Today (05.08.07)

Today in the Diocese

   SAN ANGELO, Diocesan Pastoral Center – Budget Review

Necrology

   Msgr. Kevin Heyburn (2001) (May 7)

Today’s Readings

Acts 14:19-28
Psalm 145:10-13, 21
John 14:27-31 

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

By Catholic News Service

U.S.

Pastor seeks to console scattered flock after devastating tornado

DODGE CITY, Kan. (CNS) — With his church destroyed by a powerful tornado and his parishioners “scattered to the four winds,” Father Gregory LeBlanc, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Greensburg, spent part of May 6 visiting the displaced in local shelters. “It was so good to visit with a number of you Sunday in the shelters,” Father LeBlanc said in a parish bulletin posted on the Web site of the Diocese of Dodge City. “I am at a loss as we look at what needs to be done now and what needs to be done in the future. God bless us and keep us together even as we are scattered about.” Tim Wenzl, media liaison for the Dodge City Diocese, said St. Joseph Church was destroyed in the May 4 tornado, with only a memorial bell and a statue of St. Joseph left standing in an exterior niche of a wall. But all 160 parishioners have been accounted for and no one was killed, he added. Bishop Ronald M. Gilmore of Dodge City asked for prayers for the people of Greensburg and other towns devastated by the May 4 tornado, which the National Weather Service classified as an F5 storm, with winds exceeding 200 mph. Contributions to aid tornado victims may be made by phone at: (800) 919-9338; on the Web at: http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org; or by check to: Catholic Charities USA, P.O. Box 7068, Merrifield, VA 22116-7068.

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Cardinal praises Bush pledge to veto any attack on pro-life policies

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The head of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities welcomed President George W. Bush’s May 3 promise to “veto any legislation that weakens current federal policies and laws on abortion.” Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia also expressed gratitude in a May 4 statement for pledges by 155 members of the House of Representatives and 34 senators to uphold any such vetoes. “These pledges help ensure that through the rest of this administration and this Congress Americans need not fear that the federal government will pursue new ways to force them to be involved in government-funded abortions, coercive population programs abroad or the destruction of embryonic human beings,” the cardinal said. “Instead, we should work together to build respect for human life at its most defenseless stages, and to support women and families facing an unintended pregnancy or caring for family members challenged by age, illness or disability,” he added. Bush outlined his stand in identical letters May 3 to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

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Indiana prisoner executed; prayer at vigil calls it ‘dark act’

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (CNS) — Called in prayer a “dark act done under the cover of night,” the execution of convicted murderer David Leon Woods was carried out in the early hours of May 4. Woods, 42, had been sentenced to death 22 years earlier for the stabbing death of a family friend, Juan Placencia, during an attempted robbery in April 1984 in Garrett, Ind. Woods was 19 at the time. With appeals exhausted and clemency denied by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a group of death penalty opponents began to assemble at the Indiana State Prison parking lot shortly before sunset on the eve of the execution to keep vigil in support of Woods, who reportedly had undergone a conversion of heart and a transformation of faith while behind bars. Before entering the prison to witness the execution, the Woods family stopped to address the group. “David is a special person, a godly person and he has no fear at all tonight,” said Tommy Yeager, the prisoner’s brother-in-law. “He is at total peace and feels when he leaves here tonight, he will be walking with Jesus.”

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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 can come down to what is commonly referred to in the United States as voluntary simplicity, or “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 degradation 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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WORLD

Pope asks Catholics to pray for his visit to ‘continent of hope’

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI asked Catholics to pray for the success of his first visit to Latin America, saying the region represented the “continent of hope” for the church. The pope, speaking at a noon blessing May 6, dedicated his trip to Mary and said he was preparing spiritually for the important journey. “It’s my first pastoral visit to Latin America … where almost half the world’s Catholics live, many of them young people. This is why it’s called the ‘continent of hope,’ a hope that concerns not only the church but all America and the whole world,” he said. During the May 9-13 visit to Brazil, the pope was to preside over pastoral events in Sao Paulo and open the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean. The pope prayed that the conference would help Latin American Christians become more aware of their identity as “disciples and missionaries of Christ.”

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Bishops urge European leaders to augment efforts to combat poverty

LONDON (CNS) — Catholic bishops from four continents are appealing to leaders of the world’s richest countries to honor their commitments to combat extreme poverty. The church leaders met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair April 30, German President Horst Kohler and Chancellor Angela Merkel May 2 in Berlin, and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi in Rome May 3. The bishops briefed Pope Benedict XVI on their discussions May 4 and quoted the pope as telling them to “continue campaigning for the welfare of all human beings all over the world.” The campaign brought together bishops from developing countries and from the world’s richest nations to lobby on behalf of the poor in preparation for the June 6-8 summit of the Group of Eight leaders, those heading the governments of the world’s major industrial nations. Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa told reporters at the Vatican May 4, “We are not asking the G-8 to take on further commitments, but rather to respect those they already have made for aid to developing nations, for transparency in international transactions and for the control of weapons sales.”

