Today (04.24.07)

TODAY IN THE DIOCESE 

   SAN ANGELO, Diocesan Pastoral Center – Personnel Board Meeting at 10:30 a.m.
   WALL, St. Ambrose – Confirmation at 6:30 p.m.

Today’s Readings

Revelation 3:7-8, 10-12 or 2 Timothy 2:8-13; 3:10-12
Psalm 119:137-144
John 10:11-16

Today’s Headlines

U.S.

After journey of sorrow, look to Resurrection, Virginia bishop urges

BLACKSBURG, Va. (CNS) — Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo of Richmond told an overflow gathering of students, faculty and families April 22 at Virginia Tech that rushing to experience the joy of the Resurrection while they are actually feeling pain and confusion “would be terribly unrealistic.” In his homily during Mass on the university campus in Blacksburg, the bishop said, “We as a community have not quite caught up to the joy of the Resurrection yet, because of the tragedy we are living. People’s emotions are anything but joyful.” He reminded the faithful assembled at Memorial Chapel that the message of Christ’s resurrection would be there to answer their questions when the community emerges from its grief over the April 16 tragedy that left 33 people dead. “We need to start the journey of Jesus’ passion over,” Bishop DiLorenzo explained, noting “the fog of emotion” that surrounds the community in facing “the senseless act of violence where so many have passed away.” The bishop also celebrated an evening Mass April 21 at St. Mary Church in Blacksburg.

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Nuncio says by living simply Catholics can help protect the earth

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNS) — Every Catholic can do something about climate change by adopting a life of voluntary simplicity, the Vatican’s U.N. nuncio believes. It comes down to “working less, wanting less, spending less,” thus reducing the impact each person has on the environment, Archbishop Celestino Migliore told participants gathered in Columbus for the second in a series of regional Catholic conversations on climate change April 14. Citing Genesis’ call to humanity to oversee creation while protecting it and the church’s social doctrine, the Vatican diplomat outlined the Holy See’s position on the need for Catholics to heed the environmental dangers the planet faces. “The denigration of the environment has become an inescapable reality,” the archbishop said. “There is no doubt that the latest assessment has established a strong connection between human activity and climate change,” he said, referring to a February statement by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

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Despite fall in poverty rates, CRS adviser sees ‘dirt in the details’

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Global poverty rates continue to fall, but deepening economic inequality in many countries “is a worrying trend,” said a church policy adviser. Paul Miller, Africa policy adviser for Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ international relief and development agency, said the World Bank Development Indicators 2007 report “brings positive news about income growth and the number of people in poverty worldwide, but a number of nuances make a less-rosy picture.” He said that the report “notes income growth does not necessarily lead to poverty reduction, although it may be a necessary condition.” Miller, based at CRS headquarters in Baltimore, discussed the “dirt in the details” of the April 15 report in a mid-April telephone and e-mail interview with Catholic News Service. For example, he said, the economies of many African countries “are saddled with challenges of HIV/AIDS” and dependence on one export, which “makes them more vulnerable to shocks — climatic, political or economic.”

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Northern Virginia Catholic community mourns loss of local students

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) — Six of the victims of the April 16 shooting at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg were from northern Virginia, and at least three were Catholic. One of the Catholic victims, Reema Samaha, 18, of Chantilly was remembered by a former grade-school teacher of hers as a sweet young lady who was well-thought-of by her peers and the community. Patricia Kobrya, principal at St. Timothy School in Chantilly, taught Samaha fourth-grade science. Samaha graduated from the school in 2002. “There cannot have been any young lady sweeter,” Kobrya told the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Arlington Diocese. “She was a wonderful student, kind of quiet — at least quiet in fourth grade — but she made friends easily.” Samaha, a member of Holy Transfiguration Melkite Parish in McLean, was one of the 32 victims of student gunman Seung-Hui Cho, who turned his gun on himself as police closed in on the scene of the tragedy. The two other Catholic victims from northern Virginia were Mary Read, 19, of Annandale, a member of St. Mary of Sorrows Parish in Fairfax, and Daniel Cueva, 21, who with his mother, Betty, of Woodbridge, had been attending Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Lake Ridge.

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Soldiers and their families say homecoming after deployment not easy

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — When Heidi Sellars was preparing for her husband, Army National Guard Capt. Steven Sellars, to come home from Iraq in 2005, people often said things to her like, “Aren’t you just thrilled?” and “It’s going to be so great.” However, she was not looking forward to the homecoming. “I know that sounds really sad,” she said, but “I just knew it was going to be a challenge.” For a year and a half, she had been a single parent. She had gone through an at-risk pregnancy and left her job to stay at home with her son, Ryan, 3, and her new daughter. Heidi Sellars, 32, said she expected the transition of having her husband, also 32, back home to be difficult, and it was. They participated in the Army National Guard’s family reintegration programs and turned to their own families for support. If their parish, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Hastings, had offered support, they would have utilized that, as well, they said. The St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese is co-sponsoring a Minnesota Army National Guard seminar May 2 for clergy and pastoral leaders to address issues faced by veterans and families after the soldier’s return home.

