This Weekend in the Diocese
TODAY — SAN ANGELO, Holy Angels – Earth Day Prayer Service at 11 a.m.
SATURDAY — ROWENA, St. Joseph – Confirmation at 5:00 p.m.
SUNDAY — SAN ANGELO, St. Margaret – Confirmation at 9:00 a.m.
Saturday — Rev. Thomas Leahy, SAC (1969)
This Weekend’s Readings
Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14
Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
Acts 5:27-32, 40-41
Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13
Today’s CNS Headlines
Portland Archdiocese ends bankruptcy with $75 million settlement
PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — The first Catholic diocesan bankruptcy proceeding in the nation ended April 17 when a federal judge approved a $75 million settlement of clergy sexual abuse claims and a financial reorganization plan for the Portland Archdiocese. Smoothing the way for U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris, lawyers at the last moment negotiated payment for all remaining sex abuse claims. A last case, which was not over sex abuse, was settled just a few hours before the court approval was announced. Since February, lawyers from both sides worked out the two dozen most difficult cases, bringing the total settled claims under the 33-month bankruptcy to 177. Checks will go out to victims at the start of May. The same day the Portland settlement was finalized, all parties to similar bankruptcy proceedings in the Diocese of Spokane, Wash., filed court papers there agreeing to a $48 million settlement of clergy sex abuse claims there. More than 160 victims are reportedly involved in the Spokane settlement.
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Catholic immigration advocates head to Hill to push for reform bill
WASHINGTON (CNS) — A workable comprehensive immigration reform bill on the table, more sympathetic leadership in Congress and a “this year or maybe never” incentive are prodding immigration advocates to action. After a day and a half of briefings and strategizing with advocates who work on immigration every day, activists from more than 66 dioceses took their campaign for immigration reform to Capitol Hill April 19. “It is terrifying, the prospect of a bad bill or no bill happening, considering the number of people who are involved in this,” said Frank Sharry, director of the National Immigration Forum. Sharry was keynote speaker for the April 17-19 Justice for Immigrants national gathering organized by the U.S. Catholic bishops’ migration awareness campaign of the same name. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he plans to bring immigration legislation to the floor for debate and a vote the last two weeks of May. As of mid-April, there was no Senate legislation in the mix, but a House bill, H.R. 1645, had the backing — at least as a starting point — of many in a vast coalition of business, agriculture, union, civil rights, ethnic and religious organizations. It is called the Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy Act, or STRIVE Act.
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What follows partial-birth abortion ruling coming into focus slowly
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the federal ban on partial-birth abortion is constitutional, what’s next? Although it took 34 years since the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court cases that permitted abortion virtually on demand in the United States, one nationwide restriction on abortion has now passed both political muster and judicial scrutiny. Will it take 34 more years to enact another federal abortion restriction? “I can’t make a prediction,” said David Masci, a senior research fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. “This decision has certainly left open the possibility that states can go back and look at some of the abortion restrictions,” he told Catholic News Service in an April 19 telephone interview. “From a pro-life or an anti-abortion standpoint, strengthening those laws, possibly — possibly — by removing the health exception” would be one tactic, he said. Pro-lifer supporters argue that a health exception can be used to justify any abortion. The partial-birth abortion ban contains only an exception for the life of the mother.
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Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act upheld; abortion opponents laud court
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Abortion opponents lauded the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision April 18 upholding the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act. President George W. Bush, who signed the ban into law in 2003, 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. While praising the decision, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, head of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said: “The court’s decision does not affect the legal status of the great majority of abortions, and does not reverse past decisions claiming to find a right to abortion in the Constitution. However, it provides reasons for renewed hope and renewed effort on the part of pro-life Americans,” he said. “The court is taking a clearer and more unobstructed look at the tragic reality of abortion, and speaking about that reality more candidly, than it has in many years.”
