A Look at Today (03.06.07)

Today in the Diocese

Convocation of Priests, Christ The King Retreat Center, San Angelo (through Thursday)

Today’s Readings

First Reading: Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 50:8-9, 16-17, 21, 23
Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service


Tens of thousands prepare to enter church at Easter

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In dioceses across the country at the beginning of Lent, tens of thousands of Americans began the final stages of their journey toward baptism or entering into full communion with the Catholic Church at Easter. Jamie Swan of Maryville, Mo., is taking it a couple of steps further. Not only will she receive baptism, confirmation and first Communion at the Easter Vigil in St. Gregory Parish, but she and her fiance, Michael Casteel, are preparing to receive the sacrament of matrimony there a few months later. And Swan, the new second-grade teacher at the parish school, is making her preparations for first Communion along with her pupils, who will receive the sacrament later this spring. Swan is one of the catechumens and candidates in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., who participated in the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion Feb. 25 at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in St. Joseph. Two other liturgies for candidates and catechumens were celebrated the day before at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City. In all, the diocese has 580 people preparing to be baptized or to enter into full communion with the church this spring. For catechumens, people not yet baptized, the final part of the journey began with a Rite of Election on or near the first Sunday of Lent. For candidates, who are already baptized Christians, the start of Lent meant participating in a Call to Continuing Conversion. Many candidates were raised in a different faith. Some were baptized Catholic but never received first Communion as children or were not confirmed. Catechumens will receive baptism, confirmation and first Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. Candidates will enter full communion with the church by receiving confirmation and first Eucharist.

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Disaster planning, follow-up lagging, speaker tells ethicists

CHICAGO (CNS) — Preparation, response and follow-up to disasters, man-made and natural, is woefully inadequate in the U.S., and Catholic health care must help bring the social justice aspects of that situation to light, a physician and educator said March 2. Dr. Erin Egan, who is also an attorney and teaches both bioethics and internal medicine at Loyola University Chicago, addressed a workshop session on “Preparing for the Worst: Issues in Disaster Planning” at a gathering of Catholic health care ethicists in the Chicago suburb of Maywood. “Ten years ago most of us wouldn’t have cared about any of this,” Egan said. “We weren’t thinking about them then and I’m not sure we’re thinking about them well now.” But more than 18 months after Hurricane Katrina hit, “so many horrible things are still happening in New Orleans, and it’s off our radar,” she said. “We in Catholic health care have to keep the faith that we’ll be there until the problems are resolved.” Egan divided types of disasters into four categories: natural geological disasters such as Hurricane Katrina; natural infectious disasters such as avian flu; man-made explosive disasters such as the bombings of the World Trade Center’s twin towers or the Oklahoma City federal building; and man-made infectious disasters such as anthrax. She said she had undergone emergency preparedness training through the Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team but did not know any other colleague at Loyola who had done so.

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Ethicist sees mounting challenges to Catholic values in health care

CHICAGO (CNS) — The question about Catholic health care is not so much whether the church should do it as how the church can do it, according to the final speaker at a conference on “Catholic Health Care Ethics: the Tradition and Contemporary Culture.” Michael Panicola, vice president for ethics at SSM Health Care in St. Louis, spent much of his talk on the challenges to Catholic health care discussing the myriad issues that make it difficult for institutions to provide health care in accord with Catholic values in contemporary American society. His comments came at the end of a three-day conference sponsored by the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and the Catholic Health Association of the United States, in conjunction with the Chicago Medical Society. Challenges include working in a “morally diverse” society where even many Catholics do not understand church teachings, especially on the beginning and end of life; a growing anti-Catholic sentiment, in which Catholic health care institutions have been attacked by groups that support a right to abortion and state attorneys general; and an aging population that will require more care combined with a trend toward lower reimbursements for providing that care, Panicola said. Those issues combine with what Panicola described as a sense of mistrust between health care administrators and some bishops. In addition, there is tension between the Catholic value of the common good and the American emphasis on the individual, rising health care costs and the growing population of uninsured patients.

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Diocese says Terry McAuliffe can’t speak at Catholic alma mater

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (CNS) — The Syracuse Diocese made headlines when it denied former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe an opportunity to speak at his alma mater, Bishop Ludden Junior/Senior High School. McAuliffe was initially scheduled to speak to about 100 fellow alumni at Ludden Feb. 24, and hold a signing for his new book, “What a Party! My Life Among Democrats, Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators, and Other Wild Animals.” His appearance at the school was originally approved in January, but several days before the event the diocese withdrew permission for him to speak there. Father Cliff Auth, diocesan chancellor, said the reversal was a direct result of comments McAuliffe made in a Jan. 29 interview with radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt. During the interview Hewitt asked McAuliffe about Catholic background and his views on abortion and McAuliffe said, “I am pro-choice, no question about it.” A little later Hewitt said, “No, but I mean, the whole abortion controversy, that’s just … you compartmentalize that and put that aside?” McAuliffe answered, “I can, as can many Catholics.”

