Today (06.04.07)

No events scheduled

Today’s Readings

Tobit 1:3; 2:1-8
Psalm 112:1-6
Mark 12:1-12

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service


New book details Hitler plot to kidnap pope, foiled by Nazi general

WASHINGTON (CNS) — An SS general close to Adolf Hitler foiled a plot to kidnap Pope Pius XII during World War II and to put the Vatican and its treasures under Nazi control, according to a new book. The book, “A Special Mission” by Dan Kurzman, refutes arguments that Pope Pius XII maintained a public silence about Nazi actions during World War II because he was anti-Semitic or because he was sympathetic toward Hitler. “They were bitter, bitter enemies. They despised each other,” said Kurzman of the pontiff and the fuhrer in a May 31 telephone interview with Catholic News Service. The pope hated Hitler “not only for his inhumanity but because he threatened the whole church structure.” Hitler, for his part, “saw the pope as his greatest enemy” and as someone with whom he was “competing for the minds and souls that he wanted to control,” the author added. Kurzman also said he found no evidence that Pope Pius was anti-Semitic, noting that one of his closest childhood friends was a Jewish boy with whom he remained in contact throughout his life. The book, published June 1 by Da Capo Press in Cambridge, Mass., is subtitled “Hitler’s Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius XII.” It details the actions of SS Gen. Karl Wolff, chief of staff to SS Chief Heinrich Himmler, in the months after the overthrow of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in July 1943.

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U.S. efforts to protect religious freedom around world mark 10th year

WASHINGTON (CNS) — With the daily news from Capitol Hill focused on the often-combative process of passing legislation to reform immigration, fund the war in Iraq or even reauthorize the farm bill, it’s refreshing to look back at another carefully negotiated bill that took a less contentious course. Ten years ago a diverse coalition of religious and human rights organizations and a bipartisan group in Congress worked together to create a system for addressing religious freedom abuses internationally that arguably is doing what it set out to accomplish. The International Religious Freedom Act, passed by vast majorities in both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in October 1998, created a multipronged system for promoting religious freedom, including establishing the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Nearly 10 years later, some of the people involved in passing the measure point to flaws in how it has worked, but said it has improved the U.S. government’s interest in and ability to respond to abuses of religious rights. Said Tom Farr, a former director of the State Department office charged with implementing the law, “There are probably hundreds, maybe thousands of people walking the earth free today because of this law.” But Farr, now an author and vice chair of the board of Christian Solidarity Worldwide-USA, an international nongovernmental organization that advocates religious freedom, quickly added a caution. “But has it perceptibly reduced religious freedom abuses in the past 10 years?” he asked. “The answer is it has not.”

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Detroit Archdiocese: Paroled Kevorkian not a celebrity but a killer

DETROIT (CNS) — An official of the Detroit Archdiocese denounced the media “hype” surrounding the parole of Jack Kevorkian, saying the assisted suicide proponent was being “treated as a celebrity parolee instead of the convicted murder he is.” Kevorkian, a former pathologist whose medical license was suspended in 1991, left the Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater June 1, accompanied his attorney, Mayer Morganroth, and “60 Minutes” correspondent Mike Wallace. His only comment was to describe the release as “a high point of life.” He was expected to hold a news conference June 5. “For 10 years, Jack Kevorkian’s actions resembled those of a pathological serial killer,” said Ned McGrath, director of communications for the Detroit Archdiocese, in a May 31 statement. “It will be truly regrettable if he’s now treated as a celebrity parolee instead of the convicted murderer he is.” The 79-year-old Kevorkian served eight years in prison after being convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 10 to 25 years. He had videotaped himself helping Thomas Youk, who had Lou Gehrig’s disease, to die, and the videotape was broadcast nationally on “60 Minutes,” a CBS television program. Using a machine he called the “Mercitron,” he was believed to have been present for at least 130 deaths.

