A Look at Today (03.28.07)

In the Diocese:

Bishop at Diocesan Pastoral Center, meetng withe legal team and community leaders, 11 a.m.

Today’s Readings:

First Reading: Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95
Responsorial Psalm: Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
Gospel: John 8:31-42

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

U.S.

Vicars for religious urged to be part of Spirit’s ‘ongoing history’

MENLO PARK, Calif. (CNS) — Even though the average age of religious-order priests, sisters and brothers serving in the United States is increasing and their numbers are declining, don’t conclude religious communities are dying out, a well-known scholar said during a recent national meeting in Menlo Park. Instead, think of consecrated life as an “ongoing history” being written by the Holy Spirit, advised Oblate Father Frank Morrisey, adding that the divine author’s last chapter is “yet to come.” A professor of canon law at St. Paul University in Ottawa, the priest presented an overview of the history of religious life — with a view to the future — in a series of talks during the 40th annual assembly March 14-18 of the National Conference of Vicars for Religious. Vicars for religious serve as the liaison between their bishops and those in consecrated life in their dioceses. More than 50 vicars came from across the country to the meeting, with the theme “Seasons of Hope: Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Present, Claiming the Future.”

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Poor, elderly refugees said to face unreasonable demands to get aid

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Poor, elderly refugees in the United States are being held to unrealistic and overly restrictive standards that result in their losing Supplemental Security Income benefits, known as SSI, witnesses told a House hearing March 22. Candy Hill, senior vice president for social policy for Catholic Charities USA, told the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support of the House Ways and Means Committee that despite efforts to qualify for citizenship many elderly refugees simply can’t meet the requirements for English fluency and other standards. A seven-year limit on SSI benefits to noncitizens falls hardest on people who fled persecution or torture in their home countries and came to the United States empty-handed, Hill said in her testimony. The group includes Jews who fled the former Soviet Union, Iraqi Kurds, Cubans, Hmong and Kosovar refugees –all of whom are now disabled or too elderly to support themselves and who rely on SSI to survive.

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Knights of Columbus raise funds for families of wounded, dead Marines

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — Knights of Columbus in the San Diego area recently joined with others around the country in providing some much-needed help to the families of U.S. Marines killed or wounded in wartime. “Although all military members have specific benefits when injured, such as free medical care, physical therapy, etc., they are not compensated to help dependents and/or immediate family to travel to their bed(sides) or gravesides,” said Capt. Neil May, who is currently serving in the U.S. Navy as an aviator and is former deputy grand knight of the Valley of Angels council of the Knights at San Rafael Parish in Rancho Bernardo, near San Diego. This is where the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund steps in to help. The fund provides financial assistance to Marines injured in combat and training, other service members injured while in direct support of Marine units and their families. Since its inception in May 2004, the Semper Fi Fund has provided more than $9 million in assistance to wounded heroes. More information about the fund is available online at: http://www.semperfifund.org.

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Catholic groups make their presence felt during spring training

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (CNS) — Catholic organizations in the Phoenix area benefit from the spring training bonanza that hits Arizona every March, staffing concession stands at the area’s spring training ballparks to raise funds. The members of the men’s club at St. Patrick Parish in Scottsdale work eight-hour shifts at each of the 14 home games of the San Francisco Giants. With up to 10 men needed each game, the 40 volunteers work about four games each at Scottsdale Stadium. They fill food and drink orders and run four cash registers. “It is a long day, but it goes fast,” said Jerry Whitley, men’s club president and volunteer coordinator. “The key items are a hot dog and a drink.” The men’s club earns a percentage of sales from its stand, adding $5,000-$9,000 to the group’s coffers, according to club secretary Dave Clemens. Past concession sales have supported a Christmas adopt-a-family program and student scholarships and paid freight charges when another parish group collected items for troops overseas. Last year, the men’s club donated $30,000 for remodeling the parish hall. It will also continue supporting the husbands of women experiencing difficult pregnancies.

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Old parish properties in St. Louis Archdiocese have new owners, uses

ST. LOUIS (CNS) — When the Archdiocese of St. Louis put the real estate property of 20 closed parishes up for sale, with the proceeds to follow members of those closed locations to their new parish homes, the goal was to find the right buyers for the buildings. But the properties in the urban South St. Louis Deanery and the suburban Northeast St. Louis County Deanery were quite dissimilar, so two different commercial real estate agencies — each with expertise particular to the type of properties to be sold — were chosen to market them. “A number of the parishes in North County were built in the ’50s and ’60s,” said Thomas Richter, director of the archdiocesan Office of Building and Real Estate. “Quite often the churches were in the building that was intended to eventually be transformed into a gym, after a new permanent church was built. That was part of their appeal, since these churches were easily adapted by schools and the smaller Christian church groups.” In South St. Louis, some church buildings have been sold to other denominations. Other properties are being used for different — but church-approved — uses, including an advertising agency and a band headquarters. Proceeds from the sale of the closed parish properties exceeded $20 million, Richter said.

