Today (05.21.07)

No diocesan-wide events

Today’s Readings

Acts 19:1-8
Psalm 68:2-7
John 16:29-33

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

Advocates say immigration bill a good start but in need of amending

WASHINGTON (CNS) — An immigration reform bill worked out among Senate and White House negotiators would give the vast majority of the nation’s illegal immigrants a chance to legalize their status, but also would completely restructure the system for legal immigration. The negotiated bill announced by a bipartisan group of senators May 17 and quickly endorsed by President George W. Bush includes some unexpectedly generous provisions as well as elements that backers of a comprehensive reform approach said might be unworkable. Kevin Appleby, director of migration and refugee policy for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said May 18 that the “imperfect bill” was a workable starting point, but that the church would be pushing for amendments on the floor to fix what he considers problems with its provisions for temporary workers and family immigration, among others. The Senate was to begin debate on the bill late May 21.

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Poll finds many Catholics unaware of church steps to prevent abuse

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Only one-third of Catholics in a national survey said they had heard of the U.S. bishops’ policies to prevent child sex abuse and respond to abuse allegations, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate said May 16. Only one-sixth said they have heard of the abuse prevention programs in their own diocese, it added. CARA, an independent church research agency at Georgetown University in Washington, surveyed 1,048 self-identified Catholics through Knowledge Networks, which has a panel made up of a large random sample of U.S. residents who agree to participate in a variety of online polls in return for free Internet access. Those without home computers are given equipment to access the Web through their television. With more than 1,000 respondents, CARA said the margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percent. It said that those surveyed were presented with 13 specific policies and procedures implemented by the bishops to prevent abuse, deal with allegations and reach out to victims. The bishops have committed themselves to those policies and procedures since June 2002, when they adopted their “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”

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Successes, challenges mark fifth anniversary of sex abuse charter

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Five years after the U.S. bishops passed their landmark policies to prevent child sex abuse, they can look back at successes in institutionalizing safeguards and look ahead to challenges in restoring church credibility. But the basic question is: Are children safer now? “Absolutely yes,” answers Patricia O’Donnell Ewers, chairwoman of the National Review Board overseeing the bishops’ compliance with child protection policies. Structures have been put in place for dealing pastorally with victims who come forward with allegations; millions of parents, clergy, employees and children are being educated on child sex abuse prevention; background checks are being done on clergy and church workers; and procedures have been developed for reporting allegations to public authorities, said Ewers, an educator and former president of Pace University in New York. For Thomas Plante, a psychologist who treats clergy sex abusers and victims, the policies are good and the U.S. church is setting an example for the rest of society. But the key to success is “if dioceses and religious orders do what the policies say with integrity,” said Plante. Implementation has been uneven, he said. “Some dioceses and religious orders are further along than others.”

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Hong Kong cardinal visits Chinese Catholics in California

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong visited San Francisco May 11-14 in one of several stops planned for him to visit Chinese Catholic communities in the U.S. and Canada. While in the Bay Area the cardinal visited privately with San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer and Auxiliary Bishop Ignatius C. Wang, a native of Bejing and the first Chinese Catholic bishop ordained in North America. The cardinal, a Salesian, also presided at the May 13 Chinese-language Mass at San Francisco’s Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, which is staffed by Salesians. The cardinal urged San Francisco Catholics to pray for a resolution of tensions between the Vatican and the government-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. He also said in Hong Kong the government is stepping up control of the administration of Catholic schools. According to Bishop Wang, Cardinal Zen has unsuccessfully fought in court against governmental management of Catholic schools in Hong Kong.

