No events today in the diocese
Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service
‘A lot of tears, sadness’ at Virginia Tech, says campus minister
WASHINGTON (CNS) — “There’s been a lot of tears, a lot of sadness,” Catholic campus minister Teresa Volante said on the phone as she tried to describe how Virginia Tech students were reacting April 17 to the shooting deaths of 33 students and faculty members on their campus the day before. And prayers, too. She said about 150 students showed up for a hastily arranged memorial Mass and prayer vigil at the Newman Center just off the campus the evening of April 16. “A lot of students are going to the convocation and ecumenical prayer service,” she told Catholic News Service, referring to a 2 p.m. gathering at the university’s Cassell Coliseum April 17 and an 8 p.m. candlelight prayer vigil that evening at Drillfield, a large open field in the middle of the campus. On April 16 and 17 some students stopped in the Newman chapel to pray, while others went to the War Memorial Chapel on campus. Still others stopped by a makeshift memorial shrine set up by some students on campus to write a message, light a candle or say a prayer. Volante said that before the prayer vigil April 17 there would be a 6 p.m. Mass at the Newman chapel. She said residents of Blacksburg had been stopping in to bring food and soft drinks for the students and to help out however they can, making coffee, answering phones, talking with students. “There’s been overwhelming support from people,” she said.
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U.S. colleges offer prayers for Virginia Tech, counseling to students
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Shaken students and employees at colleges and universities across the country turned to prayer, counseling and various types of outreach as they tried to understand the carnage that left at least 33 people dead at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., April 16. Campus ministry programs in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York were among those compiling books of prayers from students for their counterparts at the southwestern Virginia university. That same day and in the following week, special Masses and vigils were planned at campuses in many states. Colleges thousands of miles away were quick to offer counseling help for their own students as they tried to come to grips with the idea that people like themselves could be killed while attending a German or engineering class. Catholic campus ministry programs at state and private universities began putting together books of prayers from their students which will be forwarded to Virginia Tech. At William Paterson University in New Jersey, Father Louis J. Scurti, the Catholic campus minister, was planning a memorial Mass later in the week and encouraging representatives of other faiths to participate. “It’s what we can do to be in solidarity with the students of Virginia Tech,” he told Catholic News Service.
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Shooting of Virginia Tech students ‘tremendously sad,’ bishop says
BLACKSBURG, Va. (CNS) — The April 16 shooting spree at Virginia Tech that left at least 33 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 people at the center were calm and were focused on helping anyone who came in. A prayer service was held at 7 p.m. at the center. 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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Bishop weighs in on debate over care of dying Texas boy
AUSTIN, Texas (CNS) — Citing difficult decisions in his own family and the example of Pope John Paul II, Bishop Gregory M. Aymond of Austin said Catholic teaching would permit the withdrawal of extraordinary medical treatment for Emilio Gonzales, a dying 17-month-old boy at Children’s Hospital of Austin. Catarina Gonzales, the boy’s mother, has been fighting for continued medical treatment of her son at the hospital, which is part of the Seton Family of Hospitals, a 31-facility Catholic health system in central Texas. The boy’s physicians and other hospital officials have recommended that the child be removed from a respirator and given only “comfort care.” Emilio, who has been blind and deaf since birth and was admitted to the hospital Dec. 27 with a collapsed lung, has been diagnosed with Leigh’s disease, a rare disorder that is causing his central nervous system to break down. The disease is considered incurable. “I cannot imagine the pain that Catarina experiences as she faces these terrible questions that no mother wants to face,” Bishop Aymond said in an April 15 statement.
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Pope saddened by massacre at Virginia Tech
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI was deeply saddened by the massacre at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and prayed for the victims and their families, said the Vatican secretary of state. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone sent a telegram to Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond, Va., expressing the pope’s condolences to all those affected by the April 16 shooting that left at least 33 people, including the killer, dead. Cardinal Bertone said in the wake of the “senseless tragedy” Pope Benedict asked him to assure the victims, their families and the entire school community of his prayers. Pope Benedict “asks God our Father to console all those who mourn and to grant them that spiritual strength which triumphs over violence,” Cardinal Bertone said.
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Polish bishops rap rejection of pro-life constitutional amendments
WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — Poland’s Catholic bishops criticized legislators’ rejection of proposed constitutional amendments that would have protected life from the moment of conception. “Arbitrary parliamentary arithmetic has won the upper hand over each person’s elementary right to life,” said the bishops in a statement April 13. “The church in Poland will go on supporting actions by all people of good will to care for the most defenseless,” they said. The “negative result” of the vote should not weaken “efforts to obtain agreement in the Polish parliament on such a fundamental question for our nation’s future as the inviolability of human life.” Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow urged Catholics to continue pressing for the reform, which supporters say would help Poland resist pro-abortion regulations from the European Union. “The church has always declared itself for life, demanding its respect from conception to natural death irrespective of all political decisions,” Cardinal Dziwisz told 50,000 Catholics during an April 15 Mass at the Divine Mercy center in Lagiewniki.
