A Look at Today (04.17.07)

Today’s Events

No events

Bishop Pfeifer in San Antonio to celebrate Oblate Anniversaries, 7 p.m.

Necrology

Rev. Lee Zimmerman, C.M. (2000)

Today’s Readings

Acts 4:32-37
Psalm 93:1-2, 5
John 3:7-15

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

U.S.Shooting of Virginia Tech students ‘tremendously sad,’ bishop saysBLACKSBURG, Va. (CNS) — The April 16 shooting spree at Virginia Tech that left at least 32 people dead is “tremendously sad,” said Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond. In a phone interview just hours after the shootings, Teresa Volante, Catholic campus minister at Virginia Tech, said she had sent out an electronic notice that the Newman Center chapel was open for anyone who wanted to stop in and pray. But she said the center, located just off the campus, was rather quiet at that time since the dormitories on campus were still locked down and the off-campus students had been instructed to stay away. “I’m here for students to talk to,” she said. Later in the afternoon Debbie McClintock, a volunteer who came in to help, told Catholic News Service that a prayer service was scheduled for 7 p.m. at the center. She said people at the center were calm and were focused on helping anyone who came in. At St. Mary’s Parish, the only Catholic parish in Blacksburg, the receptionist said the pastor, Father James Arsenault, had spent more than three hours at the hospital with those who were wounded before heading over to the university to help there. She said the church would be open all afternoon, with the Blessed Sacrament exposed for adoration, followed by a special Mass in the evening.

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Catholic educators ask Bush to ease hassle on federal services

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Representatives of Catholic schools from Washington, New Orleans, Chicago and Bridgeport, Conn., urged the Bush administration to follow up on the president’s stated support for parochial education by making it easier for them to participate in various federal programs. In a private April 13 meeting with a dozen representatives of schools, dioceses and independent Catholic education¬†programs, President George W. Bush heard repeated voices of appreciation for opening up access to some federal education programs to religious schools. However, that thanks was tempered with the polite but oft-repeated complaint that getting government funds for their participation in those programs is often difficult and slow. The 45-minute session in the Roosevelt Room at the White House was informal and conversational, with the educators explaining the challenges of reopening hurricane-flooded New Orleans schools; of starting the corporate-supported Cristo Rey network of Jesuit schools for low-income children; and of getting reimbursement from local public school districts for offering Supplemental Educational Services at Catholic schools in the Bridgeport Diocese.

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Archbishop says catechists need strong faith, no fear proclaiming it

BALTIMORE (CNS) — Catechists must have a strong faith in Jesus and his church and must not be afraid to proclaim that belief to a culture that is sometimes hostile to the message, Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington said April 13 in an address to the National Catholic Educational Association convention in Baltimore. “Our teaching task is every bit as much to introduce someone to the faith as it is to strengthen and deepen their already present knowledge of the faith,” Archbishop Wuerl said. “We preach and teach to people some of whom have not really tasted the joy of personal faith” in Jesus Christ. Catechists have a difficult job, he added, because they are teaching the faith in a culture that is “aggressively secular, to such an extent that the environment can be actually hostile to Christian faith.” Archbishop Wuerl spoke in Baltimore to the 104th annual NCEA convention and the 15th annual National Association of Parish Catechetical Directors convocation held in conjunction with it. At the convention, he was awarded the 2007 Emmaus Award for Excellence in Catechesis.

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Statistics released on enrollment, staffing in U.S. Catholic schools

BALTIMORE (CNS) — Enrollment figures for Catholic schools in the 2006-07 academic year show “a continued significant decline in the elementary school population and a slight increase in secondary school enrollment,” according to a report by the National Catholic Educational Association. Total enrollment fell by 1.8 percent, or 42,569 students, said the annual statistical report prepared by Sister Dale McDonald, a Sister of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is NCEA director of public policy and educational research. The 51-page report was released during the April 10-13 NCEA convention in Baltimore. “While enrollment has declined in all regions of the country (12.5 percent since 2000), the largest decreases have been centered in the large urban areas (15 percent), principally in the Mideast and the Great Lakes, areas that were populated by high concentrations of Catholic immigrants in the late 19th and 20th centuries,” said the report’s executive summary. “The good news is that there is a strong demand and enthusiasm for Catholic schools in areas of the Southeast and Far West,” it added. “Waiting lists now exist in 34 percent of the schools, primarily in suburban areas.”