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Bureau’s focus is long missionary relationship between U.S., China

ATLANTA (CNS) — Since it was established in 1989, the U.S. Catholic China Bureau has worked to continue the long-standing missionary relationship between China and American Catholics. It focuses on educating U.S. Catholics about China and acts as a liaison to the church in China. The bureau, based at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., is a joint initiative of the Society of Jesus and the Maryknoll Society. One of its goals is “to enable the church in China to stand up on its own two feet and be evangelizing agents to the Chinese people,” said Maryknoll Sister Janet Carroll, the bureau’s senior programs associate. “It’s a living, dynamic church that is growing, developing and suffering,” she told The Georgia Bulletin, newspaper of the Atlanta Archdiocese. “There’s a hunger for meaning and purpose.” Sister Carroll, who was executive director from 1989 to 2003, travels frequently to China. The bureau sponsors religious study trips, allowing participants to view the growth of faith, lay involvement and vocations in China. In March it sponsored its 10th such trip.

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Catholic church in New York’s Chinatown a beacon for immigrants

NEW YORK (CNS) — On Mott Street, in the heart of Manhattan’s Chinatown, remnants of silver streamers sparkle against the dark red and brown tenement buildings, reminders of Chinese new year celebrations. Souvenir hawkers vie for space with opticians, drugstores and pots of congee, a rice porridge favored at breakfast. As the street curves to the east, the vista somewhat incongruously gives way to the green steeple and gray brick of the Church of the Transfiguration, the largest Chinese Catholic church in the country. What at first glance seems out of place has been seamlessly woven into the neighborhood’s fabric for 200 years. “This is a church of immigrants,” said Transfiguration’s pastor, Maryknoll Father Raymond Nobiletti. The oldest Catholic Church building in New York, Transfiguration ministered mainly to the Irish and then the Italians before the Chinese began arriving in greater numbers following China’s 1949 revolution. The majority of Chinese immigrants in New York today came after 1980. Reflecting the need for Chinese-language liturgies, at least eight parishes in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn now offer Masses in Mandarin and/or Cantonese.

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Chinese Catholic community in nation’s capital small but vibrant

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In the corridors of power in Washington, there is wrangling over the U.S. trade imbalance with China. But, in the corridors of the District of Columbia’s Chinatown neighborhood and Interstate 270 in Washington’s northwestern suburbs, the talk is not of imports and exports but the culture of China and the Catholic faith. The Chinese Catholic community in Washington is relatively small — about 75 families — yet large enough to sustain three Sunday Masses: a Cantonese-language liturgy in Chinatown, and separate liturgies in English and in Mandarin in suburban Rockville, Md. Having two locations for Our Lady of China mission, though, isn’t without its difficulties. Without a permanent home of its own, the Chinatown Mass is shoehorned between two Masses at an English-language parish church; sometimes the early English Mass doesn’t end until the Cantonese Mass is supposed to begin. In Rockville, parking troubles at the church used for the Mandarin Mass forced it to move to 3 p.m. Sundays a year ago. “Right away, we lost a third of our people,” said Paul Wang, president of Our Lady of China’s parish council.

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Woman says sharing her faith, serving fellow Chinese greatest reward

ATLANTA (CNS) — Sabrina Mao’s greatest reward is to share her faith with others and help them to know and love God and embrace Catholicism. “My motto is ‘all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose,'” she said, quoting from Paul’s Letter to the Romans. She also feels called to serve the Chinese in the Atlanta Archdiocese. “The Chinese community has special needs,” she said. “It is my desire to also serve the Chinese community, and I hope someday we will be able to have a Chinese priest in this archdiocese and be able to have a Chinese church.” Mao is Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory’s liaison to the archdiocese’s Chinese Catholic community. She has a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University in New Orleans and has certification as a spiritual director from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala. The Chinese Catholic community, made up of about 100 families, was established in 1990. The current president of the community is Margaret Wu; Mao is a former president.

