Today (08.30.07)

Today in the Diocese

FORT STOCKTON — Installation of new pastor, Fr. Arturo Pestin. Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael Pfeifer, 6:30 p.m., St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

Today’s Readings

1 Thessalonians 3:7-13
Psalm 90:3-5, 12-14, 17
Matthew 24:42-51

Today’s Headlines

By Catholic News Service


Judge pulls 42 abuse cases out of San Diego Diocese’s bankruptcy

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — A federal judge Aug. 25 ordered 42 of the 127 lawsuits over sexual abuse claims to be removed from the Diocese of San Diego’s bankruptcy case so they can go to jury trials in state court. Bankruptcy Court Judge Louise DeCarl Adler found that leaving the 42 plaintiffs in the group that the diocese has sought to settle with in bankruptcy proceedings would amount to depriving them of their Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial and “will cause severe prejudice to the plaintiffs, especially since these cases are intensely fact-driven.” Adler’s 14-page ruling said that although the diocese filed for bankruptcy because of the lawsuits “prompt resolution of these claims through the bankruptcy process is unlikely.” She said twice in the ruling that the $95 million offered to the plaintiffs in a financial reorganization plan is “far below the historical statewide average.” The Archdiocese of Los Angeles in July announced a settlement agreement that called for the church to pay more than 500 victims of sexual abuse by priests a total of $660 million.

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Time, money running out for Katrina evacuees needing aid in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CNS) — The Hurricane Recovery Office for Catholic Charities of Arkansas is continuing to assist hurricane evacuees with settling in Arkansas, but money and time are running out. The office announced it will remain open until March 31, six months longer than expected, thanks to a grant extension from the federal government. The Hurricane Recovery Office opened in September 2005 following Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast and Hurricane Rita, which hit the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Initial funding for the Arkansas program came from a $750,000 statewide collection at Catholic parishes as well as grants and donations. The three-woman office was assisted by volunteer parish teams in 42 parishes. Each team could request a $10,000 block grant to assist evacuees in their cities. The program was expanded in March 2006 with a $428,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. With the grant, Catholic Charities of Arkansas was able to hire five regional case managers and pay them through Sept. 30, 2007. Because some federal money remained, Catholic Charities USA, which managed the grants given to 27 dioceses that staffed similar offices, gave the Arkansas office more federal funding Aug. 15 to stay open an additional six months.

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Catholic high schools ranked among top U.S. football powers

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A list of football powerhouses among Catholic colleges in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association would probably start with Notre Dame and end with Boston College. But a similar list for Catholic high schools would require a lot more paper. Nine Catholic high schools are in USA Today’s “Super 25” rankings — including four in the top 10. The rankings were published in the newspaper’s Aug. 22 issue. St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati tops all Catholic schools with the fourth spot in the preseason rankings. It’s the highest-ranked school — Catholic, public or private — that didn’t go undefeated last year; it finished 10-2 in 2006. DeMatha High School in the Washington suburb of Hyattsville, Md., was ranked fifth. It went 12-0 last season. Its first game was set for Sept. 2 in Cincinnati against St. Xavier. De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., placed sixth. A perennial power in prep football, De La Salle is going for its 15th consecutive sectional championship this season.

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Pope condemns arson attacks, says people must care for creation

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — God gave people the duty to take care of the earth, but they “often abuse creation and do not exercise” their responsibility to be stewards of nature, Pope Benedict XVI said. Citing the teaching of St. Gregory of Nyssa at his Aug. 29 weekly general audience, the pope condemned as criminal the suspected arson attacks that have hit parts of Europe. Highlighting his concern for the recent “serious calamities” of flooding in Asia and “disastrous fires in Greece, Italy and other European nations,” the pope said it was impossible “to not be troubled by the irresponsible behavior of those who put people’s safety at risk and destroy the environmental heritage — a precious asset for all of humanity.” “I join those who rightly stigmatize such acts (as) criminal and invite everyone to pray for the victims of these tragedies,” he said. Greece was the hardest hit by wildfires that began Aug. 24 and killed at least 64 people. The government suspects many of the blazes were started by arsonists because the number of major forest fires in Greece more than doubled from last year. Pope Benedict returned to the Vatican from his papal summer villa at Castel Gandolfo for the audience.

