No events in diocese today
First Reading: Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9
Gospel: John 5:1-3, 5-16
Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service
Scripture, song and prayer mark religious start to anti-war protests
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Scripture readings were interspersed with testimonies from a U.S. soldier, Iraqis and the mother of a slain National Guard sergeant at a crowded prayer vigil March 16 that kicked off weekend anti-war protests in Washington and around the country. With nearly 3,000 people packed into the Episcopal Church’s National Cathedral and hundreds more in overflow space at other churches, Catholic, Methodist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Baptist, Mennonite, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Quaker and Seventh-day Adventist leaders set the stage for a late-night march to the White House in bitter cold wind and snow. After walking just under four miles to the White House from the cathedral, participants carrying battery-operated candles prayed for peace. Dozens who refused police orders to keep moving were arrested in planned acts of nonviolent resistance. The next day, thousands of protesters gathered near the Lincoln Memorial and marched to the Pentagon for an anti-war rally. At the National Cathedral, the focus of several “witness” reflections, as the program described them, was on the moral grounds for opposing the war.
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CARA directory identifies 165 emerging U.S. consecrated communities
WASHINGTON (CNS) — In a new directory the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate has identified 165 U.S. Catholic communities of consecrated life that have sprung up since 1965. A little more than half of the 152 communities that provided membership information by gender admit only women, CARA said, while 24 percent admit only men and 25 percent have men and women members. Of those 152, in 87 communities all make public vows or promises; in 43, all make private vows or promises; 10 have both vowed and unvowed members; and members do not make vows or promises in 12 communities. In all, the communities in the directory had more than 1,300 full members and several hundred members in formation. The 126-page directory, titled “Emerging Communities of Consecrated Life in the United States, 2006,” was released in early March. The directory is organized alphabetically by state. Each community’s listing includes the address, phone and fax numbers, e-mail contact, name of a contact person, date of founding, type of vows or promises, lifestyle, number of full members and number in formation, canonical status and other information to the extent available.
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Embryonic stem-cell research ‘crime against life,’ Kansas bishops say
WASHINGTON (CNS) — In an effort to counter moves toward government approval and funding of embryonic stem-cell research in Kansas, the state’s Catholic bishops said such research is “a crime against life” that compromises all of society without achieving any beneficial health effects. In a pastoral letter on “The Exorbitant Price of Embryonic Stem-Cell Research,” the heads of Kansas’ four Catholic dioceses sought to refute various arguments advanced in favor of research involving the destruction of human embryos. “It is never morally permissible to destroy one human life even if it is done in the hope of benefiting other human beings,” they said. “Laws intended to sanction embryonic stem-cell research are immoral because they give legal protection to the violation of the most fundamental of all human rights.” The bishops described their pastoral letter as an effort to provide “clarity amidst the confusion” about embryonic stem-cell research. They stressed the distinction between research that destroys embryos and other stem-cell research using cells obtained from adult tissue, umbilical-cord blood “and other sources that pose no moral problems.”
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Bishop Wester installed as head of Salt Lake City Diocese
SALT LAKE CITY (CNS) — In a joyful afternoon ceremony that included nearly 60 bishops, archbishops and cardinals from across the country, Bishop John C. Wester was officially installed as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City March 14. Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco, the eighth bishop of Salt Lake City from 1995 to 2005, presided over the installation of Bishop Wester, who had served as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of San Francisco since 1998. Celebrated in both English and Spanish, the Mass centered on readings from the Book of Exodus, the First Letter of John and the story in the Gospel of John about Mary Magdalene’s discovery of the empty tomb and her encounter with the risen Jesus. In his homily, Bishop Wester spoke of the many people who had formed him and helped prepare him for this day, including his father, the late Charles Wester. Bishop Wester told the crowd at the installation ceremony, “I am called to see and hear Christ through you. For you I am a bishop. With you I am a Christian.”
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Catholic Charities agencies, shelters to aid immigrant crime victims
DALLAS (CNS) — Three Catholic Charities partner agencies and three family violence shelters have joined forces to provide increased legal aid to immigrants victimized by crime or domestic violence in 70 north Texas counties. The North Texas Legal Assistance for Immigrant Victims Project involves Catholic Charities agencies in Dallas, Fort Worth and Tyler, as well as the Family Haven Crisis and Resource Center in Paris, the Women’s Center of East Texas in Longview and First Step Inc. in Wichita Falls. “Immigrants who are victims of crime or domestic violence often don’t know who to go to for help with legal matters, or that help is even available to them,” said Ana Olivares, an immigration counselor at Catholic Charities of Dallas. “They’re afraid of being deported if they go to the wrong person for help, so many times they don’t ask for help at all,” she added. “We want to change that.” A hot line has been established at (800) 466-6526; it will provide callers with information regarding family violence shelters, personal safety, immigration questions and other topics.
