Today in the Diocese
SAN ANGELO — Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Christ the King Retreat Center
Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service
By Catholic News Service
Tekakwitha attendees urged to follow in footsteps of Blessed Kateri
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver urged those gathered at the Tekakwitha Conference Mass June 30 in Washington to follow in the footsteps of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha and follow Jesus Christ as she did. “In many Catholic circles today, we speak a great deal about inculturation in the church: the place where the good news of Jesus and our cultures meet,” said the archbishop in his homily. “The only true, authentic inculturators are not theologians, or bishops, but the saints.” More than 700 American Indian Catholics gathered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the Mass and the closing of the 68th annual Tekakwitha Conference, held in the Baltimore Archdiocese. Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, for whom the conference is named, was a member of the Mohawk tribe. She was born to a Christian Algonquin mother and a Mohawk father in 1656 in upstate New York along the Hudson River, and was baptized by a Jesuit missionary in 1676 when she was 20. She was devoted to prayer and cared for the sick. She died in 1680 at the age of 24. In June 1980, she became the first Native American to beatified. The Mass included traditional American Indian music with drums and chants. The penitential rite was accompanied by a smudging ceremony where clippings of sage, cedar, sweetgrass and tobacco were burned for purification and healing.
– – –
Community mourns death of California Jesuit and his hiking companion
PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — Family, friends and Jesuit communities are mourning the death of a California Jesuit priest and his hiking companion. The pair had been missing in Oregon since June 8. Authorities found the bodies of Father David Schwartz, 52, and Cheryl Gibbs, 61, just off a highway in the northwest part of the state July 1. They apparently died when their car ran off the road and rolled into a hidden ditch during a return trip to Portland from the Oregon coast. Thousands of motorists drive by the spot each day, but the crashed auto was not visible except by airplane. Tom Mulligan, Father Schwartz’s brother-in-law, was at the scene and told Portland’s KATU-TV that the family was saddened but was grateful for closure after a long statewide search. Everyone who knows the pair confirmed that their relationship was platonic.
– – –
Catholic leaders react to Senate’s failed immigration bill
WASHINGTON (CNS) — U.S. Catholic leaders expressed disappointment following the Senate’s failure to pass a bill to reform the current immigration system. Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Gerald R. Barnes of San Bernardino, Calif., the chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Migration, said June 29 he was “deeply troubled” that legislators were unable to agree upon legislation to reform immigration. “The status quo is morally unacceptable and should not be allowed to stand,” he said. “The U.S. bishops shall continue to point out the moral deficiencies in the immigration system and work toward justice until it is achieved.” Had it passed, the bill would have established a path toward citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants living in the United States and would have strengthened security along the U.S.-Mexico border. Mostly Republicans — but some Democrats as well — voted against ending discussion on the immigration bill June 28, effectively blocking its passage. Opponents of the immigration bill argued that the U.S. borders must first be secured before the government expedited the citizenship process for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants currently in the country. Analysts have said it is unlikely the immigration issue will resurface for consideration in Congress before the 2008 elections.
– – –
Every Catholic called to infuse daily life with faith, says priest
SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — In a June 30 homily at San Francisco’s cathedral, Msgr. Thomas Bohlin underscored the basic message of Opus Dei founder St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer — infusing daily life with the sacraments and sharing the Catholic faith with friends and co-workers. The priest, who is vicar of Opus Dei in the United States, delivered the homily at a Mass celebrated at St. Mary Cathedral to commemorate the June 26 feast day of the Spanish saint. Attended by more than 600, the Mass was one of scores of liturgies celebrated during June in more than two dozen states to mark the feast day. Opus Dei is the only personal prelature of the pope, and is comparable to a nonterritorial diocese. The prelature has about 90,000 members in more than 60 countries. “So much depends upon our living the lives that God wants us to,” said Msgr. Bohlin, emphasizing that “every baptized Christian” has a “call to heroic Christian holiness in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.”
