April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. While not exactly widely known, the month gives child advocates a chance to raise awareness of a social ill that claims far too many victims.

Communities across the country have hosted programs to call attention to child abuse and encourage people to report incidents rather than to ignore them.

Likewise, U.S. dioceses have sponsored programs and provided information about the signs of abuse. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has prepared resources for dioceses with their programs.

Although less than two weeks remain in the month, there’s still a chance to get the word out. The USCCB packet has several useful resources, including prayer cards, a brochure identifying activities to help raise awareness and a poster.

Resources can be ordered online or downloaded.

You can help CRS earn $100K

Hugh Jackman is donating $100,000 to someone's favorite charity. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Hugh Jackman is donating $100,000 to someone's favorite charity. (CNS/Reuters)

Actor Hugh Jackman is giving $100,000 to someone’s favorite nonprofit group. Just tell him why in 140 characters.

The Australian film star made his offer April 14 on Twitter, the rapidly growing online social networking site. The folks at Catholic Relief Services are hoping their agency is the one that gets the cash.

Laura Durington, online community manager at CRS, says she “retweeted” Jackman’s offer to the agency’s 1,000 followers on Twitter and thousands more on Facebook asking them to take up the challenge.

“We talked about it and we laughed about it,” she told Catholic News Service. “Then we thought why not, there’s no reason not to.”

Responding to individual tweets since his offer went out, Jackman said he has been impressed with the kinds of groups being touted. He’s encouraging people to show passion in their tweets.

Post your tweet on Twitter at RealHughJackman.

Mexicans by far largest U.S. immigrant group

A man holds a U.S. and Mexican flag during an immigration rally in downtown Los Angeles. (CNS/Victor Aleman, Vida Nueva)

A man holds a U.S. and Mexican flag during an immigration rally in downtown Los Angeles. (CNS/Victor Aleman, Vida Nueva)

The Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center reported this week that, according to its new study, Mexicans are the largest single group of immigrants living in the U.S. The data was derived from a 2008 poll that found 12.7 million Mexicans live in America. That accounts for a whopping 32% of all immigrants. The next biggest group — Filipinos — make up only 5% of immigrants.

Though no one has counted how many Mexicans living in the U.S. are Catholic, Mexico is one of the most Catholic countries in the Western Hemisphere. The 2009 Catholic Almanac reports that 89% of Mexico’s total population is Catholic. It’s a pretty good bet that most of the Mexican immigrants in the U.S. are too, and they contribute greatly to the overall numbers of Hispanic Catholics in America.  Another of Pew’s centers, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, reported in last year’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey that 29% of U.S. Catholics self-identify as Hispanic. In a church of about 65 million members, that’s a big chunk.

Here are a few of interesting facts about Mexicans in the U.S. from the Pew study:

  • “More than half of Mexicans living in the U.S. are unauthorized.”
  • “No other country in the world has as many total immigrants from all countries as the U.S. has immigrants from Mexico alone.”
  • “About 11% of everyone born in Mexico currently lives in the U.S.”
  • “The current Mexican share of all foreign born living in the U.S. — 32% — is the highest concentration of immigrants to the U.S. from a single country since the 19th century.” (The Irish and the Germans have in the past held that distinction.)

Of course, Mexicans have been a big part of the American church since its beginning. After all, a big part of America used to belong to Mexico — Texas, for instance, and most of the Southwest.

Every immigrant group has brought gift after gift to the church in the U.S. Perhaps the biggest gift of all from Mexican Catholics: the patroness of the Americas, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Franciscan’s focus was spirituality, prayer and simplicity

We ran a story Tuesday about the death of Franciscan Sister Jose Hobday,  80, who was well-known as an author, storyteller and lecturer on spirituality and prayer. She also was a Seneca tribal elder who spoke often of what the larger culture could learn from Native Americans.

In preparing the obituary on her, I looked through the archived CNS coverage we had had on her over the years, and a gem caught my eye: a 1973 interview with her that we picked up from the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the New Orleans Archdiocese.

“Indians’ values are so different,” Sister Jose told reporter Florence Herman. “They have a terrifically strong sense of family, and will throw over a job — a good job — and move back to the reservations to take care of older  members of the family when there is no one else. And though they realize that white people think they are crazy, they know they are doing the right thing.”

“The Indians,” she added, “have certain values they want to keep, even as they realize and know that they can’t live in the old-style Indian culture. … Indians are willing to work with the white man and his world, they just don’t want to work in it all the time.”

And when it comes to money, she said, it is not “a big thing to the Indians. Enough to cover your needs is all you have to have. They aren’t really convinced that you should spend a lifetime pursuing money.”

Statement on Cardinal George and Notre Dame

The Catholic New World, newspaper of the Chicago Archdiocese, has published a statement in an attempt to clarify again what Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago actually said — or didn’t say — about next month’s commencement appearance by President Barack Obama at the University of Notre Dame.

