A Look at Today (03.22.07)

Today in the Diocese 

Bishop Pfeifer at Lenten Night of Prayer with Priests, Sisters, Deacons, Wives, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Midland, 7 p.m.

Today’s Readings

First Reading: Exodus 32:7-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 106:19-20, 21-22, 23
Gospel: John 5:31-47

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

Bishop, victims have spirited talk about child sex abuse cover-ups

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In a spirited exchange with victims of child sex abuse, the head of the U.S. bishops’ child protection committee said March 20 that bishops must work together to prevent cover-ups of clergy child sex abuse. Cover-ups cannot be condoned and several bishops and priests have resigned over cover-ups, some after being told to do so by the Vatican, said Bishop Gregory M. Aymond of Austin, Texas. “We can’t hold each other responsible. We are responsible to the pope,” he said of U.S. church leaders’ efforts to prevent cover-ups. Bishops rely on “fraternal correction” by which they try to influence a fellow bishop to alter his approach to sex abuse, he said. Bishop Aymond, chairman of the bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, spoke at Jesuit-run Georgetown University in Washington to assess the progress made since the bishops adopted sex abuse prevention policies in 2002. In a question-and-answer session afterward, the bishop was asked about cover-ups, opposition by some bishops to relaxing the statute of limitations in sex abuse cases, the publishing of names of credibly accused priests and if the church has any responsibility for priest-abusers once they have been permanently removed from ministry.

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Bishop tells Congress budget must help poor have food, housing, jobs

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Budget priorities for the federal government should help families escape hunger and homelessness, find decent housing and employment and have access to quality education and medical care, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference told members of Congress. In letters sent to senators and representatives March 16, Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., asked that priority be given to relief, development and health care, especially in Africa and the developing world, “where people live with crushing poverty and diseases.” Such an approach “will also increase our ability to assist and protect refugees fleeing violence and persecution,” Bishop Skylstad wrote. Copies of the letters were released March 19 by the bishops’ Department of Communications. “The decision you will make in setting budget priorities for our nation are not just economic policies; they are also moral choices,” the bishop told lawmakers. “Meeting essential human needs is a compelling ethical and fiscal priority.”

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Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit promises to send visitors back in time

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — When the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit opens at the San Diego Museum of Natural History at the end of June, visitors will find a great deal more than rolled scrolls of ancient parchment. The curator of the exhibit, Risa Levitt Kohn, and her colleagues at the museum have designed an interactive exhibit that will immerse visitors in the life and times of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Kohn is an associate professor in the department of religious studies at San Diego State University. While many of the scrolls have been on loan to other museums in the United States and elsewhere in the world, no exhibit has ever been as large or as comprehensive as that planned at the San Diego museum. The Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient manuscripts discovered between 1947 and 1956 in 11 caves near Khirbet Qumran, on the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea in Israel. The scrolls date from the third century B.C. to the first century and contain some of the oldest known copies of biblical books, as well as hymns, prayers and community writings. More information on the exhibit is available at the Web site http://www.sdscrolls.org.

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Catholic hospitals donate cord blood for adult stem-cell research

ALLENDALE, N.J. (CNS) — A New Jersey health care initiative has reached its goal of getting Catholic hospitals in the state to donate umbilical-cord and placenta blood for adult stem-cell research. During a March 9 press conference at the Elie Katz Umbilical Cord Blood Program facility in Allendale, Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark and Father Joseph Kukura, president of the Princeton-based Catholic HealthCare Partnership of New Jersey, reported on the progress of an alliance among 10 Catholic hospitals that provide obstetrical services. The statewide stem-cell initiative, which is being steered by Father Kukura, was launched in May 2006. The Allendale facility will serve as a station to collect the hospitals’ biological material for ongoing research. “I am here to say that the first stage of the initiative has been accomplished. Our nine-month initiative was to get 10 Catholic hospitals involved (with adult stem-cell research). The Catholic Church is in favor of stem-cell research, but only one kind (embryonic) is problematic to our moral tradition,” Father Kukura explained.

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New booklet by Archbishop Gomez looks at end-of-life teachings

IRVING, Texas (CNS) — “A Will to Live: Clear Answers on End-of-Life Issues,” a booklet by Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of San Antonio, is the second offering in “The Shepherd’s Voice Series” from Basilica Press. The archbishop collaborated with experts in the fields of medicine, science and theology in writing the 68-page booklet of reflections, aimed at helping people better understand Catholic doctrine in today’s rapidly advancing areas of technology and medicine. Archbishop Gomez said in a statement that he first began to consider writing the booklet in 2000 when his mother died after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for nearly a decade. His interest was rekindled with the death of Terri Schindler Schiavo in March 2005. “This tragic event aroused a wave of doubt in many Catholics regarding the meaning of life and death, about our final hours, about what dignified death really is and what it is not,” he said. “A Will to Live” is available at Catholic bookstores or may be ordered directly from Basilica Press by calling (888) 570-5182. The list price is $5.95, with discounts for bulk purchases.

