In the Diocese
Christ the King Retreat Center — Engaged Encounter Weekend
This Weekend’s Readings
First Reading: Hebrews 8:6-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 85:8, 10, 11-12, 13-14
Gospel: Mark 3:13-19
First Reading: Hebrews 9:2-3, 11-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
Gospel: Mark 3:20-21
First Reading: Nehemiah 8:2-4, 5-6, 8-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 19:8, 9, 10, 15
Second Reading: First Corinthians 12:12-30 or 12:12-14, 27
Gospel: Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21
Today’s Headlines from CNS
Helping strangers involves immigration reform, say Indiana bishops
INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — In a pastoral letter on the treatment of immigrants, Indiana’s bishops asked Catholics “to welcome others as Christ himself” and support comprehensive immigration reform measures. This welcoming includes support for nationwide legislation that provides “earned legalization for undocumented persons,” a temporary worker program and reduced waiting times for the reunification of immigrant families, said the Jan. 12 letter. The bishops also addressed public policy issues in Indiana. They asked state legislators to allow “driver’s permits for undocumented immigrants who must drive to work in order to feed and clothe their families; driver’s permits needed for securing automobile license and insurance; a broader process for immigrants to obtain legal documents for ownership of property beyond the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.” They also urged lawmakers to provide “access to health care and education for immigrant children, and equal access to protective and emergency services for immigrants.”
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New ‘Seeking Balance’ statement lists priorities for next farm bill
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The National Catholic Rural Life Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, has joined 350 other organizations in a statement calling for substantial revisions to U.S. agriculture policy in the 2007 farm bill. “We have witnessed … the continued loss of farms, farmers and valuable farmland. Unprecedented farm and agribusiness consolidation limits competition and innovation in the marketplace,” said the statement, “Seeking Balance in U.S. Farm and Food Policy.” “Current farm and food policies have contributed to the overproduction of certain crops, creating artificially low prices that imperil the livelihoods of farmers here and abroad,” the statement said. “Moreover, the benefits of farm subsidies flow disproportionately to very large farms and specific regions of the country, neglecting entrepreneurial and diversified farms and regions that raise livestock and grow other types of crops, including fruits and vegetables. As a nation, we can and must do better,” the statement said. “These problems and trends are not inevitable, but rather the result of public policy choices.”
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‘Icons From Sinai’ offers insights into ancient Christian monastery
LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Holy images of saints, Jesus and Mary are greatly intertwined with the life of the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. Catherine in Sinai, Egypt. The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles is showing a collection of those images in an exhibition, “Holy Images, Hallowed Ground: Icons From Sinai.” The exhibit, which is open until March 4, features 43 of the ancient monastery’s historic icons, along with five manuscripts and several liturgical objects. A re-creation of some parts of the monastery, including its basilica, gives visitors a better understanding of where these priceless artifacts came from. A 10-minute documentary film also gives visitors scenes of the ancient site, a glimpse of an Orthodox Easter service and interviews. Situated at the foot of Mount Sinai, where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments, St. Catherine’s is the oldest functioning Christian monastery in the world. The monastic community dates back to the third century and the present church and monastery were commissioned in the sixth century by Byzantine Emperor Justinian.
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Documentary on nuns’ role in 1965 civil rights marches to air on PBS
WASHINGTON (CNS) — A one-hour documentary featuring religious sisters who participated in the 1965 civil rights marches in Selma, Ala., will air on PBS in February as part of Black History Month programming. The documentary, “Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change,” highlights the involvement of Midwestern sisters who joined the marches. It also features the Sisters of St. Joseph from Rochester, N.Y., based in Selma, who provided housing for visiting protesters and treated marchers at Selma’s Good Samaritan Hospital. Many of these sisters are now retired or working in various parts of the country. Independent filmmaker Jayasri Hart, who served as the film’s director and producer, reunited them to show them previously unused news footage of themselves and the events of 1965. The comments they made while watching the film serve as a large part of the film’s narrative. “Sisters of Selma” is a co-production of Hartfilms and Alabama Public Television. For broadcast times, viewers should check their local listings or visit the Alabama Public Television Web site, http://www.aptv.org/as/sisters/index.asp, for a broadcast schedule link.
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Perils seen in how media treats children
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CNS) — The ways in which media is presented to children can act as a two-edged sword, panelists cautioned during a Jan. 12 forum on children and media policy presented as part of the Jan. 12-14 National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis. According to Crystal Aliene Cook, program director of See Jane — an organization founded by actress Geena Davis whose purpose is to increase the number of female characters, and reduce stereotypes, in children’s media — the popular children’s cartoon character Dora the Explorer was originally intended to be a rabbit. Executives at the Nickelodeon cable channel rethought the concept and changed the character to a girl. Susan Linn, a member of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s steering committee, said Dora the Explorer now nets $1.3 billion in product licensing fees for Nickelodeon, second only to SpongeBob SquarePants, who rakes in $1.5 billion in licensing fees, also for Nickelodeon.
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Vatican secretary of state hosting meeting on church in China
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican secretary of state was hosting a Jan. 19-20 meeting of Chinese Catholic and Roman Curia officials to discuss the situation of the church in China, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. He told reporters Jan. 18 that the participants were attending from “China and interested Vatican agencies” and that a statement would be issued at the end of the meeting. Father Lombardi said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state, was chairing the meeting. He declined to name other participants, but sources said Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong was expected to attend, as well as officials from the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The Rome-based AsiaNews agency reported Jan. 18 that the participants also were to include retired Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi of Kaohsiung, Taiwan; Bishop Jose Lai Hung-seng of Macau; Hong Kong Auxiliary Bishop John Tong Hon; and Anthony Lam Sui-ki, a China expert from the Holy Spirit Study Center in Hong Kong.
