A Look at Today (01.02.07)

No events in the diocese

Bishop Michael Pfeifer will be attending a bishop’s retreat in San Antonio today thru Friday.

Today’s Readings

First Reading: First John 2:22-28
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
Gospel: John 1:19-28

Today’s Headlines from CNS

Agencies try to aid families separated by immigration raids

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Immigrants whose families were split apart by the Dec. 12 immigration raids on meatpacking plants in six states are being aided by Catholic social service programs in at least three dioceses. Meanwhile, immigrants’ rights and Latino groups were among organizations issuing statements decrying the raids. Bishop Bernard J. Harrington of Winona, Minn., asked people of his diocese to relieve some of the burden on families left behind after the largest one-day immigration raids in U.S. history that included a Swift & Co. plant in Worthington, Minn. Immigration agents arrested 1,282 people at six Swift plants in Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas and Utah. “Families have been separated, children left without parents and households left without a breadwinner,” said Bishop Harrington in a Dec. 21 statement. “Families that have lost their breadwinner now face a winter of uncertainty with no idea how long detainees will be held.” He asked parishes, individuals and businesses to add to the $10,000 the diocese was contributing to aid affected families.

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Death penalty support wanes as life without parole gains public favor

WASHINGTON (CNS) — As 2006 came to an end, capital punishment was making headlines for what it is not doing: overall declining use, waning support and recent challenges at the state levels about how it is conducted. Shifting public support for capital punishment is a “ray of good news” for Frank McNeirney, co-founder of Catholics Against Capital Punishment, who said he hopes the trend continues. Death penalty statistics in a year-end report from the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington offered reasons for optimism among opponents of capital punishment. For starters, the group noted the results of a newly released Gallup Poll showing that more Americans support alternative sentences of life without parole over the death penalty as punishment for murder. The center also reported that U.S. death sentences are the lowest they have been in 30 years; executions have sharply declined and the number of people on death row has decreased. During 2006, 53 people were executed, down from 60 in 2005 and 98 in 1999, the report said.

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Bay State bishops call on legislators to vote on marriage amendment

BOSTON (CNS) — As the Massachusetts Legislature neared the end of its session, the bishops who head the state’s four Catholic dioceses urged lawmakers to vote on a citizens’ initiative that seeks to end same-sex marriages there by enshrining the traditional definition of marriage in the state constitution. “We believe that a legislator’s vote to recess (before taking a vote on the initiative) violates their sworn duty to uphold the constitution,” the bishops said Dec. 29. Two days earlier the state’s Supreme Judicial Court said it could not force the legislators to vote on the proposed amendment, but they should take the vote. The court said it could only seek to persuade legislators to act in good faith, since “there is no presently articulated judicial remedy for the Legislature’s indifference to, or defiance of, its constitutional duties.”

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Maryknoll magazine marks 100 years of telling missionaries’ stories

MARYKNOLL, N.Y. (CNS) — In an age of e-mail, digital photography and computerized layout, Father James A. Walsh might not recognize the mission publication he founded 100 years ago as The Field Afar. But Father Walsh, who went on to become a bishop and to co-found the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, also known as Maryknoll, “would undoubtedly be overjoyed that the magazine not only reaches more than 500,000 readers but also involves them,” said Maryknoll Father Joseph Veneroso, current publisher, in a statement. Now called Maryknoll, the monthly magazine reports on the work of Maryknoll missionaries in Africa, Latin America and Asia and has a bilingual sister publication, Revista Maryknoll. “Many of our missioners say their vocation was inspired by the magazine; many more readers have become our partners in mission by their prayers, their financial support and by reaching out to the needy in their neighborhoods,” Father Veneroso said.

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WORLD

Vatican booklet cites ‘spiritual ecumenism’ as route to unity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Every time Christians of different communities pray together, witness to the Gospel and help people in need, they are promoting Christian unity, said the Vatican’s top ecumenist. Joint prayer and Bible study, attendance at a major event of another denomination and working together for justice and peace are the components of “spiritual ecumenism” suggested by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The cardinal is the author of “A Handbook of Spiritual Ecumenism,” a booklet published in English late in 2006; the Italian edition will be released at the Vatican in time for the Jan. 18-25 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In fact, participating in ecumenical prayer services and discussions during the Christian unity week is encouraged throughout the booklet. In the introduction, Cardinal Kasper said the booklet was the result of a discussion by members of the pontifical council focusing on the need for prayer and conversion in the search for Christian unity.

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Cuban Catholics celebrate cardinal’s anniversary with concert

HAVANA (CNS) — Hundreds of Cuban Catholics marked Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino’s 25th anniversary as head of the Archdiocese of Havana at a Christmas concert and Mass filled with singing. A children’s chorus and the John Paul II Chorus sang music by Cuban, Spanish and French composers, as well as traditional Christmas carols during the Dec. 27 concert in Havana’s cathedral. Alina Orraca, the choral conductor, said the John Paul II Chorus made its debut at the Mass said by Pope John Paul II in the Plaza of the Revolution Jan. 25, 1998, the last day of his historic visit to Cuba. The baroque cathedral, which dates back to the 18th century, was decorated for Christmas with a Nativity scene at the entrance and another on one of the side altars near a tree adorned with ornaments and lights. Cardinal Ortega said Mass, and the apostolic nuncio to Havana, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, as well as other clergy attended the concert and Mass. The cardinal, echoing his Christmas Day message, repeated calls for peace in Cuba.

