Today (07.18.07)

No diocesan wide events today


Exodus 3:1-6, 9-12
Psalm 103:1-4, 6-7
Matthew 11:25-27

Headlines from Catholic News Service

By Catholic News Service


Religious leaders urge more justice, fairness in farm bill

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Leaders from several Christian denominations gathered July 17 in a House hearing room to urge that there be more justice and fairness in the upcoming farm bill. “Abuses in the farm bill have become so egregious that it’s become a religious issue,” said the Rev. David Beckmann, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America minister who is head of Bread for the World, a Christian citizens’ lobby on hunger issues. “People are talking about it in the churches,” he said at a press conference in the hearing room. Bread for the World is one of the organizations participating in the Religious Working Group on the Farm Bill. Rev. Beckmann said he did not like what he saw in the draft of the measure, which he said continues the long-standing practice of paying the biggest subsidies to the largest grain and cotton farmers, and pays little attention to conservation practices. “The moral measure of U.S. farm policy is its ability to lift up those living in poverty, those struggling to make ends meet and earn a decent living,” said Oblate Father Andrew Small, a policy adviser for the U.S. bishops who focuses on international economic development.

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Black Catholic congress closes with reports on challenges, responses

BUFFALO, N.Y. (CNS) — The 10th National Black Catholic Congress came to a close July 15, after more than 2,000 black Catholics spent four days praying, celebrating and learning more about the eight principles that pose challenges to African-American communities and how those challenges relate to the seven sacraments. The theme of the July 12-15 gathering was “Christ Is With Us: Celebrating the Gifts of the Sacraments.” “Take what you have learned in the workshops and share it with the people back at home. Communicate that back home, and allow the Lord to use you,” said Father Raymond Harris, a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, at the congress’s final session on “Foundations for the Future.” During the session, representatives from each of the congress’s eight leadership commissions told participants what the commissions had been doing about the organization’s eight core principles: Africa, Catholic education, HIV/AIDS, parish life, social justice, racism, spirituality, and youths and young adults.

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Black Catholics urged to fight misconceptions about HIV/AIDS

BUFFALO, N.Y. (CNS) — Leaders at the 10th National Black Catholic Congress called for a focus on HIV/AIDS ministries to help slow the disease’s spread in the black community. Michael Scott, associate director of the District of Columbia Catholic Conference, which represents the Archdiocese of Washington on public policy issues, said misconceptions still abound about HIV and AIDS. He noted that black adults and adolescents in the United States have a rate of AIDS diagnoses that is 10 times higher than whites and three times higher than Hispanics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although blacks made up 13 percent of the U.S. population in the 2000 census, in 2005 they accounted for 49 percent of the new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in states that reported new cases. “HIV/AIDS is largely preventable,” Scott said, speaking during the congress’s July 14 workshop on “Mobilizing Black Catholic Parishes Around HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention.”

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Black Catholics must work to keep urban schools open, speaker says

BUFFALO, N.Y. (CNS) — Growing up in urban Los Angeles, Michele Riolo said attending St. Malachy Catholic School from first to eighth grade in the late 1950s and early 1960s made a difference in her life. When she later had to transfer to public school, she quickly found herself far ahead of her public-school counterparts. “I am a product of Catholic education, and I feel blessed every day because of that,” said Riolo, now a parishioner of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Germantown, Tenn., in the Diocese of Memphis. As she held a sheet of paper with tips from the National Black Catholic Congress’s education commission on how to support Catholic schools, Riolo said she appreciates such concrete ways to support Catholic education. The list included tithing, sponsoring a student’s tuition, urging black businesses to support Catholic schools, volunteering time to a Catholic school, evangelizing to the non-Catholic community about the benefits of a Catholic education and praying for black Catholic schools. Riolo said the suggestions have inspired her to give back. “There are things on here I can do,” Riolo said about the list. “I can mentor. I can tutor.”

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Nonrural residents unaware of farm bill’s nuances, policy forum told

PINE GROVE, Wis. (CNS) — While the majority of the land mass in the Diocese of Green Bay is rural, maybe no more than 8 percent of the population is directly involved in agriculture, according to Norbertine Brother Steve Herro, social concerns director for the diocese. That’s true for most of the country, where “probably 90 percent of people who live in rural areas do not work in the rural economy,” Brother Herro said. Therefore, he added, they might not know that “producers of fruits and producers of vegetables do not receive farm subsidies, but producers of wheat, corn and soybeans do.” Brother Herro spoke July 12 at Prince of Peace Church in Pine Grove at the first of three forums jointly sponsored by the diocese, Bread for the World and the University of Wisconsin Extension in an effort to make people aware of the 2007 farm bill and connect it with Catholic social justice. The farm bill is a reauthorization measure that affects everything from agriculture policy to food safety to crop subsidies to nutrition programs, which include food stamps.

