A Look at Today (01.24.07)

No events in the diocese today

Bishop Pfeifer in San Antonio for meetings with business leaders.

Today’s Readings

First Reading: Hebrews 10:11-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 110:1, 2, 3, 4
Gospel: Mark 4:1-20

Today’s Headlines from CNS

U.S.

Parishes, schools realigned in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Faced with rising costs and shifting populations, several dioceses in the Northeast United States announced reorganization plans in mid-January that involve closing or merging many of their parishes and schools. “For the past three years, the Department of Catholic Education has been engaged in an effort to right-size our Catholic elementary school system,” said Bishop Edward U. Kmiec of Buffalo, N.Y., as he announced Jan. 20 that 14 Catholic schools in the diocese would close at the end of the school year. In the nearby Diocese of Scranton, Pa., Jan. 17, Bishop Joseph F. Martino announced a final reorganization plan for Catholic high schools and elementary schools in Lackawanna, Wayne and Luzerne counties. The next day, he received preliminary recommendations for reorganizing schools in Lycoming, Bradford, Monroe and Pike counties. Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New York outlined his parish realignment decisions Jan. 19, saying that 10 parishes will close and 11 will merge with other parishes. Five new parishes will be established and new churches are planned for nine existing parishes. In Camden, N.J., Bishop Joseph A. Galante said Jan. 18 that his diocese would begin a comprehensive planning initiative on two tracks — one for parishes and the other for Catholic elementary schools.

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Masses, marches deliver pro-life message from coast to coast

WASHINGTON (CNS) — As thousands prepared to head to Washington for the annual March for Life, thousands more from coast to coast gathered to mark the 34th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in their own cities and towns. One of the largest gatherings on the weekend before the Jan. 22 march in Washington was in San Francisco, where a crowd estimated at more than 20,000 participated in the 2007 Walk for Life West Coast Jan. 20. “San Francisco is well known for its countercultural protests — the gay pride parade, anti-war protests and anti-Bush protests,” said Dolores Meehan, a co-founder of the walk. “We wanted to send a message that it’s OK to be pro-woman and pro-life — even in the city of San Francisco.” Behind teenagers and young adults carrying a 20-foot-wide banner reading “Abortion hurts women,” thousands of pro-life supporters walked peacefully down the march route along the San Francisco Embarcadero, often praying and singing.

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Look to U.S. views on race, not celebrities’ opinions, says professor

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (CNS) — Rather than discuss the latest celebrity peccadillo on racial or ethnic slurs, Americans should consider what the nation’s attitudes are on race and stereotypes, according to Leonard M. Baynes, director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University in Jamaica, N.Y. Much was made last year, Baynes said, about the anti-Jewish slurs uttered by actor-director Mel Gibson after he was stopped for drunken driving in California and the anti-black ranting by comic actor Michael Richards during a stand-up comedy routine, as well as the “macaca” gaffe by then-Sen. George Allen, R-Va., which began his slide in the polls and led to his eventual loss in a re-election bid. What helped publicize these incidents, Baynes noted, was new technology — a digital camera caught Allen’s remarks to the cameraman, a cell phone with video recording capabilities was used in Richards’ case and Gibson’s arrest report was posted on a Web site. “When it was picked up by traditional media, these stories all became validated,” said Baynes, who moderated a Jan. 14 summit on diversity at the National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis.

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Bishop Gumbleton leaves parish, urges ongoing peace, justice work

DETROIT (CNS) — Retired Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton said he hoped his parishioners would continue to work for justice and peace, as he celebrated his final Mass as administrator of St. Leo Parish in Detroit Jan. 21. “We, as a parish community, must carry on the work of Jesus, and that’s what I pray you will do as I leave you,” he said in his homily. After 23 years of service at the parish, Bishop Gumbleton was leaving St. Leo Parish just days short of his 77th birthday Jan. 26. He was pastor until Jan. 25, 2006, and has been parish administrator since then. In a letter distributed to all parishioners as they entered the church for the Mass, Cardinal Adam J. Maida of Detroit wrote: “For the last 23 years, Bishop Gumbleton has faithfully served your community and shared your joys and sorrows, challenges, hopes and dreams through Sunday Eucharist, works of Christian service and reflecting on the Gospel of life in today’s society.” Noting that the bishop would soon be turning 77, Cardinal Maida said, “It is now appropriate for him to retire from pastoral leadership of a parish.”