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Chicago church plays big role in life of city’s Chinese community

CHICAGO (CNS) — St. Therese Chinese Catholic Church looks more Italian than Asian from the outside, despite the dog statues guarding the entrance. Inside, the marble and gilt interior features a rococo reredos and stained-glass windows, replete with images and statues of saints revered in Italy. The pastor, Xaverian Missionary Father Michael Davitti, speaks with a hint of an Italian accent as he explains the Chinese characters and artwork that adorn the walls. There are Indonesian images, gold on black lacquer, and Chinese characters painted at the tops of the pillars. They read, “Together in Christ, we are one happy family.” That is the goal for Father Paul Limin Wang, a priest from China’s Hunan province who is receiving his doctorate in ministry from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago this May. Father Wang, who is active at St. Therese and who also travels to Atlanta to celebrate Mass for Chinese immigrants, said one way the U.S. church could help Chinese Catholics who come here to study would be to get them together — especially those from different communities within the church in China. Some communities are registered with the Chinese government and some are not.

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Rev. Falwell’s Moral Majority: How it changed politics and religion

WASHINGTON (CNS) — For many activists in the 1980s-era Moral Majority, there’s no doubt that the religiously based, politically conservative organization changed politics and religion for the better. The election of President Ronald Reagan and a cadre of socially conservative members of Congress in the 1980s changed the direction of politics — particularly by rebuilding the Republican Party — and gave evangelical Christians a voice in elections and in public policy that continues to be strong. It also brought together evangelicals and Catholics in an alliance that raised the pro-life voting public to a position of prominence and power that it had not enjoyed as a primarily Catholic movement. But for some of the Catholics who had key roles in the movement most closely associated with the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, hindsight suggests the Moral Majority’s call to get evangelical Christians involved in politics worked out better for the politicians than it did for the church. Rev. Falwell died May 15, a bit shy of 30 years after the Moral Majority brought the minister from the “Old Time Gospel Hour” in Lynchburg, Va., to the halls of Congress and the White House as a valued adviser.

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WORLD

Vatican reps guide Latin American, Caribbean bishops on many issues

APARECIDA, Brazil (CNS) — Addressing issues ranging from liturgy and formation to the role of laypeople, Vatican representatives provided guidance to Latin American and Caribbean bishops meeting to set directions for the church’s future in the region. Speaking at the May 13-31 Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, representatives of Vatican offices for the clergy, laity, culture, and justice and peace offered their views and encouragement in a series of speeches May 16. “The church in Latin America and the Caribbean must dedicate itself resolutely to being a missionary church in its own land, going in search of Catholics who have distanced themselves and those who know little or nothing of Jesus Christ,” said Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy. Cardinal Hummes noted the ground gained in recent years by Pentecostal groups in the region and said the Catholic Church does not seek “conflict with the sects,” but must ask itself “what we can do to encounter fallen-away Catholics and the poor” on the edges of urban areas “to revitalize their Catholic faith.”

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Pope says church workers must explain marriage reflects God’s love

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — In a country where many Catholics do not marry in the church because they fear their unions will not last, church workers in Mali must explain that the sacrament of marriage is a reflection of the never-ending love of God, Pope Benedict XVI said. The pope met the six bishops of Mali May 18 at his summer villa in Castel Gandolfo, where he spent five days resting after returning May 14 from Brazil. Pope Benedict told the bishops that each of their “ad limina” reports, an accounting of the situation in their dioceses made every five years, showed a “notable concern” over the marriage practices of the country’s 228,000 Catholics. “In effect, given that the number of Christian marriages remains relatively weak, it is the obligation of the church to help the baptized, particularly the young, to understand the beauty and dignity of this sacrament,” Pope Benedict said.

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Vatican official: Media nonsense on religion often reflects ignorance

LONDON (CNS) — The media spread “all types of nonsense” about religion, sometimes out of malice, but usually out of ignorance, said U.S. Archbishop John P. Foley. While all Catholics have an obligation to share the saving love of Christ with others, Catholic communicators have an obligation “to be accurate and to help others to be accurate,” the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications said May 17 in London. “This is not so much to evangelize or even to catechize, but — if I may invent a word — to ‘accuratize,’ to make sure that all who write or broadcast or blog have accurate information and do not, consciously or unconsciously, disseminate misinformation,” he said. Archbishop Foley was in London for a Mass in anticipation of the May 20 celebration of World Communications Day. The archbishop asked everyone present at the Mass to communicate truth and to insist on accuracy in reporting on religion.