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University’s ‘spy camp’ lets teens learn about intelligence gathering

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Some came out of curiosity. Some came because their school counselors told them to. Others had hopes of becoming spies. For the last three years Trinity University in Washington has hosted a summer seminar in intelligence formerly called “Spy Camp,” now simply titled the Summer Seminar in Intelligence. The program attracts high school students from around the country for a week to learn about intelligence gathering, counterterrorism and national security. “I think it’s a really hot topic for students at this time,” said Shelli Dronsfield, coordinator of the event. “It’s truly a pre-collegiate course.” The seminar at the Catholic university includes lectures by experts in terrorism and Middle East culture, as well as government security analysts. “It’s a good opportunity,” said Najam Hassan,19, of Lakewood, Ohio. “I have an interest in the FBI.” Like most of his classmates, Hassan said the seminar offered a chance to learn more about topics splashed across headlines every day.

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Vatican spokesman: Pope concelebrates daily Mass using current missal

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI concelebrates his daily morning Mass in Italian using the current edition of the Roman Missal, the Vatican spokesman said. Claims that the pope celebrates his private Mass using the Tridentine rite are incorrect, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi told Catholic News Service July 17. The Tridentine Mass is the Latin-language liturgy that predates the Second Vatican Council; it was last revised in the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal. Less than 10 days after Pope Benedict July 7 issued his letter and norms providing greater opportunity for the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, news reports claimed Pope Benedict already had been celebrating the old rite privately. “The confusion probably was caused by our footage of the pope celebrating facing the altar, which is due to the fact that the altar is against the wall” in the private chapel of the Apostolic Palace, Father Lombardi said. With the altar against the wall, the concelebrants in the private chapel end up having their backs toward the congregation during the eucharistic prayer.

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British report tells bishops to make abuse rules conform to canon law

LONDON (CNS) — An independent commission has urged the Catholic bishops of England and Wales to bring their child-protection measures in line with the Code of Canon Law amid fears that false allegations are driving priests away from working with young people. Produced by a commission headed by Baroness Cumberlege, a member of the House of Lords, the report published July 16 warned the bishops that “persistent and tenacious” fear among the clergy over malicious accusations of abuse needs to be addressed urgently. The report, called “Safeguarding With Confidence,” said many priests believe the system brought in five years ago after several high-profile clerical abuse cases is loaded unjustly against them. The report was the result of the first five-year review of the bishops’ 2002 child protection policies. Many priests believe the procedures treat them as if they are guilty as soon as an accusation has been received — even if the police later find there is no basis for the accusation, several priests told Catholic News Service.

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Cardinal calls Chinese Catholic reaction to papal letter positive

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican has not had any official comment from the Chinese government on Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to Chinese Catholics, but the reaction has been “positive from the faithful and the bishops,” said the Vatican secretary of state. The 55-page letter, released June 30 in Chinese and several other languages, has led to “an extraordinary movement of meditation and reflection, especially through the Internet, by the official patriotic community and the clandestine community,” said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The pope’s letter urged cooperation between Catholic communities officially registered with the government and Catholic communities that have continued clandestinely since the 1950s, when the Chinese government began closing churches. While the papal letter criticized Chinese government limits on church activities, it also invited civil authorities to open a new dialogue on several key issues, including the appointment of bishops.

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Malawians anxious for parliament to pass budget, says church official

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — Malawians are anxious for members of parliament to approve the national budget before emergency funding for government operations ends July 31, a church official said. “Ordinary Malawians are the losers,” as the ruling party and the opposition bicker over lawmakers’ dismissals, said Chris Chisoni, head of the National Assembly liaison project of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in the Malawian capital, Lilongwe. Members of Parliament “need to ask themselves who they are answerable to, their political leaders or the electorate,” he said in a telephone interview from Lilongwe. Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, who came to power in 2004 on a United Democratic Front ticket and then formed his own party, is at the center of an ongoing standoff with the opposition, which has hindered the functioning of the parliament. In June, Malawi’s Supreme Court granted powers to the speaker of parliament to expel lawmakers who switched parties, a decision that would affect the strength of the ruling party in a parliament dominated by the opposition.