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WORLD

Amnesty International UK endorses policy to campaign for abortion

LONDON (CNS) — The British section of Amnesty International has endorsed a policy in support of legalizing abortion which could change the human rights group’s global neutral policy on abortion. The Amnesty International UK move, which formally adopted the legalization of abortion in cases of rape, incest, sexual assault and when the mother’s life is at risk, came despite the results of a yearlong consultation which showed that the majority of regular members did not want to abandon the neutral position. The board pushed through the motion at a March 23-25 meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland. The International Executive Committee of Amnesty International will decide as early as next month whether to change the current position. If the committee decides there isn’t sufficient support from its branch members for a revision, the British section’s stance would be moot.

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Filipino bishop urges government to stop evicting poor families

MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — A Filipino bishop has urged the local government to stop the “heartless” eviction of about 1,000 families living along a stretch of highway outside Manila. Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, chairman of the Philippine bishops’ Housing Committee, called on the local government to respect the human rights of the poor dwelling in shanties under the bridges and near the canals. “Although they are poor, and they live in places unfit for dwelling, still they are humans,” said the bishop during a March 23 press conference in Manila. UCA News, an Asian church news agency, reported on the news conference March 27. The Metro Manila Development Authority has been forcing settlers to leave their homes since late February, Bishop Pabillo said. The bishop said he met March 22 with Bayani Fernando, authority chairman, to discuss the issue but that Fernando insisted on forcibly evicting people despite the lack of relocation sites. “It is the responsibility of the government to give our poor people suitable houses,” the bishop said.

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Vatican releases DVDs detailing Pope John Paul II, papal transition

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican released a complete catalog of DVDs documenting the life and death of Pope John Paul II, the papal transition of 2005 and the Second Vatican Council, as well as what goes on behind Vatican City’s walls. To mark the second anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul and the election of Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican television center presented a full-color, two-page catalog showcasing the seven DVD collections for sale. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said at a March 27 press conference that the collection is unique “because CTV (Vatican television center) cameramen can get close to the pope” and capture images and events that other television crews cannot. For example, the hourlong documentary, “Benedict XVI: The Keys of the Kingdom,” starts out by giving the viewer a ride in the back seat of the popemobile. The camera peers over Pope John Paul’s shoulder and shows crowds waving to him as the pope is driven home from Rome’s Gemelli hospital a few weeks before his death on April 2, 2005.

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Vatican official: Governments must protect family for child’s rights

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In order to protect the rights of children, governments need to promote and protect the family, said a top Vatican official. “It would be a new form of violence against children if the state were to impose a specific model of religious and moral convictions on children without taking into consideration the moral and religious convictions of the parents,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative to U.N. and other international organizations in Geneva. The archbishop spoke to a session of the U.N. Human Rights Council March 23. Creating the conditions for peace and economic progress helps remove situations that hurt children, he said. Violence against children in all its forms needs to be eliminated, in part by rejecting the glorification of violence in popular culture, said the archbishop. Archbishop Tomasi said that because of their vulnerability children always have been the first victims of wars and famines, and must be protected.

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Vatican newspaper says Jesuit was right to apply Gospel to injustice

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican newspaper said Jesuit Father Jon Sobrino, whose work was recently criticized by doctrinal authorities, was right in trying to apply the truth of the Gospel to concrete situations of global injustice. Where Father Sobrino risks going astray, the newspaper said, is in proposing a new type of Christology that seems to prefer the “Jesus of history” to the “Christ of faith” and downplays his transcendent nature. The article, published in L’Osservatore Romano March 24, came 10 days after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a note warning of “erroneous or dangerous propositions” in the work of Father Sobrino, a leading proponent of liberation theology. The newspaper article was written by Father Antonio Stagliano, director of a theological institute in Naples, Italy. Typically, such follow-up articles are arranged by Vatican officials to emphasize and explore arguments in the original notification.

