Category Archives: Action

‘Be a voice of conscience,’ pope tells Catholic press

C2A03062-3A14-4019-BFAD-D3C0EE2BF36FPope Francis at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Nov. 8, 2017. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

.- Pope Francis told an association of Italian Catholic news agencies Monday to stay close to the Magisterium and to use their work to distinguish what is good from what is evil.

“To renew your harmony with the magisterium of the Church, I urge you to be a voice of conscience, of a journalism capable of distinguishing good from evil, human choices from inhuman ones,” he said Sept. 23.

“Because today there is a mishmash that does not stand out, and you must help in this. The journalist – who is the chronicler of history – is called to reconstruct the memory of facts, to work for social cohesion, to tell the truth at all costs.”

Pope Francis addressed the Union of Catholic Italian Press to mark their 60th anniversary. He noted a part of the organization’s statutes, which describes itself as “a professional and ecclesial association that finds inspiration in the service of the person, in the Gospel, and in the Magisterium of the Church.”

He counseled the Catholic press to have courage, and to be always respectful and never arrogant. “The [field of] communication needs true words in the midst of so many empty words,” he said.

“And in this you have a great responsibility: your words are told to the world and shape it, your stories can generate spaces of freedom or slavery, of responsibility or dependence on power.”

The pope warned that what a journalist writes is sometimes passed through the “still” of “financial convenience” and the truth gets left behind for “what is not true, what is not beautiful, and what is not good.”

In the era of web journalism, he said the journalist’s task is to identify credible sources, and then contextualize, interpret, and properly order them.

He criticized the idea that a man could die from cold on the street and it would not be news, while instead, every news agency will talk about the stock exchange falling by two points.

Do not be afraid to turn the hierarchy of news on its head, he said, “to give voice to those who do not have it; to tell the ‘good news’ that generates social friendship: not to tell fairy tales, but good real news.”

Pope Francis also pointed to the example of Bl. Manuel Lozano Garrido (“Lolo”) a Spanish journalist who lived at the time of the Spanish war.

Beatified in 2010, he was the first secular journalist to be declared ‘blessed’ by the Church, Pope Francis said.

Despite living with an illness which forced him to be in a wheelchair for 28 years, Bl. Garrido “did not stop loving his profession,” the pope said.

“Truly a beautiful example to follow!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/be-a-voice-of-conscience-pope-tells-catholic-press-19775

Romania police chief sacked after teen ‘killed by kidnapper’

A6DECDD4-08F7-4CD6-AF4F-4B5A08017B29The murder has triggered an outpouring of emotion in Romania

Romania’s interior minister has fired the chief of police after the murder of a teenage girl whose repeated emergency calls went unheeded for hours.

The 15-year-old was abducted on Wednesday, but managed to make three calls and give officers details about where she was being held.

Her family say officers did not take her calls seriously, while police say they had difficulty tracing her.

The girl is thought to have died at the hands of her captor.

Police found human remains and jewellery the girl wore at a house, and have detained a 65-year-old man for questioning.

The girl, who has only been identified as Alexandra, was kidnapped while trying to hitchhike to her home in the southern city of Caracal, police say.

On Thursday morning, she called the emergency hotline 112 three times, and said she had been abducted by a car driver who had picked her up, AFP news agency reports.

According to police chief Ioan Buda – who has now been sacked – Alexandra yelled “he’s coming, he’s coming”, before the call disconnected.

The authorities say they initially struggled to track down the location she called from.

They identified the house where they believed she was held at 03:00 on Friday, AP news reports, citing local media.

However, police then applied for a search warrant – even though it was not legally required – and waited until the morning to enter the house.

They did not search the property until 19 hours after the girl’s final emergency call.

Police have sent off the human remains for analysis – and suspect they could belong to Alexandra, as well as an 18-year-old who went missing in April, Reuters reports.

Interior Minister Nicolae Moga said the police chief had been dismissed “because drastic measures are required”.

The interim general prosecutor Bogdan Licu, meanwhile, told TV station Antena 3: “Why [police] waited… must be clarified. A girl who by all indications could have been saved has died.”

US bishops call for new gun legislation after garlic festival shooting

BishopsCredit: Guy J. Sagi/Shutterstock.

.- After a shooting at a food festival in California on Sunday in which the gunman killed three people and injured 15, the US bishops’ representative for domestic justice called for legislation to prevent such losses.

Santino William Legan, 19, opened fire at a garlic festival in Gilroy, Calif., 30 miles southeast of San Jose, the evening of July 28. He was shot dead by police shortly after beginning to fire a rifle. Police have been investigating reports of a second suspect.

Bishop Oscar Cantú of San Jose said July 29 that “our hearts are heavy with sadness in the wake of the horrific shooting … I am grateful for the first responders and individual citizens whose quick thinking and professional actions saved countless lives.”

