A Look at Today (2.05.07)

No events today in the diocese

Necrology — Deacon David King (2006)

Today’s Readings

First Reading: Genesis 1:1-19
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 104:1-2, 5-6, 10, 12, 24, 35
Gospel: Mark 6:53-56

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service


Wilmington bishop approves priests’ plan to address clergy shortage

WILMINGTON, Del. (CNS) — Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli of Wilmington has approved 17 recommendations made by priests of the diocese designed to help the shrinking number of priests better serve the growing number of Catholics in the diocese. The recommendations, approved Jan. 18 at an annual meeting of diocesan priests, address areas such as the role of the priest, deacons and laity; collaboration among parishes; and better distribution of priests and deacons. They also call for improving fraternity and communication among priests and improving priests’ image. Under the recommendations, the diocese will “develop strategies by which the deacons and laity can fully assume their roles and responsibilities”; study the implementation of a “geographic cluster model” to encourage parishes to collaborate with one another; develop a “general ministry description” for parish priests that will be tailored to each parish; and develop a communications strategy “to depict positive images of the priesthood.”

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Paulists open reconciliation office to heal hurts in church

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Jesuit Father J-Glenn Murray has seen both sides of the hurt. In the wake of the church sex abuse scandal, Father Murray encountered a young man who had been abused by four priests. “How do you know what to say to this young man?” he said. “I didn’t know where to begin.” On the other end of the spectrum, Father Murray has seen the devastation caused when a fellow priest was falsely accused of abuse. “He was just assumed guilty,” he said. These experiences reinforced the need for reconciliation within the church in Father Murray’s mind, and that is one of the reasons he joined 15 other religious and laypeople on the board of directors for the new Paulist Office for Reconciliation. The office was recently established by the Paulist Fathers at the North American Paulist Center in Washington, where the first board meeting took place Jan. 23. Reconciliation involves healing people’s wounds — whether it be caused by abuse, disagreement with the church’s stand on an issue or anything that led someone to feel alienated or rejected — and welcoming people back to the church. The Paulists are devoting $1.2 million over the next five years to reconciliation awareness, training and programming, according to Paulist Father John E. Hurley, director of the Paulist office.

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Glenmary campaign teaches Catholic youngsters about home missions

CINCINNATI (CNS) — Father William Howard Bishop, founder of Glenmary Home Missioners, would have given the project an enthusiastic thumbs up. “Educate & Inspire: Home Mission Materials From Glenmary” is a nationwide initiative the Ohio-based mission society has rolled out to 23,500 parishes and Catholic elementary schools across the country. It calls “young people into mission” and raises “awareness of mission need” in the United States, according to Karen Hurley, Glenmary communications director. “Part of our responsibility is to create an awareness of the importance of the work in home missions,” Hurley told The Catholic Telegraph, newspaper of the Cincinnati Archdiocese. “This program, which has been in the works for a couple of years, hearkens back to the early days of Glenmary, when Father Bishop’s maps showing home mission country ended up in many parishes and Catholic classrooms across the country,” she said. The current project offers access to posters, prayer cards, lesson plans, vacation Bible school curricula as well as other materials for Catholic educators across the nation seeking to call students into a deeper sense of mission, she added.

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Pope to lead full slate of Holy Week, Easter liturgies

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI will lead a full slate of Holy Week and Easter liturgies in Rome and at the Vatican, highlighting a busy papal schedule this spring. The Vatican announced Feb. 1 that the pope would preside over eight major events in the week leading up to Easter. The liturgies include a Mass April 2 commemorating the second anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s death. The pope’s Holy Week activities will begin with a procession and Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Palm Sunday, April 1. As he did last year, Pope Benedict will celebrate a chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Holy Thursday and that evening will preside over the Mass of the Lord’s Supper in the Basilica of St. John Lateran in central Rome. On Good Friday he will celebrate the liturgy of the Lord’s Passion in St. Peter’s Basilica in the late afternoon ,then will lead a nighttime Way of the Cross at the Rome Colosseum. On Holy Saturday, the pope will preside over the Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica. On Easter, April 8, he will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Square and give his blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city of Rome and the world).

