Today (06.24.07)

No Diocesan-wide events today

Today’s Readings

Genesis 12:1-9
Psalm 33:12-13, 18-20, 22
Matthew 7:1-5

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

U.S.

House passes bill reversing Mexico City anti-abortion funding policy

WASHINGTON (CNS) — An amendment reversing the federal government’s Mexico City policy banning federal aid to groups that promote abortion as a family planning method passed 223-201 in the House June 21, although the bill to which the amendment was attached could face a veto from President George W. Bush. “I will veto any legislation that weakens current federal policies and laws on abortion, or that encourages the destruction of human life at any stage,” Bush said in a letter to Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress. The Mexico City policy does not allow federal funds to go to agencies that perform and promote abortion as a family planning method in developing countries. The policy, instituted in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan, and so named because it was announced at the U.N. International Conference on Population held that year in Mexico City. It was rescinded by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and reinstated by Bush in 2001 in one of his first acts as president.

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Diocese continues push for amendment to abuse-related legislation

WILMINGTON, Del. (CNS) — A bill that eliminates Delaware’s statute of limitations for civil suits in child sexual abuse cases and opens a two-year window for courts to hear old claims previously barred by the time limit is headed to the governor’s desk after unanimous approval in the state House and Senate. The Senate bill, SB 29, passed largely as written June 19 and 20 despite attempts by the Diocese of Wilmington to have it amended. The diocese supported the bill’s intent to change the state’s current two-year statute of limitations but argued that the bill should be amended to make it clear “that equal protection is given to all children, not just children in private institutions or private settings,” according to a statement June 7 in The Dialog, the diocesan newspaper. The diocese also objected to the bill’s two-year period for looking back at old claims because it places no time limit on the age of the claims that can be revisited. Institutions that allowed abuse to occur through “gross negligence” can be sued under the legislation. Public schools were exempted. The bill is called the Child Victim’s Act.

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Faith of candidates, voters may have role in election, surveys find

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The faith of candidates and of voters may play an important role in the 2008 presidential election, according to two new public opinion surveys. The Sacred Heart University Polling Institute, based in Fairfield, Conn., found that 60.7 percent of Americans believe a presidential candidate should be “a religious person,” while 39.3 percent do not. Asked whether their own religious beliefs influence their vote, respondents were evenly split — 48.4 percent said their own faith always or sometimes guides their views on politics, while 48.4 percent said it seldom or never guides their views. The remaining 3.2 percent were unsure. A separate survey released in Washington by Gallup Poll News Service found that 66 percent of Republicans, 57 percent of Democrats and 48 percent of independents said religion was “very important” in their own lives. Only 10 percent of Republicans, 17 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of independents said it was “not very important.” Both the Sacred Heart and Gallup polls were made public June 14.

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Eucharistic congress turns Atlanta convention center into ‘cathedral’

ATLANTA (CNS) — The Georgia International Convention Center became “the cathedral of Atlanta” June 9 as Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory processed into the cavernous building bearing the Blessed Sacrament in a golden monstrance with sunburst rays. A record of about 30,000 people — 10,000 more than last year — came to the convention center near Atlanta’s airport June 8 and 9 for the archdiocese’s 12th annual eucharistic congress. The theme of the 2007 congress, “The Food That Endures for Eternal Life,” drew from the passage in St. John’s Gospel in which Jesus, shortly after feeding a large crowd with a few fish and loaves of bread, says: “You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” At an opening healing Mass the evening of June 8, Archbishop Gregory urged the 2,000 participants, “Pray not only for your own needs. … Pray for one another, pray for this local church, that we may grow strong in our faith and our commitment to Christ, strong in our love for one another.”

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Chicago Archdiocese will not close any elementary schools this year

CHICAGO (CNS) — All 217 Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago will remain open for the 2007-08 school year. According to a statement from the archdiocese, this is the first time in 45 years that none of the elementary schools in the archdiocese will close or consolidate. The only Catholic high school to close is Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary; the closing was announced last September. Chicago’s archdiocesan schools face a projected financial deficit of $10.2 million for the next school year. The archdiocese will provide $8.2 million in operating grants to the schools, which includes $2.2 million in addition to the $6 million that the archdiocese usually allocates to the schools. The Big Shoulders Fund also will provide a $2 million grant to schools in the neediest areas of Chicago. Nicholas Wolsonovich, superintendent of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago, said Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George wanted to “make a commitment not to close the schools” and to show that archdiocesan Catholic schools “are here to stay.”

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Can the Internet draw young people to the voting booth in 2008?

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Internet can empower young people to be the deciding factor in the 2008 presidential election, according to representatives from the Internet’s most popular social networking sites who met at George Washington University in early June. But in interviews with Catholic News Service, a pair of political science professors from Catholic universities said they were not as sure the Internet would have as great an impact as the panelists indicated and that politicians flooding young people with campaign material on the Internet may be providing too much information too soon. One of them, Stephen Schneck, chair of the politics department and director of the Life Cycle Institute at The Catholic University of America, told CNS that increases in voter turnout among the young have been minimal in recent elections and he expects the same in 2008. But speakers at an event titled “The Future of Political Communication: Connecting With Young Voters” at George Washington said that the Internet has already transformed the media landscape and has become a mainstream tool in politics.

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WORLD

Pope applauds Togo’s bishops for work on reconciliation, life issues

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As the people of Togo struggle to overcome a past marked by political tensions and to build a democracy, Pope Benedict XVI applauded the efforts of the country’s bishops to promote reconciliation and respect for human life. “I ask the Lord to make your efforts fruitful so that your country would know prosperity with harmony and brotherhood,” the pope said in a June 22 speech to the bishops who were making their “ad limina” visits. Bishops make the visits to the Vatican every five years to report on the status of their dioceses. Legislative elections have been scheduled for Aug. 5 in Togo, where the international community has expressed concern over violence, intimidation and fraud in previous elections. The pope said he wanted to congratulate the West African nation’s bishops “particularly for your commitment for the protection and respect of life” in opposition to the government’s 2006 decision to legalize abortion in cases of rape or danger to the life of the mother.

