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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Mar-24-2006

By Catholic News Service


Deaths of U.S. tourists said to show need for priest on cruise ships

BEAUMONT, Texas (CNS) -- The tragic death of 12 elderly U.S. cruise ship passengers killed in a tour bus crash in Chile shows the need to have a priest on board to minister to those in need, said Father Sinclair Oubre, president of the Apostleship of the Sea in the United States. "Incidents like these underscore the importance of the religious and pastoral care on these ships," Father Oubre said. "Though many people cruise in order to leave the difficulties of life behind, very often real-life tragedies intervene." The Apostleship of the Sea is the Catholic Church's official ministry in the maritime industry. Bishop Curtis J. Guillory of Beaumont, bishop promoter of the apostleship in the U.S., expressed sympathy March 23 over the deaths of the 12 passengers and the injuries suffered by two other passengers March 22 when their tour bus plunged off the highway and down a mountainside. They were passengers on the ship Millennium, operated by Celebrity Cruises, for a 14-day South American cruise.

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New York cardinal backs fair, comprehensive immigration reform

NEW YORK (CNS) -- In letters to the U.S. senators representing New York state, Cardinal Edward M. Egan of New York asked for their support for immigration reform that is comprehensive, fair and humane. The cardinal urged Democratic Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton to back measures that would provide undocumented workers with a pathway to permanent legal status, expand opportunities for family reunification, develop a rational and fair temporary worker program and restore due process to immigrants. He asked them to oppose legislation that would criminalize undocumented immigrants for their presence in the United States and also penalize individuals or groups, including churches and hospitals, that help meet immigrants' most basic needs. The Senate Judiciary Committee was to continue its consideration of immigration reform proposals March 27.

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Poll shows many want religious history in public school textbooks

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (CNS) -- Religious history and traditions should not be kept out of public school classrooms or textbooks, according to a national poll conducted by the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute. According to results released March 7, more than 79 percent of respondents said religious traditions should be included in public school textbooks and the same percentage also said it was important to teach religious history in public schools. But some respondents indicated they were not always happy with the way their religious traditions are portrayed in textbooks. Thirty-six percent said public school textbooks frequently misrepresent their religious history. Twenty-six percent said misrepresentation does not happen or seldom occurs, and 36 percent were unsure. Among Catholics, 34 percent believe textbooks misrepresent their religion, while 35 percent of Protestants believe their faith is misrepresented.

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Moderate voices, respect called crucial to Catholic-Muslim dialogue

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Mohamed El Filali, outreach director at the Islamic Center of Passaic County in Paterson, remembers the profound sadness he felt when he addressed an interfaith gathering in Montclair Sept. 12, 2001. His sorrow wasn't only because of the immediate, horrific tragedy of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon the day before. It was also because it took a world-shattering calamity to bring together people of different faiths. "Dialogue always needs to continue to build bridges of peace," he said in an interview with The Catholic Advocate, Newark archdiocesan newspaper. "We need to advance the cause of humanity. We must find ways to respect each other's beliefs and sacred places, otherwise the experience of life has no value." These days there are plenty of things for Catholics and Muslims to discuss: Pope Benedict XVI's scheduled visit to Turkey in November, a forthcoming document on interfaith marriage from the mid-Atlantic regional Muslim-Catholic dialogue group and the call of recent popes for Catholics to reach out to people of other faiths.

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Survey assesses impact of service on lives of Jesuit volunteers

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- A survey of nearly 5,000 alumni of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps shows that the volunteer experience has had a lasting and positive impact on their lives. The Fairfield University survey, commissioned by the Baltimore-based corps to mark its 50th anniversary in 2006, compared the responses of the former Jesuit Volunteer Corps members to a comparable group of Americans responding to the National Opinion Research Center's General Social Survey. The survey found that 18 percent of the former Jesuit volunteers work in the nonprofit sector, compared to 7.4 percent of the general population, and that nearly half of the ex-volunteers work in service-related careers, such as education, health care and social services. Eight out of 10 Jesuit Volunteer Corps alumni volunteer in their churches, schools or communities, compared to less than half of the general public.