The four-point statement says:

1. Cardinal George did not say the university should “disinvite” the president. He said that both the president and his office should be respected and that the university could not and should not rescind an invitation to the president of the United States. The president’s views are well known as are his reasons for them; he is not himself the issue here.

You can read the rest here.

Environmental stewardship takes a front seat

It’s a week before Earth Day, April 22, and a week before the formal kickoff of a new Catholic campaign on climate change.

Under the auspices of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, the campaign will seek to raise awareness of the environment and the responsibility everyone has to care for God’s good earth.

Dioceses around the country are already signing on to the Catholic Climate Covenant, known as the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor. The covenant will encourage Catholics individually and communally to reflect, pray and act on environmental stewardship and climate change.

At least one diocese has taken steps to assess how to better care for creation.

Organizations, parishes and individuals in the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis., are being asked to consider what the stewardship of creation means to them. The Compass, the diocesan newspaper in Green Bay, has a full report.

CNS will have more on the campaign and the covenant within the next few days.

Another Vatican denial on ambassadors

VATICAN CITY — Never let an on-the-record denial get in the way of a good story.

That seems to be the philosophy behind the continued publication of rumors that the Vatican has rejected the names of three potential U.S. ambassadors to the Holy See, including Caroline Kennedy, because of the candidates’ position on legal abortion.

Last week, we ran a story quoting the Vatican’s spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, who dismissed those reports by saying: “No proposals about the new ambassador of the United States to the Holy See have reached the Vatican, and therefore it is not true that they have been rejected. The rumors circulating about this topic are not reliable.”

But that rather categorical statement didn’t stop media in Europe and bloggers in the United States from repeating the story over the Easter weekend. “Pope says nope to Ambassador Kennedy” was a typical headline in a British tabloid.

Today Father Lombardi issued another denial, this one to Agence France Presse, saying specifically about the Kennedy report:  “There has not been any proposal regarding the new United States ambassador to the Holy See, and it is therefore untrue that she was rejected.”

Other Vatican sources — people who know — have told me the reports are unfounded. And based on conversations I’ve had, their initial bewilderment seems to be turning to irritation as the stories continue to circulate.

THURSDAY UPDATE: The BBC now quotes a “senior White House official” as saying the Obama administration had “not floated any names with the Vatican.”

LCWR reportedly under “doctrinal assessment” by Vatican

The National Catholic Reporter posted a story last night saying that the Vatican has launched a “doctrinal assessment” of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which is the main association for major superiors of sisters’ orders in the United States.

This is separate from the Vatican-initiated apostolic visitation of institutes for women religious in the United States, announced in January, to find out why the numbers of their members have decreased during the past 40 years and to look at the quality of life in the communities.

You can read the Reporter’s story here.

Israel, Jordan launch Web sites for pope’s visit


(CNS graphic/Emily Thompson)

VATICAN CITY — The Jordan Tourism Board and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism have opened special Web sites to help pilgrims wanting to follow Pope Benedict XVI’s May 8-15 pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

The Jordanian site, which already has several video clips up, will provide live feeds of the papal events.

The Israeli site provides information in seven languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Polish and Portuguese. In addition to news about the pope’s visit, it includes information on the most popular Christian sites in Israel and in Palestine.

Both sites include information and photos from Pope John Paul II’s visit in 2000. The Israeli site says of Pope John Paul’s visit:  “His Holiness’ pilgrimage to the Holy Land for the Great Jubilee was the highlight of all of his papal pilgrimages. His visit to the cradle of Christianity bore historical, emotional and spiritual meaning not only for Christianity but also for the Jewish people.”

Of course, the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land also has beefed up its Web site in advance of the trip and filled it with news stories from the Custody’s CTS news service.

Bishop accuses Chicago Tribune of anti-Catholic bias in Notre Dame coverage

The ongoing debate over next month’s University of Notre Dame commencement appearance by President Barack Obama took a new turn today when Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Chicago accused the Chicago Tribune of anti-Catholic bias in the opinion pieces it has run in recent weeks on the controversy. In a letter to the editor published today, he also cited a Tribune article that he said “features Catholics who have acted against Catholic Church teaching on in-vitro fertilization.”

The three opinion articles he cited included an April 3 Tribune editorial saying Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George was “deeply out of line” for his comments on the controversy, a March 31 column by Notre Dame alumnus Don Wycliff urging the university not to cave to pressure from opponents of Obama’s appearance, and an April 3 article by Obama campaign co-chairman William M. Daley, which Bishop Paprocki characterized as part of the Tribune’s effort “to enlist dissenting Catholics to be the mouthpiece of the newspaper’s attacks against the church’s teaching authority.”

“I don’t recall the Chicago Tribune ever running such stories and editorials against any other church or religion, let alone with such frequency or invective, so I can only conclude that the know-nothing views of the Chicago Tribune have not changed,” he wrote, referring to the anti-Catholicism of the Know-Nothing movement — and of the Tribune — in the mid-19th century.


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