Today (09.17.07)

No diocesan wide events

Today’s Readings

Galatians 6:14-18
Galatians 2:16, 20; Philippians 1:20-21
Luke 9:23-26

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service 

Santa Rosa Diocese reaches settlement with priest’s abuse victims

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (CNS) — The Diocese of Santa Rosa reached a settlement of more than $5 million to resolve sex abuse claims against a fugitive priest, Father Francisco Ochoa-Perez, who was an assistant pastor in Sonoma. The settlement will be paid to 10 people and is being funded by insurance coverage and the sale of a piece of property next to the Cathedral of St. Eugene, according to a Sept. 13 statement from Deirdre Frontczak, a spokeswoman for the diocese. According to local news reports, the settlement was reached Aug. 27. It was made public Sept. 13. The sum of $5 million will come from those sources and an additional $20,000 will be paid personally by Santa Rosa Bishop Daniel F. Walsh from stipends he receives when he officiates at baptisms and weddings. Last year in late April, the priest, who also goes by the name Francisco Xavier Ochoa, admitted to Bishop Walsh and other top diocesan officials that he had had inappropriate contact with children, including kissing an altar boy and giving him money. The bishop suspended him immediately. About a week later Father Ochoa-Perez fled the area. It is believed he has been living in Mexico since that time.

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Bishops pledge to use church resources to stop human trafficking

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Calling human trafficking “a horrific crime against the basic dignity and rights of the human person,” Bishop Gerald R. Barnes of San Bernardino, Calif., said the Catholic bishops “pledge to use the resources of the church to help end this affliction. We also pledge to use our teaching authority to educate Catholics and others about human trafficking,” said Bishop Barnes, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration. “It is hard to imagine that, in the 21st century, fellow human beings could be exploited and forced to work in the sex industry and other industries against their will,” Bishop Barnes said in a statement dated Sept. 12 and released the next day by the U.S. bishops’ conference in Washington. “As many as 700,000 persons are trafficked globally each year,” the bishop said, including an estimated 17,500 trafficked each year into the United States. Human trafficking, Bishop Barnes said, is “a modern-day form of slavery, and it is the largest manifestation of slavery today.”

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Hurricane Humberto hits Texas, Louisiana; six churches damaged

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Hurricane Humberto, which began as a tropical storm, made landfall in Texas and Louisiana Sept. 13. The storm’s high winds knocked down trees and power lines in the area and caused minor destruction, including water damage and the loss of shingles in six churches in the Diocese of Beaumont, Texas. The storm intensified when it hit the eastern tip of Texas with sustained winds of up to 80 mph and heavy rains before weakening and going through Louisiana. It was the first hurricane to make landfall on the Gulf Coast since Katrina and Rita two years ago. Karen Gilman, editor of the East Texas Catholic, Beaumont’s diocesan newspaper, said she went to sleep the night of Sept. 12 thinking there was no imminent danger of a hurricane, but then saw on the news in the middle of the night that the storm had intensified. That was just before the power went out in her home, as it did for most of the Beaumont area. The damage at local churches was primarily from lost shingles or water damage caused by water leaking under doors or through windows.

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Immigration: Congress stops its work, but churches plow ahead

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Congressional efforts to pass an immigration reform bill may have been shoved onto the “maybe after the 2008 election” list, but around the country a wide range of church-connected efforts continue to try to influence what the general public thinks about immigrants and how they are treated. In Tennessee a Colombian immigrant who has long served as an interpreter for Spanish speakers in Nashville’s courts has self-published a guidebook for immigrants about adjusting to their new home. In another part of the state, churches have been trying to support families affected by immigration raids of trailer parks in the spring. Elsewhere, church agencies help people legalize their status; religious brothers and sisters pray weekly outside immigrant detention centers; parish activists lobby their members of Congress; and groups across the country are scheduling education programs, rallies and prayer events for immigrants and immigration issues.

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Vatican nutrition text not a ruling on specific cases, says official

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Vatican’s document saying it is a moral obligation to provide hydration and nutrition for individuals in a vegetative state is not meant to adjudicate specific cases but to provide moral guidelines, said an official with the U.S. bishops’ pro-life secretariat. The brief Vatican document approved by Pope Benedict XVI “doesn’t directly answer” some specific questions that might arise in specific cases, said Richard M. Doerflinger, deputy director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. The debate surrounding end-of-life issues “is a debate that goes far more broadly than any one case,” he told Catholic News Service Sept. 14. Giving the example of documents that were released in 1992, 1998 and 2004, Doerflinger said the debate “has been going on for years.” The outcomes of individual circumstances, such as that of Terri Schindler Schiavo, “depend on disputes of facts” involved in the cases, he said. For example, he said, there were debates on whether or not Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman who died in March 2005 after a court ordered her feeding tube be removed, was in a persistent vegetative state. The U.S. bishops refer people to the local Catholic Church when such issues arise, he said.

