Today

Readings
First Reading: Revelation 1:1-4; 2:1-5
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
Gospel: Luke 18:35-43

Today’s Calendar
   Bishop Pfeifer in SAN ANGELO, Sacred Heart – 6:30 p.m. Bilingual Mass Closing the Year of Reconciliation for the San Angelo Deanery.

 Heart of Mercy Prayer Group, at Christ the King Retreat Center.

  NECROLOGY — Rev. John Waldron (1995)

Today’s Catholic Headlines

Deconstructing voter choices: Catholics differ little from others

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Much ado has been made of the supposed shift of “religious” voters to Democrats in the midterm election. Exit polls showed that more Catholics and more frequent churchgoers in general voted for Democrats in the 2006 election than voted for Democrats in the 2004 election. News stories and press releases in the first few days after the election touted “Catholic voters abandon Republicans,” and “God gap narrows.” But when compared to how voters as a whole cast their ballots this year, the much-vaunted statistics that supposedly show dramatic shifts by Catholics and regular worshippers of any faith lose their distinctiveness. Catholics and regular churchgoers pretty much voted like the overall majority of the country in supporting more Democratic candidates, said John Green, senior fellow in religion and American politics at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Enough voters shifted their support to Democrats this year to swing majority power to the party in both the House and the Senate for the first time in 12 years.

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Massachusetts bishops ‘disturbed’ by thwarted marriage vote

BOSTON (CNS) — The Catholic bishops of Massachusetts said they are “deeply disturbed” by the state Legislature’s recent move to squelch a proposed amendment that would limit future same-sex marriages. “The effort to silence the people through inaction and delay has no place in democracy,” they said in a Nov. 14 statement after the Legislature recessed the constitutional convention without voting. “Citizens of the commonwealth have exercised their right to initiate the petition process afforded to them by our state constitution, and they have complied with the law at every step,” they added. “Our public servants have no less of an obligation to follow the law by bringing the marriage amendment to a legislative vote.” On Nov. 9 the joint session of the Legislature voted 109-87 to recess until the last day of the legislative session Jan. 2 at 2 p.m. They did not vote on the citizen’s initiative petition aimed to allow voters to decide the definition of marriage.

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Changes in food system needed, rural Catholic conference told

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (CNS) — Mike Callicrate is a straight-talking plainsman with a blunt, hard message: Your food is killing you, and your food system is killing your community and nation. Callicrate, a cattle rancher from St. Francis in the northwest corner of Kansas, was one of the keynote speakers at the National Catholic Rural Life Conference’s annual meeting Nov. 10-11 in Overland Park. About 100 people attended, including farmers and ranchers, advocates, food industry professionals, and workers in Catholic social justice and rural life ministries. The theme of the event was sustainable food, business and agriculture. “Our food is killing us, literally,” Callicrate, a member of St. Francis Parish, said in an interview after his address. “The industrial model of food production that has been forced upon us has given us food that is very unhealthy.” It’s not just the food — loaded with chemicals and hormones, and produced in unhealthy ways — with which Callicrate has problems. He doesn’t like the industrial model of food production. He said, “It concentrates power and wealth in the hands of a very few, which has always been a serious threat to human societies throughout time.”

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Names of new committees in bishops’ conference

BALTIMORE (CNS) — When the nation’s bishops adopted a plan to reorganize the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops next year, a major component was a sharp reduction in the number of the bishops’ standing committees and the elimination of all their ad hoc committees. The bishops approved the plan by a 213-19 vote on the second day of their Nov. 13-16 meeting in Baltimore. It is to take effect after their November 2007 meeting. At that time the current 36 standing committees and 16 ad hoc committees will be reduced to 16 standing committees, also sometimes described as program committees. The new committees, like the current ones, will have only bishops as members. Five current management or administrative committees will be reduced to four. Some of the current standing or ad hoc committees will become subcommittees.

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Lay-dominated advisory council raising its profile on bishops’ issues

BALTIMORE (CNS) — The U.S. bishops’ National Advisory Council is taking an increasingly public role in making recommendations about documents the bishops are considering and topics they might address in the future. Made up of more than 50 laypeople, men and women religious, deacons, priests and bishops, the council “could be seen as a national pastoral council,” said Bishop David A. Zubik of Green Bay, Wis., in a brief interview with Catholic News Service Nov. 14 at the bishops’ fall general assembly in Baltimore. In a report to the bishops the day before, Bishop Zubik said the council members represent “the adult Catholic population by age, occupation, ethnicity, geography, vocation and avocation. … The council has been called ‘the church in miniature.'” The council meets three times a year, immediately before the U.S. bishops’ Administrative Committee holds its sessions. Council members receive the same documentation given to the Administrative Committee members and pass along their comments in both written and oral form, Bishop Zubik said.

