A Look at Today (04.16.07)

Today in the Diocese

No events planned

Bishop Pfeifer in San Antonio for meeting of Texas Bishops Conference. 


Deacon Eliseo Carrillo (1989)


Acts 4:23-31
Psalm 2:1-9
John 3:1-8

Today’s Headlines from the Catholic News Service

Bush touts Catholic schools, immigration reform at prayer breakfast

WASHINGTON (CNS) — President George W. Bush praised Catholic schools and pressed for immigration reform in remarks delivered April 13 at the fourth annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington. “America’s Catholic schools play a vital role in our nation. The schools were built by poor immigrants, they were staffed by legions of dedicated nuns, brothers and priests — and they have given millions of Americans the knowledge and character they need to succeed in life,” Bush said. “Today, these schools are also serving thousands of non-Catholic children in some of nation’s poorest neighborhoods. I appreciate the tremendous sacrifices that many dioceses are making to keep their inner(-city) schools going. I am worried that too many of these schools are closing — and our nation needs to do something about it,” the president added to applause. On the subject of immigration, Bush said to the 1,600 gathered for the breakfast that “we must have” a national policy “that enforces our laws and upholds the dignity of every single person in the United States. And now is the time for the United States Congress to get a bill to my desk that I can sign.”

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Bankruptcy judge orders San Diego Diocese to disclose parish accounts

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — At a federal bankruptcy hearing April 11, Judge Louise DeCarl Adler ordered the San Diego Diocese to refile its financial disclosure statements and to include this time the balances in the 770 bank accounts held by the 98 parishes of the diocese. She also indicated, in response to a request from the diocese, that she will appoint an outside expert to analyze the accounting system in the diocese and its parishes. Adler asked why any organization would have 770 bank accounts. “I’ve had billion-dollar corporations in this court without this kind of accounting,” she said. Lawyers for the diocese explained that each parish is a separate entity that needs its own bank accounts because it functions separately in its financial operations. When dealing with money that is dedicated to one purpose and cannot be commingled with other funds, a parish may place that money in a separate account. In a hearing April 12, Adler approved an interest-free $14 million loan from the ALSAM Foundation, a Utah-based charity, for the diocese to complete the nearly-finished construction of Mater Dei Catholic High School in Chula Vista. The San Diego Diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Feb. 27.

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Delayed wave: Iraqi diaspora was slow to come, but now affects region

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Four years into the war in Iraq, world governments and aid agencies are trying to deal with a refugee crisis that was forecast before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. In early 2003, representatives of international aid agencies warned that invading Iraq would lead to “a humanitarian crisis and increase civilian suffering, in addition to fueling regional instability,” as the British Overseas Aid Group predicted. A Catholic Relief Services regional director told a congressional hearing to expect 900,000 Iraqis to flee the country. But the flow of refugees anticipated by aid agencies didn’t develop, at least not in the beginning. Any plans to cope with Iraqis who ran to other countries went by the wayside; funds set aside to aid them were diverted to other needs. However, the number of fleeing Iraqis gradually increased as fighting dragged on and living conditions persisted at standards far worse than before the war. Then, when the February 2006 bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine in Samarra started a continuous wave of sectarian violence, tens of thousands of people began pouring over Iraq’s borders monthly. Today an estimated 2 million Iraqis have sought refuge outside their country. Of those, more than 600,000 are Christians and other minorities.

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Cardinals, archbishop pay tribute to Baltimore Catechism

BALTIMORE (CNS) — Like thousands of other American Catholics of his generation, Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore knows why God made him. “To know, love and serve him,” Cardinal Keeler said, paraphrasing the often-repeated answer he memorized as a child from the famous Baltimore Catechism. The familiar passage from the catechism is just one of many standardized responses the thick primer offered on questions related to doctrine, morality and all things Catholic. The Baltimore Catechism was mandated by the American bishops who met at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore during the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1884. It was used by schools and parishes to help Catholics of all ages learn their faith until the book’s strict question-and-answer format fell out of favor in the mid-1960s. In a nod to the historic significance of the text, Cardinal Keeler joined Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, and Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington in signing two large reproductions of the covers of early editions of the catechism April 11.

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Christ must be known as Son of God, pope says in new book

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In his new book, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Pope Benedict XVI said Christ must be understood as the Son of God on a divine mission, not as a mere moralist or social reformer. Re-emphasizing Christ’s divine nature is especially important in a world that tends to ridicule religious faith and that is experiencing a “global poisoning of the spiritual climate,” the pope said. While Christ did not bring a blueprint for social progress, he did bring a new vision based on love that challenges the evils of today’s world — from the brutality of totalitarian regimes to the “cruelty of capitalism,” he said. The 448-page book was presented in its Italian, German and Polish editions at the Vatican April 13. It was to go on sale April 16, the pope’s 80th birthday, with subsequent editions in 18 other languages. Doubleday, the U.S. publisher of the pope’s book, plans to release the volume in English in May. The book, the first of two planned volumes on Christ’s life, covers the public acts of Jesus from his baptism in the Jordan River to the transfiguration before his disciples. Its 10 chapters analyze Scriptural passages, but also explore commentary from early church fathers and modern scholars.

