Today (08.06.07)

Today

Bishop Pfeifer Keynote Speaker at Filipino Conference in Odessa, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Today’s Readings

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 9
2 Peter 1:16-19
Luke 9:28-36

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

Catholic leaders praise Congress for votes on children’s health care

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Thanking the Senate and House for their approval of legislation reauthorizing and expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP, the heads of the Catholic Health Association and Catholic Charities said they hoped partisanship could be set aside to get a final bill to President George W. Bush quickly. “The time for partisan bickering is over — it is now time for united support on behalf of children’s health coverage and a more solid foundation for our nation’s future,” said Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is CHA president and CEO, in an Aug. 3 statement. “We applaud the Democrats, Republicans and independents in Congress who have come together to support and strengthen this program,” said Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, in a separate statement Aug. 3. The House voted 225-204 late Aug. 1 in favor of the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act, known as CHAMP, which would provide health insurance for at least 3 million children currently uninsured and reauthorize funding for the more than 5 million children already covered by SCHIP. The program is due to expire Sept. 30. The Senate approved a different version of the legislation by a 68-31 vote Aug. 2.

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Hundreds gather in prayer for victims of Minneapolis bridge collapse

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — Hundreds gathered Aug. 2 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul and St. Olaf Church in Minneapolis to pray for victims of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis Aug. 1. Coadjutor Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis led the cathedral prayer service, while Father Kevin McDonough, vicar general, presided at a Mass at St. Olaf. At the cathedral, Archbishop Nienstedt said in his homily that God was not at fault for the disaster. “That was the fault of human causes,” he added. “Indeed, my dear brothers and sisters, you and I together and all the citizens of these Twin Cities find ourselves today in the depths of distress.” He acknowledged the “quick and professional response of the city and state officials, police officers and fire personnel, the (American) Red Cross and all those volunteers who assisted those afflicted in this horrible experience.” He said, “In moments of urgent need, it is a consolation to know that there are those who are ready, willing and able to lend a helping hand.”

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False idols of autonomy, utility work against life, cardinal says

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) — Like the Israelites who idolized the golden calf, the pro-life movement is challenged today by “the idolatrous gospel of total autonomy, sheer utility and false mercy,” Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia told a gathering in Arlington Aug. 2. The cardinal, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, spoke on the opening day of the Aug. 2-4 annual conference of directors of diocesan pro-life offices and state Catholic conferences, sponsored by the bishops’ pro-life secretariat. “Those who have blind faith in embryonic stem-cell research and its so-called ‘biblical power to cure’ — as House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi called it recently — are worshipping a modern-day false idol,” Cardinal Rigali said. “They are putting their faith in an exaggerated view of the wonders of science and in their own ingenuity to overcome disease and aging.”

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St. Paul-Minneapolis Catholic community responds to bridge collapse

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Upon hearing of the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, priests from the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis traveled to the scene, as well as to nearby hospitals and medical centers, to see how they could help victims of the tragedy and their families. Although Dennis McGrath, archdiocesan spokesman, said that travel in the city has been “virtually impossible” since the disaster, the archdiocese held two noon prayer services Aug. 2 — one in St. Paul at the Cathedral of St. Paul and the other at St. Olaf Catholic Church in Minneapolis. Coadjutor Archbishop John C. Nienstedt presided over the ceremony at the cathedral, and Father Kevin McDonough, vicar general, celebrated the prayer service as well as the daily Mass at St. Olaf. Archbishop Harry J. Flynn said both churches had a “great number of people who came together to offer their consolation and their prayers for those who died, for those who are injured, and for their families.” On Aug. 3, officials confirmed that six people were dead, and at least 60 were injured. Also, they said the number of those still missing was eight, down from as many as 20 reported earlier.