– – –
Florida diocese plans to sharpen focus on communication, the poor
PENSACOLA, Fla. (CNS) — Two years of collaboration with parish delegates in the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee has yielded nearly 50 goals for the diocese to meet over the next five years, starting with improving communication, establishing better training for catechists, developing a more focused social justice ministry and promoting healthy marriages. At a June 15-16 gathering, the culmination of a planning process called Sharing the Vision, 250 delegates from 40 parishes met to set the goals. Delegates took into account results from more than 20,000 in-pew parish surveys conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, based at Georgetown University in Washington. They also considered parish plans, input from 400 participants in diocesan listening sessions and via e-mail, a draft diocesan mission statement, and goals and objectives prepared by 12 task forces and the pastoral planning commission. Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee opened the two-day session by articulating his own vision, hopes and dreams for the diocese.
– – –
Death of a bill: Senators kill legislation to reform immigration
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The day after Hispanic congressmen gathered with priests and Hispanic families to pray that wisdom be granted to members of the Senate, a bipartisan bill to reform immigration failed to garner the votes needed to move into voting on the issue. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., a member of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, led a news conference on the terrace of the Cannon House Office Building on the morning of June 27. He said the purpose of the assembly was “so that together with our prayers we can enlighten the Senate of the United States and encourage people to have the courage to do what is right and what is correct.” Gutierrez and Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., along with religious leaders, spoke in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, a topic Gutierrez called a “moral issue.” But June 28 the Senate, after weeks of debate, failed to pass a bill that would have established a path toward citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants already in the United States while strengthening border security. The vote to limit debate and proceed to a vote on the bill was 14 votes short of the 60 it needed, with a vote of 46-53 in favor of limiting the debate. Catholic reaction to the failed attempt to pass the immigration bill has been largely negative.
– – –
Papal letter to Chinese Catholics seeks to unite divided communities
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In a groundbreaking letter to Chinese Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI established new guidelines to favor cooperation between clandestine Catholic communities and those officially registered with the government. The papal letter strongly criticized the limits placed by the Chinese government on the church’s activities. But on several key issues, including the appointment of bishops, it invited civil authorities to a fresh and serious dialogue. The 55-page letter, published by the Vatican June 30, was accompanied by a Vatican Press Office commentary that reiterated the Vatican’s willingness to move its nunciature from Taiwan to Beijing, as soon as diplomatic relations are established with China. The letter was posted on the Vatican’s Web site in several languages, including traditional and modern Chinese, and had been sent earlier to Chinese authorities as a courtesy. Throughout the text, the pope expressed his appreciation for the suffering of Chinese Catholics under communism. He said their devotion to the faith and their loyalty to the pope “will be rewarded, even if at times everything can seem a failure.”
– – –
Pope says Puerto Rico needs better religious ed, training for priests
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Improved religious education for children, better marriage preparation and greater care in training priests are needed to combat the erosion of the Catholic faith and traditional moral and cultural values in Puerto Rico, Pope Benedict XVI said. The pope met June 30 with the bishops of Puerto Rico who were making their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican to report on life in their dioceses. Pope Benedict said the bishops’ individual reports recounted “the challenges and difficulties” faced by the church in a changing social, economic and religious environment marked by “religious indifference and a certain moral relativism.” To counter the trend, he said, the church must be an institution marked by unity and a spirit of cooperation. Pope Benedict suggested that the Puerto Rican bishops consider cooperating more closely in running their seminaries, particularly in finding “the most appropriate and best-prepared educators for this mission.”
– – –
Hundreds welcome World Youth Day cross as it begins Australian tour
SYDNEY, Australia (CNS) — Hundreds of youth, clergy and laity watched the World Youth Day cross and icon of Mary and Jesus pass from young New Zealanders to youth representatives from every Australian diocese. Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma were among those gathered to welcome the symbols July 1 inside a lofty Sydney airport hangar where the more than 12-foot-high World Youth Day cross was framed against the bulk of a Qantas jumbo jet. Archbishop Wilson said that for more than 20 years, the icon and cross had traveled the world “bringing the message of hope, peace and Christ’s love for humanity.” The archbishop predicted the 12-month pilgrimage through more than 400 communities and 28 Australian dioceses “would touch the lives of many young Australians” before the cross and icon return to Sydney for World Youth Day in July 2008.
– – –
Pope condemns killing of 11 Colombian lawmakers by guerrilla forces
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI condemned the killing of 11 Colombian lawmakers by guerrilla forces and urged the release of all those held hostage in the country. The deputies were shot and killed after being held for more than five years by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym FARC. The rebels said the victims were killed in crossfire during an attack on their camp. The pope, speaking at his noon blessing in St. Peter’s Square July 1, called the slayings a “barbaric” act in a country torn by “fratricidal hatred.” He said he shared in the deep sorrow of relatives of the victims. “I renew my heartfelt appeal that all kidnappings cease immediately and that all the victims of this inadmissible form of violence be returned to their loved ones,” he said. Church officials in Colombia also denounced the killing of the deputies.
