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Sr. Stang's accused murderer gets new trial

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SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Five years after the murder of U.S.-born Sister Dorothy Stang, a man accused of ordering her killing will face his third trial.

Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura, nicknamed Bida, will begin a new trial March 31. He remains in jail following a court order that he return to prison because of the power he wields in the region where the crime occurred.

Forgiving Haiti's debt called key to recovery

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Obstacles on Haiti’s road to recovery were removed in early February as major players in the international financial system took up the cause of canceling Haiti’s $890 million international debt.

The most significant breakthrough came Feb. 5 when the U.S. Treasury Department announced that the United States would work with its partners around the world to relieve all debts owed by Haiti to international institutions.

Koreans differ with Vatican over Avatar

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SEOUL — Korean theologians have differed with the Vatican over the blockbuster movie Avatar saying the film holds a message against greed.

Vatican publications denounced Avatar for pandering to “all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium.”

Father John Song Yong-min, theology professor of Incheon Catholic University, said that the message of the film was not so serious or dangerous as to shake or confuse the faithful.

“The Church teaches God’s revelation through Jesus which is quite different from the movie’s view on divinity.

“But as God is an unknowable mystery, and such a mystery can be differently expressed according to cultures, so there is room for us to understand Him through the Holy Spirit as ’spiritual energy’,” he said.

The film’s action takes place on Pandora, a utopian planet where an alien tribe has been living in harmony with nature until humans arrive to exploit resources there.

“It is true that the movie contrasts economic development with the preservation of nature. In that we can read a message,” Father Song says.

Haiti faces long-term mental health challenges

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Not least among the challenges millions of Haitians face in the weeks, months and years ahead are the potentially crippling mental health issues that will emerge following what one U.S. general termed “a disaster of epic proportions.”

Among the consequences of the carnage: grief, anger, bereavement, loss, stress, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

With so much immediate need, what can be done about the inevitable mental health challenges, a byproduct of this deadly event?

Amid the ruins

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If Haiti before the earthquake of Jan. 12 had become a near universal symbol of a dysfunctional civil society, the Catholic church, at least, stood as a somewhat redeeming example there of institutional stability.

Its churches and schools were crowded, its ministries functioned despite the chaos endemic to the poorest country in the hemisphere. The church’s connections through parishes, agencies and religious orders reached across international boundaries and were responsible for untold millions in formal and informal aid each year.

Calls for new approach in rebuilding

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When New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan tried to describe what he saw in Port-au-Prince, he said the only vocabulary he could draw on was that of faith. “I see a great deal of Good Friday, immense darkness, suffering and death, but I also see glimpses of Easter Sunday.”

For the moment, the way forward -- the glimpses of Easter -- is viewed in tiny increments: some rubble cleared, some food getting through to the neediest, securing safe haven for orphaned children; bringing order to what amount to internal refugee camps.

Haiti first person: adoption

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One family's story

When NCR reached Monica and Michael Simonsen at their home in Baltimore, the sounds of a happy baby could be heard in the background. The sounds came from Stanley Hermane, 21 months old, who survived the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti and is finally in the arms of his adoptive parents.

The couple had gone through the long process to adopt Stanley, working through A Love Beyond Borders, a registered Colorado adoption agency, and were awaiting final clearance when the quake struck. Michael managed to get a seat on a charter flight when they heard the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security was granting "humanitarian paroles" to move orphans out of the Haiti. In the meantime, Monica traveled to Ft. Lauderdale with other families to wait for the children.

The process began to snarl when, as Monica says, "Groups who were helping us in Florida began to pull out due to political pressure. Her husband arrived in Port-au-Prince to more complications. Forced to sleep in tent cities at the airport, he and the others trying to get the children out finally made it to the U.S. Embassy where they were turned away without explanation.

Protecting Haiti's children

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New Analysis

Shortly after an earthquake devastated Haiti Jan. 12, the Miami, Fla., archdiocese offered to set up operation "Pierre Pan," a program to resettle Haitian children in the United States, modeled after a similar "Pedro Pan" program in the 1960s that found homes for some 14,000 Cuban children.

The day after he floated the idea of Pierre Pan, even Randolph McGrorty, executive director of Catholic Charities Legal Services in Miami, admitted that it is too soon to focus on relocation and adoption. Haiti's immediate needs must take precedence, McGrorty told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper Jan. 19.

A later statement by the Migration and Refugee Services of the U. S. Catholic bishops' conference retracted the offer, however, and made it clear that the safety of children and family reunification are primary before bringing children here for adoption.

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September 12-25, 2014

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