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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Apr-10-2006

By Catholic News Service


Vatican nuncio at U.N. urges 'people-centered' migration policies

UNITED NATIONS (CNS) -- When immigration is seen as "a problem to be solved," it may be "painted as a threat and ... manipulated for short-term political gain," the Vatican's representative to the United Nations told the U.N. Commission on Population and Development April 5. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the permanent observer of the Holy See to the international body, said such an approach can be detrimental to "the most natural rights of all human beings -- the right to life, to citizenship, to work and to development." The archbishop said, "For this reason, the upcoming high-level dialogue on this subject is very welcome; indeed it is a long overdue discussion on a perennial social question with consequences for people far beyond the 191 million or so presently considered migrants." The commission met April 3-7 at U.N. headquarters in New York to prepare for the Sept. 14-15 dialogue on international migration and development, also to be held in New York.

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Christian Churches Together in the USA is officially started

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Christian Churches Together in the USA -- the broadest, most inclusive ecumenical movement in U.S. history -- was officially founded during a March 28-31 gathering near Atlanta. Its founding 34 Christian churches and national organizations represent more than 100 million Americans. Twenty-two additional churches and organizations are participating as observers or are in the process of deciding about joining, and more than 30 others are in conversation with Christian Churches Together. Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore, who hosted a 2001 meeting in Baltimore at which plans for the new organization first took shape, will represent the Catholic Church as one of its five co-presidents. He said he was "delighted that the work we began in Baltimore has continued to prosper." Christian Churches Together is intended as a forum of ecumenical dialogue and witness involving the participation of representatives from all five major Christian families of churches in the United States: Catholic, Orthodox, historic Protestant, evangelical/Pentecostal, and historic racial/ethnic.

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Minnesota bishops disappointed at legislative inaction on marriage

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) -- As a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution on marriage appeared headed toward defeat in the state Legislature, the state's Catholic bishops expressed disappointment that the matter will remain in the hands of judges. "We commit ourselves to ongoing efforts to educate Catholics and others of good will about the authentic meaning of marriage and family," said an April 7 statement signed by seven bishops. "We will continue to uphold marriage as a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman." The Senate Judiciary Committee of the Minnesota Legislature voted 5-4 April 4 against a proposed constitutional amendment that would have limited marriage "and its legal equivalent" to the union of one man and one woman. Although supporters could still bring the measure to the full Senate for a vote, its passage was considered unlikely. If approved by the Legislature, the amendment would be placed on the November ballot.

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Archbishop reopens New Orleans church after dispute is resolved

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- New Orleans Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes April 8 re-consecrated a historic New Orleans black church he had ordered closed "for the foreseeable future" after a protest disrupted Mass there two weeks earlier. The March 26 demonstration at St. Augustine Church was organized to protest the archdiocese's decision to close the parish and merge it with a neighboring parish, but keep the church building open for one Mass each Sunday. Archbishop Hughes announced that the archdiocese and parishioners who want their parish to remain open had settled their dispute. He re-established St. Augustine Parish for the next 18 months. The archbishop said he hoped the resolution of the dispute would become a symbol of reconciliation for the entire city. He said the parish could remain open longer if it met agreed-upon guidelines for viability and vibrancy. The archbishop re-consecrated the church during a 45-minute ritual attended by about 75 parishioners. Afterward he held a news conference outside the church to announce the settlement of the dispute.

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Mexican bishop's indigenous permanent deacon program on hold

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Mexican bishop has said that the Vatican is still refusing to allow him to ordain permanent deacons from the indigenous populations in his diocese in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquival of San Cristobal de las Casas also said that he has been told to stop his formation programs for candidates to the permanent diaconate. The Vatican fears that the ordinations are part of a plan to develop an autonomous local church and would be used to prepare the way for the ordination of married priests, he said. The decision was communicated in an Oct. 26, 2005, letter from Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, said the bishop. Bishop Arizmendi discussed the Vatican's decision during an April 7 interview with Catholic News Service while he was in Washington. He made the decision public at a March 13-16 diocesan conference for his 335 permanent deacons.

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Pope says Christ's poverty offers cure for world ravaged by greed

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Celebrating Mass on Palm Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI said the poverty of Christ offers the cure for a world ravaged by materialism and greed. The April 9 liturgy also marked World Youth Day, and the pope watched as young people from his native Germany turned over a large cross to youths from Sydney, Australia, where the next international youth gathering will be held in July 2008. Over the next two years, the pope said, the cross will make a pilgrimage "across continents and cultures, a path through a world torn and tormented by violence." It is the cross, he said, that epitomizes the message of Christ. As a sign of poverty, reconciliation and love, it challenges the prevailing desire for "a life without restrictions and without sacrifice," he said. The pope celebrated the two-and-a-half-hour Mass on a splendid spring day in St. Peter's Square, processing through the crowd and blessing palm fronds and olive branches held up by the faithful.

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Pope urges students at Opus Dei conference to share their faith

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Meeting with some 5,000 university students attending an Opus Dei-sponsored conference, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged them to deepen their friendship with Christ so they can share their faith with their friends. The UNIV 2006 Conference brought students from some 200 universities in 32 countries to Rome for a week of study and exchanges on faith and modern life, focusing especially on the mass media. Meeting the students April 10, the pope said it was obvious that the mass media do not always promote "personal relations, sincere dialogue and friendship among people," and they do not always help people cultivate their relationships with God. The only way to combat the negative influence of the media, he said, is to "keep Jesus as one of your dearest friends, rather your best friend. Then you will see how friendship with him will lead to you opening yourselves to others."

