This National Catholic Schools Week 

No scheduled events in diocese

Readings

First Reading: Hebrews 11:32-40
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 31:20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Gospel: Mark 5:1-20

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

U.S.

Congress starting from scratch on making new national media policy

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The previous Congress never got to vote on a full-scale rewrite of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Some in the Republican-run House had hoped for a vote during the post-election lame-duck session, but the shift of power to the Democrats scuttled that possibility. Now, with Democrats in charge, what could a new telecommunications bill look like? There is the possibility of including language guaranteeing equal access to the Internet by content providers, a concept known as “net neutrality.” Net neutrality — short for network neutrality — is the policy of keeping the Internet open to all lawful traffic by requiring that cable and telephone companies operate their Internet networks in a nondiscriminatory manner. It bars those companies from prioritizing Internet traffic to benefit their own content. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops came out last year in support of net neutrality. So did an estimated 1.5 million others who feared Internet service providers would charge Web sites extra to guarantee speedy access for users. With no safeguards for net neutrality, the USCCB and other church and community groups fear noncommercial religious and other speech on the Internet is threatened.

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Catholic leaders seek end to death penalty in two states

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In separate actions the Maryland Catholic Conference and Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Rapid City, S.D., have called for an end to the death penalty in their states. Both states currently face a de facto moratorium on executions because of legal difficulties over the use of lethal injection to carry it out. Maryland Catholic Conference executive director Richard J. Dowling Jan. 25 urged the state’s General Assembly to adopt legislation that would substitute life imprisonment without parole for all crimes currently punishable by death in Maryland. The conference is the public policy agency of the bishops of Maryland. “Most Marylanders are ready for repeal” of capital punishment, Dowling said in a one-page statement that noted the Catholic Church “has long been a leader on this issue.” Bishop Cupich appealed for the abolition of the death penalty in South Dakota in a two-page article in the Jan. 29 issue of America, a New York-based national Catholic magazine. He linked the issue to the state’s efforts last year to ban abortion except to save the mother’s life.

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Financial mismanagement cited in pastor’s removal

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (CNS) — Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport cited persistent “financial mismanagement” as the reason he asked for and accepted the resignation of Father Michael R. Moynihan, 54, as pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish and St. Timothy Chapel in Greenwich. Speaking at all Masses at the two churches the weekend of Jan. 20-21, Bishop Lori told parishioners that more than $500,000 in expenditures by the priest from a secret parish bank account “have proven difficult to support” with any evidence of what the money was used for. He praised Father Moynihan’s 14 years of “dedicated, pastoral love” as a pastor in Greenwich, but said the financial mismanagement was severe and continued after warnings from the diocese. “Despite all his talents and priestly generosity, Father Michael was simply unable or unwilling to lead the parish to a new day of financial accountability and transparency,” he said.

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Become evangelists for forgiveness, Archbishop Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Use of the sacrament of penance makes each Catholic “an evangelist for the forgiveness of Christ and a witness to God’s wondrous mercy,” said Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl in his first pastoral letter as head of the Washington Archdiocese. Archbishop Wuerl called confession “a great gift” that offers new life in Christ. “When we face daily frustrations and struggle to be good, we need to recall the teaching of the church that we have the power to triumph over sin because we have God’s grace within us,” he said in the letter, dated Jan. 8 and made public Jan. 25. The letter was issued for the season of Lent and was titled “God’s Mercy and the Sacrament of Penance.” Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which this year is Feb. 21. Easter is April 8. The grace of the sacrament allows people “to get back up after each fall … and allows us to continue our journey to God,” wrote Archbishop Wuerl. Coinciding with the pastoral letter is a pastoral initiative encouraging archdiocesan Catholics to receive the sacrament of reconciliation during Lent. Every parish church is to make confession available every Wednesday of Lent, starting Feb. 28, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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WORLD

Decisions on dying: Italian case highlights complex issue

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The death of an Italian muscular dystrophy patient who had his respirator disconnected is fueling a complex and significant discussion among top church officials. Piergiorgio Welby, who was paralyzed and kept alive by a breathing machine for nine years, pleaded for months for the device to be turned off. He said medical technology was only artificially postponing his death. In late December, a physician granted his request, and Welby died shortly afterward. The case had already become a political football in Italy, as proponents of right-to-die legislation flocked to Welby’s bedside and, with his support, used his suffering to promote their cause. The church was drawn in directly when Cardinal Camillo Ruini, papal vicar of Rome, denied Welby a church funeral, saying he had committed suicide. The cardinal’s decision was bitterly criticized by Welby’s widow and many other Italians, including some prominent Catholics. On Jan. 21, in an article published in the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who has Parkinson’s disease, said he wrote the piece partly because of his own medical experiences. He appeared to be sympathetic to Welby’s request. He pointed out that Welby was lucid when he asked for suspension of the long years of respiratory treatment through a tracheotomy, which offered the patient no possibility of improvement.

