A Look at Today: 12.05.06

Today’s Readings

First Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 72:1, 7-8, 12-13, 17
Gospel: Luke 10:21-24

Today’s Events, Appearances

None schedule

Today’s Catholic News Service Headlines

By Catholic News Service


Los Angeles Archdiocese settles 45 sex abuse cases for $60 million

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The $60 million settlement of 45 cases in which clergy had been accused of sexual abuse is “fair and just,” Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles said Dec. 1. In a statement, the cardinal also termed the settlement “a positive step forward in the church’s efforts to promote healing and reconciliation for those who have suffered abuse by members of the clergy.” He also made a personal apology to all victims of abuse by a priest, religious or deacon in the archdiocese. “The sexual abuse of minors is both a sin and a crime, and there is no place in the priesthood for those who have abused children,” he added. The archdiocese said its share of the settlement was about $40 million, with the remainder covered by insurance companies or religious orders. The amount of the settlement “was anticipated and set aside last year,” it added. “I want to assure you … that no parishes will be affected as a result of this settlement,” Cardinal Mahony said.

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Ohio bishops set aside $3 million to aid childhood sex abuse victims

CLEVELAND (CNS) — The $3 million set aside by Ohio’s Catholic bishops for counseling services to sexual abuse victims comes as a result of the testimony presented by survivors during legislative hearings earlier this year. Timothy Luckhaupt, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Ohio, the bishops’ public policy arm, said the Counseling Assistance Fund will provide financial help to individuals who are reluctant to approach the church for assistance. The fund was established independent of the church, Luckhaupt said. It is believed to be the first of its kind in the country. “This is the right thing to do,” Luckhaupt said. “This is the right thing to help people.” Under program guidelines, funds are available to anyone who was abused by clergy or another church representative and who was an Ohio resident at the time. Claims will be accepted through May 2008. Luckhaupt said testimony from victims during hearings this year on a state Senate bill that set new requirements for the reporting of child sexual abuse convinced the bishops that they were responsible for helping people who would not approach the church for counseling assistance.

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Philly institute honors four for ‘outstanding Catholic leadership’

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — They come from different backgrounds and couldn’t be more diverse — a television personality, a Mercy sister who works with the homeless and mentally ill, a Jesuit priest who is president of a Catholic university and a mother of six turned prayer warrior. But what they have in common is “outstanding Catholic leadership” and that they are examples of how to be Christ-like in different walks of life, according to the Philadelphia-based Catholic Leadership Institute, which honored the four individuals at a recent dinner and reception. The institute gave its leadership award to: Mercy Sister Mary Scullion, who has worked with homeless and mentally ill people in Philadelphia since 1978; Raymond Arroyo, host of the Eternal Word Television Network’s news program “The World Over”; Peggie O’Neill, founder of Prayer Power, a national movement focused on eucharistic adoration and vocations; and Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer, president of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash.

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Brazilian pediatrician receives $1 million Opus Prize at Notre Dame

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (CNS) — Good health is a priceless gift, but $1 million will go a long way toward ensuring that gift also reaches the world’s poorest and most underserved, particularly children and families. Dr. Zilda Arns Neumann, a 63-year-old pediatrician from Brazil, received the $1 million Opus Prize from the University of Notre Dame president, Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, at a special dinner on campus Nov. 8. Neumann, who worked for years as a pediatrician before serving 27 years as the Brazilian public health director, saw a pressing need to address infant mortality among her nation’s poor. In 1983 she founded Pastoral da Crianca (Pastoral of the Child) to address the health issues of women, children and families. Utilizing the country’s strong Catholic infrastructure and made up of more than 264,000 volunteers, Pastoral da Crianca promotes faith and knowledge with an emphasis on the community as family.