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Military families find sense of home in base chaplaincies

GIESSEN, Germany (CNS) — Four teenage women, a young Army wife and two soldiers stood before Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien in the chapel of the U.S. Army Garrison in Giessen, asking to be confirmed. The archbishop, head of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, knew that while all the candidates were part of the “military family” the two soldiers were not just older — their lives and their service in Iraq made them different. He told the teenagers April 10, “This might be the most important thing you have ever stood up for.” And he told all of them, “It is not easy to take a stand today,” risking appearing odd or being criticized or “even rejected.” He said, “As unique as your fingerprint, so unique are you and your calling from God.” As Christians, as committed Catholics, the archbishop told the group, “You will have to take a stand, especially in this culture of death.”

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Military bases are like missionary diocese for U.S. archbishop

FRIEDBERG, Germany (CNS) — Like spring in many dioceses, spring in the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services is confirmation season. Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien packed his bags in late March and was to spend the next two months confirming the children of military personnel — and a few soldiers and sailors — stationed in Germany, Belgium, Italy and England. Almost all the members of the armed services with whom he would come into contact had been deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan, and many would be going back. “I find impressive the humility of military people,” the archbishop said April 11 after celebrating Mass and sharing lunch with soldiers who had returned from Iraq in late February and early March. “They know how fragile life is,” the archbishop said. “They don’t boast. They don’t act like heroes. They act surprised when someone thanks them.” One young soldier, his foot still in a cast from an injury in Iraq, played his guitar during the meal, then had an intense heart-to-heart with the archbishop about perhaps becoming a Catholic.

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In new book, pope quoted as seeing no conflict between faith, science

COLOGNE, Germany (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has said that he sees no conflict between faith and science in the exploration of the universe’s development, but he has criticized those who see evolution as an explanation for everything. The remarks, made in a discussion he hosted at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, with some of his former students in September last year, have been published in a German book titled “Schoepfung und Evolution” (“Creation and Evolution”). The book was published April 11 by the Sankt Ulrich Verlag publishing house. The students have met annually since 1978 with their former doctoral supervisor, but this is the first time they have published the lectures and discussions. During the discussion, the pope said it was not a matter of “deciding either in favor of a creationism, which out of principle excludes science from its considerations, or in favor of a theory of evolution, which underplays its own gaps and refuses to see questions which go beyond the methodological possibilities of natural science.” What was important, he said, was “the interplay of different dimensions of reason, an interplay which opens up into the road to faith.”

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Chinese dioceses see surge in young, educated people being baptized

SHIJIAZHUANG, China (CNS) — Catholic dioceses in mainland China saw a surge in baptisms this Easter, with young and educated people comprising a significant proportion of new Catholics, church sources said. Song Yun, editor of the Shijiazhuang-based Faith 10-Day Catholic newspaper, told UCA News, an Asian church news agency, April 12 that at least 6,000 baptisms took place in 26 dioceses and 41 major parishes in China. Mainland China has close to 100 dioceses. The newspaper contacted various dioceses and prominent parishes for the information. Song estimated that the total number of Easter baptisms on the mainland exceeded 10,000 and said 80 percent of the newly baptized in major Chinese cities have at least some college education. “It’s hard to account” for all the baptisms, “as parishes are numerous, and some dioceses baptize at Pentecost, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or at Christmas,” he said. Bishop Johan Fang Xingyao of Linyi told UCA News April 11 that he credited laypeople for actively evangelizing their relatives and friends and priests and nuns for spreading the Gospel.

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Pope Benedict at 80: Blowing on the coals of faith

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When Pope John Paul II turned 80 in 2000, it fueled yet another round of speculation about whether the ailing pontiff might break with tradition and resign. In contrast, Pope Benedict XVI’s 80th birthday April 16 finds him with the wind in his sails. The pope’s new book on Jesus was being released in several languages, an event that will no doubt launch the Christological themes of his pontificate into wider circulation. In March the pope published a major document on the Eucharist, and sources said he was preparing to release a long-awaited decree liberalizing use of the Tridentine Mass. Following a recent Vatican summit, the pope’s announced letter to Chinese Catholics was anticipated eagerly in April, in hopes that it could offer a new path of dialogue with the government and help heal internal church divisions. Meanwhile, the pope was preparing for his first papal trip to the Western Hemisphere, a mid-May journey to Brazil for a crucial planning session among Latin American bishops.

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Nuncio to skip Holocaust ceremony due to caption on papal picture

JERUSALEM (CNS) — The Vatican’s nuncio to Israel said he would not attend a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial if a photo caption about Pope Pius XII remained unchanged. Catholic News Service was unsuccessful in contacting Archbishop Antonio Franco, but The Associated Press reported that the nuncio said in a letter to the memorial that he respected “the memory of the martyrs of the Holocaust but also the memory of the pope.” “I don’t intend to go to Yad Vashem if things remain the way they do,” AP reported Archbishop Franco as saying. The ceremony was scheduled for April 16. Archbishop Franco told The Guardian newspaper April 13 that he considers “this picture in that place and the caption that accompanies it unfair and something that disturbs my feelings and the feelings of Catholics all over the world. It does not correspond to the truth.” The photograph of Pope Pius and its controversial caption have been on display in the renovated memorial since it reopened in March 2005. The caption states that Pope Pius refused to sign a 1942 Allied condemnation of the massacre of the Jews.

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