Today (06.18.07)

Note: The Online Angelus will be offline Tuesday and Wednesday but will return Thursday. 

No diocesan-wide events today.

 Bishop Pfeifer in Albuquerque, N.M., for annual spring meeting of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Necrology

Rev. John Lucassen (1993).

Today’s Readings

2 Corinthians 6:1-10
Psalm 98:1-4
Matthew 5:38-42

Tuesday

2 Corinthians 8:1-9
Psalm 146:2, 5-9
Matthew 5:43-48 

Wednesday

2 Corinthians 9:6-11
Psalm 112:1-4, 9-9
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News ServiceU.S.

Vote to affirm same-sex marriage ignores will of people, bishops say

BOSTON (CNS) — The Massachusetts Legislature’s June 14 vote to reaffirm same-sex marriage thwarts the will of the citizens and undermines efforts to protect children, families and society, the four Catholic bishops of Massachusetts said. The bishops made their statement shortly after the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as the Legislature is formally called, voted 151-45 to reject a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. At least one-fourth — or 50 — of the legislators had to affirm the proposed amendment for it to be placed before voters on the 2008 ballot. But only 45 legislators voted in favor, 17 fewer than the 62 who had supported it on Jan. 2, 2007, the final day of the 2005-06 session of the Legislature. “Today, the common good has been sacrificed by the extreme individualism that subordinates what is best for children, families and society,” said Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston and Bishops George W. Coleman of Fall River, Timothy A. McDonnell of Springfield and Robert J. McManus of Worcester.

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Southern Baptist Convention speaks out on child sexual abuse

SAN ANTONIO (CNS) — The 2007 Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution June 13 denouncing the sexual abuse of children and calling on Baptist churches to take steps to prevent such abuse by church ministers, employees or volunteers. The resolution expressed “very deep moral outrage” at such abuse, condemning not only those who commit such acts but also “individuals, churches or other religious bodies that cover up, ignore or otherwise contribute to or condone” the sexual abuse of children. Baptist Press reported that the vote, taken by raised ballot on the second day of the June 12-13 convention in San Antonio, appeared to be unanimous. “In approving a strong statement, the messengers spoke clearly on an issue that has gained greater attention in the last year,” Baptist Press reported. Messengers, the representatives sent to the annual convention from local Baptist congregations around the country, are voting participants at the convention. The convention describes resolutions as nonbinding expressions of the opinion or view of those at the convention.

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Texas investing coalition marks 25 years of mixing faith, finance

SAN ANTONIO (CNS) — Although the early founders of the socially responsible investment movement might be described as “fools with faith,” they can look with pride to years of providing a platform for religious communities to use their moral voice and financial vote to influence corporations, according to one of those pioneers. Tim Smith, senior vice president and director of socially responsive investing at Walden Asset Management in Boston, addressed the 25th anniversary gathering of the Socially Responsible Investment Coalition, based at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio. Smith, who worked for the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility in New York for 29 years, 24 of them as its executive director, said members of the movement “constantly have to blend the mandate of the Gospel with financial decisions.” As a result, he said, its members have used their faith, finances, values and power “to protect God’s earth and promote justice.”

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Faith-based, other trusted leaders said crucial to pandemic readiness

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Dr. John O. Agwunobi is convinced that, when it comes to getting reliable information about how to prepare for a health emergency, Americans are more likely to ask their religious leaders, members of local community groups or their own doctors and nurses than to go to a government official for help. That’s why the assistant secretary for health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who is also an admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, helped organize the June 13 national leadership forum on pandemic flu preparedness, bringing together leaders from business, faith-based, health care and civic groups for consultations on how to reach more Americans with the preparedness message. “The federal government still has a lot to learn about the best way to engage individuals and families” in taking to heart the message that some sort of global disease outbreak is inevitable in the coming years and that certain preparations will help people cope with — and live through — the pandemic, Agwunobi said at a media briefing after the daylong session.

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Gesu School in Philadelphia points urban youths to higher education

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — In 1993, the future of Gesu Church and its school was uncertain, as a handful of parishes in North Philadelphia faced closure. The historic Jesuit-run church was ultimately shuttered, but the Jesuits teamed up with the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who were already running the school. Not only has that institution lived on, but it has thrived and now serves as a model for successful, independent inner-city Catholic education that serves neighborhood children whose educational options are all too often limited by poverty and neglect. In the heart of a struggling, drug-ridden community, where less than half the young people make it to 12th grade, Gesu is home to 450 African-American children, 95 percent of whom will go on to earn a high school diploma. The school’s students are in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Taken on a first-come, first-served basis, the students typically enter two grade levels below average for their age. Tuition is a little more than $2,000, but most parents — usually a single parent or a grandparent — pay about half that, and 76 of the students this year had a sponsor who paid their way through the school’s scholarship program.