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Mixing religion and politics: Symbols of faith tucked into power city

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Washington is a city rich with powerful symbols. It is known for its monuments, memorials and corridors of power. And its big landmarks, the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument, will always loom large because of an 1899 law stipulating that no private structures in the city can be higher than either of them. In tourist season — early spring to late summer — visitors to the capital flock to the seats of government and monumental tributes to history with cameras always at the ready. But what they might not readily notice or capture for their photo albums are the religious symbols tucked away all over the nation’s capital. Sometimes these symbols, often statues or paintings of religious figures, are embedded in the buildings themselves, for example, Moses in a frieze over the back entrance of the U.S. Supreme Court. But other religious symbols are often located off the beaten track — statues of saints in the U.S. Capitol or a painting of monks copying manuscripts in the Library of Congress.

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Airport chaplains minister to a flock on the move

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Can you find holiness at an airport? Father Michael Zaniolo thinks so. Father Zaniolo has been an airport chaplain at Midway and O’Hare International airports in Chicago for the past six years, so he’s spent a lot of time meeting travelers from around the world and workers at the two airports. From what he has seen, Father Zaniolo said, the presence of a chaplain and a chapel can bring comfort amid the stress and worry that travelers and workers often face. The Chicago archdiocesan priest celebrates Mass in the chapels at each airport and walks around the terminals, bringing “the presence of the church into a place where people never think of seeing the church.” But Father Zaniolo said his job is not easy, especially because he is ministering at two airports. Combined, O’Hare and Midway offer 20 Masses a week, and he and the other chaplains also hear confessions every day. “I’ve heard confessions in all sorts of little nooks and crannies, because I bring the chapel out to the people,” he told Catholic News Service in a phone interview.

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WORLD

Lithuanian bishops concerned by government proposal for med students

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) — Lithuania’s bishops said they are “gravely concerned” over a Ministry of Health draft document that would oblige would-be obstetricians and gynecologists to learn how to perform abortions up to 22 weeks of pregnancy, sterilization and in vitro fertilization procedures. Noting that these doctors are to welcome a “new life into the world,” the Lithuanian bishops said they fear that making such practices obligatory “will make the practice of an obstetrician-gynecologist inaccessible to many young (people) who would otherwise choose to serve the human life in its most sensible prenatal period. Such a compulsion debases the practice of an obstetrician-gynecologist on the whole,” said the bishops in an Aug. 1 letter to the Ministry of Health. The bishops expressed concern that such a medical norm would contradict the principle of a doctor’s freedom of conscience, which currently is protected by law.

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Pope to visit Holocaust memorial, Marian shrine in Austria

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — During his visit to Austria, Pope Benedict XVI plans to stop at a Holocaust memorial in Vienna and to celebrate the 850th anniversary of Austria’s most important Marian shrine in Mariazell. The Vatican Aug. 3 released the official schedule of the pope’s Sept. 7-9 visit to Austria. It will be the seventh foreign trip of his pontificate. After his arrival in Vienna, the pope will pray at a 17th-century monument marking a victory of the Catholic Habsburgs during the Thirty Years’ War and stop at a Holocaust memorial in Jews’ Square. He will meet the country’s president and diplomats in the Hofburg Palace. Pope Benedict will celebrate Mass Sept. 8 outside the basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariazell, 80 miles southwest of Vienna, and lunch with Austria’s bishops. He will hold an evening prayer service with priests, deacons and members of religious orders. The pope will lead a procession in Vienna Sept. 9 and celebrate Mass in the city’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral, after which he will recite the Angelus prayer in the square outside the cathedral. He will visit the 12th-century Cistercian Abbey of the Holy Cross outside Vienna and meet with volunteers before returning to Rome.

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Vatican publishing house: New page, new director, new ideas

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — With a new director at the helm, the Vatican publishing house is turning a new page. Salesian Father Giuseppe Costa, the recently appointed head of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, said he wants to beef up the availability of Vatican publications around the world and expand the Vatican’s offerings on art and culture. “This publishing house can put out — must put out (publications) in support of Catholic culture,” he said. And the distribution of commercial sales of all its publications “clearly need to be boosted, yet also re-examined” in new ways, he told Catholic News Service July 27. The 61-year-old Italian priest and professor of journalism was appointed after Salesian Father Claudio Rossini’s five-year term ended July 1. The Vatican publishing house also “is getting things ready for orders over the Internet,” he said. Currently, international orders only can be made by fax, mail or through the private Web site http://www.paxbook.com.