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Head of Vatican clergy office: Priestly celibacy not up for debate

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The new head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, clarified his recent comments about priestly celibacy, saying the question was not currently up for discussion by church authorities. In a Brazilian newspaper interview Dec. 2, Cardinal Hummes had said priestly celibacy was a disciplinary norm and not a church dogma, and was therefore open to possible change. Although Cardinal Hummes was not arguing in favor of modifying the celibacy rule, his comments stirred considerable interest in Rome. Shortly after arriving at the Vatican from Brazil Dec. 4, the cardinal issued a statement emphasizing that priestly celibacy was a long and valuable tradition in the Latin-rite church, based on strong theological and pastoral arguments. Cardinal Hummes, a Franciscan who has headed the Archdiocese of Sao Paolo, was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in October as prefect of the clergy congregation, a move widely seen as bringing a moderate Latin American voice to the Roman Curia.

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Vatican statement says pope saddened by illicit Chinese ordinations

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI was deeply saddened by the Nov. 30 ordination of a Chinese bishop without Vatican approval, an act that can further fracture the Catholic community in mainland China, said a statement from the Vatican. In a Dec. 2 statement, the Vatican said officials found out at “the last minute” about plans to ordain Father Wang Renlei, 36, as coadjutor bishop of Xuzhou, China, at the diocese’s Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral. Still, Vatican officials did what they could “so that this act, which would have produced a new laceration in the ecclesial community, would not come about,” the statement said. “In fact, an illegitimate episcopal ordination is an act that is so objectively serious that canon law establishes severe sanctions for those who confer it and those who receive it,” the statement said. The new bishop and the bishops who ordained him face automatic excommunication if they acted of their own free will, the Vatican said.

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Vatican official discusses comprehensive, moral approach to migration

GENEVA (CNS) — Aging populations and the need for manual laborers in the Northern Hemisphere combined with poverty and conflict in the South mean that migration will continue to be an issue the entire world must deal with, a Vatican official said. The only way to ensure that the process benefits both the North and the South is to establish policies protecting human dignity, guaranteeing order, promoting integration and “making migration a choice rather than a necessity,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative to U.N. and other international organizations in Geneva. The archbishop spoke during the Nov. 28-Dec. 1 meeting of the International Organization for Migration in Geneva. A comprehensive, ethical approach to migration, he said, must ensure that “the concern for security does not turn into just a restrictive logic in order to hinder migrants from entering a country, but becomes an orderly, rationalized and coordinated relationship between available human resources and the need for manpower in receiving societies.”

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Greek Orthodox archbishop to visit pope, announces Vatican

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens, spiritual leader of the Orthodox church of Greece, will visit Pope Benedict XVI Dec. 13-16, the Vatican announced. “The archbishop will be received with warm ecclesial brotherhood and with the honor due to his position as primate of the Orthodox church of Greece,” said the Dec. 4 announcement of the visit. During the visit, the announcement said, Pope Benedict and Archbishop Christodoulos will participate in a ceremony at Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. Pope Benedict will give the archbishop “part of the precious chain of St. Paul’s imprisonment,” which is preserved at the basilica built in his honor. The basilica is built over the traditional site of St. Paul’s burial. The chains believed to have held St. Paul during his imprisonment just before his execution are preserved in the basilica’s Chapel of the Relics.

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Mexican bishops call for peace after Mexican president is sworn in

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — The Mexican bishops have called for peace and reconciliation between Mexico’s political factions and citizens following the contested swearing-in ceremony of Mexican President Felipe Calderon. “The new government needs generous and fraternal collaboration from all Mexicans, all political parties and all social actors,” said a statement from the Mexican bishops’ conference, released hours after Calderon took the presidential oath Dec. 1. The statement also called for progress in relieving poverty, combating organized crime, reducing corruption and improving education. Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City said Dec. 3 the new president needs help if these problems are to be solved. “It’s the work of all Mexicans; a president of the republic can’t just wave a magic wand to transform our reality,” he said in a press conference following Mass in the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City. “It requires us all.”