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Irish, British church officials welcome power-sharing agreement

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) — Irish and British church officials welcomed the announcement that political parties in Northern Ireland have agreed to share power again. The March 26 announcement represents “an important and welcome development in the search for a stable future for Northern Ireland,” said a statement from Ireland’s Catholic, Presbyterian, Anglican and Methodist church leaders. Among those signing was the Irish primate, Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland. The statement said the churches had worked for a devolved government for Northern Ireland, “and we trust that this is now to be realized.” It encouraged people to continue to pray for their communities. The British section of the Catholic peace movement Pax Christi welcomed the announcement and said, “Everyone involved now owes it to the victims and suffering families of the conflict to seize this opportunity to build a lasting peaceful and just society.” The predominantly Protestant Democratic Unionist Party and predominantly Catholic Sinn Fein agreed to set aside decades of animosity and share power with each other to rule Northern Ireland, beginning May 8.

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PEOPLE

Seattle Catholics to be focal point of NBC’s Easter broadcast

WASHINGTON (CNS) — An NBC Easter special, “Come to the Water: The Adult Journey to Baptism,” will focus on Catholics in the Archdiocese of Seattle who recently joined the church. The program, produced for the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Communication Campaign, will air on Easter, April 8. Because NBC affiliates can show the program at their discretion, viewers should consult the CCC’s Web site, http://www.usccb.org/ccc, for information about airdates and times for their city or call their local NBC affiliate to ask about plans to air the special. “Come to the Water” follows a group of Catholics through the yearlong Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults process of adult education and initiation, which culminates with their baptism at the Easter Vigil. The program was filmed on location in the Pacific Northwest and at St. James Cathedral in Seattle, the site of the Easter Vigil. Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett of Seattle, who celebrated the Easter Vigil shown in “Come to the Water,” said emotions are intense as each new Catholic enters the baptistery for baptism by immersion.

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Graphologist called as witness for late pope’s sainthood cause

ROME (CNS) — In connection with the sainthood cause of Pope John Paul II, a graphologist and a psychiatrist were called as expert witnesses in the investigation into the presumed healing of a nun suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Msgr. Slawomir Oder, the postulator of Pope John Paul’s cause, said the French diocese where the nun lives concluded its investigation March 23 and would hand all its documentation to the Congregation for Saints’ Causes in early April. Msgr. Oder spoke to reporters March 27 about the status of the cause and plans for the formal conclusion of the Rome diocesan phase of the process April 2, the second anniversary of Pope John Paul’s death. The postulator said the French nun, whose identity has not been revealed, would participate in the April 2 prayer service and attend the memorial Mass Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate in St. Peter’s Basilica in the evening. He said the French investigation into the nun’s healing was conducted “with maximum seriousness … and a bit of the French critical attitude, which is quite useful for this kind of procedure.”

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Five win spots on Catholic Press Association board

RONKONKOMA, N.Y. (CNS) — The Catholic Press Association has announced the five winning candidates for its board of directors. The directors-elect will take office during the annual Catholic Media Convention, scheduled for May 23-25 in Brooklyn, N.Y. The new board members, and the area they represent, are: Franciscan Father Pat McCloskey, editor of St. Anthony Messenger magazine in Cincinnati, magazine publisher member; Mark Lombard, editor in chief and director of news operations for Catholic Online in Colchester, Vt., Eastern regional representative; Nancy Wiechec, visual media manager for Catholic News Service in Washington, general publisher member; Thomas J. Dermody, editor in chief of The Catholic Post in Peoria, Ill., newspaper editorial individual member; and Dawn Vidmar, general manager of New World Publications in Chicago, member-at-large.

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Timorese priest accuses Australian troops of ruining church property

AILEU, East Timor (CNS) — A priest in East Timor has accused Australian troops of forcing their way into his church and destroying property in their search for a rebel leader. “About 2 a.m. on March 23, fully armed Australian soldiers came here when the electricity was off. They went around the church, kicked the back door and forcedly entered,” Father Heremenio Gonsalves told UCA News, an Asian church news agency. “They thought we had hidden the rebel leader there.” The soldiers ruined the door of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Aileu, outside Dili, he said. The soldiers also destroyed property as they ransacked an adjoining guest room located inside the church building, Father Gonsalves said. “I just heard their shouts saying that Alfredo is inside the church, to hunt for him inside the church,” Father Gonsalves said. The priest said he was not sure of the number of Australian soldiers who raided the property. Alfredo Alves Reinado, who led a revolt that plunged East Timor into chaos in April 2006, has evaded capture by the Australian-led international peacekeeping force in the country. He has been a fugitive since he and 50 other inmates escaped from a Dili jail in August.
 

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