A Look at Today (01.31.07)

No events in the diocese today.

Today’s Readings

First Reading: Hebrews 12:4-7, 11-15
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 103:1-2, 13-14, 17-18
Gospel: Mark 6:1-6

Today’s Headlines from the Catholic News Service

U.S.

Catholic groups well represented at big anti-war rally at Capitol

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholic groups were well represented at a Jan. 27 rally against the Iraq War that drew tens of thousands to the nation’s capital to protest the current war policy and President George W. Bush’s plan to send 21,500 additional soldiers to Iraq. Retired Bishop Walter F. Sullivan of Richmond, Va., a former bishop-president of Pax Christi USA, was one of the speakers at the rally, which preceded a march past the Capitol. Some rally participants stayed in Washington to lobby members of Congress Jan. 29. The rally was organized by United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of more than 1,300 organizations that have declared their opposition to the war. “Pax Christi from the very beginning has condemned the invasion of Iraq as unlawful and immoral, as well as (condemned) the four-year war that has devastated this country and led to the deaths of thousands and thousands of innocent people,” Bishop Sullivan told Catholic News Service Jan. 29. “Our fundamental belief is that violence only begets more violence and that war is not the solution to any human problem.”

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S.C. diocese, lawyers agree to mediated settlements on abuse claims

CHARLESTON, S.C. (CNS) — The Diocese of Charleston and Richter and Haller LLC, the law firm representing alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse, have agreed to reach mediated settlements of abuse claims. Bishop Robert J. Baker announced the decision Jan. 25 in a letter to South Carolina Catholics in The Catholic Miscellany, the diocesan newspaper, and held a press conference Jan. 26. It has the preliminary approval of the Dorchester County Court of Common Pleas and awaits final approval based on a March 9 fairness hearing. “I deeply regret the anguish of any individual who has suffered the scourge of childhood abuse and am firmly committed to a just resolution of any instance in which a person who holds the responsibility of protector has become a predator,” Bishop Baker said in his letter. Two classes of claimants will be formed. The first class includes all individuals born on or before Aug. 30, 1980, who claim they were sexually abused as minors by agents of the Diocese of Charleston. The second class includes spouses and parents of those victims. The monetary range is $10,000-$200,000 for first-class settlements and a set amount of $20,000 per claimant for the second class. Those who agree to settle will not be able to make future legal claims against the diocese.

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WORLD

British cardinal upset over same-sex rules for adoption agencies

LONDON (CNS) — The president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said he was “deeply disappointed” about the British government’s refusal to exempt 13 Catholic adoption agencies from gay rights regulations. “It is clear from the prime minister’s statement that he has listened to some of the concerns of the Catholic Church in regard to its adoption agencies,” said Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster, England. “We are, of course, deeply disappointed that no exemption will be granted to our agencies on the grounds of widely held religious conviction and conscience.” The cardinal’s Jan. 29 statement followed an announcement by British Prime Minister Tony Blair that adoption agencies would have until the end of 2008 to comply with the Sexual Orientation Regulations outlawing discrimination against homosexuals in services and facilities. Public funding — approximately $200 million a year — will be withdrawn if agencies refuse to place children with same-sex couples.

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Vatican newspaper denounces reporter who posed as penitent for expose

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican newspaper denounced an Italian journalist who posed as a penitent and confessed fake sins in order to write an expose on the sacrament of reconciliation. “Fake confessions in search of a shameful scoop,” the newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, headlined a commentary condemning the cover story of L’Espresso magazine, one of the country’s leading weeklies. “Shame! There is no other word to express our distress toward an operation that was disgusting, worthless, disrespectful and particularly offensive,” the newspaper said. The commentary said the article had exploited the good faith of confessors and offended the religious sentiments of millions of people. “It was a sacrilege, because it violated the sacred space in which a self-recognized sinner asks intimately to receive God’s merciful love,” it said. The reporter made his false confessions to 24 different priests in five Italian cities, including Rome. The magazine said the idea was to see how priests handle difficult pastoral situations and whether they followed the norms in church teaching.

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Vatican official uses Web site to discuss priesthood with priests

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As he settled into his new role as prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes used the congregation Web site to greet the world’s priests. “Ours is not an easy mission,” he told priests in the message posted Jan. 24 on the Web site http://www.clerus.org. But remaining united with Christ, “we will always be mindful of giving testimony to the hope that is within us to our numerous brothers and sisters who, even today, long for the way, the truth and the life,” said Cardinal Hummes, who took up his new position in early December. The cardinal told the priests that the role of the congregation’s prefect is “to be a bishop for you and a priest with you.” Priests have a specific identity that must shine through their very being as well as their activities, he said.

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Pontifical council plans spring seminar on climate change

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is planning a spring seminar to look at climate change from the point of view of the Catholic Church’s social teaching. Officials at the council confirmed the meeting was being planned for late April or early May, although the dates, agenda and participants had not been confirmed as of late January. The council regularly holds seminars, inviting Catholic leaders in specific fields to share their experiences and discuss ways to put church teaching into practice. Among other topics, past seminars have looked at just business practices, the prevention of human trafficking, genetically modified food and educating members of religious orders in the social teaching of the church. Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, told Catholic News Service Jan. 30 that he did not know if the council would invite the academy to co-sponsor the seminar, but he also said the academy has convoked several high-level scientific meetings on climate change and related topics.

