Media Watch

Northern Ireland Catholic Joblessness Still High

THE IRISH NEWS, Dec. 12 — Catholics in Northern Ireland fare better than they did almost 10 years ago, but are still far more likely to be unemployed than Protestants, according to a government survey.

Despite having higher qualifications and holding down a higher proportion of professional jobs, Catholics had an 8.8% unemployment rate in 2000. The rate for Protestants was 5.2%.

The news was not all bad for Catholics, though. In 1993, unemployment was 18.1% for Catholics and 9.4% for Protestants. And among the unemployed, a higher proportion of Protestants than Catholics had been unemployed for one year or more, the report said.

But a spokeswoman for Sinn Fein, the IRA's political arm, said the report showed evidence of anti-Catholic discrimination. “A telling statistic is that Catholic representation is highest in small sized work-places but lowest in large workplaces,” Dara O'Hagan told the Irish daily. “What is clear is that despite years of fair employment legislation and a focus on this issue that there has not been enough progress.”

Catholics in Uganda Seek Return of Schools

THE MONITOR, Dec. 13 — The chaplain of Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, called for the government to return schools that were founded by the Church to Catholic control, the Kampala daily reported. “We do not have any voice in the running of our schools. The government changes our head-teachers, sometimes without consultation,” said Father Lawrence Kanyike. “Our silence has led the government to take advantage [of] us.”

The priest spoke during the launch of a book, “Catholic Schools 2000: Issues and Challenges,” which offers guidelines to teachers and administrators on running Catholic schools.

Archbishop Christopher Pierre, apostolic nuncio to Uganda, addressed the gathering, urging Catholics to consider organizing themselves and having dialogue with the government to solve their grievances.

Cuban Bishops Lament Family Separations

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Dec. 17 — Cuba's bishops made an end-of-year plea for family unity, saying they were saddened that many of the island's families are separated by divorce and exile, the news service reported.

“There are so many families divided, separated by divorce,” the Cuban Bishops Conference said in the bishops’ annual Christmas message, read in churches on the fourth Sunday of Advent. “It is a minority of children and adolescents who can sit down with mama and papa on the night of the 24th, Christmas Eve, to eat Christmas dinner.”

For many years in communist Cuba, which was officially atheist from the early 1960s until 1992, Christmas was just another day on the calendar. The government declared it an official holiday again in 1998, fulfilling a request of Pope John Paul II, who had visited the island earlier that year.

The bishops also took note of families with relatives who left the country. “For not a few this will be the first year that a brother, a daughter, a grandchild, a husband or a mother are absent,” they said. “For many others, this is an old experience that they have never grown used to.”