Today (05.31.07)

No diocesan-wide events

Today’s Readings

Zephaniah 3:14-18 or Romans 12:9-16
Isaiah 12:2-6
Luke 1:39-56

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service


Ohio judge named to chair National Review Board

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Judge Michael R. Merz of Dayton, Ohio, has been named chairman of the National Review Board. The board oversees the U.S. bishops’ compliance with the national sexual abuse and child protection policies they adopted in June 2002. Merz has been a magistrate judge of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Ohio since 1984 and the district’s chief magistrate judge since 2004. A member of the review board since October 2004, as chairman he succeeds Patricia O’Donnell Ewers, head of the board since June 2005. Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, announced Merz’s appointment and named four new board members May 29. The new members are Dr. Emmet M. Kenney Jr. of Fargo, N.D.; Diane M. Knight of Milwaukee; Judge Robert C. Kohm of New York; and Susan Steibe-Pasalich of Notre Dame, Ind. The appointments take effect June 1.

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U.S. bishops’ education official departing after 17 years

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Many things have come in threes for Father Bill Davis, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales and interim education secretary for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who is leaving his post at the end of June. During his 17 years with the U.S. bishops’ education department, Father Davis, 73, has worked with three education secretaries and three different White House administrations, and his office has produced three major documents. But it would be impossible to put a figure on the number of phone calls and e-mails he has exchanged with school superintendents and diocesan directors or the number of meetings he attended with White House or congressional staff members in efforts to include Catholic schools in a variety of educational initiatives over the years. One thing is certain. Father Davis is committed to Catholic education and has seen it from all sides — as a student, teacher, principal, school superintendent and education official. In his more recent role he has testified before Congress and worked behind the scenes on briefs filed with the Supreme Court for Catholic school students seeking access to remedial education. Even though he is not sure exactly what he’ll be doing after his USCCB departure, one of his first assignments is to continue teaching, on a much smaller scale, as a novice master for an Oblate novitiate.

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Catholic Healthcare Partners funds nursing scholarship at Xavier

CINCINNATI (CNS) — Catholic Healthcare Partners and Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cincinnati have announced a joint venture to provide $2 million in scholarships as well as possible employment opportunities to students seeking nursing degrees. The program — which starts in the fall of 2007 — will award renewable scholarships of up to $5,000 per student per semester annually. Funds will be awarded to students based on financial need, academic qualifications and to underrepresented racial minority students. Students in the program will also be offered development opportunities such as internships at Catholic Healthcare Partners facilities. Xavier University President Michael Graham said the university appreciates Catholic Healthcare Partners’ generosity and added that the program supports Xavier’s mission of promoting and celebrating a diverse campus.

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Winners announced in 2007 Archbishop O’Meara awards competition

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CNS) — Reports on the church’s work in Haiti, Cambodia, Kenya and Guatemala were honored with the 2007 Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara journalism awards, presented this year in Brooklyn by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. The annual awards — first presented in 1993 — recognize outstanding coverage of world mission news by members of the Catholic press. First-place awards for newspapers went to Kristen Hannum of the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland and Diocese of Baker, Ore., for a series of articles, with photographs by Rick D’Elia, on her visit to Cambodia; John Shaughnessy of The Criterion in Indianapolis for his story about a brother and a sister who serve the sick and suffering in Africa; Michael Wojcik of The Beacon in Paterson, N.J., for an article on a New Jersey parish’s assistance to poor students in Haiti; and the staff of The Catholic Spirit in St. Paul-Minneapolis for a series on the church’s work in Kenya. John Rosengren won first place in the category of Catholic magazine articles with a worldwide missionary theme for his piece in St. Anthony Messenger, “Father Stan Rother: American Martyr in Guatemala.”

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Pope says only God is flawless, imperfect people need forgiveness

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Only God is thoroughly flawless and holy; imperfect people are constantly in need of forgiveness, Pope Benedict XVI said. Christians, even great theologians, need to be humble and accept both their own weaknesses and the weaknesses of the church, “because only God is really completely holy. We, instead, constantly need forgiveness,” the pope said at his May 30 weekly general audience. More than 32,000 pilgrims from all over the world gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the audience. The pope continued his catechesis on the Fathers of the Church and early church teachers by focusing on Tertullian, a second-century theologian and apologist born in Carthage, an ancient city in North Africa. Through his many writings, Tertullian refuted accusations pagan authorities launched against the early Christians, and explained and defended Christian teachings and traditions, the pope said. He said the North African theologian reaffirmed that Christianity upholds peace as a “rule of life” and that “a Christian cannot hate, not even his own enemies.”

