A Look at Today (01.30.07)

No events in the diocese

Bishop Pfeifer in Austin for Catholic Health Association Advocacy Day.

Today’s Readings

First Reading: Hebrews 12:1-4
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32
Gospel: Mark 5:21-43

Today’s Headlines from the Catholic News Service

By Catholic News Service

U.S.

Religious leaders seek more vigorous U.S. role in Mideast peace

WASHINGTON (CNS) — After meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Jan. 29, a delegation of U.S. Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders said they think the United States should take a more vigorous leadership role in promoting a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, said the group met with Rice “to reiterate our strong commitment to a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” and to discuss “the urgent need for United States leadership to restart and successfully conclude negotiations for a lasting and just peace between Israel and the Palestinian people.” Cardinal McCarrick, who led off a press briefing afterward outside the Department of State, said the meeting was “substantive and excellent. But the real measure of the success of our meeting can only be taken in the coming weeks and months as actions and events unfold.” The religious leaders belong to the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East, a coalition of 35 leaders of national religious bodies or organizations that was formed in 2003 to press for a more constructive and comprehensive U.S. approach to Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace.

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Bishop lauds Bush’s desire for comprehensive immigration reform

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration applauded President George W. Bush’s advocacy during his Jan. 23 State of the Union address for comprehensive immigration reform. “I welcome the remarks of President Bush,” said Bishop Gerald R. Barnes of San Bernardino, Calif., in a Jan. 25 statement. “Comprehensive immigration reform is clearly a high priority for our nation and should be high on the agenda of the 110th Congress,” he added. “The issue of immigration reform is ripe for federal action.” Bush, in his address, asked Congress for “a serious, civil and conclusive debate so that you can pass — and I can sign — comprehensive immigration reform into law.” Bishop Barnes said, “In part because of inaction at the federal level, states and localities are moving to adopt their own laws in this area. Americans throughout the country strongly desire that Congress solve the problem of illegal immigration.” He added, “As the recent raids on meatpacking plants demonstrate, families are subject to separation and dislocation. As a moral matter, our nation can no longer accept the work and taxes of migrant laborers without offering them legal protection.”

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WORLD

Pope discusses church defense of marriage, commitment to God’s plan

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church defends marriage as the permanent bond of a man and a woman because matrimony corresponds to human nature and to God’s divine plan, Pope Benedict XVI said. When a man and a woman enter into a Catholic marriage, their commitment to each other surpasses their feelings at the moment and becomes a commitment to maintaining the bond God has created between them, the pope said Jan. 27 in his annual meeting with members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, a Vatican court dealing mainly with marriage. Despite a society that often considers “marriage simply as a social formalization of affective ties” and a contract that should end if the affection weakens, the pope said the church continues to insist that matrimony is more than a public pronouncement that two people love each other at that moment. Pope Benedict told the Vatican court judges that their task was one of “service of the truth in justice,” not only for the good of a couple seeking an annulment, but also for the defense of the sacrament of matrimony through which God ensures the good and fulfillment of each of the spouses.

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Pope seeks peace worldwide, specifically cites Lebanon and Gaza

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI appealed for an end to conflict in Lebanon and Gaza, then helped children launch two doves to symbolize the search for peace around the world. Addressing pilgrims from his apartment window above St. Peter’s Square Jan. 28, the pope said he was worried about new “fratricidal clashes” in Lebanon. Violent confrontations during a nationwide strike Jan. 23 left three dead and nearly 200 injured. The strike was sponsored by the Hezbollah movement, and was aimed at toppling the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. “In recent days, violence has once again bloodied Lebanon. It is unacceptable that one take this road to affirm one’s political agenda,” the pope said. He encouraged all Lebanese to work together on a common solution to their political problems, and overcome “selfish behavior.” The pope also appealed for an immediate end to violence in Gaza, where some 60 people have died this year in infighting between the Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah.