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Catholic school coaches urged to teach spiritual lessons in sports

METUCHEN, N.J. (CNS) — Coaches in the Metuchen Diocese got some extra pointers during a presentation last fall on coaching skills by Edward T. Hastings, a former captain of the Villanova University basketball team, who urged them to help youths find Christ through athletics. “Coaches play such a huge role,” said Hastings during a workshop at St. James School in Basking Ridge. “The time you spend with these kids is so special. How you treat them — they don’t forget. They’ll remember how you treated them 30 to 35 years later,” he continued. “They are learning life lessons from you. You are in a great venue to teach life lessons and maybe about God.” Hastings is an assistant professor of religious studies at Neumann College in Aston, Pa. He has a doctorate in spirituality from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Hastings stressed that many young people may not go to church, but they are involved in sports. In the Metuchen Diocese alone, there are about 4,000 children playing on approximately 250 diocesan basketball teams.

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Notre Dame task force issues report on future of Catholic schools

WASHINGTON (CNS) — For today’s Catholic schools to thrive, school officials must rethink traditional ways of operating and try innovative approaches, said a report highlighting the current challenges facing Catholic schools. The report also calls on the Catholic community at large to play a key role in restoring its schools. The 32-page report, “Making God Known, Loved, and Served: The Future of Catholic Primary and Secondary Schools in the United States,” was prepared by the University of Notre Dame Task Force on Catholic Education — a group of educators, administrators, diocesan representatives, philanthropists and investment specialists. The report was a response to the 2005 pastoral statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops titled “Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium.” The Notre Dame report, released in December, does not gloss over Catholic schools’ difficulties, pointing out in the second paragraph how enrollment has declined from more than 5 million students 40 years ago to half that number today even as the Catholic population has grown.

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WORLD

New book offers inside glimpse of John Paul II’s life in Poland, Rome

ROME (CNS) — Pope John Paul II consulted with top aides about possibly resigning in 2000 and set up a “specific procedure” for papal resignation, says a new book by the pope’s former secretary. The pope eventually decided that it was God’s will that he stay in office, despite the illness that left him more and more debilitated, wrote Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland, the late pope’s closest aide. In the book, “A Life With Karol,” Cardinal Dziwisz offers an inside glimpse at key moments of Pope John Paul’s life in Poland and his 26-year pontificate. The book was being published in Polish and Italian in late January. In his last will and testament, Pope John Paul strongly hinted that he had considered resignation as he prepared to turn 80 in the year 2000. Cardinal Dziwisz said the pope, in fact, decided at the time to consult on the question with his closest aides, including then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The pope concluded that he would remain in office, saying that God had called him to the papacy and that “God will call me back, in the form that he wishes,” Cardinal Dziwisz wrote.

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English archbishop: Catholics must fight trafficking, the new slavery

LONDON (CNS) — An English archbishop has called upon Catholics to fight modern-day slavery with the same zeal as the early abolitionists. Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, papal nuncio to Egypt and the Arab League, said Christians had always been “at the fore” in the battle against slavery, but new forms of human trafficking demanded a new effort to protect people from exploitation and to pursue those who sought to profit from it. “Christians have a special reason for fighting against slavery in all its forms, for it is a fundamental offense against human dignity,” the archbishop said. “This dignity has its roots in the nature of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God,” he added. “From this perspective all human beings are equal, and none can be made the chattel of another.” The archbishop’s remarks came during the Jan. 17 Wilberforce Lecture he delivered in Hull, England, to mark the 200th anniversary of the British abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the first step in abolishing the practice of slavery in Europe and the Americas.

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Catholic groups address natural resource crisis at World Social Forum

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) — Catholic international aid agencies urged governments and multinational corporations to address the problems caused by competition and the exploitation of natural resources as part of the seventh World Social Forum held Jan. 20-25 in Nairobi. The aid agencies issued a statement demanding that governments and multinational corporations be required to have consent from the local community before resources are extracted. They also called for accountability so that the local community can reap the benefits of its natural resources and for practical and enforceable steps to be taken to ensure such accountability. The World Social Forum provides a global platform of meetings, debates and marches to address international policies that exploit the poor, women and children, and the environment.

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Cardinal: Education in Christian basics is needed for Christian unity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While the search for Christian unity may need some creative ideas for overcoming long-standing denominational differences, it definitely needs education aimed at shoring up the basics of Christian faith, said Cardinal Walter Kasper. If ecumenism is based on unity in faith, then Christians must know and believe the faith they claim to share, said the cardinal, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. “How can you speak, for example, of justification by faith if there is no longer an awareness of God and of sin, an awareness that there is a need for forgiveness and redemption,” the cardinal said at a Jan. 23 Vatican press conference. The cardinal was presenting his “Handbook of Spiritual Ecumenism” during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The handbook includes dozens of concrete suggestions for how Catholics individually and in groups can prepare spiritually for the gift of Christian unity.

