December 18, 2003
For 2001 Gonzaga University graduate Jim Person, duty in Iraq is just not enough. Since being deployed to Iraq in March, 1st Lt Person has been working not only to rebuild and stabilize the nation, but has been organizing a program to help the children of Iraq as well.
The "Adopt a School" program designed by Person seeks to allow American students from kindergarten to the university level to become pen pals with Iraqi students. Person envisions students exchanging letters, which would then be translated and delivered. In the process, students in both countries will be given an opportunity to learn more about each other's culture.
"I thought of the Adopt a School program last spring when I first started working with some of the schools in Kirkuk, Iraq. The kids all seemed so excited to meet Americans and had so many questions. I also have always thought that it was important for Americans to be more familiar with the world outside the US," Person wrote via e-mail from Iraq.
Students participating in the program will be matched with Iraqi students of similar ages. The program is open to American schools nationwide.
Initially the program is handling only letters from students, but Person hopes it will grow to become much more. School supplies, surplus computers, and any materials that would be beneficial for a classroom is the next step. Person is working to arrange contact with an aid organization that could handle the volume of supplies that would need to be delivered and distributed. Currently, Person is using his personal mail delivery to exchange the letters between the nations.
Individuals or schools interested in the program can contact Person at the following address: 1LT J Andrew Person at B/1-508, 173d Airborne Brigade, APO AE 09347. [Source: Gonzaga University]
US Jesuit Fr Roland Lesseps, an agricultural scientist working in Zambia for the past 15 years spoke November 11 at a Vatican conference about the morality of using genetically modified foods.
Fr Lesseps, reading a paper he wrote with Fr Peter Henriot SJ, who works in Zambia, said Catholic moral teaching requires caution when intervening in God's creation, leading to a rejection of genetically modified crops until their long-term impact on human health, the environment, and the poor is evaluated.
Fr Lesseps objected to attempts to focus on the morality of genetically modified foods strictly from the point of view of their potential for reducing world hunger. "There are better ways to address the problem of world hunger, and debating genetically modified organisms is distracting us from the real debate about poverty," he said. "Hunger is directly related to poverty," and not strictly to crop yields, he told the conference."
From the case of Zambia and other poor countries, it is clear that hunger is not primarily a matter of scarce food resources, but of the economic structures of distribution, and accessibility and the social structures of traditional practices and education," he said.
"There are other and more suitable ways to feed a hungry world than adopting genetic engineering of crops," the priest said. They include increasing general health and education, improving food distribution and battling trade barriers that keep products from poor countries out of the international marketplace. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
Celebrating his 80th birthday almost three years after the Vatican's doctrinal congregation finished investigating his writing, Belgian Jesuit Fr Jacques Dupuis said, "Jesus Christ has been the one passion of my life."
Theologians from Europe, India, and the United States gathered at the Gregorian University on December 5 to celebrate the Jesuit's birthday with the publication of "In Many and Diverse Ways," a book of essays reflecting on his work and on his treatment by the Vatican.
The Vatican's 1998-2001 investigation of his book, "Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism," concluded that while it contained no doctrinal errors there were "ambiguities and difficulties on important points which could lead a reader to erroneous or harmful opinions."
Fr Dupuis' reflections on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and of Pope John Paul II that God works through what is good and true in every religion led some critics to doubt his faith in Jesus Christ as the one savior of all humanity. Responding to tributes at the birthday celebration, Fr Dupuis said he did not want "to brood over the past," but the investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had a huge impact on his life.
"I am sure that there is much for me to be grateful for today," he said, adding with a smile that news about the Vatican investigation gave his work "enormous publicity."
Offering thanks to God for 80 years of life, including 62 years as a Jesuit, he said the 36 years he studied and taught in India's multireligious environment was "the greatest gift I received from God in my professional vocation as a theologian and a professor." [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
When Pope Pius XII learned of the Nazi round-up of Jews in Rome, he tried to gain their release and prevent further arrests, according to documents newly discovered in the archives of the Italian Jesuit journal CiviltÓ Cattolica.
Pius XII, who became Pope in 1939 after having been papal nuncio in Berlin, was denounced as 'Hitler's Pope' in a 1999 best-seller by the British writer John Cornwell for not using his moral authority to aid the Jews.
The article in CiviltÓ Cattolica deals mostly with the mass arrest of Jews in Rome on October 15-16, 1943.
Pius "did everything humanly possible" to save Rome's Jews from the Nazis, the article's author, Fr Giovanni Sale, said in an interview, citing previously unpublished documents from the magazine's archives.
The documents showed that Pius learned of the round-up only the morning of October 16, after the operation had ended, Fr Sale wrote. That day he dispatched his nephew, Carlo Pacelli, to ask the rector of a German church in Rome to secure the release of 1,000 detained Jews. But "there was nothing to be done, because the order had come from the Fnhrer's headquarters and could not be cancelled," the article said.
