Today in the Diocese
Bishop Michael Pfeifer Addresses the U.S. Filipino Conference of Priests, Odessa, 10 a.m.
Bishop Pfeifer at Midland Communitywide Drug Taskforce Meeting, Midland High School, 1 p.m.
Rev. Michael DeMuth (1969)
Psalm 51:3-7, 12-13
Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service
Panel: Immigration change will take activating mainstream Americans
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Poll after poll says the American public supports a comprehensive approach to fixing immigration problems, but leaders of efforts to pass such a federal law acknowledge that an opposite message is driving the debate. With a comprehensive immigration bill likely off the table until after next year’s presidential election, advocates for immigrants said at an Aug. 3 teleconference that their strategy now has to become getting more of that majority of the public involved in fighting for what they say they believe and defusing the power that immigration “restrictionists” have gained. One part of that is to get more religious leaders to take a stand, said Kevin Appleby, director of migration and refugee policy for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “We need to counter the voices of talk radio,” said Appleby. “Quite honestly, the churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, need to do a better job of educating people about the realities of immigration … to put a human face on the discussion.”
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Crossroads cross-country walkers mark 13 years of pro-life activism
INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — They walk and pray and walk some more and pray again with one goal in sight. Their destination is the nation’s capital, and their goal is expressed by their slogan of “saving lives one step at a time.” During the 13th annual Crossroads Pro-Life Walk Across America this summer, more than 50 young adults are trying to educate countless Americans about how abortion kills babies. They are walking on one of three 10-week, 3,200-mile, coast-to-capital pilgrimages and sharing their pro-life messages with an estimated 1 million people in dozens of cities. Walking an average of 17 miles a day, each Crossroads volunteer will cover more than 1,200 miles by Aug. 11 when all three groups of pro-life pilgrims are scheduled to arrive on Capitol Hill in Washington for a prayer service. Organizers of Crossroads said that since the first cross-country pilgrimage took place in 1995, the walkers have saved the lives of many unborn babies, and 10 former walkers have pledged their lives to God as priests or religious.
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Cardinal honors 100,000th visitor to renovated Baltimore basilica
BALTIMORE (CNS) — As Rosalie Dohm of Woodbridge, Va., climbed the stairs to the nation’s first Catholic cathedral Aug. 2, she thought it was unusual that Cardinal William H. Keeler was personally greeting each of the visitors from her parish tour group. The 66-year-old parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Lake Ridge, Va., then found herself in the spotlight when Cardinal Keeler handed her a package and balloons and congratulated her for being the 100,000th visitor to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary since it reopened last November. “I’m dumbfounded,” said Dohm, who came on the tour with her parish’s Silver Foxes senior citizen group. “I was excited about seeing this place, but wow. What a shock to be told you are the 100,000th visitor since it opened back up to the public.” Cardinal Keeler said he was overwhelmed by the number of people who have flocked to the cathedral since it was restored to the vision of its architect, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the father of American architecture who also designed the U.S. Capitol.
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Cardinal Rigali’s Africa visit highlights Philadelphia-Nigeria ties
PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — In a visit that underscores a growing friendship between the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Nigerian Archdiocese of Onitsha, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia went to Africa in July to ordain 10 priests. “Obviously there is great poverty in Nigeria, but there is an immense spirit,” the cardinal told The Catholic Standard & Times, the archdiocesan newspaper, after his return July 19. “I saw the church, saw the challenges and saw also the vibrancy,” he said. “The Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Onitsha is a vibrant, vibrant church.” It was his second visit to the archdiocese of nearly 1.5 million Catholics. The cardinal went there with Pope John Paul II in 1982 as a member of the Vatican diplomatic corps. Then in 2005, he initiated the friendship between Philadelphia and Onitsha, shortly after he established an official Igbo Catholic Chaplaincy to serve the archdiocese’s community of more than 350 Igbo Nigerian Catholics.
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Pope says too much wealth, greed could compromise one’s salvation
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Too much wealth and greed could “seriously compromise” one’s salvation, Pope Benedict XVI said, adding that the real treasure humanity should strive for is Christ. It is a thing of “wisdom and virtue to not set one’s heart on the things of this world, because everything passes, everything can suddenly come to an end,” he said before reciting the Angelus prayer Aug. 5. While one’s earthly possessions and material wealth can be a necessity that are good in and of themselves, they are “not to be considered an absolute good,” he told those gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence south of Rome. Wealth “does not ensure salvation, rather it could even seriously compromise it,” he said. Christ, the pope said, warned people to guard against greed and becoming attached to earthly possessions. “The true treasure we Christians have to tirelessly seek out lies in ‘what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God,'” he said, quoting a Bible passage from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians.
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Peace is God’s gift that requires human cooperation, pope says
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Prayers for peace demonstrate a recognition that peace is a gift of God that requires human cooperation, Pope Benedict XVI said in a message to a summit of religious leaders meeting on Mount Hiei in Japan. “Peace is both a gift from God and an obligation for every individual,” the pope said in the message to the Aug. 3-4 summit organized by the leader of the Tendai Buddhist community. Members of the community consider Mount Hiei to be the holiest site in Japan; the Tendai school of Buddhism was founded on the mountain in the 9th century. When Pope John Paul II invited religious leaders from around the world to gather in Assisi, Italy, in 1986 to pray for peace, the leader of the Tendai Buddhists accepted the invitation. The next year, the community began hosting Japanese religious leaders for an annual prayer for peace service on Mount Hiei. After the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the head of Tendai Buddhism began inviting international representatives of Christianity, Islam and Judaism to join Japanese religious leaders for the prayer service.
