Today (05.10.07)

Today’s Events

   STANTON, St. Joseph – Confirmation at 6:30 p.m.

Today’s Readings

Acts 15:7-21
Psalm 96:1-3, 10
John 15:9-11

Today’s Headlines from CNS

U.S.

Effects of Colombia’s ‘hidden war’ said to be second only to Sudan’s

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Gov. Eduardo Zuniga Eraso lamented the displacement of nearly 60,000 inhabitants in his province of Narino in the southwestern corner of Colombia, the result of ongoing struggles among guerrillas, paramilitaries and growers of coca. Nearly 4 million people are believed to have been forced from their homes in Colombia over four decades of internal conflicts, half of them since a U.S-backed program to battle the drug economy began in 2000, according to Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. He hosted a May 7 congressional briefing on what participants described as a humanitarian crisis second only to that of Sudan, which has an estimated 5 million people who are internally displaced. “The fact is, Colombia is at war,” said Father Maurizio Pontin, coordinator of the Colombian Catholic bishops’ office for internally displaced people and refugees. “The official version calls it terrorism. But it is a hidden internal war that people don’t want to see.” Speakers including Zuniga, Father Pontin and Marco Alberto Romero, president of a Colombian human rights organization known by its Spanish acronym COHDES, recommended diverting some of the millions of dollars being spent on military support and cocaine eradication.

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Minutemen monitor border, watch for people entering country illegally

THREE POINTS, Ariz. (CNS) — Ray Ross sat in the bed of his pickup truck, waiting for “aliens,” but not of the outer-space variety. He and his patrol partner, Terry Hartley, were watching for illegal immigrants crossing the Sonoran Desert. Ross and Hartley are members of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. Before becoming a Minuteman, Ross used to feed migrants with his Catholic parish in Palm Springs, Calif. “I don’t blame them for what they’re doing. I’d probably do the same thing,” he said of people who cross the border illegally. “But this is getting out of hand.” Ross, now a parishioner at Sacred Heart in Prescott, said drug and human smuggling, prostitution and migrant deaths are among the tragedies resulting from illegal immigration. He joined forces with 150 of his fellow Minutemen from around the country for an “April muster,” a monthlong surge of civilian patrols along the U.S.-Mexican border. Jose Robles, director of Hispanic ministry for the Phoenix Diocese, said the church does not have a position on the Minutemen’s activities. “From the perspective of human dignity, if they’re saving lives, we’re grateful for that,” he told The Catholic Sun, Phoenix diocesan newspaper.

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Vigils, protests precede execution of Tennessee death-row inmate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) — Philip Workman, convicted of killing a police officer in Memphis, was executed in Nashville on the morning of May 9 despite a wave of last-minute court appeals and efforts by anti-death penalty activists to spare his life. Workman, 53, had received five previous stays of execution, and advocates on his behalf thought he might be granted another stay but instead he became the third person in Tennessee to be put to death by lethal injection since 1960. One of the final appeals by his lawyers argued that the state’s revised procedures for lethal injection could not ensure that his death would be painless. The Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing sponsored a prayer vigil May 8 at Holy Name Catholic Church in Nashville the night before the execution. Another prayer vigil was held later that evening at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, the prison where Workman was executed. Workman was sentenced to death more than two decades ago for killing Memphis Police Lt. Ronald Oliver in 1981 during a botched robbery at a Wendy’s restaurant.

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Bioethicist calls California suicide bill ‘implicitly anti-Catholic’

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — Calling proposed California physician-assisted suicide legislation “strongly and implicitly anti-Catholic” and accusing its advocates of “trying to bend the Catholic Church’s moral teaching to the will of the culture of death agenda,” an international expert on bioethics urged listeners at a May 7 lecture to do everything in their power to help defeat the controversial bill. Titled the California Compassionate Choices Act, Assembly Bill 374 would allow physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to people diagnosed with a terminal illness, given less than six months to live and declared mentally competent. Wesley J. Smith, keynote speaker at the annual public policy breakfast sponsored by the San Francisco Archdiocese’s Office of Public Policy and Social Concerns and held at St. Mary’s Cathedral, said the measure seeks to establish “ending life as an appropriate way to relieve suffering.” Once that premise has been established, he said, it becomes logical to extend what would be seen “as a legitimate medical treatment” to the chronically ill, the terminally ill at any stage, individuals in intractable pain and even those who are depressed.

