A Look at Today (12.20.06)

Today in the Diocese

    20–Christmas Mass, Angelo Catholic School, 8:30 a.m.

Today’s Reading’s

    First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14
    Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
    Gospel: Luke 1:26-38


20–Rev. John Waldron (1995)

Today’s News from the Catholic News Service

By Catholic News Service


Both sides agree to $75 million plan to pay Portland sex abuse claims

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — The Archdiocese of Portland will not need to sell off parish or school property under terms of a $75 million settlement between the archdiocese and almost 150 sex abuse claimants. The more than 100-page settlement plan was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Portland Dec. 18, a week after U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan stood with church officials and victims’ lawyers in a federal courthouse in Eugene to say the claims had been settled after more than three months of arduous private negotiations. Among the resolved cases is the $135 million suit that in 2004 pushed the archdiocese to become the first Catholic archdiocese or diocese in the nation to file for bankruptcy. At one point last year, abuse suits against the Archdiocese of Portland added up to more than $500 million. “We do not anticipate any parish property or school property to be liquidated or contributed or collateralized to fund the joint plan,” said the judge, calling that result “the good news” of the day.

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Davenport Diocese to sell three properties soon

DAVENPORT, Iowa (CNS) — Three Davenport diocesan properties — including the house that Bishop Martin J. Amos recently moved into — were to go on sale by Christmas as part of the diocese’s bankruptcy proceedings. A fourth property, the diocese’s St. Vincent Center headquarters, will be sold later. The Diocesan Corporate Board and Finance Council met Dec. 4 and decided to take action immediately because the property must be sold to compensate the diocese’s creditors, victims of clergy sexual abuse. Details of the proposed sales will be included in the diocese’s reorganization plan, which was to be delivered to the bankruptcy court by Christmas, said Dick Davidson, the diocese’s bankruptcy attorney. Bishop Amos’ suggestion that he would be willing to move into a smaller house encouraged diocesan leadership to move ahead with listing the properties, said Char Maaske, the diocese’s chief financial officer. The bishop’s house, a duplex, has an assessed value of $196,260.

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Study: Efforts halting violent game sales to minors up, more needed

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Major retail chains have improved their policies against selling violent video games to minors, but they’re not perfect, according to a Dec. 13 report issued jointly by Christian Brothers Investment Services and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. A look at seven nationwide sellers of video games showed that all seven follow the same three of 26 elements judged by the two organizations to be part of an “effective, responsible and well-monitored video game sales policy”: store signage featuring game ratings, age verification in stores and employee training programs. Overall, the retailers’ compliance with all the elements suggested in the report varies. Best Buy followed 20 of the 26, followed closely by Target with 19. Trailing were Circuit City with 15, Game Stop with 13, Wal-Mart with 12, Toys “R” Us with 10, and Sears and Kmart, now jointly owned, with eight.

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Monterey bishop resigns; pope names Sacramento auxiliary as successor

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Bishop Sylvester D. Ryan of Monterey, Calif., and has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Garcia of Sacramento, Calif., as his successor. The changes were announced in Washington Dec. 19 by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop Ryan, 76, has been head of the Monterey Diocese since 1992. Canon law asks all bishops to submit their resignation to the pope when they turn 75. Bishop Garcia, 59, was ordained an auxiliary for Sacramento in January 1998. He is one of 25 active Hispanic bishops in the United States. When he is installed in the Monterey Diocese Jan. 30, he will be the 11th active Hispanic bishop to head a diocese. Bishop Ryan has been a priest since 1957 and a bishop since 1990.

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‘Rosary at the Rose Bowl’ planned for May aims to draw 65,000

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Attendance expectations for a “Rosary at the Rose Bowl” in May won’t quite get to the 92,000-plus expected for the New Year’s Day Rose Bowl tilt between Michigan and Southern Cal. But that’s only because organizers need one of the end zones for logistics and the choir. Still, rosary organizers expect about 65,000 people to head to the venerable football stadium in Pasadena, Calif., for the three-hour event. The 65,000 figure represents 1 percent of all Catholics in Southern California. The “Rosary at the Rose Bowl” was announced in Los Angeles Dec. 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Sponsors, which include Holy Cross Family Ministries and Family Theater Productions, had been working hard well before then to reach out to Catholic groups, organizations and parishes in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the Dioceses of San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino and Fresno, Calif.

