A Look at Today (03.08.07)

No events in Diocese today

Today’s Readings

First Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
Gospel: Luke 16:19-31

Today’s CNS Headlines 

Thousands encouraged to embrace ‘God’s transforming light’

ANAHEIM, Calif. (CNS) — The transformational power of God’s light in individual lives, communities and the world was the theme weaving through scores of workshops, inspiring music, films and multicultural liturgies at the 40th anniversary gathering of the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim. March 1 was an all-day youth event that kicked off the March 2-4 congress. “We come today ready to stand afresh in God’s light,” said Sister Edith Prendergast, a Religious Sister of Charity who is director of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ religious education office. “Much like in a theater as the play begins, the house lights are dimmed and a very strong light is centered onstage calling all attention to one central focus. Today the spotlight is on God, who is light,” she said during the opening rite and welcome. The theme of “Stand in the Light” was carried throughout the congress, which broke previous attendance records, topping more than 40,000 participants, including nearly 15,500 youths and young people for Youth Day. Attendees came not just from California but from around the U.S. and several other countries.

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Bill would make Vermont second state to allow doctor-assisted suicide

MONTPELIER, Vt. (CNS) — Father Jay C. Haskin agrees with Vermont Gov. James Douglas that Vermont should become an “e-state.” But unlike the governor’s “e” for electronic, Father Haskin’s “e” stands for ethical. “Vermont is in a unique position to lead the nation in becoming an e-state — an ethical state,” Father Haskin said at a Vermont Senate Health and Welfare Committee public hearing on physician-assisted suicide at the Statehouse in Montpelier Feb. 27. The bill would allow physicians to assist in the death of terminally ill patients. “Vermont should be known for the highest ethical standards and promote the dignity and sanctity of life,” Father Haskin said in opposing the measure. “Vermont should not be known as a d-state where death by suicide is sanctioned and permitted.”

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Directives said to help Catholic hospitals be ‘schools of compassion’

CHICAGO (CNS) — If Catholic health providers truly take up the “moral commitments” contained in the “Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care Services,” their hospitals will be “schools of compassion” and “networks of support” for their patients, a gathering of Catholic ethicists was told Feb. 28. John Hardt, an assistant professor at the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy at Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago, joined Dominican Father Kevin O’Rourke, a professor at the institute, in a presentation on the directives on the first day of a three-day conference on “Catholic Health Care Ethics: The Tradition and Contemporary Culture.” The directives, most recently revised by the U.S. bishops in 2001, guide Catholic health care facilities in addressing a wide range of ethical questions, such as abortion, euthanasia, care for the poor, medical research, treatment of rape victims, surrogate motherhood, in vitro fertilization, prenatal testing, nutrition and hydration for the terminally ill and organ donation. Calling the directives a “carefully crafted synopsis of the moral commitments that mark us as Catholic,” Hardt said the document describes “not only what we do but also the spirit in which it ought to be done.”

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Youths say care packages give troops a little bit of home

WINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ind. (CNS) — Sgt. 1st Class Gary Kinney called it “efficiency in action” — an assembly line of junior high youths from Holy Spirit Parish preparing care packages for military personnel serving in Iraq. For the third consecutive year the junior high youth group prepared packages containing food, reading materials and toiletries for military personnel. Kinney, a member of the National Guard who served one year in Iraq with the 113th Engineering Battalion, addressed the parish youths before they prepared more than 50 packages for mailing. “I know what it’s like to be overseas,” said Kinney, noting that those packages from home “definitely meant a lot to us.” Some of the three dozen parish youths who gathered March 3 at the church in Winfield Township filled out mailing forms; others wrote letters that went inside the packages; and the largest group filled packages with magazines, canned goods, tissues and wipes, socks, beef jerky, hard candy, gum, fruit snacks and powdered drink mixes.

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CRS collection planned for March 17-18 in U.S. parishes

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Catholic Relief Services collection, which funds five Catholic social ministry agencies, is planned for March 17-18 in parishes across the United States. The agencies sponsor programs involving emergency relief, refugee resettlement, immigration, peacemaking, pastoral care and advocacy for justice projects. Dates of the Lenten collection were announced March 5 in a joint statement by the U.S. bishops’ Department of Communications and CRS. The statement said Catholics were being asked to see “Jesus in disguise” in the faces of the poor and hungry helped through the church’s international social ministry. It said that more than 850 million people around the world are chronically hungry and that 15 million children die of hunger every year.

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‘Live Out Love’ theme of congress event for youths, young adults

ANAHEIM, Calif. (CNS) — Youth Day kicked off the 2007 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress with three eucharistic liturgies, 13 workshops and a closing, high-decibel rally at the Anaheim Convention Center. The March 1 all-day gathering, which preceded the March 2-4 congress, drew nearly 15,500 teenagers and young adults from 510 different youth groups. The theme was “Live Out Love.” At a morning liturgy in the packed arena, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles called Youth Day a “great joy” because it brought together so many thousands of young men and women committed to Jesus. During an innovative three-part homily, teenagers from St. Louis of France Church in La Puente shared reflections on how the day’s Scripture readings pertained to their own lives. Cardinal Mahony said it was great to hear teenagers talk so openly about how God was working in their lives.

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Faith, love and service all begin with prayer, says Providence bishop

SMITHFIELD, R.I. (CNS) — Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin addressed an interfaith audience at a recent prayer breakfast on the theme “prayer begets faith, faith begets love, and love begets service to the poor.” “It all begins with prayer. Prayer is a lifting up of our hearts and minds to God,” he said. “We are taught that there are different kinds of prayer, public prayer and personal prayer,” the bishop added, as well as formal prayer with memorized words and informal prayer to express one’s deepest aspirations to the Lord. “Prayer unites our spirit to the spirit of God,” Bishop Tobin told participants at the 11th Annual Interfaith Prayer Breakfast at Bryant University in Smithfield. He attributed the theme of his talk to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, whom the bishop noted spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994. The Smithfield event, held Feb. 23, drew local religious leaders and members of their congregations, civic leaders, university staff and students. It is modeled after the national breakfast, held every year in Washington during February.

