Media Watch

A Motley Crew of Catholics

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, June 24 — According to a recent religious survey, 1 out of 4 Australians is a Catholic of some variety or another. But diversity within the faith is growing all the time, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The paper noted that parochial schools now include those for immigrants of the Maronite, Melkite and Armenian Catholic rites alongside schools for Muslim, Greek, Jewish and Coptic children.

Brian Croke of the Catholic Education Commission pointed out that the schools demonstrated the “growing religious pluralism” of the region. Catholic school growth is strongest where immigration has landed the most people, producing areas in New South Wales where Catholics make up a strong majority of the population.

It has also created new ethnic enclaves. For instance, St. Hurmizd Assyrian School in Sydney opened in January 2002 with 86 pupils — the only Assyrian Christian school in modern history built outside the Middle East.

Many Assyrian Catholics have begun to flee their native Iraq in the wake of sanctions, war and growing Islamic extremism.

Likewise, Maronite Catholics have fled Lebanon in increasing numbers since that country's civil war of the 1970s and 1980s, swelling an ongoing exodus of Melkite and Armenian Catholics from the Holy Land and around the region.

Sink the ‘Lust Boat’!

BBC, June 23 — Polish customs officials June 22 boarded the Langenort, a renegade ship operated by Women on Waves, a Dutch pro-abortion group that had promised to smuggle abortifacient RU-486 pills into Poland. Protestors pelted the ship with eggs and red paint.

Malgorzata Wilkosz-Sliwa, spokesman for Polish prosecutors, said the Langenort's crew would not be in breach of Polish abortion laws so long as any pills remained on the ship.

“If no one tries to distribute [the pills], then there is no crime,” she told the British Broadcasting Corp.

Later, though, Polish officials fined the project 12,000 zloty ($3,150), saying the boat “breached procedures for entering the port and did not obey the orders of the port commander,” Life Site News reported June 25.

In Poland, unborn life is protected by law but with a number of exceptions for rape, incest, fetal defect and the “health” of the mother. Women on Waves has previously discussed distributing the abortion-inducing pills in Ireland but has not yet attempted to do so.

Ugandan Girls Abducted from Catholic School

REUTERS, June 25 — Thirty children from a Catholic girls school in northeastern Uganda were abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel sect June 23, Reuters reported. Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu called for the rights of the children of northern Uganda to be protected.

The Lord's Resistance Army, led by a self-proclaimed prophet, wants the country to be governed according to the Ten Commandments. The group has abducted thousands of children over the course of a 17-year-long campaign in northern Uganda, using the boys for soldiers and the girls for concubines.

Independent Catholic News reported on June 17 that 15 refugee children between ages 7 and 15 were taken from a Catholic orphanage in Adjumani, Uganda.