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Abuse experts urge focus on quality of safe environment programs

BALTIMORE (CNS) — Now that nearly every U.S. diocese has a safe environment program to protect children against sexual abuse, attention needs to be focused on the programs’ quality and effectiveness, which vary widely, a panel of experts told participants at the National Catholic Educational Association convention. Two officials of the Boston Archdiocese, where the clergy sex abuse crisis first came to light, and a representative of a nonprofit group working to improve children’s well-being addressed an April 12 workshop session at the NCEA convention in Baltimore. Teresa Kettlekamp, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection, also was scheduled to be at the workshop but was snowbound in Chicago. Her section of the workshop was presented by the other panelists. The workshop took place the day after the release of a report prepared by Kettlekamp’s office showing that most U.S. dioceses and Eastern Catholic eparchies were in full compliance with the bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” which mandates safe environment programs for all clergy, church employees and volunteers working with children.

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Maryland bill to let illegal immigrants pay in-state tuition fails

BALTIMORE (CNS) — A bill that would have allowed illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates died in a Maryland Senate committee April 9, the final day of the Maryland General Assembly’s 2007 session. Though the bill passed in the House of Delegates in March, Senate Republicans threatened a filibuster if it actually made it to the floor of their chamber. Democratic Gov. Martin J. O’Malley had vowed to sign the bill if it reached his desk. The Maryland Catholic Conference lobbied in favor of the bill, asserting it would give Maryland immigrants who have lived in the state since they were children access to a college education. “In many cases the children who would benefit from this legislation came to our country not of their own choice, but of their parents’ (choice),” said Julie Varner, associate director of social concerns for the Maryland Catholic Conference. “They deserve the same opportunity to succeed, using their own talents and hard work, as their fellow Maryland classmates.”

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Jazz institute’s program moves to Loyola University in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — Keeping jazz alive has been the goal of the nonprofit Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz since it was founded in 1986. And the institute strengthened that goal when it announced it would bring jazz studies home to the birthplace of the music, New Orleans. Jazz greats Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Thelonious Monk Jr. and local trumpeter Terence Blanchard were in town April 2 to herald the relocation of the institute’s graduate-level performance program from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles to Loyola University in New Orleans. The announcement kicked off National Jazz Appreciation Month. “Jazz has been a unifying cultural force in this city for over 100 years,” said Hancock, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz chairman. “Jazz began in New Orleans and emerged as the music of pain and suffering. … Jazz offers the possibility of bringing New Orleans back,” he said, referring to the city’s ongoing recovery from Hurricane Katrina. The move of the program, noted as the “world’s most intensive graduate-level college jazz education program,” is part of the institute’s four-year “Commitment to New Orleans” using jazz as a catalyst to bolster local education in the community.

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Nuncio tells NCEA convention teachers are world’s ‘greatest artists’

BALTIMORE (CNS) — Calling teachers “the greatest artists in the world,” Pope Benedict XVI’s representative to the United States opened the National Catholic Educational Association convention in Baltimore April 10 with praise for the “special qualities of mind and heart” that educators bring to their work. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the U.S., said many call Michelangelo the greatest artist ever because of his sculptures such as “The Pieta,” which depicts Mary holding her son Jesus after his crucifixion. “But I think the greatest artists of the world are teachers, because you sculpt the best of what you are, not in a piece of marble but in human beings who are the glory of God,” he said. Archbishop Sambi said he was the son and brother of schoolteachers and that Pope Benedict, from whom he brought greetings, “understands perfectly the labors, the greatness and” the usefulness of the mission of education, since he was “a teacher for a large part of his life.” Up to 10,000 people were expected at the Baltimore Convention Center for the April 10-13 NCEA convention on the theme “Anchor of Faith, Harbor of Light.”

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WORLD

Pope, turning 80, thanks church for surrounding him with affection

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — At a Mass marking his 80th birthday, Pope Benedict XVI thanked the church for surrounding him with affection “like a true family” and for supporting him with prayers. “Over and over, I recognize with joy how great is the number of people who sustain me with their prayers, who with their faith and love help me carry out my ministry, and who are indulgent with my weakness,” he said April 15. The Mass opened two days of celebrations commemorating the pope’s April 16 birthday and the second anniversary of his election April 19. The festivities featured a Vatican concert, dozens of written testimonials and a giant birthday cake in the shape of the Vatican. Some 50,000 people, including German pilgrims wearing traditional dress, jammed into St. Peter’s Square for the liturgy. The altar area was surrounded by thousands of flowers — yellow and white, the colors of the Vatican. Greeting the pope in the name of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano said his 80th birthday marked a moment of “spiritual joy” for the entire church.