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Speakers discuss cultural barriers to end-of-life care for minorities

CHICAGO (CNS) — Cultural differences and trust issues are adversely impacting end-of-life care for the African-American and Latino populations, two speakers told a gathering of Catholic ethicists. Dr. Richard Payne, director of the Institute on Care at the End of Life at Duke University Divinity School in Durham, N.C., and Dr. Teresa Ramos, director of the internal medicine residency program at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, outlined those differences and ways to overcome them in separate talks March 1 to a conference on “Catholic Health Care Ethics: The Tradition and Contemporary Culture.” Payne opened his talk by noting that some feelings about death and dying “cut across race, gender and socioeconomic class.” These include a desire not to die alone, to be free of physical symptoms, to experience a death in accordance with spiritual and other personal preferences and to not be a burden on one’s family, he said. Payne added African-Americans have a fundamental ambivalence toward death, seeing it on the one hand as a “welcomed friend, bringing the decedent ‘home’ to a better life” while at the same time as “a struggle to overcome, given all the unfairness of treatment of the living.” Ramos, in her talk, also cited the strong influence of religious factors in how Latinos view end-of-life care. She said, for example, that pain and suffering are viewed by many Hispanics as “a test of faith” and thus not something for which relief would immediately be sought.

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Polish bishops criticize priest’s book on clergy links to communists

OXFORD, England (CNS) — Polish church leaders have criticized a priest’s book that examines clergy links with communist secret police in Poland. “It shows a worrying lack of concern for humanist principles,” Archbishop Jozef Zycinski of Lublin told Poland’s Catholic information agency, KAI. “I fear God will deal severely with those who’ve created such a sensation, treating secret police notes as a fount of truth which needn’t even be contrasted with other sources.” Archbishop Damian Zimon of Katowice said in a March 1 statement that the book “tendentiously selected” secret police material “with the aim not of seeking truth but of impugning the good name” of Bishop Wiktor Skworc of Tarnow, who was accused of collaborating with communists in the book. Archbishop Zimon said he had instructed Bishop Skworc to meet with the secret police to “defuse social tensions” in southern Poland. He added that the book’s author, Father Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski, had “no formal or moral right” to investigate priests outside of the priest’s the Archdiocese of Krakow. The book, called “Priests in the Face of the Security Service,” was released Feb. 28 by the Catholic Znak Publishing House and is based on Father Isakowicz-Zaleski’s 18 months of archive analysis.

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Polish leaders express praise for new head of Warsaw Archdiocese

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Two months after Pope Benedict XVI’s first choice as archbishop of Warsaw, Poland, resigned amid accusations of collaborating with communists, the pope named a 57-year-old bishop to take the post. Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz, who had been bishop of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg, was named archbishop of Warsaw March 3. Newspapers have published quotations from the file that communist Poland’s secret police kept on the cleric, saying that he repeatedly had refused to cooperate. A Polish priest’s new book describes how the secret police attempted over the course of 12 years to recruit Archbishop Nycz as an informer but gave up in the face of his refusals. Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus was named archbishop of Warsaw in December, but resigned during his installation Mass Jan. 7 after two separate commissions said they had seen signed documents indicating he had “deliberately and secretly collaborated” with Poland’s secret police. In an interview with Vatican Radio March 4, Archbishop Nycz said that from the time he was named bishop of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg in 2004 he “was convinced that the entire past — mine, that of the priests and of the entire church — had to be faced, because the past of the Polish church is heroic.”

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Prayer matter of eternal life, death for Christians, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI said prayer was not optional for Christians but a matter of eternal life and death. He made the remarks at a noon blessing March 4, the day after finishing a weeklong spiritual retreat at the Vatican. The pope said Christ demonstrated in key moments of his own life that prayer is not an “evasion of reality” but a way to deepen the acceptance of life’s responsibilities and God’s will. “Dear brothers and sisters, prayer is not an accessory, an optional, but rather is a question of life or of death. In fact, only someone who prays and who trusts in God with filial love can enter into eternal life,” he said. He encouraged everyone to find time for silence, meditation and prayer during Lent.

