Today (04.25.07)

Today in the Diocese

   OZONA, Our Lady of Perpetual Help – Confirmation at 6:00 p.m.

Today’s Readings

1 Peter 5:5-14
Psalm 89:2-3, 6-7, 16-17
Mark 16:15-20

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

By Catholic News Service

U.S.

Immigration proposals weighed by church and in Congress

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A White House proposal for immigration reform is “a step in the wrong direction,” though a House bill comes closer to offering what’s needed, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee in a letter to Congress. Meanwhile, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the House immigration subcommittee, told a conference on immigration law and policy she hopes that before the August recess a bill will come out of Congress that takes a comprehensive approach to problems, including giving college students a chance to legalize their status as well as dealing with enforcement, temporary workers and legalization. In a letter to Congress released April 23, Bishop Gerald R. Barnes of San Bernardino, Calif., reiterated the bishops’ support for legislation that includes what he called a viable path to permanent residency for people in the country illegally, a visiting worker program, a plan to address backlogs in family reunification immigration, restoration of due process rights and policies that address the root causes of migration. Bishop Barnes said H.R. 1645, the Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy Act, or STRIVE Act, so far comes closest to a just and humane reform bill.

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With no insurance, Chicago archdiocesan foster care program to end

CHICAGO (CNS) — Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago has begun dismantling its foster care program after announcing that it will stop providing foster care services as of June 30. The decision, which Catholic and state welfare officials called “tragic,” came after Catholic Charities was unable to get liability insurance for its foster care program. Catholic Charities and other private agencies recruit and train foster parents to be licensed by the state, place children with the foster parents they have trained, and provide monitoring, casework and social services to the children. When the closure was announced April 16, about 900 children were in the program, said April Specht, a spokeswoman for Catholic Charities. More than 150 staff positions are to be cut as well. The decision came after Catholic Charities was unsuccessful in finding liability insurance to cover the program. Its current carrier agreed to continue providing coverage of all of Catholic Charities’ services except foster care. The agency approached 25 providers besides its current carrier; 24 turned it down, and one did not respond, Specht said. The insurance company’s decision came after Catholic Charities settled a lawsuit over the alleged abuse of three children in a foster home in the 1990s for $12 million.

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God’s people need time to unwind mystery of liturgy, cardinal says

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (CNS) — God’s people need time to unwind the mystery of the liturgy, both during Mass and over time, said Cardinal Godfried Danneels during a lecture at Boston College April 17. Cardinal Danneels, the archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium, was co-author of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (“Sacrosanctum Concilium”), approved by the Second Vatican Council. It called for the translation of the Mass from Latin to the vernacular. The document, promulgated Dec. 4, 1963, ordered an extensive revision of worship so that people would have a clearer sense of their own involvement in the Mass and other rites. The cardinal spoke at the annual Canisius Lecture, sponsored by the university’s Jesuit Institute. His talk was titled “The Sacred Liturgy: Revisiting ‘Sacrosanctum Consilium’ Forty Years After Vatican II.” “The liturgy needs time to deliver its riches,” he said to students, faculty and priests. The faithful need time and space to enter into the event and to leave the chaos of the world behind, and to do that they also need silence, the cardinal said.

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North Dakota moves closer to ban on abortion if Roe v. Wade reversed

FARGO, N.D. (CNS) — Following the advice of Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota legislators approved a bill April 23 that will make abortion illegal in the state if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven was expected to sign the bill, which would make abortion a felony except in cases of rape or incest or to save the mother’s life. Called a “trigger bill,” the legislation would only take effect if the Supreme Court overturned its 1973 decision legalizing abortion in all 50 states. Mississippi passed similar legislation earlier this week; it was signed into law by Gov. Haley Barbour April 19. Anyone performing an illegal abortion under the North Dakota legislation would be subject to a $5,000 fine and/or up to five years in jail. The bill passed the House by a 68-24 vote and was approved in the Senate 29-16.