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In immigration law, distinctions of 'legal,' 'illegal' fairly recent

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Here's a little-understood fact about immigration law: Until well into the 20th century, pretty much anyone who showed up at a port of entry or walked across a border got to stay in the United States. In other words, one reason so many people today can say "my ancestors followed the law when they came here" is because until fairly recently there was no distinction made about whether someone arrived legally or not. With few exceptions, anyone who got here was admitted. Doris Meissner, former commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and now a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, said that during the mass migrations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries -- the years of those photos of boatloads of European immigrants being processed at Ellis Island -- only a small fraction of newcomers were rejected. "The number who got sent back at Ellis Island was less than 2 percent," Meissner told Catholic News Service in an interview, "possibly less than 1 percent." And those rejections were almost always because the people suffered from an illness that might make them financially dependent upon the community, she said.

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Pope creates cardinals, prays for their love for church and Christ

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI created 15 new cardinals from 11 countries March 24, praying that the red garments they now wear would inspire them to an even more "passionate love for Christ, for his church and for all humanity." The pope told the new cardinals they would be called upon to work closely with him "and this will mean for you a more intense participation in the mystery of the cross as you share in the sufferings of Christ." U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was the first to receive his red hat and the scroll attesting to his membership in the College of Cardinals. As the top-ranking member of the new group, the former archbishop of San Francisco was called to address the pope on behalf of the new cardinals. In accepting their new status, Cardinal Levada said, the new cardinals renew their commitment of "total love and unconditional fidelity to Christ the Lord and to the Christian people."

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For new cardinals, a ceremony full of symbols

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The main elements in the ceremonies surrounding the creation of new cardinals are red, hat, church and ring. When Pope Benedict XVI elevated 15 new members into the College of Cardinals March 24, they already were dressed in their new red cassocks. As French Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, one of the 15, told Vatican Radio: "Red is the color of love, of fire, and it is also the color of the Passion. It is said that the cardinals must be ready even to shed their blood" for Christ and his church. One by one, the new cardinals knelt before the pope so he could place the four-cornered red hat, or biretta, on their heads. Next, each cardinal was given a scroll testifying to his new office and containing the name of his titular church in Rome. By receiving the "title" to a Rome church, each cardinal formally became part of Rome's clergy. This connects the modern tradition of the College of Cardinals electing a pope to the early church practice of Rome's clergy electing their bishop. The cardinals' new status and relationship with the pope were to be sealed with a ring at a March 25 Mass.

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Pope to meet with Archbishop of Canterbury later this year

LONDON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI will meet the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion later this year to discuss relations between the two faiths. The visit, which will take place on an unspecified date in the fall, was announced March 23 by Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, spiritual head of the Anglican church. The visit will mark the 40th anniversary of the 1966 meeting between Pope Paul VI and Anglican Archbishop Michael Ramsey of Canterbury; Archbishop Williams wears the ring Pope Paul gave Archbishop Ramsey. The meeting also coincides with the founding of The Anglican Centre in Rome the same year. It will be the second time Archbishop Williams has met Pope Benedict; the two greeted each other the day after the pope's inaugural Mass, which he also attended. "I am very much looking forward to the visit and especially to meeting Pope Benedict once again," Archbishop Williams said March 23.

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Commonwealth Games chaplains pleased at athletes open about faith

MELBOURNE, Australia (CNS) -- Chaplains at the 2006 Commonwealth Games said they were surprised and pleased at the number of athletes openly practicing their faith. One of three Catholic chaplains at the games, Father Anthony Doran said he met some "very faith-filled people" during the games. Father Doran, one of about 12 chaplains officially sanctioned to minister at the athletes' village, said he appreciated the faith of all the believers -- Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Bahais and Christians. "In many ways the Commonwealth is a microcosm of the wider world," he said. The British Commonwealth currently has 53 members; 71 countries participated in the March 15-26 games in Melbourne. Father Doran, who said Catholic and Anglican chaplains wore clerical dress, said people approached him with a range of requests. Some people wanted to pray with him before a big event; others asked about the times of religious services, while others wanted to chat.

