounding areas have been affected by heavy monsoon rains and flooding. For those who want to help, see the story on Page 2...
Erik de Castro/Reuters, CNs

View abortion

WASHINGTON — A new study shows that most Americans view abortion as a moral issue but do not feel as strongly about stem-cell research or in vitro fertilization as moral issues. According to the study, released Aug. 15 by the Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project, 49 percent of adults consider it morally wrong to have an abortion; 22 percent consider embryonic stem-cell research morally wrong; and 12 percent view the use of in vitro fertilization as morally wrong.

Nun vs. nun?

WASHINGTON — It's not exactly the Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones, but just as those two bands shook up the pop charts nearly a half-century ago, two convents' CDs are vying for a spot atop the Billboard classical music charts. The defending champion, for 13 weeks straight, is "Angels and Saints at Ephesus," performed by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, a cloistered convent in Missouri. Now come the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., whose first CD, "Mater Eucharistae," was released Aug. 13. This isn't the Dominican convent's first brush with the mass media. Members of the order made it to the finals in the latest season of "American Bible Challenge."

Consultant for 'The Butler'

ALEXANDRIA, Va., — For four years, Steve Rochon worked alongside presidents, dignitaries and international heads of state in his position as director of the executive residence and chief usher at the White House. Rochon, a parishioner of St. Joseph Church in Alexandria, Va., led 95 full-time and 250 part-time staff members in running and preserving the White House under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama from 2007 to 2011. For Rochon, a history buff who served as a Coast Guard commander for 36 years, the job was a dream come true. "It didn't get old coming through those wrought iron gates every day," he said. "I pinched myself every day as I drove through those gates, 'Look where I'm working.'"

N.M. bishops on marriage

LOS LUNAS, N.M. — New Mexico's bishops asserted that the state Legislature is the best group to decide whether same-sex marriage should be permitted in the state. The issue "is one that is best decided through the legislative branch of government," the bishops said in an Aug. 21 statement. The statement was prompted after two state judges ordered some counties to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

St. John's probe

JAMAICA, N.Y. — An independent investigation by St. John's University found "no criminal wrongdoing" on the part of its recently retired president, but "errors in judgment" by top university officials over financial conflicts of interest and lack of disclosure to the school's board of trustees. The investigation was authorized by the St. John's board of trustees following the trial of Cecilia Chang, a former St. John's dean and chief fundraiser, who had been on trial for defrauding the university and forcing international students to do personal work for her.

Bishop urges action

HONOLULU — Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu, a former priest of the Oakland diocese, urged Catholics across the island state to oppose same-sex marriage in an "urgent request" to pastors. In a letter that was included in parish bulletins the weekend of Aug. 24-25, Bishop Silva asked Catholics to pray the rosary daily over the next several weeks, "if possible" while walking around the state Capitol block, "so that just as God tumbled down the walls of Jericho, he will be able to do so through the prayers and action of his beloved people."

'Mystery priest's' message

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — An unlikely chain of events made him not only a national celebrity but a stand-in for every priest who has ever ministered to the faithful in an emergency. But Father Patrick Dowling — who was dubbed a "mystery priest" and a "guardian angel" after praying with a woman trapped in a wrecked car in northeastern Missouri — hopes all the hype surrounding his simple deed won't overshadow the real message. "God loves us, he is here close to us, and when we're in trouble, he's there," said Father Dowling.

Stockton couple winners

CHICAGO — A husband-and-wife team who have ministered to thousands of Latinos affected by urban and migrant poverty in the Diocese of Stockton are this year's recipients of the Lumen Christi Award from Catholic Extension. Digna and Jose Lopez have spent 20 years mentoring and training youth, young adults, migrants, parish priests and parish volunteers through the Youth and Hispanic Ministries in the diocese.

Charities respond

WASHINGTON — An influx of human trafficking victims seeking assistance is leading Catholic Charities agencies nationwide to develop a wider range of specialized service to enable victims to rebuild their lives. From life skills and parenting classes to helping victims adjust to a life free of coercion and mistreatment, the agencies are adapting operations so that those who have escaped a trafficking situation are not victimized again by unscrupulous traders in human lives.

Nursing homes sold

PHILADELPHIA — The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, as part of its ongoing effort to achieve financial stability, intends to market six nursing homes and one assisted-living facility for possible sale, according to an Aug. 20 announcement. The archdiocese also will seek to outsource management or lease the 11 active archdiocesan cemeteries and two cemetery sites reserved for future use.

LCWR hopes for dialogue

ORLANDO, Fla. — Members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious announced Aug. 19 at the close of their assembly and national board meeting in Orlando that they were pleased with dialogue they had with the church official appointed to oversee their organization as part of a Vatican assessment and hoped for "continued conversations of this depth." During the Aug. 13-16 annual gathering at the Caribe Royal Hotel and Convention Center in Orlando and a three-day national board meeting afterward, women religious met with Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, appointed by the Vatican doctrinal congregation last year to oversee a reform of LCWR. Last April, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said a reform of LCWR was needed to ensure its fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women's ordination and homosexuality.

Marian prayer program

SAN ANTONIO — The Knights of Columbus launched a new Marian prayer program dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception at a Mass Aug. 7 during the order's 131st supreme convention. It is the 16th such prayer program of the Knights of Columbus using a sacred image as its centerpiece. In 1979, the first program was begun with images of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas.

Plans for investigation

MANCHESTER, England — A disgraced Scottish cardinal halted a plan to allow independent investigators to examine church child abuse files, said a retired archbishop. In a letter to the British Catholic weekly The Tablet, retired Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow said that Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who earlier this year admitted to acts of sexual misconduct, prevented case files from being reviewed.

Romanian priest martyr

WARSAW, Poland — A priest who died of cold and hunger in a communist prison will be beatified as a martyr in Romania. The sanctity of Msgr. Vladimir Ghika has "given us an important new example of a life lived for church and faith," said Archbishop Ioan Robu of Bucharest, president of the Romanian bishops' conference. Msgr. Ghika would represent many other "unknown and unrecognized Christian martyrs" who died in Romania during four decades of communist rule, which ended in December 1989.

Hospital restored

JERUSALEM — Israeli archaeologists have restored part of a 2,000-bed Crusader-era hospital run by the St. John of the Hospital order in the Old City of Jerusalem. Dating to the 11th century, the ancient structure was operated by members of the order, dedicated to St. John the Baptist and also known as the Knights Hospitallers, precursors to the Rome-based Knights of Malta.

— Catholic News Service


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