Today (08.09.07)

ODESSA — Bishop Pfeifer at Our Lady of San Juan Mission Pastoral Visit, 6:30 p.m.

Today’s Readings

Numbers 20:1-13
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9
Matthew 16:13-23

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

By Catholic News Service


Anderson says Knights will keep up the fight on life, marriage issues

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) — The Knights of Columbus will continue to fight politically on issues important to the Catholic Church, such as abortion, marriage and embryonic stem-cell research, pledged Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “One of our most important traditions throughout our 125-year history is that we do not, as an organization, become involved in partisan politics,” Anderson said in giving his annual report on the first day of the fraternal order’s Aug. 7-9 national convention at Opryland Hotel in Nashville. “This does not, however, mean that we take no interest in public policy issues,” he continued. “When an issue directly affects our most fundamental values as Catholics, such as abortion, or the institution of marriage, or public funding of embryonic stem-cell research, as leaders in the Catholic community, we must, and we do take a stand. Since the 1970s, when abortion was suddenly transformed from being an almost unspeakable crime to a supposed constitutional ‘right,’ we have worked tirelessly to enact laws that would limit and ultimately end the unrestricted abortion license in the United States,” Anderson said.

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Union, Catholic health system differ on wages for entry-level workers

CHICAGO (CNS) — Responding to charges from a local union that Resurrection Health Care underpays its support staff and overpays its top executives, a spokesman for the Catholic health system said its wages for entry-level workers “are comparable to, if not better than, most other area health care organizations.” Brian Crawford, senior director for system public relations, said in an Aug. 6 statement that Resurrection Health Care “recognizes that paying fair wages is a broader social issue for our entire country and we are committed to continue to do our part to advance workplace justice and to respect the dignity of work.” Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees released a 13-page report titled “Coming Up Short: Resurrection Health Care’s Distorted Pay Priorities” at an Aug. 6 news conference in Chicago. The report says that Resurrection support staff — housekeepers, food service workers and laundry workers — “rarely earn enough to support a family in Chicago,” while hospital CEOs and other top executives “receive compensation far beyond national norms for administrators in those positions.”

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Catholic university removes bishop’s name from library

DAVENPORT, Iowa (CNS) — St. Ambrose University honored the request of a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and removed the name of the late Bishop Gerald F. O’Keefe of Davenport from the university’s 11-year-old library. The Catholic university’s board of directors made the decision Aug. 3 in hopes of bringing about healing, said Davenport Bishop Martin J. Amos, the board’s president. Shortly after the board announced its decision, two workers in a crane removed the letters spelling out “O’KEEFE” from the front of the building. The word “LIBRARY” remained. The Rev. Mark Powell of Indianapolis, the survivor, requested the change because he said Bishop O’Keefe failed to take the necessary precautions to protect children from abuse during his 26-year tenure as head of the diocese. In his own case, he was abused after he came to the Davenport Diocese in the late ’70s as a teenager to join an order of religious brothers, and reported it to the bishop, who did nothing, he said. Bishop O’Keefe served the Davenport Diocese from 1967 to 1993 and died in 2000.

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Knowing God created them makes humans great, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Knowing they have been created by God and striving to live united with him make humans great, said Pope Benedict XVI. Returning briefly to the Vatican Aug. 8 for his weekly general audience, the pope dedicated his talk to the life and writings of St. Gregory Nazianzen, the fourth-century doctor of the church. Pope Benedict told the estimated 7,500 people gathered in the Vatican audience hall that, while people should learn from St. Gregory’s theological work, “let us also be moved by the love conveyed in his poetry.” The pope described St. Gregory as a “refined and sensitive” man who suffered greatly because of the doctrinal disputes that divided the Christian community of his day. For St. Gregory, the pope said, “theology was not a purely human reflection and even less only the fruit of complicated speculation, but derived from a life of prayer and holiness, from an assiduous dialogue with God.”

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Violence continues to drive Darfur farmers into crowded camps

ZALINGEI, Sudan (CNS) — For years, Fatma Omar resisted leaving her farm near the village of Omra, despite repeated raids by Arab militias. At times she and her family would flee to hide in the desert for several days until it was safe to return home. Then in mid-July the attackers came again, this time, she said, killing her husband, raping her and burning their thatched home. With her four children, the eldest 13 years old, she walked for 15 days through the countryside of Darfur, Sudan’s westernmost province, reaching the Hassa Hissa camp in Zalingei July 27. As she waited for U.N. camp managers to provide her a card for food rations, she borrowed a tarp and stretched it across the weathered walls of an abandoned hut. Then she sat down in the dust in front of her new home and stared across the landscape in the direction of her old life. “Now I’ve got nothing,” she said, her hand aimlessly drawing circles in the sand. In Darfur, more than 2.2 million people have been displaced by government-backed Arab militias. Most of the displaced are African farmers who share the same dark skin, Muslim faith and Arabic language with their attackers.

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Montreal cardinal calls for end to cemetery labor dispute

OTTAWA (CNS) — Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal has called for an end to a 12-week labor dispute at Canada’s largest cemetery. The dispute at Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery in Montreal has left about 500 bodies unburied, and the grounds on Mount Royal’s western slope have not been maintained. Bodies have been stacked in coffins inside the cemetery’s refrigerated vault, but dozens more arrive each week. The cemetery manager has said he has enough room to store additional bodies until October. Following an Aug. 6 meeting with a group representing families of the deceased, Cardinal Turcotte told a news conference that the families’ situation was intolerable and that it was necessary to end the dispute as soon as possible. In a statement issued following the meeting, Cardinal Turcotte insisted that the legal entity which runs the cemetery end its lockout, that the union end its strike, and that both parties speed up negotiations, using all their resources under the law to find a settlement. A provincial conciliator was appointed July 16, and bargaining sessions continue.

