A Look at Today (03.21.07)

Today’s Diocesan Events 

Bishop Pfeifer at St. Mary’s San Angelo, for Soup and Sermon Lunch, Noon


Deacon Frank Trudo (1992)

Today’s Readings

First Reading: Isaiah 49:8-15
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 145:8-9, 13-14, 17-18
Gospel: John 5:17-30

Today’s Headlines from the Catholic News Service


Maryland Catholics optimistic despite defeat of ban on death penalty

BALTIMORE (CNS) — Despite the defeat of a bill to ban the death penalty in Maryland, Catholic leaders said they were encouraged that the abolitionist cause appears to have gathered significant strength after many years of frustrated efforts. Known as SB 211, the bill would have replaced the death penalty with prison sentences of life without parole, but it was killed March 15 in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on a 5-5 vote. The bill needed six votes in favor to go the Senate floor. “The progress we have made in the short time of the last year has been nothing short of astounding,” said Richard J. Dowling, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, a key bill supporter. “I believe that we had sufficient votes in the House Judiciary Committee and on the floor of the House and Senate,” he said. “I’m very upbeat about how far the church and other repeal advocates have come.” Dowling said the support of Gov. Martin J. O’Malley, a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Baltimore, who forcefully testified in the bill’s favor, also has breathed new life in the abolitionist cause. The Democratic governor promised to sign the measure into law if it reached his desk.

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Program helps San Francisco church workers to ‘shield the vulnerable’

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — The Archdiocese of San Francisco’s broadly required screening and training of volunteers and employees who work with the young could be acting as a strong deterrent to potential abusers, according to officials overseeing the implementation of the program. More than 6,000 priests, educators, catechists, coaches and volunteers who work with the youths and youth programs of the archdiocese have taken the training mandated last October by Archbishop George H. Niederauer, the officials told Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper. Part of the archdiocese’s “Protecting God’s Children” pastoral outreach, the curriculum focuses on how to recognize, report and prevent child abuse. Titled Shield the Vulnerable, it was developed by archdiocesan human resources, pastoral ministry and legal offices in cooperation with an independent vendor, LawRoom.

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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 13,000 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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Bicentennial book highlights history of Philadelphia Archdiocese

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — To commemorate its 200 years of Catholicism, the Philadelphia Archdiocese has produced an official bicentennial book. The nearly 300-page hardcover, titled “Our Faith-Filled Heritage: The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, 1808-2008,” will cost $30 and be available through archdiocesan parishes. The publisher is Editions du Signe, a religious book publisher in Strasbourg, France. A coffee-table book, it will contain glossy, full-color photos and graphics, and will feature historical accounts of pivotal people and events in the history of the archdiocese. It will be printed in English and Spanish this summer. The archdiocesan bicentennial celebration opens this Easter, April 8, and concludes April 13, 2008. The bicentennial book traces the history of the archdiocese from the settling of Pennsylvania in the 1680s to the present day, according to its general editor, Father Philip G. Bochanski. Ordained a priest for the archdiocese in 1999, Father Bochanski is a novice in the Philadelphia Congregation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri.

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Utah brothers’ sex abuse case dismissed due to statute of limitations

SALT LAKE CITY (CNS) — In a unanimous decision announced March 13, the day before Bishop John C. Wester was installed as bishop of Salt Lake City, the Utah Supreme Court affirmed the lower courts’ dismissal of a civil lawsuit in which two brothers said a priest had sexually abused them in the 1970s. The court, which heard oral arguments in the case more than a year earlier, said the statute of limitations had expired long ago in the cases brought against the Diocese of Salt Lake City by Charles Colosimo, 45, and Ralph Colosimo, 53. The brothers charged that then-Father James Rapp abused them between 1970 and 1975. They had sought $80 million in damages from the diocese; Rapp; Judge Memorial Catholic High School in Salt Lake City, where Rapp taught; three priests who were administrators at the school; and the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, the religious order to which Rapp formerly belonged. Rapp did not face criminal charges in Utah but pleaded no contest in 1999 to a sex abuse charge in Oklahoma and is serving a 40-year prison sentence.

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Holy Cross ministries’ annual pilgrimage to include beatification

NORTH EASTON, Mass. (CNS) — The beatification of Father Basil-Antoine Marie Moreau, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, will be part of the annual pilgrimage this year sponsored by Holy Cross Family Ministries. The beatification ceremony takes place Sept. 15 in Le Mans, France. Led by Holy Cross Father John Phalen, president of Holy Cross Family Ministries in North Easton, the Sept. 9-17 pilgrimage to France also will include stops in Lourdes and Paris. “This year’s pilgrimage will be unique,” Father Phalen said in a statement. “We will come together with representatives from the entire congregation to participate in a very holy event.” The congregation founded by Father Moreau in 1837 is now a worldwide religious community with more than 1,800 priests and brothers serving in 17 countries. He also established the Marianites of Holy Cross, serving in France and Louisiana; Sisters of the Holy Cross in Indiana; and Sisters of Holy Cross in Canada.

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London churches to receive guidebooks on reducing energy consumption

LONDON (CNS) — More than 4,000 churches in London will receive guidebooks about the importance of protecting the environment and how to reduce energy consumption. The guidebook, which was created by Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Orthodox and evangelical churches in the British capital, provides advice on how Christians can contribute to stopping climate change. It also contains tips on reducing heating bills, for example, fitting insulation and installing energy-efficient lighting. The book also includes useful tips such as car-sharing schemes for church services and setting up recycling programs. Called “For Creed and Creation: A Simple Guidebook for Running a Greener Church,” the book will be supported by a telephone advice line. In a statement March 15, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster welcomed the book, which was released March 14 and will be distributed for free. He said Catholics have a duty to take care of God’s creation.