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Vatican official: Ugandan thugs must stop forcing children to fight
GULU, Uganda (CNS) — Warring thugs must stop forcing children to fight for them, and the international community must make more serious efforts to fund programs to help former child soldiers rejoin civil society, said the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The blood shed in the so-called forgotten wars of Africa “is just as sacred in the eyes of God as that which flows between the Tigris and the Euphrates” rivers in Iraq, said Italian Cardinal Renato Martino during an Aug. 6 visit to Gulu, the scene of more than 20 years of clashes between government troops and rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army. Cardinal Martino also condemned the rebels’ practice of kidnapping children and forcing them to join the rebels in battle. He said an estimated 30,000 children had been kidnapped. The cardinal called on the international community to make a greater commitment to supporting negotiated settlements of all ongoing wars and to work to prevent other outbreaks of violence by controlling the sales of weapons, promoting social justice and ensuring that foreign investments do not exacerbate economic inequalities.
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Catholics live civilly but without recognition in Orthodox Greece
PEROULADES, Greece (CNS) — The metallic chords of a bouzouki pound through the evening breeze, as two black-clad dancers spin to enthusiastic applause in a tavern in Greece. When Nikos Aspiotis, a 30-year-old Orthodox, took over the tavern in this island village a year ago, he’d struggled for long hours to make the break at a local furniture factory. Today, with his English Catholic wife, Louise, he’s paid off his debts and even found time to revive his dancing skills as the diners roll in through the summer months — showing how ordinary people, regardless of faith and ethnicity, can live well together in this staunchly Orthodox Mediterranean country. But that is not always the case for the Catholic minority of Greece. “We’re not persecuted — we just don’t have the same rights as the Orthodox majority,” explained Archbishop Yannis Spiteris of Corfu, Zante and Kefalonia, the local ordinary. “The Greek government doesn’t recognize our church, so officially we don’t exist. Although I was born here on Corfu, I’m treated as a foreigner or at best a second-class citizen.” The Catholic Church in Greece has 200,000 Greek and foreign members but no formal contacts with the country’s Orthodox Church, whose leaders claim the membership of 97 percent of the population of 10.4 million.
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French Cardinal Lustiger, Jewish-born promoter of dialogue, dies
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, the Jewish-born former archbishop of Paris who defended the right of believers to have a say in public debates, died at the age of 80. He had been the voice of French Catholics for nearly a quarter-century and spoke out against anti-Semitism, as well as promoted Catholic dialogue with Jews and with the nation’s growing Muslim community. He died Aug. 5 in Paris after a long illness. The funeral was to be held Aug. 10 at the French capital’s Notre Dame Cathedral. Pope Benedict XVI called the cardinal a “perceptive intellectual” and “passionate pastor” who “put his gifts at the service of the faith” in order to bring the Gospel to all aspects of life and society. In a telegram sent to Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris, the pope said Cardinal Lustiger was a “great figure of the church in France.” The late cardinal was “a man of faith and dialogue,” the pope said, praising his generous commitment to “fostering ever more fraternal relations between Christians and Jews.”
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Cardinal Rodriguez to chair group dedicated to new evangelization
DALLAS (CNS) — Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, has agreed to succeed Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as chairman of the New Evangelization of America. Retired Bishop Charles V. Grahmann of Dallas, president of the organization, said Cardinal Rodriguez also would be the keynote speaker at its February 2009 conference. “Cardinal Rodriguez’s distinguished contribution to evangelization and communications make him a tremendous asset to NEA,” Bishop Grahmann said in a statement. “We look forward to his leadership bringing even greater vitality to the organization.” Founded in 1998 as a follow-up to the world Synod of Bishops for America the year before, the New Evangelization of America is focused on the evangelization of the Americas through mass communication.
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Catholic actor pitches plays with pro-life message
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Theater major Steve Sherman said he opted against auditioning for a play once because it had a “pro-choice” message. As a student, he sometimes felt like the “odd man out” in a “pro-choice” crowd. Now a college graduate, the aspiring actor is writing plays with pro-life messages. Sherman, 23, recently finished writing a full-length play, tentatively titled “Smudge,” that centers on a pro-life male character whose girlfriend has an abortion without telling him. Sherman said he “hammered out” the play in about three weeks. The end result, he said, offers a pro-life message and acts as a cry for the life of the unborn baby. The 2007 Western Washington University graduate said his Catholic faith has influenced his acting and writing decisions. “I always wanted to find a way to incorporate both my theatrical lifestyle … and then my Catholic upbringing,” he said. But his plays are not explicitly Catholic. Instead, he said, he tries to create a work with a good message that people of all faiths can relate to.
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Catholic summer camp gets children outside, gives them room to grow
NEWBURG, Md. (CNS) — Lauren Gray, 11, and Cameron Spruill, 10, like spending time with the horses and tubing behind the motorboat. Gabrielle Buckles, 9, likes meeting other campers, and made 10 new friends this year, she says. And 11-year-old Jack Bowman says summer camp is “something to do so I wouldn’t be bored at my house.” Whatever drew them in, one thing they all have in common is they attended Catholic summer camp in Maryland this year, and they all plan on coming back next year. Since 1952, Camp St. Charles in Newburg has helped children get outside and enjoy nature away from the distractions of technology. The camp offers four two-week sessions from the end of June to mid-August. Up at 7:30 every morning, campers can choose throughout the day from a variety of activities, including archery, swimming lessons, pottery, sports, boating and spending time with the animals at “Brother Roger’s Farm.” The camp is sponsored by the Society of the Divine Savior, whose members are better known as Salvatorians.