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El Pregonero in Washington named outstanding Hispanic weekly

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (CNS) — El Pregonero, the Spanish-language newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington, was named the outstanding weekly newspaper with a circulation up to 30,000 in the Jose Marti Publishing Awards of the National Association of Hispanic Publications. The awards were announced April 14 during the association’s 25th anniversary celebration in Scottsdale. More than 700 entries in six categories were received from more than 50 publications, the association said. The awards are named for Cuban journalist, poet and statesman Jose Marti. Writers for El Pregonero also were honored with Marti awards. Miguel Vivanco received a bronze award in the category of Hispanic success story for his article titled “La alegria.” Andrea Acosta won a silver award in the community service/health article category for “Ninos desaparecidos.”

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WORLD

Pope calls St. Augustine ‘model of conversion’ for all Christians

PAVIA, Italy (CNS) — Paying homage to one of the most important figures of the church, Pope Benedict XVI prayed at the tomb of St. Augustine and called him a “model of conversion” for Christians of all ages. Although conditioned by the passions of youth and the habits of his time, St. Augustine sought the truth — and that led him inevitably to faith, the pope said at a Mass April 22 in the northern Italian city of Pavia. The pope’s two-day visit to Pavia and Vigevano, south of Milan, was packed with events: outdoor Masses in both cities, brief encounters with young people, a visit to a hospital and medical center, a university address and a prayer service in the church where the relics of St. Augustine are preserved. It was Pope Benedict’s most extensive pastoral visit in Italy, and tens of thousands jammed the streets in each of the small cities to catch their first in-person glimpse of the German pontiff. For the pope, it was above all a personal pilgrimage to the final resting place of a theologian who inspired his own thinking. As a young priest in 1953, the pope wrote his doctoral thesis on St. Augustine’s teachings.

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Terrorism based on real grievances, cardinal tells airport chaplains

ROME (CNS) — Heightened security and military preparedness alone cannot prevent acts of terrorism, because terrorism is born of real grievances twisted by hatred, said Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers. Cardinal Martino spoke at the opening of an April 23-27 seminar the council was holding with Catholic airport chaplains to discuss ways to promote dialogue and respond to terrorist threats and fears of terrorism among airport workers and passengers. While there is no excuse for terrorism, the cardinal said, the threat cannot be eliminated until the causes are. “Legal measures and being armed are not enough to fight it,” he said. “It is necessary to respond also with cultural instruments capable of offering nonviolent alternatives to redress genuine grievances.” Religious leaders have a particular responsibility to publicly condemn terrorist acts committed in the name of religion, he said.

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Costa Rican bishops welcome ruling for referendum on CAFTA

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (CNS) — Costa Rica’s bishops have welcomed an electoral tribunal ruling that calls for a nationwide referendum on whether to ratify a controversial free-trade agreement with the United States. “We strongly call for all citizens to take advantage of this tool for expressing their will about a matter as crucial as the free-trade agreement,” the bishops said in a statement issued in mid-April. They added that the church would help by “fostering opportunities for dialogue and information” about the Central American Free Trade Agreement. In mid-2006, the bishops had urged the Costa Rican Congress not to vote on CAFTA without first sounding out public opinion. “We did not say it should go to a referendum, but that’s what we were aiming for,” Bishop Angel San Casimiro Fernandez of Ciudad Quesada told Catholic News Service. While Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic have ratified CAFTA, opinion is divided in Costa Rica, the lone holdout.

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Developed countries must offer help to eliminate poverty, says pope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Developed countries have a moral obligation to offer concrete help in eliminating poverty in the world, especially in Africa, Pope Benedict XVI said. While the governments of poorer countries have a responsibility to fight corruption and poverty on their home turf, “the active involvement of international partners is indispensable,” he said in a letter addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Helping poorer nations out of the grinding cycle of poverty and debt “is a grave and unconditional moral responsibility” that cannot be considered an option or be “postponed in the face of pressing national concerns,” he wrote. The Vatican released the pope’s letter and the German leader’s reply April 23, just a few weeks before the start of the summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations being held June 6-8 in Germany. The pope’s letter was dated Dec. 16, 2006.