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Tradition of midnight Mass gives way to vigil on Christmas Eve

ST. LOUIS (CNS) — Midnight Mass used to be one of the mainstays of a Catholic Christmas. But in recent years the tradition once celebrated at virtually every parish has given way to Masses at 11 p.m., 10 p.m. or even earlier. “The midnight Mass is a tradition that goes back to the 11th century,” said Father William McCumber, director of the St. Louis archdiocesan Office of Worship. “It’s really fulfilling the command of Our Lord to stay awake — ‘You do not know the hour of your salvation.’ It is a vigil Mass, celebrating the beginning of our salvation through the Incarnation.” Midnight Mass is not a requirement, however, Father McCumber added. “Usually parishes that don’t have a midnight Mass have taken into consideration the needs of their parishioners,” he told the St. Louis Review, the archdiocesan newspaper. “Parishes with an older population, for instance, and parishes with young families. They still want the vigil Mass, but may celebrate it at 10 p.m. or 5 p.m. or both.”

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Africa’s Great Lakes area has suffered too long, pope tells summit

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The people of Africa’s Great Lakes region “have suffered too much and for too long,” Pope Benedict XVI told political leaders from the region as they met in Kenya to make practical provisions for peace and development. The pope’s hopes and prayers for the Dec. 14-15 summit were conveyed in a message from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state. The Vatican released the message Dec. 19 along with a statement from African Catholic leaders welcoming the summit’s commitment to border security, the disarmament of rebel groups, tighter controls on weapons sales and efforts to remove land mines. Led by Ugandan Archbishop Paul Bakyenga of Mbarara, chairman of the association of East African bishops’ conferences, the African leaders committed the church “to promote the values enshrined” in the summit proposals. “Due to violence leading to loss of human lives, some of our people have been left divided and without hope,” they said.

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Sri Lankan bishop calls Tamil refugee crisis ‘another tsunami’

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CNS) — A Sri Lankan bishop called the thousands of Tamils fleeing their homes due to the war between the Tamil rebels and government forces “another tsunami.” “Just as what happened during the tsunami two years ago, people have fled their houses and are now living in (refugee) camps,” Bishop Joseph Swampillai of Batticaloa told Catholic News Service Dec. 18. “We are relieved that the people are no more there (in the war-torn regions) to be killed,” he said. The bishop said the church is supporting three new refugee camps in the Eastern province; the government opened the camps after thousands of trapped civilians fled from rebel-controlled areas to army-controlled areas Dec. 16-17. Only a couple of hundred Catholics are among the thousands of refugees in those camps, the bishop said. “It’s going to be another sad Christmas for us,” he added. “How can you celebrate Christmas when there is so much … suffering and problems around us?” the bishop asked.

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Argentine authorities to encase Virgin of Lujan in bulletproof glass

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNS) — Church authorities in Argentina are preparing to encase the country’s most revered icon — a 17th-century terra-cotta statue of the Virgin of Lujan, patron saint of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay — in bulletproof glass to safeguard it from vandalism. Although the 2-foot-tall figure of Mary has not been attacked, church authorities decided to take advantage of a government renovation of the Basilica of Our Lady of Lujan, where the icon is kept, to step up protection. Already the figure has been almost completely encased in silver and is usually dressed in Argentina’s blue and white colors. “Thank God there have been no threats, but we have to take precautions,” said Father Alejandro Alonso, an official of the Archdiocese of Mercedes. The Argentine government will open bidding for the work, which will include installing a small elevator to allow the figure to be brought closer to the faithful from its current lofty perch, Father Alonso said in mid-December.

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South African cardinal says churches forced to focus on crime

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — South Africa’s religious leaders must focus on crime because “not enough is being done or seen to be done” by the government and police, said Cardinal Wilfrid F. Napier of Durban. South Africa is among the most crime-ridden countries in the world, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. Violent crime is of particular concern, Cardinal Napier said in a Dec. 17 telephone interview from Durban, noting that he “very rarely meets anyone whose family has not been affected by crime.” As president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Napier is among Catholic representatives on the National Religious Leaders Forum that meets with President Thabo Mbeki and other government leaders to find ways of reducing crime. At a Dec. 7 meeting in Pretoria with Minister of Safety and Security Charles Nqakula and top officials of the police force, the religious leaders discussed problems local police stations are facing.

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In second attack, crowd assaults Indian archbishop, priests

BANGALORE, India (CNS) — A crowd of 1,000 people shouted anti-Christian slogans and some of them assaulted Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore Dec. 18 when he visited a church and a school attacked the previous night. The mob pulled the archbishop and two priests from their car and verbally abused them. The incident occurred at Jalahalli, a suburb of Bangalore, reported UCA News, an Asian church news agency. The archbishop came to visit two Claretian priests who were attacked by alleged Hindu fanatics the previous night. The attackers also damaged St. Thomas Church and St. Claret School, which the Claretians manage. In the Dec. 18 incident, the mob detained the archbishop and the priests for more than 20 minutes. The Claretians were locked inside and remained unaware of the prelate’s presence at their gate. Archbishop Moras had to call a high-ranking state police officer to rescue him and the priests. Father Jacob Arackal, the Claretians’ local superior, told UCA News the incidents were “all pre-planned” to discredit the church.