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Activists, church leaders appeal to global community for water rights

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Water rights activists appealed to the international community to recognize water as a fundamental human right at the fourth World Water Forum in Mexico. They urged the international community to foster cooperation among churches and institutions on all levels, to exercise responsible water management and to prevent exploitation of water for commercial purposes. The March 16-22 forum in Mexico City, brought together water rights activists, including aid agencies and churches, that called for a decrease in the privatization of water. The events focused on the theme "Local Actions for a Global Challenge." Anette von Schoenfeld from the German branch of Bread for the World, a Christian nongovernmental organization, said she was pleased with the outcome of the information campaign, even though the main stance of the human rights organizations -- that free access to water should be considered a human right -- was not supported by the forum's final document.

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Catholic baseball player thanks God for many blessings

SURPRISE, Ariz. (CNS) -- It was a cool and crisp morning at spring training camp for the Kansas City Royals baseball team in Surprise. Wearing a bright blue jersey with the number 29 stitched on the back, first baseman Mike Sweeney worked on his bunting skills. The five-time All-Star said he was excited to be back at camp and had a lot to be thankful for this spring. "I'm healthy, blessed with a great wife and two beautiful children and at times I ask the Lord, 'Why are things so good?' I know it's due to his mercy, grace and love for me," said Sweeney in an interview with The New Vision, newspaper of the Diocese of Tucson. As a Catholic athlete, Sweeney gives a lot of praise to God and uses him as a beacon to guide his life. During a time when some of baseball's biggest stars have been surrounded by controversy about the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, Sweeney credits the church in keeping his mind, body, and soul pure. "Without the gift of the Catholic Church and being able to receive the Eucharist, I would probably be the guy experimenting with steroids, drugs and infidelity," he said. "I get filled up by my relationship with God."

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In Rome, media finds Boston cardinal wields wicked sense of humor

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Always looking for the big scoop, television and print media made a surprising discovery when they covered Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley receiving his red hat in a March 24 consistory at the Vatican. They found out that underneath the formal veneer of a top church leader and the flowing brown Capuchin robe, Boston's new cardinal wields a wicked sense of humor. While following the cardinal in Rome, it became impossible for Boston's local media to concentrate exclusively on the hot-button issues swirling around an archdiocese that is still feeling the shock waves of the clergy sex abuse scandals that broke in early 2002. Here on neutral ground in the Eternal City, the cardinal could breathe freely and crack jokes about the handiness of now having the new red robes if he were called to go hunting with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney. "The media didn't realize he had a sense of humor," said Msgr. Steve Avila, who served as secretary to Cardinal O'Malley when he was bishop of Fall River, Mass.

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Former Lutheran pastor who is a father and grandfather to be ordained

WILMINGTON, Del. (CNS) -- At a dramatic moment in Leonard Klein's ordination as a deacon last summer, 3-year-old Madeleine Hollenbeck was heard asking: "Why is Grandfather sleeping on the floor?" But Deacon Klein wasn't sleeping; as part of the ordination rite, he was lying prostrate in the Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington to demonstrate his obedience to the church. Deacon Klein, 60, will repeat that act April 1 at the cathedral when Wilmington Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli ordains him a Catholic priest. And as the presence of Madeleine and other members of his family will show, this ordination will be different. For the first time in its nearly 140-year history, the Diocese of Wilmington will have a married man as a Catholic priest. Joining him at the cathedral will be his wife of almost 37 years, Christa; their three adult children, Maria, Renate and Nicholas; and two grandchildren (a third is expected near ordination day). His wife and daughters are scheduled to bring up the offertory gifts.

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Polish author says book of miracles shows human side of late pontiff

OXFORD, England (CNS) -- A Polish Catholic journalist whose new book has documented miracles of healing attributed to Pope John Paul II said the book shows the very human side of the late pontiff. "Whether or not we see these stories as miraculous signs, they show the human dimension of this pontificate -- how the pope was close to people and touched their lives," said author Pawel Zuchniewicz. "The Miracles of John Paul II," issued by Warsaw-based publishers, includes examples of healings attributed to the pontiff's intervention before and after his death April 2, 2005. In the book, Kay Kelly of Liverpool, England, describes how she recovered from what was thought to be terminal cancer after praying with the pope in March 1979, and a mother from Mexico's Zacatecas state, Heron Badillo, recounts how her son overcame leukemia after meeting the pope in 1990.


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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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