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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Sep-7-2005

By Catholic News Service


Catholic groups across U.S. opening doors to Katrina victims

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic organizations as far away as San Francisco and Chicago were opening their doors to victims of Hurricane Katrina as relief agencies began coping with the masses of people left homeless along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. In response to a request by the American Red Cross, the San Francisco Archdiocese offered St. Mary's Cathedral to shelter 300 victims. The archdiocese also announced it would be providing case management and other services geared for seniors and children. Catholic Charities of Chicago announced that it was preparing a residential facility to house seniors and families and was working with city officials to find other suitable residences. In Louisiana, meanwhile, Catholic Charities of New Orleans and Catholic Community Services of Baton Rouge are working with government, community and volunteer organizations at disaster sites to assess short-term and long-term needs.

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Archbishop: Seminaries should not accept even celibate homosexuals

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The archbishop overseeing a Vatican-run inspection of U.S. seminaries said there is no room in seminaries for men with strong homosexual inclinations even if they have been celibate for a decade or more. "I think anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity, or has strong homosexual inclinations, would be best not to apply to a seminary and not to be accepted into a seminary," said Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, head of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services. Archbishop O'Brien, who is coordinating the visits to more than 220 U.S. seminaries and houses of formation, said even homosexuals who have been celibate for 10 or more years should not be admitted to seminaries. "The Holy See should be coming out with a document about this," Archbishop O'Brien said in an interview with the National Catholic Register newspaper. The call for the visits came after a wave of abuse allegations and revelations about how dioceses handled those cases.

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Worship, prayers provide comfort, hope to Katrina evacuees in Houston

HOUSTON (CNS) -- Stranded for days at her home in New Orleans, Shirley Levy could have lost hope. In knee-deep water for almost a week, she had run out of food and her situation had grown more desperate as the floodwaters resulting from Hurricane Katrina had quickly risen. "I prayed the whole time, every minute of it, until I was rescued by boat and helicopter," she said, with tears pooling in her eyes. "I was doing my rosary on my fingers." Tens of thousands of evacuees from New Orleans have been received in Houston following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, whose death toll could reach the 10,000 mark. And Levy, finding shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center, was among those grateful to be on safe ground. On the morning of Sept. 4, Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston joined a group of local church leaders for an ecumenical prayer service for evacuees housed at Reliant Park, a complex that includes Reliant Stadium, Reliant Center, Reliant Astrodome and Reliant Arena.

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'Sleepless solidarity' event raises funds for hurricane victims

VALPARAISO, Ind. (CNS) -- Coming from south Florida, Keith Aumend, a junior at Valparaiso University, knows "how hurricanes can mess up your house." That's one reason Aumend joined fellow college students and community members in an all-night prayer experience Sept. 4-5 at the St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Student Center on the campus of Valparaiso, a Lutheran university. Father Kevin McCarthy, chaplain at St. Teresa, was hoping for 150 participants. By the conclusion of an evening prayer Sept. 5, nearly 200 participants -- two-thirds of them students -- had registered. "We're kind of sympathetic with everyone in the Superdome" in New Orleans, said Aumend, whose family had recently completed home repairs after another hurricane. Father McCarthy invited students, community members, and their families to "sacrifice a night in their comfortable bed, thereby being in solidarity will all those displaced by the tragedy of the hurricane." For every individual who spent the night at St. Teresa, the student center donated $100. Those funds went to Catholic Charities and Lutheran disaster relief efforts and Habitat for Humanity of Slidell, La., where St. Teresa students spent their spring break.

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Women religious call for withdrawal of troops from Iraq

ANAHEIM, Calif. (CNS) -- The Leadership Conference of Women Religious has called on the U.S. government to "develop a responsible plan" for the withdrawal of troops in Iraq and to "redirect needed resources to meet human needs at home and in other parts of the world." In a statement approved at the LCWR assembly, held Aug. 19-22 in Anaheim, the leaders of women's religious orders said, "War dehumanizes and diminishes all of the human community and devastates Earth." The statement added, "The ongoing war in Iraq is taking an immense toll on human life, not only of young men and women in the military but also the lives of innocent civilians of all ages." It said, "This war has caused untold damage to the land and to the infrastructures of Iraq." The women religious also expressed "grave concerns about the alienation and diminishment of the moral and political leadership of the United States in the world community."

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'We will go forward,' Biloxi bishop says in post-hurricane homily

BILOXI, Miss. (CNS) -- After experiencing the damage and suffering wrought by Hurricane Katrina, many are asking why, just as Job had asked God after Job and his family suffered misfortune after misfortune, said Bishop Thomas J. Rodi of Biloxi. His only answer to "Why?" is "I do not know," Bishop Rodi said in homilies delivered over the Labor Day weekend at three churches in the diocese. "But this I do know: that the love of God is with us. That the Lord who wept over Jerusalem, knowing that it would be destroyed, is with us. The Lord who wept with Martha and Mary at the tomb of their brother Lazarus is with us." Knowing this, "we now go forward together, and we will go forward," he added. "Our communities will never be the same, but they can be better. We will never be the same, but we can be better. With God's help, and the help of one another, we will go forward. We are God's family, we are Mississippi, and Mississippi will rise again." Bishop Rodi delivered the homily Sept. 3 at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral in Biloxi, and Sept. 4 at St. Rose De Lima Church in Bay St. Louis and at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Pineville.