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Theologian, Bush extol virtues of prayer on National Day of Prayer

LISLE, Ill. (CNS) — The Rev. Martin Marty, a Lutheran theologian and historian, stressed the importance of prayer as a “conversation with God” rather than an argument at a National Day of Prayer gathering at Benedictine University in Lisle May 3. Rev. Marty, a professor emeritus from the University of Chicago, pointed out that politics tend to get in the way of religion’s role in society, particularly as Americans “do a lot more arguing about prayer than praying” in the discussion of issues such as prayer in the classroom or religious symbols in public places. Addressing a crowd of philosophy and theology professors and representatives from a variety of local faith communities, he defined two aspects of prayer — the supernatural connection and the communal expression. The supernatural is sought in response to tragedies such as the massacre at Virginia Tech, while the communal aspect is the outpouring of sympathy and other actions after such a horrible event. “Where would we be without the churches” in the aftermath of catastrophe? he asked. President George W. Bush marked this year’s prayer day with a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. In his seven-minute speech, the president said that Americans have always answered the call to pray, which makes the country a “strong nation.”

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Departing chief legal counsel to bishops reflects on past 20 years

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Ask Mark Chopko what occupied his past 20 years and he will talk about congressional testimony or cases before the U.S. Supreme Court involving abortion, euthanasia, religious freedom and church tax exemption. Chopko, 53, recently announced his resignation after two decades as general counsel to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In July he will leave the USCCB and join the Washington office of the Philadelphia-based Stradley Ronon law firm as a partner and chairman of its nonprofit, religious and tax-exempt organizations practice unit. Veteran church commentator Russell Shaw recently described Chopko as cautious — perhaps too cautious in his view — on church-state relations. But this is the lawyer who in the 1990s deliberately defied a judge’s order for thousands of church documents, leading to a contempt-of-court citation. Under the contempt order the nation’s bishops faced possible fines of $100,000 a day, but he was ultimately successful in challenging the contempt order and obtaining dismissal of an Abortion Rights Mobilization lawsuit to require the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the Catholic Church’s tax-exempt status.

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Parishes tune in to technology with podcasts, cable shows

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (CNS) — Members of St. Mary Parish in Canandaigua now have a new way of reflecting on the weekly Scripture readings, thanks to seminarian Brian Carpenter and youth minister Dawn Burdick. Instead of flipping through the pages of a Bible, parishioners now can turn on their computers or iPods, download the most recent installment of the podcast of “Your Sunday Reader,” then sit back and listen as Carpenter and Burdick read and discuss the week’s Scripture selections. Many Catholics would like to spend more time reflecting on the Scriptures but may not have time to sit down with the Bible, said Carpenter, who has completed two years at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois and was serving his pastoral year at St. Mary. “We thought it would be a good way to reach some people, especially the younger people who tend not to come to a lot of events,” he added. A podcast is an audio file — called an MP3 file — that is distributed to subscribers via the Internet, Carpenter said. Each week a new podcast is automatically sent to the computer of anyone who subscribes to the free service through the iTunes Web site, http://www.apple.com/itunes. The podcasts also may be downloaded from the parish’s Web site, http://www.stmarycanandaigua.org.

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WORLD

Pope says he wants to help reinforce Christian values, counter threats

SAO PAULO, Brazil (CNS) — Arriving in Brazil on his first papal trip to Latin America, Pope Benedict XVI said he wanted to help reinforce Christian values and counter new threats to the poor, the abandoned and the unborn. “I am well aware that the soul of this people, as of all Latin America, safeguards values that are radically Christian, which will never be eradicated,” the pope said May 9. The pope addressed several hundred civil and church dignitaries at an airport welcoming ceremony outside Sao Paulo, where his plane touched down after a 12-hour flight from Rome. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva greeted the pope warmly as he descended from the aircraft. The pope said he had come with an essentially religious message that reflected the goals of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, which he was to open May 13. The pope said he expected the conference to strengthen the subcontinent’s Christian identity “through the promotion of respect for life from the moment of conception until natural death as an integral requirement of human nature.”

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Israeli archaeologists say they have found King Herod’s tomb

HERODIUM, West Bank (CNS) — After three and a half decades of scouring this dusty, heat-scorched mountainside, Israeli archaeologists said they have finally found the elusive tomb of King Herod the Great. The location and unique nature of the finds as well as the historical record leave no doubt that the finds are the remains of the king’s burial site, despite there being no inscriptions, said Ehud Netzer, the Hebrew University professor of archaeology who has led the excavations at Herodium since 1972. The dig uncovered the various buildings at the towering cone-shaped site which King Herod, who ruled Judea on behalf of Rome from 37 B.C. to 4 B.C., had constructed. Only one or two other sarcophagi of this monumental size and quality have been discovered, he said. “Not every rich Jewish citizen of the time could afford a sarcophagus like this,” he said. “It is really a royal one. The stone work is very different. It is really an important, well-executed monument. It is a great satisfaction (to have found it.) I am not sure I myself have fully digested it yet.”