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Counselor listens, offers spiritual counseling to retired sisters

ERIE, Pa. (CNS) — When Mercy Sister Timothy Kelley was grieving the death of her brother, Bob, and needed someone to talk to, she found a listening ear: Jan Larrey, a trained counselor and pastoral minister who regularly visits the Mercy motherhouse in Erie. “I was her first customer,” Sister Timothy said, adding that Larrey was a “wonderful listener.” Now, both meet regularly. Larrey also meets weekly with two other Erie-area communities of women religious, the Benedictines and Sisters of St. Joseph. Larrey’s program of offering spiritual counseling, leading group discussions, visiting sisters in the infirmary and training infirmary staff started in September 2005. “I want to help improve the quality of life for older sisters and help in the transition of older sisters who are coming back to the motherhouse after being out on their own working in their ministries,” said Larrey, a gerontology teacher at Erie’s Gannon University.

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Catholic women’s volunteer group gives donated items a second chance

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CNS) — Every Monday morning a group of women search through dozens of plastic bags filled with donations to glean items they can distribute to those in need. These women, who call themselves “bag ladies,” are members of the Ladies of Charity of Metropolitan Kansas City. The group is comprised of more than 800 women who volunteer at local clinics and schools. Each week, a group of them gather at Seton Center, a Catholic social service agency in Kansas City, to unload, sort and store donated clothing and household items for the agency’s thrift store and emergency services programs. Lenora Hughes, who joined the Ladies of Charity in 1986, quickly discovered she enjoyed working with other women. “The sorting room appealed to me,” she said. “I like being down with the people.” “Donations of clothing and household items come from all over the city,” said Rosemary Hornbeck, who calls herself the “new kid on the block” since she joined the Ladies of Charity four years ago.

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British cardinals remind politicians voting for abortion unacceptable

LONDON (CNS) — Britain’s two cardinals reminded Catholic politicians that it is unacceptable for them to vote for abortion rights. Cardinals Keith O’Brien of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Scotland, and Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster, England, denounced the 1967 Abortion Act May 31 as the act approaches its 40th anniversary. “I remind them to avoid cooperating in the unspeakable crime of abortion, and the barrier such cooperation erects to receiving holy Communion,” said Cardinal O’Brien, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, during a homily at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, to mark the church in Scotland’s Day for Life. “I speak most especially to those who claim to be Catholic,” he said. “I ask them to examine their consciences and discern if they are playing any part in sustaining this social evil.” In a May 31 statement, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, president of the English and Welsh bishops’ conference, urged “all Catholics, especially those who hold positions of public responsibility, to educate themselves about the teaching of the church and to seek pastoral advice so that they can make informed decisions with consistency and integrity.” He added, “The longstanding tradition of the church teaches that anyone who freely and knowingly commits a serious wrong should approach the Eucharist only after receiving faithfully the sacrament of penance.”

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Benedict and Bush: Meeting to highlight shared values, objectives

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. President George W. Bush is coming to the Vatican for his first formal audience with Pope Benedict XVI, a meeting seen on both sides as immensely important. Vatican officials said the June 9 encounter would give the pope and the president a chance to sit down for a survey of dramatic situations around the world, including Iraq, where thousands of Christians have been forced to flee. The Bush administration believes the audience will highlight the shared values and common objectives of the Vatican and the United States. In an interview June 1 with Catholic News Service, the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Francis Rooney, said the meeting was “a hugely important reflection” of the president’s respect for the role of the pope and Vatican agencies around the world. “It opens up opportunities for doing good in the world … by leveraging our mutual values and interests in promoting human dignity and religious liberty and for broadening all freedoms,” Rooney said.

