Today (06.01.07)

   No diocesan wide events.

This Weekend’s Readings

Friday

Sirach 44:1, 9-13
Psalm 149:1-6, 9
Mark 11:11-26

Saturday

Sirach 51:12-20
Psalm 19:8-11
Mark 11:27-33 

Sunday

Proverbs 8:22-31
Psalm 8:4-9
Romans 5:1-5
John 16:12-15 

This Weekend’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

U.S.

Study finds more U.S. Catholics preparing for diaconate, lay ministry

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate reports that in 2006-07 it identified more permanent deacon candidates and more students in U.S. lay ecclesial ministry programs than in the previous year. The number of seminarians in graduate theological studies during this past academic year was down slightly. While enrollment was up in college seminaries, it was down in high school seminaries. The biggest change was in the number of people working toward degrees or certificates for lay ecclesial ministry — 20,240, or 25 percent higher than reported in 2005-06. CARA, based at Georgetown University in Washington, has been tracking U.S. seminary enrollments for 40 years. In more recent years it also has conducted annual surveys of enrollment in deacon and lay ministry formation programs across the country. The results of the latest studies appear in the 2007 edition of the “CARA Catholic Ministry Formation Directory,” due out in early June. CARA provided Catholic News Service with an advance copy of the directory’s statistical overviews of each type of ministry formation May 30.

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Hong Kong cardinal calls 10 years under China ‘series of frustrations’

WASHINGTON (CNS) — For people in Hong Kong, the first 10 years of Chinese rule has been “a long series of frustrations,” said Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun. “On the surface, everything is like before,” Cardinal Zen told Catholic News Service in Washington May 30. However, he added, Chinese government authorities “are not keeping their promises.” For instance, he said, although universal suffrage is contained in the Basic Law, the miniconstitution that governs Hong Kong until 2047, Chinese officials ruled out direct elections of the Hong Kong chief executive in 2007 and the special administrative region’s legislature in 2008. “They are always directed by fear,” the cardinal said. “They are full of fear about Hong Kong people because we protest” and, “for communists, anyone who protests is the enemy.” In May 1989, while Hong Kong was still under British control, 1 million residents protested the Chinese crackdown in Tiananmen Square. Hong Kong reverted to Chinese control and became a special administrative region of China in 1997.

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Catholic leaders welcome Sudan sanctions but worry violence won’t end

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Following President George W. Bush’s announcement May 29 that the United States would impose new economic sanctions on Sudan, some Catholic leaders said they are pleased with the attention being paid to the humanitarian crisis in the country’s Darfur region, although they remain concerned that unilateral sanctions will not bring an end to the violence. “Symbolically, it’s important what President Bush did,” said Father Michael Perry, a Franciscan priest who has been active in the church’s response to problems in Africa. “I just think it’s not going to be sufficient to bring the government to task.” In response to the Sudanese government’s refusal to allow the full deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping force and to stop the killing in Darfur, Bush unveiled a set of economic sanctions intended to put more pressure on the government to cooperate. He ordered the Treasury Department to place 31 companies and three individuals on a list barring them from doing business with the United States.

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Rapid City Diocese awarded $100,000 grant to promote better preaching

RAPID CITY, S.D. (CNS) — Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Rapid City has announced that the diocese has been awarded $100,000 in grant funding to promote excellence in preaching in his diocese. The three-year project, called “To Preach the Good Word Well,” will focus on how the word of God transforms the lives of clergy and laity and forms their vision as people of God. The purpose of the project is to assist clergy and laity in more effectively preaching and listening to the word of God. The funding was provided by a private foundation that wishes to remain anonymous. “We are convinced that excellence in preaching enlivens parish communities. Good preaching begins with a sound knowledge of Scripture and includes reflection on the church’s tradition down through the centuries to the present time,” Bishop Cupich said in a statement. “This project is unique,” he added, “in that it helps both the one who preaches and those who hear the word of God attend to what God does and what God is doing.”

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Providence diocesan newspaper gets new name, design

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CNS) — The weekly newspaper of the statewide Diocese of Providence is getting a new name — Rhode Island Catholic — and a new design. At a May 30 ceremony in the Cathedral of SS. Peter & Paul in Providence, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence, who is the publisher, joined staff and supporters to unveil the publication. The redesign and name change follow a year of consultation with the Catholic Press Association and diocesan staff. The primary purpose of changing the name from The Providence Visitor was to better reflect the publication’s Catholic identity. “The Catholic press plays an important role in the life of the Catholic Church, particularly in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, our teachings and beliefs,” said Bishop Tobin. “The diocesan newspaper is a unique source of information for news involving the church on a local, regional, national and international level; therefore, it was essential that we provide its readers with news of interest in a way that utilizes technology and modern newspaper design,” he said.