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Catholic schools across nation respond to Katrina

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic schools across the nation have opened their doors to Gulf Coast students displaced by Hurricane Katrina. In many places the schools have offered free tuition, recognizing the financial difficulties already facing the displaced families who are seeking to continue their children's education. The students are "our top priority," said Dominican Sister Glenn Anne McPhee, secretary for education of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "Throughout the country there are efforts to bring stability to students' lives by providing them with educational opportunities so that their schooling will be as uninterrupted as possible," she said. Ursuline Sister Carol Shively, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Shreveport, La., issued an urgent plea for volunteer teachers to help deal with the suddenly expanded student population. "We are in need of teachers who are willing to simply donate in the name of the Lord," she said. In Jackson, Miss., where an influx of hurricane refugees doubled the population in four days, St. Joseph Sister Deborah Hughes, diocesan school superintendent, announced an open-door policy for all displaced students.

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Pope says people called to model lives on Jesus

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People are called to model their lives on Jesus, since he has the redeeming power that lifts humanity out of the darkness of sin, Pope Benedict XVI said in his weekly general audience. Idolaters "exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of the image of mortal man" and became more and more like the lifeless objects they worshipped, he said. To free themselves from this trap, the pope said people must continuously model their lives after the image of "the Son of God, since we have been freed from the power of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of his beloved Son," who offers redemption and the forgiveness of sins. The pope flew to the Vatican by helicopter from his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo Sept. 7 to deliver his weekly catechesis to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. He focused his talk on the canticle in Chapter 1 of St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians, which highlights how Jesus possesses full redemptive power.

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Vatican official says he expects November papal trip to Istanbul

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A top Vatican official said he expects Pope Benedict to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, in late November for a meeting with Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Cardinal Walter Kasper, who coordinates ecumenical dialogue at the Vatican, said Patriarch Bartholomew had issued the invitation the day after the pope's election last April. "I referred this proposal to the pope, who welcomed it with great pleasure. I think Pope Benedict will make the visit to the Orthodox patriarchate on Nov. 30, the feast of St. Andrew," Cardinal Kasper told the Italian Catholic news agency SIR in early September. Each year, the Vatican sends a delegation to Istanbul for the celebration of the feast of St. Andrew, patron of the ecumenical patriarchate, and the patriarchate sends a delegation to Rome for the June 29 celebration of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Vatican patrons. Patriarch Bartholomew personally attended the Sts. Peter and Paul liturgy in June 2004 and invited Pope John Paul II to return the visit, but the late pope's health made a November trip impossible.

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British cardinal warns of problems if Iraq becomes Islamic state

LONDON (CNS) -- A British cardinal has warned his government of "devastating consequences" if Iraq is allowed to become an Islamic state. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster, England, wrote British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on behalf of Iraq's Christian leaders and urged him "to influence the parties to the constitution to enshrine specific guarantees which establish the equality of non-Muslims." The cardinal told Straw in a letter Sept. 2 that it was vital that a clause asserting the Shariah, or Islamic law, as the main source of law in the draft Iraqi constitution be removed or non-Muslims and women could face losing some of their basic rights as citizens. He said the proposed constitution posed a "real threat" to religious freedom and said there would be an "exodus of Christians" fleeing Iraq if the West allowed the country to fall under Islamic rule.

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Late Reform rabbi called great religious leader

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The late Rabbi Balfour Brickner "was one of the great leaders of Reform Judaism and one of the greatest American religious leaders of the second half of the 20th century," said Eugene Fisher, an associate director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. Rabbi Brickner, rabbi emeritus of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York, was widely known in the 1960s, '70s and '80s for his activism in interreligious affairs and on a variety of social and civil rights issues, including early opposition to the Vietnam War. He died in New York of lung cancer Aug. 29 at the age of 78. After founding Temple Sinai in Washington as a young rabbi in 1952, he moved to New York in 1961 as co-director of the National Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism's Union of American Hebrew Congregations, a post he held until 1980. The union, the main national organization of the Reform branch of Judaism, recently renamed itself the Union for Reform Judaism.

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Pope to preside over first canonizations in October

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI will create five new saints when he presides over his first canonization ceremony Oct. 23 in St. Peter's Square. While Pope Benedict will lead the canonization Mass and ceremony, it was his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who approved the decrees creating the five new saints. The late pope had also approved the decrees authorizing several beatifications this autumn; various cardinals will preside over those ceremonies, Vatican Radio reported. Pope Benedict has not yet signed or approved any decrees that would conclude pending causes for a beatification or canonization, said Vatican officials. In an attempt to highlight the difference between a beatification and a canonization, Pope Benedict is presiding over canonizations only. Those who have been beatified and are scheduled to become saints Oct. 23 are: Blessed Jozef Bilczewski, Blessed Zygmunt Gorazdowski, Blessed Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, Blessed Felice da Nicosia and Blessed Gaetano Catanoso.


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