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WORLD

Pope says despite progress Christian unity faces new challenges

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Despite 40 years of real progress toward Christian unity, growing differences among Christians over ethical questions and disciplinary matters have created new challenges in ecumenism, Pope Benedict XVI said. While the Roman Catholic-Orthodox dialogue has found new energy and new hope, the church’s dialogue with the Protestant and Anglican communities has led to a discovery of shared faith and “the more precise identification of real differences,” the pope said. Pope Benedict met Nov. 17 with members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which was holding its plenary meeting at the Vatican. The pope, who served as an expert at the Second Vatican Council, marveled at how much had had been accomplished in just over 40 years. Observers from other churches and Christian communities were present at the council, “attentive, but silent,” he said. “The silence has been transformed into a word of communion.”

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Irish court rules constitution does not protect embryos outside womb

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) — The Irish Constitution’s protection of the unborn does not cover embryos outside the womb, ruled the High Court in Dublin. In its Nov. 15 ruling, the High Court rejected the case of a woman seeking to have three frozen embryos released to her against the wishes of her estranged husband. The court ruled that the constitutional protection given to the unborn did not apply to embryos that were frozen or in vitro. The woman had argued that under the Irish Constitution her embryos had a right to life. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin expressed concerns about the decision. “From a first consideration of the judgment, it would appear that the decision casts doubt concerning the level of protection which the constitution affords to human life at its earliest stages,” the archbishop said in a statement. “It is to be hoped that this issue will receive full consideration in any eventual appeal to the Supreme Court and that the general protection of every human life at all stages of its development will be vindicated.”

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Meeting of pope, archbishop of Canterbury may highlight Anglican rifts

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When the Anglican archbishop of Canterbury meets Pope Benedict XVI, divisions within the Anglican Communion are expected to grab more attention than the barriers to Anglican-Roman Catholic unity posed by the ordination of women bishops and attitudes toward homosexuality. Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England and spiritual head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, will visit Rome Nov. 21-26. He is scheduled to meet privately with Pope Benedict and with Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, as well as with other Vatican officials and with Catholic and Anglican groups in Rome. The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion continue to make public commitments to joint witness even as new issues appear to make their eventual unity more difficult.

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Vatican official: U.N. rights council must address violations fairly

ROME (CNS) — By not addressing human rights violations fairly and consistently, especially the violence unfolding in the Holy Land, the U.N. Human Rights Council risks losing credibility, a Vatican official said. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said “shortsighted political and economic interests” have prevented the U.N. council from addressing “with fairness and consistency” ongoing human rights violations in some parts of the world. Archbishop Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative to Geneva-based U.N. agencies, spoke Nov. 15 during the council’s special session on Israeli military incursions in occupied Palestinian territories in Geneva. Catholic News Service in Rome obtained a copy of his text. “A human rights council that does not contribute to change the quality of people’s life on the ground, in their daily tasks and normal activities, seriously risks a loss of credibility,” he said. The council’s special session voted Nov. 15 to send a fact-finding mission to investigate the Nov. 8 Israeli killings of Palestinian civilians in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun.

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Colombian activist’s death generates confusion, accusations of abuses

BOGOTA, Colombia (CNS) — The death of a community leader in an impoverished, guerrilla-infested area has generated accusations of human rights abuses and exposed the complexities of Colombia’s decades-old civil war. Regional rights activists and the Diocese of Magangue said the death of Alejandro Uribe, a miner and community activist, was part of a troubling pattern of abuses in the region. Although military officials agree Uribe was killed Sept. 19 by the army’s Fifth Division, a division official who did not give his name said Uribe was a member of the guerrilla National Liberation Army, or ELN, which is active in the region. He said Uribe was armed and died in combat. The official also said Uribe was not a resident of the area. In a statement after his death, the Diocese of Magangue said Uribe’s death “adds itself to a worrying chain of attacks, blockades, threats and other killings which, according to accounts by residents of the region, sadly are being committed by members of the Colombian army’s Nueva Granada Battalion.”