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Pope sends personal letter, gift to Russian Orthodox leader

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has sent a personal letter and a gift, reportedly a golden pen, to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow, who promised he would respond in writing. In a brief statement Aug. 8, the Vatican said retired French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray delivered the pope’s letter to the patriarch in Moscow Aug. 7. The cardinal was on his way to Siberia to join celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of the consecration of the Catholic cathedral in Novosibirsk. After meeting the patriarch, Cardinal Etchegaray, citing joint meetings and conferences, told reporters that relations between Catholics and Russian Orthodox continue to improve. The cardinal’s remarks led to speculation that perhaps a meeting between the pope and the patriarch, long desired by the Vatican, could be closer to realization. Cardinal Etchegaray confirmed that the chances have improved, but said no firm plans are being made.

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Catholics welcome planned summit between North, South Korean leaders

SEOUL, South Korea (CNS) — Catholic officials have welcomed the planned summit between the leaders of North and South Korea and expressed hope the meeting will further relations between the two estranged neighbors. Noting that both countries had “experienced ups and downs,” Father Peter Pai Young-ho, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, expressed hope the summit will “encourage smooth communications between the two Koreas.” He told the Asian church news agency UCA News Aug. 8 that he also hopes “the summit will be a good chance for a mutual exchange between religions in the North and South.” The countries announced Aug. 8 that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was to meet South Korea’s President Roh Moo-hyun in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, Aug. 28-30. The meeting will be the second between leaders of the two Koreas; the first was in June 2000. Thomas Han Hong-soon, president of the Catholic Lay Apostolate Council of Korea, told UCA News: “The more the leaders meet and dialogue the better will be relations between both Koreas. I hope the summit will promote peace on the Korean peninsula and human development in the two Koreas.”

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U.N. force in Darfur must protect civilians, church worker says

NYALA, Sudan (CNS) — The decision by the United Nations to send peacekeeping troops to the Darfur region of Sudan will fail to put an end to years of bloodshed unless the peacekeepers come with a clear mandate to protect civilians, said an official of an ecumenical relief effort in Nyala. After seven months of negotiations with the Sudanese government, the U.N. Security Council voted July 31 to send 26,000 peacekeepers to Darfur. They will not all arrive until sometime next year, provided the U.N. can come up with the troops and the estimated $2 billion needed to deploy them. The U.N. soldiers and police will absorb a beleaguered African Union contingent of 7,000 troops that has failed to stop what many — including the U.S. Congress — consider genocide. Yet Adam Ateem, director of peace-building and protection activities for the ecumenical Darfur Emergency Response Operation, told Catholic News Service that the U.N. force will fail unless it learns a lesson from the African Union’s experience. “The A.U. force had a very vulnerable mandate. They could monitor and report only. The militias and the rebels and the government knew this, and they could do whatever they wanted,” Ateem said. “If the U.N. force comes with a weak mandate, they won’t be able to do anything.”

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Ecumenical group hopes education helps undercut violence in Darfur

NYALA, Sudan (CNS) — An ecumenical relief organization working in Sudan’s Darfur region is hoping to undercut violence by educating displaced people about human rights and peace. For instance, the organization — Darfur Emergency Response Operation — has helped displaced women build more efficient cooking stoves, lessening the number of trips they have to make out of the camps to forage for firewood — journeys that often result in rape by Arab militia members. After police failed to respond to the women’s complaints about rape, the ecumenical organization began educating women about their rights, while training local paralegal committees to accompany the women when they go to the police to report the assaults. The Darfur Emergency Response Operation is a joint effort of Caritas Internationalis, the Rome-based network of Catholic aid agencies, and Action by Churches Together, a Geneva-based coalition of Protestant relief groups. In addition to providing a variety of humanitarian services — such as wells, latrines, health care and housing materials — to families in the displaced-people camps and neighboring communities, the operation also has conducted workshops for police and rebel groups on the rights of the displaced.

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Sainthood candidate Father McGivney seen as excellent model for today

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Father Michael J. McGivney, an American parish priest and founder of the Knights of Columbus in 19th-century Connecticut, would be a model saint for today, according to the Knights’ supreme chaplain. After Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, told the Knights’ annual convention in Nashville, Tenn., Aug. 7 that he was taking a personal interest in Father McGivney’s sainthood cause, Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., the supreme chaplain, expressed delight. “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 told the Eternal Word Television Network. A similar view has been stated by Dominican Father Gabriel B. O’Donnell, the postulator, or chief petitioner, for the cause. In a 1998 interview with Catholic News Service, Father O’Donnell said it was remarkable how much Father McGivney resonated with modern-day concerns. He said the Knights’ founder defended the immigrant poor and the marginalized, working both in multicultural situations and in close collaboration with the laity. “His sense of the dignity of the human person and the need to defend the integrity of the family place him, though he lived a century ago, right in the center of the issues that face us today,” he told CNS.

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Pope meets with Polish priest who heads controversial radio station

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI met with the head of Poland’s largest Catholic broadcast agency who has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks. Redemptorist Father Tadeusz Rydzyk met with the pope Aug. 5 at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, after the pope’s noontime Sunday Angelus prayer, a Vatican source told Catholic News Service. The unannounced, private audience was made public after photographs of the pope with Father Rydzyk and two other priests surfaced Aug. 7 in the Polish media. The Vatican had no comment as to the content of the meeting. Both Father Rydzyk and the radio station he heads, Radio Maryja, have been criticized for inflammatory broadcasts. Complaints have been levied against Radio Maryja, which ranks fifth in Poland’s national ratings, for producing nationalist, anti-Semitic broadcasts.


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