No diocese events.
Bishop Pfeifer in MEXICALO, MEXICO, for priestly ordination of Osvaldo Fernando Velazquez Sanchez, OMI.
Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service
Philadelphia council rescinds ‘pro-choice city’ designation
PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Cardinal Justin Rigali thanked the Philadelphia City Council June 14 for voting to rescind a “troubling resolution” that had declared Philadelphia a “pro-choice city.” “The members who supported today’s resolution are to be commended for reflecting carefully upon this issue and showing the courage to revisit it,” he said in a statement shortly after the vote to rescind. “I appreciate that the council has considered seriously the sensitivities of all Philadelphians and has rightly voted to take these sensitivities into account.” The vote to rescind was 13-4; nine council members had supported the original nonbinding resolution June 7, while eight members had opposed it. Two of the three Catholic council members who had supported the designation reversed their votes. After the first vote, Cardinal Rigali had called the declaration of the city as “pro-choice” both “divisive and erroneous.” “In a city where so many people vigorously defend life at every stage, proclaiming Philadelphia ‘pro-choice’ is inconsistent with reality,” he said.
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Report: Number of Iraqi Christian murders skyrocketed since 2003
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The number of Christians murdered in Iraq since 2003 skyrocketed compared to murders in 1995-2002, said a comprehensive report based on public accounts from Iraqi Christian sources. The report described in detail the deaths of Christian children — including babies — laypeople, priests and nuns who were burned, beaten or blown up in car bombs throughout the past few years. From May 2003 to early June, 268 Iraqi Christians were murdered; from 1995 to 2002, 19 Iraqi Christians were murdered, said the report, “Incipient Genocide: The Ethnic Cleansing of the Assyrians of Iraq.” The report, released June 12, was written by Peter BetBasoo, a founder of the Assyrian International News Agency. The agency was founded in 1995 to report on news and analysis of issues regarding Iraqi Christians. The report detailed attacks on Iraqi Christian women and students. “Young Christian women are abducted and raped,” it said, adding that female students are also targets of ridicule and discrimination.
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Madison cathedral nearly destroyed by fire to be rebuilt on same site
MADISON, Wis. (CNS) — Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison said June 10 that St. Raphael Cathedral would be rebuilt on the current site of the church in downtown Madison. Bishop Morlino made the announcement at the conclusion of a eucharistic procession celebrating the feast of Corpus Christi. He has spent more than two years listening, consulting and praying about the cathedral future. “I truly believe in my heart that the decision at which I have arrived is what God wills,” Bishop Morlino said. St. Raphael’s cornerstone was laid in 1854, and the church was designated as the cathedral church for the newly established Diocese of Madison in 1946. Much of the church was destroyed in an arson fire March 14, 2005. The day after the announcement, Circuit Judge Steven Ebert sentenced William J. Connell, who admitted to setting the fire, to 15 years in prison. Once he is released from prison, Connell will have 15 years of extended supervision.
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Boise bishop urges Catholics to recognize Christ in every immigrant
BOISE, Idaho (CNS) — Boise Bishop Michael P. Driscoll, in a pastoral statement on immigration, called on the people and parishes of his diocese “to recognize Christ in the person of every immigrant and to proclaim the church’s message of hope and welcome in our local communities.” The bishop wrote, “I challenge all parishes and individual Catholics to pray for and with all those affected by this (immigration) crisis, to become educated on the reality of immigration in our country, to work for the creation of a just and realistic immigration policy.” He issued his pastoral June 4, three days before immigration reform legislation was stalled in the U.S. Senate. A procedural vote intended to bring the bill to a vote failed June 7. After the vote, Bishop Driscoll urged Catholics in Idaho to write their senators urging them to pass immigration reform legislation. “As Catholics, we should be supportive of immigration reform,” he told the Idaho Catholic Register, newspaper of the statewide Boise Diocese.
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Pope says Catholics must help Latin America spiritually, materially
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In the face of poverty, secularization and the spread of sects in Latin America, Catholics around the world must form strong communities of faith ready to help them spiritually and materially, Pope Benedict XVI said. The pope met June 14 at the Vatican with members of the “Populorum Progressio” Foundation, which funds small development, education and health care projects aimed at assisting poor indigenous, mixed-race and black farming communities in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since 1992, the foundation established by Pope John Paul II has distributed more than $20 million in grants using funding provided primarily by the Italian bishops’ conference. Pope Benedict said that in setting up the foundation Pope John Paul wanted to assist “those peoples whose ancestral customs were threatened by a postmodern culture” and who risked the destruction of their “traditions, so open to accepting the truth of the Gospel.”
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Vatican official: Christians must live faith in context of culture
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The fact that Jesus became human challenges Christians to live and express their faith while staying within the context of their own culture, said the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture. French Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the council, said the Catholic faith “cannot be lived outside the boundaries of, or parallel to, daily life and the culture of a population or a nation.” At a June 13 gathering to mark the council’s 25th anniversary, he said, “The dynamic of the Incarnation asks that the faith be lived and expressed while fully inserted in the culture and reality that surrounds us.” At the celebration, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, head of the Congregation for Clergy, said that in all cultures one could see signs of God’s divine word. Evangelization efforts must not seek to impose the Christian faith on people, he said, but must use the values already present in local cultures to draw people into a deeper relationship with God. Those who seek to evangelize must witness God’s love and spread the message of the Gospels with concrete action, not just words, he said.
