News Briefs

The Dominican sister John Mary Fleming was named executive director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on May 29. • More than 350 attendees from Haiti, the United States, Canada and France met to discuss recovery and development in Haiti during the National Conference on Solidarity, “Haiti: One Table, Many Partners,” in Washington, D.C., on June 1. • A federal appeals court on May 31 declared the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. • On May 26 the Diocese of Spokane, Wash., reached a broad settlement on sexual abuse lawsuits, agreeing to pay $1.5 million, a figure low enough to prevent the possible foreclosing of diocesan parishes and schools. • President Barack Obama awarded the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom on May 29 to 13 people, including the civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, co-founder with the late Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers. • As victims of the massacre in Houla, Syria, were buried on May 26, Pope Benedict XVI joined the international community in condemning the killing, which left at least 108 people dead. • The U.N. reported on May 31 that fighting between the national army of the Democratic Republic of Congo and  rebel forces in Congo’s North Kivu Province has forced more than 80,000 civilians to flee.

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