Today (08.02.07)

No diocesan-wide events

Today’s Readings

Sirach 24:1-4, 16, 22-24 (Vulgate)
Psalm 34:5, 7, 9-10, 18-19
Galatians 4:3-7
Luke 1:26-33

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

U.S.

World must come together to address poverty, ex-U.N. official says

INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — Some 850 million people in the world — half of them children — are hungry every day. A sixth of the world’s population is hungry, malnourished and lives in poverty. Every day, 25,000 people — including 18,000 children — die of malnutrition. Those sobering and heartbreaking statistics can be eliminated, according to James Morris, if more individuals, churches, community organizations and companies support poverty-relief efforts in the U.S. and abroad. Morris, an Indianapolis resident who served as executive director of the United Nations’ World Food Program, shared compelling stories about his international humanitarian ministry in a talk on “Connecting to Children: The Importance and Responsibility of Living in a Global Community and How Nutrition Impacts Kids” at St. Joan of Arc Parish and School in Indianapolis. Morris served as the 10th executive director of the world’s largest food aid organization from 2002 to 2007. During 2006, the World Food Program fed 88 million people in 78 countries with $2.9 billion in contributions.

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Parish checkups measure ‘how Holy Spirit is guiding us’

WEST BABYLON, N.Y. (CNS) — Seven Long Island parishes are giving themselves a spiritual checkup — conducting surveys to find out how actively engaged their parishioners are. “It’s like going to a doctor,” said Marie Guido, stewardship coordinator at St. Gerard Majella Church in Port Jefferson Station. “You get your vital signs checked to see where you’re doing good and what you need to work on.” Working with the Gallup Organization, those parishes met earlier this summer at Our Lady of Grace Church in West Babylon to discuss the findings of the survey that each has taken of their parishioners and to begin planning ways to draw parishioners into more active engagement. St. Gerard’s has been conducting “membership engagement” surveys since 2001. The other parishes are new to the process. Al Winseman, global leader for Gallup’s Faith Practices division, referred to a book that Gallup has published about how parishes and other congregations have been able to use the survey. “St. Gerard’s here on Long Island is one chapter. They’re one of our success stories.”

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New service ministry aims to continue where St. Joseph left off

GARY, Ind. (CNS) — While little is known of the quiet, gentle man who served as the protector and human father of Jesus, the image of Joseph as a carpenter invokes creative thoughts of how he might have served his God and neighbors. With this fatherly saint as inspiration, St. John the Evangelist Parish in St. John has launched a new endeavor — the St. Joseph the Carpenter ministry. Defined in their mission statement as a diverse group of people in service to the less fortunate, the group vows to help “restore the dignity of our brothers and sisters in Christ through love, compassion and home-repair assistance.” Traveling on a warm July Saturday to the Black Oak section of Gary, a group of nine men and women assisted resident Maggie Arreola. Arreola, the mother of three, has been plagued with health problems, but more immediate concerns are her kitchen floor and several nonfunctioning drains in the home. Her plight came to the attention of some people at nearby St. Ann Parish who called on the new ministry for help.

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University of Dallas to host first ministry conference in September

IRVING, Texas (CNS) — Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, N.M., Oblate Father Ronald Rohlheiser and catechist Steven Ellair will be among the speakers at the University of Dallas’ first Ministry Conference Sept. 6-8 in Dallas. The conference is sponsored by the Catholic university’s School of Ministry in association with the Diocese of Dallas. Under the theme “Walking Together in Faith, the conference will feature keynote addresses, breakout sessions in English and Spanish, networking opportunities and a special clergy day. “We are excited to host this conference to help meet the diverse needs of ministries in the church at all levels,” said Brian Schmisek, director of the School of Ministry, in a statement. “By coming together we can deepen and develop our relationship with God and our respect for the variety of ways we respond in faith.” Complete registration and pricing information can be found on the conference Web site at http://www.udallasconference.com/registration.html.

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WORLD

Pope prays Scouting would go on to promote spiritual, civil formation

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Greeting an international group of Scouts on the 100th anniversary of Scouting, Pope Benedict XVI prayed that the movement would continue to promote “human, spiritual and civil formation in every country of the world.” The pope congratulated the young men and women at the end of his weekly general audience Aug. 1, just a few hours after they joined Scouts from around the world in renewing their promises to serve God and others with generosity. Wading into the crowd to shake hands with and bless his visitors, Pope Benedict received a Scout’s scarf, which he tried to slip over his head. An aide took it from him, though, before he was able to readjust the knot. In his main audience talk, Pope Benedict picked up where he left off July 4 before going on vacation, telling pilgrims about the life and teaching of St. Basil, a fourth-century bishop. The bishop, he said, encouraged people to recognize their own dignity as creatures of God and the dignity of others.

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Vatican office supports British prime minister’s push to cut poverty

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace supports British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s project to rally leaders of government, business and faith-based organizations in pushing to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. “The time for simple promises has passed,” said an Aug. 1 statement from the Vatican office, welcoming Brown’s July 31 call at the United Nations for an international summit in 2008 to pressure governments to meet their commitments for reducing poverty and promoting development. When most nations of the world signed on to the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, “it was believed that 15 years would give governments sufficient time to mobilize efforts” to meet the goals, the statement said. “Some progress has been made in some areas, which should be applauded,” it said. “However, even with limited progress, governments must continue striving for more.”