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Nun: Monument reminds South Africans about freedom, reconciliation

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — A memorial wall with the names of 68,000 people killed in South Africa’s violent past is a necessary reminder that freedom can’t be taken for granted, said a church official. “At the park one faces this solid and impenetrable monument that represents what we need freedom from,” said Holy Family Sister Shelagh Mary Waspe, who counsels people affected by apartheid and is the coordinator of the Johannesburg Diocese’s justice and peace commission. Apartheid was South Africa’s official system of strict racial segregation. Monuments like Freedom Park are also an essential part of South Africa’s reconciliation process, she told Catholic News Service Dec. 27. However, she said: “We need to keep watch that we don’t fall into complacency now that we have achieved freedom. “Without watching that all people’s rights are protected we could fall back into something similar,” said Sister Shelagh.

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Vatican official repeats calls not to execute Saddam Hussein

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Repeating a remark he often has made since former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was captured in 2003, Cardinal Renato Martino expressed hope that the deposed dictator would not be executed. “There is no doubt” that Saddam was a ruthless dictator responsible for hundreds of deaths, said Cardinal Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. “But one does not compensate for one crime with another crime,” the cardinal told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper Dec. 28. Iraq’s high court Dec. 26 denied Saddam’s appeal of his November conviction for killing 148 people in northern Iraq in 1982. The high court ruled that the death sentence issued against him should be carried out within 30 days, but it appeared likely that the former dictator would be hanged before Jan. 1.

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Sri Lankan church workers express frustration over tsunami rebuilding

GALLE, Sri Lanka (CNS) — Church workers have expressed frustration over the disarray of tsunami reconstruction in northern and eastern Sri Lanka due to the ethnic war ravaging the country. While Caritas Sri Lanka has been able to proceed in its reconstruction programs in the south, “reports from the north and east are very frustrating,” said Duncan MacLaren, secretary-general of Caritas Internationalis. Caritas Sri Lanka is the local affiliate of Caritas Internationalis, an international network of Catholic relief, development and social service agencies. Nongovernmental organizations have said only 10 percent of tsunami housing reconstruction has been completed in the north and east due to the war. MacLaren expressed shock over reports that some of the houses built by church aid workers for the tsunami victims in the rebel-controlled areas already have been destroyed in bombing and shelling by government forces.

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PEOPLE

Her own abuse led nun to counsel other victims

NISKAYUNA, N.Y. (CNS) — She knew something was wrong when she started to hyperventilate. It was 1986, and Dominican Sister Carol Davis, who had a flourishing ministry in counseling and leading retreats, had been thinking about contacting her biological father. Her parents were long divorced, and she had a different last name from her biological father’s. But every time she thought about looking him up, she felt terrified and faint. Then the flashbacks started, and Sister Carol thought she was losing her sanity: She was remembering repeated sexual abuse at his hands during her childhood. “A flashback, for a survivor, is like being back in that war zone: reliving it in a visceral, emotional way, as if it’s happening in the present,” she told The Evangelist, newspaper of the Albany Diocese. Now her story has become a large part of her ministry. She started weekend retreats for sexual abuse survivors at the Dominican Pastoral Counseling Center in Niskayuna and travels around the country leading similar retreats.

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Bishop Thomas G. Doran returns to diocese after cancer surgery

ROCKFORD, Ill. (CNS) — Bishop Thomas G. Doran of Rockford was recuperating in his diocese after an 11-day stay at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he had surgery for lung cancer. “The bishop continues to make progress in his recovery but tires easily at this point,” Msgr. David Kagan, diocesan vicar general, said in a diocesan news release Dec. 28. “He asked me to express his appreciation and gratitude for all the prayers and well-wishes he has received thus far.” Bishop Doran, 70, was hospitalized after a routine annual physical examination in early December revealed two spots in his lungs. Additional testing revealed that the spot in the right lung was benign but indicated a malignant tumor in the left lung. In a four-hour operation Dec. 14 doctors removed the upper fourth of his left lung. They said the tumor was adenocarcinoma, one of the more common types of lung cancer, and there were no indications that it had metastasized. He left the hospital Dec. 23.

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Doctor becomes unlikely Internet evangelist with podcasts on saints

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (CNS) — Dr. Paul J. Camarata never planned to become a worldwide Internet evangelist. It just worked out that way. Camarata, a neurosurgeon who practices in Kansas City, Mo., and lives in Overland Park, Kan., is the creator of SaintCast, a weekly Internet podcast about saints. SaintCast has gained fans across the United States and as far away as Japan, New Zealand and Ecuador. He estimates that the SaintCasts have been downloaded 70,000 times in the past five months. “As soon as I heard about the SaintCast, I subscribed to it on my iTunes,” said Gloria Denis, a regular listener. “On (one) particular show, Dr. Camarata had a trivia question on St. Francis of Assisi under his ‘Saint Jeopardy’ segment. I was so excited about answering that question, even with my limited knowledge of the saints. That was it! I was hooked.” “Podcasting” is a term that comes from the iPod, Apple’s small electronic device that can receive audio programs that have been downloaded from the Internet.

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