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Dialogue lacks substance without true witness of faith, speakers say
UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — One thing the three Abrahamic religions can agree on is that the buzzword “dialogue” lacks substance without the true witness of faith. At a Jan. 17 panel discussion at the United Nations on “Peoples and Religions,” representatives of Catholicism, Islam and Judaism cautioned against interreligious relationships in which differences are papered over in the name of tolerance. Not only is peace between religions a prerequisite for peace between peoples, said Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University, but religion must actually remain religious for any peace to come about. “That is, if each religion is able to preserve something of its absoluteness, of its permanence.” He said, “We cannot relativize our path to God. At the same time, we have to accept the possibility of other ways to God.” The Vatican’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations sponsored the panel to mark the American launch of the biannual journal Oasis. Other panelists were Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice, Italy; Rabbi Israel Singer, chairman of the policy council of the World Jewish Congress; and Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus.
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North American, European bishops discuss Holy Land problems, answers
JERUSALEM (CNS) — The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said North American and European bishops would urge their countries to be “advocates for peace and justice” in the Holy Land. “I will urge my own country to be more involved in establishing peace in the area,” said Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., at a press conference Jan. 18. He added that the current situation in the Holy Land was “untenable.” 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 visited Catholic parishes and religious leaders throughout the region. The bishops’ group was created in Jerusalem in 1998 at the request of the Vatican. This was the bishops’ seventh trip to the region.
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Bishop expresses relief over political developments in Bangladesh
BANGALORE, India (CNS) — The secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh expressed relief over the recent political developments that eased protests and violence in the south Asian country. “These (measures) have come as a big relief for the people,” Auxiliary Bishop Theotonius Gomes of Dhaka, Bangladesh, told Catholic News Service Jan. 17. The “majority of the people are very optimistic now,” the bishop said. “Life has returned to normal, and people are able to go to work.” President Iajuddin Ahmed stepped down as interim administration chief, postponed the Jan. 22 national elections and declared a state of emergency in an effort to quell the widespread political chaos in recent weeks. Iajuddin Ahmed appointed Fakhruddin Ahmed, a widely respected economist, as the new chief of the interim administration. In turn, Fakhruddin Ahmed named five new members to his council of advisers Jan. 16.
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Mexican bishops express concern over food price hike
MEXICO CITY (CNS) — The Mexican bishops’ conference has expressed concern over the rise in the cost of basic food products. “Sufficient, affordable food is an unalienable human right,” said the bishops Jan. 17. This right implies a commitment to produce and offer food at prices that are affordable for people in the poorest regions of the country, the bishops said. Price manipulation is unjustifiable and “a crime before God and people,” they said, calling the act unethical and a “social sin.” The bishops urged the government and Mexican society to react boldly and quickly against any unfair price gouging and illegal monopolistic practices. Mexicans have been protesting the recent hike in the price of milk, corn flour and other food staples.
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Mexican bishop cautions against unjust oaths in the name of Jesus
MEXICO CITY (CNS) — A Mexican bishop has cautioned against the reference to Jesus in the presidential oaths of office that were taken by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. “We have to be critical when people invoke God to justify terrorism, wars, the exploitation of the poor, inhumanity, totalitarianism and unheard of repression,” said Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquival of San Cristobal de las Casas in a commentary published by the Mexican bishops’ conference Jan. 17. “Real deeds have to be separated from lip service when controversial measures are implemented in the name of Christ,” the bishop said. Chavez was sworn in Jan. 10 for his third term as president of Venezuela. During the ceremony, he promised the country socialism and said, “I swear by Christ — the greatest socialist in history.” Ortega was sworn in the same day for his second term as president.
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Catholic school’s penny collection raises thousands for charity
ROELAND PARK, Kan. (CNS) — Although pennies are worth less than they cost to manufacture and are typically discarded, refused or treated as necessary nuisances, they have emerged at a Catholic school in Kansas as a powerful symbol in the struggle against poverty and hunger. Every year, Donna Merrill, a teacher at St. Agnes School in Roeland Park, collects pennies from students in her elementary school enrichment program and journalism classes to give to Heifer International, a charitable organization based in Little Rock, Ark., that works in 50 countries throughout the world. The charity provides livestock to the poor, offering a sustainable resource for individuals, families and villages to support themselves. Recipients are obliged to share some of the offspring of their animals with their neighbors in a community-building gesture. Last year, with about 100 children participating, the group collected enough pennies to purchase chickens and ducks through Heifer. This year the project took on a life of its own. By Dec. 31, the school had collected about 250,000 pennies. The goal for the year “was to buy a pig,” Merrill said. “Currently, we have enough to buy 20 pigs.”
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U.S. soldiers in Iraq need support and prayers, says chaplain
ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — Father Jerome Fehn, 54, a Minnesota National Guard chaplain currently based in Iraq, said U.S. soldiers urgently need support and prayers from people at home. “We get a lot of care packages and that’s very good,” he said. But when soldiers receive letters of support, it makes a big impact. “Having that support will really enable us to do our job that we need to do better.” Father Fehn, a priest of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese, is serving in southern Iraq on an air base near the ancient city of Ur, the birthplace of Abraham. He is with the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division. He expects to be stationed in Iraq until March. As one of two Catholic priests on his base, Father Fehn works with other chaplains to ensure that soldiers and military personnel can attend worship services. He celebrates Mass and the sacraments and leads prayer and visits soldiers at 15 other camps and bases.