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After sending ‘strong signal,’ nuncio attends Holocaust ceremony

JERUSALEM (CNS) — In a reversal of an earlier decision, the papal nuncio to Israel attended a Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial ceremony after receiving a personal letter from the memorial’s chairman. Archbishop Antonio Franco said he decided to attend the ceremony April 15, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, after receiving assurances from Chairman Avner Shalev regarding the memorial’s willingness to review any new documentation regarding Pope Pius XII’s actions during the Holocaust. Archbishop Franco said his earlier announcement that he would not attend the ceremony was meant to be a “strong signal” of the need to “reconsider the way Pius XII is presented at Yad Vashem.” He said the depiction of the World War II-era pope in a photo caption at the museum was offensive to his sensibilities and those of Catholics worldwide. Archbishop Franco said his intention had not been to dissociate himself from the commemoration or to “make a polemic statement” but to “reach an aim of consideration” of how the pope is presented. “I have no further reason not to go,” the nuncio said before the ceremony.

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Pope meets with heads of curial departments to discuss trip to Brazil

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI met with the heads of departments of the Roman Curia to discuss his upcoming trip to Latin America. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters that the encounter April 14 focused exclusively on the pope’s May 9-13 visit to Brazil. No other details of the meeting were made public by the Vatican. The main purpose of the visit, his first papal trip to the Western Hemisphere, is to inaugurate the fifth general assembly of Latin American and Caribbean bishops at the Marian sanctuary of Aparecida May 13. The pope also will preside over events in Sao Paulo and visit a “farm of hope” for former drug addicts during his stay. The pope has previously called meetings of the heads of Vatican congregations and pontifical councils to discuss diverse topics, including priestly celibacy, efforts to reconcile with traditionalist groups and rules regulating use of the Tridentine rite of the Mass.

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Vatican says nearly 3.4 million attended events in pope’s second year

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In the second year of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate, almost 3.4 million people participated in his weekly general audiences, group audiences, liturgies and the recitation of the Angelus on Sundays and holy days. The Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, headed by U.S. Archbishop James M. Harvey, published the data April 14 in anticipation of the April 19 anniversary of the pope’s election. It said that from late April 2006 through early April 2007, more than 1 million people attended the pope’s Wednesday general audiences, while more than 350,000 people joined special groups granted a papal audience. More than half a million people participated in papal liturgies at the Vatican and in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, the prefecture said. And 1.46 million people joined the pope for the Sunday recitation of the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square or in the courtyard of the papal summer villa at Castel Gandolfo.

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Catholics in central China pray for bishop missing since mid-March

HONG KONG (CNS) — Catholics of Zhouzhi, in central China’s Shaanxi province, prayed for the safety of their missing bishop during Easter week. Local church sources told UCA News, an Asian church news agency, that the freedom of Bishop Joseph Wu Qinjing of Zhouzhi had been restricted since government officials sent him to “a learning class for about three days” March 18. Bishop Wu, who took the name Martin Wu while working on his master’s degree in pastoral theology from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., and his master’s in spiritual direction from Fordham University in New York, is only recognized as a priest by the Chinese government. One local source, who asked not to be named, said Catholics in the diocese had thought the government’s action was aimed at preventing the bishop from celebrating the feast of his patron, St. Joseph, March 19, as well as marking the third anniversary of the death of a priest the next day. “But until today, the bishop is still out of reach,” the source told UCA News April 13, adding that many of the Catholics were worried about the prelate’s safety.

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Anglican archbishop to meet with Episcopalians over same-sex issues

TORONTO (CNS) — To avoid what he called the very real possibility of schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion over blessing same-sex unions and ordaining openly gay men, Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, England, will meet with U.S. Episcopal bishops in September. Speaking in French since Canada is bilingual, Archbishop Williams, spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, told reporters at an April 16 Toronto press conference, “Schism is a possibility” over questions of sexual morality. He added in English, “It is possible people will come to the point where people feel it’s irreconcilable differences.” Archbishop Williams would not say whether that point would come with the Sept. 30 deadline set in February by an international gathering of Anglican leaders. The primates of the communion’s 38 provinces around the world called on the U.S. House of Bishops to make “an unequivocal common covenant” that they will not authorize the blessing of same-sex couples and to affirm clearly that they will not consent to the ordination of any other candidate for bishop who is living in a same-sex relationship unless some new consensus on that issue emerges throughout the communion.

