A Look at Today (01.10.07)

Today in the Diocese

  • Meeting of diocesan deans, 11 a.m., Pastoral Center 
  • At Christ the King Retreat Center — Natural Family Planning Class; CKRC Department Heads meeting  

Necrology

Rev. Francis Beazley, OMI (1992)

Today’s Readings

First Reading: Hebrews 2:14-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9
Gospel: Mark 1:29-39

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service 

U.S.

Bishops, Catholic Charities call for minimum wage increase

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. bishops and Catholic Charities USA have called for an increase in the federal minimum wage. “The minimum wage needs to be raised not just for the goods and services a person can buy but for the self-esteem and self-worth it affords,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, N.Y., chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Policy, in a Jan. 8 letter to members of Congress. In a Jan. 9 statement Catholic Charities USA joined in the call for increasing the minimum wage, as it prepared to unveil a plan Jan. 10 called the Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America, with a specific target for reducing the poverty rate over time. The House was expected to vote Jan. 10 on a bill to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour by 2009.

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Denver Archdiocese settles 15 abuse cases for close to $1.6 million

DENVER (CNS) — The Judicial Arbiter Group said Jan. 4 that the Denver Archdiocese has reached a mediated settlement with 15 of 19 victims of childhood clergy sex abuse who participated in the mediation process. Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said he was “deeply grateful” to the mediators “and I sincerely hope that each of the 19 individuals who participated begin to truly heal.” The settlements ranged from $30,000 to $150,000 and totaled $1,585,000, the Judicial Arbiter Group said in a press release. Archbishop Chaput said in addition that “we have settled claims of three other individuals who approached us directly and who did not file a lawsuit to have their claims considered.” He did not reveal the amount of those settlements. He said that in the mediation process “I made myself available personally to listen to each person who desired my presence as they described the incidents that led to the filing of their lawsuits. Through this process I personally met with 18 plaintiffs.”

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Catholic agencies see projected budget surplus as justice opportunity

MINNEAPOLIS (CNS) — At Exodus Residence, a transitional home in Minneapolis, intake case manager Claire Moreau has seen many people come and go through the program — and usually when people go they are in a better situation than when they came, she said. However, it takes significant funding to provide the services at Exodus Residence and other programs like it — funding that the projected $2.2 billion Minnesota state budget surplus could help supply, said Kathy Tomlin, director of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocesan Office for Social Justice. The surplus is projected over four fiscal years, from fiscal 2006 through fiscal 2009. After receiving $10 million in state bonding to build housing as part of its effort to combat homelessness, Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis is constructing a similar complex in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood. While the agency has the building, operating and program funds are needed for its completion, scheduled for August.

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Catholics, evangelicals discuss nature of authority

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Evangelical-Catholic Dialogue studied the nature of authority, especially in Scripture, at a three-day meeting last October in St. Paul, Minn. Father Michael J. Keating, a professor of Catholic studies at the University of St. Thomas, which hosted the meeting, and Dennis W. Jowers, a theology professor at Faith Seminary in Tacoma, Wash., presented major papers on the topic from Catholic and evangelical perspectives. A press release reporting on the meeting was issued Jan. 4 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington. In his presentation Father Keating focused on the idea of development of a historically based religion and discussed development in Scripture itself and in early Christianity. Jowers focused on the doctrine of the formal and material sufficiency of Scripture, the teaching that all things necessary for life and salvation are taught in the Bible.

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New year, new Congress, but a familiar agenda awaits

WASHINGTON (CNS) — It’s apt that the start of the new congressional term coincides with the time of year when people are optimistically making New Year’s resolutions. Lose weight, get to the gym more often, pass comprehensive immigration reform, raise the minimum wage, make sure the farm bill reauthorization helps protect family farmers … you know, the usual. With Democrats controlling both houses of Congress for the first time in 12 years, the dynamics behind what legislation advances will differ from what they have been under the Republican majority, which could be good news for some long-standing wish lists. Increasing the minimum wage has long been a top priority for advocates in the Catholic Church and for a growing coalition of religiously motivated groups and individuals, such as Call to Renewal, which has an anti-poverty campaign addressing wages, affordable housing and health care. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., includes raising the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, from its current level of $5.15, among the priorities for the House’s first 100 hours of business. A bill to increase it was to be voted on Jan. 10.