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In southern Mexico, priest works to protect migrants headed north

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Whenever the freight train rolls into town, Father Alejandro Solalinde and his team of pastors know it’s going to be a long night. The freight trains, loaded with hundreds of Central American migrants heading north to the United States, stop in Father Solalinde’s town of Ixtepec, an important rail junction in southern Mexico. The migrants who wait for the next train to carry them on to Veracruz are prime targets for criminal gangs, who kidnap them until relatives can wire thousands of dollars in ransom money. So Father Solalinde and his team of 18 volunteers watch over them, try to keep them from the bands that reportedly operate with the protection — and even active participation — of local authorities. His actions in recent months have captured headlines and helped bring to light these organizations that prey on the northward-bound migrants. “It’s an enormous mafia,” Father Solalinde said in a telephone interview with Catholic News Service. “And the municipal president of Ixtepec is protecting them.”

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Like others, Lebanese Christians in South work to rebuild lives

KHIAM, Lebanon (CNS) — The town of Khiam sits atop a rocky hillside, with breathtaking views across Israel to the south and the snowcapped peaks of the Golan Heights to the east. But during Israeli attacks against the militant group Hezbollah last summer, four-fifths of the town’s buildings were completely or partially destroyed, and the surrounding olive groves and farmland remain littered with unexploded cluster bombs. Among the badly damaged buildings were two of the town’s four Christian churches, for although Khiam is populated predominantly by Shiite Muslims, it is also home to a small Christian community struggling, like everybody else, to rebuild their normal lives after the war. “Before the Israeli invasion of South Lebanon in 1978, 25 percent of the population here were Christians,” said Pierre Wanna, 28, a local Christian. “Now there are only 25 families out of a total of 700.” Although only two of the churches — the Maronite Catholic and Greek Orthodox — remain open, Wanna said he does not see the local Christians as a beleaguered minority under threat of extinction.

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Vatican denies laicization to Paraguayan bishop running for president

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican turned down a laicization request from a Paraguayan bishop who wants to run for president and suspended the bishop from exercising his priestly ministry. Bishop Fernando Lugo Mendez of San Pedro, Paraguay, 57, had announced Dec. 25 that he would ask the Vatican to return him to the status of a layman so he could run for president. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, responded in December with a formal warning that running for public office would “be in clear contrast with the serious responsibility of a bishop of the Catholic Church” and would carry sanctions. Vatican Radio reported Feb. 1 that Cardinal Re informed Bishop Lugo in a Jan. 20 letter that his request to return to the lay state had been denied because “the episcopacy is a service accepted freely forever.” However, the radio said, because of Bishop Lugo’s decision to continue his political activity, Cardinal Re also informed him that he had been suspended from exercising his ministry as a bishop and priest.

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Las Vegas priest accused of attempted murder is captured

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (CNS) — A Las Vegas priest accused of attempted murder and sexual assault on a parish employee was captured near Phoenix Feb. 1 after a six-day manhunt across several states. Father George Chaanine, 52, has been charged with attempted murder with a deadly weapon, sexual assault, kidnapping and other charges in connection with an alleged attack Jan. 26 on Michaelina Bellamy, an employee at Our Lady of Las Vegas Parish where Father Chaanine was administrator. He also faces federal charges of fleeing to avoid prosecution. Las Vegas Bishop Joseph A. Pepe, who immediately suspended Father Chaanine when the attack was reported, congratulated law enforcement authorities on finding the priest. Just two days before the alleged attack, Father Chaanine had formalized his departure from the Maronite Catholic Diocese of Our Lady of Lebanon of Los Angeles and been incardinated in (legally attached to) the Latin-rite Diocese of Las Vegas. “We are relieved that Father Chaanine has been found and now justice can be served through the legal process,” Bishop Pepe said in a Feb. 1 statement.

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Priest-editor of former San Francisco archdiocesan paper dies

SAN MATEO, Calif. (CNS) — A funeral Mass was celebrated Feb. 1 at St. Matthew Church in San Mateo for Father John P. Penebsky, who had served as editor of The Monitor, the former San Francisco archdiocesan newspaper. He died Jan. 28 after a long illness. He was 68. Born in San Francisco, he was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco in 1965. He was associate pastor of St. Matthew Parish in San Mateo and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Mill Valley before serving as secretary of the archdiocesan priests’ council. Father Penebsky had been editor of the Monitor for six years when it ceased publication in June 1984 after 126 years of operation. When The Monitor closed, Father Penebsky was named associate pastor at St. Pius Parish in Redwood City and then was pastor of St. Elizabeth Parish in San Francisco. He then served as pastor of St. Luke Parish in Foster City, where he had been since 1998. Father Penebsky was buried in the priest section of Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma.

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