Today (08.01.07)

No diocesan-wide events

Today’s Readings

Exodus 34:29-35
Psalm 99:5-7, 9
Matthew 13:44-46

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

U.S.

Audit finds some problems with San Diego parishes’ accounting

WASHINGTON (CNS) — While much of an audit of the finances of the San Diego Diocese showed recordkeeping was above-board, it found some cases of parishes moving tens of thousands of dollars around at the time of bankruptcy filing — in ways that apparently violated diocesan policies. The 175-page first report of R. Todd Neilson, a forensic certified public accountant who conducted the audit on orders of the judge overseeing the diocese’s bankruptcy case, included an analysis of the records of 48 of 93 parishes and 26 of 43 schools. The audit was ordered in April by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Louise DeCarl Adler, who said she was mystified by what she called “the most Byzantine accounting system I’ve ever seen,” involving hundreds of bank accounts. Attorneys for some of the people suing the diocese over allegations of sexual abuse by priests have said the diocese has not been forthcoming about its assets. The auditor’s report released July 30 singled out peculiarities at several parishes, ranging from a parish presented as impoverished but with $1.2 million in its bank accounts, to two parishes that apparently moved cash out of accounts at the time of the bankruptcy filing, putting checks for tens of thousands of dollars into parish safes, where the amounts would not be factored into data included in the bankruptcy material.

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Not all parts of House farm bill pass muster with rural advocate

WASHINGTON (CNS) — There may be some good in the House’s version of the farm bill that passed July 27, but there was also some bad, according to Robert Gronski, policy coordinator for the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. The good parts include expanded food stamp and nutrition education programs and increased funding for fruit and vegetable programs for schools, Gronski said in a July 31 statement, as well as funding for a new loan program to support local processing and distribution that will make it easier for local farmers to serve schools and other institutional markets. “It also adopted an important policy to allow schools to use geographic preference to purchase local food in all federally funded child nutrition programs,” he said. Still, he added, “the House bill took two major steps backward. The House version cut billions of dollars from the Conservation Security Program to pay for increases in other conservation programs. More disappointingly, the House bill included a misleading commodity reform policy that would expand rather than cut payment limits that farmers and agribusinesses can receive from the commodity program.”

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Florida ‘wrongful birth’ award devalues child, Catholic official says

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The recent Florida court case in which a jury awarded $23.5 million as compensation for the “wrongful birth” of a child is the latest sign that “society is moving toward designer children” who are not valued if they are not perfect, an official of the Florida Catholic Conference said July 30. “To call it a wrongful birth seems very odd,” said Sheila S. Hopkins, associate director for social concerns and Respect Life at the conference, in a telephone interview from Tallahassee, Fla. “Anyone can have children who have challenges. … Who are we to decide what’s a ‘wrong’ birth and what’s a ‘right’ birth?” In a July 24 decision in Tampa, a jury gave Daniel and Amara Estrada $23.5 million for lifetime care of their 2-year-old son, Caleb, and for their own pain and suffering. Like the Estradas’ first son, Aiden, Caleb was born with Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, a metabolic disorder that affects many parts of the body. The couple said Dr. Boris Kousseff, a geneticist with the University of South Florida, failed to properly diagnose Aiden’s illness and assured the Estradas that their chance of conceiving a child with similar afflictions was the same as any other couple’s.

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Interreligious dialogue called critical to solving ‘family problems’

NEW YORK (CNS) — Problems among Christians, Muslims and Jews are “family problems,” because the three traditions, sharing an ancestor in Abraham, have much more in common than what divides them, said the Italian founder of a monastery community in the Syrian desert. Jesuit Father Paolo Dall’Oglio spoke on “The Hospitality of Abraham: A Model for Interreligious Dialogue” July 25 at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in New York. Father Dall’Oglio leads the Monastery of St. Moses the Abyssinian in Nebek, Syria, some 50 miles north of Damascus. The monastery community is dedicated to hospitality, dialogue and building harmony in an area where Christians, Jews and Muslims have lived together for centuries, said Father Dall’Oglio. “Since the time of Mohammed, the monastery in the desert has played an important socio-spiritual role, one that is much appreciated and respected in the Muslim world,” he said. “Our greatest wish has been to rediscover afresh that role of hospitality and take it forward in a more explicit and conscious way.”

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Survey says excess TV bad for Americans individually and collectively

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Every so often, you may have an opinion about some issue. You know in your heart that it’s so, but you rarely have the material to back up your belief — or suspicion, as the case may be. For those who look askance at television, a study published in June by the Culture and Media Institute, “The Media Assault on American Values,” confirms almost everything bad that people have ever believed about TV. “The great majority of Americans perceive a decline in the nation’s moral values,” the survey said in its conclusion. “This is another way of saying Americans perceive erosion in the responsibility and integrity of their fellow citizens, sexual mores and the nation’s submission before God: the very areas apparently being undermined by the media.” Note that the study conclusion didn’t flat-out declare that the media is undermining moral values, just “apparently” doing so. Note further that the respondents were commenting on the laxity of “their fellow citizens,” but not necessarily commenting on themselves individually. The Culture and Media Institute conducted a telephone survey of more than 2,000 people back in March. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

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White House conference discusses faith-based efforts to aid homeless

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The mission of Eva’s Village is to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and treat the addicted. The Catholic-run Eva’s Kitchen, established in Paterson, N.J., in 1982 to assist the city’s homeless, soon blossomed into Eva’s Village, a shelter providing medical care as well as a rehabilitation program. With assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Eva’s Village has been able to flourish. It was just one of several faith-based and nonprofit groups whose representatives met near the White House in Washington in mid-July for a round-table discussion on “Faith- and Community-Based Partnerships to End Homelessness.” “Mother Teresa said that poverty is not only being homeless, hungry and naked,” HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told participants, noting that the founder of the Missionaries of Charity described being unloved, unwanted and uncared for as the greatest poverty. The event sponsored by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives brought together city officials and nonprofit leaders from around the country to discuss the resources needed in the fight to end chronic homelessness.

