A Look at Today (02.08.07)

No diocesan-wide events

Bishop Pfeifer in ABILENE for visit to St. Francis Church.

Today’s Readings

First Reading: Genesis 2:18-25
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
Gospel: Mark 7:24-30

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

U.S.

Nuns acknowledge racism, pledge to fight it

IMMACULATA, Pa. (CNS) — The Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore and three Immaculate Heart of Mary congregations have publicly pledged to fight racism, acknowledging “that the dynamics of racism influenced our beginnings and impacted the unfolding of our four histories.” “Racism led to barriers of separation among us for over a century,” they said in a joint statement prepared for formal release on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 21. The Immaculate Heart of Mary congregations are those based in Monroe, Mich., and Scranton and Immaculata in Pennsylvania. The four congregations have a combined membership of more than 2,000. “We commit ourselves to the work of undoing racism,” their statement said. “By participating in the process of creating right relationships, healing and reconciliation, we are determined to eradicate racism within ourselves, our congregations, our church and our global community.”

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Sociologists see strong identity, less commitment in young Catholics

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Young adult Catholics have a strong Catholic identity but do not feel much of a commitment to the institutional church or its moral teachings, two sociologists said Feb. 6 in Washington. The seemingly paradoxical assessment came from James A. Davidson of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and Dean R. Hoge of The Catholic University of America in Washington at a Woodstock Forum on the campus of Georgetown University. Davidson and Hoge are co-authors with William V. D’Antonio of Catholic University and Mary L. Gautier of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown of “American Catholics Today: New Realities of Their Faith and Their Church,” to be published in late March by Rowman & Littlefield. The book analyzes Gallup surveys from 1987, 1993, 1999 and 2005, and finds that Catholics born after 1979, in what the authors call the “millennial generation,” have deep differences from previous generations of Catholics — differences that are unlikely to disappear when they marry and have children. “There’s a disconnect between them and the institutional church,” said Davidson. “And when they get older, they are not going to be like the Catholics of previous generations. They are going to be the Catholics they are now.”

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Course for inmates helps change attitudes, teaches life skills

PITTSBURGH (CNS) — Inmates at the Allegheny County Jail in downtown Pittsburgh who get accepted into a program to help them straighten out their lives know “they’ve got to put some work into it,” said the chaplain who heads the program. “It’s very much about self-discipline. They have to get up, make their beds, keep their shirts tucked in, they cannot swear. The rules are pretty stringent,” said the Rev. Lynn Yeso. The United Methodist pastor is head chaplain at the jail. For two years she has been director of Potential HOPE, which stands for Helping Open People’s Eyes. “The key is remaking attitudes and skills in the hope that it will serve them well,” said Father Malcolm McDonald, Catholic chaplain. The chaplain’s office recently received permission to enroll an entire pod, or housing unit, of male inmates. For the last five years the eight-week, life-skills course was conducted for up to 20 men at a time, but in the fall jail officials gave the office permission to take it large-scale.

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Entries for Archbishop O’Meara awards due by Feb. 28

NEW YORK (CNS) — Feb. 28 is the deadline for entries in the 2007 competition for the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Awards, presented annually by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith to honor writing about the missions published in 2006. Writers for Catholic newspapers are eligible in five categories: visits to the missions, involving trips to the missions by newspaper staff and/or personnel; interviews with missionaries visiting the U.S.; news events from the missions — local angle or general; mission series, involving two or more articles about a specific mission country or aspect of missionary work or life; and original promotion of World Mission Sunday 2006, in cooperation with the diocesan Propagation of the Faith director. The awards will be presented at the Catholic Media Convocation in Brooklyn, N.Y., this May. Entry forms and further information are available through the Propagation of the Faith Web page at: http://www.worldmissions-catholicchurch.org, or by calling: (212) 563-8700.

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WORLD

Pope says early church grew thanks to commitment of married couples

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — From the earliest days of Christianity, the faith was nourished and the church grew thanks to the commitment of believing married couples, Pope Benedict XVI said. Continuing what he described as a verbal “portrait gallery” of important figures in the early church, the pope focused his Feb. 7 general audience remarks on Priscilla and Aquila, a married couple who assisted St. Paul in his ministry in Corinth, Ephesus and Rome. The couple not only opened their home to St. Paul, but also to all local Christians, hosting the community’s gatherings to read the Scriptures and share the Eucharist, the pope said. “It is thanks to the faith and apostolic commitment of lay faithful, of families (and) spouses like Priscilla and Aquila that Christianity has reached our generation,” the pope said. The faith proclaimed by the apostles, he said, took root in the lives of the people thanks to the commitment of couples and families, “and it always will be only in this way that the church grows.”

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Vatican paper condemns death penalty as affront to human dignity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The death penalty “is not only a refusal of the right to life, but it also is an affront to human dignity,” the Vatican said in a position paper. The paper was prepared for the Feb. 1-3 World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Paris and was released Feb. 7 by the Vatican press office. “The Holy See takes this occasion to welcome and affirm again its support for all initiatives aimed at defending the inherent and inviolable value of all human life from conception to natural death,” it said. Echoing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the paper recognized the obligation of governments to protect their citizens, but it also said that “today it truly is difficult to justify” using the death penalty when other means of protection, including life imprisonment for murderers, are possible.

