Today (08.22.07)

No events today in the diocese. 


Rev. Charles Larue (2005)

Today’s Readings

Isaiah 9:1-6
Psalm 113:1-8
Luke 1:26-38

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service


Catholic colleges get good marks in regional rankings of top schools

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In the 2008 list of the nation’s best colleges, according to U.S. News & World Report’s ranking, Catholic colleges and universities were once again at the top in regional lists for the North and Midwest but did not have a significant representation in the overall national ranking. In the national ranking, three Catholic colleges made the top 50; they were the University of Notre Dame in Indiana (19th), Georgetown University in Washington (23rd) and Boston College (35th). These three colleges frequently appear in the top 50 national ranking. Last year Notre Dame was 20th, Georgetown was again 23rd and Boston ranked 34th. Princeton University in New Jersey was given the top spot for best national universities, followed by Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., in second place and Yale University in New Haven, Conn., in third. Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., once again topped the list of national liberal arts schools. The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., was in 33rd place and, as in previous years, was the only Catholic college among the top 50 of the nation’s liberal arts colleges. Last year it ranked 32nd. The 2008 college rankings issue was available Aug. 20.

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U.S. archdioceses collect donations for victims of Peru quake

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Archdioceses in the United States have been collecting donations and praying for victims of the Aug. 15 earthquake in Peru. The Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., authorized emergency voluntary collections for quake aid the weekends of Aug. 25-26 and Sept. 1-2. Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Miami was accepting monetary donations to help earthquake victims. The Archdiocese of Washington also authorized its parishes to collect disaster relief funds through a special collection or other means. The Spanish Catholic Center of Catholic Charities in the archdiocese was to take part in a daylong radiothon Aug. 24 to raise funds for disaster relief. “My heart and prayers are with the people of Peru, with whom I have long-standing ties,” Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl said in an Aug. 20 statement.

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Lay ecclesial ministry seen as ‘traditional and radically new’

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. (CNS) — One of the “top three or four most important ministerial shifts” in the last 2,000 years has been the “emergence of lay ecclesial ministry over the past 40 years,” said Edward P. Hahnenberg, assistant professor of theology at Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cincinnati. He said it was on “a historical par with — and in fact may even eclipse — the changes to the church brought about by the rise of communal forms of monasticism in the fifth century, the birth of mendicant orders in the 13th century, or the explosion of women’s religious communities in the 19th century.” Hahnenberg, who is also a theological adviser to the bishops, put the development of lay ecclesial ministry within a broad historical context as being both “traditional and radically new.” He was one of the keynote speakers at the National Symposium on Lay Ecclesial Ministry, held July 31-Aug. 3 at St. John’s University in Collegeville. The theme was “Working in the Vineyard of the Lord.” The symposium explored areas such as formation, pathways to ministry and the ministerial workplace.

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Catholic Extension brings parishes together for Gulf Coast recovery

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Two years after Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf Coast, Catholic parishes are facing the lingering effects with some churches still holding Mass in outdoor tents while others are abandoning immediate plans to rebuild. The Chicago-based Catholic Church Extension Society, which runs the Parish Partnership Program, has been aiding in the recovery of the region since September 2005. The program links parishes in the Gulf Coast with others across the U.S. in a buddy system whereby donor parishes send funds and items to parishes in need. There are 317 donor parishes from 113 dioceses enrolled in the program. “It’s hard to keep the awareness that these (Gulf Coast) dioceses are still struggling,” said Bridget Monahan, Catholic Extension’s director of special projects. “The biggest goal of this program is to remind parishes to look outside themselves.” Since September 2005, more than $1 million has been donated and sent to parishes hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina. Catholic Extension has launched a new Web site,, for existing parish partners to communicate. It also enables other parishes to sign up for the program.

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Priests hope to highlight torture issue during trial for trespassing

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — Though they face a possible gag order preventing them from discussing U.S. policy on torture during their upcoming trial, Franciscan Father Louis Vitale and Jesuit Father Steve Kelly say their rejection of torture is the prime reason they face jail time for an incident at a military base last November. “Our concern is that the issue of torture has become a major phenomenon in society,” Father Vitale told Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper. “It’s inhuman, but it’s become acceptable.” Father Vitale claims that, despite government assurances to the contrary, the recent record of U.S. conduct exposes torture as part of the Bush administration’s interrogation policies. “What is happening is that, although they profess that they don’t teach torture, what results is torture,” he said. “We know the end product based on what goes on at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.” He was referring, respectively, to the U.S. detention facility in Cuba and the prison in Iraq that is run by coalition forces west of Baghdad. Father Vitale, 74, retired pastor at St. Boniface Church in San Francisco, and Father Kelly, 58, who worked with Redwood City’s Catholic Worker community, both face charges in Tucson, Ariz., of trespassing at Fort Huachuca near Sierra Vista.