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Northern Ireland church leaders call for prayers for new government

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) — Christian leaders in Northern Ireland have encouraged citizens to pray for the success of the region’s fledgling Catholic-Protestant power-sharing government. Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh issued a statement with the heads of the Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist churches, calling May 8 a “historic day” when enemies joined together to form the power-sharing government. The new government returns home rule to Northern Ireland after a five-year suspension. “We recognize that much work still remains if all people in Northern Ireland are to share the future together,” they said. “We are especially aware of those for whom the pain of the past is a constant living reality.” The religious leaders, who have been instrumental in persuading members of the paramilitaries to decommission their weapons, said they wanted to “invite Christian people to give thanks to God for all that has been accomplished and to pray that guidance and courage might be given to those who lead our community in the days ahead.”

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Pope tells reporters church must keep fighting abortion, poverty

ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT TO BRAZIL (CNS) — On the plane taking him to Brazil, Pope Benedict XVI called Latin America “the continent of life and hope” and said the church must keep up the fight against abortion, poverty and injustice. Speaking to reporters aboard his chartered Alitalia jet May 9, the pope spent more than 25 minutes answering questions, his longest in-flight press conference to date. He said the late Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar A. Romero deserves to be beatified, denounced the Latin American drug trade and said liberation theology has changed with the political times. In remarks about the recent legalization of abortion in Mexico, the pope appeared to support Mexican church leaders who held out the possibility of excommunication for Catholic legislators who voted for the legislation. Asked whether he agreed with the excommunication penalty, the pope answered: “Yes, these excommunications were not something arbitrary, but are foreseen by the Code (of Canon Law). It is simply part of church law that the killing of an innocent baby is incompatible with being in communion with the body of Christ,” he said. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters that the pope was not announcing a new policy on Catholic politicians. He also noted that the Mexican bishops had not announced the excommunication of anyone.

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Bangladesh church officials fight to quash priest’s arrest warrant

BANGALORE, India (CNS) — Church officials in Bangladesh have been lobbying the government to quash an arrest warrant issued against a missionary priest working among exploited indigenous people. “We want the government to quash this (case) and take action against those who have registered the fabricated case against (Oblate) Father (Joseph) Gomes,” Oblate Father Emil Moraes told Catholic News Service May 8 from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Father Moraes is Father Gomes’ regional superior. In February, the local court issued an arrest warrant against Father Gomes, head of the Oblates’ justice, peace and creation ministry, after forest officials filed several charges against the activist priest. The charges included instigating an “unlawful trespass into government-acquired forest, cutting and removing trees, and forcefully encroaching forest zone,” thereby causing the government a loss of nearly $200,000. Father Moraes said, “In fact, he was attending a meeting with tribal people (at Khadimnagar) when this alleged crime is said to have been committed.”

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PEOPLE

Sainthood congregation recommends Pope Pius XII be named venerable

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Members of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes met May 8 to consider the cause of Pope Pius XII and apparently voted to recommend that Pope Benedict XVI formally declare him venerable. Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican press office, confirmed the congregation had met, but since the result of the vote still had to be presented to the pope he would not say May 9 what the result was. Italian newspapers, citing unnamed sources, said the congregation’s cardinals and archbishops recommended that Pope Benedict formally recognize that Pope Pius lived the Christian virtues in a heroic manner. Once the pope issues a decree recognizing heroic virtues, the candidate is referred to as venerable. Before a candidate can be beatified, the pope also must issue a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession. A second miracle is needed for canonization.

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Mothering a large family requires a generous, joyful heart, say moms

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) — The Gould family’s spacious two-story brick home, located on a cul-de-sac near Nashville’s Warner Park, looks like hundreds of other nearby suburban houses, well-maintained, with a neatly trimmed lawn and playground equipment in the backyard. But something about this household is different. Instead of having two or three children, the average number for families today, Ellen and Dave Gould have eight, the youngest born in April. The Gould children attend St. Henry School, play baseball, watch a big-screen TV, play outside with the neighbors, and argue with their mother about eating junk food and doing their homework. “You can have a normal suburban life with more than three children,” Ellen Gould told the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Nashville Diocese. “Sure, it’s overwhelming at times, but you grow into your family.” With the help of family, friends and a strong grounding in the Catholic faith, moms in the Diocese of Nashville who are raising multiple young children said they joyfully rise to the challenge of motherhood.

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