National Catholic Reporter

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HIV stigma, while declining, still a stark reality for some in Zambia


This story is the second in a series looking at HIV and AIDS in Zambia.

LUSAKA, Zambia -- Press visits can be a boon for journalists. If done well, they allow what is most needed for good reporting: access to people willing to talk.

So it was recently when I visited Zambia on a media tour sponsored by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a Geneva, Switzerland-based international financing institution that has provided $632 million in funding to battle the three diseases in southern Africa nations. Zambia is one of 150 countries in which the Global Fund allocates funding.

In the case of AIDS, funding has gone to various programs, many of them run by a network of Catholic and Protestant church institutions called Churches Health Association of Zambia.

The trip was a rich, full experience, allowing a group of journalists based in France, South Africa and the United States a chance to talk to a wide spectrum of Zambian society on the eve of the recent XIX International AIDS Conference, held July 22-27 in Washington.

Seven Chinese priests forced from parishes following illicit ordination


HARBIN, China -- Chinese government officials have forced seven priests in Heilongjiang province who resisted the illicit episcopal ordination of Father Joseph Yue Fusheng of Harbin to leave their parishes, local Catholic Church sources said.

The action was taken, the sources said, to force the priests to "repent for their wrongdoing," reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

The priests are either staying with parishioners, returned to their hometowns or have fled to other provinces, according to the sources.

Prior to the July 6 ordination, religious officials within the Chinese government warned that disobedient priests would face dire consequences. In recent weeks, they ordered priests with "dissatisfactory performances" to take three months of leave for self-examination, sources said.

The seven priests were either absent from the ordination or openly expressed their opposition to Father Yue, who did not receive a papal mandate and is seen as being too close to the government.

Zambia pushes for continued education, medication for HIV/AIDS patients


This story is the first in a series looking at HIV and AIDS in Zambia.

LUSAKA, Zambia -- Sr. Mary Roche looked around at her students in the Mary Aikenhead Open Community School and said there were very few who have not been touched in some way by the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

"It's dreadful, dreadful," said Roche, 68, speaking with a quiet Irish lilt that does not betray her concern, passion or even anger about what HIV and AIDS have done to this southern African nation of 13 million.

HIV's deleterious effects are seen in ways both large and small, including people who are often sick and leaving work to find treatment and families having to channel day-to-day energies -- and parceling out small incomes -- to help the ill get to hospitals and clinics.

This, in turn, perpetuates cycles of poverty, illness and hunger, said Roche, a member of the Religious Sisters of Charity who has worked at the Lusaka school since 2008.

A little office that reaches a continent


The offices of the Africa Faith and Justice Network are tucked into a corner of the fourth floor of a building on the campus of Trinity College in Washington, D.C. On the wall, a map of Africa is covered with pins to which are tied strings leading to little slips of paper that surround the map. Each slip of paper lists the name of the country and the different religious orders working within its borders. This little office reaches an entire continent.

Australia: Distances, demographics, disaffection underlie tales of resigned bishops


Distances and demographics combine to tell the story.

Three-quarters the size of the United States, Australia is mainly uninhabited except along its coastline. While the U.S. shelters close to 313 million people, latest Australian census statistics report only 22 million persons on the continent’s nearly 3 million square miles.

Australian church is alive and kicking -- mostly kicking


First Person

MELBOURNE and SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA -- Ten days in Australia isn't nearly enough, except to find that the church is alive and kicking.

Mostly kicking.

My first-time-ever trip to Melbourne and Sydney in mid-May was as guest of Garratt Publishing, which publishes Australian editions of my books Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future (with Gary Macy and William T. Ditewig) and Women in Ministry: Emerging Questions about the Diaconate. Garratt sponsored conferences and talks, and introduced me both in person and on various radio programs to an alive and questioning church.

Summit urges Filipinos to spread the Gospel with the power of social media


MARIKINA CITY, Philippines -- Social media's popularity among Filipino youth is increasing, and the Philippines church is tapping these tools to spread the Gospel.

More than 400 people from various cities gathered at Renaissance Hotel in Marikina City, east of Manila, for 1st Catholic Social Media Summit over the weekend. They examined the advantages of and problems with various types of social media and explored ways to make full use of the tools for forming vibrant Christian communities online and in real life.

Canada to appeal court ruling on euthanasia, assisted suicide

OTTAWA, Ontario -- The federal government has announced it will appeal the June 15 British Columbia Supreme Court decision that struck down Canada's laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide.

"After careful consideration of the legal merits," the government of Canada will appeal the so-called Carter decision to the British Columbia Court of Appeal and seek "a stay of all aspects of the lower-court decision," said Justice Minister and Attorney General Rob Nicholson on July 13.

"The government is of the view that the Criminal Code provisions that prohibit medical professionals, or anyone else, from counseling or providing assistance in a suicide are constitutionally valid," said Nicholson. "The government also objects to the lower court's decision to grant a 'constitutional exemption' resembling a regulatory framework for assisted suicide."



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