Today (04.19.07)

No diocesan events planned today 

Necrology

Rev. John Lavin (1983)
Deacon Hubert Collins (1999)

Readings

Acts 5:27-33
Psalm 34:2, 9, 17-20
John 3:31-36 

News from the Catholic News ServiceBy Catholic News Service

U.S.

Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act upheld; abortion opponents laud court

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Supreme Court upheld the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act in a 5-4 decision April 18. The ruling was lauded by abortion opponents, including President George W. Bush, who called partial-birth abortion an “abhorrent procedure” in an April 18 statement from the White House. “Today’s decision affirms that the Constitution does not stand in the way of the people’s representatives enacting laws reflecting the compassion and humanity of America. The partial-birth abortion ban, which an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress passed and I signed into law, represents a commitment to building a culture of life in America,” said Bush. He signed it into law in 2003, but because of court challenges it never went into effect. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the majority opinion in the Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood cases, said the law’s opponents “have not demonstrated that the act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases.” Also voting in the majority were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Voting in the minority were Justices Paul Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens.

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Virginia Tech mourns dead at candlelight vigil

BLACKSBURG, Va. (CNS) — Faint strains of “Amazing Grace” floated across the Virginia Tech campus as about 10,000 students, teachers and family members gathered on the Drillfield April 17 for an evening candlelight vigil, ending their second day of grief and mourning for 33 slain students and teachers. Two hours before the 8 p.m. vigil, several priests joined about 60 Catholic students for a Mass at the Newman Center, where students had drifted in and out all day, looking for a bite to eat or someone to talk to about the multiple murders that have shaken their community. At a nationally televised convocation earlier that day President George W. Bush and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine were among speakers trying to make sense out of the shooting spree the previous morning in which 23-year-old Cho Seung-Hui, a senior, killed 32 students and faculty members before taking his own life. Kaine, a Catholic, called April 16 “the darkest day in the history of this campus” but praised students and faculty for the way they helped one another in the wake of the tragedy. “Before it was about who was to blame or what could have been done different, it was about how we take care of each other,” he said.

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With Jesuits’ support, new Cristo Rey school planned for Houston

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — The Society of Jesus’ New Orleans province will sponsor a high school in Houston that will be part of the Cristo Rey Network, which establishes schools in urban areas to serve economically and educationally disadvantaged youths. The network has commissioned a feasibility study to determine where in Houston the high school should be located. It will serve the fourth most populous city in the country and one of the most ethnically diverse. The one-year feasibility study will begin this summer and will take into account demographic, educational, housing and other data. The study coordinator, who has not yet been hired, will interview local school, church and community leaders, and will conduct focus groups of middle-school students and their parents to gauge interest in the school. The study will determine whether there are enough entry-level clerical jobs in the area to support the school’s students, as well as how many students might enroll. Cristo Rey schools partner with local businesses that provide job opportunities for students, covering their tuition through their salaries.

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WORLD

Search for truth succeeds only through faith in Jesus, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The human search for truth can succeed only through faith in Jesus Christ, who is truth, Pope Benedict XVI said. “Faith in Christ grants the true knowledge which the ancient philosophers had sought through the use of reason,” the pope said April 18 at his weekly general audience. Continuing his audience talks about the early church fathers and theologians, Pope Benedict focused his remarks on St. Clement of Alexandria, who was born in the middle of the second century. The theologian’s writings, the pope said, outline how a believing Christian can and should use both faith and reason to “reach an intimate knowledge of the truth, which is Jesus Christ, the word of God.” Pope Benedict said, “Only this knowledge of the person, who is truth, is true gnosis, the Greek word for knowledge or intelligence.” The joining of faith and reason, he said, “leads to true philosophy, that is, the real understanding of the path to take in one’s life.”

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Ethics code to bring posh London hospital in line with church morals

LONDON (CNS) — A revised code of ethics will prevent doctors from providing contraceptives and abortion referrals at a London Catholic hospital popular with celebrity mothers. The finalized code, which is expected to be passed by the hospital board May 16, will encompass all staff and resident practitioners at the Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth. A draft of the code says that services will not be provided if they conflict with Catholic teaching regarding the value of life or sexual ethics. This includes the provision of the morning-after pill, amniocentesis to detect Down syndrome and in vitro fertilization. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster ordered the code to be revised after doctors admitted to prescribing the morning-after pill and referring women for abortions at other hospitals. The cardinal wrote a letter in March 2006 to Robin Bridgeman, chairman of the hospital, that said a newly revised code would be produced and that the hospital would have to abide by it.