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Trenton Diocese receives three top honors in Proclaim Awards

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CNS) — The Diocese of Trenton, N.J., won three 2007 Proclaim Awards for a Spanish-language television program and for “Realfaith TV,” a half-hour show for teenagers that addresses issues such as teen pregnancy, depression and war. The Spanish program, “AHTV: Apostolado Hispano Television Especial de Navidad,” won in the special TV program category. “Realfaith TV” won in the categories of best talk show and best multimedia promotional campaign. The Proclaim Awards are given by the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Communication Campaign. They honor excellence in communications at the diocesan or archdiocesan level. This year’s awards were presented May 25 as part of the annual Catholic Media Convention held in Brooklyn.

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WORLD

Vatican, United Arab Emirates establish full diplomatic relations

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican and the United Arab Emirates announced May 31 that they had established full diplomatic relations and would soon exchange ambassadors. The brief Vatican announcement said the Holy See and the seven states forming the United Arab Emirates wanted to promote “bonds of mutual friendship” and strengthen their international cooperation. Located on the Persian Gulf, the United Arab Emirates has a combined population of some 4.4 million people, but more than 80 percent of them are noncitizen guest workers. The vast majority of the citizens are Muslims, but many of the guest workers belong to other religious traditions. Among the guest workers, “according to reliable estimates, there could be more than 1 million Christians, mostly Catholics, belonging to more than 100 different nationalities,” said a Vatican note published with the May 31 announcement. While the seven emirates — Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Al Fujayrah, Ra’s al Khaymah, Sharjah and Umm al Qaywayn — recognize Islam as the state religion, freedom of worship is guaranteed.

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Caribbean bishops navigate problems posed by many cultures, languages

APARECIDA, Brazil (CNS) — With parishes scattered from Belize to Bermuda to South America’s northern shores, the Catholic bishops of the Caribbean must navigate obstacles posed by culture and language as they work to address pastoral, social and economic needs. “We are an international conference,” Bishop Robert Rivas of Kingstown, St. Vincent and Grenadines, said of the Antilles bishops’ conference. “There are several things that unite us,” he added, only half in jest. “One is calypso. The other is cricket.” But even those traditions are emblematic of cultural differences within the bishops’ jurisdiction, which covers the English-, French- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean except Haiti. Thirteen of the countries in the Antilles bishops’ conference are independent, while six are British colonies, three are departments of France and two are Dutch dependencies. “It’s hard to get a single pastoral plan for the whole area,” said Bishop Robert Kurtz of Hamilton, Bermuda, who heads the bishops’ conference. The bishops are able to get together for a meeting only once a year, he said.

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Benedictines open cause for 36 North Korean martyrs

SEOUL, South Korea (CNS) — The largest Benedictine abbey in Asia has opened the canonization cause for three dozen 20th-century martyrs of the Benedictine mission in North Korea. Abbot Simon Petro Ri Hyeong-u of the Order of St. Benedict Waegwan Abbey said the order is setting up a tribunal for the cause, so the community can “honor the faith witness of our predecessors.” The martyrs include a bishop, 18 priests, 13 brothers, three nuns and a laywoman. They died in prison or in detention camps between 1949 and 1952 at the hands of North Korea’s communist regime “due to hostility against Christianity,” said Abbot Ri. His remarks were reported by UCA News, an Asian church news agency, May 31. The Benedictines, who arrived in northern Korea in 1909, set up an abbey in Tokwon and administered two church jurisdictions. The Korean peninsula was partitioned in 1945, and during the 1950-53 Korean War the Benedictines fled to South Korea and re-established themselves in Waegwan.

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Venezuelan church criticizes government shutdown of TV station

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNS) — A Venezuelan archbishop and Catholic institutions have joined the nation’s political opposition in criticizing the government’s shutdown of an independent television station. Archbishop Roberto Luckert Leon of Coro, vice president of the Venezuelan bishops’ conference, called the decision to close Radio Caracas Television, or RCTV, “the gravest political error” committed by the Venezuelan government. Archbishop Luckert said that the station, transmitted over Channel 2, would be missed in all parts of Venezuela because of its popularity. He also said the closure had no legal basis. “It occurred to the president to close Channel 2, he announced it and he shut it, and then afterward came the legalisms to try to justify the unjustifiable,” the archbishop said May 29. Archbishop Luckert also harshly criticized the Supreme Tribunal of Justice’s ruling permitting the new government station to take over use of RCTV’s antennas, transmitters and other equipment. “That demonstrated that (the justices) are at the service of the regime, of whatever the president says,” he added.

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Latin American bishops urge G-8 heads to base economy on common good

APARECIDA, Brazil (CNS) — Bishops from Latin America and the Caribbean meeting in Brazil voted to send a telegram to the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations, urging them to “guide the world economy toward humane, ecological, sustainable development based on justice, solidarity and the common good of the entire human family.” Noting that the Group of Eight’s decisions “have widespread consequences for the lives of millions of people in all parts of the world, although the G-8 countries do not have a mandate for global governance,” the bishops called on the leaders to “act with great solidarity.” Citing a letter sent by Pope Benedict XVI to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the bishops said that “one of the most urgent tasks of our time is to eliminate extreme poverty and make the necessary resources available. World peace and security depend on this.” The Group of Eight — representing the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada and Russia — is scheduled to meet June 6-8 in Heiligendamm, Germany.

