Catholic employees refuse reinstatement offer
McAllen, Texas -- Four lay workers who were fired in a labor dispute with a Roman Catholic diocese have rejected a reinstatement offer, saying it doesn't mention job security or unionization.
The workers, all women from Holy Spirit Church, were fired June 18. They claim Bishop Raymundo Pena of the Brownsville Diocese authorized the firings to scuttle efforts at unionizing, though the bishop denies it.
Last year, the workers teamed with the United Farmworkers and employees from other parishes on a contract, which several pastors signed. Workers who unionized at other parishes also claim retaliation.
James Harrington, an attorney for the workers, said they rejected Pena's reinstatement offer last week because "they want to put the union issue off to sometime in the future, and that was too vague," he said.
In a letter on the diocesan Web site, Pena said "this offer separates the issue regarding the validity of the union contract, which needs to be determined by proper church authorities."
Black churches, banks build partnership
Charlotte, N.C. -- One year after area black churches asked banks for affordable services and better treatment for their members, a new partnership is being launched.
Bank of America and First Charter Corp. plan to sign three-year contracts Aug. 24 as "covenant banks" with the church-sponsored Central Carolinas Collective Banking Group.
Members of participating churches will get a card providing benefits as "preferred" customers. The churches will encourage members to use participating banks and teach them about smart spending and investing.
Organizers said blacks often have a hard time getting banking services, such as loans, because of income levels or the neighborhoods where they live.
The collective said a dozen banks responded to inquiries and the two that were selected offered the broadest services and had the best records of investing in the community.
The collective is modeled after a similar group in Prince George's County, Md., formed in 1995 after blacks reported negative loan treatment from area banks.
U.S. Catholicism to revise movie classification
Washington -- The U.S. Catholic bishops' film office said it will change its moral ratings for features aimed at adult audiences to respond to what it called increased violence, sexuality, dirty language and adult themes onscreen.
In the church's system of guidance to consumers, the "A-IV" rating designating films appropriate for "adults, with reservations," will be replaced Nov. 1 by the label "L," for "limited adult audience," defined as a movie that contains "problematic content many adults would find troubling."
The other Catholic classifications, which continue, are: A-I (general audiences), A-II (adults and adolescents), A-III (for adults only) and O (morally offensive -- viewing not recommended).