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Web site allows Christians worldwide to light candles in Nazareth

JERUSALEM (CNS) — A new Web site set up by a group of Palestinian and Cypriot Christians has allowed thousands of Christians worldwide to virtually light a candle at the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. “There are many Christians who are not able to come to the Holy Land for lack of money, lack of time or security considerations. The Web site allows them, in real time, to watch as a priest lights a candle in their name and says their individual prayer,” said Said Salem, the businessman and tourism consultant who conceived of the idea. “They can feel like they are in the church with the priest lighting the candle.” The idea for the nonprofit Web site came to him during Pope John Paul II’s 2000 pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he said, when friends and acquaintances abroad began calling him and asking him to light a candle or say a prayer for them while the pope visited Nazareth. He came up with the idea of the Mirezo site — — as a way to allow these Christians to have their prayers said at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. “Mi rezo” means “my prayer” in Spanish.

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Mexican priests work to ease tensions in polarized Oaxaca society

OAXACA, Mexico (CNS) — A year after the start of a bitter struggle in Oaxaca, local clergy are working to ease tensions in a polarized society while facing divisions within their own ranks. As the southern state grapples with the aftermath of the conflict that pitted a large protest movement against the local government and left at least a dozen dead, the church has maintained an official position of neutrality, calling for peace and dialogue. But a group of priests from communities hit hard by the unrest have become outspoken opponents of the state administration, saying it has exacerbated the crisis. The priests are demanding investigations into deaths, injuries and rights violations that occurred between June and November 2006, when the protest movement controlled much of the city of Oaxaca, capital of the state with the same name. “My position is to call for justice,” said Father Jose Renteria of San Bartolo Coyotepec, on the city’s outskirts. “We can help a great deal by promoting tolerance, but we can’t forget justice or the people’s dignity.”

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Indians urge government to stop ignoring violence against Christians

NEW DELHI (CNS) — Christians in India have urged the federal and state governments to stop ignoring the growing attacks on the minority Christian community. More than 1,000 Christians demanded the governments take responsibility during a New Delhi protest May 29 organized by the All India Christian Council, the Archdiocese of Delhi and other church and advocacy groups. John Dayal, head of the All India Catholic Union, told Catholic News Service that the “reminder to the authorities is that your silence kills. The governments should act to stop this spiral of violence.” Although the incidents seem sporadic, Dayal said, the attacks on Christians were carried out “systematically” by Hindus using the persecution of Christians “to unite and consolidate” their Hindu support base. Father Victor D’Souza, vicar general of the Delhi Archdiocese, told those gathered at the rally: “We are citizens of this country. Yet, we are being singled out and attacked.”

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Archbishop says church in Puerto Rico is looking to future

APARECIDA, Brazil (CNS) — Caught between two cultures, the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico is regaining its identity and looking to the future. The “great goal” for the church is “to re-evangelize and rekindle the faith of our people,” said Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves of San Juan, the capital. “In Puerto Rico, because of the identity crisis that occurred a little more than a century ago, that re-evangelization is more difficult.” Although Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth, “its deepest roots are Latino,” Archbishop Gonzalez said. U.S. rule began in 1898, at the end of the Spanish-American War, but indigenous, African and Spanish cultures “shaped its identity for 400 years” and that influence “cannot be undone overnight,” he told Catholic News Service. Issues being discussed at the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops from Latin America and the Caribbean are highly relevant to the church in Puerto Rico, because it has more in common with those regions than with the mainland United States, Archbishop Gonzalez said.

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Archbishop says Canadian laws must bind its global mining firms

OTTAWA (CNS) — When it comes to Canadian mining in other countries, the protection of human rights and the environment cannot be left to the good will of private individuals or companies, said Archbishop Roger Ebacher of Gatineau, Quebec. Canadian laws must bind mining companies and other extractive industries operating abroad the same way they do at home, Archbishop Ebacher said at a news conference in Ottawa May 29, featuring religious leaders, representatives of Kairos Ecumenical Justice Initiatives and representatives of groups affected by mining in developing countries. “I don’t know why they can do it differently in other countries,” said Archbishop Ebacher, who chairs the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ social affairs commission. Regulations are necessary and “good for our Canadian reputation,” he said. “We have to be proud to be Canadian,” he said. He also stressed the need for mining companies to respect rights of indigenous peoples.

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EWTN’s CEO emulates Mother Angelica, seeks holiness in the workplace

IRONDALE, Ala. (CNS) — While working as a successful lawyer and senior partner in his firm, Deacon Bill Steltemeier saw a flier on “sounding the call to holiness” at a church in the Chicago suburbs near a legal convention he was attending in 1978. Deacon Steltemeier, now CEO of Eternal Word Television Network, was tired and there was a blizzard outside, but he felt compelled to go. “I had never heard anything like this in my life — this call to holiness for every man, woman and child,” said the deacon, who was ordained in 1975. He took a seat, and a few minutes later Mother Angelica looked straight at him; Deacon Steltemeier heard an interior voice say “until the day you die.” He said he “just knew” that meant he would be with Mother Angelica until he died, but he couldn’t accept it because his whole life was planned. He had his own law firm in Nashville, Tenn., was involved in real estate and was Catholic chaplain at a 2,000-man prison. The deacon tried to ignore what he’d heard, but about three months later drove to the Poor Clares monastery in Irondale where Mother Angelica was superior. When Mother Angelica came to the door, she smiled and said, “I wondered when you were coming!”