The article reports previously recognized efforts by churches, convents, and other religious institutions to take in many of the remaining 8,000 Jews who had fled Rome's ghetto in the wake of the round-up. But based on new documents, it says these were not individual acts of kindness and generosity but were carried out on the pope's own wishes. "
All this was possible because the pope himself authorized the religious men and women and Roman priests to open their doors to their 'needy brothers,'" the article says, citing a November 1, 1943, CiviltÓ Cattolica diary found in the archives. In its pages the director of the Jesuit magazine kept a note of his conversations with the pope. [Source: The Tablet]
The Jesuit journal La CiviltÓ Cattolica cautioned against an abrupt pullout of foreign soldiers from Iraq, saying the country's citizens should not be abandoned at a moment of crisis.
But given the current situation of almost daily attacks against foreign personnel, the "way of operating" must change in Iraq, it said. It said the first objective should be the creation of an embryonic modern Iraqi state able to govern at least the major cities.
Achieving this will require more contacts with a wider network of political forces in Iraq, in order to "negotiate a way out of the impasse in which the country finds itself," it said.
"To reach this objective and to work in favor of the economic development of the country, more countries must be involved -- moderate countries of Islamic majority and European countries -- but this is impossible without greater cooperation between the United States and the United Nations," it said.
The article said every form of terrorism should be fought by direct action against perpetrators, by heavier investments in intelligence operations, and by action to close off funding channels. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
An estimated 10,000 people, including 2,000 from Jesuit high schools, colleges, and universities, gathered at Ft Benning, Georgia, in November to call for the closing of the former School of the Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.
Members of Jesuit institutions also took part in the Ignatian Family Teach-In to commemorate the 14th anniversary of the murder of six Salvadoran Jesuits, their housekeeper, and her daughter; SOA graduates were held responsible for the assassinations.
All 28 US Jesuit colleges and universities had students and staff at the Teach-In; Boston College had the largest contingent with 100 students. Seventeen of the Jesuit high schools also participated in the event, including Brophy College Prep, Cristo Rey, University of Detroit High, and Xavier High in New York.
"Jesuit colleges, universities, high schools, and parishes experience a global solidarity and a broader understanding of what it means to be Christian in our times at the Ignatian Teach-In/SOA Protest," said Fr Paul Stark SJ, director of campus ministry at Wheeling Jesuit University. "Focusing on faith-based justice activities, we can understand our own interrelatedness, our own responsibility to each other. Peace can be a reality, if we let it." [Source: Boston College, Wheeling Jesuit University]
Jesuit Fr Joseph Mulligan, a US missionary in Nicaragua since 1986, was one of thousands that participated in this year's protests at Ft Benning against the former School of the Americas, which is a military training center accused of teaching torture and assassination techniques to Latin American troops.
But Fr Mulligan says that even if torture is not taught, the institute "remains as a training center of Latin American troops used for internal repression" and to put the brakes on needed social change in their countries.
"Latin American armies protect an unjust status quo and economic system," he said.
Regarding changes in US foreign policy, Fr Mulligan said that the institute is now part of the integration of Latin American soldiers into the new worldwide strategies and security concerns of the United States.
Fr Mulligan cited the sending of troops from Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic to Iraq as part of the US-led occupation forces. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
New research from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University shows that Catholics gave more to their Church in 2002 than in 2001, despite predictions that the sex abuse scandal would mean a decrease in contributions.
"This research shows that people care about their parishes," says Mary Gautier, senior research associate at CARA. "The story that it tells is that people may be angry at the bishops in general and are demanding accountability from the church as a whole, but they're expressing an appreciation for their individual priests and parishes."
The study includes responses from 166 dioceses--86 percent of the total in the US. Although overall giving increased slightly over 2001, the research shows that dollars donated were targeted more toward local parishes and less to appeals from bishops.
For more information about CARA, visit http://cara.georgetown.edu [Source: Georgetown University]
Fr Abraham Roch Okoko Essaeu SJ, coordinator of the Congolese bishops' office for migrants and refugees, told participants at the Vatican-sponsored World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees that, "People dream of migrating for a better life without being informed of the dangers and difficulties."
"From death during an illegal journey" to "being away from the community and culture which gave them their identity," a migrant's life is filled with risks and suffering, he said.
The Jesuit noted that the church in Africa is making often-heroic efforts to care for migrants and refugees on the continent, "but it never thinks of its obligation toward those who are leaving."
"For people in the South, going to Europe or North America is reaching the golden place and, even if explained, the dangers often do not matter," he said.
"When they compare their own life to the dangers they might face, the dangers seem meager," the priest said. [Source: CNS. Do not repost electronically]
Websites anticipating the end of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II seem to focus on betting odds, or are the work of experienced Vaticanologists such as Fr Thomas Reese, author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organisation of the Catholic Church, published by Harvard University Press, and editor of the US Jesuit magazine America.
America's Papal Transition site is set out as an FAQ, speculating on questions such as 'What happens if the pope goes into a coma?'. The conclave is bound to be one of the big media events of the year (whichever year), and this page appears intended as a service to journalists needing to do some quick homework to allow them to cover the conclave with a sense of authority.
Recently a website for the Apostleship of Prayer in the USA went online. It has photographic commentaries on the monthly papal intentions, brief daily reflections, and an art gallery and music.
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