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PEOPLE

Blakesley tune wins ‘March Music Madness’ online competition

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — “Come to Jesus” by Josh Blakesley won the fourth annual “March Music Madness” contest sponsored by spiritandsong.com to find the best Catholic contemporary song. “Come to Jesus” triumphed over another of his songs, “Be Lifted High,” in the “Final Four.” Blakesley had three songs in the 64-tune online competition, which featured a bracket-style elimination process like the NCAA “March Madness” basketball tournaments. Other songs in the music competition’s “Final Four” were “Holy Spirit, Come to Me” by Julie Hoy and “Your Grace Is Enough” by Matt Maher. “The thing that I’ve found most satisfying about ‘Come to Jesus’ is its versatility,” Blakesley said in an April 10 release announcing his win. “I’ve used it in concerts and praise and worship venues. It can also be used for gathering, offertory or Communion.

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Bush expected to meet formally with pope in early June, says Vatican

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. President George W. Bush is expected to have his first formal audience with Pope Benedict XVI in early June, the Vatican spokesman said. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said April 14 that Bush is expected to visit the Vatican June 9 or 10 after participating in the summit of leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized countries in Germany. Bush made his last visit to the Vatican for the April 8, 2005, funeral of Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict, celebrated the funeral Mass. The president had met Pope John Paul three times. The president’s brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, led the U.S. delegation to Pope Benedict’s inaugural Mass. Also April 14, Father Lombardi told reporters that former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami would visit Pope Benedict at the Vatican May 4.

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Minnesota dad, visiting Rome, watches seminarian son — at midfield

ROME (CNS) — When Daniel Pogatchnik planned his Easter trip to Rome, watching his son play in a soccer tournament was not on the agenda. But April 14 found Scott Pogatchnik, a 29-year-old seminarian at the Pontifical North American College, starting at midfield in his team’s fifth game of the Clericus Cup. His father was in the stands cheering along with other North American Martyrs fans. Daniel Pogatchnik was a little disappointed at the outcome — a 3-2 loss to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate team — but impressed with the playing. “They’re good. And it’s fun to watch. It’s a lot more exciting to see live than on TV,” the elder Pogatchnik said after the game. They don’t play much soccer in Avon, Minn., which is where the Pogatchniks live and where Scott grew up. Unlike other members of the Martyrs team, he had no experience with the game. “Basically, I’ve played soccer since the Clericus Cup started,” Scott Pogatchnik said.

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Parents of baby adopted as embryo fight embryonic stem-cell research

DOVER, Del. (CNS) — Tim and Dawn Smith adopted a leftover frozen embryo in January 2004 and gave birth nine months later to their adopted daughter, Erin. At the time they had no idea it would lead them to a public battle in coming years with legislators and lobbyists seeking to let such embryos be destroyed for embryonic stem-cell research. The fate of such frozen embryos no longer wanted by their genetic parents is at the heart of a debate in the Delaware Legislature. On March 29 the Senate voted 13-7 to adopt the Delaware Regenerative Medicine Act, which would sanction human embryonic stem-cell research in Delaware, allowing researchers to destroy the embryos to harvest their stem cells. The bill was awaiting action in the House. The Smiths, who met in college and married in 1991, wanted three or four children, but in 1997 they learned that they were infertile. One day as Dawn Smith was looking through a phone book listing of fertility clinics, she noticed one that offered embryo adoptions. After considering traditional adoption alternatives, the couple decided to try the embryo adoption.

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Italian officials open case on priest, 84, accused of abuse

ROME (CNS) — Italian prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into the case of an 84-year-old priest accused of sexually abusing minors for decades in his parish near Florence, Italy. State authorities began the investigation of Father Lelio Cantini April 10 based on charges of aggravated and repeated sexual abuse of minors after accusations came to light April 8 in the Italian press. A number of alleged victims and priests from the diocese made their claims and concerns public after the priest received what they considered to be “too light” a punishment from the church. Cardinal Ennio Antonelli of Florence said a church administrative penal process had found Father Cantini guilty of sexually abusing young girls between 1973 and 1987 as well as “false mysticism” and the coercion and manipulation of consciences. For the next five years, the priest cannot hear confession, celebrate Mass in public, celebrate the sacraments and take on ecclesial duties, Cardinal Antonelli said in an April 15 article published in the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire.

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