Religion Today Summaries - March. 4, 2010

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March. 4, 2010

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • D.C. Catholic Charities Drops Spousal Benefits in Gay Marriage Dispute
  • Aftershocks, Rain Hamper Aid Distribution in Chile
  • Haiti: Rural Areas Risk Chronic Shortages in Caring for Displaced
  • Translation Teams Aid in Clean-Up Efforts in Peru Flooding

D.C. Catholic Charities Drops Spousal Benefits in Gay Marriage Dispute

Religion News Service reports that the Archdiocese of Washington's social service branch will stop offering benefits to spouses of new employees. The move is an attempt to balance the District of Columbia's new same-sex marriage law with Catholic opposition to homosexuality. Edward Orzechowski, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Washington, informed the group's 850 employees of the change in a letter on Monday, two days before gay marriage is scheduled to become legal in the city. "We sincerely regret that we have to make this change," said Orzechowski, "but it is necessary to allow Catholic Charities to continue to provide essential services to the clients we serve in partnership with the District of Columbia while remaining consistent with the tenets of our religious faith." The local Catholic Charities agency serves 120,000 people yearly in the District and five Maryland counties, according to the archdiocese.

Aftershocks, Rain Hamper Aid Distribution in Chile

Mission News Network reports that continuing aftershocks and rain are making it more difficult for aid groups to reach survivors of Saturday's earthquake in Chile. Craig Dyer with Bright Hope International says the group is helping local churches gear up to help the country, where an estimated 2 million people were affected. "We're empowering the local churches in these communities to reach out to the other churches so that people's needs can be met. Right now, it's primarily focused on food and safety. We've released the funds to be able to purchase food, and that's being distributed through the local churches." Parts of the country are currently subject to curfews and military presence in the face of looting and general unrest. Chilean officials said on Wednesday that the death toll has reached 795, a number that will rise as rescue and aid workers continue their efforts.

Haiti: Rural Areas Risk Chronic Shortages in Caring for Displaced

Christian Newswire reports that Haiti's rural communities are at risk for chronic food and water shortages as the burden to care for the displaced grows. According to relief and development group World Vision, families in these communities are struggling to cope with the influx of people seeking refuge from the destruction in the capital city. As the rainy season approaches, this influx could further burden communities and lead to more displacement and deeper poverty as resources are rapidly depleted. "Haiti's rural communities were already struggling to make ends meet before the earthquake," said Jean-Claude Mukadi, the relief response manager for World Vision in Haiti. "Now, as people continue to arrive in these communities, joining the hundreds of thousands who have already fled, they are all looking for food, water, and shelter."

Translation Teams Aid in Clean-Up Efforts in Peru Flooding

Wycliffe Associates reports that its associates brought construction skills to its translation efforts in Peru. In late January, volunteers that were already on a construction assignment in Peru to help with clean-up efforts in the aftermath of the flooding of the Vilcanota River near Machu Picchu. The flooding stranded some 4,000 Machu Picchu tourists for up to five days and destroyed thousands of villages, farms and homes surrounding Cusco and Abancay. Excess mud has contaminated Cusco's water supply, preventing access to fresh water in the area. Wycliffe volunteers and ATEK, a national Christian organization based in Peru, shifted from efforts to build a literacy and training center in Cusco to sandbagging and clean-up efforts. About 1.5 million people throughout the Andes, including Cusco, speak Quechua. According to one Wycliffe worker, "People will walk two hours to attend these [literacy] classes—that's how powerful the allure of literacy."