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Theology faculty gets new leaders; cornerstone laid for new building

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Dominican friars of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington installed new leaders and laid the cornerstone Sept. 8 for the school’s new, $18 million academic center, currently under construction. The new leaders, Dominican Fathers Steven Boguslawski, Gabriel O’Donnell and Joseph Fox, were installed by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, at a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington. The Washington school is one of seven papally recognized faculties of theology in the United States. The new academic center will house the Dominicans’ theology library, as well as the administrative offices and classrooms of the pontifical faculty. “We see the construction of the new academic center as being tangible evidence of our commitment to these new efforts,” said Dominican Father Dominic Izzo, provincial superior of the Dominicans in Washington.

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Web resources offered to help priests with Tridentine Mass

WASHINGTON (CNS) — With the new norms for celebrating the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal taking effect Sept. 14, a religious community based in Chicago is using very modern means to disseminate information about how to celebrate the Mass commonly known as the Tridentine rite. The Mass from the Roman Missal in use since 1970 remains the ordinary form of the Mass, while celebration of the Tridentine Mass is the extraordinary form. The Canons Regular of St. John Cantius are offering an online tutorial for priests on the rubrics for celebrating the Mass in its extraordinary form. Pope Benedict XVI authorized an expanded use of the rite in his July apostolic letter, “Summorum Pontificum,” and set Sept. 14 as the date of its implementation. “We hope that this tutorial, which provides a study of the rubrics in a multimedia format, will assist priests in praying the Mass of the ages with deeper reverence and love, so that the faithful attracted to this venerable rite might more profoundly enter into the eucharistic sacrifice,” said Father C. Frank Phillips, superior of the community, in a letter on the Web site,

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Vatican says food, water must be provided to vegetative patients

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In a brief document approved by Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican said it was generally a moral obligation to provide food and water to patients in a vegetative state. Nutrition and hydration, even by artificial means, cannot simply be terminated because doctors have determined that a person will never recover consciousness, the Vatican said Sept. 14. Exceptions may occur when patients are unable to assimilate food and water or in the “rare” cases when nutrition and hydration become excessively burdensome for the patient, it said. The text was prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the form of a response to questions raised by the U.S. bishops’ conference. It was signed by U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the doctrinal congregation, and approved by the pope before publication. The congregation’s document strongly reaffirmed points made by Pope John Paul II in a landmark speech in 2004, when he said nutrition and hydration, even by “artificial” means such as feeding tubes, should generally be considered ordinary care and not extraordinary medical treatment.

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Vatican cardinal urges respect for people’s right to Tridentine Mass

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As Pope Benedict XVI’s decree on the Tridentine Mass went into effect, a Vatican cardinal called on bishops and pastors to respect the “right of the faithful” to have the liturgy offered in the 1962 rite. “Let’s give thanks that the Holy Father has recovered this treasure for the church,” Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, head of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” told Vatican Radio Sept. 13. In July, a papal document said Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal, commonly known as the Tridentine Mass, should be made available in every parish where groups of the faithful desire it. It also said any priest could freely celebrate the rite. The decree went into effect Sept. 14. Cardinal Castrillon said the relaxation of restrictions was not “a step backward,” but a move to give greater liturgical freedom to priests and the faithful. “Nothing is being imposed on anyone. The pope imposes no obligation; but the pope does impose that this possibility be offered where the faithful ask for it,” the cardinal said.

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Pope, Sudanese president meet, express hope for peace in Darfur

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — A meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir ended with hopes that upcoming peace talks for Darfur would “put an end to the suffering and insecurity” in that region, said the Vatican. In a statement following the pope’s Sept. 14 meeting with al-Bashir, the Vatican said expectations were high that peace talks between the Sudanese government and the Darfur region’s rebel leaders in Libya Oct. 27 would guarantee that humanitarian assistance would get to those in need and would lead to the start of rebuilding and development in the region. The Vatican said, “The call for new negotiations was commented on very positively” during meetings with Vatican officials. Before his papal audience and after meeting with Italian Prime Minster Romano Prodi, al-Bashir told reporters in Rome that “we are prepared for a cease-fire for the start of negotiations in order to create a positive climate conducive to a positive end to the negotiations.”