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Australian cardinal launches countdown to World Youth Day 2008

SYDNEY, Australia (CNS) — Cardinal George Pell of Sydney launched the 500-day countdown to World Youth Day 2008 and encouraged pilgrim groups to register online early for the event. “It’s a long way to Australia from other parts of the world, you can’t just get on a bus in Warsaw and drive here,” Cardinal Pell said at the launch March 2 in front of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney. A giant digital clock in front of the cathedral will count down the days until Sydney hosts World Youth Day in July 2008. “Our wish is to avoid a situation as occurred when Rome hosted World Youth Day (2000) and three quarters of a million pilgrims decided to come in the last three weeks,” Cardinal Pell said. Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, the chief organizer of World Youth Day 2008, said most come to the approximately five-day events as members of diocesan pilgrim groups, religious movements and youth groups. He said online registration of groups had been opened up four months earlier “to capture information” on expected numbers, language groups and special needs.

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Australia takes charge of World Youth Day cross, icon

SYDNEY, Australia (CNS) — Australia has taken charge of the World Youth Day cross and Marian icon, symbols of the world’s largest youth event which have traveled tens of thousands of miles around the world. The cross and icon left Madagascar in February for Korea, where Australia’s stewardship began and will continue until the end of World Youth Day Sydney in July 2008. While on the Korean peninsula, the cross and icon were carried to the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea. The zone is the most heavily armed border in the world. Australian Father Chris Ryan, who will to lead the cross and icon on a 12-month journey throughout Australia, went to the zone to pray with some 40 young Koreans. “I went with the WYD cross and icon to the Freedom Bridge that 12,773 POWs (prisoners of war) used in the Korean War to return to the South in 1953,” Father Ryan told Catholic News Service in an interview from Imjingak, near the zone. “We prayed for the reunification of North and South Korea. The bridge has become the symbol of reunification in Korea. “The sight of the WYD cross with the Korean flag and razor wire behind it provided a stark backdrop for the simple prayer and rosary of the young pilgrims who had gathered there,” he said. The cross and icon will travel through 20 nations in Asia and Oceania before arriving in Australia in July.

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At U.N., Vatican official discusses exploitation of women, girls

UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — When women are considered inferior beings, they face increased risks of exploitation, abuse and even death, said the Vatican’s permanent observer at the United Nations. “The inferior status bestowed upon women in certain places and upon female infants in particular” makes them particularly vulnerable, Archbishop Celestino Migliore told the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women March 2. “In some local traditions, they are thought of as a financial burden and are thus eliminated even before birth,” he said. “In this way, abortion, often considered a tool of liberation, is ironically employed by women against women.” Those who are allowed to live, he said, are often treated as a piece of property to be disposed of as soon as possible, contributing to a system in which marriage is simply a cover for “sexual exploitation and slave labor.” The phenomenon of “mail-order brides” is similar, he said. Any circumstance in which a girl or woman is treated as property and given or sold is a violation of her basic rights to dignity, freedom, health and security, the archbishop said.

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Ill-fated nomination only one piece of Eagleton’s political legacy

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Fated to be remembered principally as the vice presidential nominee who had to step down because of treatment for depression, Sen. Thomas Eagleton also made his mark in the Senate as a strong opponent of abortion and harsh critic of the war in Vietnam. Eagleton died March 4 at St. Mary’s Health Center in the St. Louis suburb of Richmond Heights from a combination of heart, respiratory and other problems. He was 77 years old. Although he served in various state offices in Missouri including as attorney general, and spent three terms in the U.S. Senate, Eagleton’s lasting moment in the spotlight came in 1972 when he was nominated as the Democratic candidate for vice president. Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota topped the ticket. When it was disclosed by the news media that Eagleton had been treated in the 1960s for depression with shock therapy, he stepped down, after little more than two weeks as nominee. In an interview days after being nominated, Eagleton said he found it particularly interesting how little was being made of his Catholicism only 12 years after being Catholic was treated as a liability during the campaign of President John F. Kennedy. “The thing that was important in getting me the nomination was such a liability in 1960,” Eagleton said.

