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Indigenous Mexicans battle hunger amid historic drought


Jesuits: Drought causing widespread hunger among Mexico's Tarahumara

By Catholic News Service

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Jesuits working in Mexico's remote Copper Canyon in Chihuahua state have warned of widespread hunger among the indigenous Tarahumara, who have been negatively impacted by drought conditions considered to be the worst in more than 70 years.

The St. Ignatius of Loyola Foundation began a campaign Jan. 16 to raise money to buy corn, a staple in regional diets and a crop unable to be grown in an area that has received only 25 percent of its normal precipitation in 2011. The foundation estimated that 60,000 Tarahumara were impacted and 90 percent of the local bean crop had failed.

Mexico is experiencing drought in seven northern states, where the federal government says a lack of rain has caused the driest conditions in 71 years and negatively impacted 2.5 million residents.

Pope reiterates environmental protection


In his annual address to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI restated his stance on the need for greater protection of the environment, Catholic News Services reported today.

"Environmental protection and the connection between fighting poverty and fighting climate change are important areas for the promotion of integral human development," he said.

Haitians finding home two years after quake


Haitian quake survivors leaving camps for a place they can call home

By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- It took almost two years, but Haitian earthquake survivor Sonya Mallebranche has a place she can call home again.

It's only three rooms, making it less than perfect, Mallebranche admits, especially for four adults and three toddler grandchildren. But Mallebranche, 51, finds it far better than living in a tattered tent in the fetid, dusty camp known as Petite Place Cazeau alongside hundreds of others displaced by the powerful Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that leveled much of the region around Port-au-Prince.

"I'm so much more comfortable. Now I can sleep peacefully. Now I have my family with me," Mallebranche told Catholic News Service Jan. 5 via cell phone from her new home.

U.S. scientists look to expand study of climate change


Scientists with the U.S. Global Change Research Program want to broaden their research to include "climate-related global changes" in addition to climate change, according to a draft for a 10-year strategic plan.

A committee from the National Research Council, which reviewed the draft, labeled the proposed broadening as "an important step in the right direction," adding that further expansion could include global changes unrelated to climate.

"It is envisioned that with such an evolution, the Program can both continue to advance basic scientific understanding of global change and can actively support society's efforts to mitigate, adapt and otherwise respond to those changes," the committee stated through a press release.

Couple who turned farm to wetland faces huge tax bill


Three years ago, John and Marilyn Saveson decided to turn 33 acres of their New Albany, Ohio, farm into a federally protected wetland to provide a permanent refuge for wildlife. The couple lives in a fast-developing area around the outskirts of Columbus and didn't want to see more suburbs and concrete smothering the land. But now, because of their ecological sensitivity, the elderly couple is facing a possible property tax bill totaling $56,119.

Spencer Hunt, a Columbus Dispatch writer, reported Dec. 26 that the Franklin County auditor's office says the land no longer qualifies for a farmland property-tax break as it once did. Since 1995, the state tax department has allowed land enrolled in the wetlands program to remain agricultural for tax purposes. In 2010, though, it began questioning whether farmland converted to wetlands should be taxed as agricultural because crops no longer are grown there, said an agency spokesman.

Indian state fears development will destroy identity, environment


Development projects in Goa, India have many of its citizens concerned their state will lose its unique identity at the expense of growth.

Bosco de Sousa Eremita writes at, a division of Catholic News Asia, that a plan for the region’s land use over the next decade will violate environment regulations, while stripping the village-feel culture of an area once known for its beauty and serenity.

Pollution, people of color and the poor


There are many arguments for why it is imperative we transition toward a sustainable future: energy efficiency, a relocalization of the economy and renewables. Often overlooked in the discussion are the deleterious impacts of pollution -- climate change, habitat destruction and resource depletion -- and the impacts here and now on the health and quality of life upon people of color and upon the poor.

Auto contest seeks 'green' popemobile designs


By Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A select group of young international designers will be submitting innovative mock-ups of what an eco-friendly popemobile should look like.

For the first time, the annual Autostyle Design Competition will have a special category for a popemobile, according to L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. The vehicle design must meet standards for low-emissions, as well as the Vatican's safety and security standards, it said.

From a pool of about 200 candidates, a commission will choose 12 student finalists who will then have seven to eight months to create a new popemobile design, said Sara Ferraccioli, marketing and communications officer for Berman, the Italian car-parts manufacturer sponsoring the competition.

Celebrating a deserved sainthood


When I heard the news this week that Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha will be canonized a saint in 2012, I was very excited. Between 1994 and 2001, I was chaplain for Native American ministries for the Archdiocese of Detroit. In addition to biweekly liturgies, Kateri Circles and pastoral care, I had the privilege of participating in several Tekakwitha conferences, both at the national and at the state level. One of the great yearnings I heard at these gatherings was for the canonization of Blessed Kateri, the Lily of the Mohawk.

Blessed Kateri is the patron of aboriginal peoples not only in the United States and Canada but around the world. Further, she shares the patronage of ecology with St. Francis of Assisi. This is a great day for my friends in Indian country, for Americans, for aboriginal people and for those who are committed to the care of our home -- this good earth.


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In This Issue

October 21-November 3, 2016

  • Reformation's anniversary brings commemorations, reconsiderations
  • Picks further diversify College of Cardinals
  • Editorial: One-issue obsession imperils credibility
  • Special Section [Print Only]: SAINTS