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Catholics launch fight against loosening abortion laws in Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Catholics and civic organizations have launched a campaign against a Mexico City proposal to legalize abortion during the first three months of pregnancy. The proposal “has awoken the conscience of civil society in this city,” said Armando Martinez, president of the College of Catholic Lawyers in Mexico City, at a March 18 press conference after Mass in Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral. Martinez said the proposal would violate the Mexican Constitution, and he pledged to file a challenge before the nation’s highest court if it is approved. Abortion in Mexico is currently permitted only in cases of rape; however, in Mexico City, it is also allowed if the mother’s life is in danger. Lawmakers said they will discuss the bill in coming weeks. But it is expected to be approved with the support of the city’s majority, left-leaning Democratic Revolution Party. Martinez said the Mexican College of Catholic Lawyers has united with other civic organizations to form the “We Are Life” coalition, which has been organizing a protest for March 22 in front of the city assembly.

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Palestinian legislator says new Cabinet likely to succeed

JERUSALEM (CNS) — A Catholic Palestinian legislator praised the new Palestinian Cabinet and said it was likely to succeed. “This is a good start,” said Bernard Sabella, a Fatah member of the Palestinian Parliament. “In effect it is a government which combines the more practical and pragmatic elements of Fatah, the independents and second-rank Hamas” members. Fatah and Hamas are Palestinian political factions with radical members and representation in government. Sabella said the Cabinet, or new unity government, had “almost unanimous” support from Parliament, an indication the political factions wanted an end to the violent infighting. Fatah and Hamas in mid-March concluded months of negotiations — during which their armed factions also clashed in the streets of Gaza and the West Bank, leaving dozens dead and many more injured. Parliament approved the 25-member Cabinet, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in the members.

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Church officials: South Africa unprepared to help Zimbabwean refugees

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — South Africa is unprepared to meet the needs of thousands of people fleeing political and economic problems in neighboring Zimbabwe, Catholic officials in South Africa said. “Every day more and more people seek our help, and the blankets and food that we distribute are quickly used up,” said Pierre Matate, coordinator of projects for Emmanuel Cathedral Parish in the Durban Archdiocese and the head of Durban’s refugee services. Matate, who was a political refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, called on South African churches to open their halls at night to give Zimbabweans shelter. “This is a crisis situation, and they (Zimbabweans) are traumatized,” Matate told Catholic News Service March 16 in a telephone interview from Durban. “If we could provide them with a place to sleep for awhile, it would give them the peace of mind they need to get on their feet again,” he said.

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Qwest executive elected to head Notre Dame’s board of trustees

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (CNS) — Richard C. Notebaert, chairman and CEO of Qwest Communications International, has been elected chairman of the University of Notre Dame’s board of trustees. His three-year term begins July 1. Notebaert, a member of the Notre Dame board since 1997, will succeed Patrick F. McCartan, senior partner of Jones Day international law firm, who has served on the board for 18 years, the last seven as chairman. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Notebaert also has served as a fellow of the university and will continue to do so. The fellows — six lay members and six priests of the Congregation of Holy Cross — are the university’s ultimate governing body. They elect trustees, adopt and amend bylaws and are specifically charged with maintaining Notre Dame’s Catholic character.

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Curiosity prompts novelist to write new version of Judas’ story

ROME (CNS) — Curiosity about the New Testament figure of Judas and a feeling that his reputation as the worst sinner in history “isn’t fair, isn’t right” led British novelist Jeffrey Archer to attempt a new version of the story. Archer, presenting “The Gospel According to Judas by Benjamin Iscariot” at a March 20 press conference in Rome, said he is a practicing Anglican who wanted his new book to be backed up by solid biblical scholarship. So he convinced Father Francis J. Moloney, provincial of the Salesians in Australia and a former president of the Catholic Biblical Association of America, to collaborate. Father Moloney, who served on the International Theological Commission for 18 years when it was under the presidency of the future Pope Benedict XVI, provided scholarly criticism of the text and wrote the bulk of the theological notes and clarifications found at the end of the book. The text in the gilded pages of Archer’s book is organized into chapters and verses, like a real Gospel, with the words he attributes to Jesus written in red.

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Justice for Immigrants manager accused of stealing immigrants’ funds

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The director of the U.S. bishops’ national immigration campaign, Justice for Immigrants, has been suspended with pay after police in Austin, Texas, issued a warrant charging him with the theft of approximately $63,000 from a diocesan program to aid immigrants. Leo Anchondo, 34, was charged with felony theft in an arrest warrant issued March 15. An affidavit accompanying the warrant included the report of an Austin police detective describing his investigation into the theft of more than $60,000 from Immigrant Concerns, a program of Catholic Charities of Central Texas. Anchondo worked as director of Immigrant Concerns from 2002 to 2005. In 2005 he moved to Washington to become national manager of the Justice for Immigrants campaign of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. A statement from Catholic Charities of Central Texas said the agency had asked police to help resolve the disappearance of funds. Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the USCCB, said that when the arrest warrant was made public Anchondo was placed on indefinite leave with pay. Telephone calls made by Catholic News Service to Anchondo’s home March 20 were not answered.

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