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Bishops urge Latin Americans to commit to living like Christ

APARECIDA, Brazil (CNS) — Bishops from Latin America and the Caribbean voted overwhelmingly to approve a final document calling the region’s Catholics to renew their commitment to discipleship and mission and setting directions for the church in the region for the next 10 to 15 years. “We are saying that being disciples of Jesus Christ means living as he lived,” Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini Imeri of San Marcos, Guatemala, told Catholic News Service. “It obliges us to be more authentic and more radical in our option as church and, in my case, as bishop.” The bishops voted 127-2, with one abstention, to accept the fourth and final version of the document. Because of problems with the electronic voting system, they did not know the exact wording of some sections of the document until the morning of May 31, when they gathered for the closing session of their 19-day meeting. The final document, which is more than 100 pages long, was not made public. It will be sent to Pope Benedict XVI, who is expected to release it officially in June.

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PEOPLE

Catholic Coalition on Preaching re-elects longtime president

CHICAGO (CNS) — The governing board of the Catholic Coalition on Preaching re-elected Franciscan Father Francis Tebbe of Chicago as president and chair during its recent meeting in St. Louis. “It is a great honor to be chosen again to serve as president,” Father Tebbe said. “I am passionately dedicated to making contributions to excellent preaching, to preaching education and the mission of the coalition.” The coalition is a partnership of 22 member organizations that recognizes and promotes the importance of preaching in the Catholic Church. A release said the organization also seeks to “energize quality preaching in the United States.” Father Tebbe has served as president and chair of the coalition since 1996, and has been a member of the steering committee for 17 years. Apart from his work with the coalition, Father Tebbe serves as executive assistant to the president and secretary to the corporation at St. Xavier University in Chicago.

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New Jersey woman hopes to boost morale by sending scapulars to troops

BAPTISTOWN, N.J. (CNS) — For the men and women in the military enduring the uncertainty and danger of an ongoing war, a little encouragement can go a long way. That’s what motivates Pat Covalesky, a parishioner at Our Lady of Victories in Baptistown, who sends scapulars, religious medals and rosaries to soldiers stationed at military bases both in the United States and abroad. “When the war broke out, I thought about these kids in the military and I wanted to do something for them,” Covalesky told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Metuchen Diocese. To fund her project she started making early withdrawals from her retirement fund. She thought the scapulars would convey the message to the troops that the prayers of those at home were with them and that people wanted them to return safely. Covalesky contacted a local Catholic gift store for help with the project. Since the war began, Covalesky has distributed more than 15,000 scapulars and has exhausted her retirement fund. Donations to the scapular project may be sent to: St. Michael Shop, 20 Commerce St., Flemington, NJ 08822.

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Nun says Holy Spirit gave her grace, courage to meet prison pen pal

MISHAWAKA, Ind. (CNS) — When a letter from the Indiana State Prison arrived two years ago for Franciscan Sister Agnes Marie Regan, she admitted she was a bit baffled. “I was thinking, ‘Now, what could this mean,'” Sister Agnes Marie said from her home at St. Francis Convent in Mishawaka. As it turned out, the letter, adorned with smiley faces, came from an inmate named Ken, who is serving a 60-year sentence for burglary. He invited her to be his pen pal and she accepted. Sister Agnes Marie is known among the inmates at the Michigan City Indiana State Prison as the “TV Mass Sister,” because inmates, including Ken, watch her introduce the televised Sunday morning Mass. Sister Agnes Marie also serves as a pastoral associate at St. Matthew Cathedral in South Bend. Nearly 80 inmates take part in the St. Dismas Community Within the Walls group, which meets each week to watch the televised Mass and take part in a Bible study.

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Catholic communicators honored by various groups at media convention

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CNS) — Groups representing a variety of causes honored Catholic communicators with awards during the recent Catholic Media Convention in Brooklyn. Four journalists received the annual Eileen Egan Journalism Awards from Catholic Relief Services, and three others were honored with the Bernardin-O’Connor Awards for Pro-Life Journalism, given by Priests for Life. The Knights of Columbus awarded their Father Michael J. McGivney Awards for Journalistic Excellence on Volunteerism to three members of the Catholic press. The Catholic Press Association presented its highest award for publishers, the Bishop John England Award, to Franciscan Father Jeremy Harrington, who retired in May as CEO of St. Anthony Messenger Press in Cincinnati. Bill Ryan, who is retiring after 40 years with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, most recently as interim director of the Department of Communications, received the Clarion Award from the Catholic Academy for Communications Arts Professionals. The May 23-25 Catholic Media Convention was sponsored jointly by the CPA and the Catholic academy.

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