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Eucharist gives love of Jesus so it can be shared, says pope
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When Catholics nourish themselves with the Eucharist, the love of Jesus grows in them so that they can share that love with the world, Pope Benedict XVI said. “In the Eucharist, Christ wanted to give us his love, which led him to offer his life on the cross for us,” the pope said March 18 during his midday Angelus address. Speaking about his apostolic exhortation, “Sacramentum Caritatis” (“The Sacrament of Charity”), which was published March 13, the pope said he had wanted to emphasize the bond between the sacrament and the love of God demonstrated in Christ. He said Jesus himself underlined the bond at the Last Supper when he instituted the Eucharist and gave Christians the command to love others. “Because this is possible only by remaining united with him like branches with the vine, he has chosen to remain with us in the Eucharist so that we can remain in him,” the pope said.
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Austrian bishops announce details of pope’s September trip to Austria
VIENNA, Austria (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI will visit Austria Sept. 7-9 to celebrate the 850th anniversary of Austria’s most important Marian shrine, the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariazell, the country’s bishops announced. Pope Benedict will arrive in Vienna Sept. 7, lead a prayer service in the city center and then meet with government authorities and members of the diplomatic corps in the Hofburg Palace. The morning of Sept. 8, the pope will travel to Mariazell where he will celebrate Mass in the square outside the shrine’s basilica. Later, he will hold an evening prayer service with priests, seminarians, deacons and members of religious orders. Back in Vienna Sept. 9, the pope will celebrate Mass in St. Stephen’s Cathedral. After an afternoon visit to the ancient Cistercian Abbey of the Holy Cross outside Vienna and a meeting with city leaders, he will return to Rome, the bishops said.
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Pope tells youths at detention center joy involves discipline, freedom
ROME (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI visited a Rome juvenile detention center and told young people that true happiness involves discipline as well as freedom. The pope celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Casal del Marmo Prison for Minors March 18, then met with the 49 young detainees in a gym. Greeting them individually, he gave each one a blessing and a rosary. The young people, including many immigrants and non-Catholics, said they were moved by the fact that a pope would take time to visit them. “When they told us you were coming, we were shocked. We couldn’t imagine someone as important as you would come to see us,” one young man said in an official greeting to the pontiff. He said the young people at the center knew they had made mistakes, and “we know we have to pay, but the price is high and we suffer a lot.” The pope’s visit brought a ray of hope and festivity to the routine at the detention center, according to officials there.
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Some observers say Bush’s Latin America trip was too little, too late
LIMA, Peru (CNS) — While U.S. President George W. Bush’s weeklong swing through five Latin American countries in March was meant to show that the United States cares about its neighbors to the south, some observers have said it was too little, too late. “The problem is that he came at a time when U.S. aid to Latin America is being reduced, so he has little practical to offer beyond goodwill gestures,” said Farid Kahhat, head of international politics at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima. Lisa Haugaard, executive director of Latin America Working Group, said Bush claims U.S. aid to Latin America has doubled under his administration, but “he’s playing games with the numbers.” Latin America Working Group is a Washington-based coalition of faith-based, humanitarian and grass-roots groups. Aid “has probably gone up about one-third since the last year of the Clinton administration,” but about half is for military and anti-narcotics programs, Haugaard told Catholic News Service. Bush’s most concrete proposal came in Brazil, where he and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva unveiled a plan to promote ethanol to reduce dependence on petroleum.
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Iraqi bishop: Fours years of war brought increased spiral of cruelty
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Four years of war have brought an increasing spiral of cruelty and killing to Iraq, and left the country in a state of chaos, said Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad, Iraq. The war also has prompted a massive flight of Catholics and others from the country, leaving behind a shrinking Catholic minority, he said. Bishop Warduni made the comments to Vatican Radio March 19, the fourth anniversary of the U.S.-led bombing and invasion of Iraq. “Before the conflict broke out, I said that God does not want war in Iraq. Even then one could see that the consequences would be terrible,” the bishop said. “And in fact, the cruelty and the killing have increased from day to day. Children, youths, the old, the sick, we are all suffering, because the world is not thinking of what’s good for the Iraqi people,” he said. “Everyone is thinking of their own interests and so the Iraqis have been forgotten. Terrorism is increasing, and with it the number of orphans and widows,” he said.
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Lebanese bishops discuss church’s need for funding projects
BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNS) — Lebanon’s Maronite Catholic bishops called for peace and democracy in Lebanon, and discussed the need for increased funding of the church’s humanitarian projects. The church is in “dire need of funds to conduct humanitarian and charitable projects,” said Cardinal Nasrallah P Sfeir, the patriarch of Lebanon’s Maronite Catholic Church. “Though the church does not rely on money but on God, it still needs funds,” he said during mid-March meetings in Bkerke, the headquarters of the Maronite church. “Without money we cannot open orphanages, hospitals, schools, nurseries and infirmaries, or execute any other project,” the cardinal said. In a statement released after the March 12-13 meetings, the bishops said that Demianos Qattar, former Lebanese finance minister, offered the bishops several proposals “in a bid to improve the church’s financial situation and develop its institutions.”
