A Look at The Weekend (02.24-25.07)

Diocesan Dates

SATURDAY

SAN ANGELO — Bishop Pfeifer at First United Methodist Church, San Angelo, for ecumenical program, “Pilgrims on a Common Journey.”

SUNDAY

SAN ANGELO — Rite of Election at Sacred Heart CAthedral, 2:30 p.m.

Weekend Readings

Saturday

First Reading: Isaiah 58:9-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Gospel: Luke 5:27-32

Sunday

First Reading: Deuteronomy 26:4-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 91:1-2, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15
Second Reading: Romans 10:8-13
Gospel: Luke 4:1-13

Headlines from Catholic News Service

The big budget squeeze leaves poor, uninsured on the outside again

WASHINGTON (CNS) — As Congress begins its deliberations over President George W. Bush’s fiscal year 2008 budget, you might think that decision-making power rests solely with the president who proposed it and the representatives and senators who will approve it. But many of the most critical decisions were made long ago, by members of Congress who could be long dead, according to Eugene Steuerle, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute in Washington and a consultant to the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Policy. Those earlier senators and representatives made “promises in law that now we can’t fulfill,” Steuerle told Catholic News Service Feb. 21. And for today’s politicians who want to be known for giving their constituents more and keeping taxes low, “it’s very, very hard politically” to make the tough decisions that are needed, the economist added. More than half of Bush’s proposed $2.9 trillion budget goes to Social Security (21 percent); Medicare and other health programs (22 percent); and income security programs such as retirement and disability payments to federal employees, unemployment compensation and housing and nutrition assistance programs (10 percent). Most of those expenditures were fixed by earlier legislation and are mandatory.

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Thousands gather in Detroit to mark 40 years of charismatic renewal

DETROIT (CNS) — One of the world’s foremost Catholic preachers told a Feb. 16-18 gathering of more than 3,000 people involved in the charismatic renewal movement that they should be focusing more on the future than on the movement’s past. Even as they gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the charismatic movement, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa told charismatic Catholics from across the United States, “We should expect a new Pentecost, not just celebrate that others experienced a new Pentecost 40 years ago.” The preacher of the papal household spoke Feb. 17 in the Riverfront Ballroom of Detroit’s Cobo Center. Harkening back to Pope Paul VI, the first pope to welcome the charismatic renewal movement in the church, Father Cantalamessa said the best speech he ever heard the late pontiff give was one in which he said, “The first need of the church is for a perennial Pentecost — an ongoing Pentecost — in which the church would have fire in her heart, works in her midst and prophecy in her outlook.”

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Byzantine Catholics pray for their dead on All Souls Saturdays

CHICAGO (CNS) — When Byzantine Catholics observe Lent, their practices include an increase in fasting, prayer and almsgiving, just as in other Catholic communities. But the Byzantine Catholic Church adds another layer: prayer specifically for the souls of their loved ones who have died. Instead of praying for the departed on Nov. 2, All Souls’ Day, Byzantine Catholics pray for them after the Divine Liturgy on all the Saturdays of Lent, explained Father Thomas Loya, pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption Byzantine Catholic Church in Homer Glen. The practice reflects the idea that the essential nature of Christ’s death and resurrection is love, Father Loya told The Catholic New World, newspaper of the Chicago Archdiocese. “Lent brings us to the ultimate Christian mystery, the mystery of death and resurrection, and also the mystery that God is the God of the living and the dead. … We pray for the deceased because the goodness of the world has been tainted by sin and death,” said Father Loya. “That divides us.”

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Religious leaders call Bush’s Iraq War policies ‘morally bankrupt’

BALTIMORE (CNS) — Baltimore Christian leaders used the backdrop of Ash Wednesday and props of a dead soldier’s combat boots as they called President George W. Bush’s Iraq War policies immoral and urged Marylanders to take part in an organized anti-war rally in Washington. The 13 religious leaders from varying Christian faiths — including Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden of Baltimore — chose the first day of Lent Feb. 21 to launch their collective anti-war platform, because it’s a penitential season. “The time has come to confess our mistakes and wrongdoing and withdraw our troops” from Iraq, said the Rev. Peter K. Nord, head of the Presbytery of Baltimore, part of the national Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). “The Jesus we follow prays for peace and so do we,” Rev. Nord said at the news conference at City Temple Baptist Church in the Bolton Hill neighborhood of Baltimore. “I’m troubled that our commander in chief neither shares this prayer nor listens to his people.”