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Catholic groups send goods, workers to help Indonesian quake victims

PALEMBANG, Indonesia (CNS) — International and local Catholic organizations sent aid and volunteers to areas in Indonesia affected by the mid-September earthquakes. The Archdiocese of Palembang on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island sent financial aid and volunteers to the quake-affected area of Bengkulu, said Sacred Heart of Jesus Father Antonius Yuswita. Father Yuswita, archdiocesan vicar general, said the archdiocese planned to transfer nearly $17,000 as emergency aid to St. John the Evangelist Church’s disaster committee in Bengkulu. He told the Asian church news agency UCA News Sept. 14 that the archdiocese also was sending a volunteer team of medical and construction workers to help the victims. “All aid from Catholics and through the local Catholic Church is humanitarian, meant for all victims, regardless of their religious backgrounds,” he said. The powerful earthquakes that hit Indonesia Sept. 12 and 13 severely damaged homes and buildings and forced thousands of people to stay outside their homes or leave for higher places in fear of a tsunami. At least 10 people were reported killed, and hundreds were injured.

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Chinese bishops approve Beijing priest elected to head diocese

HONG KONG (CNS) — The government-sanctioned Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China has approved Father Joseph Li Shan of the Beijing Diocese as bishop-elect of the diocese covering the country’s capital. Anthony Liu Bainian, vice chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, told the Asian church news agency UCA News Sept. 12 that the conference recently had given its approval to the 42-year-old priest. A group of priests, nuns and laypeople of the Beijing Diocese elected Father Li bishop July 16, nearly three months after Bishop Michael Fu Tieshan of Beijing died April 20. Bishop-elect Li is generally recognized by all diocesan priests and laypeople for his spirituality, theological acumen and pastoral experience, Liu said, adding that the bishop-elect “shows consideration for his fellow priests and faithful.” According to the diocesan foreign affairs office, the episcopal ordination is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 21; however, the diocese has not yet confirmed the date, an office staffer told UCA News Sept. 13.

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One of first Darfur monitors tells what he saw in book, documentary

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Today, most of the world knows of the horrors of the Sudanese region of Darfur: the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people; the seemingly indiscriminate killing by the Janjaweed, militia groups on horseback believed to have government backing; the refugee crisis created by the murders; the terrorizing of aid workers who have gone to Darfur to help. But those horrors weren’t always known. Brian Steidle, a Catholic, was one of the first to witness them for himself. At age 27, Steidle, a former Marine captain, became a monitor with the African Union in Darfur. “A sense of adventure and good money, actually, is what brought me there in the first place,” he said. He was completely unprepared for what he would see. Now 30, Steidle has been crisscrossing the United States telling virtually anyone who will listen about the situation in Darfur. His experiences led to the filming of a documentary, “The Devil Came on Horseback.” Steidle and his sister, Gretchen, also co-wrote a book, “The Devil Came on Horseback: Bearing Witness to the Genocide in Darfur.”

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Pope puts away traveling shoes, prepares for busy fall and winter

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After a three-day trip to Austria in early September, Pope Benedict XVI is putting away his traveling shoes and settling in for a long fall and winter at the Vatican. The next foreign trip fixed firmly on the pope’s calendar is mid-July of 2008, when he plans to fly to Australia for World Youth Day celebrations. Vatican officials say the pope also expects to visit the United Nations and New York in 2008, and April now looks like a likely time frame. He could easily add one or two other eastern U.S. cities, such as Philadelphia or Boston, to that itinerary. Other foreign travels in the first half of 2008 look less probable. There was talk about a possible papal trip to Quebec for the International Eucharistic Congress in mid-June, but Vatican sources said no concrete plans were being made for such a visit. A papal visit to the Marian sanctuary at Lourdes, France, may occur, but probably later in 2008. The Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, also has invited the pope, but there’s been no answer yet.

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Mickey Rooney joins U.S. group at Irish celebration of Boys Town

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) — Veteran Hollywood actor Mickey Rooney joined a U.S. delegation at the Irish celebration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of America’s most famous orphanage, Girls and Boys Town. The orphanage was founded by Irish-born Father Edward Flanagan; celebrations were held Sept. 11 in Ballymoe, the nearest village to Father Flanagan’s birthplace of Leabeg. Rooney, 86, said that although he had acted in many films he was best known throughout the world for his role in the 1938 movie, “Boys Town,” which starred Spencer Tracy as Father Flanagan. Father Flanagan was born in 1886 and emigrated to the United States in 1904. After completing bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland, he entered St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, N.Y. Following his ordination in 1912, he served first in O’Neill, Neb., then in Omaha. He founded Boys Town, now Girls and Boys Town, in Nebraska in 1917.

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