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, survivors and their families in this time of sorrow. May God, the source of our faith and strength, grant comfort and hope to all those affected by acts of violence. May grief give way to healing and grace, as we work together to protect the innocent and prevent future massacres, so that peace may prevail in our hearts and communities.”

The Diocese of San Jose held a bilingual prayer vigil July 29 at St. Mary’s parish in Gilroy.

Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice in Florida, chair of the US bishops’ committee on domestic justice and human development, said July 30 that “our legislators must make changes to our gun policy to prevent the loss of life.”

“As Americans, we must be honest with ourselves that we have a sickness, almost a plague, with the problem of gun violence. As Christians, we must look to the cross, repentant of the ways that have led us to this point and, with God’s grace, abandon such senseless, inhuman acts. Let us resolve to make the sacrifices necessary to end the violent killing that saturates our nation.”

He added that “the Lord calls us to comfort those who mourn and to be peacemakers in a violent world. We pray, and we must, for the victims and their families. The Church should act in ways that heal and support all those affected by gun violence.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/us-bishops-call-for-new-gun-legislation-after-garlic-festival-shooting-30833

Alan Kurdi rescue ship saves 44 stranded people in Mediterranean

save from seaLast week, the Alan Kurdi rescued 65 shipwrecked migrants attempting the perilous journey from North Africa [File: Darrin Zammit Lupi/AP]

At least 44 people, including infants, have been picked up from their stricken vessel off Libya’s coast in the Mediterranean Sea, according to a German charity operating the ship that rescued them.

Malta agreed to take in those rescued by the Alan Kurdi ship and was sending a vessel to pick them up, the Sea-Eye charity said late on Monday. There was no immediate confirmation by Maltese authorities.

Sea-Eye said it was alerted to the plight of the people in need of rescue by Tunisian fishermen and the Colibri civilian search plane.

“Forty-four people, including four women and three children,” were brought on board the Alan Kurdi, Sea-Eye said. The children are aged 15 months, three years, and five years.

The rescued people, who come from Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Guinea, said they had left Zuwara in Libya early on Saturday in a wooden boat, according to AFP news agency.

The Alan Kurdi last week rescued 65 shipwrecked people attempting the perilous journey to reach Europe, and handing them over to Malta on Sunday after Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini closed his country’s ports to the vessel.

They have already been sent on to other European Union countries, but it is not clear what would happen to those most recently rescued.

An Italian customs vessel, run by the NGO Mediterranea, on Tuesday brought 47 rescued people into Sicily’s Pozzallo port, Italian media reported. They had been headed to the Italian island of Lampedusa, between Sicily and Libya, but there was no space for them there as hundreds of refugees and migrants continue to arrive by their own means or are rescued by authorities.

Salvini has vowed to close Italian ports to charity rescue ships, which he accuses of helping people smugglers. Interior Ministry figures showed that 395 people have arrived in Italy since the end of June.

Italian media reported on Tuesday that this year barely one in 10 migrants and asylum seekers has been brought into Italy by charity vessels, the vast majority arriving by other means.

Sea-Watch docking

Italy last month issued a decree that imposes fines of up to 50,000 euros ($57,000) for the captain, owner and operator of a vessel “entering Italian territorial waters without authorisation”.

Authorities on Lampedusa in late June seized a rescue ship belonging to German aid group Sea-Watch, which had forced its way into port with dozens of rescued people on board, and arrested its captain, Carola Rackete.

An Italian judge subsequently ordered her freed, saying she had been acting to save lives.

Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since a 2011 uprising against the rule of late leader Muammar Gaddafi, has long been a major transit route for people, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, desperate to reach Europe.

Last week, 53 refugees and migrants were killed in an air raid on a detention centre in a Tripoli suburb held by forces loyal to Tripoli’s United Nations-recognised government.

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/07/alan-kurdi-rescue-ship-saves-44-stranded-people-mediterranean-190709100458532.html

 

 

Tree planting ‘has mind-blowing potential’ to tackle climate crisis

Trees Redwood trees in Guerneville, California. Photograph: Gabrielle Lurie/The Guardian

Planting billions of trees across the world is by far the biggest and cheapest way to tackle the climate crisis, according to scientists, who have made the first calculation of how many more trees could be planted without encroaching on crop land or urban areas.

As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. New research estimates that a worldwide planting programme could remove two-thirds of all the emissions that have been pumped into the atmosphere by human activities, a figure the scientists describe as “mind-blowing”.

The analysis found there are 1.7bn hectares of treeless land on which 1.2tn native tree saplings would naturally grow. That area is about 11% of all land and equivalent to the size of the US and China combined. Tropical areas could have 100% tree cover, while others would be more sparsely covered, meaning that on average about half the area would be under tree canopy.

