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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jul-25-2007

By Catholic News Service

U.S.

Catholics, others urge increased funding for children's health care

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic organizations have joined with a variety of medical, civic, labor and other religious groups in calling on Congress to increase funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program, despite a threatened veto by President George W. Bush. Representatives of nearly three dozen organizations participated in a July 25 Capitol Hill news conference organized by the Catholic Health Association, which also released a new public opinion poll that showed Americans overwhelmingly support the program known as SCHIP. "We stand united because we believe Congress and the president should do the right thing for our children and our nation -- reauthorize a critically important program that is supported by the vast majority of voters," said Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is CHA president and CEO. Others at the news conference represented the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, as well as the National Council of Churches, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Islamic Society of North America, Lutheran Services in America, Episcopal Church, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and United Jewish Communities.

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Twin Cities lead nation in rate of volunteerism, federal study shows

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Minneapolis-St. Paul led the nation in a new federal study that ranked volunteer rates among the populations of the nation's major metropolitan areas. The study, by the Washington-based Corporation for National and Community Service, found that Minneapolis-St. Paul and the rest of middle America had the highest percentages of individuals donating their time and services. The study surveyed the nation's top 50 metropolitan areas. The corporation is a federal agency that oversees Senior Corps, Learn and Serve America, and AmeriCorps, which now includes Volunteers in Service to America and the National Civilian Community Corps. Its mission is to promote civic engagement through service and volunteering. The Twin Cities' top ranking in the study came as no surprise to a representative at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. About 41 percent of the population there gives time to community service. "I think some of it's just the spirit of giving in this community," Dawn Lindblom, Catholic Charities' director of volunteer services, said in a telephone interview with Catholic News Service.

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Bequest helps SOAR help more religious orders cope with retirement

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Thanks to a bequest of about $300,000, Support Our Aging Religious was able to award a total of $850,000 in grants to 50 religious orders in 43 states and Puerto Rico. The grants from SOAR bring the total amount given to religious orders to more than $7 million since SOAR's founding in 1986. The $850,000 represented the largest amount of money distributed in one year, and the $302,750 bequest represented the largest single gift to SOAR in its 21-year history. SOAR's board of directors had originally approved $600,000 in grants -- about half of what had been requested by religious orders. After the bequest, though, the board of directors decided to make additional awards, with four more orders receiving grants and other orders receiving additional money. The bequest, from H. Farrell Gilmore of Palm Springs, Calif., also gave rise to the SOAR Legacy Group, a vehicle for donors to address the particular request of a congregation, such as capital needs like new windows, fire or alarm systems, handicapped-accessible transportation or equipment, or similar needs.

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Two Catholic universities among colleges chosen for Fulbright program

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cincinnati and Vincentian-run DePaul University in Chicago have been selected to participate this fall in a new exchange program aimed at promoting interfaith cooperation and community action among diverse groups. The two Catholic universities are among only 10 universities chosen nationwide to take part in the Fulbright Interfaith Community Action Program, created by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program will provide a multinational group of religious leaders, scholars and community leaders from diverse backgrounds with a semester-long U.S. exchange period. The aim is to challenge participants to find solutions that promote cooperation among faiths and create peaceful communities across religious boundaries.

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WORLD

Concerns for new 'boat people' cited as ministers to seafarers meet

GDYNIA, Poland (CNS) -- Those who minister to migrants and travelers must help resolve the "grave humanitarian challenges" facing "the new 'boat people,' who often find themselves threatened by mafias and unscrupulous smugglers" and who are dying by the thousands, a Vatican official told the world congress of the Apostleship of the Sea. Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the pontifical councils for Justice and Peace and for Migrants and Travelers, was one of several Vatican officials who addressed the June 24-29 congress in Gdynia. "In the face of such new problems we cannot remain indifferent or helpless, but we must endeavor to find new ways to express our solidarity and concern," he said, describing the role of the Apostleship of the Sea as "to stand in solidarity alongside seafaring and fishing communities in their daily struggles against new challenges and pressures." Nearly 300 priests, deacons, religious, lay chaplains and volunteers from 72 countries attended the congress, which also featured a talk by former Polish President Lech Walesa during the group's visit to Gdansk.

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Irish Catholics to celebrate St. Patrick two days earlier in 2008

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) -- Catholics in Ireland will celebrate the feast of St. Patrick two days earlier next year after the Vatican gave permission to move the feast day to avoid a conflict with Holy Week. Traditionally St. Patrick and all things Irish are celebrated March 17. However, in 2008, March 17 falls on the Monday of Holy Week and, according to church law, the days of Holy Week and Easter rank above all others, so the solemnity of St. Patrick must be moved to another date. When the conflict became apparent, officials from the Irish bishops' conference wrote the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. The congregation approved the move earlier this year, but it only was made public in mid-July. Bishops of each nation may decide whether or not to move St. Patrick's Day, a Vatican official said July 25. Last year, however, the Vatican announced that the dates of the feasts of St. Joseph and of the Annunciation of the Lord were moved for all liturgical celebrations worldwide.