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Grudge may be motive for Philippine priest’s death, parishioner says

PINILI, Philippines (CNS) — A parish priest shot dead with an assault rifle in the northern Philippines may have been killed over a “personal grudge” or during a robbery, a parishioner said. Parishioner Elisea Macalma told the Asian church news agency UCA News that on Aug. 28, after Father Florante Rigonan had left her family’s house in Puritac, a village of Pinili town in Ilocos Norte province, she heard gunshots and called the police. Local police found the body of the 47-year-old priest lying on a road in the village. The pastor of St. Isidore Parish in Pinili was a family friend of the Macalma family. He had just celebrated an evening Mass at their house commemorating one month since the death of a relative. Provincial police investigator George Santos told reporters “unidentified gunmen” shot the priest while he walked to his van to return to his parish. He said the priest, whose body bore gunshot wounds in the head and elsewhere, died on the spot. Investigators recovered nine spent shells at the scene of the crime near Macalma’s home.

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Chinese priest released from detention after 11 months

HONG KONG (CNS) — Father Paul Jiang Surang, diocesan chancellor of the clandestine or underground Catholic community in Wenzhou, China, was released Aug. 24 after being detained by Chinese authorities for 11 months. The 38-year-old priest had been kept in a small solitary cell in the Putaopeng Detention Center in Wenzhou, in China’s Zhejiang province, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News. Father Jiang and the diocese’s vicar general, Father Peter Shao Zhumin, 46, were arrested together in Shenzhen, China, Sept. 25, 2006, shortly after they returned from a pilgrimage to Europe. Their belongings, including notes and photographs taken when Pope Benedict XVI received them at the Vatican, were confiscated. In March, both priests were charged with “illegal exit.” Father Jiang was sentenced to 11 months’ imprisonment. Father Shao was sentenced to nine months, but was released on parole in May because of severe hearing and gallstone problems. Recently, he underwent an operation on his right ear, sources said.

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Catholic University officials counsel Peruvians traumatized by quake

PISCO, Peru (CNS) — Edgar Sanchez, 21, saw his home in the rural village of Independencia collapse during the earthquake, but even more traumatic was his mother’s reaction. “She had a breakdown. She didn’t even recognize me. She thought I was a delinquent,” he said. With medical care, his mother is recovering. But her experience underscores the trauma suffered by thousands of people in towns on the coast of southern Peru affected by the magnitude 8 earthquake that struck Aug. 15. By the third day, a government mental health team had set up headquarters in the only undamaged wing of the local hospital, gathering data, counseling rescue teams and organizing services for the tent camps that were sprouting on school grounds and in vacant lots around the city. The Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima sent out an appeal for psychology professors and alumni to help. Organizers expected 40 or 50 volunteers, but got 180. Rotating teams worked in a tent camp of about 3,500 people on the grounds of the Pisco Athletic Social Club and another in the beachfront neighborhood of Pisco Playa.

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Zimbabwe’s bishops call attacks on archbishop ‘utterly deplorable’

HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNS) — Zimbabwe’s bishops called attacks on Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo “outrageous and utterly deplorable” and an attempt to divert attention from the catastrophe that Zimbabwe has become. “The recent attacks by some politicians and the state media on the person” of Archbishop Ncube, who is being sued for adultery, “constitute an assault on the Catholic Church, to which we take strong exception,” the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference said in an Aug. 29 statement from the capital, Harare. “The Catholic Church has never been and is not an enemy of Zimbabwe,” the bishops said, noting that the church’s service to Zimbabweans includes running 60 hospitals, 174 schools and many orphanages. “Our record during the years of the liberation struggle speaks for itself,” they said. Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980 after a guerrilla war. The bishops noted that the archbishop’s case was before the High Court of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo and should not be discussed in public until a verdict has been delivered. In July, Onesimus Sibanda claimed damages from the archbishop for an alleged affair with his wife, Rosemary Sibanda.