The scientists specifically excluded all fields used to grow crops and urban areas from their analysis. But they did include grazing land, on which the researchers say a few trees can also benefit sheep and cattle.

“This new quantitative evaluation shows [forest] restoration isn’t just one of our climate change solutions, it is overwhelmingly the top one,” said Prof Tom Crowther at the Swiss university ETH Zürich, who led the research. “What blows my mind is the scale. I thought restoration would be in the top 10, but it is overwhelmingly more powerful than all of the other climate change solutions proposed.”

Crowther emphasised that it remains vital to reverse the current trends of rising greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and forest destruction, and bring them down to zero. He said this is needed to stop the climate crisis becoming even worse and because the forest restoration envisaged would take 50-100 years to have its full effect of removing 200bn tonnes of carbon.

But tree planting is “a climate change solution that doesn’t require President Trump to immediately start believing in climate change, or scientists to come up with technological solutions to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere”, Crowther said. “It is available now, it is the cheapest one possible and every one of us can get involved.” Individuals could make a tangible impact by growing trees themselves, donating to forest restoration organisations and avoiding irresponsible companies, he added.

Other scientists agree that carbon will need to be removed from the atmosphere to avoid catastrophic climate impacts and have warned that technological solutions will not work on the vast scale needed.

Jean-François Bastin, also at ETH Zürich, said action was urgently required: “Governments must now factor [tree restoration] into their national strategies.”

Christiana Figueres, former UN climate chief and founder of the Global Optimism group, said: “Finally we have an authoritative assessment of how much land we can and should cover with trees without impinging on food production or living areas. This is hugely important blueprint for governments and private sector.”

René Castro, assistant-director general at the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, said: “We now have definitive evidence of the potential land area for re-growing forests, where they could exist and how much carbon they could store.”

The study, published in the journal Science, determines the potential for tree planting but does not address how a global tree planting programme would be paid for and delivered.

Crowther said: “The most effective projects are doing restoration for 30 US cents a tree. That means we could restore the 1tn trees for $300bn [£240bn], though obviously that means immense efficiency and effectiveness. But it is by far the cheapest solution that has ever been proposed.” He said financial incentives to land owners for tree planting are the only way he sees it happening, but he thinks $300bn would be within reach of a coalition of billionaire philanthropists and the public.

The research is based on the measurement of the tree cover by hundreds of people in 80,000 high-resolution satellite images from Google Earth. Artificial intelligence computing then combined this data with 10 key soil, topography and climate factors to create a global map of where trees could grow.

This showed that about two-thirds of all land – 8.7bn ha – could support forest, and that 5.5bn ha already has trees. Of the 3.2bn ha of treeless land, 1.5bn ha is used for growing food, leaving 1.7bn of potential forest land in areas that were previously degraded or sparsely vegetated.

“This research is excellent,” said Joseph Poore, an environmental researcher at the Queen’s College, University of Oxford. “It presents an ambitious but essential vision for climate and biodiversity.” But he said many of the reforestation areas identified are currently grazed by livestock including, for example, large parts of Ireland.

“Without freeing up the billions of hectares we use to produce meat and milk, this ambition is not realisable,” he said. Crowther said his work predicted just two to three trees per field for most pasture: “Restoring trees at [low] density is not mutually exclusive with grazing. In fact many studies suggest sheep and cattle do better if there are a few trees in the field.”

Crowther also said the potential to grow trees alongside crops such as coffee, cocoa and berries – called agro-forestry – had not been included in the calculation of tree restoration potential, and neither had hedgerows: “Our estimate of 0.9bn hectares [of canopy cover] is reasonably conservative.”

However, some scientists said the estimated amount of carbon that mass tree planting could suck from the air was too high. Prof Simon Lewis, at University College London, said the carbon already in the land before tree planting was not accounted for and that it takes hundreds of years to achieve maximum storage. He pointed to a scenario from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 1.5C report of 57bn tonnes of carbon sequestered by new forests this century.

Other scientists said avoiding monoculture plantation forests and respecting local and indigenous people were crucial to ensuring reforestation succeeds in cutting carbon and boosting wildlife.

Earlier research by Crowther’s team calculated that there are currently about 3tn trees in the world, which is about half the number that existed before the rise of human civilisation. “We still have a net loss of about 10bn trees a year,” Crowther said.

Visit the Crowther Lab website for a tool that enables users to look at particular places and identify the areas for restoration and which tree species are native there.

 

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/04/planting-billions-trees-best-tackle-climate-crisis-scientists-canopy-emissions

 

Richmond diocese to stop naming buildings after bishops

BishopOpening Mass for the synod of bishops on the family Oct. 8, 2015. Credit: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

– In the wake of recent sexual abuse scandals throughout the U.S., the Diocese of Richmond has announced that it will no longer name buildings and institutions after clergymen and religious founders.