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Vatican asks Romania to stop construction threatening cathedral

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican publicly has asked the Romanian government to halt the construction of a skyscraper near Bucharest’s St. Joseph Cathedral. The physical stability of the cathedral, built in the late 1800s, is threatened by work on the 18-story office building just 30 feet away from the northeast wall of the church, the Vatican said in a Dec. 4 statement. The Vatican Secretariat of State hopes for “a rapid and satisfactory solution” to protect the cathedral, a symbol “of the values of faith that it represents, not only for the Catholic community, but for the entire Romanian population,” the statement said. The Vatican, it said, had spoken to Romanian authorities “to ask for the immediate suspension of the work and the revocation of the respective permits” in line with European Union regulations on protecting historic buildings and with a Romanian construction-monitoring commission that proposed a bill in mid-October directing the government to halt the construction.

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Pope calls visit to Turkey an unforgettable experience

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI called his visit to Turkey an unforgettable experience and said he hoped it would lead to improved relations between Christians and Muslims. The pope made the remarks at his noon blessing Dec. 3 at the start of the Advent season, addressing pilgrims two days after returning from a pilgrimage of dialogue in Turkey. The pope thanked the organizers of the four-day trip, including Turkish authorities, for ensuring that the visit was “peaceful and fruitful.” He expressed his gratitude to “the friendly Turkish people” for giving him “a welcome worthy of their traditional spirit of hospitality.” He said the visit was “an unforgettable spiritual and pastoral experience, which I hope will help produce an increasingly sincere cooperation among all the disciples of Christ and a beneficial dialogue with Muslim believers.”

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CCHD names winners in annual multimedia youth art contest

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Claire Kitzmiller, a senior at St. Cecilia Academy in Nashville, Tenn., is the winner of the grand prize in the 2005-06 multimedia youth arts contest sponsored by the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development. She was honored Dec. 1 at the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry in Las Vegas. She received a $500 cash prize. CCHD will donate $500 to a Nashville group that receives CCHD funding. Kitzmiller submitted a computer-altered digital photograph of a homeless man titled “Help Is on the Way.” MacKenzie Cherban, from Villa Maria Academy in Erie, Pa., won second prize for a mosaic-decorated mirror inscribed with the message “This person can help stop poverty.” She received $375, with an equal amount donated to a CCHD-funded organization. Third place was awarded to Ashley Garcia, a student at Queen of Heaven School in Albuquerque, N.M. Her visual arts entry depicts a girl split into two: one side represents a life of poverty and the other envisions a life of plenty. She received $250 in cash, with an equal amount donated to a CCHD-funded organization.

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Vatican spokesman says pope did not ask Kissinger to be his adviser

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI does not have a foreign affairs advisory board, and he has not asked former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to become one of his advisers, the Vatican spokesman said. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said it is true that Kissinger met privately with the pope Sept. 28 and that Mary Ann Glendon, a U.S. law professor and president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, has invited Kissinger to speak to the academy at the Vatican in late April. “Those are the only two concrete facts,” Father Lombardi told Catholic News Service. Articles in Italian and U.S. newspapers reporting that the pope had asked Kissinger to become an adviser or consultant “are without any foundation,” he said Dec. 4.

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Businessman named to new financial post in Bridgeport Diocese

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (CNS) — Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport has named a Catholic business professional to the newly created position of director of parish finance services in the diocese. Deacon William Koniers, 56, will oversee the implementation of a program to enhance and strengthen financial controls and procedures in all 87 parishes of the Bridgeport Diocese. Elements of the program, the deacon said, include best practices for parish finance councils; controls for collections and expenditures; improvements in financial reporting to parishioners; training for pastors, parish finance council members, business managers, accountants and counters; and annual reviews and tests of parish financial controls and procedures. “Deacon Koniers has the knowledge, skills and experience that we need to assist our dedicated pastors in furthering the mission of the church,” Bishop Lori said in a statement when the appointment was announced Nov. 6.



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