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After saints, most-quoted author in pope’s new book is a U.S. rabbi
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After the Gospel writers and the apostle Paul, the author most quoted in Pope Benedict XVI’s new book is Rabbi Jacob Neusner, a U.S. professor of religion and theology. In his book, “Jesus of Nazareth,” released April 16 in Italian, German and Polish, Pope Benedict joined the literary dialogue that Rabbi Neusner invented for himself in his 1993 book, “A Rabbi Talks With Jesus.” The pope said that Rabbi Neusner’s “profound respect for the Christian faith and his faithfulness to Judaism led him to seek a dialogue with Jesus.” Imagining himself amid the crowd gathered on a Galilean hillside when Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount, Rabbi Neusner “listens, confronts and speaks with Jesus himself,” the pope wrote. “In the end, he decides not to follow Jesus,” the pope wrote. “He remains faithful to that which he calls the ‘eternal Israel.'” Pope Benedict said Rabbi Neusner makes painfully clear the differences between Christianity and Judaism, but “in a climate of great love: The rabbi accepts the otherness of the message of Jesus and takes his leave with a detachment that knows no hatred.”
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South African bishop says Zimbabwean forces detain children
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — A South African Catholic bishop who recently visited Zimbabwe said that even children are being detained by Zimbabwean security forces. Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg said Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s forces “are everywhere now, and they know everything.” The situation in Zimbabwe was reminiscent of the “worst days of apartheid,” South Africa’s former system of enforced racial segregation, he told Catholic News Service April 16. Bishop Dowling and Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg, president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, joined Zimbabwean Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo at an April 12 ecumenical prayer meeting in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Bulawayo. Among the approximately 1,000 people in the cathedral were security police, Bishop Dowling said. When Mugabe, 83, returned home from a late-March Southern African Development Community meeting in Tanzania, Bishop Dowling said, “he gave free range to his security forces,” who are said to have abducted and beaten more than 600 Zimbabweans in April.
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Christians flee Lebanon amid signs of growing Islamic fundamentalism
BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNS) — Christians are fleeing Lebanon to escape an ongoing political and economic crisis amid signs that Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise in the country. Forty-three percent of Maronite Catholics — the largest of the country’s 12 Christian denominations — polled recently said they were considering emigrating. Nearly a third of them have applied for visas in the last six months, according to the study by Information International, an independent Beirut-based research body. The study, which was to be published in May, was released early to Catholic News Service. “Some 60,000-70,000 Christians have left the country in the last six months,” said George Khoury, executive director of Caritas Lebanon, the local agency of the Caritas Internationalis confederation of Catholic relief, development and social services organizations. “In some ways Lebanon is becoming increasingly Islamized because of the demographic shift.” The high emigration statistics also are impacting Lebanon’s Muslims, many of whom are thought to have left Lebanon since last summer’s war between the Iranian-backed Shiite militant group Hezbollah and Israel.
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Animal rights group asks pope to quit wearing fur
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — An Italian animal rights group called on Pope Benedict XVI to stop wearing fur out of “respect for the sacredness of the lives of all living creatures.” The Italian Anti-Vivisection League made the appeal ahead of the pope’s April 22 visit to the Italian city of Pavia, where he was to receive a fur cape made of white ermine pelts. Having the pope give up fur would be of “great religious and ethical significance” and be “a praiseworthy example of Christian charity,” the group said in an April 13 press release. Vatican tailors had custom-ordered the fur cape from the Pavian furrier, Annabella, according to the fur company’s owner, Simonetta Ravizza. “It will be the pope’s decision whether to wear (the fur) or not,” she told the Italian news agency ANSA April 13. For outdoor events during the colder winter months, Pope Benedict would sometimes wear a “camauro,” a red velvet cap trimmed with ermine, and for special occasions a red velvet, ermine-trimmed cape — called a mozzetta.
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Director named to new USCCB office overseeing national collections
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Patrick Markey has been named the first executive director of the National Collections Office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The appointment takes effect Jan. 1. The U.S. bishops’ Committee on National Collections comes into being in November as part of the ongoing USCCB reorganization. It will take the place of standing committees for distinct national collections. As executive director, Markey will serve as staff to the committee. The office will help the committee build a new awareness of the church’s needs that are addressed through the national collections. Collections coming under the office’s purview include Peter’s Pence, Catholic Relief Services, Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, Catholic Home Missions Appeal, Church in Latin America, Catholic Communication Campaign and Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Markey has been associate director for marketing, sales and inventory for USCCB Publishing since 2003.
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British Catholic aid agency calls for World Bank president to resign
LONDON (CNS) — A Catholic development agency has called for the resignation of World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz. George Gelber, head of policy for the English and Welsh bishops’ Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, said the bank should force Wolfowitz to resign amid allegations of corruption. “Paul Wolfowitz has made corruption an essential part of his personal policy platform, not only in the bank but also among all major donors,” Gelber said in an April 16 statement. “But now his actions have so damaged his own credibility as an anti-corruption campaigner that his position at the bank is untenable and he should resign,” Gelber said. “If he will not resign, then the bank board must ask him to leave.” Wolfowitz has come under pressure to quit his position after he secured a promotion and a substantial pay raise for Shaha Riza, 52, his British girlfriend. Wolfowitz told investigators that he transferred Riza to avoid a conflict of interest, but her pay was boosted by more than $60,000. Wolfowitz acknowledged April 12 that he had made a mistake and apologized. The World Bank’s board of directors is expected to meet in late April to discuss the situation.