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Pope urges Sudan to end military campaign in Darfur

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI urged Sudan to end its military campaign against the war-ravaged region of Darfur and implement a political solution that respects the country’s minorities. “It is never too late to courageously make the necessary and sometimes restrictive choices aimed at putting an end to a crisis,” he said in an address to Sudan’s new ambassador to the Vatican. Pope Benedict said “the force of weapons” could not put an end to “this deadly conflict.” The only “viable solution” that would bring peace is one based on justice, dialogue and negotiation “in order to arrive at a political solution to the conflict in respect of cultural, ethnic, and religious minorities,” the pope said. He made his comments June 1 as Ahmed Hamid Elfaki Hamid presented his credentials as the new ambassador. Sudan’s Darfur region has been beset by human rights abuses and other atrocities since February 2003 when fighting escalated between rebel groups and government troops and Janjaweed, or Arab militias. Human rights groups accuse the Janjaweed of waging a terror campaign against black Africans to push them from the land.

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Philippine bishops call for post-election political killings to stop

MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — As votes for the May 14 midterm election are tabulated, Philippine bishops have called for the political killings to stop. Archbishop Paciano Aniceto of San Fernando said May 30 the election, “perceived as generally peaceful, orderly and credible,” was “shattered by the recent spate of violence and political killings.” UCA News, an Asian church news agency, obtained the appeal called, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper.” The grief and loss of widows and orphaned children is “our grief” and “our loss,” said Archbishop Aniceto, adding that “their cry for justice is our cry for justice.” The archbishop, chairman of the bishops’ Commission on Family and Life, urged everyone “to respect, value and protect God’s gift of life.” Citing the Gospel of Matthew, he asked perpetrators to “put the sword back in its place” and warned that “all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” Archbishop Aniceto also appealed to law enforcement officials for justice. Addressing mass media, he called for respect for “the sensitivities” of people in forming public opinion and urged politicians to use legal means to resolve conflicts at all times. He advised Catholics to “continue praying for peace and reconciliation.” “How is it that in a nation that prides itself on a rich Christian heritage, life is cheap?” he asked.

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Bishops urge G-8 leaders to reduce poverty, focus on Darfur

LONDON (CNS) — The presidents of the bishops’ conferences of some of the world’s wealthiest nations urged their heads of state to take “bold action” to reduce global poverty. The presidents of the bishops’ conference of the United States, England and Wales, France, Germany, Japan, Canada and Russia made their request in the run-up to the G-8 summit in Germany June 6-8. The May 31 letter, which was sent to the heads of the G-8 nations, with the exception of Italy, asked the heads of state to “act out of the moral obligation that we all share for the well-being of every human person, but also because replacing despair with hope in Africa will lead to a more secure world for all nations.” The bishops said they prayed that the “meeting will be blessed by a spirit of collaboration that enables the G-8 leaders to advance the global common good by adopting concrete measures on global poverty, health care, climate change and peace and security.” The bishops reminded the world leaders that at the 2005 G-8 summit in Scotland, the richest countries promised to spend an additional $50 billion per year on foreign aid by 2010, half of which would go to Africa. However, they noted, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports foreign aid levels remained stagnant in 2006.

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Pope urges nations to protect religious freedom, family, environment

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI urged nations to protect religious freedom, the environment and the family in a speech to five new ambassadors to the Vatican. The pope welcomed the diplomats from Sudan, Burundi, Pakistan, Estonia and Iceland June 1 as they presented him with their credentials. While Catholics are a minority in the countries the ambassadors represent, the pope said the church promotes a “spirit of fraternal collaboration” among all people and is “anxious to pay witness to the Gospel.” People must never be discriminated against or marginalized because of their beliefs or religious traditions, he said, emphasizing that the freedom of religion is one of humanity’s “essential rights” that needs to be protected. True religious beliefs “cannot be a source of division or violence,” he said. On the contrary, they are “the foundation of a conscience that (regards) all people (as) brothers and sisters to protect and help thrive,” said the pope. The pope appealed to nations to not exploit the resources of poorer countries “with impunity” and asked that poorer countries be able to “have their share of world growth.”

