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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Oct-9-2007

By Catholic News Service


Indiana diocese strained by upsurge in number of Burmese refugees

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CNS) -- The country of Myanmar -- formerly called Burma -- is attracting international attention as the military government there has used violent means to disperse peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators. Burmese people are in the news in Fort Wayne, too. About 3,000 Burmese refugees now live in the city. The upsurge in the local Burmese population prompted Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan to declare that her department will have to start charging for previously free services because of the unusually large number of Burmese refugees this year. Catholic Charities settled about 200 Burmese refugees in Fort Wayne in 2006, according to Debbie Schmidt, executive director of the agency of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. The agency was told to expect another 200 in 2007, and by June had received 35. After June, however, the numbers increased quickly and dramatically, with an additional 524 refugees arriving by the end of September. Another 130 are expected before the end of the year, bringing the projected 2007 total to nearly 700 -- close to the total of 768 Burmese refugees settled by Catholic Charities in 1991-2006.

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Mother Teresa's successor, postulator of cause recall her struggles

LATROBE, Pa. (CNS) -- Blessed Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, did not curse the darkness that plagued her, but rather she embraced it, Sister Nirmala Joshi said Oct. 6 at St. Vincent College in Latrobe. "She chose to accept the darkness that the world chose for her," said Sister Nirmala, Mother Teresa's successor as superior general of the order of nuns. She spoke during an Oct. 5-7 conference at the college titled "Remembrances of Mother Teresa of Calcutta by Her Family and Friends." It was a three-day reunion of people who knew and loved her. The event commemorated the 10th anniversary of her death or, as Benedictine Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, college chancellor, said, "her entrance into heaven." She died in Calcutta, India, Sept. 5, 1997. In the discussion moderated by author and television host Colleen Carroll Campbell, Sister Nirmala and Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, a Missionaries of Charity priest who is the postulator of her sainthood cause, brought to light the meaning of Mother Teresa's surprising and well-publicized interior "darkness."

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Ukrainian bishops address evangelization, youths, priestly formation

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Ukrainian Catholic bishops focused on evangelization, priestly formation and youth ministry during their worldwide synod, said the major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Kiev-Halych, Ukraine, said the bishops discussed broad issues that were meaningful to all their members in different countries. Because of the "historical emigration" of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, it is "a global church," he said. Synod members had to address major topics and "limit ourselves primarily to such issues that are meaningful" to "our faithful and to our church and where that church exists," Cardinal Husar said during a press conference at the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family in Washington Oct. 5. Ukrainian Catholic bishops from around the world met in Philadelphia and Washington for their Sept. 26-Oct. 6 synod, the first Eastern Catholic synod to be held in the United States. Synod dates were chosen to coincide with the centennial celebration of the arrival of Bishop Stephen Ortynsky, the first Byzantine Catholic bishop in America.

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Bishop joins effort to erect Gandhi monument in Nevada capital

RENO, Nev. (CNS) -- Bishop Randolph R. Calvo of Reno has joined with an interfaith group of clergy in calling for a monument to Hindu leader Mahatma Gandhi to be erected in the Nevada capital of Carson City. The Gandhi Monument Council of Nevada said it would also ask for life-size statues of Gandhi to be erected in Las Vegas and Reno. Bishop Calvo signed a petition calling for the statues following an interfaith clergy luncheon in Reno in late September, according to council coordinators Rajan Zed, who is Hindu, and the Rev. Gene Savoy Jr., a minister of the International Community of Christ. The aim of the council, according to a news release, is "to commemorate Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence, his commitment to world peace and his work" to uplift the downtrodden. The release said Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1948, "continues to be widely revered as one of the greatest moral, political and peace leaders of the 20th century."

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Deterrence efforts at Arizona-Mexico border rise, but so do deaths

ARIVACA, Ariz. (CNS) -- After an immigration reform bill stalled in Congress in June, experts predict that it may take another two years before any meaningful attempts at fixing the situation will see the light of day. Meanwhile, families remain divided, and lives continue to be lost in the desert. If you ask people working in the desert, they'll tell you that water can be deadly. Water makes puddles. Puddles make soggy socks. Soggy socks make for nasty blisters that you can't walk on. For people crossing the desert, this kind of blister will get them left behind in a hurry. "Rains make this time of year more dangerous," said Joe Shortall from Los Angeles, volunteering with No More Deaths, a humanitarian group that patrols the Arizona desert looking for illegal immigrants left behind by smugglers. Rainfall and sweltering heat made crossing the Sonoran Desert as dangerous as ever for illegal immigrants this summer. The U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson sector reported finding 186 bodies so far this year, 26 more than at the same time last year.

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Priest urges lawyers, judges to be compassionate, treat all equally

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CNS) -- Dominican Father Brian Shanley, president of Providence College, urged members of Rhode Island's legal community at the diocese's annual Red Mass to be like the good Samaritan, carrying out their responsibilities with compassion and treating everyone with equality. Father Shanley, who was the homilist, said he selected the parable of the good Samaritan from Luke's Gospel because of its powerful message and relevance to the pursuit of justice. Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence was the main celebrant of the Sept. 27 Red Mass at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul. It was attended by members of the judiciary and both legislative branches, as well as lawyers and government officers from throughout Rhode Island. The Mass is celebrated every fall to invoke the Holy Spirit upon the judicial year. Celebrants wear red vestments symbolizing the tongues of fire representing the Holy Spirit.