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Dark spots only small part of church’s reality, says Vatican official

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Dark spots exist in the Catholic Church, but they are only a small part of the reality of the church and its members, said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state. In an Aug. 20 interview with Vatican Radio, the cardinal said media that focus only on the failures of church members are giving the public a distorted vision of the church. “It is as if they presented a dark fragment of the great, restored Sistine Chapel, which is a splendor and has reacquired Michelangelo’s original colors,” the cardinal said. As a historical record, the restoration workers left some spots untouched to show the dirt and grime that had accumulated. “If someone pointed a television camera at one of these dark spots to show the Sistine Chapel instead of focusing on the splendor of the Sistine Chapel (as a whole), it would be a falsification,” he said. The dark spots are part of the chapel, he said, but they do not portray accurately the overall impact of Michelangelo’s masterpiece. In the same way, Cardinal Bertone said, “the church is a great masterpiece of God’s and of the men and women of the church,” who have done and continue to do “an immense volume of good in every part of the world.”

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In India, bishops get a crash course in computers, Internet

MANGALORE, India (CNS) — As the bell rang for class, they trooped in, carrying school bags and laptops. Some were bald and others gray-haired. All were Catholic bishops learning about computers at a Jesuit college in southern India. Regular students — boys and girls — looked on curiously as the “new” students got acquainted with the computer keys at a special session. The teacher explained the lesson with great respect. “I am almost illiterate in computer and the Internet,” Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi told UCA News, an Asian church news agency. He was one of 22 archbishops and bishops who took a short basic course in computer science and the Internet. The cardinal is president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. The bishops’ Commission for Social Communication organized the Aug. 20-23 Shepherds of the Media Age program at St. Aloysius College in Mangalore. The workshop preceded a national conference of Catholic communicators.

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Working through parishes, church helps Peruvian quake victims

LIMA, Peru (CNS) — When it comes to dealing with disasters like the powerful earthquake that struck Peru’s southern coast Aug. 15, the Catholic Church has an advantage — the pastors know the people. In responding to an emergency, “you build on your strengths,” said Aaron Skrocki, South American emergency program manager for Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops’ overseas humanitarian and development agency. “Having a local (parish) community in place that knows the people better than any local government official does makes it much easier to get a response effort up and running.” Skrocki arrived in Peru the night after the earthquake and traveled Aug. 17 to Chincha, Pisco and Ica, the three cities nearest the epicenter. The scene was chaotic immediately after the earthquake, which killed more than 500 people, injured more than 1,000 and left at least 35,000 families homeless. Although more than 200 flights, carrying more than 600 tons of supplies, had arrived at the air force base in Pisco, distribution was slow. “There was a lack of coordination,” said Luis Cordoba, emergency coordinator for CRS in Peru.

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Church worker says preparation helped Mexico escape hurricane deaths

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — A church aid worker said that thorough preparation, along with Hurricane Dean’s fortuitous landfall well to the south of Cancun, helped the region in Mexico escape injuries, deaths and greater damage. Eufemio Flores, emergency coordinator for Caritas Mexico, said the new concern was the western side of the Yucatan Peninsula, which the hurricane began to lash the morning of Aug. 21. Caritas Mexico is the local affiliate of Caritas Internationalis, the international network of Catholic aid and development agencies. Flores said Caritas representatives were working with local authorities in the Gulf states of Campeche and Tabasco to help prepare the population for the storm. In a telephone interview with Catholic News Service, Father Francisco Velazquez Trejo, director of Caritas in Campeche, said the wind had become fierce and residents there were bracing for Dean’s arrival, which was expected in the afternoon hours. “We’re going to be one of the hardest-hit states since (Dean) will pass right through the middle of the state and it will cut us in half,” he said. Hurricane Dean hit the Yucatan Peninsula as a Category 5 storm, causing damage and flooding, but it weakened as it passed over land Aug. 21.

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Guatemalans working in U.S. find life has mixed blessings

SALCAJA, Guatemala (CNS) — Father Juan Poz can quickly tick off the mixed blessings of emigration from this town in Guatemala’s western highlands where he is pastor of San Luis Rey Parish. Immigrants to the United States have made it possible for the families of Salcaja to fix up their houses, buy land and open small businesses. At his parish, when he needs money to repair the roof or help a family in need, it’s much easier to raise the funds. More children are able to go to school instead of having to help support their families by working. “It is people’s dream to have nice houses, better roofs, a small business, a piece of land,” Father Poz said in an interview early in 2007 at his church. One person working in the U.S. for a relatively short time can dramatically improve a family’s fortunes. But Father Poz is also very aware of the downsides of having 60 percent or more of the families in town dependent upon relatives who send money from another country. Some families, unaccustomed to having extra quetzales, the national currency, don’t save. For some households, the pressures of having one parent — or sometimes both — working thousands of miles away leads to kids who aren’t properly supervised, have time on their hands and get into trouble with drugs, drinking and gangs.