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WORLD

Retired cardinal explains why he won’t celebrate Tridentine Mass

ROME (CNS) — Although he loves the Latin language and would have no technical difficulty even preaching in Latin, retired Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini of Milan, Italy, said he would not celebrate the Tridentine Mass. The 80-year-old cardinal, writing in an Italian newspaper July 29, said he admired Pope Benedict XVI’s “benevolence” in allowing Catholics “to praise God with ancient and new forms” by permitting wider use of the 1962 form of the Mass. However, he wrote in the July 29 edition of Il Sole 24 Ore, his experience as a bishop convinced him of the importance of a common liturgical prayer to express Catholics’ unity of belief. Pope Benedict allowed for wider use of the Tridentine Mass in a July 7 document. 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. The cardinal, a widely respected biblical scholar, said the first reason he would not use the old Mass is because “with the Second Vatican Council there was a real step forward in understanding the liturgy and its ability to nourish us with the word of God, offered in a much more abundant way than before.”

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Catholics in China provide food, prayers for victims of flooding

HONG KONG (CNS) — Although severe floods have curtailed church activities and damaged century-old church buildings in various parts of China, Catholics are offering assistance to those affected by the disaster. A priest, who works in the northern part of Anhui province, told the Asian church news agency UCA News July 25 that because government relief aid has not reached the region the church has tried to help Catholic and non-Catholic victims of the flooding. The priest, who requested anonymity and is part of the unregistered Catholic community, said he has organized Catholics to help drain flooded fields. His parish bought 1,100 pounds of sweet corn seeds to distribute to poor farming families. He noted that, while the floodwaters gradually have subsided, farmers were still unable to plant crops because of the uncertain weather. Planting beyond the end of July would jeopardize the autumn harvest “and their livelihoods would suffer,” he added.

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Southern Africa’s bishops focus on good governance at meeting

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — The bishops of countries in southern Africa focused on assessing good governance in and outside of the church at their regional meeting in the Angolan capital Luanda. “To be self-reliant,” the church in Africa “needs a deep understanding of the philosophy of good governance and to have the necessary structures in place,” said Cardinal Wilfrid F. Napier of Durban, South Africa, in a July 30 telephone interview with Catholic News Service from Durban. The eighth Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa, which includes the bishops of Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, “was practical and focused on leadership,” said the cardinal. Cardinal Napier said that “accountability, transparency and being open to problems” were among the principles discussed during the July 20-26 meeting; its theme was “Good Governance in and out of the Church.” He added, “We looked at how to govern ourselves, which is crucial.”

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Italian Catholic group donates drugs, medical supplies to Nigeria

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) — An Italian Catholic humanitarian organization has donated drugs and medical equipment worth thousands of dollars to fight diabetes and hypertension in Nigeria. The Association Opera Don Bonifacio Azione Verde is concerned about the high rates of diabetes, hypertension and children suffering from different ailments in Nigeria, said Father Boniface Duru, the Nigerian president and founder of the association. He told journalists July 28 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos that his team of more than 25 medical experts, engineers, teachers and architects from Malta and Italy were embarking on a “journey of hope.” The group would come to Nigeria to administer the drugs annually, he said, adding that the group already had spent nearly $200,000 on several other humanitarian projects in Nigeria. Father Duru did not reveal the exact amount of the current project.

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PEOPLE

Supporters in Detroit pray for beatification of Father Solanus Casey

DETROIT (CNS) — Donald Veryser, a member of Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in suburban Grosse Pointe Woods, was among the many supporters of Capuchin Father Solanus Casey’s cause for sainthood who came to St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit July 28-29 to pray for his beatification. Supporters of Father Casey’s cause filled the chapel of St. Bonaventure Monastery near downtown Detroit four times that Saturday and Sunday for Mass and novena prayers for his cause, at the 50th anniversary of his death. Veryser, 53, who was with one of his sons, Daniel, 12, said he was there “for the opportunity to make prayer requests and to say thank you for the sale of my business and industrial buildings in a terribly depressed market.” He said he had grown up hearing about praying to Father Casey from an aunt who was a Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. “All these years I’ve been praying for the health of our family business, for safety in the workplace and for our employees, and I have so much to be grateful for. And now I’m praying for job security, now that I’m an employee rather than an employer,” Veryser said.

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Arab Catholic attributes participation on Israeli show to her faith

JERUSALEM (CNS) — The first Arab Catholic contestant on the Israeli version of “American Idol” said that without her faith and her parish’s choir she never would have been able to participate in the show. “The most beautiful thing is when the church choir sings together. It is beautiful and fun, and it gives me both mental and spiritual strength,” said Miriam Toukan, a 25-year-old law student from the Israeli Arab village of Ibilline. “It pushes me forward. I can’t give that up.” Toukan was the first Arab chosen to participate in the popular TV show, “A Star Is Born,” since it began five years ago. Friends convinced Toukan, who has been singing in the choir of St. George Melkite Catholic Parish since first grade, to try out for the show last spring when she had time on her hands during a university students’ strike. Toukan, who has also performed internationally with the Ibilline Al Karawan Choir, became one of the show’s top 10 finalists. She was bumped from the show at the end of July when the competition began to heat up among the 10 best singers.

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