Parishes invited to join advocacy network to support the unemployed
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As Paul Kravitz struggled for months to find work in the computer field without success, it was his parish in suburban Stratford, Conn., that came to the rescue. Not with a full-time job -- unfortunately -- but, thanks to St. James Parish's Faith for the Future ministry, with prayer, emotional support and sharing the frustrations of unemployment with others. "Prayer has helped," says Kravitz, 50, who lost his job as a computer programmer in 2008 during a shuffle of ownership of the software he handled for the hotel industry. "Definitely it's something that keeps me going." A secular Franciscan, Kravitz says it has been a struggle to support his wife and three children with intermittent work, especially now that their home faces foreclosure. Coming together with others facing similar difficulties each week helps Kravitz see that he's not alone. Kravitz has been with the program almost since its beginning in 2009 during the starkest days of the deepest economic recession since the Great Depression. Now he's one of the group's facilitators and helps conduct the meetings involving a dozen or so people seeking much more than work. Earlier this year the St. James ministry joined Faith Advocates for Jobs, a new campaign of the Washington-based Interfaith Worker Justice. The group has assembled a tool kit that explains the campaign's goals, examines the role of churches in supporting the unemployed, offers tips on forming support groups, provides prayer resources and suggests ideas for action at meetings.
Appeals panel OKs embryonic stem-cell trials, but court fight continues
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A federal appeals panel reversed an earlier decision that had blocked the use of federal funds for human embryonic stem-cell research April 29, but an official in the U.S. bishops' pro-life office said it is just one step in a lengthy legal process. "Now the case can be heard on its merits in federal court," Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, told Catholic News Service after a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that opponents of embryonic stem-cell research were not likely to prevail in their suit against the federal funding. "We believe that the language and history of federal statutory law on embryo research fully supports a final ruling against" the current National Institutes of Health guidelines that permit federal funding of human embryonic stem-cell research, he added. In a 2-1 opinion, the panel said the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, approved annually by Congress since 1996 to prevent federal funding of research in which human embryos are harmed or destroyed, was "ambiguous" and that the National Institutes of Health had "reasonably concluded" that although federal funds could not be used to directly destroy an embryo, it does not prohibit funding a research project using human embryonic stem cells.
'Famous Amos' founder promotes reading at NCEA convention
NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- Wearing painted shoes and a shirt emblazoned with the slogan "Be Positive, Regardless," Wally Amos gave a dramatic reading of the Dr. Seuss classic "Green Eggs and Ham," demonstrating to a preschool-age audience that reading is far from dull. The April 27 reading in front of 85 students at the Louise Head Start Center in New Orleans marked the first major public event in advance of the September 2011 launch of Amos' Read it LOUD! Foundation. Amos, the founder of the "Famous Amos" cookies, hopes to use his foundation to get 5 million American parents to commit to reading aloud to their children at least 10 minutes every day. "I think the best way to get rid of the problem of adult illiteracy is to create generations of children who can read," said Amos, who was in New Orleans to take his simple, read-aloud message to more than 7,000 teachers and administrators attending the National Catholic Educational Association convention. "If we do that, then automatically the problem of adult illiteracy goes away. We build strong children. We build a strong society. We build stronger families. We build a stronger world," he said.
Pope John Paul II's tomb opened ahead of beatification
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope John Paul II's tomb was opened and his casket removed in preparation for veneration after his beatification May 1. During a brief ceremony April 29, top Vatican officials and a handful of the pope's former aides sang a litany in the grotto of St. Peter's Basilica as the pope's casket was placed temporarily before the tomb of St. Peter, in an area closed off to visitors. Among those participating were Sister Tobiana Sobodka and six other Polish nuns who served the late pope in the papal household. The casket, which was covered with an embroidered gold cloth, was to be moved to a spot in front of the main altar on the basilica's upper level on the morning of May 1, so people can pray before it after the beatification Mass. Then it will be moved to a new tomb site in the chapel of St. Sebastian, located on the main floor of the basilica. The inscribed marble slab that covered Pope John Paul's original tomb will be sent to Krakow, Poland, where it will be placed in a new church dedicated to Blessed John Paul, the Vatican said.
Poll shows Americans' admiration for Pope John Paul II
ROME (CNS) -- A majority of Americans admire Pope John Paul II and believe he is worthy of beatification, according to a Knights of Columbus/Marist poll. The poll, released a few days before the May 1 beatification of the late pope, showed that 59 percent of those responding believe Pope John Paul was one of the best popes or the best pope in church history. Among Catholics, the percentage rose to 82 percent. Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, said the poll results illustrate Pope John Paul's ability to break down barriers and reach audiences -- including non-Catholics -- in a variety of ways: through personal visits, defense of human rights, his teaching encyclicals and even his poetry. "People got to know him. And I think in knowing him, they began to see a part of the Catholic Church they had not known before," Anderson said in an interview in Rome April 28. The poll of 1,274 people in the United States found that more than 40 percent of respondents said Pope John Paul made at least some difference in their life spiritually. Among Catholics, 73 percent said he had spiritual impact on their lives.
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