A Look at Today (01.04.07)

No events scheduled in Diocese today 

Today’s Reading

First Reading: First John 3:7-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 98:1, 7-8, 9
Gospel: John 1:35-42

Today’s Headlines from the Catholic News Service

Bay State bishops laud Legislature’s approval of marriage amendment

BOSTON (CNS) — The Catholic bishops of Massachusetts thanked state legislators Jan. 2 “for living up to their oath of office” by voting on a constitutional marriage amendment initiative before ending their legislative session. On the last day in its 2005-06 session, a reluctant Legislature narrowly approved the initiative, which would amend the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriages. Then it voted to reconsider. Then it voted again — also narrowly — to approve the measure. The state’s bishops, strong advocates of the initiative, said, “Today the constitutional rights of the citizens of the commonwealth have been upheld. The democratic process and the right of the people to have their voices heard were affirmed.” If the 2007-08 Legislature gives the amendment its second approval this year, it would appear on the November 2008 ballot.

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Chaldean leader: Despite Saddam’s oppression, execution was wrong

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Despite long-lasting persecution by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of his country’s Christian population, his execution was wrong, said Joseph Kassab, executive director of the Chaldean Federation of America. “The taking of a life is against our Christian beliefs,” Kassab said in a Jan. 3 telephone interview with Catholic News Service from the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Mich., where the federation is based. “His execution is an occasion upon which the world must remember that we can never tolerate another tyrant like him,” Kassab added. ” We pray for God’s mercy upon those who need it the most. Normally, Christians do not rejoice in the killing of others.” Saddam, 69, was hung at dawn Dec. 30 in Iraq, five days after appeals were rejected on his October death sentence for crimes against humanity — in particular for the killings of 148 men and boys in the northern Iraqi town of Dujail in 1982.

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Letters to Dominicans of the future encased in time capsule

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) — The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Congregation linked their past, present and future in late December when they sealed a time capsule that will be opened in 100 years. Work on the time capsule began in 2003 when the Dominicans were in the midst of the renovation and expansion of their motherhouse. “We actually got the idea for a time capsule early in the construction process,” said Dominican Sister Marian Sartain. As secretary-general of the congregation, Sister Marian is in charge of its historical records, so she headed the committee that planned the time capsule. Dominican Sister Rose Marie Masserano, the immediate past prioress general of the congregation, came up with the idea of a time capsule, Sister Marian said. “She has such a wonderful sense of history.” The time capsule is 12 inches by 12 inches by 14 inches and contains three volumes of letters written by the current sisters to the sisters of 2106. The time capsule was sealed in a small vault in a room outside the new chapel at the motherhouse at the end of evening prayer Dec. 22.

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WORLD

Pope says secret to living full life lies in opening up to baby Jesus

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The secret to living a life full of peace, joy and love lies in opening up one’s heart to the baby Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI said. “Everyone discovers in the baby of Bethlehem (that he or she) is freely loved by God” and sees “God’s infinite goodness,” the pope said in his first general audience of 2007. With his birth, Jesus “abundantly spread among all people the gifts of goodness, mercy and love,” the pope said. “Only the baby that lies in the crib holds the true secret of life,” the pope said. The Christ Child wants everyone to welcome him and “make room for him in our homes, our cities and our society,” the pope added. Wishing some 9,000 pilgrims packed into the Paul VI hall a “happy New Year,” the pope dedicated his weekly catechesis to the First Letter of St. John the Apostle. God’s love for humanity is so great, he said, that not only did God send his only Son to redeem the sins of mankind, he also has called people to be his own children.

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Lithuanian Catholics restoring Hill of Crosses damaged by fire

OXFORD, England (CNS) — Lithuanian Catholics have started to restore the country’s historic Hill of Crosses after a fire damaged some of the smaller crosses. “People have already begun praying and placing new crosses in the damaged area so it won’t look empty and desolate for long,” Meilute Pozemeckaite, a local council official, told Catholic News Service Jan. 3 in a telephone interview. Bishop Eugenijus Bartulis of Siauliai said most of the damage was done to small crosses that can be replaced, but some of the large crosses were charred. “Fortunately the most valuable crosses were spared, so the damage is more moral than material,” the bishop told CNS Jan. 3 by phone. Lithuanian church sources estimated that at least 200,000 crosses of various sizes were standing on the hill at the time of the Dec. 28 fire. A crucifix donated in September by Pope Benedict XVI was undamaged, they said.

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Canadian court OKs three parents; groups urge study of effects

OTTAWA (CNS) — Pro-marriage and Catholic groups have called for a federal government study after the Court of Appeal for Ontario recognized three parents for a child living with a lesbian couple. The court, which ruled Jan. 2 that the child’s biological mother and father and the mother’s lesbian partner all have equal rights and obligations to the child, overturned a lower court decision limiting rights to two parents. The decision prompted calls for a royal commission to study the future of marriage and families in Canada. Michele Boulva, director of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, said Jan. 2: “The kind of research we need now in Canada concerns the impact on children of redefining parenthood. “It should also be a call to develop a global family policy that gives priority to children’s rights and needs over adult desires, because children are our future. The governments can’t let the courts decide these matters,” she said.

