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 April 20, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 8   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

1 million Hail Marys
Religion teacher Lisa Benoit and students at St. Charles Borromeo School in Destrehan, La., announce April 2 that the school exceeded its goal of praying 1 million Hail Marys for the safety of Pope Francis. The news came on Holy Thursday just before the monthly recitation of the rosary.
Beth Donze/
Clarion Herald, CNS

Salesian center offers haven
Girls smile during art class March 25 at Don Bosco youth center in Istanbul, a haven for persecuted Catholics from throughout the region. Said Salesian Father Andres Calleja Ruiz, head of the Don Bosco youth center: "Here we don't ask anyone what religion they are or what political party they belong to. We just want to help them." The Istanbul center was started 20 years ago as a temporary response to the wave of refugees coming from Iraq. Conflict in the region continues, and new refugees and asylum seekers arrive every day. Today, 300 children, mostly from Iraq and Syria, are enrolled at the center.
Elie Gardner/CNS

Family values change in Cuba
A worker fixes up a corner of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption in early March in Santiago de Cuba, the island's second-largest city. Cubans seem generally hopeful about better relations between the island and the U.S., and some wonder what it will mean for the future of the church in Cuba. With a high divorce rate, secularism, a societal change of values, "there's little to conserve of the fabric" of Cuba's traditional concept of family, said Bishop Alvaro Beyra Luarca of Bayamo-Manzanillo.
Rhina Guidos/CNS

Object to death penalty

BOSTON - The Catholic bishops of Massachusetts released a statement reiterating the church's teaching on the death penalty just before the jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, guilty of 30 counts in Boston federal court of helping set off two bombs near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon race, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. The penalty phase of the trial will begin on April 21.

Help for schools

ORLANDO, Fla. - Young parents with financial struggles coupled with underdeveloped endowment, fundraising and alumni infrastructure at Catholic elementary schools may help explain why the primary schools are not faring as well as Catholic secondary schools nationwide.

That was the opinion of a panel of Catholic education experts convened April 7 by the National Catholic Educational Association during a review of the organization's 2014-2015 annual statistical report on schools, enrollment and staffing.

Broadly, the NCEA report notes a continued Catholic school enrollment decline since its highpoint in the 1960s, and a 21 percent drop since 2005 primarily in the East Coast and Great Lakes regions previously populated by a concentration of Catholic immigrants from the past century or two.

Still, there is a strong demand for Catholic schools generally, with waiting lists now found at some 31 percent of schools but primarily in suburban areas pointing to a geographical challenge for sustaining inner-city Catholic schools.

Kansas law

TOPEKA, Kan. - A new Kansas law banning an abortion procedure that results in dismemberment of an unborn child "has the power to transform the landscape of abortion policy in the United States," said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. Gov. Sam Brownback signed the measure April 7 during a private ceremony in Topeka.

Called the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, it is "the first of what we hope will be many state laws banning dismemberment abortions," said Tobias. Except in cases of medical need for the mother, the law bans a common second-trimester method for aborting pregnancies. Physicians call the procedure a "dilation and extraction" abortion, but the state uses the terminology "dismemberment abortion."

Jordan Spieth

Masters winner

AUGUSTA, Ga. - U.S. golfer Jordan Spieth smiles April 12 as he wears his champion green jacket on the putting green at the Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia after winning the Masters golf tournament.

The 21-year-old golfer attended St. Monica's Catholic School in Dallas and graduated in 2011 from Jesuit College Prep in Dallas.

"Priest for a Day"

ST. LOUIS - Make-A-Wish requests often involve meeting athletes, attending sporting events or traveling to amusement parks or beaches. When it came time for 11-year-old Brett Haubrich of St. Mark School in Affton to make his wish, he not only listed none of those things but had no request at all. "He didn't want anything," explained his mother, Eileen. "They had to keep asking him, 'What would you like to do? Do you want to meet anybody? What do you want to be when you grow up?'" The answer to the last question became part of his wish what Make-A-Wish calls "wish enhancement" to complement the main wish.

Turns out Brett, a sixth-grader who was diagnosed with a brain tumor last summer, wants to be a priest, a doctor or an engineer, in that order. So, on Holy Thursday, at the invitation of St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, Brett took his place beside the altar at Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis as "Priest for a Day.

Message, and example

WASHINGTON - When Pope Francis comes to the United States in September, his message will be that "God loves all of us the way we are" and "God asks us to love one another," said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington. "We see in him not just the message, but how you do it," the cardinal said in an interview with Fox News on Easter. "The way in which he lives, treats people, responds to people says, I think, to many people ... he sounds and looks a lot like what Jesus would have sounded like."

Roller coaster of laws

WASHINGTON - It started with hallucinogenic peyote and a couple of guys in Oregon who were fired after they used it in a religious ritual. Over the course of 25 years, the U.S. debate over religious rights moved from there to the current social and political uproar about Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act and whether it would give legal cover to those who might discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Within hours of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signing a state version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act March 26, critics slammed the legislation as going further than the federal version of the same law does and said it would enable individuals and businesses to claim a religious right to discriminate in ways not foreseen in other versions. Highly publicized protests and boycotts of Indiana and Indiana-based businesses were launched.

The criticism, notably from gay rights activists and prominent Indiana business leaders who said the law would hurt their and the state's financial bottom lines, led Pence to ask Indiana's Legislature for a fix. Likewise, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson asked legislators to rework a RFRA bill that had already reached his desk.

On April 2, a week after the Indiana bill was signed, both governors signed new RFRA legislation, rewritten to more closely mirror the federal law.

Muslim region

MANILA, Philippines - A Philippine cardinal has pooled a team of peace advocates to help push legislation that would see the creation of an autonomous region in the Muslim-majority section of Mindanao Island. Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of the Cotabato Archdiocese, whose population is half Muslim, announced the formation of "Friends of Peace" April 6 in Manila. It includes more than 30 individuals, peace advocacy groups and nongovernmental organizations.

Arsonists sought

SYDNEY - Australian police are searching for an arsonist following suspicious fires at three Melbourne area churches with links to clerical sexual abuse. Three blazes broke out in as many days, beginning in the suburb of Brighton with St. James Church, which was almost destroyed March 30.

The church is included on the Australian National Heritage List. St. Mary Church in St. Kilda East sustained minor damage from a fire believed to have been deliberately set around the same time. The third incident was reported early April 1 at St. Mary Church in Dandenong, where firefighters discovered separate fires at the altar and in a storeroom containing vestments. The church sustained more than $190,000 in damage, the fire department reported.

Religious challenged

VATICAN CITY - Consecrated men and women can face their current challenges by turning to the Gospel, the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and papal teachings for guidance, said Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz. The prefect of the Congregation for Consecrated Life and Institutes for Apostolic Life spoke April 8 at the opening of an international conference in Rome of about 1,200 religious formation directors. The theme of the April 7-12 conference was "Living in Christ according to the Way of Life of the Gospel."

— Catholic News Service


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