Today (05.01.07)

No diocesan-wide events today

Today’s Readings

Genesis 1:26-312:1-3 or Colossians 3:14-15, 17, 23-24
Psalm 90:2-4, 12-14, 16
Matthew 13:54-58

Today’s Headlines from CNSU.S.

Survey shows average age of priests to be ordained in ’07 is 35

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Results of a survey released April 30 show that the average age of the 475 priests expected to be ordained in the United States this year is 35 and one-third of this year’s new priests were born in another country, primarily Vietnam, Mexico, Poland or the Philippines. The national study of the ordination class of 2007 also shows that the men are well educated. More than six in 10 completed college before entering the seminary and some have advanced degrees in law, medicine and education. The annual survey of new priests was initially developed in 1998 by the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation. Last year, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University began conducting it for the U.S. bishops. For this year’s analysis, CARA researchers contacted the 475 ordinands by e-mail, telephone and fax. A total of 282 ordinands responded, or roughly 60 percent. The group includes 221 who will be ordained for dioceses and 60 for religious orders. One respondent did not specify. Respondents represent 98 archdioceses, dioceses and eparchies and 33 religious orders.

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Bishops fight contraception mandate in Connecticut Catholic hospitals

HARTFORD, Conn. (CNS) — Declaring that “Catholic institutions should have a right to be Catholic,” the Connecticut bishops stepped up a campaign urging lawmakers to amend or defeat a bill that would require all Catholic hospitals in the state to provide emergency contraception to rape victims. The legislation passed the state Senate 32-3 April 25 and now heads to the House. In an April 25 letter to House and Senate leaders, Archbishop Henry J. Mansell of Hartford and Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport said the bill’s requirement that objecting hospitals hire a third party to dispense the “morning-after pill” marketed as Plan B would still “involve the hospital in a way that would violate Catholic moral principles of cooperation. It is important to repeat that Connecticut’s Catholic hospitals do provide emergency contraception when that medication can act as a contraceptive by preventing ovulation,” the letter said. “The Catholic hospitals do not provide Plan B only when the medication would act as an abortifacient and therefore contrary to Catholic religious beliefs and moral values.”

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Catholic universities study own security after Virginia Tech tragedy

ROMEOVILLE, Ill. (CNS) — In the wake of the tragic shooting spree that left 33 people dead April 16 at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., universities nationwide have been re-evaluating their crisis procedures. Three Catholic universities based in the Diocese of Joliet are no exception. Lewis University in Romeoville, the University of St. Francis in Joliet and Benedictine University in Lisle immediately reviewed their communications and security procedures involving staff and students. Joe Falese, vice president of student services at Lewis and a member of the crisis response committee, said the Virginia Tech tragedy “affects all of us.” He also said he anticipates an avalanche of questions about campus security from parents and students, especially in the fall. While the Blacksburg university has a more pastoral campus setting, colleges in the Chicago suburbs generally have a more urban feel because they attract a significant number of commuter students. But Falese stressed that every campus, no matter its location, must maintain a sense of safety and security.

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Lithuanian president says he asked pope to intervene for N.Y. parish

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Lithuania’s president said he personally asked Pope Benedict XVI to intervene to keep a Lithuanian parish in New York open. President Valdas Adamkus met the pope April 28 at the Vatican. A Vatican statement said the pope and president discussed the importance of Vatican-Lithuanian relations, the contributions of the church to Lithuanian society and the role of Lithuania within the European Union. But the president’s office, in an April 28 statement, said, “President Adamkus also spoke to Pope Benedict XVI about the decision to close Our Lady of Vilnius Roman Catholic Church in New York — a decision that was very upsetting for the whole of Lithuania since it raised a wave of disappointment among the faithful.” Joseph Zwilling, communications director for the New York Archdiocese, told Catholic News Service in January that Our Lady of Vilnius Church was closing because of “the physical condition of the church,” a decrease in attendance and a decrease in the church’s services. However, Father Eugene Sawicki, the pastor, had said the parish was active and had minimal structural damage, but that the archdiocese wanted to sell the property for money.

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Indian theology: Seeking the face of Christ in indigenous peoples

SAN PABLO URCO, Ecuador (CNS) — On Holy Thursday, a group of Quichua women, their hair in long braids and their faces weathered by sun and wind, crowded into a tiny kitchen in a schoolyard, stirring huge pots of stew over an open fire. Men, women and students shared the meal of “fanesca,” a traditional Holy Week dish made of a dozen grains, vegetables and beans, during a break in a communal work session to build a new classroom. The two rituals — one marking a religious celebration, the other a shared contribution to harmonious community life — are typical of indigenous communities throughout the Andes and in other countries, such as Guatemala and Mexico, that have relatively large indigenous populations. Despite heavy-handed efforts by early evangelizers bent on “extirpating idols” and a mix of oppression and neglect from successive governments, the region’s indigenous peoples have held fast to beliefs and rituals passed down through generations, marking planting and harvest, birth and death, journeys and homecomings, and rites of passage. The relationship between those beliefs and Christianity has been the focus of foreign missionaries and, increasingly, indigenous theologians who seek the face of Christ in their own communities.