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Immigration advocates learn strategies for lobbying on legislation
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Providing a way for illegal immigrants to regularize their status is not “amnesty,” a roomful of immigration advocates was told April 18. And when one is confronted by people who argue that the Catholic Church has no business trying to influence legislation on behalf of immigrants, quotations from Scripture about welcoming the stranger and protecting those in need of protection can be helpful, they were advised. In preparation sessions preceding a day of lobbying on Capitol Hill as part of a Justice for Immigrants national gathering, participants from 66 dioceses got a crash course in how to effectively present the church’s position about what a comprehensive immigration reform bill ought to include and why. “Be clear that you are inviting and informing, not forcing,” said Joan Rosenhauer, special projects coordinator for the Department of Social Development and World Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Start by explaining Catholic teaching and tradition about migrants, Rosenhauer suggested. “What does it mean to love our neighbor? To support a preferential option for the poor?”
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French-speaking Catholics find solace in Mass said in their language
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNS) — They greet each other as family inside the small chapel at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, with warm hugs, a “Comment ca va?” and three kisses on alternating cheeks. Every Sunday at 10 a.m. a small community of French-speaking Catholics gathers to worship as one in their native tongue. Ireton’s chapel with its wooden pews and long stained-glass windows provides a haven for this group, which is mostly made up of Africans from French-speaking countries such as the Republic of Congo, Ghana, the Ivory Coast and Togo. Though many of those attending the French-language Mass are registered at local parishes, it is clear the gathering at the chapel is their “church.” The native African dress worn by some, the rhythmic music and the use of African dialects during the Liturgy of the Eucharist bring a taste of home to these displaced faithful. “It reminds me of my childhood,” said Nita Evele, who moved to the United States from Congo 10 years ago. “We all were Catholic and we went to Catholic school. It just reminds you of so much back home and you feel at home.” Father Jean-Claude Atusameso, in residence at St. Mary Church in Alexandria, said the weekly French Mass, which is part of the diocesan French ministry effort, meets a big need in the diocese.
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Secretary-general invites pope to visit U.N. headquarters
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited Pope Benedict XVI to visit the United Nations headquarters in New York during a private meeting at the Vatican. The two leaders discussed global trouble spots and cultural tensions during a 20-minute encounter in the pope’s private library April 18. It was the first papal audience for Ban, a former South Korean diplomat who took up his U.N. post at the beginning of the year. A Vatican statement said the pope and Ban had discussed the need for a “restoration of multilateralism” in international affairs and the strengthening of the dialogue between cultures. The Vatican confirmed that, as expected, Ban had officially invited the pope to visit the United Nations. Vatican sources have said the pope would like to make the visit, and that one possible time frame was in late September, for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly. To date, no firm plans have been made for such a visit, the sources said. It would be Pope Benedict’s first visit to the United Nations and his first visit as pope to the United States.
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Catholic groups to start coalition to improve HIV/AIDS care in India
NEW DELHI (CNS) — Catholic health care and development agencies plan to establish a coalition to streamline and strengthen the HIV/AIDS care and support service in India, the country with the highest number of people infected with HIV. “We have a bank of health personnel. We need to coordinate and make use of their service to strengthen our care and support service to move ahead faster,” said Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore, chairman of the health care commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. At an April 12-13 international conference on church response to AIDS in India, more than 150 church health workers — including delegates from most of the 78 AIDS care and support centers run by the Catholic Church — discussed the plan. The meeting was organized by the bishops’ health care commission and the New York-based Catholic Medical Mission Board with the support of UNAIDS, the joint U.N. program on AIDS. “The government is looking for credible partners” in the fight against AIDS, said Archbishop Moras, endorsing the proposal to launch the Catholic coalition.