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Even after 40 years, Celtic band finds some songs too touchy to play

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Even after playing professionally for 40 years, Cathal McConnell, a flutist and vocalist for the Celtic music band Boys of the Lough, finds there are some songs that are too sensitive to make the group’s repertoire. They deal with the dicey relationship between religion and politics in the British Isles. “Although I’m Catholic and Dave (Richardson, the band’s other original member) would be Protestant, I suppose we tend to avoid all those type of things,” McConnell said in a telephone interview with Catholic News Service from Richardson’s home in Edinburgh, Scotland. “I have some political songs in my repertoire, but for the most part I tend to avoid those. It might be OK to try some of those songs — some of those songs are very good — but that would be a democratic band decision.” McConnell added, “Myself being from Northern Ireland, you know, 30 years ago, it wasn’t safe to sing some of these songs, you know? You would tend to be careful. You wouldn’t want to hurt somebody’s feelings. The answer to that is we tend to walk a fairly conservative line.” While some bands may specialize in that branch of music, “that’s their situation,” McConnell told CNS. “If I were to sing political songs they would be much older songs like ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley,’ which was written in 1798, or something like that.”

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U.S. seminarians win opening soccer match amid prayers, high suspense

ROME (CNS) — The goal was a bullet into the net, and as his cheering teammates mobbed Daniel O’Mullane it seemed like a World Cup celebration. O’Mullane had just led Pontifical North American College to a dramatic first-round victory in the 16-team Clericus Cup, the soccer tournament exclusively for priests and seminarians in Rome. The North American College squad beat the highly touted Pontifical Urbanian University 4-3 March 3 in a shootout after regular time ended in a 0-0 tie. When O’Mullane made the final shot, pandemonium erupted among the 60 or so U.S. flag-waving fans who watched from the sidelines. “I felt some pressure. I’d never been in that position before,” O’Mullane said after the match. The 25-year-old seminarian, a native of England and a naturalized U.S. citizen, is co-captain of the North American College squad, which calls itself the North American Martyrs. As Msgr. James F. Checchio, rector of the North American College, paced nearby, the teams lined up for the shootout of five kicks each. The first Martyrs shooter bounced one off the crossbar. Urbanian had the lead briefly, but one of its players sent a shot sailing over the net. Then with the shootout deadlocked at 2-2, Martyrs goalie Andrew Roza made a brilliant save, just getting a hand on a sharp skidding shot. O’Mullane’s winning goal came two kicks later.

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Nebraska couple follows winding path to Catholicism

LINCOLN, Neb. (CNS) — For Bruce and Molly Hartford of Lincoln, the path to Catholicism was winding. When they first met she wouldn’t date him because he was an atheist and she, a strong evangelical Protestant, would only date Christians. At the time he was taking his widowed grandmother to Methodist services, where the preacher tried to convert him. He said he began to read the Bible to find ways to rebut the preacher’s and Molly’s arguments for Christianity, but that backfired. Instead he became a believer and was baptized. The Hartfords subsequently began dating and eventually married. They attended an evangelical church in Fremont and later, when they moved to Lincoln, a nondenominational church. Bruce Hartford’s disagreements with Protestant theology led him to read extensively and to discuss religious questions with Catholic co-workers, however. Drawn to Catholicism, he finally enrolled in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program at North American Martyrs Parish, but Molly Hartford resisted. “I was not going to become Catholic,” she said. The two told the Southern Nebraska Register, Lincoln diocesan newspaper, that they discussed and debated the RCIA material almost nightly after the children were asleep. They also started reading David Currie’s book, “Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic.” Molly Hartford said that when they got to the chapter on authority late last year, she suddenly realized, “Catholicism didn’t contradict what I believed. It was everything I believed, but it gave it much more fullness.” At the Easter Vigil the Hartfords and their children will be received into the church together.

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Popular Chicago pastor to head Catholic Church Extension Society

CHICAGO (CNS) — Father John J. “Jack” Wall, pastor of Chicago’s historic Old St. Patrick’s Church, has been named president of the Chicago-based Catholic Church Extension Society. His appointment was announced March 1. Father Wall succeeds Bishop William R. Houck, 80, who retired from the post at the end of February. Catholic Extension serves 80-plus mission dioceses in the United States. Over its 100-year history, it has distributed more than $400 million in donations for church construction, religious education and seminary formation, campus and outreach ministries, evangelization and salaries for missionaries. For Father Wall, the church’s mission is defined more by what it does than where it is located, after seeing his own parish reach far beyond its local ZIP code. Since he started at Old St. Patrick’s as pastor in 1983, he has seen the parish grow to more than 4,000 active members. “At Old St. Pat’s, I knew early on that the traditional, geographically or ethnically defined parish was not what could happen here,” said Father Wall, a co-founder of the popular Theology on Tap program for young adult Catholics. The church, which is the city’s oldest public building, concentrated on serving young adult Catholics in Chicago as well as professionals from the nearby business district.


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