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Basque bishop demands total end to separatist violence

MADRID, Spain (CNS) — The Basque bishop who heads the Spanish bishops’ conference has demanded the immediate disbandment of the Basque separatist group ETA, while another bishop from the region called for patience and tolerance. “ETA’s stubborn existence is intolerable — this terrorist band, which acts against the will of society, should immediately, totally and definitively disappear,” said Bishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Bilbao, president of the Spanish bishops’ conference. “Once again, sadly, we have to give voice during this feast to a terrible burden weighing for decades on our society. “Let us unite efforts to eradicate the terrorist violence which has so destructively influenced the life of our country,” Bishop Blazquez said during Mass Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Bilbao’s Our Lady of Begona Basilica. The Madrid daily El Pais printed the homily. Meanwhile, Bishop Juan Uriarte Goiricelaya of San Sebastian called for a “peaceful, supportive and tolerant society,” but said both sides should also “trim their legitimate aspirations.”

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Threats to minorities continue in northwestern Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (CNS) — Threats to minorities continue in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier province, where church leaders and Christian communities have received letters warning them to convert to Islam or face suicide bombings. The Asian church news agency UCA News reported Aug. 21 that seven churches and five Christian settlements in Peshawar received threatening letters Aug. 7 telling them either to become Muslims or face death. The letters were sent to the pastors of three Church of Pakistan churches, two Catholic churches, an Assemblies of God church, a Seventh-day Adventist church and another church, as well as to elders in poor Christian areas. Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier, lies close to the Afghan border, about 95 miles west of Islamabad. The letters, written in Urdu, said in part: “All residents are given an open invitation to leave Isaiyat (Christianity), the religion of infidelity, and embrace Islam. Become Muslims and reserve a home for yourself in heaven. … This is not a mere threat; our suicide bombers will exterminate you. Consider it a knock of death.”

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Father Hurley is new director of National Pastoral Life Center

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Paulist Father John E. Hurley will take the post of executive director of the National Pastoral Life Center in New York, effective Sept. 17. He said he will continue as director of the Paulist North American Office for Reconciliation in Washington until either January or July 2008 in order for a successor to be found, but will do the work out of New York. His appointment was announced by the center’s board of directors Aug. 20. From 1997 to 2005, Father Hurley was executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Evangelization. While there, he coordinated a three-year study to look for any problems in how parishes employ the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and helped launch in 2003 the first North American Institute for Catholic Evangelization. In an Aug. 21 interview with Catholic News Service, Father Hurley said the National Pastoral Life Center “has certainly kept at the forefront of guiding pastoral initiatives in the life of the church for the past 25 years.”

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For Alaska clan of 14, family life a blessing and a challenge

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNS) — With 11 siblings, family life is both a blessing and a challenge, said 17-year-old Timothy Lochner as he prepared for a recent Anchorage bike trip with members of his 14-person clan. The outgoing Lochners acknowledge that their family size is outside the norm but say they wouldn’t have it any other way. “In a family with two (children), you have to get along with those two. The more people you have, the more you get to interact with,” said 15-year-old Sarah Lochner. As newlyweds, George and Sue Lochner talked seriously about having a large family. “We jokingly said six, but not more than 12,” George said. Over the years, that conversation proved prophetic as the couple raised five girls and seven boys, now ranging in age from 4 to 26. “Large families are countercultural,” George Lochner said. “Back in earlier generations, families with 12 or 13 children were fairly common.”

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Pope’s brother says criticism of pope signals ‘good pontificate’

PASSAU, Germany (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI’s elder brother said criticism of the pope should be expected as the sign of a good pontificate and that recent controversies showed papal leadership could not be “all peace, joy and pancakes.” “I’m mainly concerned that the new situation will work well for my brother in relation to his faith, and I can witness that he’s fulfilling what the good Lord expects of him and also being understood by many people,” Msgr. Georg Ratzinger said in an Aug. 17 interview with Bavaria’s Passauer Neuen Presse daily. Msgr. Ratzinger said he had contacts “only with people who wish me and my brother well,” adding that “negative voices” reached him “through detours, when they’ve already been purified and don’t hurt me anymore.” He said he was aware of recent controversies, such as debate over the pope’s July 7 document allowing wider use of the Tridentine Mass, the liturgy that predates the Second Vatican Council, and a July 10 Vatican declaration that the Catholic Church is the one, true church. “These critical voices were to be expected — if everything went smoothly, it wouldn’t be a good pontificate,” Msgr. Ratzinger said.

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Colombian cardinal says priest’s sex abuse case could be reopened

BOGOTA, Colombia (CNS) — A Colombian cardinal said a church tribunal could reopen a well-publicized case against a priest who was cleared of sexually abusing seminarians. Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Saenz of Bogota said the case could be reopened if more alleged victims came forward. “It is very important that there be transparency in this,” he said Aug. 16 after the Colombian House of Representatives held a hearing on the case of Father Efrain Rozo Rincon, accused of the abuses. The tribunal exonerated Father Rozo in late July. During the congressional hearing, Father Felix Pineros, an Orthodox priest, testified that he was victimized by Father Rozo and others. He said the first abuse occurred in 1963, when he was a Catholic seminarian. Father Rozo’s attorney, who attended the session, called Father Pineros a liar. Legislators called on Father Dario Alvarez, head of a church tribunal that investigated Father Rozo, to testify about the tribunal’s ruling that the priest was innocent. Some called upon church leaders to excommunicate Father Rozo.

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