A Look at Today (03.04.07)

Today in the Diocese

Mertzon — Bishop Pfeifer at Mass at St. Peter, 9:45 a.m.

Today’s Readings

First Reading: Daniel 9:4-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 79:8, 9, 11, 13
Gospel: Luke 6:36-38

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

End-of-life teaching more than ‘dilemmas, controversies,’ priest says

CHICAGO (CNS) — Church teaching on end-of-life issues is much more than “dilemmas and controversies,” a priest-physician told a gathering of Catholic health care ethicists in Chicago March 1. “Don’t let people hijack our church anymore,” said Jesuit Father Myles N. Sheehan, a geriatric oncologist who is senior associate dean for educational programs at the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago. “Let’s pay attention to church teaching and not to what someone reads in this liberal magazine or that conservative magazine,” he added, noting that the 46-page “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” is “a three-line document to the rest of the world.” Too often, church teaching is reduced to “feeding tube in or out? Ventilator on or off?” he said. But an obsession with the controversies “makes us forget our areas of broad agreement.” Father Sheehan spoke on the second day of a three-day conference on “Catholic Health Care Ethics: The Tradition and Contemporary Culture,” sponsored by the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy at Loyola’s medical school and by the Catholic Health Association.

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Black America gaining ground in some areas, losing traction in others

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Three themes run through black America, according to the Rev. Robert Franklin: celebration of heroic individual and collective achievement; closure of persistent racial gaps in such areas as education and health; and anxiety about losing ground and “mobilizing to reverse negative trend lines.” Rev. Franklin, author of the new book “Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African American Communities,” believes there is much about which to be anxious. “Segments of the African-American population are indeed losing ground,” he said, while other blacks argue whether individual responsibility is the best way to address this or whether government policy should be reshaped to address “systemic problems.” Some of the issues, taken broadly, are so substantial as to be overwhelming, said Rev. Franklin, a Church of God in Christ minister who teaches social ethics at Emory University in Atlanta. Rev. Franklin, during a Feb. 20 forum on black America held at the National Press Club, called for black churches to use their “distinctly moral capital” to address the challenges facing black Americans.

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Kansas monks record compact disc as fundraiser for Benedictine abbey

ATCHISON, Kan. (CNS) — Benedictine Abbot Barnabas Senecal — known as “the singing abbot” — is renowned throughout the Kansas City Archdiocese for his rich tenor and his a cappella renditions at Masses, weddings, confirmations and other liturgies. To the delight of his longtime fans, his singing has been captured on a compact disc that also features the musical talents of other members of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison. The CD of liturgical music, “On a Musical Journey,” celebrates 150 years of monastic life in Kansas. The varied collection recorded last summer at the abbey also features the monastic schola. The abbey’s schola, the core choir of any Benedictine monastery, is in this case comprised of seven monks. Father Blaine Schultz, another monk of the abbey, is the organist and choirmaster for the recording, with Brother Ambrose Nelson directing. The CD sells for $25 and is available at the Benedictine College bookstore’s Web site, http://ravenstore.benedictine.edu, or by calling St. Benedict’s Abbey at: (913) 367-7853.

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Summit focuses on hopes, concerns for future of Catholic education

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (CNS) — Hope and concern for the future of Catholic schools blended when nearly 300 educational leaders and five bishops gathered for the first “Summit for Catholic School Education in Illinois.” “Despite all the challenges, there is reason for hope,” said Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago at the Feb. 26 assembly that included diocesan superintendents of schools, elementary- and secondary-school presidents and principals, members of education boards and commissions, and dozens of priests and religious from the state. Cardinal George called on Catholics to “keep pressure on the government” to do more for parents who choose Catholic education for their children. Throughout the day calls came for increased cooperation between dioceses in areas such as purchasing and marketing, while realizing that the needs of schools vary across the state. A greater embracing of stewardship — the sharing of time, talent and treasures — was repeatedly proposed as a way for Catholics to support schools.

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Providence bishop speaks out on talk radio against same-sex marriage

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CNS) — Saying he feels a strong obligation to speak out on issues of moral and cultural import, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence took to the airwaves of a local AM radio talk show Feb. 23, and for an hour discussed why same-sex marriage is not marriage and why homosexual behavior can never be accepted or condoned. The bishop’s remarks were a continuation of his response to an opinion issued Feb. 20 and made public the next day, on Ash Wednesday, by Attorney General Patrick Lynch stating that “Rhode Island will recognize a same-sex marriage lawfully performed in Massachusetts as a marriage in Rhode Island.” In a Feb. 22 statement the bishop said marriage is “a union of one man and one woman” as “instituted by God, blessed by the church and affirmed by every culture throughout the ages.” He said, “The state should not be in the business of supporting other lifestyles or promoting immoral, unnatural sexual activity,” which was the “net effect” of Lynch’s opinion.

