Saying ‘I Do’ for Baby's Sake

USA TODAY, Sept. 4—The American campaign against teen pregnancy has led to a 22% decline in teen pregnancy rates, columnist Maggie Gallagher wrote—but women are still receiving false messages about marriage.

Single women today aren't less likely to get pregnant, Gallagher said; they're just less likely to marry their babies’ fathers. Since 1991, while teen pregnancy rates were falling, the rate of unwed births to women in their early 20s (who have the highest rate of such births) rose 12%.

Gallagher added, “Research shows marriages undertaken to legitimate a pregnancy are not any more unstable; living together doesn't protect children in the same way; adults who marry in their early to mid-20s do not have especially high rates of divorce (teens are another matter).”

And if couples don't marry, Gallagher said, their children get “a fractured half-a-dad pulled between children of different mothers,” rather than an intact family.

Homeless Court Turns Lives Around

LOS ANGELES TIMES, Sept. 4—Once someone slips into homelessness, the law can prevent escape, the Los Angeles daily reported.

Minor offenses like public drunkenness, petty theft, sleeping on the beach or traffic violations can keep the homeless from getting a job or a driver's license.

So Ventura County, Calif., began holding “Homeless Court.” Superior Court Judge John E. Dobroth hands out “sentences” of volunteer labor in place of more formal sanctions. By washing dishes or pulling weeds at a shelter, the homeless can erase their minor criminal records and fines.

The court, established a year ago and modeled on Homeless Courts in San Diego and Los Angeles County, has handled 153 cases involving 65 men and women. Fifty-eight defendants have completed their sentences and a dozen have become sober.

Haitians Finding a Home in the U.S.

LOS ANGELES TIMES, Sept. 4—Throughout the 1980s, “tempest-tost” Haitian immigrants risked death at sea to come to America, the Los Angeles daily reported.

Miami Auxiliary Bishop Thomas G. Wenski, former pastor of Miami's Notre Dame d'Haiti Church, said boat people would arrive at church with their pants still damp from the ocean journey. But even those who made it to the United States faced imprisonment by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and prejudice from those who feared that Haitians spread AIDS and took jobs away from the native-born.

Still, progress is being made. Last May, Josephat Celestin became the first Haitian immigrant to become mayor of a U.S. city. Haitians by the hundreds celebrated his investiture as mayor of North Miami.

How the Church Shaped America's Labor Unions

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Aug. 31—Despite Marxist predictions, America's vibrant capitalist economy never produced a strong communist party—and the Catholic Church is one reason why, the business daily reported.

Much of the American Catholic hierarchy came from working-class backgrounds, making American bishops more sympathetic to labor than their European counterparts. Lay Catholics “dominated the most important unions, from the Knights of Labor forward, until at least World War I,” the Journal wrote.

But “most unions, including the Knights, copied ... the notoriously anti-Catholic and secretive Freemasons.” And Irish union members often had ties to violent secret societies condemned by the Church. In the mid-1880s, the Vatican considered condemning the Knights of Labor.

The American bishops convinced the Vatican not to condemn the union and to declare membership in the Knights acceptable for Catholics. Said the Journal , “This declaration set the stage for a series of labor-oriented papal encyclicals—beginning with Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum in 1891—that endorsed both trade unionism and the safeguarding of property rights.”