– – –
Internet offers resources for those interested in Tridentine rite
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Libraries and the neglected corners of sacristy closets may not be the best place to find resources for taking advantage of expanded permission to use the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal for the Tridentine Mass. In the age of Internet, online bookstores and online auctions may be the easiest way to find copies of the 1962 rite for the celebrant, Latin-English missals for members of the congregation and explanatory videos for all. Salesian Father Claudio Rossini, director of the Vatican publishing house, told Catholic News Service June 28 that his office, the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, was not planning to reprint the 1962 Roman Missal, at least not for the time being. “I do not even know at this point who has the copyright,” he said. But, Father Rossini said, “I have heard that the missal of 1962 can be found in the bookstalls of the Porta Portese (Rome street) market for 30 euros,” or about $40.
– – –
Retiring Hispanic affairs official has spent 35 years in church work
WASHINGTON (CNS) — When Ronaldo Cruz first began working for the church, he thought of himself as a Chicano activist. He was involved with the farmworker and sanctuary movements and was running a social services agency that primarily served Mexican-Americans in Tucson, Ariz. “I thought I was going to become the next Che Guevara,” the revolutionary, he joked about his younger self. He never expected those interests and his lifelong involvement as a Catholic would lead to a 35-year career in the church — a combination of ministry and work which is ending at least temporarily as he leaves his job of 16 years as executive director of Hispanic affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He was assistant director for several years before that. In an interview with Catholic News Service shortly before he took early retirement offered as part of a USCCB reorganization, Cruz described the path that brought him from a Tucson barrio to running a national office for Hispanic ministry, including such highlights as representing the U.S. church as one of the few laymen to participate in the 1997 Synod of Bishops for America.
– – –
Hong Kong cardinal says papal letter to China has no secret agenda
HONG KONG (CNS) — Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong said the pope’s letter to Chinese Catholics does not have a secret political agenda. “The doctrine painstakingly explained by (Pope) Benedict XVI is nothing but the most traditional and universally accepted Catholic principles, belonging to the religious field, with no secret political agenda, even less with an intention of attacking anybody,” Cardinal Zen said in a statement June 30, the date the papal letter was made public. The cardinal expressed hope that Chinese leaders “would read the pope’s letter from this perspective and understand the true, unchangeable nature of the Catholic Church.” “The voice of our bishops and priests in China is often prevented from reaching our leaders; now that the letter of the pope is in the hands of our leaders, our bishops and priests can thus refer to it directly as a common starting point for dialogue,” he said. Cardinal Zen said he hoped that China’s bishops and priests “stand united with the Holy Father.”
– – –
Scouting promotes moral maturation, teamwork, service, pope says
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Playing together, working on activities and sharing adventures, Scouts learn about nature, teamwork and service to others, Pope Benedict XVI said in a letter marking the 100th anniversary of Scouting. The specifically Catholic form of Scouting, founded a few years later, “is not only a place of true human growth, but also a place of strong Christian proposals and true spiritual and moral maturation,” the pope said in a letter to Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux, president of the French bishops’ conference. In preparation for 100th anniversary of the Scouts Aug. 1, the pope wrote to Cardinal Ricard to praise the way Scouting has been embraced in France, but also to encourage the three separate French Catholic Scouting groups to work more closely together. Pope Benedict said troop leaders have a responsibility to lead their young troops to a true encounter with Christ and to an active involvement in their life of their parishes.
– – –
Catholic Alabama woman receives national mental health award
MOBILE, Ala. (CNS) — Lucindia Claghorn, a Catholic woman in the Mobile Archdiocese who is a mental health advocate, has received national recognition as the recipient of Mental Health America’s 2007 Clifford W. Beers Award. Mental Health America, formerly called the National Mental Health Association, is the country’s foremost organization dedicated to improving the mental health of all Americans, especially those with mental disorders, through advocacy, education, research and service. The annual award is given to a mental health consumer who best reflects the example of Beers, founder of the association, “in his efforts to improve conditions for and attitudes toward people living with mental illnesses.”