Pope Plans to Canonize Blessed Katharine Drexel
Pope John Paul II plans to canonize Blessed Katharine Drexel (1859-1955), the U.S. heiress who dedicated her life to defending and educating African Americans and Native Americans. During a meeting with the Congregation for Sainthood Causes on Jan. 27, the pope published a decree recognizing as a miracle the healing in 1994, following prayers to Blessed Katharine, of a toddler in the United States who had been born deaf. The Vatican did not announce a date for the canonization ceremony, but people familiar with Pope John Paul’s Holy Year calendar said Blessed Katharine probably would be declared a saint during a Mass on Oct. 1 at the Vatican.
Jesuit Says Catholic Minority Faces Muslim Threats in Kosovo
A Jesuit Refugee Services official said Kosovo’s Catholic minority faces Muslim threats after being accused of collaborating with Serbs during the 1999 conflict. However, he denied steps were being taken to Islamicize the mostly Albanian-inhabited province, which is now under control of U.N. peacekeepers. Most Catholics didn’t leave during last year’s NATO action and are considered to have collaborated in atrocities by Serb forces against ethnic Albanian civilians, most of whom were Muslim, said Father Stjepan Kusan, S.J., head of Jesuit Refugee Services in the Balkans.
Notre Dame Anti-Sweatshop Task Force Issues Recommendations
A special anti-sweatshop task force at the University of Notre Dame has called for the school to prohibit the manufacture of its licensed products in countries that do not recognize workers’ legal right to organize. The task force also urged the university to create a model factory-monitoring program to be overseen by professional auditors, church members and labor and human rights organizations. A third recommendation, that the school request full public disclosure of manufacturing sites by all its licensees, has been in effect since last November. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., president of Notre Dame, has accepted the recommendations.
Start Toward Christian Unity by Fighting Injustice, Cardinal Says
In an address marking a week of prayer for Christian unity, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles said unifying believers in Christ is God’s plan, but one that requires much work. With theological and liturgical differences to settle, and a history of hurts to heal, he suggested that Christians not wait for those issues to be addressed, but that the churches first unite in fighting social injustice. We cannot afford to wait for theological and liturgical unity to join with each other with renewed fervor in addressing the injustices that so deeply wound so many in our society, Cardinal Mahony said at an ecumenical service on Jan. 23 at the First African Methodist Episcopal church in Los Angeles.
Guatemalan Police Arrest Four, Issue Warrant for Priest
Police arrested three military officers and a cook in connection with the 1998 murder of Auxiliary Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera of Guatemala City and issued a warrant for a priest believed to be residing in the United States. Meanwhile, the government said on Jan. 23 that another 10 to 12 officers are under investigation. Retired Col. Disrael Lima Estrada, 58, a former head of military intelligence, and his son, Capt. Byron Lima Oliva, 30, were the first to be apprehended Jan. 22 in the Guatemalan capital. They have been charged with extrajudicial killing.
English-Speaking Bishops Agree to Revise ICEL Statutes
English-speaking bishops agreed that changes need to be made to the commission that translates liturgical texts, but a two-day meeting ended without a draft of the changes. The Episcopal Board of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy met on Jan. 21-22 in London to discuss a Vatican order that the statutes governing ICEL be revised. Representatives of the 11 bishops’ conferences that sponsor ICEL met to discuss issues raised in late October by Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
Israeli Rights Report Criticizes Government Land Policies
Massive land confiscation from Palestinians for Jewish use and overcrowding in Palestinian neighborhoods are part of an explicitly stated and intentional Israeli government policy based on political expediency, said an Israeli human rights group. Israel invests enormous resources to build large Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. At the same time the Israeli authorities choke development for the Palestinian population, which is perceived as a demographic threat’ to Israeli control of the city, B’Tselem said in its report on the status of Jerusalem, entitled Injustice in the Holy City. B’Tselem, founded in 1989, is the leading Israeli group advocating human rights in the Palestinian territories.