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Virginia colleges, high schools hold memorials for shooting victims

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) — Perhaps nowhere has the sting of the shootings at Virginia Tech been felt more palpably than on college campuses throughout the commonwealth of Virginia. “It could have been here,” people were saying. “It could have been us.” On April 16 at the university in Blacksburg, student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people before turning his gun on himself as police closed in. No one can make sense of such a senseless act, and trying to make sense of it is beyond our understanding, said Father Peter Nasetta, Catholic campus minister at George Mason University in Fairfax. “How can you make sense of what you can’t make sense of?” Father Nasetta said in his homily at a memorial Mass on campus at St. Robert Bellarmine Chapel April 19. “Questions persist.” But, he added, another senseless act was for God to take human form as his Son, to take on the world’s sufferings and ultimately to die to save humanity. “Out of love for us, God chooses to become one of us and then die for us,” he said. “God’s love is mysterious. The way our God works is hard to understand.”

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WORLD

Vatican official compares evil of abortion to suicide attacks

ROME (CNS) — Abortion, which leads to the deaths of innocent humans, is just as evil as killing innocent bystanders in a suicide attack, said the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Some evil, like the shootings at Virginia Tech, are obvious and visible, said Archbishop Angelo Amato in an April 23 speech on terrorism and evil. “To the daily ration of evil” reported in the news, there must be added the evil that remains almost invisible and usually is presented “as an expression of the ‘progress’ of humanity,” the archbishop told a Vatican-sponsored seminar for airport chaplains. As examples of evil presented as progress, Archbishop Amato cited “abortion clinics, authentic slaughterhouses of budding human beings” or “the laboratories where, for example, RU-486, the morning-after pill, is made or where human embryos are manipulated as if they were simply biological material.”

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Priest says Ecuadorean migration helps family wages, not stability

QUITO, Ecuador (CNS) — Yolanda Heredia chooses her words cautiously when she speaks of her husband who left Ecuador four years ago to find work in Italy. “I respect his decision,” she said, “and I’m careful not to tarnish his image in the eyes of my children.” While he sends money for the children’s needs, she holds little hope that the family will ever have a normal life together again, although her daughter still asks when her father will return. Too often, when one spouse emigrates, “things can’t work for the couple,” Heredia said. In this Andean nation of 12 million people, Heredia’s story is far from unusual. Estimates of the number of Ecuadoreans who have immigrated to the United States, Spain, Italy and other countries range up to 2.5 million. “Initially every migrant dreams of returning, but after three years only 30 percent come back,” said Father Giorgio Peroni, executive secretary of the Social Ministry Office of the Ecuadorean bishops’ conference.

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Pope says religious vocation means giving life to God, church

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A vocation to the priesthood or religious life consists of giving one’s life not only to God, but also to the church so that it leads people into communion with God, said Pope Benedict XVI. “God has always chosen some individuals to work with him in a more direct way in order to accomplish his plan of salvation,” Pope Benedict said. Jesus taught the apostles about God and his love for them, which led them into a relationship with God, the pope said. Jesus then entrusted the apostles with leading others into a relationship with God, he said. The church has been given the same task, the pope said in a message released April 24 for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2007. The theme for the day, celebrated April 29 in most dioceses, is “The Vocation to the Service of the Church as Communion.” Pope Benedict was to mark the day by ordaining 22 new priests for the Diocese of Rome.

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Health workers must argue for moral system, says leading U.S. doctor

ROME (CNS) — Health professionals need to band together to “argue for a morally valid and just” health care system, said a prominent U.S. Catholic physician. “We as health professionals have enormous moral power, and we’re not using it. By that I mean we’re not alerting our society to what’s happening to patients and saying that we feel it needs to be improved,” said Edmund Pellegrino, a longtime leader in developing bioethical standards based on Catholic values. He also is chairman of the U.S. President’s Council on Bioethics. In an April 20 talk at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University in Rome, the 87-year-old former president of The Catholic University of America spoke on “Justice and Fairness in Health Care” as part of his weeklong series of lectures sponsored by the university’s bioethics department. The number of Americans without health care coverage is on the rise; as of 2004 approximately 45.8 million people were uninsured, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Nigerian bishops say elections were not free, fair or credible

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) The Nigerian bishops’ conference criticized national elections, saying they were not free, fair or credible. “The reports from across the country showed that the mandate of the people was abused, traumatized and brutalized,” said a conference statement April 24. Church leaders said they based their remarks on the observations of 30,000 election observers deployed under the church’s justice and peace commission. The bishops said government officials and members of the Independent National Electoral Commission failed to prepare adequately for the April 21 round of national elections after allegations of improprieties in the April 14 elections for state and local posts. “It is very unfortunate that neither INEC nor the government heeded our call to provide better logistics, tighter security for the ballot boxes and the electorate. We never seem to learn from the past,” the bishops said.