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Scholar: Christians, Muslims need to defend faith in secular world

ROME (CNS) — Christians and Muslims need to defend the importance of faith in a world that increasingly accepts only the concrete as real or reasonable and they need to demonstrate that faith in God is reasonable, said an expert in Catholic-Muslim dialogue. Missionary of Africa Father Maurice Borrmans, a retired professor of Islam, said Pope Benedict XVI’s “unfortunate citation” of a 14th-century Christian criticism of Islam has led Catholic and Muslim scholars to reaffirm the importance of their dialogue and to recognize the common challenges they face. Father Borrmans spoke Jan. 25 at Rome’s Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, where he had taught for many years. While saying the use of the quote was a mistake, Father Borrmans also said, “We must rejoice that there is a desire for a dialogue that would focus on even the most sensitive questions and face the most difficult challenges” modern culture poses for believers.

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Priest: World Youth Day cross a sign of hope for South African youths

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — The World Youth Day cross is a sign of hope for the many young people devastated by AIDS in the South African province of Eastern Cape, said a Catholic youth chaplain. The cross was recently carried through the largely rural province which has high unemployment, poverty and inadequate education in a country where more than 18 percent of adults are HIV positive, said Father Matthias Nsamba, the youth chaplain of the Aliwal North Diocese. Father Nsamba told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview Jan. 21 that few job opportunities for young people exist in Eastern Cape, which he called “a province of death, disaster and despair.” The young people “go to big cities to look for jobs but struggle to find work without proper education and training, and many turn to prostitution, drugs and crime,” Father Nsamba said. Nearly 1,000 youths turned out Jan. 7 at a farm near Queenstown in Eastern Cape to welcome the World Youth Day cross and icon of Mary being taken around the world before the 2008 World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia.

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PEOPLE

Armenian Catholics in Iraq get new archbishop after five-year vacancy

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — For the first time in more than five years, the tiny Armenian Catholic community in Iraq has its own archbishop. The Vatican announced Jan. 26 that Pope Benedict XVI had given his assent to the Armenian Catholic bishops’ election of Father Emmanuel Dabbaghian, 73, as the Armenian Catholic archbishop of Baghdad. The post had been vacant since the October 2001 retirement of Archbishop Paul Coussa at the age of 84. The Armenian Catholic Archdiocese of Baghdad covers all of Iraq, and since 2001 Vatican statistics have given the Armenian Catholic population of the country as 2,000 faithful. Archbishop-elect Dabbaghian was born Dec. 26, 1933, in Aleppo, Syria. After studying philosophy and theology at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1967. He has served as director of an orphanage in Lebanon, as a seminary rector and as pastor of Armenian parishes in Lebanon and in Georgia.

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Teens who get an abortion need special attention, says Thorn

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) — Warm chocolate chip cookies, the scents of vanilla and lavender, and chair massages make all the difference in ministering to teens who have had abortions, said Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel, the post-abortion healing ministry of the Catholic Church. These methods help move teens from feeling fear to feeling someone cares about them, she said. She added that post-abortion ministry must include not just women but other family members, especially men, who should be invited to share their grief. Thorn, director of the Milwaukee-based National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, outlined the ways that this specific line of work has changed in her 23-plus years of ministry, especially in the last one to two years. She spoke Jan. 19 in Burke Hall at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington. Her audience was lay men and women, priests and women religious, some in post-abortion healing ministry, some not.

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Chaplain sees humility in Super Bowl-bound Indianapolis Colts

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (CNS) — The Indianapolis Colts had just completed a 38-34 heart-pounding victory Jan. 21 that would send them to the Super Bowl Feb. 4 in Miami. Team owner Jim Irsay and head coach Tony Dungy stood on a stage at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis to receive the Lamar Hunt Trophy as the NFL’s American Football Conference champions. At that moment — arguably the greatest in the history of the Colts’ franchise since its move to Indianapolis in 1984 — both men expressed thanks and praise to God. Standing nearby, Father J. Peter Gallagher, the Colts’ chaplain, appreciated their words. “I was grateful that (Irsay) said that and I thought, ‘Man, thank you,'” said Father Gallagher. He said his and Dungy’s words echoed “what Tony has said all along and what a lot of these guys really do live, that is, gratitude to God.” After the awards ceremony, the players made their way to their locker room, where Father Gallagher said Dungy called them to prayer. “Tony said, ‘We’ve got to finish like we’ve finished every game and just like we started,'” Father Gallagher told The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis Archdiocese. “So we got everybody (together) and huddled down and I said, ‘Heavenly Father, there are two words we want to offer you: thanks and praise.'”

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