A Look at the Day (01.18.07)

No events today in the Diocese

Bishop Pfeifer at Southwest Liturgical Conference, Oklahoma City 

Necrology (Jan. 18)

   Rev. Patrick Ryan, OMI (1975) 

Today’s Readings

First Reading: Hebrews 7:25–8:6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 40:7-8, 8-9, 10, 17
Gospel: Mark 3:7-12

Today’s Headlines from CNS

U.S.

Helping migrant workers remains major challenge, says bishop

IMMOKALEE, Fla. (CNS) — Helping to improve the lives of migrant farmworkers remains “one of the major opportunities and challenges” facing Florida Catholics, said Bishop John J. Nevins of Venice. Migrant workers “look to us with eyes of hope for the benefits of decent and just wages, safe and reasonably priced housing and health care for themselves and their family members,” he said in a Jan. 14 pastoral letter to mark World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Bishop Nevins’ pastoral letter was titled “Always Remember the Farmworkers.” “We encourage all people to work in partnership with farmworker organizations and farmworkers in their quest for fair wages, safe working conditions and dignity,” he said. “Workers also have the right to organize,” he said. The bishop issued the letter while visiting Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Immokalee. He said it was fitting to issue the letter at the parish because Our Lady of Guadalupe is a uniting force in the Americas and her “mestiza face” shows that Christ’s message “cuts across all cultures.”

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Two FCC commissioners outline principles for an improved media system

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CNS) — Media concentration is something that should be stopped, Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps told a Jan. 13 audience at the National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis. FCC attempts to permit greater media consolidation earlier in the decade were thwarted, but if concentration efforts pass congressional and judicial muster next time, “you’ll see a great wave of consolidation, bigger than the one before (permitted by the 1996 Telecommunications Act), and if that happens, you’ll never get that genie back in the bottle,” said Copps, a Catholic. Fellow FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein said the FCC chairman “has enormous power. His greatest power is in scheduling” what the commission will take up and when, and with new FCC chairman Kevin Martin, he said, “we don’t know what he plans to do.” Adelstein added, “If we do our work properly, we won’t have a bad rule” on media deregulation. Adelstein and Copps are the two Democrats on the five-member FCC.

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Bishops agency seeks to raise poverty awareness

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has been waging a new media campaign to raise awareness in the nation, especially among the nation’s Catholics, about the extent and impact of poverty in America. “Right now in America 37 million people are working to become independent while struggling to afford the very basics necessary for survival — food, shelter, clothing, child care and medical care,” said Timothy Collins, CCHD executive director. “It’s a bitter fact that 13 million of our nation’s poor are children,” he added. With January designated as Poverty in America Awareness Month, CCHD has launched print and broadcast public service ads to help bring home the message that one out of every eight Americans is living below the poverty line. The print ads feature images of men, women, children and whole families dangling in midair, hanging desperately to a rope labeled the “poverty line,” coupled with messages in English and Spanish about who is affected by poverty in America.

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Cardinal, Muslim consider deepest of questions: Why are we here?

WASHINGTON (CNS) — An Italian cardinal and a Muslim scholar from India tried to answer a question that has plagued humanity throughout history: “Why are we here?” Cardinal Angelo Scola, the patriarch of Venice known for his lengthy texts and theological passion, shared Christian thinking on creation, humanity, freedom and finite existence. Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America and current director of the Islamic Society of Orange County, in California, gave Islam’s take on the relationship between God and humanity. The Jan. 16 discussion between the two religious scholars was the climax of a daylong dialogue of Catholic and Muslim theologians from around the United States on “The Primordial Relationship Between God and the Human Person in Catholicism and Islam.” The dialogue was sponsored by the Intercultural Forum for Studies in Faith and Culture at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington.

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Iowa women religious use radio spots to back immigration reform

DUBUQUE, Iowa (CNS) — In 30-second radio spots, Iowa’s women religious have urged people to support a comprehensive reform of immigration laws. The message asks listeners to contact their senators and representatives in Washington “to urge immediate action for just reform.” The radio spots were produced through Sisters United News, an agency of 12 congregations of women religious working in Iowa. The spots were motivated by the December raids at meatpacking plants in Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas and Utah in which hundreds of suspected illegal immigrants were arrested. The spots ran on eight stations in five Iowa cities Jan. 10-16. “Most Americans have compassion for suffering people. Yet some turn a cold shoulder to the anguish of undocumented families torn apart before Christmas by raids at some meatpacking plants,” said the radio message. “To demonize people who are only seeking a better life for their children is to focus on one small piece of an immigration system in need of a major overhaul,” it said.

