Today (05.03.07)

   Bishop Pfeifer in MERTZON, St. Peter, Confirmation at 6:30 p.m.

Today’s Readings

1 Corinthians 15:1-8
Psalm 19:2-5
John 14:6-14 

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

U.S.

U.S. commission notes religious freedom violations in Turkey

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom strongly urged the U.S. government to include concerns regarding Turkey’s religious freedom violations on the U.S.-Turkey bilateral agenda. The United States should urge Turkey to continue its legal reforms to protect the rights of Turkey’s religious minorities, including Catholics, said the commission, an independent, bipartisan, federal agency mandated by Congress to review international religious freedom and provide recommendations for its advancement to the U.S. secretary of state. The Turkish government should take steps to “address the restrictions on the right to own property and train clergy” and “undertake significant steps to establish and enhance trust between the majority and minority” religions in the country, added the commission. Though Turkey did not make the commission’s infamous list of countries with egregious human rights violations, the struggle regarding Turkey’s policy of secularization, treatment of minority religions and growing Muslim identity earned the country a special section in the commission’s 2007 Annual Report. The report was released in Washington May 2. It designated North Korea, Iran, China, Sudan, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia as “countries of particular concern” for their blatant denial of religious freedom.

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Women religious gather to mark 40th anniversary of Omaha bone study

OMAHA, Neb. (CNS) — By the end of the first eight-day session of the Omaha Nun Study in 1967, Sister Rosalina Wilkinson was sick of chocolate bars. The Sister of Mercy had eaten one chocolate bar each day. “I only picked the chocolate bar because it was on the list they gave me and I thought it sounded good,” Sister Wilkinson told the Catholic Voice, newspaper of the Omaha Archdiocese. “Boy was that a mistake.” Sister Wilkinson was one of 190 nuns from six motherhouses who agreed to participate in a Creighton University study on calcium intake and women’s bone health, now known simply as the Omaha Nun Study. Participating nuns were from the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, Servants of Mary, School Sisters of St. Francis, Notre Dame Sisters, Sisters of Mercy and Benedictine Sisters. More than 30 of the nuns involved in the study were on hand April 25 to help celebrate the study’s 40th anniversary. “I would like to reiterate the impact you had,” Dr. Robert Heaney, study director and designer, told the nuns. “I don’t think you realize this, but the intake recommendations for calcium were based on the figures you people provided not to me, not to Creighton, but to the women of America.”

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Cardinals raise funds for Catholic University with Las Vegas dinner

LAS VEGAS (CNS) — Five U.S. cardinals and other prelates were in Las Vegas April 27 for the 18th annual American Cardinals Dinner, which raised $1.2 million for the scholarship fund of The Catholic University of America in Washington. About 500 attended the dinner. Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, which is in the Las Vegas Diocese, received the American Cardinals Encouragement Award, a feature at the annual dinner. In his homily at a Mass in Las Vegas’ Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer before the dinner, Vincentian Father David M. O’Connell, Catholic University’s president, preached on conversion; the first reading of the Mass dealt with Saul of Tarsus’ conversion into the apostle Paul. “For most of us, our conversion of heart is much less dramatic than that of Saul of Tarsus,” Father O’Connell said. “In fact, for most of us, conversion is not a moment or an event but, rather, the work of a lifetime — a journey, a pilgrimage filled with joys and sorrow, successes and failures, triumphs and tragedies.”

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New Jersey rectory serves as home for men considering priesthood

HOPELAWN, N.J. (CNS) — When young men are discerning the vocation of priesthood, it is important that they have a quiet place for prayer and reflection while learning about the life that would come with being a priest. Through the work and support of many individuals, the Metuchen Diocese has created such a setting for those seeking to decipher God’s call. In a building that was once an oversized and underutilized rectory for Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish now stands the St. John Vianney House of Discernment. The house is a place for men considering the priesthood who are serious about the vocation, yet not entirely certain that they are ready to pursue it. The house, which also still serves as a rectory for the parish, is home to Father John J. Barbella, pastor of both Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Hopelawn and Holy Spirit Parish in Perth Amboy, and Father Randall J. Vashon, diocesan director of vocations. The building also has private bedrooms for up to four men as well as common meeting rooms and a chapel containing the Blessed Sacrament.

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Prayerful hope can overcome disparity, Cardinal Levada says

CLEVELAND (CNS) — The highest ranking American at the Vatican said that hope, nourished in prayer, can help overcome the disparity that people feel in an increasingly violent society. “Violence is contrary to hope,” Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told more than 200 people who gathered April 24 at Gesu Church for the Margaret F. Grace Lecture sponsored by John Carroll University’s Cardinal Suenens Center. Dedicating his presentation to the families, survivors and the memories of the students and teachers killed April 16 at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., Cardinal Levada addressed the issue of hope and left the audience with suggestions that could help blunt the impact of the many forms of violence so prevalent in society. “I am convinced that the dulling of (people’s) hope is from secularization,” Cardinal Levada said. But it does not need to be that way, the cardinal added as he encouraged the audience to find hope through prayer to God.