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Lenten messages stress ties with God, combating social problems

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Using imagery such as “spring training” and “hunger for justice,” U.S. bishops are promoting Lent as a way of strengthening personal ties with God and grappling with social problems harming human dignity. In separate messages, many bishops listed social issues for Lenten action. These included immigration reform, an end to the death penalty and helping children in need ranging from victims of sex abuse to orphans of war. Messages also emphasized the link between Lent and the sacrament of reconciliation. Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl accompanied a Lenten pastoral letter with a major campaign encouraging Catholics to receive the sacrament. Detroit Cardinal Adam J. Maida likened Lent to “spring training” when baseball players limber up their bodies before the regular season. “Lent is about learning to stretch — reaching out toward the God who is already reaching out toward us,” Cardinal Maida said in a statement in the Feb. 16 issue of the archdiocesan newspaper, The Michigan Catholic. “Through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we also ‘stretch’ ourselves by reaching out to our neighbors in need,” he said. The Diocese of Orange, Calif., launched a “Hunger for Justice” campaign asking Catholics to fast for one day during the week of March 26 and to send cards to their elected representatives calling for comprehensive immigration reform.

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In pastoral letter, bishop calls pornography a ‘plague’ in society

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CNS) — In a pastoral letter that calls pornography a “plague in our society, reaching epidemic proportions,” Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph has pledged diocesan resources to help people overcome pornography addictions and reconcile themselves to God. Bishop Finn issued his pastoral, “Blessed Are the Pure in Heart: A Pastoral Letter on the Dignity of the Human Person and the Dangers of Pornography,” on Feb. 21, Ash Wednesday. The 11,000-word pastoral was published in English in The Catholic Key, the local diocesan newspaper. It also will be published in Spanish and in Vietnamese. Bishop Finn, who became bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph in 2005, told the Key that he wrote the pastoral, his first, at the request of the diocesan Anti-Pornography Task Force that he established in 2005.

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WORLD

Spiritual exercise: Pope clears calendar for annual Lenten retreat

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Continuing an 80-year-old papal tradition, Pope Benedict XVI is canceling regular audiences and clearing his calendar to make a weeklong Lenten retreat. The spiritual exercises not only shut down the normal business of his pontificate, but also place the pope in the unusual position of doing all the listening and none of the talking. Judging from his own remarks in recent years, Pope Benedict doesn’t mind giving up center stage and reflecting on someone else’s insights. Chosen to preach the Feb. 25-March 3 retreat this year was Italian Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, the retired archbishop of Bologna, who is making an unusual second appearance. In 1989, he led the Lenten retreat for Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Biffi has a reputation for outspokenness, and perhaps his history of verbal fireworks led the pope to bring him back for another round. The papal retreat is attended by the Roman Curia and involves many hours of sermons and meditations, and the ability to keep people awake is a requisite for the job.

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Church officials say they want to help cut crime rate in South Africa

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — South African Catholic officials said they want to contribute to cutting the country’s high crime rate by using church institutions throughout the country. “There is no time to be wasted,” said Kabelo Selema, who heads the peace and justice department of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The church “is very concerned about crime.” Although members of justice and peace groups in South African parishes are urged to be part of their local community policing forums, corruption in the police force sometimes makes this difficult, Selema told Catholic News Service in a Feb. 20 telephone interview from the conference’s Pretoria headquarters. “We have heard of people reporting suspected criminals in their community to the police and then becoming targets of crime themselves,” Selema said. “This shows police working hand in hand with criminals. “We need to find ways to stop that,” he said. “People who report crimes they have witnessed must be protected.”

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Geographers use GPS to mark Italy’s prime meridian in Vatican Gardens

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Although the Global Positioning System has made meridians obsolete in mapmaking, a group of geographers used the GPS to mark the exact spot where the old prime meridian of Italy passed through the Vatican. Standing at the end of a technologically guaranteed straight line of flower pots, the geographers and Vatican officials dedicated a plaque marking the spot in the Vatican Gardens Feb. 23. A prime meridian is an arbitrarily determined line running around the globe from north to south; it is used to determine longitude as well as time zones. Although an international agreement was reached in 1880 recognizing the meridian in Greenwich, England, as the prime meridian, Italian government maps continued to use the Italian prime until the 1940s. In 2004, a group of Italian geographers and historians began a project to commemorate the Italian meridian by marking it in the Vatican Gardens and in several parks around Rome.