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Laura Bush lauds ‘vital role’ of Catholic schools after hurricane

HARVEY, La. (CNS) — Catholic schools played a “vital role” in the Gulf Coast’s path to recovery after hurricanes Katrina and Rita, first lady Laura Bush said on a visit to St. Rosalie Catholic School in Harvey. After her midmorning visit to St. Rosalie, Bush had lunch at Cafe Reconcile in New Orleans, a program of the New Orleans archdiocesan Catholic Charities. Meeting students, teachers and parish and archdiocesan personnel at St. Rosalie Jan. 9, Bush said the school “reminds us of the vital role Catholic schools have played in helping children whose lives were devastated by the hurricanes. Catholic schools worked as quickly a possible to re-enroll their students. In September 2005, students from archdiocesan schools were scattered throughout 49 states. By November 2006, 98 percent were back attending the school of their choice.” She pointed out that “New Orleans Catholic schools … opened their doors to thousands of public school students displaced by the storm. In Metairie, Archbishop Rummel Transition School helped hundreds of families return by taking students from any area school that closed.”

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New York Catholic school has caught weather bug

EAST ROCKAWAY, N.Y. (CNS) — A lot of people talk about the weather, as Mark Twain once observed, but students at St. Raymond’s School in East Rockaway are doing something to learn about it. Through their very own weather station — complete with a wind vane atop a towering pole, rain gauge, thermometer and barometer on the school’s rooftop — St. Raymond’s students learn about current weather conditions, make predictions and observe general patterns. Three years ago, the school purchased the weather station for about $1,000, said Sister Ruthanne Gypalo, a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and principal of St. Raymond’s. Called Weather Bug, the school’s station includes equipment that measures temperature, humidity, rainfall and wind direction from the rooftop as well as a remote monitor that students can use to check the readings from the school’s computer room. There are also computer programs for finding out about upcoming weather trends.

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Atlanta’s Emory University begins new Catholic studies minor

ATLANTA (CNS) — Starting this January, students at Emory University in Atlanta have the chance to learn about famous Catholics as part of a new Catholic studies minor at the liberal arts university. The program is the only such minor in the country at a non-Catholic college or university, according to Emory officials. With a significant number of Catholic students at Emory, the minor will give these students an opportunity to learn more about the roots of their faith. Jack Zupko, assistant professor of philosophy at the university, also hopes the program will help students to gain a better understanding of the relationship between church and state. “We need to train student scholars to look at religion and secular interests in a way that’s not hostile,” he told The Georgia Bulletin, newspaper of the Atlanta Archdiocese. The minor concentrates on the impact of Catholicism’s intellectual and cultural traditions on Western thought and is described as “entirely secular and academic” — not to be confused with formation in the Catholic faith.

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WORLD

Pope says Christians show ecumenical commitment through charity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI offered prayers for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, saying Christians need to demonstrate their ecumenical commitment through concrete acts of charity. The pope, speaking at his weekly general audience Jan. 17, said the road to Christian unity was a long and difficult one, but the important thing is not to become discouraged. Prayer is essential for ecumenical progress, he said. “Every Christian worthy of the name should unite with their brothers and sisters to implore the gift of unity and communion,” he said. The pope, who addressed about 6,000 people in the Vatican’s audience hall, was scheduled to close the Jan. 18-25 Christian unity week by presiding over a vespers liturgy with other Christian leaders in the Rome Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. He said the theme of this year’s prayer week, “Open our ears and loosen our tongues,” referred to Christ’s healing of a deaf man and to the missionary responsibilities of all Christians.

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Interfaith dialogue is religious exercise, say rabbis, cardinals

ROME (CNS) — Jewish-Christian dialogue is primarily a religious exercise, not simply a political or social exercise, said two rabbis and two cardinals at a Rome conference. “When we respond to the divine in the other, we are revering and respecting God himself,” said Rabbi David Rosen, president of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations. Rabbi Rosen was one of the speakers at a Jan. 17 conference on Judaism’s contributions to humanity. The conference was hosted by the Italian Senate in Rome and organized by the lay Community of Sant’Egidio. Rabbi Yona Metzger, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, used the conference as an opportunity to ask Pope Benedict XVI to adopt as a universal observance the Italian bishops’ designation of Jan. 17 as a day dedicated annually to Catholic-Jewish relations. Dialogue, the chief rabbi said, is necessary so that Jews and Christians get to know each other better, overcome prejudices and prevent violent outbreaks of anti-Semitism.

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Christian leaders warn violence moves Palestinians toward civil war

JERUSALEM (CNS) — Christian leaders in the Holy Land have warned that the increasing violence between Hamas and Fatah factions is moving Palestinians closer to a civil war. “The threatening language of the last few days by representatives of both movements” is “both unprecedented and very aggressive. Such occurrences can only bring a civil war nearer by the hour,” they said in the message released to the press Jan. 12. The leaders added that they felt anxiety for all Palestinians and expressed fear that soon it would be too late to stop the “large-scale fighting” which has erupted between the two movements and that the violence would push pressing issues aside. “The outcome would be so drastic that it will obscure the real priorities of the whole Palestinian issue,” they said. The leaders offered to help as mediators or in any other way needed to put an end to the tense situation as quickly as possible. Among prominent Catholic leaders who signed the statement were Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem; Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who is in charge of Christian sites in the Holy Land; and Maronite Archbishop Paul Nabil Sayah of Haifa.