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Pope clears way for canonization of Indian nun, Ecuadorean laywoman

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Approving a series of decrees, Pope Benedict XVI cleared the way for the canonization of a Syro-Malabar nun from India and a laywoman from Ecuador. In the decrees issued June 1, he also formally recognized the martyrdom of 188 Japanese Catholics, 127 victims of the Spanish Civil War and an Austrian layman executed for refusing to fight in the Nazi army. With the publishing of the martyrdom decrees, the beatification ceremonies can be scheduled. However, the Vatican did not announced dates for the ceremonies. Pope Benedict recognized miracles attributed to the intercession of the two women, who now can be declared saints. They are Blessed Alphonsa Muttathupandathu, a member of the Poor Clares who died in 1946 just before her 36th birthday, and Blessed Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran, a 19th-century Ecuadorean known for her deep prayer and self-mortification. In another decree, Pope Benedict recognized a miracle attributed to the intercession of Father Antonio Rosmini, founder of the Institute of Charity, also known as the Rosminian Fathers. The decree clears the way for his beatification.

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Pope spends evening visiting Vatican civil servants

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI spent a breezy spring evening with the Vatican’s civil servants — gardeners and judges included — thanking them for their work, praying with them and encouraging them in their faith. The first appointment May 31 was an early evening visit to the governor’s palace of Vatican City, where the pope blessed a new 1,012-pipe organ in the palace chapel before addressing employees outside. “Besides competence, professionalism and dedication,” working in the Vatican also requires “a serious commitment of evangelical witness,” Pope Benedict said. The governor’s office runs Vatican City State and is responsible for the motor pool, the police and fire departments, the Vatican Museums, the gardens and buildings, postal service, stamp and coin office, grocery store, health service and a court that deals with both civil and penal matters, usually involving minor infractions such as parking violations. Pope Benedict thanked those who “work in the different sectors of our little state, from the most visible to the most hidden. I am aware of and appreciate each day the fruits of your commitment and your competence.” The Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museums, a predominantly U.S. group, joined the Vatican employees for the event.

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Pope encourages Central African Republic bishops to promote peace

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI encouraged the bishops of the Central African Republic to continue efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in their country. “Peace and national harmony are among the most urgent challenges to which the church in your country must respond,” the pope told the bishops June 1 at the end of their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican. “The promotion of peace, justice and reconciliation is an expression of Christian faith in the love that God nourishes for each human being,” he said. “May the church resolutely continue to announce the peace of Christ while working with all people of good will for justice and reconciliation.” Frequent military coups and coup attempts have left the Central African Republic divided. Hundreds of thousands of people remain displaced, and sporadic fighting continues between government forces and rebels in the North. Pope Benedict expressed his hope that the international community would pay more attention to situations of tension and poverty in Africa and would act promptly to help.

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Pope names Ottawa-born Vatican official as coadjutor of Vancouver

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has named Archbishop J. Michael Miller as coadjutor archbishop of Vancouver, British Columbia, the Vatican announced. Archbishop Miller, a 60-year-old native of Canada, will leave his post as secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, where he has served since 2004. A member of the Basilian religious order, Archbishop Miller will take up his first pastoral assignment in an archdiocese of about 410,000 Catholics. He is expected to arrive in Vancouver in September. As coadjutor, Archbishop Miller will become head of the archdiocese upon the retirement or death of Archbishop Raymond Roussin, the current archbishop. Archbishop Roussin, 67, received treatment for clinical depression after he was named to Vancouver in 2004. Archbishop Miller told Catholic News Service that he thought he would enjoy returning to a more public role after three years behind the Vatican walls. He is a former teacher and university president and said teachers “like a bit of the stage.”