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Panelists predict battles coming after partial-birth abortion ruling

WASHINGTON (CNS) — If the tone taken by members of a panel billed as addressing the future of abortion jurisprudence is any indication, the Supreme Court’s April ruling upholding the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act has heightened the debate for people on opposite sides of the abortion issue. At a June 14 program presented by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society, panelists focused less on the direction of jurisprudence than on possible implications for opposing sides in battles they predict are to come over abortion law. One supporter of the ruling warned that if states do not continue to pass their own laws banning the procedure known as partial-birth abortion the Supreme Court’s decision could be watered down by lax federal enforcement under a possible Hillary Clinton presidency. “States can and should pass state laws rather than rely on the administration, particularly under a Hillary Clinton presidency,” said Cathy Ruse, senior fellow at the Family Research Council. Clinton, a Democratic senator from New York, is one of more than a dozen candidates for president who support keeping abortion legal.

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As housing market softens, foreclosure rate hits historic high

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The housing market has softened, taking a turn for the worse. For some who have already bought homes, it’s possible that they’ll hit a skid before the market can steer out of that turn. Those most at risk are those who used subprime loans to buy homes. A June 14 report by the Mortgage Bankers Association said housing foreclosures have hit their highest rate in 50 years. While the majority of the victims of foreclosure live in the nation’s big cities, “the foreclosure issue is not just a low-income, inner-city phenomenon. We’re seeing it in suburban, upper-class neighborhoods,” said Michele Rodriguez Taylor, a National Training and Information Center organizer specializing in predatory lending practices. The Chicago-based center, a nonprofit resource center for grass-roots organizations funded in part by the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development, works with housing advocacy groups in the Midwest and elsewhere to seek solutions.

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WORLD

Scala Santa chapel: Under the soot and grime, a visual treasure

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When a Vatican-led team of art restorers started scrubbing and scrutinizing what was underneath centuries of soot and grime caked on the ceiling and walls of a major shrine in Rome, they made a spectacular discovery. A whole pictorial series of brilliantly colored, 16th-century frescoes by influential Flemish landscape artist Paul Bril and others had been hidden under the dust and dirt. And now, after seven years of study, planning and restoration, pilgrims flocking to the Sanctuary of the Scala Santa (Holy Stairs) will be treated to the visual treasure when they enter its chapel of St. Sylvester. Salvaged from the chapel’s crumbling and blackened walls are “these very beautiful landscapes” extolling the beauty “and exuberance of nature,” said Arnold Nesselrath, director of the Vatican’s Byzantine, medieval and modern collections and head of the chapel’s restoration work. The landscape style had been developed in northern Europe and was brought to late-Renaissance “Roman culture by artists like the Bril brothers,” he told Catholic News Service June 12 at a press conference at the shrine.

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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.” In a June 15 audience with participants of the gathering, Pope Benedict XVI said Christianity can renew and enlighten all fields of life, especially culture. “Today more than ever, the reciprocal openness among cultures is privileged terrain for dialogue between people dedicated to the search for an authentic humanism,” he said June 15. “Even in the realm of culture, Christianity can offer everyone the most powerful force of renewal and elevation, that is, God’s love becomes human love,” the pope said.

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Youths must link faith, daily life to resist consumerism, says pope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Only by helping young people make a connection between their Christian faith and everyday life can the church help youths resist the temptations and illusions of consumerism, Pope Benedict XVI said. The pastoral care of young people is crucial for the future of these new generations, he told bishops from Slovakia during a June 15 audience in the Vatican. The bishops were in Rome making their “ad limina” visits to report on the status of their dioceses. The pope strongly encouraged the bishops to make sure their pastoral programs and other projects of formation would teach young people “to always connect faith with life.” “This is the only way you can help them form a Christian conscience capable of resisting the increasingly insidious and invasive enticements of consumerism,” he said. When Slovakia was under Soviet control, “the communist regime was not able to destroy” its Catholic traditions, he said.

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Vatican invites social advocacy groups to Rome forum

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — To promote greater collaboration and efficiency, the Vatican has invited 90 international, Catholic-inspired social advocacy organizations to a forum with the Vatican Secretariat of State and Vatican representatives to U.N. and international organizations. In a June 13 letter, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Vatican foreign minister, invited each organization to send one representative to the Nov. 30-Dec. 2 forum in Rome. “This meeting will attempt to facilitate more united forms of action between existing entities in order to find new means of cooperation with institutional realities and foster acquaintance and cooperation with the Holy See and its representatives,” Archbishop Mamberti said. Invitations to the forum, the first of its kind, were sent only to Catholic-inspired, nongovernmental agencies that are officially recognized by or have an official status with the United Nations, one of its agencies or with another international body.