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WORLD

Krakow rector, also accused, quits after Polish archbishop resigns

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The fallout from the resignation of Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus continued, with revelations about his role as an informant for former secret police, warnings about new disclosures to come and the resignation of a leading churchman in Krakow, Poland. Pope Benedict XVI accepted Archbishop Wielgus’ resignation Jan. 7, just two days after he became archbishop of Warsaw. The following day, Father Janusz Bielanski resigned as rector of Krakow’s Wawel Cathedral, the burial place of Poland’s kings and queens and a landmark of church history. Father Bielanski also had been accused of cooperation with communist-era secret police. Meanwhile, a former aide to Pope John Paul II, Polish Father Adam Boniecki, said whoever had “disinformed” Pope Benedict about Archbishop Wielgus should suffer consequences. In December, the Vatican press office said Pope Benedict had shown “full confidence” in the new Warsaw archbishop, after Vatican officials took “account of all his life circumstances, including those connected with his past.”

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Vatican official hopes new amniotic stem-cell research proves correct

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican’s top health care official expressed hope that U.S. researchers would be proven correct in asserting they could obtain medically useful stem cells from amniotic fluid. Mexican Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, told Vatican Radio Jan. 8 there would be no ethical problem with using cells from amniotic fluid as long as the procedure did not place the pregnant woman or her baby in danger. “The ethical problem” with stem-cell research, he said, always has surrounded cells obtained by destroying human embryos. In a study reported Jan. 7, scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston said the amniotic fluid surrounding a child in the womb can be the source of medically useful stem cells. The U.S. research, Cardinal Lozano told the Italian newspaper La Stampa, “is a discovery for which we can rejoice. I congratulate the researchers who have demonstrated how it is possible to make medical progress without damaging embryos.”

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Warsaw archbishop’s resignation prompts Vatican embarrassment, relief

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The resignation of Polish Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus of Warsaw has prompted embarrassment and disappointment in the Vatican, along with a sense of relief that Pope Benedict XVI did not allow the awkward drama to continue a single day longer. In an official statement, the Vatican praised the “humility” of Archbishop Wielgus, who resigned Jan. 7, two days after admitting he had once cooperated with the secret police of Poland’s former communist regime. Privately, however, several Vatican officials expressed irritation that the archbishop had apparently not been fully frank about his past from the beginning. They also questioned how the Vatican’s normally exhaustive vetting process broke down in one of Eastern Europe’s most important episcopal appointments. “When Msgr. Wielgus was nominated, we knew nothing about his collaboration with the secret police,” Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, bluntly told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

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Faith, curiosity bring Mexicans to lakeside town for Day of the Kings

CAJITITLAN, Mexico (CNS) — Salvador Alvarado, a Mexican from Guadalajara, broke his leg in three places while playing recreational soccer seven years ago. The former semiprofessional player feared he would never play again and might even lose his livelihood as a painter. After being off his feet for more than six months, he asked the “Santos Reyes” — the holy kings, or Wise Men — to intervene, and a family member came to Cajititlan, a lakeside town just south of Guadalajara whose patrons are the Magi, to ask for the same. A short time later, Alvarado made a complete recovery. “I had one operation and afterward it was as if nothing had happened,” he explained, rolling up his pant leg to show a fading scar. “Everything went well so I came back to give thanks.” Thousands of pilgrims like Alvarado converged on Cajititlan for its “Dia de los Reyes” (Day of the Kings) festivities in early January, giving thanks for past blessings and, in some cases, patiently asking for needed intervention. The feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, marking when the Wise Men visited Jesus, is celebrated each year Jan. 6, the day Mexicans end the Christmas season with family gatherings.