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Catholic women’s group forms as Pakistan debates pro-women’s bill

LAHORE, Pakistan (CNS) — Posters pasted on billboards and trees by the country’s main Muslim political alliance blare the “Quran-prescribed” punishments of 100 lashes or death by stoning for women who have sex outside of marriage. As a new bill liberalizing strict women’s laws makes its way through Parliament, hard-line groups have been fighting to keep a status quo they claim has divine sanction. The same day the new bill went before the National Assembly Feb. 13, the first national Catholic women’s organization was launched in Lahore, reported UCA News, an Asian church news agency. The Catholic Women Organization “will focus mainly on awareness of gender balance and domestic violence and prescribe prevention and remedies to human-rights abuses,” Sunita Fredrick, the organization’s national coordinator, told UCA News. Pakistan has other organizations of Catholic women, and Lahore Archdiocese has a women’s department. The formation of the group was announced at the conclusion of a seminar by the Pakistani bishops’ commission for justice and peace Feb. 9-13. The speakers, who included human-rights activists as well as four priests and a nun, urged Catholic women to equip themselves with knowledge of laws and human rights.

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PEOPLE

Pope to canonize Brazilian in May, four others in June

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI will canonize a Brazilian Franciscan during his May trip to Brazil and will declare four other new saints in June. During a prayer service in the Apostolic Palace Feb. 23, the pope set May 11 as the date for the canonization of Blessed Antonio Galvao, an 18th-century Franciscan and founder of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Conception of Divine Providence. The pope will be in Brazil May 9-13 to participate in the Latin American bishops’ fifth general assembly; the papal schedule published by the Brazilian bishops in early February said the pope would celebrate a morning Mass May 11 at the Campo de Marte airfield in Sao Paolo. Pope Benedict also announced the June 3 canonization at the Vatican of a Polish Franciscan, Blessed Simon of Lipnica; Blessed Charles Houben, a Dutch Passionist priest; Sister Anne-Eugenie Milleret de Brou, the French founder of the Religious of the Assumption; and a Maltese priest, Father George Preca, founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine.

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Pope supports Polish archbishop who resigned after communist links

OXFORD, England (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI expressed support for an archbishop who resigned because of links to communist-era secret police. “I would like, above all, to offer words of encouragement, inviting you to stride forward with confidence and peace in your heart,” Pope Benedict said in a letter to former Warsaw Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus. “I express the wish that Your Excellency renew your activity in Christ’s service in every way possible, so your immense and deep knowledge will bear fruit, as well as your priestly devotion for the good of the beloved church in Poland.” The pope said in a letter published Feb. 21 that he was “fully aware of the exceptional circumstances” in which Archbishop Wielgus had worked “when the Marxist regime used all means to smother the freedom of citizens, and especially priests.” The letter was dated Feb. 12. Archbishop Wielgus had “given proof of great piety and deep love for Christ and the church,” he added.

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Baseball’s ironman stresses teamwork, family in talk at Catholic high

HYATTSVILLE, Md. (CNS) — Instead of facing a pitcher throwing a 95 mph fastball, baseball ironman Cal Ripken Jr. faced 800 people Feb. 12 at DeMatha Catholic High School in the Washington suburb of Hyattsville. The crowd of students and alumni, teachers and coaches cheered loudly as the Baltimore Orioles’ former shortstop — who is to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer — appeared in the Morgan Wootten Gymnasium, named for the legendary DeMatha basketball coach who is himself a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “The last time somebody clapped that loud, I had to take a lap around the stadium,” Ripken said, remembering the night in 1995 when he played his 2,131st consecutive game, breaking Lou Gehrig’s record. That night, Ripken ran around the inside of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, high-fiving the fans who cheered him. The night sponsored by DeMatha’s Alumni Association opened not with the national anthem but with a prayer, offered by the school’s acting rector, Trinitarian Father Tom Burke. His order sponsors the all-boys’ Catholic high school, which has gained national recognition for its academic, athletic and music programs.

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Catholic wrongly convicted devotes life to ending death penalty

CAMBRIDGE, Md. (CNS) — If anyone has experienced sheer terror, it’s Kirk Bloodsworth. Tried and found guilty of the brutal 1984 rape and murder of 9-year-old Dawn Hamilton near Baltimore, the barrel-chested crabber from the Eastern Shore was sentenced to die in the gas chamber. Bloodsworth, a former Marine with no criminal record, had nothing to do with the crimes. He was wrongly convicted and later would become the first American on death row to be exonerated by DNA testing. Seated on the couch in the living room of his small home in Cambridge more than 20 years later, Bloodsworth said, “I remember that first night in my cell and the smell coming from this place. … Not only did it stink of every kind of excrement you could think of, but you also could smell hatred — and it was all pointing at me.” Despite the strong temptation to despair, Bloodsworth said he decided he would fight to prove his innocence. He told The Catholic Review, Baltimore archdiocesan newspaper, that he believes God sustained him through nearly nine years of taxing prison life, sending him otherworldly consolations and leading him into the Catholic Church. With the same steely determination that got him through his prison ordeal, Bloodsworth is now devoting the rest of his life to abolishing the death penalty and seeking reforms of what he calls a “broken” criminal justice system.

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