Today in the Diocese
Confirmation, Immaculate Heart Catholic Church, Sweetwater, 7 p.m.
Tobit 3:1-11, 16-17
Today’s Headlines from Catholic News ServiceU.S.
Spokane Diocese emerges from bankruptcy
SPOKANE, Wash. (CNS) — The Diocese of Spokane emerged from bankruptcy May 31, two-and-a-half years after it entered Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy proceedings. The diocese and its parishes still have to raise millions of dollars for the $48 million fund that will be used to compensate childhood victims of clergy sexual abuse and to pay the professional fees of the bankruptcy proceeding and expenses incurred in determining the claims. The $20 million that diocesan insurers contributed to the settlement was wired to the fund May 31. As part of the reorganization, 76 parishes were incorporated as separate entities within the diocese. Parish properties were handed over to the newly incorporated entities but are pledged as security for the $10 million that the parishes must raise to contribute to the fund. The diocese is raising about $5 million by selling diocesan properties, including a 1,000-acre farm it owned and the building housing its diocesan offices. Other Catholic entities in the diocese, including cemeteries, Catholic Charities, a youth camp and a retreat center, will contribute $6.4 million. The bishop will have to borrow or raise about $7.5 million from other sources to complete the diocese’s contribution to the fund. The 176 childhood victims of abuse by priests or other church personnel in the diocese will receive compensation ranging from $15,000 to $1.5 million, depending on several factors, including the severity of the abuse and whether or not the statute of limitations had run out before the claim was made.
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Father, son ordained at same Mass at Tennessee church
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (CNS) — The first ordination Mass to take place at 10-year-old Holy Trinity Church in Jefferson City was a first-of-its-kind occurrence for the Diocese of Knoxville. During the May 18 Mass, John Riehl was ordained to the permanent diaconate while his son, diocesan seminarian Chris Riehl, was ordained a transitional deacon. Deacon John Riehl, 59, is part of the diocese’s first deacon formation program. The remaining 28 men in the diaconate class of 2007 were scheduled to be ordained June 9. His 29-year-old son, who just completed his third year of theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, is the middle child of the seven children he and wife Shirley have.
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State attorney general to review block on partial-birth abortion ban
DETROIT (CNS) — Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox will study the June 4 federal appeals court decision blocking Michigan’s Legal Birth Definition Act, and consider an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. “We’re in the process of reviewing the court’s opinion. Obviously, we will be considering it in light of the Supreme Court’s Gonzales ruling, which upheld the federal ban on partial-birth abortions,” Cox spokesman Rusty Hills said June 5. He was referring to the U.S. Supreme Court’s April 18 ruling in the Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood cases. Analysts said Michigan’s law is more sweeping than the federal statute and might apply to abortions not covered by the federal law. The decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was denounced by Cardinal Adam J. Maida of Detroit, who pledged that he and other Michigan bishops would redouble their efforts to end “this unthinkable procedure,” which he characterized as infanticide. The Legal Birth Definition Act takes a different approach to banning the procedure commonly known as partial-birth abortion than that of other legislative attempts, by declaring a baby to have been born — and therefore entitled to legal protection — at the point when any portion of his or her body has been vaginally delivered outside the mother’s body.
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Philadelphia museum offers public a look at Byzantine liturgical art
PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Philadelphia has some of the finest museums and art collections in the world, and it can now add another name to its list: the Treasury of Faith Museum, which gives the public an opportunity to view a rare collection of Byzantine liturgical art and artifacts. Founded in 2002 by Ukrainian Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia, the museum recently opened. Located next to the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia, it houses a collection of artifacts from parishes within the archeparchy, which covers Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Hundreds of items are displayed throughout the museum’s eight large exhibit rooms. They range from rare iconostas, which are screens or partitions with three doors and tiers of icons, to handmade Easter eggs. “It took us almost a year to get everything into the rooms,” said Mother Nadia Baranik, a Missionary Sister of the Mother of God. “And then we had to do all the identification cards and cataloging, everything that is required for a museum.
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Italian court overturns conviction of former Vatican Radio officials
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — An Italian appeals court overturned the 2005 convictions of two former Vatican Radio officials accused of polluting the environment with electromagnetic waves from broadcasting towers. In a June 4 ruling, the Rome appellate court absolved Cardinal Roberto Tucci, former president of Vatican Radio’s management committee, and Jesuit Father Pasquale Borgomeo, formerly the general director. In May 2005 they were found guilty of the criminal charge of “dangerously showering objects” on residents near the Santa Maria di Galeria transmission center outside Rome and were given suspended 10-day jail sentences. Vatican Radio also was ordered to pay the plaintiffs’ legal costs. Vatican Radio continually has defended itself against the charges, saying that even before Italy issued legal limits for electromagnetic emissions, the agency had been adhering to international norms.