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Bishop says more U.S. strikes on Somalia would make things worse

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While he has said for years that terrorists were hiding out in Somalia, the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Mogadishu said more U.S. airstrikes would only make things worse. Bishop Giorgio Bertin of Djibouti, who also oversees the church in Somalia’s chaotic and violent capital, spoke to the Vatican’s Fides news agency Jan. 9, the day after a U.S. Air Force gunship fired on suspected al-Qaida terrorists in southern Somalia. “Prudence must guide all human activities, and it is even more important when taking action in a country like Somalia,” Bishop Bertin said. “This act risks throwing more fuel on an already explosive situation.” The bishop added, “I do not think this attack reinforces the support of Somalia’s population for the fragile government of transition and for Ethiopia,” which helped the transitional government regain control of the country in late December and early January. A Pentagon official told The New York Times late Jan. 8 that a U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunship operating from a base in Djibouti fired on suspected al-Qaida terrorists in southern Somalia, causing multiple casualties.

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Scottish bishop urges Catholics to oppose nuclear arsenal renewal

LONDON (CNS) — A Scottish bishop has urged Catholics to oppose plans to renew Great Britain’s nuclear arsenal. Bishop Peter Moran of Aberdeen, Scotland, called on Catholics to tell legislators about the Catholic Church’s opposition to the proposals before the British Parliament’s debate on plans to upgrade the submarine-based Trident nuclear weapons system. Legislators were to debate the issue and vote on it in March. In a pastoral letter read at Masses in Scotland Jan. 6-7, the bishop said that, like King Herod plotting to kill Jesus, many people were still “plotting death for the innocent.” “The world’s most powerful governments, including our own, seem determined to base our security on having nuclear weapons available,” said Bishop Moran, president of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland. He thanked Catholics who already had signed a petition opposing the British government’s proposals to redevelop the Trident system.

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Caritas official urges Indian bishops to help clergy fight AIDS fears

ALUVA, India (CNS) — A U.S. priest charged with coordinating Caritas Internationalis’ HIV/AIDS work has urged Indian bishops to overcome the “prejudices and fears” that even clergy have toward those affected with HIV/AIDS. “There are priests who are afraid of anointing HIV-positive people,” said Father Robert Vitillo, special adviser on HIV and AIDS to Caritas, the international Catholic aid federation. He spoke in Aluva Jan. 6 to the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, which includes the country’s Latin-rite bishops. Father Vitillo, who regularly conducts workshops on AIDS, said he finds that priests have “a lot of apprehension when dealing with HIV-positive people.” While many church workers and priests were fearlessly helping those affected by AIDS, Father Vitillo said, some priests still ask him: “How can I anoint one with HIV? Will I be infected?” He said, “We need a lot of education to remove these fears,” and that education should begin in the seminary.

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PEOPLE

National shrine in Washington honors former rector

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., who served for 25 years at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington before he was made a bishop, received the Patronal Medal of the shrine and The Catholic University of America Dec. 8. The medal was conferred during a Mass at the shrine, which sits adjacent to the campus of Catholic University. As a priest Bishop Bransfield began serving at the shrine in 1980 as assistant director and master of ceremonies. From 1982 to 1986 he was director of finance there. Then-Msgr. Bransfield was rector of the shrine from 1986 until he was named a bishop in December 2004. He is also an alumnus of the university, where he earned a master’s degree in philosophy, and he currently serves on the boards of the shrine and the university. Vincentian Father David M. O’Connell, president of the university, said in presenting the medal, “It has often been said that no one ever did as much to promote the shrine as Msgr. Bransfield.”

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English cardinal calls for revival of traditional practices of piety

LONDON (CNS) — Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster, England, called for the revival of the traditional Catholic practices of piety. Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said he lamented the decrease in acts of piety such as fasting, abstinence, Stations of the Cross, praying the rosary and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament because they are a “good means of deepening our faith.” The cardinal said the acts, as well as confession, which is also in decline, were “truly part of Catholic tradition and devotion and are a nourishment to our faith, and I would encourage them,” he said in a letter read at Masses Jan. 7 in the Archdiocese of Westminster. He said there are many other ways in which Catholics “can develop those practices which are truly rooted in Catholic tradition” and bring them closer to Jesus.

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