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Edmonton archbishop, known for engaging speeches, named to Toronto

EDMONTON, Alberta (CNS) — Archbishop Thomas Collins of Edmonton, known for his interest in Scripture and engaging speeches, has been named to lead the Toronto Archdiocese. Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Collins to head Canada’s largest English-speaking archdiocese Dec. 16, a month before the archbishop’s 60th birthday. He is expected to make the move early in 2007. “I’m very honored that the Holy Father has called me to be the bishop of a large diocese that is very central in the life of the church in Canada,” Archbishop Collins said Dec. 16. He said he learned of his appointment in a phone call from the papal nuncio a few days before the announcement. “I just picked up the phone. It was the nuncio and boom, you’re gone,” he said. “You’re a feather on the breath of God.” He is to take over for Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, 76, who has been archbishop of Toronto since 1990.

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Bishop Thomas G. Doran of Rockford undergoes surgery for lung cancer

ROCHESTER, Minn. (CNS) — Doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester removed approximately one-fourth of the left lung of Bishop Thomas G. Doran of Rockford, Ill., during a four-hour surgery Dec. 14. Two spots, one in each of the bishop’s lungs, were discovered during his annual routine physical exam earlier in December. Doctors notified the 70-year-old bishop of the discovery and asked him to return to the clinic for additional testing Dec. 12. Those tests revealed a benign condition in the right lung but suggested a malignancy in a tumor located in the left lung. The surgery to remove the top portion of Bishop Doran’s left lung verified that the tumor was adenocarcinoma, one of the more common types of lung cancer. During the procedure, doctors performed a “visual and manual” examination of the surrounding tissue and the lymph nodes to check for any spread of the cancer. All indications were that the cancer had not metastasized to any other area.

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Bishops Dooher, Hennessey ordained as auxiliary bishops in Boston

BOSTON (CNS) — The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe engraved on their episcopal rings should inspire Bishops John A. Dooher and Robert F. Hennessey to be courageous in their ministry, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston told his newest auxiliary bishops at their ordination Dec. 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The crowd at the ordination more than filled the 1,800-seat Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston’s South End. The ceremony was attended by more than 30 bishops, more than 300 priests and leaders from other religious faiths, including the Rev. Diane Kessler, executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios of Boston. In his homily, Cardinal O’Malley told the story of Mary’s appearance in 1531 to a poor, illiterate Mexican named Juan Diego. Mary asked Diego to be her messenger and to tell the bishop that she wanted him to build her a church. As a sign she sent roses in December, the cardinal said. “God’s love is like roses in December, full of surprises,” he said. “We often feel that we are inadequate messengers, but we are the ones God has called to do this, to show the roses in December to a world grown cynical and cold.”

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Retired woodworker transforms old pews into creche for new parish

TURNERS FALLS, Mass. (CNS) — The pews at St. Anne Church in Turners Falls have “cradled many a Christian, many a Catholic over the years,” said Father Stanley J. Aksamit, who served as pastor of the church before it closed in 2006. But now a native son of St. Anne is transforming some of those pews into a creche to be used at Our Lady of Peace Church in Turners Falls. The parish was created after the closing of St. Anne and St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Turners Falls and Sacred Heart Church in Greenfield, Mass. “It’s appropriate that now we use (the pews) for a place where the Christ Child was cradled as we celebrate our first Christmas” at Our Lady of Peace Parish, said Father Aksamit, pastor of the merged parish. Parishioner Maurice Fugere, who was a member of St. Anne for 80 years before it closed, began the creche project in October, working about eight hours a day, six days a week in his workshop at his Turners Falls home.

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Catholic cartoon pioneer Joseph Barbera dies at 95

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Joseph Barbera, half of the Hanna-Barbera animation team that first found its fortune in cartoon shorts for theaters then struck gold anew in television, died Dec. 18 of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles. He was 95. In a 1993 interview with Catholic News Service, Barbera said his talent in art was first noticed by the nuns who taught him in a Catholic grade school in Brooklyn, N.Y. The nuns kept him busy doing classroom art until his mother complained that the pictures were taking precedence over his other studies. Barbera joined MGM in 1937. He and partner William Hanna, who died in 2001, created the cat-and-mouse duo Tom and Jerry in 1940. They produced more than 100 cartoons for the MGM studio over a 20-year period. Between 1943 and 1953, they garnered seven Academy Awards for animated shorts. When MGM disbanded its animation department in 1957 because of the growth of television, Hanna and Barbera cast their lot with TV, immediately winning an Emmy Award for children’s programming in 1958 with the “Huckleberry Hound Show.”


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