Signs of the Times

Catholic Schools Educate Well at Half the Cost, Study Shows

Catholic schools in Los Angeles give low-income and minority children a quality education at half the cost of public schools, according to a new study released on April 26 in Los Angeles. The study, by the San Francisco-based Pacific Research Institute, showed that Catholic high schools in the Los Angeles Archdiocese spend less than $5,000 per student annually and elementary schools about $2,200 per student, compared with $9,029 per student in the Los Angeles Unified School District. But despite the lower spending, said the study. Catholic schools have fewer dropouts and send a greater percentage of their students to college than do public schools in the same neighborhoods.

Extend Immigration Law, Bishop Urges as Deadline Passes

As immigrants scrambled to turn in legalization applications before a temporary law expired, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration asked for the provision to be extended. Last fall Congress temporarily reinstated a provision of immigration law known as 245(i) that would have allowed an estimated 640,000 illegal immigrants to apply for visas without returning to their home countries. But it expired on April 30, just as many illegal immigrants were finding out that a law existed under which they could legalize their status. Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Camden, N.J., migration committee chairman, urged Congress and President Bush to extend the deadline immediately. President George W. Bush has indicated he supports such an extension.


Philippine Church Leaders Guard Presidency from Power Grab

Philippine church leaders worked to safeguard the presidency from a failed power grab by ousted President Joseph Estrada’s son and allies. Cardinal Jaime Sin of Manila appealed over a commercial radio station before 1 a.m. April 30 for people to “rally behind the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.” He noted that the country’s Supreme Court has confirmed her presidency twice, reported UCA News. “It is immoral to grab power. It is immoral to support those who are plotting against duly constituted authorities,” the cardinal said. “Keep watch, be alert,” he warned, urging people to go to an area near the presidential palace in downtown Manila “to protect our democracy.”

Globalization Seen Challenging Church Social Teaching

The challenges of globalization have broadened Catholic social teaching’s vision of responsibility for the weaker members of society, said experts at a Vatican meeting in April. In coming years, this evolution probably will lead to more articulated church stances on protection of the environment, operation of financial markets, limits of intellectual property rights, intergenerational differences and the gap between rich and poor, they said. “The church realizes that we have entered a completely new dimension of mankind,” said Johannes Schasching, S.J. “And, therefore, the church has to enlarge herself, her point of view,” he said. The Austrian theologian and social scientist was one of nearly 50 participants, including economic experts and U.N. officials, at a plenary meeting of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences on April 25-28 that focused on globalization and ethics.

C.R.S. Asks for More Federal Leeway in Granting Food Aid

Catholic Relief Services has asked the federal government for more latitude in determining how U.S.-based charities distribute food aid. In testimony on April 25 before the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, C.R.S. executive director Kenneth P. Hackett said federal rules have grown too restrictive in how “private voluntary organizations” distribute food. “We are asking that U.S. food aid be provided to U.S. P.V.O.’s to support our own planned relief and development activities,” Hackett said. In the last 10 to 15 years, he added, “we often feel treated as ‘contractors’ carrying out a changing agenda, one which we have not helped establish and one which has not benefited from our practical on-the-ground experience.”

Environment, Poverty Interrelated Issues, Say Quebec Bishops

Environmental devastation and the struggle of the poor for a more equitable distribution of the world’s resources are interrelated issues that should be of concern to Catholics, said Quebec’s bishops. The Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor, an eight-page document issued by the social affairs committee of the Quebec Assembly of Bishops as their traditional May Day message, calls on Catholics to stop thinking of environmental degradation as a scientific problem and to wake up to the serious social consequences of ongoing ecological destruction. The challenges of desertification, biosphere imbalances, climatic changes and pollution are not just scientific and technical issues, but also “political challenges that affect the lives of workers at home and abroad, particularly in the developing world,” said the Quebec bishops, referring to the 1987 report of the World Commission on Development and Environment.

Pope Tells Ukrainian Orthodox Leader He Hopes They Meet

Pope John Paul II said he hoped to demonstrate his love and respect for the Orthodox by meeting personally with the Ukrainian Orthodox leader who asked him not to visit Ukraine. Writing to Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, head of Ukraine’s largest Orthodox Church, the pope said his trip on June 23-27 should highlight “a constant and respectful attention toward our Orthodox brothers and sisters.” In addition, the pope said in his letter of early April, it should demonstrate the Catholic Church’s “decisive commitment to continue to follow the path of dialogue in truth and love.” The message was written in response to an open letter from Metropolitan Vladimir in January asking the pope to postpone the trip indefinitely and warning that if the pope decided to visit Ukraine, it could damage Catholic-Orthodox relations.

Cardinal Keeler Asks A.D.L. for Dialogue Before Criticism

At a national Jewish meeting on April 29, Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore praised the growth in Catholic-Jewish understanding but said leaders of the two communities should consult with their counterparts more before issuing public criticisms of the other. Cardinal Keeler spoke to more than 600 Jewish leaders at the opening dinner of the Anti-Defamation League’s annual National Leadership Conference.

He noted “with sadness” what he called a tendency of some U.S. Jewish organizations, including the A.D.L., “to issue public statements reactive to statements and other actions emanating from Catholic sources abroad without consulting our [bishops’ Catholic-Jewish] secretariat or other knowledgeable Catholic sources.” “It does not do anyone any good, I believe, for a particular agency to be first in line for media quotes if what happens, in effect, is an erroneous interpretation of what the Catholic Church is saying or doing,” he said. “We who are responsible for our communities need very much to consult with one another before we characterize or castigate what we think the other has just said,” he added.

Jesuit on Leave From Teaching to Explain Views to Vatican

At the request of the Vatican, Roger D. Haight, S.J., has been on leave from teaching while explaining to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith his understanding of Jesus as savior. Father Haight has taught at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge since 1990. The doctrinal congregation has raised questions about his 1999 book, Jesus Symbol of God. In response to media inquiries, Robert E. Manning, S.J., Weston’s president, said that the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education asked Father Haight “to take a leave from his teaching in order to devote the time needed to respond” to the doctrinal congregation’s observations. He stopped teaching last fall. “Because Father Haight acknowledges the truth of the church’s dogmas concerning Jesus Christ, he has begun the work of clarifying his book in a spirit of fraternal dialogue and will continue this important task for the sake of the church,” Father Manning said.

Father Manning described Father Haight’s book as “an attempt to enter into a ‘dialogue with postmodern culture’ in the spirit of Vatican II, to present the church’s faith and to explain the church’s central dogmas concerning Jesus Christ in terms that men and women today can understand.” He said it is part of the theologian’s ministry in the church to “attempt to formulate the truth of the church’s dogmas using new approaches and concepts so that the Christian tradition can find a living expression in the contemporary situation.” He added, “Father Haight is a theologian highly esteemed by his colleagues, and his book has generated much discussion among them. As is often the case, there have been both positive and negative reviews.” The book won the theology book award from the Catholic Press Association last year.

Irish President Says Time to Say Goodbye to ‘Catholic Ireland’

Irish President Mary McAleese, a Catholic, said it is time to say goodbye to the phrase “Catholic Ireland.” Speaking about a recent visit to the United States, where she repeatedly heard Ireland described as a “Catholic country,” McAleese said “that in some ways that expression belongs to a time when Northern Ireland could be described as ‘a Protestant state’ and the Republic described as a Catholic state.” In a national radio interview on April 22, she said, “I think one of the lessons we have learned from history is the need to transcend those kinds of labels because they send messages to people, which I believe can be hurtful messages, as if there is some ownership of Ireland by Catholicism, for example.”

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