Today (08.08.07)

No diocesan-wide events today.

Today’s Readings

2 Timothy 4:1-5
Psalm 37:3-6, 30-31
Matthew 5:13-16 

Today’s Readings from the Catholic News Service

U.S.

Cardinal says he’ll personally work on cause of Knights’ founder

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) — Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the second highest ranking official at the Vatican, told members of the Knights of Columbus that he is taking a personal interest in the beatification process for the order’s founder, Father Michael McGivney. “I hope this recognition (of sanctity) will arrive soon, and I’ll personally work on this, so that this day will come soon,” Cardinal Bertone said during his homily, delivered in Italian, at the Aug. 7 opening Mass of the Knights of Columbus’ 125th annual national convention at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville. Cardinal Bertone’s comments on the sainthood cause of Father McGivney were met with applause from the Knights attending the Mass. “I was thrilled,” Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., the supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, said of Cardinal Bertone’s comments. “I think he appreciates what it would mean for parish priests in the United States and around the world, to have one of their own canonized a saint,” Bishop Lori said in an interview on Eternal Word Television Network. Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn., in 1882.

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Assembly calls women religious to be bold in determining direction

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CNS) — Women religious gathered at the Aug. 1-4 assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious were called to be bold in analyzing and determining the direction of religious life. Dominican Sister Laurie Brink in her keynote address reminded her audience that when religious life first emerged and again after the Second Vatican Council it was directed to the edges of society, “which were in desperate need of our compassionate attention. So it is to the margins that religious life must again move, in order to be true to its original and renewed impetus toward holiness.” Also during the assembly in Kansas City, the 750 leaders of U.S. religious communities in attendance approved a resolution calling for members to promote legislation to preserve and renew wetlands and coastal regions and strengthen Louisiana’s levees. A second resolution they approved promotes debt cancellation in developing countries, especially through participation in a 40-day “rolling fast” in September and October promoted by the Jubilee USA Network. The theme of the assembly was “The Next Frontier: Religious Life on the Edge of Tomorrow.”

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Twenty years of stats show religious retirement needs still great

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Despite steady support by American Catholics for the national Retirement Fund for Religious over the past 20 years, the unfunded liability for the care of elderly U.S. men and women religious continues to grow, according to a new report. Annual national collections since 1988 have raised more than $529 million for the needs of retired religious, with more than $507 million being distributed to more than 500 religious congregations, the June statistical report of the National Religious Retirement Office showed. But a December 2006 survey of 527 women’s institutes and 154 men’s institutes showed that only 11 percent of women’s congregations and 12 percent of men’s congregations reported being “adequately funded” for the retirement needs of their members, based on designated assets and the reported cost of care. By contrast, 26 percent of the women’s institutes and 19 percent of the men’s said their funding for retirement needs came to between 0 percent and 20 percent of the amount needed. At their June 2006 meeting in Los Angeles, the U.S. bishops approved extending the yearly collection until 2017. It had been due to expire in 2007.

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Collection for Latin American church exceeds $7 million in 2006

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The national collection to aid the church in Latin America received more than $7 million in contributions for the first time last year and used the funds to assist 476 projects in nearly two dozen countries. The annual report of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on the Church in Latin America, published in July in English and Spanish, included those statistics and also featured a photo tribute to the rural catechists of Huancavlica, Peru. “The work of these catechists represents the dedication and love that all catechists throughout Latin America hold for Christ and his church,” said Auxiliary Bishop Jaime Soto of Orange, Calif., chairman of the committee, in a letter sent to his fellow bishops with the report. The Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, held in May in Aparecida, Brazil, “brought to light many of the urgent pastoral challenges faced by our brothers and sisters,” Bishop Soto added. Contributions to the collection came from 159 dioceses in all 50 states and in U.S. territories and from the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services.

