Despite terrorist's death, anti-Muslim sentiment lingers in US
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Just because Osama bin Laden is dead, it does not necessarily follow that anti-Muslim feeling in the United States will melt away. The intense anti-Muslim feeling is often described as Islamophobia. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., raised a ruckus on Capitol Hill when he presided over hearings in March that zeroed in on domestic Islamic groups, which critics said fanned the flames of Islamophobia. But King's flames were merely figurative. When the Rev. Terry Jones of Florida announced earlier this spring that he had burned a copy of the Quran following a self-styled trial of the Muslim holy book, the flames were literal. Rev. Jones had threatened to burn a copy of the Quran last summer during the weeks-long rancor over the construction of an Islamic community center near the site of the 9/11 attacks in lower Manhattan -- a building that quickly became known as "the ground zero mosque." But there has been little debate over whether anti-Muslim sentiments expressed in this way are examples of hate speech or free speech. Nor will everyone use the term "Islamophobia" to describe it. Ronaldo Cruz, director of institutional advancement for Pax Christi USA, the U.S. arm of the worldwide Catholic peace movement, writing last fall about the Manhattan mosque controversy, said, "Attacks on Muslims -- and on dark-skinned people mistaken for Muslims -- started almost immediately after the events of 9/11. This behavior is contrary to our Christian values."
Bishops, Knights urged to take action to help storm victims in South
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In an effort to help Southern dioceses recover from the devastating tornados of late April, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has approved a national relief collection and Knights of Columbus members in Alabama have been asked to be a visible presence in the devastated areas. In a May 4 letter to U.S. bishops, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York said he was "happy to approve a collection and commend it to you for the parishes, dioceses, regions, provinces and states affected by the tornados." The archbishop recounted a letter he received from Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Ala., asking for help and noting that the tornado damage "occurred mostly in mission dioceses that do not enjoy the blessing of substantial financial resources." Archbishop Rodi said funds collected from U.S. dioceses would be used to "help individuals in need" and also for "rebuilding and repairing any damaged church-owned buildings." The violent storms and devastating tornadoes that tore through the region killed more than 350 people. In early May, officials from several dioceses told Catholic News Service they were busy assessing damage to church buildings and schools. Archbishop Dolan acknowledged that many dioceses have other special collections scheduled in the coming weeks and urged them to do "what you can when you can." He also said he planned to appoint a task force of several bishops to analyze the humanitarian and institutional needs of the affected dioceses and to work with Catholic Charities USA to allocate the funds received. He asked for prayers "for those who have lost so much, and for those who will help so much."
'Rerum Novarum' panel says encyclical needed now as much as ever
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- At a time when workers continue to struggle for decent wages and rights, panelists at a conference marking the 120th anniversary of the encyclical "Rerum Novarum" made clear that the letter on labor and the rights of workers holds important contemporary lessons. After a daylong series of panel discussions May 2 at The Catholic University of America about the historic and contemporary context of the 1891 encyclical that is considered the groundwork for the church's social teaching, a final session put the previous discussions into context. Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said at a May 3 closing program that current times call for renewed efforts to fulfill the demands of "Rerum Novarum." He noted that the main functions of the state in the time of Pope Leo XIII and today are: pursuit of the common good, "which is not reduced to one's nation but considered from a world standpoint; awareness that this good cannot be limited to material goods but must include the moral good of society;" placing priority on people and families; respecting the free initiative of people; and aiding the neediest in society. Putting those priorities into effect is necessary in these times, he said. In an earlier interview with Catholic News Service and the National Catholic Reporter, Cardinal Turkson fleshed out some of the themes of his remarks to the conference. He said numerous recent events point to the need for the modern world to take to heart the lessons of "Rerum Novarum." The efforts in several U.S. states to do away with collective bargaining by state employees and huge demonstrations in Italy and England at the beginning of the year mounted by students who were worried about their ability to find work are examples of insecurity among workers in many parts of the world, the cardinal said.