The new policy went into effect on Thursday, as six names were added to the diocese’s list of clergy with credible sexual abuse accusations against them. The diocese said the additional names reflect new information recently brought forward.

“Overcoming the tragedy of abuse is not just about holding accountable those who have committed abuses, it is also about seriously examining the role and complex legacies of individuals who should have done more to address the crisis in real time,” said Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond.

“The continued honorific recognition of those individuals provides a barrier to healing for our survivors, and we want survivors to know that we welcome and support them in our diocese,” he said in a June 27 statement form the Diocese of Richmond.

Schools, institutions, and parish buildings will from now on only be named after saints, titles of Jesus and Mary, mysteries of the faith, and the locations where the ministries were founded.

Buildings and institutions may no longer be named after bishops, pastors, or the founders of organizations. Rooms and parts of buildings that are already named are exempt from the policy. The archdiocese clarified that the new rules do not prohibit the placement of plaques which recognize historical figures or donors.

The only building that will require a name changes is Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School in Virginia Beach, which will return to its former name: Catholic High School.

“While the name of the school is changing, our mission remains the same, based firmly on Catholic teaching,” said Kelly Lazarra, superintendent of the Diocesan Office of Catholic Schools. “Catholic High School is dedicated to nurturing intellect, shaping character and forming Christian values.”

This move follows a nearly 10-year campaign by resident Thomas Lee, who says he was abused by a priest in the diocese and that Bishop Walter Sullivan covered up the abuse and allowed the priest to continue in ministry.

“This will go a long way in the healing process,” said Lee, according to WTKR.

Bishop Knestout issued a renewed apology to all those affected by clerical sexual abuse.

“It is my hope and prayer that the policy change is another way to continue to assist survivors of abuse in their healing, especially those who have, in any way, experienced the failure of Church leadership to adequately address their needs and concerns,” he said.

 

 

 

 

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/richmond-diocese-to-stop-naming-buildings-after-bishops-10055

Give children ‘less sugar and more veg in baby food’

BabyGetty Images

The amount of sugar in baby food should be restricted and parents should give their young children more vegetables to stop them developing a sweet tooth, a report from child health experts says.

It warns that even baby food marked “no added sugar” often contains sugars from honey or fruit juice.

Parents should offer bitter flavours too, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health recommends.

This will guard against tooth decay, poor diet and obesity.

The recommendation is one of many included in a report on how to improve the health of children in the UK.

Reducing child obesity is a key priority in all parts of the UK, with England and Scotland committing to halving rates by 2030.

Targeting food high in sugar and fat is an important part of that aim, following the introduction of a tax on sugary drinks in England in 2018.

The report says the government should introduce mandatory limits on the amount of free sugar in baby foods.

Many can contain high levels of sugar added by the manufacturer or present in syrups and fruit juices, it says, despite labels suggesting otherwise.

The report says infants should not be given sugary drinks. Instead, they should have sugar in a natural form, such as whole fresh fruit, milk or unsweetened dairy products.

Prof Mary Fewtrell, nutrition lead for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said products for weaning babies often contained a high proportion of fruit or sweet-tasting vegetables.

“Pureed or liquid baby foods packaged in pouches also often have a high energy density and a high proportion of sugar,” she said.

“If sucked from the pouch, the baby also misses out on the opportunity to learn about eating from a spoon or feeding himself.

“Baby foods can be labelled ‘no added sugar’ if the sugar comes from fruit – but all sugars have the same effects on the teeth and on metabolism.”

‘Broccoli and spinach’

She said babies had a preference for sweet tastes but parents should not reinforce that.

“Babies are very willing to try different flavours, if they’re given the chance,” Prof Fewtrell said, “and it’s important that they’re introduced to a variety of flavours, including more bitter tasting foods such as broccoli and spinach, from a young age.”

Prof Fewtrell also said parents should be educated on the impact of sugar.

“Excess sugar is one of the leading causes of tooth decay, which is the most common oral disease in children, affecting nearly a quarter (23%) of five-year-olds.”

She added that sugar intake also contributed to children becoming overweight and obese.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommends sugar provides no more than 5% of daily total energy intake for those aged two and over, and even less for children under two.

But results from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey suggest the average daily intake for the children between one-and-a-half and three years is 11.3% – more than double the recommended amount.

A review of food and drinks aimed at young children, by Public Health England, found that processed dried fruit products contained the highest amount of sugar – but were often marketed as healthy snacks.

The products, which contain fruit juices, purees and concentrates, making them high in free sugars, should not be sold as suitable snacks for children, PHE said.

 

 

 

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-48773636