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Vatican secretary of state defends Pope Pius XII’s wartime actions

ROME (CNS) — Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, strongly defended Pope Pius XII’s wartime actions and said he had coordinated church efforts that saved the lives of many Jews. Cardinal Bertone spoke Jan. 24 at the presentation of the Italian translation of the book “The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust,” by Martin Gilbert. The cardinal said the book illustrated how people of many faiths, including Christians and Muslims, had risked their lives to save Jews from Nazi persecution and death in concentration camps. He said the Catholic Church as an institution played a part in this effort, working under Pope Pius and following his directives. The church aided all during World War II, but specifically sought to defend and save persecuted Jews, he said. “They were to be helped in any way possible. This is the premise on which every action of the pope and his aides was founded, as is demonstrated by the existing documentation,” Cardinal Bertone said.

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Pope again decries rupture between faith and reason

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Returning to one of his favorite themes, Pope Benedict XVI said the rupture between faith and reason has produced a type of “schizophrenia” in modern culture. The pope made the remarks at a noon blessing Jan. 28, the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, the philosopher and theologian known for articulating a harmonious vision of faith and reason more than 700 years ago. Today, the pope said, the faith-reason relationship looms as a serious challenge for the dominant Western culture. While the achievements of the modern sciences are undeniable, he said, this progress has been accompanied by a tendency to consider as true only that which can be experimentally proven. This represents a limit on human reason and “produces a terrible schizophrenia, now clearly recognized, in which rationalism and materialism live together, as do hyper-technology and unbridled instinct,” he said. The pope said humanity urgently needs to rediscover the Christian vision of a rationality that is open to the divine, and in particular to the “perfect revelation” that is Jesus Christ.

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Bishop bucks Vatican on phrasing about married deacons and priesthood

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — A Mexican bishop is bucking Vatican orders to erase a phrase in his pastoral plan that notes the desire among his indigenous communities that married permanent deacons be ordained priests. The phrase is not fanning the hopes of a married priesthood, but simply reporting the feelings of many indigenous Catholics, said Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel of San Cristobal de Las Casas in Mexico’s Chiapas state. The phrase remains in the pastoral plan “because the faithful have the right to be heard by their pastors. To listen is not the same as to approve,” he said, in a Jan. 24 statement posted on the Web site of the Mexican bishops’ conference. Bishop Arizmendi said he does not support a married priesthood. He issued the statement after several Mexican news organizations reported on a Sept. 26 Vatican letter complaining that the diocese still had not eliminated the phrase nor had it made changes in its program for training married men to be permanent deacons. The Vatican made the letter public in mid-January. It was signed by Cardinal Francis Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

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Vatican officials, aid workers discuss new projects for Middle East

ROME (CNS) — Vatican officials and church aid workers discussed new projects and reconstruction efforts in Lebanon, Romania and Egypt. Participants at a Jan. 23-24 meeting of the Vatican coordinating body of church funding agencies for Eastern churches, known by its Italian acronym ROACO, reviewed proposals to fund projects for Christian communities in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Participants studied a report on Lebanese church properties which had been damaged severely during the war with Israel last summer. They discussed how to help Lebanese church communities repair the dozens of damaged churches. Archbishop Antonio Veglio, secretary of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, told participants there was “a constant hemorrhaging” of Christians out of Lebanon. Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, papal nuncio to Egypt and the Arab League, said Christians were subtly discriminated against in Egypt where Christians make up one percent of the population.

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World Social Forum participants pledge to strengthen global campaigns

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) — World Social Forum participants passed resolutions pledging to strengthen the campaign against poverty, the global trade imbalance and gender inequality. Nearly 50,000 representatives from social movements, faith-based and Catholic organizations, trade unions and nongovernmental organizations passed the more than 100 resolutions at the end of the Jan. 20-25 forum in Nairobi. The forum provided a global platform of meetings, debates and marches to address international policies that exploit the poor, women and children, and the environment. The forum’s theme was “Another World Is Possible.” Participants denounced the amount of money nations spend on military buildup. They said those funds should be used to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which call on richer countries to commit resources in order to halve global poverty by 2015. They also pledged to vigorously campaign against foreign military bases and nuclear weapons.

