Today (10.02.07)

Today in the Diocese 

   Bishop Pfeifer in Odessa, St. Mary’s Confirmation, 6:30 p.m.

Today’s Readings

Exodus 23:20-23
Psalm 91:1-6, 10-11
Matthew 18:1-5, 10

Today’s Briefs from Catholic News Service

Supreme Court rejects appeal of law requiring contraception coverage

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Catholic Charities of Albany, N.Y., Oct. 1, letting stand a state court ruling that said church agencies cannot be exempt from a law requiring coverage for contraceptives in drug benefits for employees. The New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the state’s Catholic bishops in public policy matters, said the bishops will now consider what alternatives have been left to them, “including the painful possibility of a loss of prescription drug benefits in employee health plans.” In the meantime, it said in a statement, “Catholic institutions will continue for the immediate future providing the contraception coverage under formal protest.” The conference’s executive director called it “a sad day for religious liberty” in New York and in the U.S. In orders issued the first day of the 2007-08 term, the court without comment let stand a New York State Court of Appeals ruling that said religious groups may not be exempt from provisions of the Women’s Health and Wellness Act of 2002.

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Bishops mark 100th anniversary of first Byzantine bishop in U.S.

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Ukrainian and Latin-rite Catholic bishops from around the world celebrated the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Byzantine bishop in the United States, an event coinciding with the first worldwide Eastern Catholic synod in the United States. When Bishop Stephen Soter Ortynsky arrived in America to lead those “who had come to the shores of the United States (from Eastern Europe) looking for freedom and for a better life,” his task was twofold, said Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Kiev-Halych, Ukraine. First, Bishop Ortynsky had to establish and organize ecclesial life to help the immigrants spiritually, the cardinal said during his Sept. 30 homily at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia. Then “he had to explain to his brother bishops of the Latin rite … who were these immigrants,” the cardinal said. The Eastern Catholics had a different culture and liturgical tradition and were “so different that it seemed impossible to integrate them into the American life,” said Cardinal Husar.

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Forum looks at how U.S. universities help solve global health issues

NEW YORK (CNS) — Two American universities, working with international partners, are making advances in disease prevention and treatment that affect the lives of thousands of people in developing countries. Representatives from the University of Notre Dame and Purdue University described their efforts to representatives of nongovernmental organizations at “Global Health in Focus,” a Sept. 25 panel discussion held at the Church of the Holy Family in New York. The forum was a side event to the opening of the 62nd session of the U.N. General Assembly. It was organized by the Holy See’s U.N. mission and co-sponsored by the Path to Peace Foundation, Notre Dame and Purdue. Both universities are in Indiana. In welcoming participants, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican nuncio to the United Nations, said the idea for the event came to him when he was a speaker at Purdue University. “I was fascinated to discover the important strides being made in research and technology at Purdue, as well as the incredible work being done in some of the farthest parts of the world by the University of Notre Dame,” he said.

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NCCW does ‘the Lord’s work,’ says longtime member

COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNS) — When Margaret Hinshaw learned that through its members the National Council of Catholic Women supports, empowers and educates Catholic women in spirituality, leadership and service, she was hooked. That was about 40 years ago. She said she initially joined the NCCW at her local parish in the Diocese of Sacramento, Calif., because she was interested in fostering vocations and thought that she could do that through the group. But once she became involved she saw all the good works the group accomplished. Hinshaw was among 1,000 women who attended the NCCW’s 2007 national convention Sept. 20-23 in the Columbus Diocese. The theme was “Bringing Light to Our Global Society.” One of six women from her diocesan council at the Columbus gathering, she said she attends every year. She makes the trek “because it’s so wonderful, and we get ideas to take home with us to our own councils, to encourage us to do the Lord’s work there,” she told The Catholic Times, newspaper of the Columbus Diocese.