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New England Cable News, KNOM named Gabriel ‘stations of the year’

DAYTON, Ohio (CNS) — New England Cable News in Newton, Mass., outside Boston, and KNOM Radio in Nome, Alaska, were chosen as “stations of the year” in TV and radio, respectively, by the judges of the 2007 Gabriel Awards. New England Cable News received this award in 2004 and 2005, and was awarded a certificate of merit in 2006. This is the 15th year KNOM has been honored as station of the year. The Gabriels are in their 42nd year and are sponsored by the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals, which is based in Dayton. Gabriel winners were announced in a July 30 press release. Winners are chosen from among entrants in 60 categories of TV, radio and film — including 20 Spanish-language categories. Their programming is evaluated for content that affirms human dignity and values. This year, 18 television and 10 radio programs, five Spanish-language radio and TV programs, and four films have won awards. The Gabriel Awards — nine-inch silver figures of the angel Gabriel — will be presented to winners Oct. 26 at a ceremony in Hollywood, Calif.

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WORLD

Australian bikers’ club offers Jesus to those willing to accept him

SYDNEY, Australia (CNS) — Ever since Marlon Brando popularized the stereotype of rebellious youth with the outlaw biker in the film “The Wild One” more than 50 years ago, leather-clad men on big noisy American bikes have been forming themselves into outlaw motorcycle clubs that exude menace at the edges of society. Known by their insignia or colors, about 35 outlaw bike clubs exist in Australia today. However, within the fraternity of bikers, one club rides another road entirely; it offers the promise of Jesus’ redemption to any biker willing to accept it. God’s Squad Christian Motorcycle Club has chapters in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. Founded in Melbourne in 1972 by a Methodist minister, the club is a ministry of the nongovernmental charity organization Care Australia. Dave Hansen, 38, a Catholic member of the club and the Sydney chapter president, said the club is an active Christian ministry that puts itself in the bike scene as an “outreach of hope.” “We feel we’re doing the same mission that Jesus started when he went out to people at the very margins,” said Hansen.

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Iraqi Christians were safer under Saddam, says Vatican official

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Although Iraq has a democratic government, Iraqi Christians were safer and had more protection under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, said the future head of the Vatican’s interreligious dialogue council. During the buildup to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who will become head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue Sept. 1, had criticized the U.S. government’s plan of preventative war and said a unilateral war against Iraq would be a “crime against peace.” In a recent interview with the Italian magazine 30 Giorni, the cardinal said his early criticisms had been prophetic. “The facts speak for themselves. Alienating the international community (with the U.S. push for war) was a mistake,” he said in the magazine’s Aug. 10 issue. A copy of the interview was released in advance to journalists. He said an “unjust approach” was used to unseat Saddam from power, resulting in the mounting chaos in Iraq today. “Power is in the hands of the strongest — the Shiites — and the country is sinking into a sectarian civil war (between Sunni and Shiite Muslims) in which not even Christians are spared,” he said.

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Catholic Church wages campaign against witchcraft in Mexican town

CATEMACO, Mexico (CNS) — From across the nation and beyond, visitors come to this picturesque, lagoonside town in southern Mexico, seeking money, love, health and revenge. To make these wishes come true, they seek out the area’s famous “brujos,” as they are called in Spanish. For a fee, these shamans and healers perform rituals and call on spirits from the netherworld to influence their clients’ fate. Thanks to this bustling trade in mysticism, Catemaco is Mexico’s unofficial capital of all things occult. It also presents a unique challenge for and competition to the Catholic Church. For decades, the church has waged a campaign against “brujeria,” or witchcraft, in Veracruz, a state along the Gulf of Mexico. In recent years the church has issued declarations and even put a cross on the top of White Monkey Peak, a nearby hilltop used by shamans as a ceremonial center. “People want to resolve their problems with the snap of a finger,” said Father Tomas Alonso Martinez of St. John the Baptist Parish in Catemaco. The witches “use psychology with the power of suggestion, which they use very well, to make their clients feel good for a little bit.”

