Today in the Diocese
Meeting of Liturgy Commission, Diocesan Pastoral Center, San Angelo, 10 a.m.
(Sunday, Sept. 23) — Rev. Herman Valladeres (1997)
Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service
Moral obligation to Iraqi people seen for U.S. whenever troops leave
NEW YORK (CNS) — The United States has a moral obligation to the people of Iraq that must be met regardless of when U.S. troops ultimately withdraw from that country. That was the conclusion of the panelists at “Exit or No Exit? Morality and Withdrawal from Iraq,” a New York forum held Sept. 18 and attended by 450 people on the Lincoln Center campus of Jesuit-run Fordham University. “We must distinguish between the ethics of intervention and the ethics of exit,” said Gerard F. Powers, director of policy studies at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame and former director of the U.S. bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace. “The U.S. intervention may have been an optional, immoral war, but the post-intervention U.S. involvement is not an optional moral commitment,” he said. Quoting the U.S. Catholic bishops, Powers said that the U.S. intervention “has brought with it a new set of moral responsibilities to help Iraqis secure and rebuild their country and to address the consequences of war for the region and the world.”
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Top official: U.S. to admit thousands more Iraqi refugees next year
WASHINGTON (CNS) — The United States should have the capacity to admit around 1,000 Iraqi refugees a month next fiscal year — an amount “substantially higher” than this year, said a senior U.S. Department of State official. The United States has “a moral obligation” to protect Iraqi refugees, “particularly those who belong to persecuted religious minorities, as well as those who have worked closely with the United States government,” said Ellen Sauerbrey, assistant secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. She told the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom at a hearing on Capitol Hill Sept. 19 that the U.S. has been slow to admit the thousands of Iraqis referred by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees because the system was not in place. The United States has admitted less than 1 percent of the more than 10,000 refugees that the U.N. referred for admission this year. “We had to start building an infrastructure that didn’t exist,” but operationally, things are moving along, Sauerbrey said. She noted the work of faith groups, in particular the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief and development agency, Catholic Relief Services, and the Geneva-based International Catholic Migration Commission, for their work providing humanitarian assistance for Iraqi refugees.
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‘Reclaiming Fatherhood’ movement aims to help men touched by abortion
WASHINGTON (CNS) — It took a long time for attorney Chris Aubert to miss his children — the ones he lost to abortion. But once he did — and it took the better part of a decade — he was ready to make his choice for life. Aubert is scheduled to speak at a “Reclaiming Fatherhood” conference Nov. 28-29 in San Francisco, funded by the Knights of Columbus and co-sponsored by the Knights and the Archdiocese of San Francisco. It is being organized by the Milwaukee-based Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, headed by Vicki Thorn, and according to the office, the event is the first to focus on the effects of abortion on men. The conference, according to Thorn, could help men dealing with the psychological trauma of post-abortion reality the way Project Rachel — the post-abortion healing ministry of the Catholic Church Thorn founded — has helped women who have undergone abortions deal with their own psychological scars. The Web site for the conference is http://www.menandabortion.info.
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Catholic Charities delegates discuss poverty, racism at convention
CINCINNATI (CNS) — Singing “This Little Light of Mine” and walking across a Civil War-era suspension bridge from Covington, Ky., to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati Sept. 15, about 500 participants at the annual Catholic Charities USA convention demonstrated their desire to lead the way out of poverty and racism. Echoing the convention theme, “Crossing the Rivers of Freedom,” the marchers followed in the footsteps of numerous former slaves making their way to freedom. The final destination for the delegates, the Freedom Center, was named for the part the Ohio River Valley played as a stop along the underground railroad. “This is a wonderful way to end a day of discussion about the role racism plays in our society,” said Shelley Borysiewicz, spokeswoman for Catholic Charities USA. Earlier in the day, Father Bryan Massingale, a Marquette University theology professor, and Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, N.M., led discussions focused on the Catholic Charities 2007 briefing paper, “Poverty and Racism: Overlapping Threats to the Common Good.”
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Chinese bishops’ ordinations with papal OK raise hopes, says Vatican
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican said the recent ordination of two Chinese bishops in communion with Rome was a positive sign for the church and raised hopes of further appointments. The comment came in an article in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, which reported on the Sept. 21 ordination of Bishop Joseph Li Shan as head of the Diocese of Beijing, the Chinese capital. The two-hour ordination liturgy, attended by hundreds of local Catholics and a number of government officials, followed the ordination of Coadjutor Bishop Paul Xiao Zejiang of Guizhou, China, earlier in September. The Vatican newspaper indicated that both ordinations had been carried out with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI. The local Catholic communities, who elected the bishops, had indicated to the Vatican that they were worthy candidates, the newspaper said. “The Catholic communities of Guiyang and Beijing, having received news of the communion granted by the pope to Bishop Xiao and Bishop Li, gathered in celebration around the new pastors,” the newspaper said.
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Pope warns against undermining democracy in fight against terrorism
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI warned politicians against undermining the foundations of democracy in their fight against terrorism. “Terrorism is a serious problem whose perpetrators often claim to act in God’s name and harbor an inexcusable contempt for human life,” he told a group of politicians promoting Christian democracy. Countries have a right to defend themselves, he said, “but this right must be exercised with complete respect for moral and legal norms, including the choice of ends and means.” The pope’s comments came during a Sept. 21 audience at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo with some 200 members of the executive committee of Centrist Democratic International, an international association of political parties promoting Christian democracy. Pope Benedict said that in democratic nations “the use of force in a manner contrary to the principles of a constitutional state can never be justified.”