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Church official: Irish hope for success of U.S. immigration reform
DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) — Irish citizens with family members living and working in the United States without visas are hoping for the success of U.S. immigration reform, said the director of the Irish bishops’ Commission for Emigrants. “The atmosphere in Dublin among the families was one of eagerness to find out what is going on in the campaign for immigration reform,” Father Alan Hilliard, commission director, told Catholic News Service after an April 14 rally in Dublin to show support for legislation in the United States. The rally, sponsored by the Commission for Emigrants, was attended by Irish politicians from major political parties. “There is a lot going on behind the scenes to create a cross-party partnership between Democrats and Republicans in the (U.S.) Senate, and we’re trying to assist that, but there is an understanding among family members that these efforts could come to nothing,” he said.
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South Korean church leaders offer sympathy to Virginia Tech victims
SEOUL, South Korea (CNS) — Catholic leaders in South Korea offered their condolences to the family members and victims of the recent shooting rampage at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. “We Korean bishops feel great shock and pain, especially (because) this incident was done by a Korean young man,” the bishops’ conference said in an April 18 statement obtained by UCA News, an Asian church news agency. They also warned against the tragedy leading to further violence or revenge against innocent people in the U.S. “It should not create ethnic conflicts or prejudice,” said the bishops. They said they regretted that they “couldn’t fulfill (their) duty to help people realize the importance of life that God has given us as a gift.” In an April 19 letter to Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond, Va., the diocese in which Blacksburg is located, Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jinsuk of Seoul said that all Koreans, including Catholics, are “very much shocked and in deepest sorrow.”
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Colleagues, students mourn Peace Corps teacher killed in Philippines
LEGAZPI, Philippines (CNS) — Colleagues and students could not suppress tears at a Mass for U.S. Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell. About 50 people attended the April 18 Mass at the Divine Word College of Legazpi chapel after the school received confirmation of her death from Luzvi de Lumen, regional Peace Corps manager. Campbell, a Catholic from Fairfax, Va., who taught the English language and literature at the college since November, disappeared April 8 in Banaue, more than 200 miles north of Manila. The 44-year-old volunteer reportedly went hiking alone in the town, in Ifugao province. On April 18, local residents discovered her body buried in the town, reported UCA News, an Asian church news agency. Police said they suspect she was murdered; an investigation is under way. Father Francisco Estepa, president of the college, celebrated the memorial Mass. He told mourning teachers, students and others in the chapel how sad the school was over Campbell’s death. She did a lot “for the students and the community as well,” he said.
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Man says his brother, a jailed Vietnamese priest, is witness to faith
PERTH, Australia (CNS) — A Vietnamese priest sentenced to jail for spreading propaganda has accepted his suffering as an opportunity to bear witness to Catholicism, said his older brother. “He has said that going to jail, for him, is a chance to convert people and baptize them,” said Nguyen Hoang An of his brother, Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly. Vietnamese prisons do not allow inmates to be visited by priests, An told The Record, the weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Perth, through an interpreter. An has lived in Australia since 1983 but speaks little English. An said that during Father Ly’s long years in jail he has converted many prisoners and prison guards to the Catholic faith. Father Ly, who has already spent 14 years in Vietnamese prisons — much of it in solitary confinement, was recently sentenced to eight more years in jail. Father Ly and four pro-democracy lay Catholic activists were jailed after speaking against Vietnam’s one-party government.
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American seminarian to run for peace in the Holy Land
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A seminarian from the Pontifical North American College is among those running for peace in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Philip Smith, a first-year theology student from Tiffin, Ohio, was the lone American participating in the Pope John Paul II Marathon for Peace, organized by the Rome Pilgrimage Office and the Catholic Italian Sports Center. “This event is important on so many levels: on the spiritual level because it is in the Holy Land and we’re literally walking in Christ’s footsteps; on a cultural level because people from all different backgrounds are coming together; and on a political level because it shows that we can all come together for peace,” Smith said in a telephone interview with Catholic News Service. About 150 Israelis and 150 Palestinians were to take part April 25 in the 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) run, which starts at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and goes all the way to the Western Wall of Jerusalem. The route is designed to symbolically bridge the gap between the two populations and promote peace in the troubled region.