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Eastern Europeans discuss clergy collaboration with communists

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — Many Eastern European church officials said they lack procedures for handling claims of clergy collaborating with communist secret police nearly 20 year after the collapse of communism. Father Laszlo Nemeth, secretary-general of the Hungarian bishops’ conference, told Catholic News Service that although Hungarian bishops had debated the issue in the early 1990s the communist police archives are still closed to researchers. “We’d like to see government legislation on the use and interpretation of communist regime archives, but our MPs (members of Parliament) appear unready to pass a law which would allow objective research in this complex area,” Father Nemeth said Jan. 25. “Some files and documents were destroyed and some fabricated. If we can’t establish the truth from them, how can we properly screen our clergy?” The priest said most bishops consecrated under communist rule had now retired, and younger Catholic clergy were uninvolved.

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PEOPLE

Father Drinan, ex-congressman, Jesuit and law professor, dead at 86

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Jesuit Father Robert F. Drinan, the first Catholic priest to vote in the U.S. Congress, received praise and censure during his lifetime for his active involvement in politics. Father Drinan, 86, died Jan. 28 at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, where he had been treated for pneumonia and congestive heart failure for the past 10 days. Funeral arrangements were pending Jan. 29. “Few have accomplished as much as Father Drinan and fewer still have done so much to make the world a better place,” said T. Alex Aleinikoff, dean of the Georgetown University Law Center, where Father Drinan had taught since 1981. “His life was one fully devoted to the service of others — in the church, in the classroom and in Congress,” Aleinikoff said in a statement. But others saw Father Drinan as less praiseworthy and his celebration of a Jan. 3 Mass at Trinity University in honor of new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic who supports legal abortion, brought new criticism. In his Web log, or blog, for First Things magazine Jan. 19, Father Richard John Neuhaus called him “a Jesuit who, more than any other single figure, has been influential in tutoring Catholic politicians on the acceptability of rejecting the church’s teaching on the defense of innocent human life.”

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Msgr. Robert Paul Mohan dies; was CUA philosophy professor since 1951

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Msgr. Robert Paul Mohan, who taught philosophy at The Catholic University of America for more than 50 years, died Jan. 26 at Providence Hospital in Washington. He was 86. A funeral Mass was to be celebrated Jan. 31 in the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, followed by interment at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Silver Spring, Md. Vincentian Father David M. O’Connell, president of the university, called Msgr. Mohan “an extraordinary professor and scholar” who left his imprint on generations of students. Born Oct. 25, 1920, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Robert Paul Mohan was ordained a priest of the Washington Archdiocese June 11, 1946. While a seminarian at Catholic University he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy, and he completed his doctorate there the year after his ordination. After a year of additional graduate studies at the Sorbonne in Paris, he joined the Sulpicians, a society of diocesan priests dedicated to teaching seminarians.

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Pope marks World Leprosy Day, urges adequate, dignified care

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Telling people with Hansen’s disease that he prayed for their healing, Pope Benedict XVI called for church and health officials to ensure the patients receive adequate care in dignified conditions. Marking the Jan. 28 World Leprosy Day, Pope Benedict said Hansen’s — the formal name for leprosy — “is not only a disease, but a social plague.” Speaking to pilgrims to Vatican City, the pope offered his thanks to the many church workers who, following in the footsteps of Blessed Damien de Veuster of Molokai and Raoul Follereau, have devoted their lives to serving people with the disease. Blessed Damien is the Belgian-born missionary priest who served Hansen’s disease patients on Molokai in Hawaii more than a century ago, while Follereau was a Frenchman who launched World Leprosy Day some 50 years ago in an effort to combat the stigma against the disease.

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A mascot for the Chicago Bears says he’s trying to help fans have fun

CROWN POINT, Ind. (CNS) — Jason Yurechko may not be built like the classic cheerleader, but start playing “Sweet Home Chicago” and he can groove with the best of them. An auxiliary mascot for the Chicago Bears, Yurechko feels he is just using his gift to remind fans that sports are all about fun — even with his favorite team heading to Miami to battle the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI Feb. 4. “I love making people laugh,” said Yurechko, 29, a parishioner at St. James the Less in Highland, which is in the Gary Diocese. “When people go to sporting events, they’re not thinking of their bills or their problems. They’re trying to escape. I’m helping them escape. People don’t laugh enough,” he added in an interview with the Northwest Indiana Catholic, Gary’s diocesan newspaper.

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