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Lebanese peace activists form chain around Hezbollah-led protesters
BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNS) — The sun-swept streets of downtown Beirut were a picture of contrasting images as hundreds of peace activists formed a human chain around grubby tents housing hundreds of Hezbollah-led protesters. For nearly four months, the city’s financial and commercial heartland has been filled with the Hezbollah-led protesters, who have been calling for a new government with greater representation for the Shiite militant group’s allies. The sit-in has forced the closure of dozens of trendy bars and chic boutiques, at the cost of several hundred jobs and an estimated $20 million a day. The camp’s evening entertainment regularly entails blaring baritone anthems which laud Hezbollah fighters killed during last summer’s 34-day war with Israel. But for a couple of hours March 17, upbeat guitar melodies replaced the war tunes as smiling children, students and women from across Lebanon’s diverse religious spectrum formed a human chain, and called for a peaceful and unified Lebanon.
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North American team loses penalty kicks, still picks up point for tie
ROME (CNS) — The soccer team of the Pontifical North American College lost in a penalty shootout against the Croatian Seminary in Rome’s Clericus Cup tournament. Despite the loss, the North American Martyrs picked up a point for finishing regular time in a 1-1 tie. The March 17 game left the Martyrs near the top of the standings in their division. The tournament, which involves 16 teams made up of students from pontifical colleges and universities, ends in June. The Martyrs were playing without first-string goalie Andrew Roza, who was on a Lenten retreat. Text messages from the sidelines kept Roza informed of the game’s progress. North American struck first with a goal by co-captain Daniel O’Mullane, and took a 1-0 lead into halftime. But the Croats came back in the second period to tie the game, forcing the penalty kicks. Croatia converted all five penalty kicks. The Martyrs made three and missed one.
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Sixth-grader’s essay personalizes benefits of adult stem cells
SPARTA, N.J. (CNS) — In a recent essay on stem cells, 12-year-old Erik Massenzio managed to make the church’s teaching crystal clear: embryonic stem-cell use is morally unacceptable, while adult stem-cell use is acceptable and is saving lives now. The sixth-grader was writing from personal experience in “Adult Stem Cells Saved My Mom’s Life,” which took first place this year in a writing contest sponsored by the Respect Life Committee at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Sparta. Two years ago, Erik’s mother, Hedy, was diagnosed with leukemia. The outlook appeared bleak for her. But through an adult stem-cell transplant, which the young student describes in his essay, his mother was healed. Today, Hedy Massenzio is cancer-free. Erik said he “knew right away what to write about” when he and his schoolmates in grades 6-8 at Rev. George Brown School in Sparta were asked to write an essay on “How could a compassionate Catholic be against embryonic stem-cell research and yet support adult stem-cell research?” He said, “It was my mom that inspired me to write this essay.”
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Hundreds mourn Father Shanley, Carmelite journalist and educator
DARIEN, Ill. (CNS) — Hundreds gathered in Darien to mourn Carmelite Father Kevin O’Neill Shanley, who rubbed shoulders with Princess Grace of Monaco and Irish President Mary McAleese and became one of the first Carmelite priests to earn a master’s degree in journalism. Father Shanley, 75, shared his views in a variety of columns, including The Tinker’s Dam, a regular feature in the Irish American News. He also founded Carmelite News Service and wrote for numerous other publications, including The Sword magazine for the Carmelites, Celtic News Service, Senior Connections and the Catholic Explorer, newspaper of the Joliet Diocese. Following his Feb. 25 death from complications caused by a massive stroke, the life of the New Jersey-born priest with dual U.S. and Irish citizenship was celebrated in grand fashion at his March 1 wake at the National Shrine of St. Therese, located alongside his residence at St. Simon Stock Priory in Darien. Father John Welch, former provincial of the Carmelites’ Most Pure Heart of Mary Province, based in Darien, celebrated Father Shanley’s March 2 funeral Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Darien.
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Church whisperer: Blogger’s behind-the-scenes coverage brings buzz
WILMINGTON, Del. (CNS) — Here’s how Rocco Palmo announced his appearance at an upcoming Theology on Tap session in Wilmington in his blog, Whispers in the Loggia: “It’s a short trip down I-95 to Wilmington and another ToT, this time for Bishop Mickey and Co., offering some reflections and” — whoa! Did he say Bishop Mickey? He did. If Wilmington Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli is startled by the chummy reference, it could be worse. Palmo’s blog refers to his hometown’s archbishop, Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali, as “Pharaoh.” Whispers also features occasional references to “Fluffiness” and “The Fluff” — that would be Pope Benedict XVI, so dubbed, Palmo says, because of his wispy white hair. Palmo, 24 and single, has created buzz in certain church circles for Whispers, which he writes from his home in South Philadelphia. In addition to the blog, short for Web log, he writes a column called “Almost Holy” for the Paulist Fathers’ Web site, Busted Halo, and offers weekly reports for the British Catholic newspaper The Tablet. Palmo’s Whispers in the Loggia was first posted on the Internet in December 2004.