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Sister Helen Prejean calls on Maryland to end death penalty

BALTIMORE (CNS) — Standing beneath a large crucifix in the sanctuary of a Baltimore church, Sister Helen Prejean, internationally acclaimed death penalty abolitionist, stretched out her arms and intently fixed her gaze on the hundreds of people who filled the pews. “The cross has become a symbol of the suffering caused by murderers and capital punishment in America,” the Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille told the crowd at St. Pius X Church. “On the one arm of the cross are the murderer and the murderer’s family. On the other … are the victim and the victim’s family,” said Sister Helen, whose book inspired the movie “Dead Man Walking.” Speaking with the nun at the church Sept. 20 were Chris Conover and Kirk Bloodsworth, whose death-row convictions were overturned when DNA testing exonerated them years after their murder conviction. Sister Helen has firsthand experience “entering into the mystery” of the cross, she said. She was the spiritual adviser to Patrick Sonnier in Louisiana. She accompanied the convicted murderer to his execution by electrocution, which she recounts in her book, and later accompanied five more men to their deaths. Sister Helen also founded Survive, a group that provides counseling and support for the grieving families of murder victims.

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Priests’ trial to begin Oct. 17; no mention of torture permitted

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — The trial of two priests facing trespassing and other charges in connection with an anti-torture protest last November was set to begin Oct. 17 in Tucson, Ariz., despite the priests’ stated intention not to contest the charges. Franciscan Father Louis Vitale and Jesuit Father Steve Kelly face 10 months in jail after they attempted to deliver a letter denouncing torture to Army officials at Fort Huachuca in Arizona last November. At a pretrial hearing Sept. 21, the priests’ attorney, William Quigley, told Magistrate Judge Hector Estrada that, in light of earlier rulings that he said doomed their defense, Fathers Vitale and Kelly would submit a no-contest plea to charges of federal trespass and failure to comply with the orders of a police officer. Capt. Evan Seamone, the prosecutor, responded that, per federal procedure, such pleas could only be accepted in the “most unusual circumstances” and only with the approval of the U.S. Justice Department. Estrada also ruled Sept. 21 that Father Vitale may not travel outside California and Arizona. These additional restrictions came as a result of Father Vitale’s participation in a Nagasaki Day line-crossing at the Nevada nuclear test site, for which he was cited in violation of a pretrial order not to break local, state or federal laws.

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Fargo bishop leads rosary outside North Dakota’s abortion clinic

FARGO, N.D. (CNS) — Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo led a rosary Sept. 28 in front of the state of North Dakota’s only abortion facility as part of an ecumenical campaign called “40 Days for Life — North Dakota.” As he stood facing the busy street in front of the Red River Women’s Clinic, the dozen or so men and women who joined him drew close to hear his words above the sounds of the traffic and occasional nearby trains. The campaign, which began Sept. 26, includes prayer and fasting, community outreach and a 40-day, 24-hours-a-day prayer vigil in front of the clinic. According to a diocesan release, “40 Days for Life” is a nationwide, ecumenical effort to increase awareness about abortion, “save the lives of unborn children and bring healing to those who have had abortions, those who have encouraged abortions, and those who perform and assist with abortions.” The campaign, which continues through Nov. 4, is under way in 89 cities in 33 states.

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Tucson Mass is a celebration of marriage; 200 couples renew vows

TUCSON, Ariz. (CNS) — Some 200 couples from at least 38 parishes in the Tucson Diocese and members of their extended families filled St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson Sept. 23 to renew their wedding vows at an inaugural diocesan “Celebration of Marriage Mass,” which is expected to be an annual event. “Today is a special day for each one of you,” said Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, the celebrant. “I’m sure as you think today, in those … years, there were moments that were difficult, painful, when you had to forgive one another … but that’s what love is really all about.” Ninety-two couples were celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. One couple — Carl and Marie Stapleman of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Tucson — was marking 70 years of marriage. Carl Stapleman said he was “just 21” when he married Marie, who said she was 19. John and Mildred Turner of St. Joseph Parish in Tucson and Ernest and Rose Hadik of Sacred Heart Parish in Tucson were celebrating 69 years of marriage.

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‘Witness to the truth’ about dignity of human life, cardinal urges

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called on Catholics and “all people of good will to witness to the truth about the incomparable dignity and right to life of every human being.” In a Sept. 25 statement for Respect Life Sunday, celebrated in Catholic parishes in the United States Oct. 7 this year, the cardinal noted widespread confusion on life issues, including embryonic stem-cell research, partial-birth abortion and euthanasia. The right to life is more than a religious concern, he said. Quoting from the preamble to the 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, he said the “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” In 1972 the U.S. bishops launched the Respect Life program and designated the first Sunday in October as Respect Life Sunday.