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WORLD

British aid agency demands that Angola drop charges against activist

LONDON (CNS) — A British Catholic aid agency has demanded that charges are dropped against a British activist who was arrested in Angola. Sarah Wykes, who works for the nongovernmental organization Global Witness, was taken from her hotel Feb. 18 by armed police in the oil-rich province of Cabinda and imprisoned amid accusations of espionage. She was released on bail three days later but never was given details of the charges, and is forbidden to leave the country. The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, or CAFOD, called on “the Angolan government to drop all charges against” Wykes “immediately and unconditionally and to allow her to leave Angola at once.” In a Feb. 28 statement, CAFOD said that “the safety of those who speak out on issues of transparency and corruption is a growing concern for CAFOD.” CAFOD, the overseas aid agency of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, is part of the Publish What You Pay international anti-corruption campaign, which is among the many international organizations demanding that charges against Wykes are dropped.

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Robbers shoot Irish priest who runs South African AIDS hospice

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — An Irish priest who runs an AIDS hospice in South Africa has been shot twice in the chest by robbers in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria. Passionist Father Kieran Creagh, 44, was shot in the early morning hours March 1 when he answered the doorbell to his apartment in the back of Leratong Hospice, said Father Sikhalele Anthony Mdhluli, the superior of the Passionists in South Africa. Father Creagh thought someone was summoning him to see a dying patient, but he opened the door to eight men, Father Mdhluli told Catholic News Service March 2. “He refused to let them in and called for help, but the security guard at the hospice had been tied up,” Father Mdhluli said. The men fled with money from Father Creagh’s safe as well as his mobile phone, television and other electronic equipment, he said. Hospice staff called an ambulance, and Father Creagh is in intensive care in the hospital, Father Mdhluli said. Police are investigating the case, he added.

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PEOPLE

Rome office inundated with requests for JPII prayer cards, relics

ROME (CNS) — The Rome diocesan office charged with promoting the sainthood cause of Pope John Paul II has exceeded its postage budget because of increased requests for prayer cards and relics of the late pope. “We were getting about 50 requests a day, but overnight it grew to between 500 and 1,000 requests,” a spokeswoman for the office said March 2. “We could not have foreseen this demand,” she said. “It’s an avalanche.” Franciscan Brother Chris Gaffrey, who assists the office with English translations, told Catholic News Service that the vast majority of requests in late February and early March were coming via e-mail from the United States. CNS had published a story about the cards and relics Feb. 26 and dozens of Web sites and blogs, or Web logs, ran links to the story. An individual prayer card, relic and copy of the cause’s magazine, Totus Tuus, could be mailed to the United States for about $5, Brother Gaffrey said. Several options for sending donations can be found on the official Web site of Pope John Paul’s sainthood cause — http://www.JohnPaulIIBeatification.org — which was experiencing interruptions in service because of the increased traffic in early March.

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Priest to be rehired as chaplain after discrimination found in firing

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A Jesuit priest is to be reinstated as a chaplain at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center after a federal board ruled that he was fired because of religious discrimination. Father Henry Heffernan, 76, was ordered to be reinstated at the NIH clinic in Bethesda, Md., by the Merit Systems Protection Board, a federal agency that hears personnel disputes. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in January that Father Heffernan was wrongly suspended and fired in 2004. The merit systems board, a quasi-judicial entity, upheld the decision in a Feb. 23 order. The EEOC found that Father Heffernan was suspended and fired because of concerns he raised with the way the spiritual ministry director at the center insisted upon a multifaith chaplaincy that Father Heffernan believed did not accommodate the spiritual concerns of Catholic patients. Among Father Heffernan’s objections to the multifaith approach advocated by the office were that non-Catholic chaplains would not approach topics such as death and dying from a Catholic perspective and that they could not immediately provide sacraments to patients.

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Rev. King’s niece says her fight is for rights of the unborn

INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — The Rev Martin Luther King Jr. tirelessly preached about civil rights and respect for all people regardless of race or nationality during the turbulent ’60s. Forty years later, his niece, Alveda King, campaigns for the right to life and respect for all unborn babies regardless of the circumstances. Like her late uncle, King said during a Feb. 22 speech in Indianapolis, she relies on prayer and Scripture to sustain her as she tries to change minds, convert hearts and save souls in what she sees as a spiritual war against the culture of death in contemporary society. The mother of six children and a grandmother, King said she feels called to ministry in the battle against abortion. National statistics indicate that abortion has claimed the lives of more than 47 million unborn babies since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions in 1973. King, a spokeswoman for Priests for Life, said the African-American community has been especially hard hit by abortion. “I’m post-abortive,” she said. “I’ve had two abortions (in 1970 and 1973). Looking back on it, they said it was a blob of tissue and won’t hurt. … (But) abortion hurts a lot.”

END

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