A Look at Today (01.22.07)

In the Diocese

SAN ANGELO — Pro-Life Mass, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Noon.

Today’s Readings

First Reading: Hebrews 9:15, 24-28
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6
Gospel: Mark 3:22-30

Today’s Headlines from CNS

U.S.

Bishop expresses hope for immigration reform law in 2007

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Growing public awareness that U.S. immigration laws are outdated, inhuman and unfair increases hope that Congress will pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2007, said Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Fla. Immigrants illegally entering the U.S. face exploitation by employers, abuse by smugglers and death in the desert, he said. Immigrants “are hardworking, not lawbreakers. An antiquated system is breaking them,” he said during a Jan. 18 teleconference with representatives of Hispanic, labor, business and public policy organizations. The organizations form part of the Alliance for Immigration Reform 2007, which plans to pressure Congress and President George W. Bush to enact a law this year. Bishop Wenski represented the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at the teleconference. He is a former chairman of the bishops’ migration committee and current chairman of the bishops’ international policy committee.

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Senators, workers in trenches agree: Children must get health care

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Among four U.S. senators in Washington, there was optimistic talk of a bipartisan commitment to expand health coverage for the nation’s 9 million uninsured children. But 40 miles away at a Catholic hospital in Baltimore, there was more nitty-gritty talk of getting children into state and federal health programs — and keeping them there. Both events were part of a national town hall meeting on children’s health care, broadcast by satellite to 34 hospitals across the country Jan. 11. National sponsors of the meeting included the Catholic Health Association and the Campaign for Children’s Health Care, whose partners include Catholic Health Initiatives and Network, a national Catholic social justice lobby. “We’re the only industrialized nation that doesn’t cover all its children,” said Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is CHA president and CEO, in a panel discussion during the broadcast. She finds that situation perplexing, adding, “We love our children as much as any other nation.”

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Reno Christian, Hindu, Muslim leaders work against religious mistrust

RENO, Nev. (CNS) — Religious conflicts arise when members of one faith claim to be “God’s exclusive agent” and declare a complete monopoly on the truth, a Hindu leader said Jan. 6 during a dialogue in Reno with Muslim, Catholic and Protestant religious leaders. Organized by the Catholic Diocese of Reno, the dialogue was aimed at reaching a common agenda to heal the wounds of religious mistrust. Rajan Zed, director of interfaith relations at the Hindu Temple of Northern Nevada, said solutions to resolve mounting religious conflicts include considering each religion as an essential aspect of the whole; having a broader, deeper and more inclusive understanding of religion; and believing that the existence of different faiths is positively willed by God as a sign of bountifulness. Other speakers during the dialogue included the Rev. James Jeffery, rector emeritus of Trinity Episcopal Church in Reno; Father Charles T. Durante, chairman of the Reno Diocese’s Life, Peace and Justice Commission; and Imam Abdul Barghouthi of the Northern Nevada Muslim Center.

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Missouri groups seek moratorium on executions

ST. LOUIS (CNS) — Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty is calling for the state’s General Assembly to enact a three-year moratorium on executions in the state and to create a commission to examine the death penalty system. Nearly 300 groups in the state, including the four Catholic dioceses and numerous parishes, have endorsed a moratorium. On Good Friday last year the Missouri bishops issued a pastoral letter opposing executions, stating that more violence “is not a solution to society’s problems.” In the assembly’s 2006 session a bill calling for a moratorium and study commission was introduced, but the measure did not advance to a vote. Similar bills in previous years met the same fate. Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty is a group with several Catholics on its board. In June, U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. ruled that Missouri’s lethal injection system is unconstitutional and stopped the state from doing further executions. The decision is currently under appeal.

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‘Stunned joy,’ thanks surround return of missing Missouri boys

ST. LOUIS (CNS) — People in the St. Louis suburb of Richwoods reacted with “stunned joy” to the news that two local boys who had been reported abducted, one more than four years ago, were found alive and safe Jan. 12, said Father Robert C. Liss, pastor of St. Stephen Parish in Richwoods. During a Jan. 14 Mass, members of Immaculate Conception Parish in nearby Union thanked God for the return of Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby. The parish is home to Ben’s grandmother, parishioner Charlene Grus. Shawn was abducted from Richwoods four and a half years ago at age 11. Ben, 13, was taken Jan. 8 after he got off a school bus near his home in Beaufort. The two were found Jan. 12 at the Kirkwood apartment of Michael J. Devlin, 41. On Jan. 18 Devlin pleaded not guilty of abducting Ben, and charges against him were pending in the 2002 disappearance of Shawn. Said Father Liss: “The whole town remembers exactly what they were doing when they heard the news (of them being found). … Everybody was just elated.”

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How big is too big? Media watchers critique growing concentration

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CNS) — The rights of media ownership are bestowed on too few, and the responsibilities of media ownership are easily sidestepped, agreed panelists at a Jan. 12 presentation titled “Too Big, Too Powerful: The Fight Over Media Ownership,” held during the National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis. “When you have a large level of consolidation, there’s no accountability,” said Sydney Levy, program director at Media Alliance, a San Francisco-based resource center for media professionals. He cited the case of a San Francisco radio station that, over the course of 40 minutes of airtime, referred to immigrants as “vermin” 43 times. “It’s not appropriate in our community to have that,” Levy added, echoing past calls about “community standards” to address indecent broadcast programming. “Regulation is extremely important, but I don’t want to suggest that laws can fix everything,” said Andrew Jay Schwartzmann, president and CEO since 1978 of the Media Access Project, a public-interest law firm in Washington promoting First Amendment rights. “Antitrust laws won’t fix concentration,” Schwartzmann added.