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WORLD

Pope: Truth, not trend, must guide Christians in dialogue with others

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Truth, and not what is “merely fashionable,” must guide Christians as they enter into dialogue with those who hold different philosophies or religious beliefs, Pope Benedict XVI said. Creating men and women with the gift of reason, God ensured that they could recognize the truth about God, creation and life, he said March 21 during his weekly general audience. The pope’s audience talk focused on St. Justin, the philosopher and martyr decapitated in Rome in 165 for being a Christian. Pope Benedict explained that Justin spent his life pondering truth, particularly through Greek philosophy. His search led him to prayer, the study of the Jewish prophets and ultimately to Christianity. He opened a school in Rome where he “initiated his students in the new religion, which he considered the true philosophy, the place where he found the truth and, therefore, the art of living justly,” said the pope. The truth introduced to the Jews and partially explained in philosophy finds its completeness in Christ, Pope Benedict said.

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Vatican official says pope’s goal is reclaiming Christian identity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In the first two years of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has focused on strengthening Christian values in a world disoriented by indifference, relativism and increasing secularism, said a top Vatican official. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, made the comments in Milan, Italy, March 20 in a speech to Ethics and Finance, an Italian association of business people. The cardinal said Pope Benedict’s overall goal is to reclaim the authentic Christian identity as understood by the faithful and practiced in the world. In the pope’s view, he said, a fundamental problem for faith is relativism, which holds that there is no undeniable truth and that no one can claim to have the right answer. In today’s context of widespread secularism, Pope Benedict recognizes that faith needs to be explained in a way that appeals to human intelligence, said Cardinal Bertone. This recognition has brought the pope into dialogue with experts in the fields of science, philosophy and theology, he said.

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U.S. priest says challenge is to help wider community in Tanzania

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — With the church in Tanzania strong, the current challenge for missionaries is to meet the needs of the wider community, said an American priest working in the impoverished East African country. When Maryknoll missionaries first arrived in Tanzania in 1946, “the goal was to establish the church in the country where Catholics were few and far between,” and the missionaries built schools and hospitals, said Maryknoll Father Mike Snyder. “That has all been done and turned over to the local church, and now we need to look beyond our own structures to those living on the margins of society who have such great needs,” Father Snyder told Catholic News Service March 17 in a telephone interview from Dar es Salaam, the Tanzanian capital. After 11 years at Maryknoll’s headquarters in Maryknoll, N.Y., Father Snyder returned in late February to Tanzania, where he had lived and worked for 17 years after his 1979 ordination. The New Jersey native is chaplain at the Muhimbili University College of Health Science, a medical teaching university in Dar es Salaam.

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PEOPLE

Pope names new archbishop of Sao Paulo Archdiocese in Brazil

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI named a new archbishop for the Archdiocese of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest see. The Vatican announced the appointment of Auxiliary Bishop Odilo Pedro Scherer of Sao Paulo in a March 21 statement. The 57-year-old archbishop fills the see left vacant since October 2006 when Pope Benedict appointed the city’s former archbishop, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, as head the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy. Born of German descendants in Sao Francisco, Brazil, Archbishop Scherer has strong ties to Rome. He studied philosophy and theology at Rome’s Pontifical Brazilian College and the Pontifical Gregorian University, and worked as an official for the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops from 1994 to 2001. Ordained a priest in 1976, he served as pastor in the Brazilian Diocese of Toledo. He taught and served as rector of a number of seminaries and religious institutes in southern Brazil. Archbishop Scherer was named auxiliary bishop of Sao Paulo in 2001, and in 2003 he was elected secretary-general of the Brazilian bishops’ conference.

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Chinese bishop from northern diocese dies at age 90

HONG KONG (CNS) — Bishop Bonaventure Luo Juan of Shuozhou, China, known for restoring and restructuring his northern diocese when the government began to allow a revival of religious activities in the 1980s, died March 15 at the age of 90. The bishop, who was recognized by the Vatican and the Chinese government, was buried March 21, reported UCA News, an Asian church news agency. A priest of the Shuozhou Diocese who asked not to be identified said Bishop Luo’s health deteriorated after he fell and broke his leg in mid-January. A seven-day mourning service was arranged in the cathedral, and continuous funeral music was played every day by bands of laypeople, he said. The priest said the funeral Mass for Bishop Luo was held the morning of March 21. A Mass and a nonreligious funeral service for the late bishop were held the previous day. Local religious affairs officials as well as officials from the Communist Party took part in the funeral service, he added. Shuozhou, about 200 miles southwest of Beijing, is in the northern part of Shanxi province.

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Former Episcopalian to be Los Angeles’ first married Catholic priest

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The first married Roman Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles will be ordained this May, the culmination of a pilgrimage of faith that — in the couple’s words — has been full of adventure and welcome surprises. A special papal provision will enable Bill Lowe, a former Episcopal priest, to be ordained as a Catholic priest. Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles will preside at the May 6 ordination in Camarillo at Blessed Junipero Serra Church, where Bill Lowe and his wife of 44 years, Linda, are members. The couple joined the Catholic Church after Lowe retired from ministry in 2001. They have served and will continue to serve at their parish, also known as Padre Serra, in a variety of ministries — not unlike their work in the Episcopal Church. An Episcopal priest for 27 years at Parish of the Messiah in Newton, Mass., then-Rev. Lowe was known as the “burying parson” because of his special call to bereavement ministry and accompanying family members through the death of a loved one.

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