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Pope to women religious: To bring hope, first renew your spirituality

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Renewing their own spirituality and carefully studying the needs of others, women religious will be able to live the Gospel message and bring hope to the world, Pope Benedict XVI said. The pope, meeting May 7 with almost 800 superiors of women’s congregations, asked the religious to follow the biblical example of the prophets, who “first listen and contemplate and then speak, allowing themselves to be totally permeated by that love for God, which fears nothing and is stronger even than death.” The International Union of Superiors General was holding its plenary meeting in Rome. The participating superiors represent almost 600,000 sisters working in 85 countries around the world. The theme of the plenary was “Challenged to weave a new spirituality, which generates hope and life for all.” During the May 6-10 plenary, the women were to focus specifically on helping other women, migrants, safeguarding the earth, working with the laity and interreligious dialogue.

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Pope says church must continue to reach out, face vocations crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While the church must continue to be a missionary church reaching out and giving support to younger churches, it must also face the widespread crisis of vocations, Pope Benedict XVI said. As the church continues its missionary activities around the world, “we cannot help but see the difficulties that emerge today in this field,” he said in a May 5 speech to participants of two separate missionary conferences. The Superior Council of the Pontifical Missionary Works and the World Mission Congress “Fidei Donum” met in Rome recently to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII’s encyclical, “Fidei Donum” (“The Gift of Faith”). The letter highlighted the missionary needs of Africa and urged established churches to help younger churches with prayers and funding. It also called on diocesan priests, religious and laypeople to help in the missions.

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PEOPLE

Nepal’s first bishop ordained in Katmandu

KATMANDU, Nepal (CNS) — In a historic moment for the local Catholic community, Jesuit Father Anthony Sharma was ordained Nepal’s first bishop. The ordination took place May 5 at the newly renovated premises of Katmandu’s Assumption Church. About 3,000 worshippers — almost half the total Catholics in the country — attended, as did several Hindu and Buddhist well-wishers, reported UCA News, an Asian church news agency. The ceremony was officiated by the apostolic nuncio to India and Nepal, Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, and two co-consecrators, Archbishop Benedict Osta of Patna and Bishop Thomas D’Souza of Bagdogra. Archbishop Osta and Bishop D’Souza are the leaders of the Indian Catholic territories neighboring Nepal. After he took his solemn vows, Bishop Sharma, wearing his new miter and gold ring while holding the pastoral staff of his office, faced the audience, to thunderous applause.

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Pope thanks Swiss Guards for dedicated, loyal service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI thanked the Swiss Guards for their dedicated and loyal service of watching over the Vatican and keeping popes safe. The Swiss Guard’s 500 years of service to the church in Rome reflects “a long history of loyalty and generous service always offered with dedication, at times to the point of heroically sacrificing one’s life,” he said. The pope’s comments came May 5 during a special audience with Swiss Guards and 38 new recruits. New soldiers are sworn in during a colorful ceremony at the Vatican every May 6 to commemorate the day 150 Swiss Guards died saving Pope Clement VII’s life during the sack of Rome May 6, 1527. Pope Benedict said the guards’ dedication has “rightly earned them the esteem and trust of all pontiffs” who have always been able to count on their “help, support, and protection.” He said, “Thank you, dear friends, for your quiet, but efficient presence next to the figure of the pope; thank you for your professionalism and also for the love with which you carry out your mission.”

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Rwandan woman says prayer sustained her during genocide nightmare

CALDWELL, N.J. (CNS) — Immaculee Ilibagiza knows what it is like to rely on the power of prayer. With nothing other than rosary beads and prayer to sustain her, she survived the 1994 Rwandan genocide by hiding in a small bathroom with seven other women for 91 days. She lived through the systematic slaughter, when an estimated 800,000 people — including most members of her family — were brutally murdered in the central African nation. She told her story of survival to students at the campus of Dominican-run Caldwell College April 18, just two days after a lone gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., before turning the gun on himself. That massacre was a disturbing backdrop to Ilibagiza’s presentation. “Many people cry out: Why is there so much evil in the world?” she said when asked to compare her experience with the shootings at Virginia Tech during the question-and-answer segment of the program. “Don’t hate back. People must pray for each other,” she said. “Prayer is the practice of love,” she continued. “It can change the world. It sounds so simple, but it is true. Hold onto hope and find peace in your heart. Put your trust in God.”

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Boy makes blankets for those who need them, gets classmates involved

SHAWNEE, Kan. (CNS) — “Everybody deserves a blanket,” insisted Connor McClain, a third-grader at Good Shepherd School in Shawnee. And he’s bound and determined that everyone gets one. A front-page story on Catholic Community Hospice that appeared last fall in The Leaven, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, started it all. “He was just blown away that there were people out there who were dying and didn’t have things,” said Lisa McClain, a member of Good Shepherd Parish. “And he kept saying, ‘At least I could give them a blanket. Everybody deserves a blanket.'” Fifty blankets later, Connor was presented with a medal during National Volunteer Week this April to acknowledge his efforts in supplying Catholic Charities with throws for hospice patients and more than 50 handmade blankets for its mother-baby program. When asked to explain why he feels everyone deserves a blanket, Connor produced his own well-worn green fleece throw covered in soccer balls. “My mom made this for me,” he said. “It’s nice because it makes me think of my mom and it makes me think of my sport.”

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