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Catholic Charities USA honored for its fiscal accountability

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNS) — The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance has given its seal of approval to Catholic Charities USA, recognizing that it meets all standards for charity accountability. The alliance, a national charity watchdog group formed in 2001 through the merger of the National Charities Information Bureau with the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ Foundation, reviews standards for governance and oversight, fiscal responsibility, truthfulness in representation and willingness to disclose information to the public before granting the seal. “We are proud to receive this widely recognized and extremely reputable seal that symbolizes our commitment to accountability,” said Father Larry Snyder, president of the Alexandria-based Catholic Charities USA, in a statement.

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Pope appeals for peace in Myanmar, asks for prayers

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI appealed for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Myanmar and urged the entire church to pray for the Asian country. Speaking at his Sunday blessing Sept. 30, the pope also encouraged dialogue between North and South Korea and asked the world not to forget the suffering caused by poverty and recent flooding in African countries. The pope’s comments on Myanmar came after at least 10 people were reported killed when the country’s military junta cracked down on anti-government protests. “I am following with great trepidation the extremely serious events in Myanmar, and I want to express my spiritual closeness to this dear people as they pass through a moment of difficult trial,” the pope said. In late September, government soldiers violently dispersed demonstrations led by Buddhist monks in Yangon, Myanmar’s capital, firing on crowds, occupying or barricading Buddhist monasteries and arresting many of the monks.

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Indian priest says his cure was miracle through Mother Teresa

GUWAHATI, India (CNS) — The sainthood cause of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta could cross its last hurdle if the Vatican approves an allegedly miraculous cure a priest claims he experienced on the 10th anniversary of her death. Salesian Father V.M. Thomas says Mother Teresa’s intercession was responsible for the disappearance of a half-inch kidney stone in his lower ureter, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News. The stone disappeared in an unexplainable manner after Father Thomas celebrated Mass and prayed to Mother Teresa Sept. 5, the day before he was scheduled for surgery. UCA News reported that Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati gave the agency a copy of the priest’s files and medical records and, according to the priest’s notes, the surgeon affirmed “the disappearance of the calculus (stone) was beyond medical explanation.” Father Thomas, 56, was associated with Mother Teresa from 1979 until her death in 1997. The priest had been suffering from severe abdominal pain since Feb. 13.

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Pope sends greetings to new Romanian Orthodox patriarch

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI sent warm greetings and words of ecumenical encouragement to the newly elected head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Daniel. After expressing his joy at the inauguration of the patriarch’s ministry, the pope said Catholic-Orthodox relations should be strengthened “in order to respond to the present needs of Europe and the world on the religious and social levels.” He said, “The common witness of Christians is increasingly necessary to respond to our common vocation and the urgent needs of our time.” The pope’s message was read aloud after an enthronement liturgy for the new patriarch Sept. 30 in Bucharest, Romania. A Vatican delegation headed by Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, attended. Patriarch Daniel, 56, who was elected by the Romanian Orthodox synod Sept. 12, is regarded as a modernizer within his church and open to ecumenism. He replaced Patriarch Teoctist, who died in July at age 92.

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Southern African bishops note abuse allegations against late bishop

PRETORIA, South Africa (CNS) — The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference said it learned of allegations of sexual abuse against the late Bishop Reginald J. Orsmond of Johannesburg “with great sadness.” Mario D’Offisi, a former resident of Boys Town in Magaliesburg, claims in a book that Bishop Orsmond sexually abused him over three years in the 1960s. Bishop Orsmond, who died in 2002, founded South Africa’s youth care organization, Boys Town, after being inspired by the Oscar-winning U.S. film “Boys Town,” starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. “In accordance to our commitment to pastoral care of those who perceive themselves as victims, we invite Mr. D’Offisi and all others who feel that they are victims of abuse by Catholic clergy and religious to share their story with a competent church authority so that swift and compassionate action can be taken,” the bishops’ conference said in a Sept. 30 statement from Pretoria.