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Mexican bishops express concern over Catholics’ ‘life-faith divorce’

CUAUTITLAN IZCALLI, Mexico (CNS) — Mexican bishops expressed concern over a growing disconnect between Catholics’ beliefs and daily life — an issue they pledged to raise at the fifth general assembly of Latin American and Caribbean bishops. “Our culture leads us to say we’re Catholic, but our social environment leads us to live our lives as if we weren’t believers,” said Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Texcoco, president of the Mexican bishops’ conference, at an April 20 press conference. “This is what we call the life-faith divorce.” In a weeklong meeting at a walled compound on Mexico City’s northern outskirts, the Mexican bishops discussed the shrinking role of religion in modern society, growing individualism and the deterioration of traditional communities. The bishops concluded that they face a critical task in re-energizing Catholicism and Catholic virtues in Mexico and Latin America. The bishops listed a number of Mexico’s ongoing social woes, such as drug-related violence and rampant corruption, as the most extreme evidence of the disconnect from Catholic virtues.

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Archbishop speaks of South Africa’s ills in address to religious

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — The head of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference called the ruling African National Congress’ slogan, “People First,” an empty charade. Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg said a rich elite class had sprung up “almost overnight” because of government patronage, while many people in rural areas “are trapped in chilling poverty.” In a mid-April address to South Africa’s Leadership Conference of Consecrated Life, the archbishop said widespread corruption in the civil service includes forgery, bribery and “jobs for pals,” noting that “cases of corrupt policemen appear increasingly difficult to overcome.” A “dangerous mix of poverty and greed” has unleashed a wave of crime, he said, noting that South Africans “live in fear for their lives, their property.” Criminals are often freed on technicalities by the courts and they “return to society and continue to terrorize and brutalize innocent people,” he said.

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PEOPLE

Death of local student brings Virginia tragedy to Pennsylvania town

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (CNS) — The April 16 tragedy at Virginia Tech in southwestern Virginia hit home at St. John the Evangelist Parish in the quiet town of Bellefonte when Jeremy Herbstritt, 27, was listed among the 32 victims of a student gunman. “Faith takes on a different perspective, too, in these times,” said Father Neil Dadey, pastor of St. John the Evangelist, the Herbstritt family’s parish. “Faith becomes very real and very concrete. “I hope that his faith comforted him in his final moments. No matter what happened in those last minutes, I’m sure God was with him,” the priest told The Catholic Register, Altoona-Johnstown diocesan newspaper. He said April 23 that the family planned a quiet funeral with family and close friends and that it would probably be April 25. Herbstritt, a graduate student in civil engineering at Virginia Tech, was a former altar server at St. John the Evangelist and faithfully attended church on the weekends and on holidays when he was home, said Father Dadey.

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Nobel laureate treated, released after being shot in West Bank rally

JERUSALEM (CNS) — Northern Ireland’s 1976 Noble Peace Prize laureate, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, was injured in the leg by a rubber bullet while taking part in a nonviolent demonstration against the Israeli separation wall. Maguire, a Catholic, required medical treatment for her injury and also for tear-gas inhalation. She remained in the hospital for a few hours, then returned to the demonstration. She left the country the following day, April 21, as planned. Maguire had been attending the Second Bil’in International Conference on Nonviolence in the West Bank village of Bil’in, where Palestinians and international and Israeli peace activists have held such protests against the wall since February 2005. The conference was sponsored by the International Solidarity Movement. Movement activist Jonas Martinez, an American Catholic who said he did not want to give more details about where he was from, said conference participants joined the weekly demonstration against the wall and were met by Israeli soldiers armed with rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons.

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Audrey Santo dies; she could not speak or move but inspired thousands

WORCESTER, Mass. (CNS) — In silence, Audrey Santo witnessed to the world, preachers and participants said at an April 17 wake for her at St. Paul Cathedral in Worcester and at her funeral Mass there the following day. Santo, 23, who died April 14 at home, was in a comalike state, unable to move or speak, because of an accident when she was 3 years old, but people had flocked to her bedside at her family’s home, where she was cared for. Unexplained phenomena that seemed to happen in her presence drew thousands of visitors over the years. Many felt she could heal others. More than 100 people attended her wake and about 300 were at her funeral. People came from several states, including California, said John Clote, spokesman for the family. Media included ABC’s “20/20” and the local television news. Santo fell into her family’s pool Aug. 9, 1987, at age 3. She was overmedicated at the hospital, lapsed into a coma that lasted three weeks and was left in a state called “akinetic mutism,” according to information from the Apostolate of a Silent Soul, which since 1996 had coordinated activities involving her.

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