The 800-member Catholic community in a village in India is facing a social boycott for refusing to follow traditions to appease Hindus gods.
"We are Christians and we are not bound to follow Hindu religious practices," Father Philip Rock, pastor at St. Sebastian Parish in Mangalawada village, told Catholic News Service in early September.
The village in India's Karnataka state has about twice as many Hindus as Catholics.
Following the spread of cholera in the village, Hindu leaders announced steps to appease their gods and ward off evil. These steps included special fasts and the banning of regular work in the village on all "inauspicious days," including all Tuesdays and Fridays.
Rock said the Hindus indicated that nobody should eat during the day, wash clothes, work in the fields, open their shops, or repair or wash their vehicles on such days.
Pointing out that the government supplies water to the dry village only on Tuesdays and Fridays, the priest said, "How could I tell our people to follow these conditions?"
The refusal of the Catholic families of Mangalawada to follow the directives angered the Hindu majority. Hindu leaders called a meeting and declared a "social boycott" against the Christians in late August.
Rock said Hindus have stopped buying from small Christian shops, selling to Christians or using vehicles owned by Christians.
The California Catholic bishops' conference is alerting parents and guardians of public school children that they have the right to "opt out" of many influences and classes that contradict their family's values -- from instruction in how to perform sexual acts to the ins and outs of witchcraft and the conjuring of spirits. The California Catholic Conference says most parents don't realize they need to specifically fill out a form every year for every child and for every activity they find objectionable. "This is a way to empower parents to get involved," said Ned Dolejsi, Catholic conference executive director. At least nine of every 10 Catholic children in California attend public schools.
A new Pew Research Center poll on religion and public life showed that two-thirds of Americans think religion is losing its influence on American life. The poll also showed that nearly one in five Americans think President Barack Obama is a Muslim. The poll's results, released Aug. 19, showed a mixed view about how churches should be involved in politics. A slim majority - 52 per cent - said churches should keep out of political matters while 43 per cent said they should express their views on day-to-day social and political issues. The poll also showed that while people have reservations about churches' involvement in politics, they feel strongly that politicians should be religious.
When attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist, Catholics must be filled with gratitude for God's great gifts, Pope Benedict told a group of his former students. "Despite the fact that we have nothing to give in return and we are full of faults," the pope said, Jesus "invites us to his table and wants to be with us." The pope presided at a Mass Aug. 29 during his annual meeting with students who did their doctorates with him when he was a professor in Germany.
Children today are maturing so quickly and are exposed to so many influences that it might be time to consider allowing them to prepare for and receive their first Communion even before their seventh birthdays, said the head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. "A child's first Communion is like the beginning of a journey with Jesus, in communion with him: the beginning of a friendship destined to last and to grow for his entire life," wrote Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera. Today, he said, "children live immersed in a thousand difficulties, surrounded by a difficult environment that does not encourage them to be what God wants them to be." The cardinal wrote in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano: "Let us not deprive them of the gift of God."
Catholic schools and orphanages in the Haitian countryside that took in thousands of children displaced by the January earthquake are buckling under the increased financial strain, administrators say. Outside of Les Cayes, a city about 200 km from the capital, one school took in 350 children. Another saw its expenses swell by thousands of dollars. Many say they are struggling to pay the bills. The January earthquake destroyed Port-au-Prince and affected 20 per cent of the country. The Catholic missions that opened their arms to people who fled the city say they are now struggling, and the Church is not helping. "The Church? What Church? There has been no support to help most of the families that left Port-au-Prince," said Oblate Father Marc Boisvert. Boisvert runs Project Hope South, which has an orphanage, five schools and a carpentry-training centre. The schools took in 350 additional students and 100 orphans displaced by the earthquake. His budget went from $100,000 to $140,000 a month as a result.
The Vatican opposes the stoning of an Iranian woman convicted of adultery, but it does not intervene publicly in other nations' "humanitarian" affairs, said the Vatican's spokesman. Instead, it addresses such issues through diplomatic channels, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said Sept. 5. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was convicted of adultery by an Iranian court in 2006 and sentenced to be stoned to death. She retracted her confession, saying it was made under duress. Lombardi said the Catholic Church is against the death penalty "and stoning is a particularly brutal form" of capital punishment.
The chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities is urging members of the U.S. House of Representatives to support proposed legislation that would permanently forbid federal funding of abortion. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would "write into permanent law a policy on which there has been strong popular and congressional agreement for over 35 years: The federal government should not use taxpayers' money to support and promote elective abortion."
Teenagers aren't much different than they were before they started texting, tweeting and facebooking, says a Winnipeg youth ministry leader. "At the heart of who they are they still want to connect with a sense of purpose," said Michelle Garlinski, director of campus ministry at St. Mary's Academy. "It's about their personal growth and growing in their community and in the world, the same as it was 10 or 20 years ago." Garlinski served as a facilitator at the annual Archdiocese of Winnipeg YouthLeader conference Aug. 16-20. YouthLeader is designed to empower young people aged 15 and older for Christian leadership in the Church and wider community.