Charges dropped against protesters at 2009 Notre Dame commencement
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A prosecutor dropped charges May 5 against 94 people arrested for trespassing on the University of Notre Dame's campus while protesting President Barack Obama's 2009 commencement address. The university decided not to continue pressing charges and Prosecutor Michael Dvorak of the St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office said he would not stand in the way of that request and agreed to drop all charges. Notre Dame's president, Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, said in a statement that he was "sincerely pleased" that the charges were dismissed. "From the start, everyone involved in this difficult matter has been in complete accord on the sanctity of human life, and we all remain committed to continuing our work to support life from conception to natural death," he said. The 2009 protesters had objected to the school's decision to allow Obama to give the commencement address and receive an honorary degree, saying his support for keeping abortion legal made him an inappropriate choice at a Catholic university. They were arrested on criminal trespassing charges and transported to the St. Joseph County Jail after they ignored orders to stay off campus. Father Jenkins said in a statement last year that the group had been "given repeated warnings by law enforcement officials, and then, when they persisted, they were arrested and charged with criminal trespass."
Canadian bishop pledges healing in diocese rocked by child porn charges
ANTIGONISH, Nova Scotia (CNS) -- Antigonish Bishop Brian Dunn recommitted himself to working to bring healing, reconciliation and reform to the diocese after his predecessor pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography for the purpose of importation. Bishop Dunn told media May 5 that he was inspired by the courage and example of people who remain active in the Catholic Church, especially in his diocese. "To those who have found it necessary to absent themselves from our faith communities, I will continue to work to regain your trust and remind you of how much we miss your presence," he said. A day earlier, former Antigonish Bishop Raymond Lahey pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his September 2009 arrest at the airport in Ottawa, Ontario, after nearly 600 pornographic images and 60 videos involving boys as young as 8 were found on his laptop. However, he told the judge he was not guilty of possession with the intent to distribute. At his request, the bishop went directly to jail, even though a date had not been set for his sentencing hearing. The same day, the Vatican and the Canadian bishops reiterated their opposition to all sexual exploitation, and the Vatican said it would continue its canonical process against Bishop Lahey. Under the Vatican norms, offenders can be dismissed from the priesthood if found guilty of "the acquisition, possession, or distribution ... of pornographic images of minors under the age of 14, for purposes of sexual gratification, by whatever means or using whatever technology."
Bishop Donovan, founding bishop of Kalamazoo Diocese, dead at 86
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (CNS) -- Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit presided at the May 4 funeral Mass in Kalamazoo's St. Augustine Cathedral for Bishop Paul V. Donovan, retired bishop of Kalamazoo. The 86-year-old bishop was found dead April 28 outside of his vehicle following a minor accident in Wayland Township. Police said "there does not appear to be any foul play" involved in the bishop's death. Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, Wis., was the homilist at Bishop Donovan's funeral, which was also attended by Cardinal Adam J. Maida, retired archbishop of Detroit. Burial followed at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Kalamazoo. Bishop Donovan was the founding bishop when the Diocese of Kalamazoo was established in 1971. He retired for health reasons in 1994. Born Sept. 1, 1924, in Bernard, Iowa, Paul V. Donovan moved with his family to Lansing, Mich., where he attended St. Mary Cathedral High School. Following studies for the priesthood at St. Joseph Seminary in Grand Rapids, St. Gregory Seminary in Cincinnati and Mount St. Mary Seminary in Norwood, Ohio, he was ordained a priest of the Lansing Diocese on May 20, 1950.
Seven Loyola hospital employees donate kidneys to strangers
MAYWOOD, Ill. (CNS) -- Loyola University Medical Center is a very giving place to work -- so much so that within the past year, seven female employees donated their kidneys as part of the center's Pay-It-Forward Kidney Transplant Program. The women, dubbed the "Seven Sisters" by Loyola, spoke to the media April 27 at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood. The Pay-It-Forward Kidney Transplant Program begins when an altruistic living donor steps forward and offers to donate a kidney to a stranger, thereby beginning a chain. The donor's kidney is then given to a compatible transplant candidate who has an incompatible donor, who in turn agrees to give a kidney to a third person with an incompatible donor. The chain can progress infinitely. The transplants occur locally or across the country, depending upon need. During the news conference, hospital officials said that 4,000 people in Illinois await a kidney transplant. As far as the medical center knows, this is the first time in history when five employees of a company donated kidneys to complete strangers. Two of the women donated kidneys to acquaintances. The seven women are: Dr. Susan Hue, Christina Lamb, Barbara Thomas, Jodi Tamen, Jane Thomas, Dorothy Jambrosek and Cynthia Blakemore. All of the women met their recipients. Speaking on behalf of all seven women, Jambrosek told the media and guests at the news conference that the women believe they are just ordinary people. "We believe there are others like us who are willing to make a difference," she said.
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