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Vatican official says labor, trade practices should protect worker
GENEVA (CNS) — Labor, trade and investment policies and practices should value and protect the worker, a Vatican official told delegates at an international labor conference. Global labor standards that widen worker protections “should not be considered a burden on trade agreements but rather a concrete support for human rights of workers and a condition for more equitable competition on the global level,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Vatican representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva. The archbishop spoke June 13 during an annual labor conference sponsored by the U.N.’s International Labor Organization, meeting May 30-June 15 in Geneva. In 2006, some 195 million adults were unable to find work and 1.4 billion people were working jobs “that did not pay enough to lift them above the $2 a day poverty line,” the archbishop said. “Much of the restlessness and many of the conflicts that torment our society are rooted in the lack of jobs, in employment which lacks decent work conditions or living wages, and unjust economic relations,” he told the delegates.
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Mexican billionaire says investment, jobs needed to fight poverty
TLAQUEPAQUE, Mexico (CNS) — Investment and jobs, not just donations and charity, would help relieve the poverty that affects approximately 50 percent of Mexico’s population, said a Mexican billionaire ranked as the world’s third-wealthiest person. “It’s not enough to just give trillions of dollars or that there are thousands of organizations, conferences, institutions, boards and experts dedicated to combating poverty,” Carlos Slim Helu told a gathering of Jesuit business school leaders in suburban Guadalajara June 12. “We’ve seen that this doesn’t work. It’s only a temporary alleviation,” said Slim, a telecommunications czar whose fortune is estimated by Forbes Magazine at $49 billion. He spoke at the World Forum on Corporate Social Responsibility, organized by the International Association of Jesuit Business Schools and held at ITESO University near Guadalajara. Slim said “the path to reducing poverty is through economic growth,” which has been lacking in Mexico over much of the past 25 years.
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After Vatican criticism, Amnesty defends new policy on abortion
LONDON (CNS) — Amnesty International has defended its new policy on abortion after a Vatican official said Catholics might need to withdraw their financial support of the organization. “Amnesty International’s position is not for abortion as a right but for women’s human rights to be free of fear, threat and coercion as they manage all consequences of rape and other grave human rights violations,” said Kate Gilmore, the London-based executive deputy secretary-general of the international human rights organization. “Ours is a movement dedicated to upholding human rights, not specific theologies,” she said in a statement June 14. “It means that sometimes the secular framework of human rights that Amnesty International upholds will converge neatly with the standpoints of certain faith-based communities; sometimes it will not.” In an e-mail interview with the National Catholic Register in New Haven, Conn., Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said Amnesty had “betrayed its mission” by abandoning its traditional neutral policy on abortion in favor of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.
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Virginia Tech shooting victim left behind message of forgiveness
ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) — Mary Karen Read, a 19-year-old victim of the shootings at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, aspired to be a teacher. Now she is posthumously teaching a lesson of forgiveness in the aftermath of the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history. “When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive,” Mary had written in a small red notebook discovered by her family in her dorm room at Virginia Tech the day after she was killed during her French class in Norris Hall April 16. While forgiveness is probably not one of the first words that come to mind in the wake of the events that ended her life and the lives of 32 others, including the killer, it was what the college freshman believed. Finding her handwritten quotes on forgiveness was not just a coincidence, but something meaningful and providential, according to Peter and Cathy Read, Mary’s father and stepmother, who belong to St. Mary of Sorrows Parish in Fairfax. In fact, the quotes have brought healing to the family and many others present at Mary’s funeral, where her father read them publicly.
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U.N. president from Bahrain receives 2007 Path to Peace Award
UNITED NATIONS (CNS) — Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, the first woman elected president of the U.N. General Assembly since 1969, is the 2007 winner of the Path to Peace Award. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, apostolic nuncio to the United Nations and president of the Path to Peace Foundation, an agency established to carry out projects in support of the work of the Holy See mission to the United Nations, presented the award to Al Khalifa June 12 at U.N. headquarters in New York. The archbishop said Al Khalifa was being honored “for the graceful and determined way in which she has striven over the last year to forge ‘paths to peace.'” “She is only the third woman president in 61 years, the last one serving in 1969,” he added. “That alone is an achievement, and she brought to this extremely taxing position at the summit of the world’s premier international body an energy that is as politically effective as it is diplomatically discreet.”
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Jesuit theologian and Hispanic expert to head cultural diversity post
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Jesuit Father Allan Figueroa Deck, a theologian and nationally known expert in Hispanic culture and ministry, has been named first executive director of the Office for Cultural Diversity of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He will assume the post Jan. 1, when it is formally established under a reorganization plan that affects virtually all the committees and national offices of the Catholic bishops. Msgr. David J. Malloy, USCCB general secretary, announced Father Deck’s appointment June 14. “Father Deck is an outstanding priest with a distinguished record of achievement in Hispanic ministry,” he said. “He has the vision and the commitment to make this vitally important new office come alive as an effective means of meeting the needs of the church’s ethnic and immigrant communities.” Father Deck is currently president and executive director of the Loyola Institute for Spirituality in Orange, Calif., a post he has held since 1997. Since 2000 he has also been superior of the Jesuit community of Orange County.