C.H.A. Welcomes Clinton Planto Expand Health Care
The Catholic Health Association on Jan. 20 praised President Clinton’s proposal to expand health care coverage for millions of low-income Americans. Father Michael D. Place, C.H.A. president and chief executive officer, urged Congress to act this year on the president’s proposal and other efforts to expand health coverage. Noting that the nation is in a period of low unemployment, a strong economy and federal budget surpluses, he asked, If not now, when? The new Clinton plan would commit $110 billion over the next 10 years to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, provide tax credits for small businesses to buy health insurance, expand access to Medicare and give tax credits for long-term care.
Cardinal Urges Pro-Life Activists to Speak Out in Love
Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago urged pro-life activists to combine truth and love when talking to their opponents. We need both truth and love to be effective advocates for the sanctity of human life, he told about 600 people who were attending the ninth annual Speak Out Illinois Conference in Chicago on Jan. 15. The conference was sponsored by 29 pro-life organizations, including the archdiocesan Respect Life office.
Pope Clears Way for John XXIII’s Beatification
Pope John Paul II, recognizing as miraculous a healing of an Italian nun, cleared the way for the beatification of Pope John XXIII. Sister Caterina Capitani, a member of the Daughters of Charity, attended the Vatican session on Jan. 27 at which the pope recognized her healing as a miracle attributed to the intervention of Pope John. The decree clears the way for the beatification of Pope John, pontiff from 1958 to 1963. Although the Vatican has not announced a date for the ceremony, officials have said Sept. 3 is the most likely date.
Court Leaves Law Intact Closing Public Schools on Good Friday
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review an appeal of Maryland’s law requiring schools to close on Good Friday. The court rejected without comment on Jan. 18 an appeal by a retired Maryland teacher, who argued that the law violates the separation of church and state. Maryland, Illinois and North Dakota are the only states that require all public schools to close on Good Friday, although the Illinois law was struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. A handful of other states designate Good Friday as a legal holiday but do not require schools to close.
Corporate Responsibility Groups Target Genetic Tweaking of Food
Genetic engineering of agricultural products has emerged as a principal new emphasis of church groups involved in the corporate responsibility movement. The annual compilation of stockholder resolutions published by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility in New York identified 19 resolutions that had been filed by church groups and their allies challenging corporations on the use and sale of genetically engineered products. This technology involves significant social, economic and environmental risks, says a supporting statement for a resolution filed with American Home Products, Archer Daniels Midland, Dow, DuPont and Monsanto.
Priest AIDS Deaths Twice That of Adult Male Population
Hundreds of Roman Catholic priests across the United States have died of AIDS-related illnesses, and hundreds more are living with H.I.V., the virus that causes the disease, according to a three-part series by Judy L. Thomas in The Kansas City Star. The death rate from AIDS for priests, she writes, is estimated to be about double the death rate of the adult male population. Newspapers across the country cited The Star’s statistic that the death rate is four times that of the general population, which includes women and children. These estimates were based on an examination of death certificates in Kansas, Missouri, California and Massachusetts and conversations with medical experts and priests, according to The Star.
In a survey of 3,000 priests by The Star, two-thirds of the more than 800 respondents praised the church for being caring and compassionate to priests with AIDS. But most priests said the church failed to offer an early and effective sexual education that might have prevented infection in the first place. Two-thirds said sexuality was not discussed adequately in the seminary. Of those priests responding to the survey, 15 percent said they were homosexual and 5 percent bisexual.
Dean Hoge, of the Catholic University of America, said the report was not a bad job but it can’t claim a lot of precision. He said that the response rate (27 percent) from the priests surveyed was not very high. When he surveyed priests in 1993 he got a 69.5 percent response, while a Los Angeles Times survey got a 41.7 percent response. He did not find anything surprising in the report, but he felt that bishops need to reflect on the policy implications, especially for seminary training. An open discussion among seminary rectors, away from the press, would be helpful, he said.