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In Assisi, Pope Benedict follows in John Paul’s footsteps

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI’s recent visit to Assisi was an emblematic event, demonstrating once again that this pontificate is more about continuity than revolution. For some at the Vatican, Assisi long ago came to represent the excesses of dialogue and the dangers of political activism. The birthplace of St. Francis was the site of the famous interreligious encounter convened by Pope John Paul II in 1986, when the representatives of 15 faiths assembled in the city’s holy places to pray for peace. The absence of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict — from Assisi that day was interpreted as a self-distancing from the interfaith initiative. So when Pope Benedict made his own pilgrimage to Assisi June 17, the stage seemed set for a papal corrective or reprimand, and perhaps a change in direction for dialogue. Instead, the pope made it clear that not only did he consider the 1986 Assisi meeting a prophetic idea and a “moment of grace” but that dialogue with other religions should be considered an essential part of being a Christian.

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Polish officials investigate report that ex-nuns threaten suicide

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — Polish justice officials have ordered an investigation after a national newspaper claimed a group of defrocked Catholic nuns threatened to commit mass suicide. “At this moment, we’ve no firm basis for thinking anyone is being incited to suicide,” Marek Wozniak, a deputy district prosecutor from Lublin, told Poland’s Catholic information agency, KAI, June 21. “But we want to interview the nuns and their families, especially people who were recently inside the convent.” Tensions surfaced in 2005 after Sister Jadwiga Ligocka, the former mother superior of the Sisters of the Family of Bethany, claimed to have “private inspirations from the Holy Spirit.” The Vatican dismissed the superior, but she and 60 nuns and novices occupied the order’s Kazimierz convent. Last October, a decree from the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life expelled the nuns from the order. Meanwhile, a local court ordered the nuns to leave the convent, where gas and electricity were cut in March. The court is expected to authorize their expulsion by bailiffs in early July.

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Swedish official: Ending prostitution should be each country’s goal

PERTH, Australia (CNS) — The Swedish government adviser on prostitution and human trafficking said ending rather than controlling the prostitution trade should be the goal of every country. The adviser, Gunilla Ekberg, also said Australia has been in breach of its international human rights obligation to combat the prostitution industry since it allowed the state of Victoria to legalize the selling of sex in 1984. New moves by the state of Western Australia to decriminalize prostitution would further the nation’s long-standing abuse of women’s rights, she said. Ekberg played a key role in setting up Sweden’s 1999 anti-prostitution law, which makes it a crime for men to buy sex and encourages women’s attempts to escape the sex trade. In a telephone interview from Stockholm, Sweden, with The Record, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Perth, Ekberg said a fundamental difference between the Australian and Swedish approaches to prostitution is that in Sweden “we have the vision that you can actually end prostitution.” She said, “We want to have a country where women and girls, mostly, but also young men and boys are not victims of violence through prostitution.”

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PEOPLE

Former Olympian takes on new challenge as priest in Rockville Centre

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. (CNS) — More than a decade ago Joseph Fitzgerald was balancing his work as a youth minister at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Lindenhurst with membership on the men’s national handball team that represented the U.S. at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Now as a priest of the Rockville Centre Diocese, he is still working on finding a balance in life. “On a place like Long Island where it’s so diverse — you have young people and old people, you have different ethnic groups — everyone wants a piece of you,” he told The Long Island Catholic, Rockville Centre’s diocesan newspaper, before his June 9 ordination. “It’s about balancing, because you want to do everything,” Father Fitzgerald added. “The most challenging thing is realizing you have to take that quiet time in prayer (for yourself) and balance that with the ministerial aspect.” The 35-year-old priest and former schoolteacher was ordained by Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre.

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Archbishop elected president of Christian Association of Nigeria

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) — The executive council of the Christian Association of Nigeria has elected Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja as national president. Archbishop Onaiyekan, who said he “wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about the position of the president” when he was asked to run, defeated the incumbent president and primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Bishop Peter Akinola of Abuja. Bishop Akinola will serve as vice president of the association. The June 20 vote must be confirmed by the Christian Association of Nigeria’s 304-member General Assembly when it meets July 5-6 in Abuja. Archbishop Onaiyekan told journalists after the event that after some heated arguments the association’s rules were followed and “everybody was satisfied” with the election. Asked whether arguments should be expected at a Christian gathering, the archbishop responded: “Even the apostles argued. We have to understand the arguments as ways of making your honest point strongly.”

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Immigration fight forces family to make desperate choices

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Two years ago, Terry Lopez and her husband, Juan Solis, thought they were on the right track. Both of them were working, getting her and her son off government assistance programs. They bought a house, had twins of their own, and began the process of clearing up Solis’ status as an illegal immigrant, applying for his green card as the spouse of a U.S. citizen. Today, Lopez is tearfully boxing up the family’s belongings to move out of the house in American Falls, Idaho, that she recently sold. By the end of summer, she will pack up their 2-year-old twins and her 8-year-old son — U.S. citizens all — and drive to Juarez, Mexico, where Solis has been living since March. After trying for two years to follow the federal process to clear up his status as an illegal immigrant and finding nothing ever went their way, Solis grew tired of living in constant fear of being deported before his papers came through. Rather than continue hiding at home, unemployed, he accepted voluntary deportation. He moved to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, across the border from his wife’s hometown of El Paso, Texas, but far from his home state of Queretaro, near Mexico City.

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