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Jesuit says psychology needed to identify ‘deep-seated’ homosexuality

ROME (CNS) — A leading canon law expert said that in applying the Vatican’s directive against admission of homosexuals to the priesthood, seminary authorities should make use of psychological sciences to distinguish between “deep-seated” and transitory homosexual tendencies. Jesuit Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University and an adviser to several important Vatican agencies, said the use of psychology was a complex but necessary means of establishing the true nature of homosexual traits. Psychological evaluations alone can never substitute for the informed decisions of bishops and seminary authorities, but such testing must be taken into serious consideration, Father Ghirlanda said. He made his comments in the March 4 issue of the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica (Catholic Civilization), whose contents are reviewed by the Vatican prior to publication.

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Pope says church hierarchy was willed by God to ensure unity in faith

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church was willed by God to ensure unity in faith, Pope Benedict XVI said. The church “is not a place of confusion or anarchy where each person can do what he wants at the moment,” the pope said March 7 at his weekly general audience. The pope’s speech marked the beginning of a new series of audience talks on the “apostolic fathers,” the first and second generation of church leaders after the Twelve Apostles. Pope Benedict began the series by focusing on St. Clement, the bishop of Rome at the end of the first century, and on his letter to the Christian community in Corinth. St. Clement wrote the letter to address “the serious problems” the Corinthians were experiencing, the pope said. “In fact, the priests of the community had been deposed by some young challengers,” he said. Exhorting the Corinthians “to reconcile in peace, renew their faith and affirm the tradition that they had recently received from apostles,” St. Clement’s letter “is the first exercise of the primacy of Rome after the death of St. Peter,” the pope said.

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Jews react strongly to remarks made by German bishops in West Bank

COLOGNE, Germany (CNS) — Remarks made by German bishops during a recent visit to the West Bank have caused a storm of reaction from Jewish leaders in Germany. The Central Council of Jews in Germany and the Israeli Embassy responded angrily to comments by Bishop Gregor Hanke of Eichstaett, who compared the situation of Palestinians in Ramallah with that of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto in Poland during World War II. For his part, Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg described the Israel-Palestinian situation as “almost racism.” The bishops were on a weeklong pilgrimage, which ended March 4 with a visit to Ramallah in the West Bank. The bishops toured Israel and met with Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as with Rabbi Yona Metzger, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, and local bishops and priests. They also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. According to news reports, Bishop Hanke said: “In the morning (we saw) pictures of the inhumane Warsaw ghetto at Yad Vashem, in the evening we travel to the ghetto in Ramallah. You can only hit the roof.” Bishop Mixa also referred to Ramallah as a “ghettolike situation.”

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Argentine church dismayed over free morning-after pill, says official

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNS) — Catholic Church leaders in Argentina are dismayed over the government’s decision to distribute the morning-after pill for free in public hospitals, said a church official. “We were surprised, and we regret the move,” said Father Ruben Revello, coordinator of the Institute of Bioethics at the Catholic University of Argentina. He told Catholic News Service March 6 that he was taken aback by the decision because a legal complaint by a nongovernmental organization that the drug’s packaging described it falsely as only having a contraceptive effect remained unresolved. Father Revello said the church would continue to press its position that the morning-after pill “does have an abortive effect, and we are basing that on scientific studies.”

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Cardinal honored for immigration work, presses reform agenda on Hill

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony was honored for his commitment to immigrants with the Public Service Award from the National Council of La Raza March 6. In a ceremony during the organization’s annual Capital Awards gala in Washington, Cardinal Mahony and two members of Congress, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., received awards for their efforts on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform legislation. A statement from Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, said Cardinal Mahony was honored for “the courage he has shown in paving the way for true immigration reform and for his long-standing commitment to immigrants and his efforts to combat anti-immigrant policies.” During his visit in Washington, Cardinal Mahony also made the rounds of congressional and White House offices, lobbying for passage of an immigration reform bill that includes a path to legalization for the estimated 12 million immigrants already in the country illegally, a guest worker program, appropriate border security measures and improvements in the system for reuniting families that are separated by long waits for visas.

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Bishop, one of the most outspoken during Brazil’s dictatorship, dies

SAO PAULO, Brazil (CNS) — Bishop Jose Ivo Lorscheiter, the retired bishop of Santa Maria, Brazil, and one of the most outspoken bishops in Brazil during the country’s military regime, died at the age of 79. Bishop Lorscheiter, who was buried March 6 in Santa Maria, where he died the day before of multiple organ failure, was part of a group of clergy who took the lead in combating the 1964-1985 Brazilian military regime. He became the auxiliary bishop of Port Alegre in 1966. Five years later he became secretary-general of the bishops’ conference, a post he held from 1971 to 1979. He was president of the Brazilian bishops’ conference from 1979 to 1987.

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Pope names archbishop of Genoa as new president of Italian bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Camillo Ruini as president of the Italian bishops’ conference and named Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa to succeed him. The unusual statutes of the Italian bishops’ conference do not foresee the election of the conference president, but rather leave the choice to the pope as bishop of Rome and primate of Italy. The Vatican announced March 7 that Pope Benedict had accepted 76-year-old Cardinal Ruini’s resignation because of his age. The announcement did not refer to the cardinal’s ongoing position as the papal vicar of the Diocese of Rome. Archbishop Bagnasco, 64, was named archbishop of Genoa in August to succeed Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who had been appointed Vatican secretary of state.


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