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Pope pleads for vocations as he ordains 22 new priests for Rome

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI made a plea for vocations worldwide as he ordained 22 new priests for the Diocese of Rome. “Let us pray that in every parish and Christian community there be greater attention to vocations and priestly formation. That begins in the family, continues in the seminary and involves all those who are dedicated to the salvation of souls,” the pope said in a homily. The Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica April 29 marked the annual celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Despite a recent upturn in the number of seminarians, the number of priests has declined substantially over the last 25 years. Of the 22 new priests who will serve in the Diocese of Rome, 12 were from Italy and 10 from other countries on three continents. Among the newly ordained was the son of longtime papal photographer Arturo Mari.

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Pope urges Syrian bishops to be living witnesses of unity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI urged Syrian Catholic bishops to be living witnesses of unity “in a broken and divided world.” Along with problems that interfere with “a normal ecclesial life,” the Syrian Catholic Church has also had to face “the violence and conflicts that scar” the Middle East, he said. Given the situation, the Syrian church — an Eastern Catholic church — needs to “proclaim the Gospel with vigor, promote pastoral programs fit for the challenges of a postmodern world, and offer a shining example of unity in a broken and divided world,” the pope said April 28. The pope’s message came at the end of an April 26-28 synod at the Vatican to address special concerns of the Syrian Catholic Church.

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At Vatican, Kissinger discusses dialogue, diplomacy, Mideast

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The international community needs farsighted individuals and institutions capable of promoting values that will increase dialogue, justice and peace, said former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The almost 84-year-old professor said he agreed to come to the Vatican and address the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences because he was interested in a philosophical discussion of the nature of international relations. However, meeting reporters April 28 in the Vatican Gardens, Kissinger also spoke about the importance of preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, the importance of dialogue for peace in the Middle East, the complexity of the situation in Iraq and the need for a bipartisan U.S. foreign policy. Today politicians in every country are under pressure to deal with immediate problems, “but the way you make history is to set your sights higher and look more into the distant future,” he told reporters.

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Mexican Robin Hood: Unofficial saint attracts smugglers, poor, trendy

CULIACAN, Mexico (CNS) — Miguel Angel Salazar and his brother grow beans and corn on a 12-acre farm outside Culiacan, the prosperous capital of the western agricultural state of Sinaloa. Aside from reaping a bumper crop four years ago, their beans failed to fetch a worthwhile price. So the brothers and their families visited the Jesus Malverde shrine, where they asked the unofficial saint for help. A short time later, they sold their crop for a better-than-expected price. In the years afterward, both their harvests and the prices received remained robust. Like many in Culiacan — and increasingly in other parts of Mexico, too — Salazar attributes miracles and blessings to Malverde, a controversial figure known as the patron saint of narcotics trafficking, but someone the Catholic Church does not recognize. Followers call Malverde the Robin Hood of Mexico, a mustachioed bandit from the rugged hills of Sinaloa who reputedly stole from the rich and gave to the poor.

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Families of victims of fatal crash offer forgiveness, encouragement

ST. MARYS, Kan. (CNS) — Jared Cheek is buried on a windy hilltop just north of the town of St. Marys, overlooking the broad Kansas River Valley. Weather permitting, his mother, Joan Magette, visits him every day. Losing Jared is by far the worst thing to happen to her. But she has found consolation in the love and support of family and friends, fellow parishioners at Immaculate Conception in St. Marys, and Pam Molnar, whose son, Matty, died in the same car accident in 2005. Another person who has consoled her and played an important role in helping her deal with her loss is Rob Spaulding, the man responsible for the death of her son. Jared Cheek and Matthew Molnar were back-seat passengers in the car Spaulding was driving when it crashed into a tree Sept. 15, 2005, on the grounds of Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake near Chicago. Molnar, a second-year theology student, died less than an hour later. Cheek, a first-year theology student, died the next day. Another passenger, Mark Rowlands, the car owner, broke his collarbone in the accident. Spaulding, the driver, and a seminarian from Evansville, Wyo., broke his arm and was charged with reckless homicide and two counts of driving under the influence.

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Retired Auxiliary Bishop Schoenherr of Detroit dies at age 87

DETROIT (CNS) — Auxiliary Bishop Walter J. Schoenherr of Detroit, 87, died of natural causes April 27 in the Detroit suburb of Livonia. “Losing Bishop Schoenherr feels like losing a good friend, someone you could always count on for down-to-earth wisdom and spiritual encouragement,” Cardinal Adam J. Maida of Detroit said in a statement. Cardinal Maida was scheduled to celebrate Bishop Schoenherr’s funeral Mass May 2 at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit, followed by burial at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Southfield. Hailing from a long-established Detroit family — Schoenherr Road in Detroit and in its eastern suburbs was named for his ancestors — Bishop Schoenherr was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1945. He was appointed an auxiliary bishop in 1968. For nearly two decades, he was bishop for the south region of the archdiocese. He retired from active ministry in 1995. Clergy and laypeople alike knew Bishop Schoenherr foremost as a humble man. He preferred to use his middle name, Joe, and was even known to many as simply “Father Joe.”

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