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Jesuit discusses Christian appreciation for Islam’s prophet Mohammed

ROME (CNS) — Christians must distance themselves from anyone or anything that insults Islam’s prophet Mohammed and should come to a greater appreciation of his role in bringing millions of people to recognize the one God, said a German Jesuit scholar. But Christians cannot share Muslims’ recognition of Mohammed as the last and greatest prophet, said Father Christian Troll, a professor of Islam and of Muslim-Christian relations at the Sankt Georgen Graduate School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt, Germany. Writing in La Civilta Cattolica (Catholic Civilization), a Jesuit magazine reviewed by the Vatican prior to publication, Father Troll was responding to a question asked by many Muslims: “We Muslims recognize Jesus as a prophet and we venerate him. Why don’t you Christians accept Mohammed as a prophet in the same way?”

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Argentine church workers await guidance on Latin American indigenous

El BANANAL, Argentina (CNS) — Church workers ministering to Argentine indigenous communities have been watching the Latin American and Caribbean bishops’ meeting in Brazil with bated breath, wondering whether Latin American bishops will change their methods in evangelizing the Gospel to native peoples. “We are waiting and watching with anxiety, given that before Benedict was pope he fought against indigenous theology and liberation theology,” said German Bournissen, coordinator of the Argentine bishops’ National Team for Aboriginal Ministries, know by its Spanish acronym ENDEPA. “There are lots of rumors that the pope wants to close the space that’s been opened up in the dialogue about indigenous ministry and theology,” Bournissen told Catholic News Service. “But some of our bishops are very clear about this, and there will be a struggle. “We hope the bishops’ conferences can lift up their voices and be heard,” he said. The rumors developed from Pope Benedict XVI’s speech inaugurating the May 13-31 Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean in which he said the faith “has serious challenges to address, because the harmonious development of society and the Catholic identity of (the region’s) peoples are in jeopardy.”

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PEOPLE

U.S. reps’ input in Latin American bishops’ meeting shows close ties

APARECIDA, Brazil (CNS) — The participation of U.S. church officials in a major meeting of bishops in Aparecida has spotlighted the close relationship between the church in the United States and its counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean. The United States was “an unspoken theme” in the first days of the gathering, as bishops from Latin America and the Caribbean described problems related to immigration and globalization, said Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, N.M., an observer at the May 13-31 Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean. “There is an undercurrent that many of the things that affect Latin America have their origin in the United States,” Bishop Ramirez said. Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, headed the U.S. delegation, which included Bishop Placido Rodriguez of Lubbock, Texas; Auxiliary Bishop Jaime Soto of Orange, Calif.; and Msgr. Carlos Quintana Puente, executive director of the bishops’ Secretariat for the Church in Latin America.

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Church worker says Africa, Eastern Europe need post-abortion healing

ROME (CNS) — More pastoral care and healing for women and men suffering from the aftermath of abortion are urgently needed, especially in Africa and Eastern Europe, said the founder of Project Rachel. Getting Project Rachel, the post-abortion healing ministry of the Catholic Church, up and running in countries that completely lack or have limited social services or health care is a priority, Vicki Thorn told Catholic News Service. Project Rachel currently operates extensive networks in the United States and Canada. While the ministry is also active in the Bahamas, Guam, New Zealand and parts of Australia, more than a dozen other countries are eager to set up Project Rachel in their dioceses, Thorn said May 17. Religious men and women and laypeople trained in post-abortion ministry can help people heal in places where “mental health professionals are not readily available,” such as Africa, parts of Eastern Europe, the Philippines and India, she said. Thorn, who is director of the Milwaukee-based National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, was in Rome in mid-May, giving talks and offering a day of formation May 18 on Project Rachel.

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