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Former internee inspires audience with lessons of hardship

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (CNS) — Mary Matsuda Gruenewald told 600 students at Springfield’s Cathedral High School that she had to spend her teen years during World War II in internment camps on the West Coast for just “looking like the enemy.” At the start of the war, Gruenewald, now 82, was the same age as many of the students in her audience when her family was taken from its tranquil home on Vashon Island, Wash., and transported to a Japanese internment camp. It took her more than half a century to break the silence kept by her and most of the 110,000 Japanese-American internees about those years, but in 2005 Gruenewald did so, publishing her story in a widely hailed memoir, “Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps.” She brought her message of history and hope to the students and others gathered in the Cathedral High School auditorium this spring.

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Meeting parents of kidnapped British girl, pope offers prayers

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI, meeting the parents of a 4-year-old British girl apparently kidnapped while the family was on vacation in Portugal, blessed a photograph of the little girl and offered his prayers. Kate and Gerry McCann, the Catholic parents of Madeleine, who has been missing since May 3, met the pope at the end of his weekly general audience May 30 in St. Peter’s Square. When they handed him the photograph, the pope caressed it. “His thoughts and touch and words were more tender than we could have imagined,” Gerry McCann told reporters afterward. “Today, meeting the pontiff was an experience that has very mixed emotions for us,” he said. “In ordinary circumstances, of course, it would be the highlight (in the life) of any Catholic to come and meet the pope, but it is saddened with the very marked realization that our daughter is still missing.” Madeleine disappeared May 3 from the hotel room in Praia da Luz, Portugal, where her family was vacationing. The parents had left Madeleine and her 2-year-old twin siblings alone in the room while they went to dinner in the hotel restaurant. Police believe the girl was abducted.

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Jailed Chinese priest released for medical treatment

HONG KONG (CNS) — One of two Chinese priests jailed for “illegal exit” after a trip abroad was released provisionally for medical treatment in mid-May, about one and a half months before the end of his sentence. Father Peter Shao Zhumin, vicar general of the Wenzhou Diocese, was released due to severe hearing and gallstone problems. He was arrested in September and was sentenced in March to nine months in jail, with time already spent in detention applied to his sentence. The priest will soon undergo medical treatment in Beijing, church sources told UCA News, an Asian church news agency, in late May. Father Shao and the diocesan chancellor, Father Paul Jiang Surang — also known as Jiang Sunian — were arrested together in Shenzhen Sept. 25 after returning from a pilgrimage to Europe. Father Shao also said he “got accustomed” to the prison environment, but regretted that authorities confiscated all the photos he and Father Jiang took while on their pilgrimage to Rome and other places in Europe. Father Jiang is expected to be released in late August.

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Teen makes movie, raises awareness about crisis in Darfur

ONTARIO, N.Y. (CNS) — Erin Schultz has never been to the Darfur region of Sudan but that has not stopped her from reaching out to ease the suffering of the people in that region. After learning that Darfur is currently in the throes of a crisis so violent that many are classifying it as genocide, 15-year-old Erin, who lives in Ontario, created a short movie about the crisis and e-mailed it to everyone she knows. She had only intended to raise awareness about the problem, but she has also raised approximately $2,000 for relief efforts in Darfur. Last year at this time, Erin had barely even heard of Darfur. She was active in the youth group at her parish, St. Mary of the Lake in Ontario, and had volunteered at a food bank a few times, but she had never been overly involved in activist efforts. She did, however, regularly read news magazines and that’s where she first learned about what was happening in Darfur. “I found it horrible how almost nobody knew” about what was going on there, she told the Catholic Courier, newspaper of the Rochester Diocese. Donations for Darfur relief may be sent by check to: Erin’s Darfur Project, c/o St. Mary of the Lake Parish, 5823 Walworth Rd., Ontario, NY 14519. Copies of Erin’s movie on Darfur are available by contacting Carol May at: (315) 524-2611.

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Seminarian donates his kidney to help another seminarian

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (CNS) — Adalberto “Beto” Espinoza and Timothy Renz haven’t known each other very long, aren’t in the same year of studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, and aren’t even from the same state. Yet when Renz found out that he was a suitable match to replace one of Espinoza’s failing kidneys, he never faltered in his decision to help his fellow seminarian. “I seriously think it was the Holy Spirit that helped me through it,” he said. “I never got that freaked out by it. I think the Holy Spirit just kept me calm and got me through it.” Espinoza, of Marine City, received one of Renz’s kidneys May 16 at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. A few days after the operation both men were recovering as expected. Espinoza, 39, was still in physical pain three days after the surgery but more than anything he was grateful for Renz’s gift, joking that giving a kidney takes a bit more of a commitment than cooking someone a few enchiladas. “And I know that it’s a big sacrifice,” he told The Michigan Catholic, archdiocesan newspaper of Detroit.


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