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Ontario dioceses of Moosonee, Hearst to have one bishop, Vatican says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Canadian dioceses of Moosonee and Hearst in Ontario will exist as separate dioceses "united in the person of the bishop," the Vatican announced July 25. Pope Benedict XVI has given Bishop Vincent Cadieux of Moosonee the additional title of bishop of Hearst, the Vatican said. Bishop Cadieux has served as apostolic administrator of Hearst since July 2006. The 67-year-old bishop was appointed head of the Moosonee Diocese in 1991. According to Vatican statistics, the Diocese of Moosonee has about 6,200 Catholics in a population of 27,500. The Diocese of Hearst, with its 28,000 Catholics, has been vacant since Bishop Andre Vallee resigned in November 2005 at the age of 75. Beyond saying that the same bishop would govern the two dioceses, the Vatican announcement provided no further explanation of the arrangement.

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Pope meets privately with priests, discusses wide range of topics

AURONZO, Italy (CNS) -- Faith and reason, mercy and the defense of the truth, dialogue and evangelization were just some of the topics Pope Benedict XVI touched on when he responded to questions posed by the priests of two northern Italian dioceses. After meeting privately with about 400 priests July 24, Pope Benedict told the crowd waiting outside, "We spoke about God, about the church, about humanity today and, mostly, about the fact that we are the church and in this journey we must all collaborate." Nearing the end of his vacation in the Diocese of Belluno and Feltre, at a villa owned by the Diocese of Treviso, Pope Benedict thanked his hosts by spending two hours praying with and answering questions posed by the dioceses' priests. The following day, the Vatican released a text of the pope's answers to questions posed by the priests during the meeting in the Church of St. Justina in Auronzo.

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PEOPLE

With tears of joy, Philippine parishioners welcome released missioner

PAYAO, Philippines (CNS) -- Tearful parishioners with children in tow lined up outside St. Paul the Apostle Church as Father Giancarlo Bossi returned to celebrate his first Mass there since being released by kidnappers. When the Italian priest arrived in Payao July 25, he disappeared into a sea of people embracing and kissing him, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News. His visit to the parish was his first since armed men seized him near the church June 10; he was released 39 days later north of Payao. Parishioners swept the church and prepared three roast pigs, seafood and sweets for the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions priest, who sported a white shirt, slacks and rubber sandals. Children gave him garlands while others waved and embraced him as he got out of the car. "Everyone is emotional!" exclaimed Dalia Ombos, one of the welcoming parishioners. Tears were in the eyes of some as they laughed.

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Catholic lay leader says he hopes someday to welcome a pope to China

AURONZO, Italy (CNS) -- A top official of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association told an Italian newspaper that he hopes one day to be able to welcome a pope to China. As Pope Benedict XVI walked past journalists July 24 outside the Church of St. Justina in Auronzo, a reporter shouted: "You have been invited. Will you go to China?" The pope let the reporters know he did not have time to stop and discuss the question. "I cannot speak at this time," the pope said. "It's a bit complicated." In an interview published July 24, Anthony Liu Bainian, vice chairman of the patriotic association, which acts as a liaison between the Chinese government and Catholic churches, said, "I hope with all my strength to one day see the pope here in Beijing." In the interview with La Repubblica, Liu said members of registered Catholic communities in China "follow exactly the same religion as the church of Rome. We are independent only from a political point of view." Liu told the newspaper, "We recognize the unique authority of the pope in matters of religion."

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Colombian Catholic tribunal clears priest who confessed to abuse

BOGOTA, Colombia (CNS) -- A Colombian Catholic Church tribunal has cleared a priest who confessed to sexually abusing seminarians -- including some in the United States -- decades ago. The Ecclesiastical Tribunal of Bogota ruled July 23 that both the church's and the civil court's statutes of limitations had expired, "totally exempting" Father Efrain Rozo Rincon from prosecution. The tribunal also found that Father Rozo deserved a "presumption of innocence." The tribunal praised Father Rozo for "promoting for almost 50 years a modern and active apostolate with students and youths through sports" and pointed out that "there have not been formal accusations of incorrect behavior in this court." Last October, Father Rozo confessed on tape to U.S. lawyers representing his nephew, Ernesto Rozo, who sued the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where some of the alleged abuses occurred. Father Rozo was assigned to Los Angeles and worked at Loyola Marymount University, 1967-69. Father Rozo admitted to abusing a seminary student and his nephew 40 years ago. In the U.S. civil case, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to compensate Ernesto Rozo.

END


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