No diocesan wide events this weekend.
Headlines from Catholic News Service
U.S. bishops launch campaign urging couples to strengthen marriages
DENVER (CNS) — Public service announcements for television and radio launched by the U.S. bishops June 27 feature couples from around the country candidly talking about what they did that day for their marriage. The advertisements, sponsored by the U.S. bishops’ committees on Marriage and Family Life and Communications, highlight on-the-street interviews with couples in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, and Providence, R.I. The ad campaign was unveiled during the annual meeting of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers in Denver. The couples, who are different ages and come from a variety of cultural backgrounds, give a range of candid responses in the television and radio spots about what they had done just that day for their spouse, including making coffee or a meal, sending a note, buying flowers, planning a date night, taking care of the baby or listening sincerely. The ads end with a message, “Small changes can make a world of difference,” and urge viewers or listeners to go to the Web site http://www.foryourmarriage.org for suggestions on little things they could do to help strengthen their marriage.
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West Coast Catholics, Muslims discuss shared values
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholic and Muslim leaders from several West Coast states met May 21-23 to discuss common values reflected in the biblical tale of Joseph — called the prophet Yusuf in the Quran, the sacred book of Islam. The meeting, designed along the lines of a spiritual retreat, was held at the Mary and Joseph Retreat Center in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. A press release giving the highlights of the gathering was released June 19 in Washington by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The story of Joseph is told in the Bible in Chapters 37-50 of Genesis and in the Quran in Surah 12. Participants found that sharing a reading of the Hebrew Scriptures and the Quran helped them approach those ancient texts in a new light. They identified common ground in understanding virtues exemplified in the story of Joseph: fidelity, forgiveness, family relationships, integrity, loyalty, perseverance, patience rooted in trust in God, astuteness, compassion and wisdom.
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Superior, Wis., bishop retires; Minnesota priest named successor
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Bishop Raphael M. Fliss, 76, of Superior, Wis. Named as his successor was Father Peter F. Christensen, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. The changes were announced June 28 by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop Fliss turned 75 in October 2005. Canon law requires all bishops to submit their resignation to the pope when they turn 75. He had been bishop of Superior since 1985 and had been coadjutor bishop since 1979. Bishop-designate Christensen was born Dec. 24, 1952, in Pasadena, Calif. He studied at the College of the Redwoods, in Eureka, Calif.; at the University of Montana in Missoula; at St. John Vianney Seminary at the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minn.; and at St. Paul Seminary, also in St. Paul. He was ordained in 1985. He has been pastor of the Nativity of Our Lord Parish in St. Paul since 1999. Before that he was rector of St. John Vianney Seminary from 1992 to 1999 and spiritual director and counselor there 1989-92.
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Vatican secretary of state to visit U.S. for Knights’ convention
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CNS) — The Knights of Columbus announced June 28 that the Vatican secretary of state, Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, will attend the Knights’ 125th annual convention in Nashville, Tenn., in August and also will deliver an address. The visit will be the cardinal’s first trip to the United States as secretary of state. During the convention he also will receive the Knights’ “Gaudium et Spes” Award, the highest honor bestowed by the organization. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said the Knights were honored to have Cardinal Bertone attend the Aug. 7-9 convention. Anderson described the visit as “testament to the enduring legacy” of the organization’s founder, Father Michael McGivney. Cardinal Bertone, the highest-ranking Vatican official after the pope, was appointed to his current post by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.
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Pope meets bishops, discusses decision on pre-Vatican II liturgy
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI spent about an hour with an international group of bishops June 27 discussing his decision to allow greater use of the Tridentine Mass. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, who attended the meeting, confirmed to Catholic News Service that the purpose of the encounter was to inform the bishops about the coming papal document and help ensure its favorable reception. Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis were the only bishops from the United States participating, sources said. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters June 28 that “about 15” bishops from around the world were invited to the meeting organized by the Vatican Secretariat of State. A Vatican statement said officials explained “the content and the spirit of the announced ‘motu proprio’ of the Holy Father on the use of the missal promulgated by John XXIII in 1962.” The term “motu proprio” is Latin for “on one’s own initiative” and signals the pope’s special personal interest in the subject.
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Pope announces African synod to be in October 2009
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has announced that the second special Synod of Bishops for Africa will be held at the Vatican Oct. 4-25, 2009. The synod theme will be “The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace,” the Vatican said in a brief June 28 announcement. The first synod for Africa was held at the Vatican in 1994. Ten years later, Pope John Paul II said another synod would be held to allow church leaders to address the continent’s changing religious, demographic, social and political scenes. In 2005 Pope Benedict confirmed the convocation of the synod, setting in motion a complex procedure to determine the theme and timing as well as the content.