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Too much medical technology can hurt patients, says Vatican official

ROME (CNS) — While progress in medicine and technology holds great promise for humanity, relying too heavily on biomedical technology runs the risk of hurting the very people meant to be helped, said a Vatican official. Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, head of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, said state-of-the-art equipment, medical procedures and medicines “are only part of the health care system, and undue insistence on their capabilities” may place more emphasis on meeting the demands of health care providers than on the needs of the patients. The cardinal made his comments during a Sept. 28 conference on “Health, Technology and the Common Good.” The conference, which drew scholars and experts from the field of health care, genetics and pharmaceutical industries, was sponsored by the conservative U.S. think tank the Acton Institute and had the support of the Vatican health care council. Cardinal Lozano said the ultimate goal of all technology must be that it is used for the good of all people, and he warned that “everything technologically possible need not be ethically permissible.”

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Pope ordains bishops, asks them to serve as ‘guardian angels’

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Ordaining new bishops for the first time in his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI called six men to be “guardian angels” of the people entrusted to their care. Celebrating the ordinations in St. Peter’s Basilica Sept. 29, the feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, archangels, Pope Benedict told the new bishops that, like angels, their entire beings must be oriented toward God, and their mission is to be messengers of God. Pope Benedict first laid his hands on the head of Coadjutor Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of the Latin-rite Archdiocese of Lviv, Ukraine; he had been the assistant personal secretary of Pope John Paul II and served as Pope Benedict’s assistant secretary for the past two years. The others ordained were: Archbishops Francesco Brugnaro of Camerino-San Severino Marche, Italy; Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Tommaso Caputo, nuncio to Malta and to Libya; and Bishops Sergio Pagano, prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, and Vincenzo di Mauro, secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

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Papal liturgist named to work with worldwide eucharistic congresses

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — After 20 years as the master of pontifical liturgical celebrations, Archbishop Piero Marini was named president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses Oct. 1. Archbishop Marini, 65, has spent all but three months of his priestly ministry working at the Vatican, starting in 1965 as an official of the office charged with implementing the liturgical changes called for by the Second Vatican Council. His high profile as Pope John Paul II’s master of ceremonies and his openness to the use of local music, instruments, languages and dance at papal Masses led some people to speculate he would be one of the first Vatican officials Pope Benedict XVI would replace. Instead, he was in charge of Pope Benedict’s public liturgies for more than two years. Pope Benedict also named his successor: Msgr. Guido Marini, 42, the master of ceremonies to the last four archbishops of Genoa, including Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the current Vatican secretary of state. He also had served as Cardinal Bertone’s private secretary. Msgr. Marini, who holds degrees in canon law and in psychology, is not related to Archbishop Marini.

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Pope names Italian church historian to head Vatican newspaper

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has chosen an Italian church historian, Giovanni Maria Vian, as the new director of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. Vian, 55, has taught patristic philology at the Rome university La Sapienza and has been a longtime contributor to the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire. He has specialized in studies on early Christianity and Judaism and on the contemporary papacy. He replaces Mario Agnes, who directed the newspaper for 23 years. The Vatican announced the appointment Sept. 29. Vian is the author of more than 80 specialist publications and academic commentaries. His book, “The Donation of Constantine,” published in 2004, examines the relationship between the papacy and politics. The Vatican also announced the appointment of the newspaper’s new vice director, Carlo Di Cicco. Di Cicco, 63, has been director of the Italian Catholic news agency ASCA. Accredited as a journalist at the Vatican since 1973, he is considered one of the most knowledgeable reporters on the Vatican beat.

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First Byzantine bishop in U.S. got right to work, says Canadian

WASHINGTON (CNS) — One hundred years ago, when the first Byzantine Catholic bishop arrived in the United States to minister to the large number of East European immigrants, “he didn’t wait, he worked,” said a Canadian bishop. The newly arrived immigrants from what is now Ukraine first looked for shelter, then looked toward their faith, and it was incumbent upon Bishop Stephen Soter Ortynsky to minister to them, said Canadian Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of the Ukrainian Diocese of New Westminster, British Columbia. Bishop Ortynsky created a foundation in America for the Ukrainian Catholic Church today, Bishop Nowakowski said in a telephone interview with Catholic News Service Sept. 28. Bishop Ortynsky immediately established orphanages, parishes and schools for the immigrants in their new country, Bishop Nowakowski said. Today in the United States, the Ukrainian Catholic Church has its own jurisdiction and four eparchies, or dioceses.


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