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Pope names Canadian to head Ukrainian diocese in western provinces

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI named Father Kenneth Nowakowski, rector of Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic Seminary in Ottawa, to be the new bishop of the Ukrainian Diocese of New Westminster, British Columbia. Bishop-designate Nowakowski, 49, was finishing his term as rector when the pope named him a bishop June 1. He already had moved back to his native Saskatchewan after 21 years away, he said in a written statement. “I was looking forward to moving into a parish and reconnecting with my roots. Now I have learned that my parish will be huge, comprising all of British Columbia, the Yukon Territory and part of the Northwest Territories,” he said. He succeeds Bishop Severian Yakymyshyn, who retired June 1 after heading the diocese since 1995.

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South Korean bishop, former head of military diocese, dies at age 72

SEOUL, South Korea (CNS) — Bishop Augustine Cheong Myong-jo of Pusan, former head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea and Korea’s military diocese, died early June 1 at the age of 72. Bishop Cheong died at a Catholic-run hospital in Pusan after an 18-month battle with lung cancer, reported UCA News, an Asian church news agency. The bishop’s body was transferred to Namchon Cathedral, where he lived. A funeral was scheduled for June 4. He will be buried in a Catholic cemetery in Pusan. Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk of Seoul acknowledged Bishop Cheong for loving people who suffered and for being a good pastor with a “free and easy” personality. “He tried his best as pastor, despite his own suffering,” the cardinal said in a message. Father Kwon Ji-ho, a parish priest in Pusan, told UCA News May 31 that Bishop Cheong was diligent and faithful in his work and that “he had such an easy personality that many priests thought of him as an elder brother or father.”

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Retired Bishop Dudick of Byzantine Diocese of Passaic dies at age 91

SCHUYLKILL HAVEN, Pa. (CNS) — Retired Bishop Michael J. Dudick of the Byzantine Diocese of Passaic, N.J., died May 30 at the Rest Haven nursing facility in Schuylkill Haven. He was 91. He had previously been in residence at Holy Annunciation Monastery in Sugarloaf. Prior to his retirement in 1995, he had been the bishop of Passaic for 27 years. A Divine Liturgy with the office of Christian burial was scheduled for June 5 at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Passiac. The liturgy was to be concelebrated by Byzantine Archbishop Basil M. Schott of Pittsburgh, Bishop Andrew Pataki, the current bishop of Passaic, and several other bishops and clergy. Interment was set for June 6 at Mount St. Macrina Cemetery in Uniontown. A native of St. Clair, Bishop Dudick was born Feb. 24, 1916, and ordained Nov. 13, 1945, after studies at St. Procopius Seminary in Lisle, Ill. When the Passaic Diocese was formed in 1963, he was its first chancellor. He was appointed by Pope Paul VI to be its second bishop Aug. 21, 1968. During his tenure as bishop, 32 new parishes and missions were established and several men were ordained to the priesthood and diaconate. New monasteries were established, including a monastery for the Basilian Fathers of Mariapoch in Matawan, N.J., and a monastery for Carmelite nuns in Sugarloaf. Always a supporter of the spiritual growth of the faithful, Bishop Dudick launched annual pilgrimages in his diocese, and helped establish the Carpathian Village renewal and retreat center and St. Nicholas Shrine in the Poconos.

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San Diego auxiliary bishop’s resignation accepted by pope

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of 75-year-old Auxiliary Bishop Gilbert E. Chavez of San Diego. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, announced the resignation in Washington June 1. Bishop Chavez turned 75, the age at which bishops are asked to submit their resignation to the pope, on May 9. His retirement leaves 24 active Hispanic bishops in the United States. When he was ordained a bishop in 1974, he was only the second Hispanic bishop in the country. From 1970 to 1974 now-retired Archbishop Patrick F. Flores of San Antonio, then an auxiliary in San Antonio, had been the only Hispanic in the U.S. hierarchy. Archbishop Flores retired in 2004. Ronaldo Cruz, executive director of the USCCB Secretariat for Hispanic Affairs, told Catholic News Service that while Bishop Chavez has been best known for his ministry and community involvement locally in the San Diego Diocese and regionally in Southern California, in the early 1970s he was one of the leaders in developing the idea and infrastructure of Hispanic ministry.

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