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Dominicans discuss poverty, failed economic policy in Latin America

LIMA, Peru (CNS) — From his vantage point 170 miles south of the U.S. border, Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo, Mexico, sees the people who pass through his diocese on their way to seek work in the United States as testimony to decades of failed economic policy in Latin America. The migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and places like the southern Mexican region of Chiapas, where the bishop worked in the 1990s, are victims of “a deliberately exclusive economy that makes an option for big business and excludes everyone else,” he said. “It is no longer a matter of marginalizing them — it’s exclusion,” he said. Despite decades of loans and economic adjustment packages — and more recently economic growth — more than 40 percent of Latin Americans still live in poverty. Economic policies adopted in recent years have made it difficult to change that figure, Bishop Vera told Catholic News Service Feb. 2, while in Lima for a meeting of Dominican provincials from Latin America and the Caribbean. Bishop Vera is a Dominican.

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Former Dominican head discusses how church is to express hope

LIMA, Peru (CNS) — If the church is going to express hope in the face of terrorism and climate change, its leaders must be seen as people who are not enslaved by fear of the future, said the former head of the world’s Dominican friars. “We live in a society which is quite afraid of the future — and with some good reason,” said Father Timothy Radcliffe, who was in Lima in early February to lead a retreat for Dominican provincials from Latin America and the Caribbean. The challenge for the church is to face the future with courage, he told Catholic News Service. For the Dominicans, or the Order of Preachers, that means “we have to try new ways of preaching the Gospel, try new language,” he said. If the church is creative, it can counter trends such as secularism, individualism, and what Pope Benedict XVI has called the “dictatorship of relativism,” Father Radcliffe said. One challenge is to show young people that Christian doctrine and religious life are liberating, rather than restrictive, he said.

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Church official says frequent protests shows Zimbabweans’ desperation

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — Frequent protests in Zimbabwe’s cities have shown Zimbabweans’ desperation amid a collapsing economy, which has an inflation rate of more than 1,200 percent, said a church official. “They are a sign that we are ready to free ourselves” from government oppression, said Alouis Chaumba, head of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe. Strikes and protests have become increasingly common in 2007 with impoverished people “determined to challenge the government” of President Robert Mugabe, Chaumba told Catholic News Service Feb. 6 in a telephone interview from the Zimbabwean capital, Harare. In the town of Kadoma, 75 miles southwest of Harare, eight religious leaders were imprisoned for a weekend after their arrest in a church during a late-January meeting of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance. They were charged with breaching a law requiring police permission for political gatherings. “To arrest people on church premises shows extreme intolerance” of opposition, Chaumba said. About 500 people attended the meeting, which a spokesman said was for Christians who felt they cannot remain silent while “the country burns.”

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PEOPLE

Canada’s Liberal leader gets mixed reviews from Catholic observers

OTTAWA (CNS) — Liberal leader Stephane Dion gets mixed reviews from Canadian Catholic observers who like his emphasis on a sustainable environment and social justice but raise concerns about his highly individualistic notion of rights. They fear his approach as leader of Canada’s main opposition party could mean clashes down the road over group rights, especially those of families, religions and nationalities. “Stephane Dion is to be congratulated for setting the tone of the Liberal leadership debate that has now contributed to making the environment the key concern of Canadians,” said Joe Gunn, a longtime justice and peace official, formerly for the Canadian bishops and currently for the Notre Dame Sisters’ Visitation province. Daniel Cere, professor of religion, law and public policy at McGill University in Montreal, agreed Dion’s proactive approach concerning the environment will “receive a sympathetic hearing,” noting Pope John Paul II had called for “an ecological conversion among Catholics.”

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‘Sidebars’ of New York: Late CNS correspondent’s memoirs published

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Even in death, Catholic News Service New York correspondent Tracy Early still had one more byline in him. A completed manuscript of Early’s memoirs chronicling his newsgathering adventures was found by his brother, Grady, when he was cleaning out Early’s effects following his death in December 2005. Grady Early was so impressed by the manuscript that he formed his own publishing company to sell the book, “Sidebars: Reflections by a Missionary Journalist in New York.” “When I found that manuscript after Tracy’s death,” Grady Early said, “I sat down and read it. I found it both provoking and rib-tickling funny in places. I thought, ‘Maybe more people should read this than me.'” Dating back to 1988, when CNS’ articles were first electronically archived, Tracy Early wrote or contributed to more than 2,300 stories. Most were from his home base in New York City and the U.N. headquarters, although he had the occasional exotic byline, such as Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and Uppsala, Sweden. “Sidebars” can be purchased directly for $30 postpaid by writing to: Grady Early, 214 Triple Crown Run, San Marcos, TX 78666. Those outside the United States and Canada should e-mail Grady Early at: bbtemprano@hotmail.com, for shipping costs elsewhere.

END

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