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Venezuelan protesters support student seeking refuge in nunciature

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNS) — Venezuelan university students have demonstrated in support of a student leader who has sought refuge at the Vatican nunciature in Caracas. The anti-government students were demonstrating July 30 in support of the request of Nixon Moreno, the student leader, to be granted political asylum or humanitarian refuge. Moreno, an undergraduate at the University of the Andes in Merida and a fervent opponent of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, has been staying at the nunciature since mid-March. Last year, a Moreno-led protest turned violent when several police officers were injured and protesters allegedly sexually accosted a policewoman. Moreno was charged with “lascivious acts” against the policewoman and attempted murder of another police officer, as well as injuries to several officers. He is also charged with rebellion. The students were protesting a court’s decision to suspend student elections. Venezuela’s major public universities are dominated by anti-government sentiment, and many claim that the government is attempting to weaken the universities’ traditional autonomy.

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Hong Kong Diocese revises translation of letter to Chinese Catholics

HONG KONG (CNS) — The Hong Kong Diocese has revised the Vatican’s Chinese translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to Catholics in China. Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong told the Asian church news agency UCA News that the original Chinese text contains many mistakes and that the revision was to “help those (Chinese) who don’t know foreign languages understand the letter’s original intentions.” The cardinal, who presided over sessions at three parishes in mid-July to explain the papal letter’s content and context, spent a week revising the Chinese translation with experts. The revised text, which contains 20,086 characters including footnotes, was published in the July 15 issue of Kung Kao Po, the diocesan Chinese weekly. In addition, 30,000 booklets of the revised text in traditional Chinese characters and another 30,000 in simplified characters were printed for free distribution. The Vatican issued the papal letter June 30 in the original Italian and in English, French and traditional and simplified Chinese translations. The Chinese versions each had 19,763 characters.

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PEOPLE

Career foreign service officer named to head church migration office

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A former ambassador to countries in Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East has been named director of Migration and Refugee Services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Johnny Young, a career foreign service officer with the U.S. State Department who most recently was ambassador to Slovenia from 2001 to 2004, will replace Mark Franken, who retired from the USCCB in June after a career of working with Catholic refugee and immigrant agencies. Young’s appointment was announced in an Aug. 2 press release in which Msgr. David Malloy, general secretary of the USCCB, cited his experience in dealing with refugees. “Because of his work in Africa, especially with refugees in Sierra Leone, and in Slovenia, where he worked against the scourge of human trafficking, Johnny Young has profound knowledge of the depths of these problems,” said Msgr. Malloy. Young, a native of Savannah, Ga., grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from Temple University there before joining the State Department’s foreign service in 1967 as a budget and fiscal officer in Madagascar.

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Bishop Pelotte’s condition upgraded; police report filed on injuries

GALLUP, N.M. (CNS) — Bishop Donald E. Pelotte of Gallup was moved out of intensive care at a Phoenix hospital, where he is being treated for injuries he said he sustained in a fall at his home. An Aug. 2 statement from the diocese said no new information was available other than that the bishop was now in a private room at John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital. Bishop Pelotte, 62, was discovered injured at his home July 23, when a member of the diocesan staff went to check on him after the bishop did not keep scheduled meetings that day or answer the phone. After an evaluation at Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital in Gallup, the bishop was airlifted to the Phoenix hospital, which has a level 1 trauma center. A July 30 article in the Gallup Independent newspaper noted that police were called to the hospital to investigate “a possible battery to a person,” after the extent of the bishop’s injuries raised questions about whether he might have been assaulted. The Gallup police report cited injuries including bruising around the eyes and on one shoulder, as well as on his legs, arms, elbows, hands and knuckles. Bishop Pelotte assured police that he had fallen on the stairs at his home and made his way back to his bedroom. No further investigation was planned by the Gallup police.

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