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East Timor truth commission urges continued international support

SYDNEY, Australia (CNS) — An East Timor truth commission has recommended the international community continue financial assistance and training, including the strengthening of the judicial system and training of police, so that civil society in East Timor may develop. It also urges Indonesia to declassify documentation held by its security forces so that it is available for judicial processes and calls for reparations for the Timorese victims of torture, murder, rape and starvation and for costs of their ongoing medical care and treatment. The commission’s report, “Chega!” — Portuguese for “Enough!” — was launched in Sydney Nov. 12, the 15th anniversary of the Santa Cruz massacre, when Indonesian troops fired upon a peaceful memorial procession to a cemetery that had turned into a pro-independence demonstration in Dili, East Timor. More than 271 East Timorese were killed that day. “Chega!” is a comprehensive report on human rights violations in East Timor from 1974 to 1999, the years of Indonesian occupation.

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PEOPLE

In Rome, Royals star inspires crowd with stories of living his faith

ROME (CNS) — Not even raucous laughter could wake up Mike Sweeney’s jet-lagged toddlers who slumbered angelically in their strollers at his feet while he entertained and inspired his audience during his Nov. 17 Theology on Tap talk in Rome. The 33-year-old first baseman for the Kansas City Royals spoke of the ways he lives out his faith. More than 35 people crowded into a wood-paneled pub located near one of Rome’s many pontifical universities to hear him speak as part of the program for young adults. One audience member said she found his talk so inspiring she was now going to have to become a Royals fan. “Well, that’ll make two of you,” Sweeney joked as people laughed and clapped — the din making his sleepy 15-month-old daughter stir just a bit. The five-time baseball All Star, together with his family, parents and in-laws, came to the Eternal City on a pilgrimage that included attending Pope Benedict XVI’s weekly general audience and visiting Vatican officials to promote the work of Catholic Athletes for Christ.

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Poking fun at the pope: Satire sparks debate over limits of humor

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Italians have a long history of satirizing the papacy, but recent gibes at Pope Benedict XVI and his personal secretary have ignited a national debate over the limits of humor. A running sketch on a popular Italian TV show portrays the white-haired pope as a capricious egotist who complains about always having to wear white and giggles as he types out excommunication edicts. A radio comedian has the pope shooting pigeons above St. Peter’s Square — because they “bother people who have to work” — and tossing burning candies down at children. Meanwhile, another radio show impersonator has found a comic target in the papal secretary, Msgr. Georg Ganswein, who comes off as a vain lightweight — he dreams of being a circus acrobat, but worries that it might mess up his hair. In mid-November, the Catholic newspaper Avvenire decided it had seen and heard enough. It said the parodies of the pontiff and his secretary were vulgar and grotesque and in some ways represented a cheap shot at the church.

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Parishioners donate papal gift to help fellow residents of Gaza Strip

JERUSALEM (CNS) — A Catholic parish in the Gaza Strip opted to donate $2,000 earmarked for them by Pope Benedict XVI to help the residents of Beit Hanoun following Israel’s weeklong incursion into the area in early November. “It is of great importance for Christians when they see a difficult situation to give everything,” said Father Manuel Musallam of Holy Family Parish in the Gaza Strip, which passed along the papal donation. The priest said that besides the donation of the papal money, after he spoke to parishioners about the situation in Beit Hanoun, the weekly offering, which normally amounts to about $25, was increased fivefold as parishioners reached deep into their pockets to help their fellow Gaza residents whose homes and roads had been destroyed by Israeli missiles. The money was used to prepare 100 food baskets which also included about $25 in cash for needy families in Beit Hanoun, Father Musallam said in a telephone interview. Inside each basket parishioners inserted a note, telling the recipients that Gaza Christians supported them and were willing to help them, he said.

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Priest uses own money to fund Holy Trinity art contest

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. (CNS) — It started, as it always does for Father Edmund S. Nadolny, with the words “I got this idea.” Anyone acquainted with Father Nadolny knows that when he’s not carrying out one of his fund-raising or charitable plans, it’s because he’s coming up with a new one. So perhaps it comes as no surprise that this nonstop priest has decided to hold an art contest. “It’s time for us to have a new representation of the Blessed Trinity. It’s the mystery of all mysteries, and because of that, there really haven’t been that many attempts to portray the mystery of the Holy Trinity,” explained Father Nadolny, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in East Berlin, Conn. Father Nadolny plans to award four prizes out of his own money: $500 for first prize; $250 for second prize, and two third prizes of $125 each. The awards will be given on the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, June 3. Three art teachers will judge. Entries may be sent to Father Nadolny at Sacred Heart Church, 48 Cottage St., East Berlin, CT 06023. He said the depiction of the Blessed Trinity can be in any medium.

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