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Zimbabwe church worker says strike of doctors, nurses must end

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — A strike by doctors and nurses in Zimbabwe is causing “untold human suffering and loss of life,” said the country’s Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace. Sick and injured people are turned away from the main state hospitals “and their only other option is to go to private hospitals, which is unaffordable for most Zimbabweans,” Alouis Chaumba, who heads the commission, said in a Jan. 28 telephone interview from the capital, Harare. “There is no solution in sight” to the strike that began in late December, he said. “The government must take action now to end it, as this concerns life and death.” No one knows how many Zimbabweans have died as a result of the strike because it is ignored by the country’s state-controlled media, Chaumba said. Almost all media in Zimbabwe are under government control. Zimbabwe has the fastest-declining economy in the world, a brain drain of professionals, an inflation rate of more than 1,000 percent and escalating corruption.

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PEOPLE

Bishop Murry of Virgin Islands named to head Youngstown Diocese

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has named Bishop George V. Murry of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands to head the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio. Bishop Murry, 58, succeeds Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, who was appointed bishop of Providence, R.I., in March 2005. The appointment was announced Jan. 30 in Washington by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States. “I am honored to accept the Holy Father’s appointment to serve as bishop of Youngstown, and I look forward to meeting and working with the priests, deacons, religious and laity of the diocese,” Bishop Murry said in a statement. He will be installed March 28. Bishop Murry, who is one of 10 active U.S. black Catholic bishops, had headed the Diocese of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands since June 1999. He first went to the diocese when he was appointed coadjutor bishop in May 1998. When Bishop Elliott G. Thomas retired, Bishop Murry automatically succeeded him. Before being appointed to the Virgin Islands diocese, Bishop Murry was a Chicago auxiliary bishop for four years.

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Cartoonist for Columbus diocesan paper retires after 40 years

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNS) — After 40 years, the familiar curved “C” that marked Carl Weisgerber cartoons in The Catholic Times, Columbus’ diocesan newspaper, will soon be just a memory. At age 84, Weisgerber has packed up his pencils, pens and paintbrushes — along with his wife of 60 years, Ida Mae — and moved to Georgia to be closer to his daughters. Until his retirement, The Catholic Times had been the only diocesan paper in Ohio with its own in-house cartoonist, and one of only a handful nationwide. Over the years, Weisgerber has acquired a few favorite subjects. He especially likes topics such as “the parting of the waves — because I can do so many funny things with those, and the two angels at (the) pearly gates with St. Peter. And the golfers and attorneys. And Brother Titus. And Noah building the ark — there’s so many possibilities once you get one idea.” Weisgerber plans on continuing to paint and draw in his retirement. His career drawing cartoons for the Times “has been a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed doing it,” he said. “I’ll miss doing them after 40 some years. I hope I made a lot of people laugh.”

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Bishop Kaising, ‘a truly gentle giant,’ laid to rest in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI (CNS) — At Masses in Washington and Cincinnati, Auxiliary Bishop John J. Kaising of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, who died unexpectedly from heart failure Jan. 13, was recalled as a devoted bishop, priest, Army chaplain, uncle and brother. More than 80 priests and bishops were in attendance at a funeral Mass Jan. 23 at St. Dominic Church on Cincinnati’s West Side, where Bishop Kaising had served as pastor before his appointment in 2000 as an auxiliary bishop for the military archdiocese. “All of us have lost a friend and a dear colleague,” said Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, principal celebrant. At an earlier Mass in the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of the military archdiocese noted that “the Lord, who in Jeremiah promised his people shepherds after his own heart, kept his promise in offering the church this pastor and shepherd of souls, John Kaising.” Archbishop O’Brien called his auxiliary “a truly gentle giant” who loved his priesthood and country, and who “realized the extraordinary potential for evangelization as these two loves were joined in his chaplaincy.”

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Edmond Brosnan to head CNS special projects department

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Edmond Brosnan joins the staff of Catholic News Service in February as the manager of special projects and editor of Origins, Catholic Trends and Faith Alive! He succeeds David Gibson, the founding editor of Origins, who retires this April. Brosnan was an editor with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ publishing department prior to coming to CNS. He also has a solid background in journalism and education. “Edmond Brosnan brings a fine set of skills to an important position at CNS that will help shepherd many of our products and services into the future,” said Tony Spence, CNS director and editor in chief. “This department requires a hard-to-find combination of experience in journalism and catechetics.” As manager of the CNS special projects department, Brosnan will oversee Origins, the agency’s flagship English-language documentary service. He will be responsible for editing Catholic Trends, a biweekly newsletter for church professionals, and the catechetical series, Faith Alive! He also will oversee CNS’s 25-strong stable of writers in its columns and Viewpoints service.

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Teen honored for commitment to pro-life program despite obstacles

METUCHEN, N.J. (CNS) — At a young age, Theresa Hanntz has already battled opposition to her pro-life activities, yet she remains undaunted. Hanntz was honored by the Diocese of Metuchen with a Pro-Vita Award for fighting for her beliefs when the Girl Scouts initially rejected a chastity program she organized at her high school as a project to earn her the Scouts’ Gold Award. A compromise was eventually reached and she received the Scouting honor. She and three others were given Pro-Vita Awards during a presentation at St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral Jan. 21. Last year, as a senior Girl Scout at Immaculata High School in Somerville and president of the Pro-Life Club, Hanntz wanted to earn her Gold Award by organizing a five-week True Love Waits program at her school. The program, aimed at freshmen and sophomores, educates students on issues such as chastity, abortion and understanding God’s plan for sexuality. The Girl Scouts organization, however, did not feel that such a program was appropriate. Eventually, a compromise was reached and Hanntz received the Gold Award.

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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. Before his funeral Mass at noon Feb. 3 at the Campion Center in Weston, Mass., another Mass is scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 1 at St. Aloysius Church in Washington. “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. 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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