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Sri Lankan bishop writes president after bombing of refugee camp

BANGALORE, India (CNS) — Bishop Rayappu Joseph of Mannar, Sri Lanka, deplored the bombing of a Tamil refugee camp that left more than a dozen dead and 35 seriously injured in his northwestern diocese. “The irresponsible attack on the innocent civilians at the very dawn of the new year is so frustrating,” Bishop Joseph said in a letter to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse a day after the Jan. 2 attack. After visiting the bombed area of Padahu Thurai, controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Bishop Joseph said the attack was “clearly on a civilian target.” He said there were no Tamil rebel “bunkers, nor could we see any sign of their camps or any individual residence” of possible rebels “in or in the vicinity of this area.” Bishop Joseph said the “military propaganda” that claimed only Tamil rebels were targeted and the majority of those killed were rebels “has added insult to injury.”

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PEOPLE

Helen Osman named USCCB secretary for communications

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Helen Osman, communications director for the Diocese of Austin, Texas, editor of its diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Spirit, and current president of the Catholic Press Association, has been named secretary for communications of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, effective Aug. 1. Her appointment was announced Jan. 3 by Msgr. David J. Malloy, USCCB general secretary. “Helen Osman has done outstanding communications work in Austin and in her many duties with the CPA,” he said. “She has great vision about the constantly developing use of all forms of media in the apostolate of the church. I am confident she will provide extraordinary leadership to the communications ministry of the conference.” Osman said she was “humbled” by her upcoming role and called it a “wonderful opportunity.” In a Jan. 3 telephone interview from her office in Austin, she said she was excited to be part of the team at the USCCB even though it was not something she initially aspired to do.

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Young Catholic urges donation of money saved from Ash Wednesday fast

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Rich Halvorson is counting on 10 million Americans to fast with him Ash Wednesday, Feb. 21, and to donate the money they would have spent on food to what he terms “highly efficient” charities. Halvorson, a 25-year-old Catholic from Boise, Idaho, believes the donations could reach $50 million. The charities he’s contacted are themselves willing to match funds donated to accomplish specific projects. The Ash Wednesday program is called Global Fast ’07 — because Halvorson expects there to be a Global Fast ’08 next year. Halvorson, a Harvard University graduate who has already written on international politics for the Miami Herald before embarking on Global Fast, said the idea came to him as he conducted a five-day fast last year. “It was a water (only) fast,” Halvorson told Catholic News Service in a Dec. 21 telephone interview from Boise.

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Nebraska bishop writes second book from his newspaper columns

LINCOLN, Neb. (CNS) — Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln has written a second book, “The Catholic Church: Jesus Christ Present to the World.” Like his first book, the 349-page volume is a collection of columns he wrote over the years for the Southern Nebraska Register, the diocesan newspaper. Bishop Bruskewitz has been writing the weekly column, “An Ordinary Viewpoint,” since 1992, when he became bishop of Lincoln. The first collection of columns, “A Shepherd Speaks,” was published in 1997 by Ignatius Press. Thomson-Shore is the publisher of the new book, which covers a wide range of topics including the sacraments, vocations, Catholic schools, matters of faith and various contemporary issues. Bishop Bruskewitz said he received a positive response to his first book and after a while began receiving requests for a second volume. The new book costs $12.95 plus $5 for postage and handling. It can be ordered by phone at: (888) 420-1830, or online at: http://www.gloriadeo.com.

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Oregon Catholic doctor resists pressure to use embryonic stem cells

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — Cells taken from embryos hold therapeutic promise, but it is simply wrong to destroy human life in its early stages. That’s the opinion of the chief stem-cell researcher at a medical school hospital in what some would say is one of the nation’s most liberal cities. Dr. Markus Grompe, director of Oregon Health & Science University’s Stem Cell Center since 2004, is a devout Catholic and a member of St. John Fisher Parish in Portland. “I support the church’s view on protection of embryonic life,” Grompe told the Catholic Sentinel, Portland archdiocesan newspaper, in an interview in his office at the hospital. “That has sometimes put me in a difficult situation.” Grompe is looking forward to the day when a method is discovered to provide embryonic stem cells — or their equal — without destroying embryos. But for now, his lab works with cells taken from adults, and he is keen on those advances.

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Maintenance man transforms seminary boiler room into work of art

HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CNS) — Beneath the stately main building and the rolling grounds of Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, there are sights and attractions that most visitors never see — in the boiler room. Visitors who venture below the basement will find an auxiliary generator painted to look like a train, murals of the glory days of the Coney Island amusement parks, a scene from the stories of Sherlock Holmes and portraits of the seminary grounds. The man responsible is Ed Perry, longtime maintenance mechanic at the seminary. In recent years, Perry has spent his free time turning the normally gray area that holds heating and power equipment into a colorful feast for the eyes. “It all started when one day I painted the floor gray and soon it got dirty again. So I thought it could use some color” because the gray showed dirt so easily.

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