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Former Vatican official disappointed with changes to his council

ROME (CNS) -- The former head of the Vatican's office on pastoral care for migrants said he was never consulted about changes being made to the pontifical council he headed for almost eight years. Japanese Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, who served as president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers since June 1998, said he was disappointed and saddened by the way the curial reform took place. He only learned his post was being absorbed by another council when he read it in the newspaper. "Nobody consulted me," he said. "I felt a little bit -- how do you say it -- sad," the cardinal said in a March 15 interview with UCA News, an Asian church news agency based in Thailand which published the story online April 7. The 76-year-old cardinal learned from reading in the newspapers that the pope had accepted his retirement and that the council's presidency would temporarily be led by Italian Cardinal Renato Martino, who heads the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

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Send-off of pilgrim cross opens countdown to World Youth Day 2008

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With the unveiling of a logo, the handover of a pilgrim cross and the cheers of young Australians, the "road to Sydney" and World Youth Day 2008 were officially opened at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI sent the World Youth Day cross on a two-year trip across Africa and Oceania after a Palm Sunday liturgy April 9. Accepting it were young Australians, eager for the spiritual spotlight that will soon begin to swing across their country. With Australian flags unfurled, the young people indulged in some lively celebration after the liturgy in St. Peter's Square. "That was the spirit of Sydney on display," Morris Iemma, premier of the Australian state New South Wales, remarked at a press conference afterward. He predicted that young people would find Sydney "the friendliest city and the most welcoming city" in the world. Pope Benedict XVI gave the organizers a morale boost when he told pilgrims, "See you in Sydney, God willing." When Australia was announced last year as the venue for the next international gathering, there was doubt about whether the pope would make the trip.

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Pope formally welcomes new Coptic Catholic patriarch

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The election of retired Bishop Antonios Naguib as patriarch of the Cairo-based Coptic Catholic Church was sealed April 6 when Pope Benedict XVI formally accepted his request for "ecclesial communion." The bishops of the Coptic Catholic Church elected the 71-year-old March 30 to succeed 86-year-old Cardinal Stephanos II Ghattas, who led the church for almost 20 years. As is customary for the patriarchs of the Eastern churches in union with Rome, the newly elected head of the church formally requests communion with the pope. The Vatican published the exchange of letters between Patriarch Naguib and Pope Benedict April 8. Expressing his "fidelity, veneration and obedience" to the pope, the patriarch promised "to be faithful to Our Lord and to do everything I can to serve the flock he has entrusted to me to the best of my ability."

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Family, friends say boy with Down syndrome a blessing in their lives

FARGO, N.D. (CNS) -- When there's a Minnesota Vikings football game on TV, there's no interrupting 8-year-old Colten Schneider while he is watching it. "He hoots, hollers, claps and 'whoo-whoos' through the entire game," said his mother, Marcia. "He'll reiterate the plays in a game to me through words, gestures and actions. He gets so excited, he's just talking 100 miles an hour." Colten has Down syndrome and struggles to express himself verbally, but his family and his many friends almost always know exactly what he means. They also know what he has brought to their lives. "We're lucky to have him. He's taught us way more than we've ever taught him," Marcia Schneider told New Earth, newspaper of the Fargo Diocese. "He brings out the real compassionate side in everyone."

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Vatican confirms pope's visit to Poland in May

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican confirmed Pope Benedict XVI will visit Poland May 25-28, and the trip will include Pope John Paul II's hometown and the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. Formally announcing the trip April 8, the Vatican said the pope would spend one night in Warsaw, Poland's capital, and two nights in Krakow, the city where Pope John Paul had served as archbishop. While a detailed itinerary was not released, the Vatican listed the places the pope would visit each day: May 25, Rome to Warsaw; May 26, the shrine of Our Lady Jasna Gora in Czestochowa, then on to Krakow; May 27, Wadowice, the birthplace of Pope John Paul, and the shrine to Christ's passion at Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, 30 miles outside Krakow, then returning to the city for the night; May 28, Auschwitz, then returning to Krakow for the flight back to Rome.

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Suit Brigade members bring new look to Missouri Catholic school

MANCHESTER, Mo. (CNS) -- They call themselves the Suit Brigade. And they have brought a new look to a Catholic school in the St. Louis Archdiocese. Thanks to students Tim Cooney, Zach Gentile, Danny Hudson, Dylan Jungels and John Renick, eighth-grade boys at St. Joseph School in Manchester can now wear suits, sports jackets, slacks and ties to the twice-monthly all-school Masses. "It all started at picture day in the fall," St. Joseph principal Jeannie Dandino told the St. Louis Review, the archdiocesan newspaper. "These boys wore sports coats, ties and khaki pants for pictures." St. Joseph's standard uniform for the boys is a pair of dark-colored pants and a collared shirt. "The day before picture day, we were talking about what to wear," said Jungels. "We were the ones who wanted to wear suits or jackets." Picture day, when school portraits are taken, also happened to be an all-school Mass day, so the five boys naturally wore their dress clothes to Mass.

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Priests put off Boston Marathon for year; race too close to Easter

DETROIT (CNS) -- Fathers Richard Cassidy and Michael Byrnes, both Detroit priests, got a special kind of "runner's high" when they found out they had qualified for this year's Boston Marathon -- the pinnacle for serious runners. Unfortunately, the feeling was short-lived. When they looked at the calendar and realized the date of the event -- April 17 -- was the day after Easter, they knew they could not let the "hoopla and celebration" of the Boston Marathon get in the way of the holy day, Father Cassidy said. "Both of us knew right away we had to forgo it," he said. "In conscience, we could not have it take over Easter." They contacted the Boston Athletic Association, which sponsors the race, and deferred their qualifying time to the 2007 race. Next year, Easter is April 8, and the race will be April 16. Marc Chalufour, the association's communications manager, said deferral is something his organization does fairly frequently. There are always people who become ill or get injured during training, he said.


Copyright (c) 2006 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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