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Pope announces special year dedicated to St. Paul
ROME (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI announced a special jubilee year dedicated to St. Paul, saying the church needs modern Christians who will imitate the apostle’s missionary energy and spirit of sacrifice. The pope said the Pauline year will run from June 28, 2008, to June 29, 2009, to mark the approximately 2,000th anniversary of the saint’s birth. He made the announcement while presiding over a vespers service at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome June 28, the eve of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, patron saints of Rome. “Dear brothers and sisters, as in the (church’s) beginning, today, too, Christ needs apostles ready to sacrifice themselves. He needs witnesses and martyrs like St. Paul,” the pope said. The Pauline year will feature numerous special liturgies and events in Rome, the pope said, but should also be celebrated in local churches and in the sanctuaries, religious orders and other institutions that have a special link to St. Paul.
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Vietnamese bishop ordains dozens after working with ‘illegal’ clergy
XUAN TRUONG, Vietnam (CNS) — A bishop in northern Vietnam recently ordained a record number of priests after working to regularize “illegal” clergy and seminarians. Bishop Joseph Hoang Van Tiem of Bui Chu ordained 45 priests for his diocese, as well as five others for the Bac Ninh and Phat Diem dioceses and for the Dominican congregation in Bui Chu. Neither Bac Ninh nor Phat Diem has a bishop. The new priests, from the Hanoi Archdiocese and seven northern dioceses, were considered illegal by the Vietnamese government, reported UCA News, an Asian church news agency. They were among 83 “illegal” deacons and seminarians, ages 31-67, who completed a one-year theology refresher course in late May. Hanoi-based St. Joseph Major Seminary launched the course in 2006 to regularize the situation of seminarians who have been trained outside local major seminaries without government permission.
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Environmental face-off: Church workers get ammunition for their fight
LIMA, Peru (CNS) — From the forests of Honduras and the highlands of Guatemala to the Andes Mountains and the Amazon rain forest, church leaders and grass-roots Catholics are facing off against loggers, gold miners, ranchers and oil companies. Some have paid with their lives. Others, such as Bishop Erwin Krautler of Xingu, Brazil, have received death threats. These defenders of the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples and small farmers do not always have the backing of their bishops’ conferences. But at their meeting in May in Aparecida, Brazil, the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean criticized the economic model that sees natural resources as wealth to be plundered and called for environmental awareness to be part of evangelization. As the bishops refined their conclusions during the meeting, the references to ecology and the environment were whittled down. Nevertheless, the final draft of their document — which is expected to be officially released by the Vatican in July — provides ammunition for church workers who have been criticized for standing up to corporations over environmental issues.
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Zyskowski says CPA can help Catholic media be ‘even more vital’
WASHINGTON (CNS) — At the top of Bob Zyskowski’s to-do list as the new president of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada is “making association membership more valuable to everyone who works for Catholic publications.” “I think we need to offer members more programs and services that make Catholic media so good that they are even more vital and valuable to readers and viewers,” he told Catholic News Service in an interview in June. “Our association should help its publications be so compelling that when the papers, magazines and newsletters come in the mail,” he said, “our subscribers stop what they’re doing, turn off ‘Oprah,’ put down People magazine, take out their iPod earplugs and sit down to be brought up to date on the news of their faith, challenged by the Gospel and inspired to be better Catholics.” The CPA can “help members’ Web sites be so cool and valuable that people bookmark them and go to them every day,” he added. Zyskowski, 56, is associate publisher and general manager of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. He was elected to a three-year term as president by CPA members in May.
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Baby of baseball star Mike Piazza baptized at Brooklyn cathedral
BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CNS) — Tiny Nicoletta Veronica Piazza was welcomed into the Catholic faith by a Brooklyn bishop who baptized her June 21 in Brooklyn’s St. James Cathedral Basilica. Auxiliary Bishop Ignatius A. Catanello christened the first child of Alicia and possible future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza on the day before the Oakland Athletics began a three-game interleague series with the Mets at Shea Stadium. Piazza, a 12-time All-Star and Oakland’s designated hitter until he sustained a shoulder injury that put him on the disabled list, is fondly remembered as a hero to Mets fans for his eight years of stardom as the team’s popular catcher and slugger. Bishop Catanello, a longtime friend of the ballplayer who witnessed the marriage of the Piazzas in St. Jude’s Church in Miami in 2005, administered the sacrament, assisted by Msgr. John J. Strynkowski, St. James’ rector.
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St. Louis priest donates kidney to good friend with kidney disease
WARRENTON, Mo. (CNS) — Some people give the shirts off their backs to people in need. Father Erich A. Fechner, pastor of Holy Rosary Parish in Warrenton, gave one of his kidneys. The successful organ transplant operation took place June 26 at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. The kidney recipient was Franciscan Brother Mark Ligett, a friend of Father Fechner’s who has kidney disease. The two met in 1987 at St. Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind. Hospital spokeswoman Kathy Holleman reported June 27 that the priest was “doing great” and was already up and walking. She said the kidney transplanted into Brother Ligett was functioning and doctors would monitor him closely for the first month or so for signs of rejection. “The outlook for both patients is excellent,” she added. Just two years ago, Brother Ligett realized he had kidney disease, after he had been in a car accident . He thought he had fallen asleep at the wheel but it turned out he had fallen into a coma because of renal failure. He lost the use of both his kidneys because of blockages from kidney stones.