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August 10, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 14   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

A woman sits with a sign showing a baby as she attends a "Women Betrayed" rally to Defund Planned Parenthood on Capitol Hill in Washington July 28.
Carlos Barria/Reuters, cns

Pro-life group videos' ethical issues

OXNARD — The use of "undercover" reporting tactics by a California pro-life group in an attempt to expose suspected illegal actions by Planned Parenthood doctors pertaining solicitation of funds for the acquisition of fetal tissue has stirred discussion and debate.

In recent weeks, the California-based Center for Medical Progress has released several videos — and plans to release more — that show doctors affiliated with the nation's leading abortion provider discussing fees for fetal tissue. Federal law prohibits the sale of fetal tissue from abortions, though it allows reimbursement for some costs connected to the handling and processing of such tissue.

In the first two videos, the center's reporters — armed with video cameras — posed as representatives of a mythical fetal tissue procurement firm who met at public restaurants with the doctors. Over lunch, the reporters pretended to solicit fetal tissue from the doctors, who discussed possible price points for various body organs gleaned from abortions. Undercover techniques — including the use of hidden cameras and "manufactured identities" including false names, fake affiliation and even disguises — have long been utilized by investigative journalists.)

Reaction to Boy Scouts
The top leaders of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting have made an uneasy peace with the Boy Scouts of America's decision July 27 to allow openly gay troop leaders and employees serve in their ranks at the national level. The Boy Scouts' decision does not affect decisions about leaders made by local troops and councils and also permits religiously chartered Scout troops to choose leaders whose values are consistent with those of the sponsoring faith. In this June 29, 2014, file photo, a Boy Scout carries a rainbow flag during the San Francisco Gay Pride Festival.
Noah Berger/Reuters, cns

Nepal schools
Salesian Father Savio Rai helps distribute school materials to students in a government-run school in Chaghare, Nepal, July 9. The school was damaged in the April 25 earthquake, which destroyed more than 25,000 classrooms in nearly 8,000 schools.
Anto Akkara/cns

'Laudato Si' wake-up call
Elections, like profit reports, have regular short-term rhythms, which is why Pope Francis' encyclical letter on the environment was so "appropriate and absolutely essential" for waking people up to the dangers of climate change, said California Gov. Jerry Brown, 77. Brown and mayors from about 60 cities around the world attended meetings organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on climate change, human trafficking and the U.N.'s sustainable development goals.
Paul Haring/cns

Sisters' 'bad deal'

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ruled July 30 that the contested sale of the former convent of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to restaurateur and urban developer Dana Hollister is invalid. The judge also confirmed that the eight-acre, villa-style hilltop property located in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles is Church property under the oversight of Archbishop Jose H. Gomez. In a deposition, Hollister confirmed she took possession of the property for $100,000 (of which the sisters received only $44,000), and the balance of $9.9 million in a non-recourse promissory note, with no payments for three years. The archdiocese contended that the sale violates the California law protecting the elderly from transactions that are not in their best interest — the five surviving Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters are between the ages of 77 and 88.

Catholic artifact found

JAMESTOWN, Va. — The identities of four men discovered almost two years ago at the site of Jamestown's historic 1608 church have been identified and one of the men had been buried with a silver box that is "likely a Catholic reliquary." The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation at Historic Jamestown announced the men's identities July 28. They are the Rev. Robert Hunt, Sir Ferdinando Wainman, Capt. William West and Capt. Gabriel Archer, on top of whose coffin was resting the silver box.

Aim for energy efficiency

CHICAGO — Archbishop Blase J. Cupich has set a goal of benchmarking all 2,700 buildings in the Archdiocese of Chicago to ensure that they are as energy efficient as possible. "Let's be honest, this entire effort to protect the environment for future generations will involve some very difficult choices in the future," he said.

Pope's favorability drops

WASHINGTON — Is the honeymoon with Pope Francis over for Americans? A new Gallup poll shows that the favorability rating for the pontiff among U.S. respondents is now about 59 percent, down from 76 percent in early 2014 and close to the 58 percent rating Americans gave him when he was elected pope in March 2013. Sixteen percent of respondents in a poll conducted July 8-12 gave him an unfavorable rating, compared to 9 percent in 2014. Twenty-five percent now say they have no opinion or have never heard of him. Among Catholic respondents overall, 71 percent said they have a positive view of the pope, down from 89 percent last year.

Cardinal Baum dies

WASHINGTON — Cardinal William W. Baum, the archbishop of Washington from 1973 to 1980, died July 23 at the age of 88 after a long illness. He was a cardinal for 39 years — the longest such tenure in U.S. church history. Cardinal Baum witnessed history from the Second Vatican Council through the election of the first Latin American pope, and he made history himself.

'Walk with Francis'

WASHINGTON — In anticipation of Pope Francis' September visit to Washington, the Archdiocese of Washington and its Catholic Charities arm have launched an effort that challenges members of the local community to reach out to those in need. Called the "Walk With Francis Pledge," the campaign invites people to serve others in their community and then share their pledge on social media. The pledge involves three ways to participate in that "walk": Through prayer and learning about the faith: http://walkwithfrancis.org/pledge/pray... Through charitable service to others: http://walkwithfrancis.org/pledge/serve... Through taking to spread the Gospel in families, workplaces and public policy: http://walkwithfrancis.org/pledge/act.

Chinese exile dies

BOISE, Idaho — Father Matthew Pu, a priest of the Diocese of Boise who escaped communism on the Chinese mainland in 1949, died July 11 at home where he was receiving hospice care after being discharged from the hospital. He was 87. Father Pu was raised Catholic by parents who were converted by Maryknoll Missionaries, and fled communist oppression in mainland China in 1949. He and 50 other seminarians snuck out through Beijing and Shanghai to Hong Kong.

Latino families a rising

WASHINGTON — More than half of young Catholic families participating in a recent survey identified themselves as Latino or Hispanic, a finding the president of Holy Cross Family Ministries said will require new ways of ministering in the U.S. Catholic Church. Overall, 54 percent of young couples in the 25- to 45-year-old age range said they were Latino or Hispanic. That compares with the overall adult Latino/Hispanic Catholic population of 32 percent. "People may speak English, but culturally they're Latino. That's a big piece of information. We'll have to adjust the kinds of programs. It means we have to be more assertive in looking at the ways we can be of service to these families," Holy Cross Father Willy Raymond said of the findings in the study his organization commissioned. While Holy Cross Family Ministries is looking at ways to better meet the needs of Latino families, Father Raymond said the findings of the study will be of interest to the entire American Catholic Church as it attempt to minister to all families.

— Catholic News Service


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