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Priests in Mexican state of Oaxaca denounce excessive force by police

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — A group of priests from the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca denounced what they say was excessive force by police to keep protesters away from an annual culture fair. “That battle and its outcome leave a taste of personal vengeance with the aim of intimidating people, teaching them a lesson and halting any attempt to protest against the unhealthy way Oaxaca is governed,” said the 45 priests in a statement released July 27. The priests said the government response represented “an attitude of war against its own people.” The event, known as “Guelaguetza,” celebrates Oaxaca’s indigenous crafts, dance and cuisine, and is an important tourist draw. It was canceled last year after a large protest movement seized control of much of the city of Oaxaca. This year’s Guelaguetza event in late July was reinforced by riot police who clashed with thousands of marching protesters, resulting in dozens of injuries and arrests. Oaxaca law enforcement officials said the clash was a reaction to demonstrators who attacked officers with stones, sticks and bottle rockets.

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Priest: Northern Irish Catholics relieved British military have left

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (CNS) — A Belfast-based Passionist priest said Northern Irish Catholics feel “joy and relief” that British military operations in the region have come to an end. Father Aidan Troy, known for his mediation role in the 2001 Holy Cross Girls’ Primary School dispute when Protestant protesters blocked access to the school, told Catholic News Service he hopes that “children in the North will never again have to witness the spectacle of armed troops patrolling the streets.” In the Catholic community, “there (have been) obviously mixed feelings. But we’re overwhelmingly relieved that operations have come to an end,” said the priest at Holy Cross Parish in the working-class Ardoyne suburb of Belfast. Father Troy said he hoped that the end of Operation Banner would mark the end of “a very sad chapter in the history of Ireland.” He said, “If there’s a positive note to this whole affair, it’s that the troops are saying goodbye to a much better Ireland than the one they came to 38 years ago.”

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PEOPLE

Orioles’ staffer ends 47-year home-game streak for Ripken induction

BALTIMORE (CNS) — Witnessing the induction of former Baltimore Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. into the Baseball Hall of Fame July 29 was a heady experience for Ernie Tyler, a parishioner at St. Ignatius Parish in the Baltimore suburb of Hickory. While attending the festivities in Cooperstown, N.Y., caused the 83-year-old to end a baseball era of his own — Tyler missed his first home game as an umpire’s attendant for the Baltimore Orioles since 1960 — he said he could think of no better reason to end his 3,769-game streak. “It’s actually a good feeling that my streak is over,” said the father of 11, whose number of in-season home games was posted during the game at Oriole Park July 27, before he left for Cooperstown. “It takes the pressure off.” The obvious comparisons between Tyler and the baseball great have been made by co-workers and former Oriole baseball players, since Ripken still holds the record of 2,632 consecutive baseball games played in the major leagues. “Ernie has known Cal since he was a boy,” said Monica Pence, director of public affairs for the Orioles. “I think it was appropriate that he would break his streak for Cal.”

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Pope says he rejoiced with Iraqis when they won Asian soccer tourney

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI said he rejoiced with the people of Iraq when Iraq beat the favored Saudi Arabia 1-0 to win the Asian Cup soccer tournament in Jakarta, Indonesia. At the end of his weekly general audience Aug. 1, the pope said he wanted to remark on “good news relative to Iraq, which generated a popular explosion of joy in the entire country.” The July 29 win, by a team made up of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, was “a historic success for Iraq, which has become the champion of Asian soccer for the first time,” the pope said. Sunnis and Shiites form the largest branches of Islam, while Kurds are a smaller segment in northern Iraq. Pope Benedict said he was impressed by the “contagious enthusiasm” of the people of Iraq, adding that, “just as I cried many times with the Iraqis, on this occasion I rejoiced with them.” Pope Benedict said the reaction of the Iraqi public to the soccer win demonstrated “the desire of the people to have a normal and serene life.”

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Pope appoints high-level delegation to Romanian patriarch’s funeral

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI offered his condolences to members of the Romanian Orthodox Church and appointed a high-level delegation to represent him at the funeral for Patriarch Teoctist, who died July 30 at the age of 92. In an Aug. 1 telegram to members of the Romanian Orthodox synod, Pope Benedict assured them of his “spiritual union with all those who mourn the passing of this distinguished and highly regarded church leader.” The funeral was scheduled for Aug. 3 in Bucharest. News agencies reported that the principal celebrant would be Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, was to lead the Vatican delegation. Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the council, and Archbishop Jean-Claude Perisset, Vatican nuncio to Romania, were the other members of the delegation.

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Relay team fights cancer one mile at a time

AUBURN, N.Y. (CNS) — Jake Walter is just one of many Americans on the road this summer, hoping to travel and see the country under the glow of a bright summer sun. Unlike most travelers, however, Walter did not begin his trip by getting into a car, truck, plane, train or even a boat. Instead, Walter simply jogged down the steps of Auburn City Hall and ran down South Street. He planned to spend nearly a month on the run — literally — as he and the four other men on his relay team run the 1,095 miles from Auburn to Atlanta. Walter helped organize this first Brian’s Invitational relay in memory of fellow Auburn native Brian Bisgrove, his friend and business partner. Bisgrove suffered from a rare form of sinus cancer and died in February 1998 at the age of 22, shortly after he founded the ConQuest and Challenge leadership programs for Catholic boys and girls, said Walter, who belongs to Holy Family Parish in Auburn. Each member of the five-man relay team runs 10 miles a day. The team hopes to raise $250,000. ConQuest clubs for boys and Challenge clubs for girls are sponsored by Regnum Christi, an apostolic Catholic movement associated with the Legionaries of Christ.

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