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Lawyer: Adultery claims against Zimbabwean archbishop remain unproven

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — A man who has charged Zimbabwean Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo with adultery has not substantiated his allegations, said the archbishop’s lawyer. The Zimbabwean plaintiff’s lawyer filed an amendment to the original charges “in an attempt to correct grammatical errors and other mistakes in the original document” but “his basic demand hasn’t changed much,” said Nicholas Mathonsi, Archbishop Ncube’s lawyer. In an Aug. 7 telephone interview from Bulawayo, Mathonsi said that the following day he would file a request in Bulawayo’s civil court for “particulars of the allegations that we are entitled to as a matter of law.” In documents handed to Archbishop Ncube July 16, Onesimus Sibanda claimed $160,000 in damages from the archbishop for an alleged affair with his wife, Rosemary Sibanda. In his revised charges, Sibanda claimed $80,000 for loss of company, affection, assistance and sexual relations and $80,000 for loss of comfort. Mathonsi noted that a report in the Zimbabwe Standard newspaper Aug. 5 that the adultery charges were dropped indicated a “misunderstanding of the documents filed” by the plaintiff’s lawyer.

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Caritas distributes food, supplies to victims of floods in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh (CNS) — Responding to a government appeal, Catholic groups have been distributing food and relief materials to help victims of the recent heavy flooding in Bangladesh. Caritas Bangladesh said in a statement Aug. 5 that it had pledged about $876,000 and that the Catholic social service agency had started distributing food items to 7,500 affected families, reported UCA News, an Asian church news agency. Caritas Bangladesh is the local affiliate of Caritas Internationalis, an umbrella organization of Catholic aid agencies. Besides helping flood victims, Caritas Bangladesh said it was distributing rice and molasses in the worst-hit district of Sirajganj. It distributed clothing, bedding and other household essentials to landslide victims in several districts. Aid distribution began after heavy rains in late July plunged many low-lying parts of the country under water.

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PEOPLE

Pope, nun, priest ranked among world’s top ‘green’ leaders

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has been ranked as one of the top “green” religious leaders by the online environmental magazine Grist. Dominican Sister Miriam MacGillis and Passionist Father Thomas Berry also made the list ranking the top 15 environment-friendly religious leaders in the world. According to Grist, these leaders are spreading the “ecogospel.” The pope and the other Catholic leaders managed to crack the list because they have spoken out on environmental issues. The pope’s use of an electric-powered popemobile and solar-power-friendly Vatican City helped him land at No. 6 on the list. Grist said the pope has been increasingly vocal about the suffering that climate change will cause for the world’s poor. “When he speaks out on an issue, the world listens,” Lisa Hymas, senior editor of Grist, told Catholic News Service in an Aug. 3 telephone interview from Seattle, where Grist is based. Elsewhere on the list, Sister MacGillis, whom Grist says “is on a mission to save the planet,” came in at No. 10 for her crusade to sustain agricultural lands. Coming in at No. 15 on the list was Father Berry, a cultural historian, theologian and author who is “widely regarded as the most important ecotheologian of our time,” says Grist.

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Columnist Robert Novak explains his Catholic conversion in new book

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Syndicated columnist Robert Novak has made a living writing articles containing information from his carefully cultivated sources, and when he first became interested in Catholicism, it was, coincidentally, a former source who aided him in his conversion. His story about a source turned priest who baptized him, as well as many other stories about his life and his work as a journalist, appear in his new book, “The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington.” Novak was born Jewish and attended Christian services sporadically until the mid-1960s, after which he stopped going to religious services for nearly 30 years. But Novak said the Holy Spirit began to intervene in his life. A friend gave Novak Catholic literature after he came close to dying from spinal meningitis in the early 1980s. About a decade later, the columnist’s wife, Geraldine, also not a Catholic, persuaded him to join her at Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Washington. The celebrant was a former source of Novak’s. Father Peter Vaghi, now Msgr. Vaghi and pastor of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Md., was a former Republican lawyer and adviser to Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M. He had been a source for the Evans and Novak column that Novak wrote with Rowland Evans

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