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Mental health team tries to get child quake victims to smile, play

PISCO, Peru (CNS) — When Carlos Cortez arrived in Pisco days after the city was struck by a magnitude 8 earthquake, he was particularly struck by the children in one of the tent cities set up for people who had been left homeless. “They didn’t speak, didn’t smile, didn’t play,” he said. Cortez, a member of a mental health team from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima, took that as a challenge. He started by organizing a pickup soccer game with some teens. A handful of youngsters wandered over, curious, and he saw his chance, sweeping them up into a conga line to play “train,” winding up and down the rows of tents that will be their home for months. More kids joined the train, which led to a round of Simon Says, other games and art sessions. In the wake of the disaster that struck the towns of Canete, Chincha, Pisco and Ica, along the Panamerican Highway about 150 miles south of the Peruvian capital of Lima, children are struggling to adapt to a new way of life.

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Bishop Pelotte released from hospital, to recuperate in Florida

GALLUP, N.M. (CNS) — Bishop Donald E. Pelotte of Gallup has been released from a Houston hospital that specializes in traumatic brain injuries and is continuing his recuperation in Florida, said a diocesan official. Deacon Timoteo Lujan, chancellor of the Gallup Diocese, said the bishop was discharged from Memorial Hermann/The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research in Houston during the weekend of Aug. 25-26 but would not disclose where he is recuperating in Florida. He cited the need for the bishop to be able to recover in private from the wounds he sustained in a fall at his residence during the weekend of July 21-22. As for his future as bishop of Gallup, Deacon Lujan said it is still too early in the complex process to decide when, or if, the bishop will return. According to an Aug. 27 news release, the diocesan college of consultors met Aug. 23 to discuss the care of the bishop and the needs of the diocese in his absence. Bishop Pelotte, 62, has been hospitalized since July 23 with extensive injuries including head trauma and severe bruises to a shoulder and his arms, legs, hands and knuckles. The bishop told Deacon Lujan he had fallen down the stairs.

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Cruise-ship chef helps Catholic health system produce five-star food

WEST ISLIP, N.Y. (CNS) — When James Harden, president of Catholic Health Services of Long Island, sailed on the Queen Mary 2 ocean liner, he asked to meet Chef Jean-Marie Zimmermann, hoping to get a recipe. Harden marveled at the ship’s ability to serve more than 15,000 meals a day that were tasty and satisfying, recalled Zimmermann, executive chef for the Cunard cruise lines. “‘If you get it right,’ he asked me, ‘why don’t we get it right?'” Zimmermann said he would have to see the preparation facilities. So last year, between cruises, Catholic Health Services brought Zimmermann to Long Island to tour the Catholic hospitals and nursing homes, inspect the kitchens and work with the staff. Zimmermann’s goal is to help the staff prepare meals to delight the tongue as well as nourish the body. Patients are being served seared salmon, beef bourguignon and boneless leg of lamb. “We also have a variety of soups,” the chef said. Born in Alsace-Lorraine in France, Zimmermann won numerous culinary honors during years of cooking in restaurant and cruise-ship kitchens.

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Gallup Catholic student brings smiles to kids with birth defects

GALLUP, N.M. (CNS) — Bringing a smile to someone’s face is not as easy as it may seem, especially when that face is deformed from a birth defect. Gallup Catholic High School senior Blair Kezele has worked hard since her sophomore year to bring smiles to faces through Operation Smile, a nonprofit organization that works to repair facial deformities in children worldwide. “My little cousin had bilateral cleft palate,” said Kezele, 17, of why she decided to become involved in the organization. Clefts occur in 1 in 700 newborns and in more males than females. A cleft results when the usual joining of the lip and palate does not occur during early pregnancy and an infant is born with an opening in the lip or palate. Kezele’s hard work in raising funds for 150 surgeries in the past year, as well as building awareness of Operation Smile, earned her a trip to Ireland. She attended the 15th Annual Operation Smile International Student Leadership Conference held at the University of Limerick July 30-Aug. 3.


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