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Bishops say church in Africa to prepare for second synod

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — The church in Africa will focus on preparing for the second Synod of Bishops for Africa, with justice, reconciliation and peace as its theme, said a statement by a group that represents the continent’s episcopal conferences. The Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, known by its acronym SECAM, will intensify the formation of priests, religious and especially the laity, said a Jan. 21 statement signed by Tanzanian Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, who was elected SECAM president at the organization’s Jan. 15-22 plenary meeting in his see city of Dar es Salaam. Cardinal Pengo succeeded Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria. Archbishop Theodore-Adrien Sarr of Dakar, Senegal, and Bishop Francisco Silota of Chimoio, Mozambique, were elected first and second vice president, respectively.

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Priest: Church’s next challenge is evangelization in Nairobi slums

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) — The church’s next challenge is to evangelize the rapidly increasing number of slum dwellers, said a priest serving among Nairobi’s Korogocho slums. But the church has not placed evangelization in the slums as a priority, said Comboni Father Daniel Moschetti during a seminar called “Slums in Africa: A Challenge to Evangelization,” which was part of the Jan. 16-19 second World Forum on Theology and Liberation held outside Nairobi. More than 300 delegates from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Great Britain and the United States attended the seminar. Theologians, researchers and Christian grass-roots organizations from around the world attended the theology and liberation forum on “Spirituality for Another Possible World.” The forum was hosted by the Carmelite Fathers Center in Langata, a suburb of Nairobi, and organized by Tangaza College, an affiliate of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. Father Moschetti and two other Comboni priests are currently the only Catholic missionaries serving the church in Nairobi’s slums.

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PEOPLE

France’s Abbe Pierre dies; pope praises his work fighting poverty

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Abbe Pierre, the white bearded founder of the Emmaus Community in France, dedicated his life to fighting poverty and serving the poor, Pope Benedict XVI said. The 94-year-old priest, repeatedly voted the most respected person in France, died Jan. 22 in Paris. “Informed of the death of Abbe Pierre, the Holy Father gave thanks for his action on behalf of the poorest through which he witnessed to the love that comes to us from Christ,” said the condolence message signed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state. When France was still recovering from the destruction of World War II, the winter of 1954 was particularly harsh and many people were living on the streets or in inadequate shelter. Using a radio station, Abbe Pierre launched an appeal for help and began his “insurrection of kindness.” What began as an emergency assistance project turned into the Emmaus Community. Born Henri-Antoine Groues to a wealthy family in Lyon in 1912, he joined the Franciscans and was ordained to the priesthood.

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American’s donation lets pope peruse oldest copy of St. Luke’s Gospel

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A donation to the Vatican by a U.S. businessman enabled Pope Benedict XVI to peruse a few pages of the oldest existing copy of the Gospel of St. Luke and one of the oldest copies of the Gospel of St. John. The Catholic businessman, Frank J. Hanna III, and his family were present in the pope’s library Jan. 22 when Pope Benedict got his first look at pages from the famous Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV. Hanna is the Atlanta-based chief executive officer of HBR Capital Ltd., an investment management company, and co-chairman of President George W. Bush’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican’s archivist and librarian, presented both the papyrus and the Hanna family to the pope. The Bodmer Papyrus XIV-XV, handwritten in Greek around the year 200, contains “about half of each of the Gospels of Luke and John,” Cardinal Tauran explained.

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Hardly a Vatican prisoner: Late pope made secret outings, says aide

ROME (CNS) — Pope John Paul II made more than 100 clandestine trips to ski or hike in the Italian mountains and was rarely recognized by others on the slopes, his former secretary said. Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz described the secret outings in a book of memoirs, “A Life With Karol,” which was being published in late January. An excerpt appeared Jan. 23 in the Rome newspaper Il Messaggero. The cardinal, who was Pope John Paul’s personal secretary for 38 years, wrote that the pope, an avid skier and hiker in his youth, often felt pent up inside the Vatican. In the winter of 1981, the pope, his secretary and two of his Polish aides decided to make a “getaway” to the mountains from the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo. They packed into a car owned by one of the priests, in order not to raise suspicions, and when they passed the Swiss Guard post one prelate opened wide a newspaper to hide the pontiff in the back seat.

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