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Vatican’s nuncio to Poland urges clergy to stop politicizing homilies

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — The Vatican’s ambassador to Poland has called on Catholic clergy to stop preaching politicized homilies. “I wish liturgical services in Poland would not turn into public rallies and just dispose people to be more human and more Catholic,” said Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, the Vatican’s ambassador, or nuncio. “We need priests, not politicians — and if politicians, then politicians of God’s word,” said the archbishop, whose sermon was carried by Poland’s Catholic information agency, KAI. “We also need evangelists, not economists — we have enough of those already in Poland to do the job. Let’s work on their spirit and conscience so they’ll become true professionals in serving all society. This is the mission of a priest.” Preaching June 11 in Czuma, near Lublin, the nuncio said: “The times are over when people went to priests on every occasion, to arrange plumbing or telephones for their villages, and elected priests as council chairmen hoping they’d organize such things. This epoch has ended.”

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Christians in Gaza Strip express concern about their future

JERUSALEM (CNS) — Some Christians in the Gaza Strip expressed concern about their future after Islamic militants of Hamas took control of the Palestinian territory. One young woman told Catholic News Service by telephone that she was concerned the Islamic extremists would begin to enforce a strict dress code, forcing women to wear veils and robes, despite promises by Hamas that nothing would change culturally or socially for Gaza. One Christian teenager spoke to CNS on the condition that her name not be used. She said the days of fighting had been “very difficult” but they were “OK now.” “We all hope it will be better, but it will never ever be good with Hamas,” she said. After five days of infighting between the Palestinian factions of Hamas and Fatah — battles that left dozens dead and hundreds wounded — the streets of Gaza were quiet the morning of June 15. But uncertainty prevailed as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired the Hamas-led unity government and named a new prime minister. In Gaza, Hamas political and military leaders said the firing amounted to a coup and that Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas leader, remained in power.

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PEOPLE

Hispanic theologians honor retiring director of bishops’ office

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Ronaldo M. Cruz, who is retiring July 1 as executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Hispanic Affairs, was honored by the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States June 5 during the organization’s annual colloquium in Los Angeles. Cruz received the ACHTUS Award, presented “for institutional contributions to theology in keeping with the mission of the academy.” “This year we decided to recognize your leadership within an organization that has for a very long time served the needs of Latino/a brothers and sisters,” said Miguel H. Diaz, the academy’s outgoing president, in a letter to Cruz announcing the award. Cruz joined the USCCB in 1985 and after three years with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development moved to the Hispanic Affairs secretariat as associate director in 1988. He became director of the office in 1991.

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Project Storybook helps imprisoned mothers stay close to their kids

CLINTON, N.J. (CNS) — Once a month, Pat Brisson enters the gates of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton to spend an evening with as many as 60 inmates. To Brisson, however, they are not just convicted criminals; they are also loving mothers. Brisson, who has been writing children’s books for more than 20 years, volunteers at the prison to coordinate Project Storybook, a program that allows women serving their sentences to be recorded reading books to their children, grandchildren or other family members. Brisson recalled being struck at an early age by the passage in the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus says, “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; … I was in prison, and you came to me. I would think, ‘Well, I see how we do all those other things, but when does anybody ever go visit anyone in prison?'” said Brisson, a parishioner of St. Philip and St. James Parish in Phillipsburg. “I never heard of any kind of prison ministry in the church. I just thought it was totally ignored.”

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New edition of Holocaust survivor’s book on Pope John Paul II issued

WASHINGTON (CNS) — After Polish-born poet, author and Holocaust survivor Lena Allen-Shore had her first private meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1996, her younger son, Jacques, told her, “You have to write an article. The title of the article should be ‘Building Bridges.'” After additional meetings and correspondence with the pope, the “article” turned into a coffee-table book of more than 300 pages titled “Building Bridges: Pope John Paul II and the Horizon of Life.” Flanked by Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, papal nuncio to the United States, Allen-Shore unveiled the third edition of her book at a reception June 13 at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington. The book was published by Cathedral Press, the publishing company of the Baltimore Archdiocese. Allen-Shore, who is Jewish, is also a musician, composer, philosopher and innovative educator who uses the arts to draw students into the exploration of human values. She is founder of the Lena Allen-Shore Center for Human Potential in Philadelphia.

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‘Christopher Closeup’ producer and co-host Jeanne Davis Glynn dies

NEW FAIRFIELD, Conn. (CNS) — Jeanne Davis Glynn, the former executive producer and co-host of the nationally syndicated television and radio interview show “Christopher Closeup” died June 8 from cancer in Bethel Health Care Center near New Fairfield. She was 75. A funeral Mass was celebrated June 13 at St. Edward the Confessor Church in New Fairfield. Glynn helped launched the half-hour talk show “Christopher Closeup” in 1968. Guests on the program have included U.S. presidents, entertainers such as Bob Hope and Fred Rogers, and journalists such as Tim Russert and Paula Zahn. She co-hosted the talk show from its launch until 1985, first with Father Richard Armstrong and then with Father John Catoir. Glynn’s involvement with the Christophers began in 1957, when she was a production assistant to the Christophers’ founder, Father James Keller. The Christophers is a nonprofit organization founded in 1954 that uses print and electronic media to spread messages of hope and understanding.

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