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Caritas unfurls banner urging G-8 leaders to fulfill aid promise
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Members of Caritas Internationalis unfurled a giant banner in St. Peter’s Square demanding the Group of Eight leaders fulfill promises to boost aid to poorer nations. More than 100 people, including bishops and religious men and women from Africa and Latin America, stood behind the large “Make Aid Work/The World Can’t Wait!” banner before a swarm of journalists and curious tourists. Caritas, the Catholic charities’ umbrella organization, sponsored the June 5 anti-poverty protest in the square not far from Pope Benedict XVI’s studio window. Normally Vatican police sweep protesters, large banners and professional photographers out of the square, but the Vatican gave Caritas permission to display its banner and have television and camera crews publicize the campaign.
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Many in Latin America thought Brazil meeting got church back on track
LIMA, Peru (CNS) — Whether people believe the recent meeting of Latin American and Caribbean bishops was prophetic or so general that it was “all things to all people” depends largely on what they expected beforehand. At the closing session of the meeting May 31 in Aparecida, Brazil, Father Victor Fernandez, a member of the Argentine delegation, said publicly what several bishops had indicated privately during the 19-day conference. In the months before the meeting, he said, “there were fears, because of what had happened at Santo Domingo,” when the bishops last held a general conference to set directions for the church. But the outcome “makes me very happy,” he said. “People are going to feel that the Latin American church was reborn and is back on its feet.” The meeting in Aparecida was the fifth in a series of general conferences that have shaped church principles and practice in Latin America, beginning in Rio de Janeiro in 1955. The fourth conference, held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 1992, was seen by many as an effort to bring the Latin American and Caribbean church back under strong Vatican control. Because of the meeting’s conclusions and the way it was organized, “there was a feeling that people had put the brakes on certain issues,” said Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini Imeri, who heads the Guatemalan bishops’ conference. Aparecida was different, he said. Decisions were made by consensus, and bishops were allowed to have outside advisers.
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Injured Army chaplain wears collar again, receives seminary’s award
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Although the first Army chaplain to be gravely injured in the Iraq War still has a long recovery ahead of him, Father H. Timothy Vakoc recently wore his collar again for the first time since his injury when he received an award from his alma mater. St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., awarded Father Vakoc, 47, with the 2007 Distinguished Alumnus Award during a ceremony in late April. The seminary has presented the award annually since 1994 as a way to recognize alumni “who have lived their vocation in an extraordinary way,” according to a statement. In May 2004, Father Vakoc’s Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb while he was returning to his barracks after saying Mass on the 12th anniversary of his ordination. He suffered severe head injuries, including the loss of his left eye and brain damage. He was in a minimally responsive state for several months, but recovered consciousness and is now becoming increasingly more able to speak, recognize people and answer questions, according to a release from the seminary.
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Emmaus Harlem founder buried near former colleague Dorothy Day
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Decades after Catholic social worker Dorothy Day recommended he serve the poor in the Harlem section of New York, Orthodox Father David Kirk died May 23 at Emmaus House, an organization he founded to provide food and shelter for the homeless. He was 72. Father Kirk, whose health had been deteriorating for the last few years because of kidney failure, died in his sleep, said Luis Centeno, who has been Emmaus House manager since the priest’s death. A funeral service was celebrated at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral in New York City May 29. Father Kirk was received into the Orthodox Church in March 2004, but before that he had been a Melkite Catholic priest for more than 40 years. The priest was buried, at his request, near Day at Resurrection Cemetery in Staten Island, N.Y. Father Kirk worked with Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, at the Catholic Worker House before he became a Melkite Catholic priest. After he was ordained in 1963, he planned to start a house to serve the poor on the Lower East Side of the city, but Day recommended he try Harlem instead. Taking her advice, Father Kirk founded Emmaus House in 1965. Father Kirk believed his mission should be to not only feed the poor, but to also give them the skills to help themselves.
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Top Vatican official: Documents show Pius XII worked to help Jews
ROME (CNS) — Thousands of Vatican documents demonstrate that Pope Pius XII worked quietly but effectively to help Jews and others during World War II, a top Vatican official said. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, said June 5 that the documentation of papal charity is the most convincing response to the “black legend” that has depicted the late pope as indifferent toward the victims of Nazism. The cardinal said a fair reading of history must recognize “the enormous work of charity that the pope promoted, by opening the doors of seminaries and religious institutes, welcoming refugees and the persecuted, and helping all.” Cardinal Bertone made the comments in Rome at the presentation of the book, “Pius XII, Eugenio Pacelli: A Man on the Throne of Peter,” by Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli. The cardinal’s lengthy talk came four weeks after the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes declared that the late pope heroically lived the Christian virtues and recommended Pope Benedict XVI advance Pope Pius’ sainthood cause. The cardinal did not refer directly to Pope Pius’ sainthood cause, but he described the pope as a shining example of personal holiness and said his pontificate was “long, fruitful and, in my opinion, heroic.”