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Holy See speaks for suffering, marginalised women

NEW YORK, MARCH 3, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See has asked the international community to adopt laws defending women from sexual violence.  The petition was presented by Marilyn Ann Martone, in name of the Vatican, to the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).

The council is meeting under the title, "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century", to consider themes arising from the Fourth World Conference on Women, and from the 23rd special session of the General Assembly.

"The Holy See again condemns vigorously the sexual violence that frequently has women and girls for its object and encourages the passing of laws that will effectively defend them from such violence," Ms Martone said.  "Nor can we fail, in the name of the respect due to the human person, to condemn the widespread culture which encourages the systematic exploitation of sexuality and corrupts even very young girls into letting their bodies be used for profit in a worldwide $3 billion industry. Progress for women is progress for all," she said. "The World Summit rightly underlined the interdependence of development, peace and security and human rights."

Ms Martone promoted micro credit projects directed toward women as being most encouraging.  “To see poor women's patience, honesty and hard work rewarded in this way … is to be encouraged by attention to the reform of structures that will in turn assist the spread and continued success of new initiatives in this field."

In outlining other key areas that need to be addressed, she named justice for elderly women, respect for the femininity and equal rights of migrant women, protection of women and children against trafficking and systematic rape in areas of armed conflict.  "Those who permit, encourage or command such acts merit just punishment along with the immediate perpetrators of such crimes, while the protection of women must be honored," she said, referring to article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Full text of the speech  (then click on: Holy See’s address on violence against women)

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is holding its 50th session from February 27 – March 10, at the United Nations in New York.  The meeting is focusing on two main themes:  Enhanced participation of women in development and equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes at all levels. The CSW was established in 1946 with the objective of promoting the principle that men and women shall have equal rights. Since 1996, the main focus of the work has been to monitor the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. In June 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted a Political Declaration and Further Actions and Initiatives statement in relation to the Beijing outcome document.  CSW recommends and reports to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

Following six decades of United Nations efforts to promote the advancement of women, the international community was starting to grasp that there was no tool for development more effective, than the empowerment of women, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette told the CSW, as it opened its 50th session.

The Girl Child presents some horrendous statistics about women and girls, collected by Mercy Global Concern, which highlights why this work is so critical.


5 R’s for the enlargers

Manning Clark “would see this lecture as an opportunity to offer assurance to those flagging or in doubt about salvation and redemption” Fr Frank Brennan, sj, said in his opening remarks of the seventh Manning Clark Lecture, at the Australian National Library.  “For him, secular optimism was never enough.  He always had a keen eye for the difficulties of the common man in choosing the right path, and a deep concern for the underdog.  He would wonder if there is still any place for the religious enlarger.  He would not necessarily agree with me or you but he would always react with sympathy, given his generous and searching spirit…”  

Having spoken on race, religion, respect, rights and the Republic, Fr Brennan concluded:

“Contemplating (these challenges), we need to show more respect for the moral sensitivity and humane sentiments of those in our midst who boast neither political nor economic power, confident that the enlargers are present both in the Opera House and under the Coolabah tree at Bourke when we come to honour our dead.   Though it be easy to mock, we return home mourning, loving and believing.  Like … all others who have gone before us, we must decide for ourselves whether this is to be "the land of the dreaming, the land of the Holy Spirit, the New Britannia, the Millennial Eden, or the new demesne for Mammon to infest".

Manning Clark lecture text.


Democrats release historic Catholic Statement of Principles

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A majority of Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House led by Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro has released a statement of principles.  Signed by 55 House Democrats, the statement documents how their faith influences them as lawmakers, making clear their commitment to the basic principles at the heart of Catholic social teaching and their bearing on policy – whether it is increasing access to education for all or pressing for real health care reform, taking seriously the decision to go to war, or reducing poverty.  Above all, the document expresses the signers’ commitment to the dignity of life and their belief that government has moral purpose. 

Sr Joan Chittister, writing for this week’s National Catholic Reporter, said that depending on how one saw it, it was either a recipe for renewal or a recipe for revolution.   “In this pluralistic world where black and white can both stay grey for a long, long time, the legislators make another point that none of us can afford to miss. They say, ‘As legislators, we are charged with preserving the Constitution which guarantees religious freedom for all Americans." (emphasis added in original article) If Catholics withdraw from the fray of politics because we are too Catholic for it, we may like even less the morality we get from it then’.”  Sr Joan concluded: “From where I stand, it seems to me that the laity of the church has heard the church's recognition of the ‘lay vocation’. And, furthermore, they are beginning to take it seriously.”

Catholic Statement of Principles full text

Sr Joan Chittister:  From Where I Stand full text


2006 Mother Teresa Laureate

The founder of Renaissance Enterprises, Mr Bob Rowe, has won a 2006 Mother Teresa Laureate for his work and dedication to beautifying the world by bringing music and the arts to the elderly. The presentation of this international award will be made in September 2006 by members of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity order, through the auspices of St. Bernadette Institute of Sacred Art in Albuquerque, NM. 

Renaissance Enterprises was founded in l988, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to bring the love of God to those who are alone and forgotten in America’s nursing homes and related care facilities. Renaissance provides 200 free programmes per year, with the help of more than 25 professional artists, artisans and performers.

Born in Battle Creek Michigan, Bob Rowe started his career in folk music clubs and concerts but credits Mother Teresa's influence in encouraging him to find a new direction for his music and ministry interests.  "She wrote to me for almost 15 years," says Rowe, "with very pointed, personal notes, letters and prayers, directed toward my desire to serve the elderly with music and the arts." 

This award is given to those who make a significant contribution to beautify the world through their work.  "The world is not only hungry for bread but for beauty as well." Mother Teresa, of Calcutta.   Past laureates include: Pope John Paul II; Billy Graham; Former President, Jimmy Carter; Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

For more information:  a full list of Laureates  and Renaissance Enterprises


ACU National declared compliant in workplace requirements

Australian Catholic University (ACU National) obtained compliance to the Higher Education Workplace Reform Requirements (HEWRRs).  This achievement means the university will receive the five per cent increase in Commonwealth grant scheme funding from the start of this year.  Vice-Chancellor of ACU National, Professor Peter W Sheehan, said the additional funding would enable the university to proceed with planned investment in key university resources and initiatives.  Most notably, the university would implement strategic processes that ensured further enhancement in the range and delivery of high quality courses, research and community engagement initiatives.


Changes in South Australia

Several priests in the Adelaide Archdiocese will be taking on new roles this month. Archbishop Philip Wilson had announced changes for the priests in a number of parishes:

Fr Leon Czechowicz has been appointed the parish priest of the amalgamated  parish of Clearview/Kilburn, while Fr Mark Sexton has been appointed assistant priest of both Elizabeth South and Elizabeth North parishes.   Fr Peter Dunn has been appointed parish priest of Elizabeth North parish but will continue with his work as parish priest of Elizabeth South parish.  Fr David Thoroughgood has been appointed full- time  chaplain to the Latin Mass community and will reside at the Archbishop's House on West Terrace.   Fr Philip Marshall has been granted five months study leave from Hectorville parish.

There are also two new members of the Diocesan Pastoral Resource Team.  Jan Sobotta has begun working in the field of spirituality and retreats.   Malok Bol Akot who has joined the multicultural services arm of the team will be responsible for the pastoral needs of new and emerging Catholic communities, predominantly refugee and migrant groups from Africa.    The Southern Cross monthly


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