News Bites

Labor Rites. The U.S. Senate in April authorized the Department of the Interior to study whether sites associated with the life of César Chávez, founder of the United Farm Workers movement, should be eligible to become national historic landmarks.

Common Ground. Germany's Catholic bishops and Council of Evangelical Churches hosted in May a pro-life week focused on "therapeutic" cloning, pre-implantation and prenatal diagnosis, and active assisted death. "Advances in research and technology reinforce the discussion on questions of the ethics of science, of medicine, bioethics, and the protection of life," said Cardinal Karl Lehmann.

Cool Jewels. Congress passed the Clean Diamonds Trade Act in April, the culmination of a three-year effort by more than 150 human rights, humanitarian, and faith-based organizations to end the market for gems, mined in several African nations, that help fund human rights abuses.

Uzbek Unity. Thanks to their Muslim neighbors, Catholics in a remote area of Uzbekistan celebrated Easter at Our Lady of Charity, the first and only Christian church in the region. A Catholic woman obtained more than the 100 signatures needed under Uzbek law to establish a sacred building, including many from Muslims, who agreed that Christians should have a place of worship.

The Rights Stuff. Human rights advocate and former Fellowship of Reconciliation organizer Mike Jendrzejczyk, 53, died May 1 in Washington, D.C. Rep. Nancy Pelosi said there are "tens of thousands of ordinary people" whose lives were made better by Jendrzejczyk's work at the Asia division of Human Rights Watch.

Wild Fire. The new Hollenweger Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements has opened in the Netherlands to study the world's fastest growing Christian movements. "Our purpose is not to spread the Pentecostal message, but to study Pentecostalism and its current worldwide expansion," said center director Andre Droogers.

Fuel Flavors. Jeffrey Miottel drives a 1984 Mercedes, but he hasn't been to a gas station in a year. Miottel makes his own fuel from used grease recycled from local restaurants. "Biodiesel's a local homegrown fuel that you can make yourself and not have to go fight a war for," he says.

Priceless. Charlie and Martin Sheen's popular Visa TV ad was pulled in March—reportedly because of Sheen Sr.'s outspoken anti-war stance based on Catholic social teaching. However, a Visa spokesperson said, "Visa does not use its advertising to make political statements, and neither the spot nor the conclusion of its run should be interpreted as one."

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