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WORLD

Pope says only true way to know God is to love him

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The only true way to know God is to love him and enter into a relationship with him through prayer and reading the Bible, Pope Benedict XVI said. “Just as between people, one really knows another deeply only if there is love, if one opens his heart,” so it is with God, the pope said May 2 at his weekly general audience. St. Peter’s Square was a sea of colorful umbrellas and raincoats as rain sometimes gently sprinkled or poured down on the estimated 20,000 visitors gathered for the audience. As the pope rode through the crowd in an open jeep, his personal secretary held a huge white umbrella over him. As the rain became heavier, the pope told the people that Italian experts had been worrying about a serious drought this year, “so (the) Lord is giving us a sign of his blessing.” In his main audience talk, the pope continued the previous week’s discussion about the teaching of Origen of Alexandria.

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Archbishop: Church must dispel prejudice about its stance on AIDS

LONDON (CNS) –The Catholic Church must do more to dispel “mistaken prejudices” about its attitudes to people with HIV/AIDS, said a Scottish archbishop. “It needs to be said again and again that the Catholic Church is committed to those works of mercy in the field of HIV/AIDS,” said Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow, Scotland. The archbishop spoke in Kiev, Ukraine, in late April to a Caritas-sponsored conference on HIV/AIDS in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. An archdiocesan official provided Catholic News Service in London with a copy of the text. Archbishop Conti said it was “very regrettable” that some people think the church is unsympathetic to AIDS patients because, in many cases, HIV is transmitted through sexual intercourse.

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Priest says Estonian Catholics shaken after repeated riots

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — Catholics in Estonia remain “shaken and afraid” by repeated riots in the capital, Tallinn, after a government decision to dismantle a Soviet war memorial sparked angry reactions from ethnic Russians. “People aren’t accustomed to such violence here,” said Father Alfonso Di Giovanni, the Italian rector of Tallinn’s Sts. Peter and Paul Parish. “They’re badly shaken and fearful, and many have had windows broken and their homes damaged. We’ve held prayers every night, asking God to touch people’s hearts, and tried to stay close to those affected,” he said. Rioting by ethnic Russians in Tallinn and other towns in late April left one dead and more than 150 injured and was matched by violent anti-Estonian protests in Moscow. Father Guy Barbier de Courtois, a French priest in Tallinn, said the war memorial was viewed by Russians as symbolizing “the end of the war and Nazi regime,” but by Estonians as “the start of the Soviet era and mass deportations to Siberia.” In a telephone interview May 1, he told Catholic News Service, “It’s hard to believe people have such strong feelings about distant issues like this — the violence has clearly been fueled by propaganda.”

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Police file charges against officials at Indian church retreat center

MURINGOOR, India (CNS) — Police have filed criminal charges against 10 top officials of a popular Catholic retreat center in southern India. The accused include two Vincentian priests and a nun. The charges against the Divine Retreat Center officials were filed April 30 at the direction of Kerala state’s High Court, which ordered a probe of the center more than a year ago, reported UCA News, an Asian church news agency. The charges come under Indian Penal Code sections dealing with criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement, voluntarily causing harm with dangerous weapons, poisoning and tampering with evidence, said a police official who did not want to be identified. The center’s director said the chief police investigator had a vendetta against the center. Billed as Asia’s largest Catholic charismatic renewal center, the complex managed by Vincentian priests is located in Muringoor. It draws 10,000 people for its weekly retreats, conducted in seven languages.

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PEOPLE

New head of Mexican American Cultural Center named

SAN ANTONIO (CNS) — The board of directors of the Mexican American Cultural Center has accepted the resignation of Mercy Sister Maria Elena Gonzalez as president of the center and named Arturo Chavez, the center’s director of programs, to succeed her, effective Aug. 1. In announcing the appointment, Bishop Michael D. Pfeiffer of San Angelo, board chairman, said, “Arturo firmly believes in MACC’s mission. He possesses the foresight and leadership qualities needed to help MACC continue to be the national leading Catholic institute in Hispanic and multicultural ministries.” Sister Maria Elena, who has headed the center in San Antonio for the past 14 years, said a recent accidental fall helped confirm to her that it was time to resign. When she was named president in 1993, she was the first woman religious to hold that post. Under her leadership the center increased its curriculum-based programs both on its campus and off-campus. She was instrumental in raising $6 million in a three-year capital campaign that paid for the construction of a new campus seven years ago. Chavez has been with the center for the past six years and served in several positions.

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Bishop Kevin Farrell installed as bishop of Dallas Diocese

DALLAS (CNS) — Bishop Kevin J. Farrell was installed May 1 as the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Dallas during a Mass at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe attended by an overflow crowd of more than 2,000 people. The two-hour Mass was concelebrated by archbishops, bishops and priests from Texas and from around the United States. They included Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl and Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington. Bishop Brian Farrell, who is secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the brother of Bishop Kevin Farrell, also concelebrated the Mass. In his homily, the new Dallas bishop noted that it was the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, guardian and protector of the Holy Family. “In the Catholic community, the bishop fulfills a task that has many similarities to St. Joseph’s,” he said, stressing that bishops are called to the challenging task of being guardians of the faith. He said that one of his priorities will be to foster vocations and he hopes the whole Catholic community will participate in this effort.

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