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PEOPLE

Head of New Ulm Diocese named coadjutor for St. Paul-Minneapolis

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Bishop John C. Nienstedt of New Ulm, Minn., as coadjutor archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, announced the appointment in Washington April 24. Archbishop Harry J. Flynn is the current head of the archdiocese. As coadjutor, Archbishop Nienstedt automatically becomes head of the archdiocese upon Archbishop Flynn’s retirement or death. On May 2, 2008, Archbishop Flynn will turn 75, the age at which bishops are requested by church law to submit their resignations to the pope. The pope may or may not accept it at that time. Archbishop Nienstedt, 60, has headed the New Ulm Diocese since 2001. Before that he was a priest and then auxiliary bishop of the Detroit Archdiocese. At a press conference in St. Paul he said he plans to spend the next year getting to know the people he will be working with. “I see myself as a learner,” he said. “I’ll come here, I’ll listen, I’ll talk to people, I’ll go around to the parishes, to the schools, and just see what’s going on. … This next year will be a sharp learning curve for me.”

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Pope meets Palestinian leader with honors given to head of state

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With all the honors usually given to a head of state, Pope Benedict XVI welcomed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the Vatican. During their 12-minute private meeting April 24, the two leaders “reviewed the situation in the Middle East,” said a Vatican statement. The statement also hailed efforts to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It also said that in Abbas’ meetings with the pope and with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, the situation within the Palestinian territories, including “the difficulties Catholics face and the value of their contribution to that society,” was discussed. Cardinal Bertone told reporters later that the Vatican hoped recent changes within the Palestinian government and between Israeli and Palestinian leaders “would bear fruit” and lead to peace.

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Cardinal Mahony honored in El Paso for his immigration advocacy

EL PASO, Texas (CNS) — Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles told an audience of 500 people in El Paso that they must take up the fight for a just and comprehensive immigration bill. The cardinal was in town to accept an award for his immigration advocacy during the fourth annual Voice of the Voiceless celebration that included an outdoor Mass and a recognition dinner April 14. “This is the moment of the immigrant and we must seize this moment,” he told his listeners at what was billed as a “solidarity meal” of rice and beans in Amistad Hall of Santa Lucia Church. He told those present to do their part whether it was to pray, talk to neighbors, or call their elected congressional leaders to make them understand the importance of the issue. The cardinal’s Voice of the Voiceless Award was presented by El Paso’s Annunciation House, a haven for refugees and migrants.

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Tests revealing bones not Joan’s don’t affect church, official says

OXFORD, England (CNS) — A forensic scientist’s findings that bone fragments are not those of St. Joan of Arc would not “change anything for the church,” said a French church official. “These remains have never been regarded as relics by the church — although we knew of their existence, they were never the objects of cult or devotion,” said Bertrand Vincent, spokesman for France’s Tours Archdiocese. Vincent said the church always maintained that St. Joan’s “remains were burned and scattered — though historians and researchers may probe the record, nothing has happened to change it.” Nature, an international science journal, reported April 4 the results of the yearlong examination by Philippe Charlier, a professor at a hospital west of Paris, on pieces of bone and cloth allegedly retrieved from Rouen, where St. Joan was put to death. Nature reported that spectrometry, electron microscopy and carbon-14 tests had revealed the “sacred scraps” were remains of an Egyptian mummy dating from 600-300 B.C.

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Survivor says God uppermost in his mind during gunman’s rampage

ROANOKE, Va. (CNS) — Derek O’Dell has a lot of stories to tell as a survivor of the nightmare shootings at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg April 16. A fundamental one is that his faith in God was foremost in his consciousness from the first moment the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, entered the Norris Hall classroom where sophomore O’Dell was in German class. He said his faith was with him “just about the whole time” as Cho fired on O’Dell and his classmates. When the shooter left the room, O’Dell, who had been shot in the arm, and another student barricaded the door against his possible return. Indeed, after more shots were heard outside, Cho came back to their classroom and tried to force his way in. “When I was holding the door I was praying to God that we — all of us in the class — would survive,” O’Dell recalled a few days after the tragedy. “I felt like God really answered my prayers. I found out … that four more people from our class survived who I thought had died. It was truly a miracle.” O’Dell, 20, a lifelong parishioner of Our Lady of Nazareth Church in Roanoke, said that most of the students in his introductory German class had become good friends.

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