APRIL 22, 2012, Vol 62, No 08

A girl prays during a candlelight vigil in Jammu, IndiaA girl prays during a candlelight vigil in Jammu, IndiaJASHPUR, INDIA – When Sr Anne saw a teenager begging on a railway platform in India, she was moved by her plight and stopped to talk to her.

The 14-year-old girl told the nun she was taken to Mumbai, Goa and Delhi. At each place, she escaped from abusive employers.

Now she had returned to the area she originally hailed from, with nothing but the ragged clothes she was wearing.

Coincidentally, Sr Anne was at the railway station in Jashpur, Chhattisgarh, to welcome back a girl who had also been abducted from her parish in nearby Kansabel.

“Innocent girls, mostly in their teens and unaware of what lies ahead, often go without their parents’ knowledge,” says Fr Praful Kujur, director of Jashpur diocese’s human trafficking department.

“The girls are taken far away to cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Goa and even to South Indian states. Sometimes they are lured there by their own relatives.”

According to a diocesan survey made in 2007, 3,642 victims had been trafficked out of 293 local villages.
A statue of Mary stands outside Sacred Heart School in Wisconsin, USA.A statue of Mary stands outside Sacred Heart School in Wisconsin, USA.ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Rochester-based Catholic Education Foundation has initiated a programme to help Catholic grade schools and high schools evaluate their Catholic identity.

Called the Catholic School Identity Assessment, it is a diagnostic tool to help schools spot their strengths and weaknesses, according to Fr Peter Stravinskas, the foundation’s executive director.

“Catholic identity in Catholic schools was taken for granted when the faculty and administrators were almost exclusively clergy and Religious,” he said, but “with the heavy involvement of lay teachers and administrators that has not always been a given”.

The assessment was originally created for Catholic high schools and then last year some priests and principals said they wanted something like that for their grade schools, the priest said in a recent interview with Catholic News Service.

“That the identity issue would not be addressed sufficiently is not malevolence,” Fr Stravinskas said. Rather, it often results because some lay administrators and teachers “either never went to Catholic school themselves”, he said, or they attended “in an era when Catholic identity was waning”.

He said the foundation’s assessment tool is an opportunity to discuss the subject. “Even just by asking the questions, one already has started to address the identity issue,” he said.
A little one, at seven to eight weeks after conception.A little one, at seven to eight weeks after conception.WASHINGTON – The Vatican has given its approval to the publication of a Rite for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb.

The rite was earlier approved by the US bishops in November 2008, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops announced on March 26.

The blessing was prepared to support parents awaiting the birth of their child, to encourage parish prayers for and recognition of the gift of the child in the womb, and to foster respect for human life within society.

It can be offered within the context of Mass as well as outside of Mass, and for an individual mother, a couple or a group of expectant parents.

The Vatican approval, or “recognitio”, came from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – A Catholic nurse in central England has won a battle over her right to refuse involvement in abortions.

The nurse, who asked not to be named because of fear of reprisal from her hospital employer, convinced National Health Service managers that her right to conscientious objection was protected by law.

Without anyone going to court, the managers dropped their threat to dismiss the nurse because of her refusal to work in an abortion clinic attached to the hospital in the British Midlands, she told Catholic News Service on April 2.

Managers pointed out to her that she was not being required to perform an abortion but only to prepare women for the procedure, she explained, and that other Catholics were working in the abortion clinic.