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Catholics meet in Budapest for evangelization effort, City Mission
BUDAPEST, Hungary (CNS) — Hundreds of Catholics from Europe, the United States and Oceania converged on Budapest in mid-September for the Fifth International Congress for New Evangelization, which coincided with Budapest’s City Mission. The congress is a five-year Catholic evangelization effort directed at large European cities; Budapest was its closing city. Budapest Cardinal Peter Erdo, welcoming delegates to the international congress, said a city “can be the symbol of the world” and “a place where people having different cultures, religions, and ideologies meet each other.” On Sept. 22, the cardinal was to join a discussion with prelates of the previous four host cities: Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris; and Cardinals Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, Austria; Godfried Danneels of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium; and Jose da Cruz Policarpo, patriarch of Lisbon, Portugal. “These congresses have been a wonderful outreach to urban people,” one priest-delegate from England told Catholic News Service. “It’s quite remarkable.”
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Anger, unease permeate Lebanon after assassination of politician
BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNS) — An atmosphere of uneasiness and anger permeated Lebanon in the aftermath of the assassination of a Christian politician just days before lawmakers were scheduled to elect a new president. A pro-government Christian member of parliament and five others were killed when a car bomb blasted through a Christian suburb of Beirut Sept. 19. Antoine Ghanem was the seventh prominent anti-Syrian figure to be assassinated in Lebanon since 2005. “We have had enough. Enough,” said Aurore Rebehmed, a 34-year-old Christian mother. Immediately after hearing about the blast Rebehmed, who said she was frantic, drove several miles to check on her two young daughters who were visiting their grandparents, just a block away from the explosion. “I was only thinking, ‘What if my children are out playing in the street?'” she said. “When I arrived, my daughters were telling me, ‘Look what the bad guys have done.'” The attack exacerbated an already tense situation in Lebanon since the war with Israel in 2006, followed by a political stalemate between the ruling majority and the opposition, two political assassinations and a standoff between Sunni militants and the Lebanese army, in which some 400 were killed.
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Without housing, Zimbabwean students likely to quit, says official
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — With housing at Zimbabwe’s largest university closed for more than two months, many students are likely to drop out as they struggle to find food, shelter and transportation to their lectures, said a church official. Officials at the University of Zimbabwe in the capital, Harare, are defying a high court order to reopen residences they closed in July and “are adamant that they will not let the students return,” said Alouis Chaumba, head of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe. “The situation is terribly bad,” Chaumba said in a Sept. 21 telephone interview from Harare. He said students “are commuting to the university from all over the country.” After students’ failure to pay additional housing fees and incidents of vandalism on campus that authorities blamed on students, university officials ordered up to 5,000 students out of university housing July 9 just as they were to begin two weeks of exams. The court order to reopen the residences came a week later.
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Pope transfers Moscow archbishop to Belarus, names Italian successor
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI named Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Moscow to head the Archdiocese of Minsk-Mohilev in Belarus. The Sept. 21 appointment fills a see left vacant by the 2006 retirement of Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek. The same day, Pope Benedict appointed an Italian missionary working in St. Petersburg, Russia, Father Paolo Pezzi, as the new head of the Moscow-based Archdiocese of the Mother of God. Archbishop Kondrusiewicz, who was born in Belarus, told Vatican Radio Sept. 21, “I go to Minsk with great joy.” Archbishop Kondrusiewicz was responsible for the pastoral care of Belarusian Catholics when he served as apostolic administrator of Minsk, 1989-1991.
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New bishop for Superior, Wis., ordained in Minnesota cathedral
ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) — In remarks at his episcopal ordination Mass in St. Paul, the new bishop of the Diocese of Superior, Wis., first thanked the children of Nativity of Our Lord Parish in St. Paul, which he had served as pastor since 1999. The children are the future of the church, Bishop Peter F. Christensen said, adding that they had prayed for the last-minute arrival from overseas of his crosier for the ordination. The shepherd’s staff, which was a gift from his Nativity parishioners, was missing somewhere between Europe and St. Paul, but it arrived the morning of the Sept. 14 ordination at the Cathedral of St. Paul. He thanked the bishops who traveled from all over to attend the ordination, saying that he is proud to call them brothers. He thanked the priests, expressing his gratitude for every one of them. “You have shown me what it means to be a priest. I see you (as being) much more deserving of this (bishop’s appointment). Thank you my brother priests,” he said. Nary a seat was left in the 3,000-seat cathedral, which was filled with family, friends and soon-to-be members of his flock in Wisconsin.
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Bishop Pelotte returns to Gallup Diocese; recovery continues
GALLUP, N.M. (CNS) — Following a determination that “a return to more familiar surroundings would be good” for his continuing recovery from injuries suffering in a July 23 fall, Bishop Donald E. Pelotte returned to the Diocese of Gallup from Florida Sept. 20. But no decision has been made about “when he can resume public ministry” and there are no public events on the bishop’s schedule, the diocese said in a Sept. 21 news release. “Meanwhile the day-to-day administrative work of the diocese will remain the responsibility of Father James E. Walker, vicar general, in concert with other diocesan officials,” the statement said. Bishop Pelotte, 62, has received medical care in Phoenix, Houston and Florida since he received extensive injuries including head trauma and severe bruises to a shoulder and his arms, legs, hands and knuckles. The bishop said he had fallen down the stairs at his residence.