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WORLD

Pope asks Turkey to grant church full legal recognition

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI asked the government of Turkey to grant full legal recognition to the Catholic Church and to establish a formal dialogue with the nation’s Catholic bishops to work out concrete problems. Welcoming Muammer Dogan Akdur as Turkey’s new ambassador to the Vatican Jan. 19, the pope said that while Turkish Catholics enjoy religious freedom in the country the church as a whole would like to have a recognized juridical status under Turkish law. “I have no doubt that your government will do everything in its power to advance in this direction,” the pope told the new ambassador. The lack of legal status sometimes has made it difficult for the Catholic Church and other Christian communities to own and buy property officially and to build or operate churches, schools and hospitals. Much of the pope’s speech to the ambassador and the ambassador’s speech to the pope focused on the success of the pope’s Nov. 28-Dec. 1 visit to Turkey and on Catholic-Muslim relations.

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Divine dullness: Usual images of heaven don’t impress Christians

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A recent sermon by the papal preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, took aim at John Lennon’s famous line, “Imagine there’s no heaven,” saying it represented an empty, secularized vision of human destiny. But an Italian biblicist, Father Carlo Buzzetti, has approached the question from a different angle: The modern church, he said, does a lousy job imagining what heaven is like and communicating it to the faithful. Most Catholics, Father Buzzetti said, understand heaven as a vague place of eternal survival, where happiness can become monotonous and where the absence of human passions creates an “anemic” atmosphere. In other words, boring. And if heaven is seen as a dull routine of perpetual bliss, how can it possibly stimulate people to live a good and moral life in this world? Father Buzzetti posed the questions in a long article in a recent issue of Italian Clergy Review. He based his analysis on extensive discussions with pastors, who told him the traditional images of heaven — a vision of God, a banquet or eternal repose — were making little or no impression on modern Christians.

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PEOPLE

Bishop Nevins of Venice resigns; coadjutor succeeds him

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Bishop John J. Nevins of Venice, Fla., who is 75. He was appointed the first bishop of Venice when the diocese was created in 1984 from portions of the Miami Archdiocese and the dioceses of Orlando and St. Petersburg, Fla. Coadjutor Bishop Frank J. Dewane immediately succeeds him. The changes were announced in Washington Jan. 19 by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop Nevins turned 75 Jan. 19. A native of New Rochelle, N.Y., he was ordained a priest of the Miami Archdiocese in 1959. He was named an auxiliary bishop of Miami in 1979 and ordained a bishop March 24 of that year. He was appointed the first bishop of Venice July 27, 1984, and was installed in the new diocese Oct. 25, 1984. The diocese, covering 10 counties in southwest Florida, has 233,000 Catholics in a total population of 1.8 million. Bishop Dewane, who spent 15 years in Vatican service before he was made a bishop, is 56 years old.

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Major archbishop of Syro-Malankara Church dies unexpectedly

BANGALORE, India (CNS) — Catholics in India mourned the death of Archbishop Cyril Baselios Malancharuvil of Trivandrum, the major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Church, who was known for promoting unification of the Indian Catholic Church’s various rites. The archbishop died unexpectedly Jan. 18 at the age of 71 after suffering a heart attack. Referred to commonly as Archbishop Baselios, he was a member of the Order of the Imitation of Christ. Pope Benedict XVI expressed his condolences, describing Archbishop Baselios’ death as a “great loss” to the church. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, of which Archbishop Baselios was president from 2000 to 2004, said he “was well respected in the entire Indian church for his wisdom, foresight and integral vision.” The conference includes bishops from all three rites — Latin, Syro-Malankara and Syro-Malabar — that make up the Catholic Church in India. The Syro-Malankara Church has 500,000 Catholics in two archdioceses and four dioceses.

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Prison chaplain devotes herself to work that ‘can’t be measured’

WASHINGTON (CNS) — At first glance, it wouldn’t seem like a 64-year-old woman religious would possibly be able to relate to inmates at a women’s prison. But that’s not the case for Mercy Sister Natalie Rossi, a petite, gray-haired woman who works at the women’s prison facility outside Erie, Pa. Sister Natalie has a natural camaraderie with the inmates because she has no shortage of empathy. For the past 12 years she has been a full-time chaplain at the State Correctional Institution for Women in Cambridge Springs, Pa., a minimum-security facility primarily for women nearing their prison release. She coordinates programs with part-time chaplains from other faiths, supervises church-based volunteers, directs spiritual activities and deals with reams of paperwork. But the most important part of her job, as she sees it, is one-on-one time with the inmates, either in daily visits to women in the prison infirmary or pastoral counseling sessions in her office.

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After venturing into world of blogs, Boston cardinal now has podcast

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, already believed to be the first U.S. cardinal to have his own Web log, or blog, is apparently the first U.S. cardinal to have his own podcast. While Cardinal O’Malley may be unique among the highest levels of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy, the archdioceses they head are keeping abreast of the newest communications technologies. During the holidays the Boston Globe reported that Boston Catholic Television, the Archdiocese of Boston’s video arm, would make available downloadable Christmas video messages from Cardinal O’Malley in English, Spanish and Portuguese, with regular podcast recordings to start this year. For those not in the know, a podcast is a computer file distributed over the Internet for playback on mobile devices and personal computers. Like radio, “podcast” can mean both the content and the method of distribution. Podcasters’ Web sites may also offer direct download or streaming of their content.

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