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U.S. bishop says he admires Palestinians’ spirit in face of trials

JERUSALEM (CNS) — The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said he “admired the spirit of the (Palestinian) people” in the face of hardships in the Gaza Strip. Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., said he was “really impressed” by the vision of Msgr. Manuel Musallam of Holy Family Parish in Gaza. His vision is to build “a sense of unity for all people in the Holy Land including Muslims, Christians and Jews” despite the difficult conditions in which the parishioners live, the bishop said. “It was a very positive message,” he told Catholic News Service in a Jan. 16 telephone interview from Nazareth, Israel. “With all the hardships they are facing, there is still a sense of hope … a vision for the future and a commitment to the education,” so the children can learn what they can become and “what the area can become.” Bishop Skylstad visited Israel and the Palestinian territories Jan. 11-18 as a participant in the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land and the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land. He and 21 other American and European bishops traveled to the Gaza Strip Jan. 13 and visited Catholic parishes and religious leaders in northern Israel Jan. 14-16.

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Nigerian archbishop calls for new structure for African bishops

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — Africa’s Catholic bishops need a structure to enable them to speak and act as one unit, said Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, president of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar. “The time is ripe for this, not only because of the many challenges Africa faces, but because the church has the resources to be able to tackle these problems,” he said in a Jan. 17 telephone interview from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where the symposium met Jan. 15-22. “It is not enough to have bishops good at managing their own dioceses; we need to find viable ways of talking as one and helping one another,” he said, noting that the Catholic Church in Africa is one of the “best organized groups, with good and effective leaders.” Over the past 40 years the symposium has provided a forum for member bishops’ conferences to exchange ideas and experiences, “and now we need to bring in another dimension” through examining what role is appropriate at a continental level, Archbishop Onaiyekan said.

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PEOPLE

Students’ forum promotes understanding of people on society’s margins

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — In an English class last year, a group of students from Jesuit High School in Portland established a movement to increase respect and justice for those who are not mainstream members of society. Now these students are helping their schoolmates and the wider community understand and champion people with AIDS, addicts, the poor, the homeless and those persecuted because of religion, sexual orientation, race, culture or gender. “Students at Jesuit have a unique sense of community,” said Maddy Bennett, a senior and student body president who is one of the founders of what is being called “Crusade for Respect.” Bennett credits the Catholic identity of the school for making the wide-ranging project possible. In last year’s junior English class, students met for a forum each Friday, sitting in a circle to discuss current issues usually within the framework of the Catholic notion of the dignity of the human person. “It was a chance for students to voice opinions and students respected one another,” said Bennett. “We are hoping to extend that to the whole community.”

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Honoring Rev. King, Los Angeles youths express faith, dreams

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Young people’s life dreams, dancing, singing and speeches were highlights of the 13th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast in South Los Angeles. “Make no mistake! I am somebody!” was the confident refrain of each member of the student council at Holy Name of Jesus School after declaring his or her career aspirations to hundreds in the audience at Verbum Dei High School. Among their dreams were plans to work as a doctor, real estate agent, pilot, women’s basketball player and president of the United States. The crowd rewarded the young people’s convictions and faith in themselves with a rousing standing ovation. Hosted by the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s African-American Catholic Center for Evangelization, the Jan. 15 breakfast took place in Verbum Dei’s gymnasium. This year the federal holiday commemorating Rev. King’s birthday was Jan. 15; he was born Jan. 15, 1929. “Serving one another with hearts full of grace” was the theme of this year’s breakfast, and David Thomas Jr., a senior at Loyola High School, was the master of ceremonies.

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Texas couple’s child born on Roe anniversary seen as a miracle baby

EL PASO, Texas (CNS) — El Pasoan Sofia Alomia will celebrate her first birthday this January much like any other toddler. However, amid the cake and presents, Sofia’s parents, Yvonne and Santiago Alomia, will take time from the joyous celebration to commemorate the millions of babies killed by abortion. Sofia was born Jan. 22, 2006 — the 33rd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy. She could be considered a miracle baby not only because of her date of birth but because several doctors, fearing she might have a severe cardiovascular disorder, repeatedly urged her parents throughout the pregnancy to abort her. But Yvonne Alomia refused to consider abortion, despite the repeated urging of doctors, colleagues, friends and her own patients from her optometrist practice. Sofia was born with heart problems. When she was 3 days old she had heart surgery. She is due to have a second surgery after her first birthday and faces additional heart surgeries but her parents are optimistic.

END

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