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Friends who became refugees led Franken to career in migration work

WASHINGTON (CNS) — When Mark Franken, the former director of Migration and Refugee Services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, talked about how refugees come to seek new homes in the United States, he spoke from experience. After working at MRS in various capacities since 1980 and heading the agency as director for a decade, at the end of June Franken took an early retirement package offered by the USCCB as part of a conference reorganization. That he would have a career working with refugees and immigrants would have come as a surprise to the young man who went into the Navy right out of high school, got a business degree with his GI Bill benefits and expected to one day run a restaurant or another business, he said in an interview with Catholic News Service. But while stationed in Vietnam, the Navy assigned him to train Vietnamese people in U.S.-style military skills. Some of the trainees became friends, inviting him to their homes. Franken returned to the U.S. and went to college. As the Vietnam War ended and refugees began arriving in the United States, he got a call from a Red Cross refugee center in Pennsylvania. One of the men he had worked closely with in Vietnam was looking for someone to sponsor his application for admission as a refugee.

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One of first married men ordained under Vatican provision dies at 79

OLYMPIA, Wash. (CNS) — Following funeral services July 10 at St. George Byzantine Catholic Church in Olympia and July 11 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Lacey, one of the first married Episcopal priests to be ordained a Catholic priest under a special Vatican provision was buried July 13 in Langlois, Ore. Father Peter Dally, who became an Eastern Catholic priest in 2001, died July 6 at his home in Olympia due to complications of multiple myeloma. He was 79 and, in his retirement, had assisted at St. George. Ordained an Episcopal priest in Corvallis, Ore., in 1953, Father Dally and his family — including wife Mary and their four children — were received into the Catholic Church at St. John Vianney on Vashon Island in 1981. In 1983 the family moved to Tulsa, Okla., at the invitation of now-Archbishop Eusebius J. Beltran of Oklahoma City, who at the time was bishop of Tulsa. Father Dally was ordained in 1985 at Holy Family Cathedral and spent most of his ministry in Tulsa working in pastoral care at local hospitals and in several parishes.

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Beijing Catholics elect Dongtang priest as new bishop

HONG KONG (CNS) — A group of priests, nuns and laypeople of the Beijing Diocese have elected Father Joseph Li Shan as their new bishop, filling the see left vacant by the death of Bishop Michael Fu Tieshan. Father Li works at St. Joseph Church — commonly known as Dongtang or East Church — in Wangfujing, a well-known shopping area in downtown Beijing. UCA News, an Asian church news agency, reported July 17 that church sources who asked not to be named said the election was conducted July 16. The election result will be submitted to the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church of China for approval. Once approved, the episcopal ordination would be held within three months. This is the first election of a bishop in the registered church community of mainland China since Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to Catholics in China was released June 30. In that letter, the pope said the issue of episcopal appointments is “one of the most delicate problems” between the Holy See and the Chinese authorities.

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Oklahoma priest buried in wooden casket he built himself

TULSA, Okla. (CNS) — Father Kenneth A. King was buried July 16 in a wooden casket he made for himself years ago. The retired priest of the Tulsa Diocese died July 9 in Vinita, Okla. He was 76. Father King, who celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood in June, had kept the casket in his home, using it as a coffee table and storing sweaters in it. Ordained for what was then the Diocese of Oklahoma, Father King served as associate pastor and pastor in numerous rural parishes. The Diocese of Tulsa, which serves the eastern part of the state, was created in 1973, as was the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, which covers the rest of the state. Father King oversaw numerous restoration projects in the parishes he served. He is especially remembered for a famous summer camp program he organized for young people in the early 1960s on the theme “Sacrifice as Described in the Old Testament.” He arranged for the young people to process to the top of Mount Scott, near Lawton, where a lamb — which had been anesthetized by a registered nurse — was actually slaughtered.

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Chinese bishop who worked for church unity dies

HONG KONG (CNS) — After suffering from poor health the past few months, Bishop Peter Zhao Zhendong of Xuanhua, who was known for working for church unity in China, died July 13, a day before his 87th birthday. Catholic sources in Hebei told the Asian church news agency UCA News that the bishop, who had heart problems and diabetes for years, had tried to unite the unregistered and registered Catholic communities in China since taking over as head of the diocese in 1999. Bishop Zhao had not registered with the Chinese government, so he was not recognized as a bishop by the government. Before he died, Bishop Zhao was studying the letter that Pope Benedict XVI recently wrote to Chinese Catholics. He hoped the document would advance unity in the diocese, the sources said. Bishop Zhao’s work at reconciling the two communities resulted in several dialogues between clergy from the two communities, the sources said, adding that in 2000 the late bishop accepted three priests from the registered community.


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