National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source


Philippines divided over reproductive health policies


MANILA, PHILIPPINES -- In a nation where the Hail Mary is heard on public address systems at airports between flight announcements, separation of church and state appears thin.

In a nation where thousands regularly gather for Sunday Masses in shopping centers, the Catholic cultural imprint is without dispute.

This nation is the Philippines, a breathtaking archipelago of some 92 million living on more than 7,000 islands, where Catholic prelates, particularly Catholic bishops, are held in high esteem.

Rains complicate mission to homeless Haitians

WASHINGTON -- With the rainy season on the doorstep in Haiti, Isaac Boyd, an emergency shelter expert for Catholic Relief Services, and a coalition of relief agencies from around the world are trying to tackle the impossible.

Their focus is on getting the hundreds of thousands of people who remain homeless after the Jan. 12 earthquake into better housing, even if it is nothing more than a sturdy tent on safe ground.

The rainy season peaks in May, but sporadic drenching rains already are occurring, turning many of the temporary tent camps around Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, into muddy quagmires.

Celibacy prime block to African vocations


Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the Feb. 7, 1986 issue of NCR.

Catholics in Africa -- Analysis
Mwingi, Kitui Diocese, Kenya

More than 1,000 smiling, chanting, dancing people crowded onto the Muiasa family's small plot of land outside the eastern Kenya market town of Kitui. The parish priest had spent all afternoon ferrying them here in his pickup truck, but the dusty road out of Kitui was crowded with pedestrians -- all headed for the celebration -- until long after sunset.

When the festivities began, priests and nuns almost danced their enthusiastic speeches. The whole community turned out -- Catholics, Protestants and followers of traditional religions -- and all roared with cheers and ululations as women from nearby Catholic churches and rural chapels pranced out of the crowd to add their heavy sacks of maize to the enormous pile of grain, more than a ton, given to the Muiasas as a sort of lobola or dowry.

Marienplatz no longer about the Virgin Mary


Munich, Germany
Marienplatz is a square at the heart of Munich. Day and night it is packed, mostly with the young who come to hang out, to see and to be seen. There is also a lot of political theater going on in the square, speeches and leafleting. Amnesty International is recruiting new members. The Munich police maintain a presence.

This is a square of contrasts, modern life in a face-lifted Middle Age setting. Today Marienplatz is dotted by high fashion boutique and clothing shops, coffee parlors and underground Bavarian restaurants. All underground transportation passes through this plaza.

Pakistani churches condemn killings at World Vision office


BANGALORE, India -- Churches in Pakistan have deplored the killing of six World Vision staff members as the international Christian humanitarian organization suspended its operations in the country.

"All of World Vision's operations in the country have been suspended for the time being," agency spokesman Dean Owen said after the attack, adding that the aid group had received "no threatening letters" before the killing.

Anticipation high ahead of Romero anniversary


Published statements from both the church and the government in El Salvador are raising hopes that the 30th anniversary of the death of Archbishop Oscar Romero may occasion an official announcement of his beatification.

San Salvador Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas told a press conference Feb. 7 that the bishops of El Salvador had written to Rome to ask that Romero be canonized “as soon as possible.” Escobar cautioned that he had received no official word from the Vatican, but said the bishops would like to be able to give everyone the good news that Romero was declared “Blessed” on the anniversary day. Romero was assassinated while saying Mass on March 24, 1980.

Aussie bishop goes \"priest hunting\" in India


MELBOURNE, Australia -- A Catholic bishop has gone to India to find priests to work in a swath of Australia that stretches from tropical islands to the wilderness of the Australian outback.

Bishop Brian Heenan of Rockhampton in the state of Queensland told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Indian priests could help overcome an extreme shortage of native clergy.

Catholic organizations responding to Chile quake


Two days after a massive earthquake in Chile that has killed more than 700 people, response efforts by Catholic organizations and church leaders are already underway.

Catholic relief organization Caritas Internationalis reported that Bishop Alejandro Goic, president of the Chilean bishops' conference, said that parishes and local Caritas centers have already begun moving to help those most affected by the quake.

Caritas Chile, the national arm of the international organization, has offices in 23 different areas already providing food and other relief. The first emergency aid is being distributed in Maule and Bío Bío, the regions most affected by the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the country Feb. 27.



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