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World must do more to support Iraqi refugees, says Vatican official

ROME (CNS) — The international community must do more to welcome and support the thousands of refugees daily fleeing the “horrific violence” in Iraq, a Vatican official said. “The world is witnessing an unprecedented degree of hate and destructiveness in Iraq,” which not only destroys the “social tissue and the unity of Iraq,” but is exerting “a widening deadly impact” on the whole Middle East, said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi. The Vatican’s representative to U.N. and other international organizations in Geneva spoke there April 17 at an international conference addressing the humanitarian needs of Iraq’s refugees and internally displaced people. Catholic News Service in Rome obtained a copy of his text. The archbishop said history has shown that the international community can be effective in creating “durable solutions” to the massive displacement of peoples. Now nations must help Iraq’s refugees and internally displaced people by providing “a coordinated, effective and generous response,” he said.

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Nigerian archbishop urges officials to fix voting procedures

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) — The head of the Nigerian bishops’ conference urged the Independent National Electoral Commission and government security agents to correct voting irregularities and violence before presidential and National Assembly elections April 21. Archbishop Felix Alaba Job of Ibadan spoke at a press conference in Lagos April 17, three days after gubernatorial and state legislative elections that he called “successful in many regards.” The day after he spoke, the Nigerian government said it would proceed with April 21 elections, despite opposition calls that they must be postponed. The archbishop said his assessment of state elections was based on the reports of the 30,000 election observers deployed to monitor the elections under the auspices of the bishops’ justice and peace commission. He said although many areas were peaceful, church observers reported intimidation and violence — “including some maiming and killing” — in southern and southeastern Nigeria. He also cited reports of stolen and stuffed ballot boxes and the intimidation of election officials and voters in several other states.

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PEOPLE

Virginia Tech professor, a deacon, describes events after massacre

ROANOKE, Va. (CNS) — Deacon Michael J. Ellerbrock of St. Mary Parish in Blacksburg had just wrapped up his 9 a.m. class at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg April 16 “when it all happened,” he said. A gunman, later identified by police as student Cho Seung-Hui, shot and killed two people in a residence hall and then went to Norris Hall, an engineering building, where he killed 30 others and wounded many others before taking his own life. Deacon Ellerbrock, a professor of natural resources and economics education at the university, told The Catholic Virginian, Richmond diocesan newspaper, that he walked to Squires Student Center “and watched it all unfold on TV” along with students. As soon as the shooting stopped he went to Norris, where he was met outside by state trooper Andy Mitro. Mitro, a parishioner from St. Mary, knew him as a deacon and allowed him to get information from law enforcement officers on the scene. “One officer told me an ROTC student grabbed (Cho) from behind and got a bullet right to the head,” Deacon Ellerbrock said, recalling the awe that struck him in the first minutes afterward as he stood on the lawn of the classroom building where the massacre took place. “It’s beyond comprehension how one person could kill so many with just two guns.”

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Catholic center helps Ecuadoreans save money, break cycle of poverty

QUITO, Ecuador (CNS) — Carlos Gomez was 9 years old, working in a plaza in this mountain city, when a tall, lanky American priest stopped for a shoeshine and a chat, then offered him a free meal. Gomez said he and the other shoeshine boys “didn’t believe him, because he said the food wouldn’t cost anything, and we knew that everything in life has a price.” Curiosity won, and Gomez accompanied Jesuit Father John Halligan, a New York native, to a center for working boys that the priest had started beside the Jesuit high school in Ecuador’s capital. Gomez not only got a meal but also had a chance to play with other boys. That meeting changed Gomez’s life, and the Working Boys’ Center has changed the lives of thousands of families in the more than 40 years since. But it was not all food and games: The center had rules to teach important life skills. Father Halligan and Sister Miguel Conway, a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Boone, Iowa, insisted that the boys deposit some of their earnings into savings accounts.

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