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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Aug-10-2006

By Catholic News Service


Music ministers urged to focus on unity, not their own agendas

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNS) -- Music ministers should focus on building bridges and creating unity, speakers said at the National Association of Pastoral Musicians' Western Regional Convention in Sacramento Aug. 1-4. The principle that all are one in the body of the Lord is more important than cultural, ideological, musical or liturgical differences, they said. "We need to resist going down the black hole of anger regarding how we translate our texts, what we will sing, or which musical styles are most appropriate for our Masses," said liturgical composer David Haas in an opening keynote Aug. 1. "We still have something wonderful to sing about: God is still here, calling all of us to receive what we have been given from God as gift and give it back lavishly in service to the Lord and one another," he added. About 600 people, mostly church musicians but some liturgists and clergy as well, attended the convention at the Sacramento Radisson Hotel. They came from California and more than 30 other states and several other nations.

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San Francisco Catholic Charities takes new direction in adoptions

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) -- San Francisco Catholic Charities announced Aug. 2 that it would no longer be involved in the child adoption activities of home studies, family and child matching, adoptive placements or finalizations, the last formal step of the adoption process. Instead, it said, its adoption-related efforts and resources will shift to education, outreach, information-sharing and linking prospective adoptive parents to county and private adoption agencies. The shift allows the agency to continue promoting adoption without entering areas of conflict between the church's teaching against adoption by same-sex couples and civil laws requiring adoption agencies not to discriminate against such couples when placing adoptive children. San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer, chairman of Catholic Charities and the Catholic Youth Organization -- the full name of the archdiocesan agency -- said in media interviews that he told board members in March that the agency could not be involved in direct adoptions, but he wished to find ways to serve the adoption community that were compatible with both Catholic moral teaching and the requirements of civil law.

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Cardinal Arinze says faith in Christ 'must be central'

FRONT ROYAL, Va. (CNS) -- Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze told nearly 400 people attending Christendom College's 17th Summer Institute in Front Royal that it is essential their "faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, be clearly central" in their lives. This can take many forms, he said, such as adoring the Eucharist; respecting and obeying the pope, bishops and priests who represent Christ on earth; remaining devoted to the Scriptures; and caring for the poor and needy. "When God speaks, we are not expected to argue," he said in his homily at a July 29 Mass. "We are expected to listen, to believe and to adore." The theme of Christendom's July 28-29 institute was "Pope Benedict XVI: A New Pontificate." Cardinal Arinze, who is prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, spoke about Pope Benedict and the liturgy. The pope "sees the liturgy as at the heart of the life of the church," he said. The focus is on the Eucharist, but it also points to the entire paschal mystery of Christ's suffering, death and resurrection, he said.

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Religious order launches online site to benefit its ministries

SAN ANTONIO (CNS) -- There were stops and starts along the way, but the San Antonio Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament now have an online religious gift shop up and running. The site is NetNuns.com, and its slogan proclaims, "Bringing You Religious Items on a Wing and a Prayer." NetNuns.com sells not only a wide variety of typical Catholic gift items, but other gift lines with interfaith symbols. Customers can order items through the site and the manufacturer ships their purchase directly to them, avoiding extra costs and the need for the sisters to stock items and maintain a physical store. The business venture will help support the religious community's education and child care ministries offered through Blessed Sacrament Academy. "The why of it is all around you," Sister Odilia Korenek, the academy's executive director, told Today's Catholic, newspaper of the San Antonio Archdiocese. "The little ones in front of you, the children and young people, the teens. ... They are bright kids, often left behind by dysfunctional families and overbooked educational systems."

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U.S. cardinal describes 'lesson in frustration' in Lebanon visit

ROME (CNS) -- Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, arrived in Lebanon in early August, visiting Catholic aid projects, church and government leaders and getting what he described as "a lesson in frustration." His Aug. 10 meeting with two Muslim leaders in Beirut was canceled after Israeli planes dropped leaflets on the city warning of new bombardments. "It scares the heck out of people," he said of the leaflet drops. "And if they don't leave, they can be killed. But it's awful; they get word to leave their homes because they are going to bomb in the next hours." In an Aug. 10 telephone interview from Beirut, the cardinal said his visit was meant to be a sign of solidarity with the suffering people of Lebanon, the same kind of visit he has made in the past to Israel in the wake of terrorist attacks. "I'm not making any judgments on what political things are happening, but I know that even now there are people in some villages that are totally blocked off by the war and they have no bread, they have no water and they have no medicine," the cardinal told Catholic News Service.

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Catholic universities cooperate to help Indonesian quake victims

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia (CNS) -- Two Catholic universities have been cooperating with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to build 17,000 temporary homes for victims of the May 27 earthquake. The temporary structures will be built in 22 villages in the provinces of Yogyakarta and Central Java, both affected by the quake. Yogyakarta City is southeast of Jakarta. The magnitude-6.2 earthquake destroyed thousands of houses and other buildings, including Catholic churches. Atma Jaya Catholic University and the Jesuit-run University of Sanata Dharma are to provide technical, administrative, sociological and psychological assistance for the project, while the Red Cross will provide funding. Ignatius Purwanto Hadi, who heads Atma Jaya Catholic University's team for quake reconstruction, told UCA News, an Asian church news agency based in Thailand, that students have helped local residents develop a temporary house prototype, and 150 students spent two weeks collecting data in the villages.

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Prayer cards promote sainthood cause for Sisters of Mercy foundress

ERIE, Pa. (CNS) -- Mercy Sister Teresa Okonski has a special affection for the Mercy foundress, Mother Catherine McAuley. Recently, the Erie sister traveled to Dublin, Ireland, where Mother McAuley (1778-1841) started the Sisters of Mercy in 1831. There, she visited the House of Mercy that Mother McAuley built for poor women and children. Also, reflective moments at her grave provided Sister Teresa with a life-changing experience. "I felt an awesome connection to her," she said. "I learned in a new way the tremendous generosity of this woman." That, she said, included Mother McAuley's use of her inheritance to build the House of Mercy for about $1 million. This July Sister Teresa helped announce an effort by the Mercy Regional Community of Erie to join other Mercy communities worldwide in distributing special prayer cards to promote Mother McAuley's sainthood. The cards are available at any Sisters of Mercy motherhouse or by contacting the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas by phone at (301) 587-0423, or by e-mail to info@sistersofmercy.org.

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Pax Christi winner says 'God is calling us' to confront issue of race

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Cathleen Crayton isn't afraid to talk about race. In fact she lives for the kinds of conversations many people fear as taboo or too controversial. With her kind and modest demeanor, Crayton -- known by friends as Cathy -- has invited and welcomed parishioners, and even a bishop, to her Claremont home to dialogue about race relations. She's taken her passion around the country, facilitating discussions among white, black and brown Catholics on ways in which skin color has affected their lives. "Race is a fundamental division, and we're a long way off from realizing the oneness of humanity," Crayton told The Tidings, newspaper of the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Crayton, who is African-American, was honored in July by the Catholic peace organization Pax Christi USA with the Ambassador of Peace award for her dedicated and sustained effort to make the peace movement more representative of people of color. The award was presented at Pax Christi's July 28-30 annual conference in Pittsburgh.


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