Dr. Tom Catena, a Catholic lay missionary from the United States, examines a baby during rounds in late April at the Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel, a village in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. The Catholic hospital, at which Catena is often the only physician, is the only referral hospital in the war-torn area. CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey
The following briefs were recently published by Catholic News Service.
U.S. Catholic physician a reluctant hero in Sudan's Nuba Mountains NUBA MOUNTAINS, Sudan -- A U.S. physician who has won accolades for his service in a war-torn corner of Sudan said he has just done what any missionary is called to do. "I'm a lay missionary. We?re supposed to show the face of Christ to people, but how can you do that if you take off when the going gets tough?" asked Dr. Tom Catena, a 54-year old physician from Amsterdam, New York, sent by the Catholic Medical Mission Board to run the Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel, a village in the isolated Nuba Mountains. In 2011, fighting between rebel Nuba forces and the central government in Khartoum grew particularly fierce. The area around the Church-run hospital began to experience intense bombing by the Sudanese Armed Forces. Bishop Macram Max Gassis, then the bishop of El Obeid, which includes the Nuba region, ordered all foreign Church workers, including Catena, to leave. Catena was among a handful who said no. As an American working in the area he has received much attention, something he finds disconcerting because, he said, staff from throughout African and Sudan are working to deliver care just as diligently. "If I can be the one to get the message out," he said, "to show another face of the Church and the good it's doing in the world, then let me give it a shot."
Argentina Senate votes down abortion decriminalization bill MEXICO CITY -- The Argentine Senate voted against a bill that would have decriminalized abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Senators voted 38-31 against the measure early Aug. 9 following a 15-hour debate. The measure had been approved in June by the lower house of Congress. The Argentine bishops' conference hailed the vote, saying the debate in the country opened an opportunity for dialogue and a chance to focus more on social ministry. The Senate debate revealed deep divisions in Argentina, where support for decriminalizing abortion drew stronger support in Buenos Aires, the capital, than in the more conservative provinces. The vote came as a movement of women and supporters of the measure -- wearing green handkerchiefs -- filled the streets outside the Congress as voting occurred. Catholics, meanwhile, celebrated the Eucharist. "Everyone has time to express their viewpoints and be heard by legislators in a healthy democratic exercise. But the only ones that didn?t have an opportunity de make themselves heard are the human beings that struggled to be born,? Cardinal Mario Poli, Pope Francis' successor in Buenos Aires, said Aug. 8 in his homily at a what organizers called a "Mass for Life." In a statement after the vote, the bishops' conference said it was time to address the "new divisions developing between us ... through a renewed exercise of dialogue."
Filipino Catholic media urged to confront 'fake news' DAVAO CITY, Philippines -- Filipinos working in the Church's social communication ministry need a lot of prayer and a "sense of mission" to be able "to combat fake news" and work for peace, a gathering in Davao City was told this week. The head of the Philippine bishops' Commission on Social Communications urged the gathering of Catholic media groups to be "journalists of peace," ucanews.com reported. "As Catholic media practitioners ... we must be men and women of prayer," said Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara of Pasig, commission chairman told delegates at the annual National Catholic Media Convention that ended Aug. 9. "Being exposed to Jesus ... we clearly realize the font and source of what we proclaim." About 150 priests, women religious and lay people attended the four-day gathering to discuss "fake news" and the role of journalists in the country's peace process. Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the bishops' conference, quoted Pope Francis saying that the "best antidotes to falsehoods are not strategies, but people (who) listen, people who make the effort to engage in sincere dialogue so the truth can emerge." At a press briefing Aug. 8, Bishop Valles stressed the urgency in addressing the spread of so-called fake news, especially on social media. He said people can end "fake news" if journalists "have pure hearts."