Fighting between government troops and rebels continues in Syria. Christian areas of Damascus are under attack from rebel mortars, and tens of thousands of Christians have fled the country. Correspondent Reese Erlich filed this story for CBS Radio News from Damascus.
On February 11, 1990, the day Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years in prison, I was driving from downtown Los Angeles to my apartment near Venice, having detoured through a sketchy part of Culver City in an attempt to bypass some traffic calamity or another on the 10.
The radio crackled with almost unbelievable news, and I was so worried I’d lose the signal that I pulled off into a strip mall parking lot and fussed with the dial, confusing the chanting of the crowd in Cape Town—“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!—with static.
A year after arriving in Los Angeles, the youngest archbishop in the U.S. Catholic Church had a schedule and an agenda befitting a presidential candidate.
Roger Mahony raced around the city in a chauffeured sedan, exhorting labor leaders to support immigrant rights and rallying hundreds against a proposed prison in Boyle Heights.
Where his predecessors had talked up praying the rosary, Mahony touted his positions on nuclear disarmament and Middle East peace, porn on cable TV and AIDS prevention. No issue seemed outside his purview: When an earthquake struck El Salvador, he cut a $100,000 check. When a 7-year-old went missing in South Pasadena, he wrote her Protestant parents a consoling letter.
Harriet Ryan, Ashley Powers and Victoria Kim based this series of LA Times articles about Cardinal Mahony and the clergy abuse scandal on nearly 23,000 pages of internal documents from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and various religious orders that were made public this year in compliance with court orders.
An October 30 article in the Los Angeles Times reports on a UN population study on child marriage and frames the problem as a primarily economic one. The 7.3 million babies born each year to girls under the age of 18 are cast as drags on developing economies since young mothers who might otherwise be in the workforce are at home caring for children. Add to that the expense of healthcare associated with adolescent pregnancies and child marriage can cost a poor country like Uganda 30 percent of its GDP.
What’s to be done? The article quotes UN Population Fund executive director Babatunde Osotimehin as to what shouldn’t be done — namely, blaming the victim — but provides no hint to a possible solution other than to say it should be “holistic.”
Fortunately, the study itself offers up a number of approaches to reduce the number of child brides — including involving religious leaders in the effort. “Motherhood in Childhood” makes it clear that child marriage is primarily a problem borne of poverty, lack of education and cultural tradition, but notes that religion is often used as a pretext for the practice. Religious leaders of all faiths officiate child marriages, rendering them sacrosanct. For this reason, the UN, UNICEF, and the International Center for Research on Women have all called upon faith leaders to speak out.
In September, UNICEF Nepal released a video featuring Hindu, Buddhist, Christian and Muslim leaders denouncing child marriage. Eleven percent of Nepalese girls are married before the age of 14 and 29 percent are married before age 18. In the PSA, Dr. Chintamani Yogi, the founder of the Hindu Vidya Peeth School in Nepal and an activist for women’s and children’s welfare, is unequivocal in his condemnation and, unlike the LA Times, is very clear about what needs to be done and who needs to do it. Says Dr. Yogi: ”The holy books revere marriage as a holy union and a part of culture. Someone who does not send their children to school and prevents them from gaining an education is not a parent — but an enemy.”