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World Jewish leaders meet with pope, discuss anti-Semitism

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI welcomed the new leaders of the World Jewish Congress to the Vatican. Ronald S. Lauder, elected president of the congress in June, said his talks at the Vatican Oct. 8 focused on interreligious dialogue and on anti-Semitism in a number of European countries. While the congress issued a press release after the meeting, the Vatican simply announced that the pope had met the officers of the congress, which represents Jewish communities in more than 80 countries. The congress' statement said Lauder, a former U.S. ambassador to Austria, told the pope that "the anti-Semitic statements" attributed to Redemptorist Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, founder and director of Poland's Radio Maryja, "should not be tolerated anymore." Lauder "called on the pontiff to take action against those in the church who wanted to do damage to the close and positive relationship between Christians and Jews," the statement said. Father Rydzyk, whose radio station ranks fifth in Poland's national ratings, repeatedly has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks.

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Australian bishops sever ties with Amnesty due to its abortion policy

PERTH, Australia (CNS) -- The Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference has severed all ties between Amnesty International and the Catholic Church in Australia because the human rights organization changed its neutral stance on abortion. "It is with much regret that we are now in a position of having to advise that membership of Amnesty International is no longer compatible with Catholic teaching and belief on this important point," Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, president of the bishops' conference, announced Oct. 3. "After due consideration we now also urge Catholics and all people who believe in the dignity of the human person from natural conception until natural death to seek other avenues of defending human rights," the archbishop said. A statement from the bishops' conference said that by imposing a new policy in favor of abortion, Amnesty effectively had created a human rights organization that excluded Catholic members.

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Vatican official says world must fix injustices that lead to violence

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If the world is going to win the war against terrorism, it needs to remedy the injustices that sometimes lead to violence, said a Vatican official. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said he did not wish to justify terrorist acts, "but one must recognize that terrorism grows in an environment where unresolved situations are present. Many times terrorism is nothing but the manifestation of a situation of injustice," he told Vatican Radio Oct. 9. The cardinal elaborated on comments he made in a message to the Muslim world denouncing terrorism and all violence committed in the name of religion. That written message, released by the Vatican Sept. 28, was to mark the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of prayer and fasting that concludes in mid-October. He told Vatican Radio that overcoming terrorism demands looking for the reasons it crops up in the first place.

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New Holy Name Society president pledges organizational review

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The new president of the National Association of the Holy Name Society said he hopes to revitalize the organization with a thorough review of its structure, which could lead to significant changes by 2009. Joe Ryan of the Archdiocese of St. Louis said the theme for his presidency for the next two years comes from Chapter 12, Verse 49, of the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus says to his disciples: "I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!" Ryan is the 20th president of the Baltimore-based U.S. association, founded in 1274 by Blessed John of Vercelli and dedicated to promoting respect for the holy name of God and the personal sanctification of its members. Also elected during the association's Sept. 6-9 convention in King of Prussia, Pa., were: Joseph LaPointe, Archdiocese of Boston, first vice president; William Harris, Archdiocese of Baltimore, second vice president; James Mannion, Archdiocese of Baltimore, third vice president; Gerry Devine, Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., financial secretary; and Peter Carbone, Diocese of Cleveland, recording secretary.

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California priest, chaplain promoted to Air Force brigadier general

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (CNS) -- Father Jack K. Sewell, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Church in San Clemente, was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. Father Sewell was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Orange in 1978 and commissioned in the Air Force Reserve in 1981. As a brigadier general, Father Sewell serves as the mobilization assistant to the Air Force chief of chaplains, with headquarters at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington. He will advise the chief of chaplains on issues related to the training, readiness and utilization of the 560 Air Reserve Chaplain Service personnel. Bishop Tod D. Brown of Orange participated in the ceremony, held in late August, at which Maj. Gen. Charles C. Baldwin, Air Force chief of chaplains, promoted Father Sewell to his new rank. The bishop called the promotion "an acknowledgment of Father Sewell's more than 25 years of dedicated ministry to America's soldiers in their times of spiritual need."

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Pope names two Nobel laureates to Pontifical Academy of Sciences

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI named as members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences two Nobel laureates, including a Taiwanese-American professor and researcher. Yuan Tseh Lee, 70, won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1986 while he was a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. The other new member, Klaus von Klitzing, 64, is currently a professor of physics at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Germany. The Vatican announced the appointments Oct. 9. Born in Hsinchu, Taiwan, Lee moved to the United States in 1962 after receiving university degrees in Taiwan. In addition to teaching and conducting research at Berkeley, he also taught at the James Franck Institute of the University of Chicago. He became a U.S. citizen in 1974. Lee's work developing a "crossed-molecular beams" laboratory technique aided scientists in understanding elementary chemical reactions and led to his winning the Nobel Prize. Von Klitzing, a native of Germany, received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1985 for his discovery of the integer quantum Hall effect, which helped scientists make extremely accurate measurements of electrical resistance.

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Lebanese bishop to receive U.S. honor for work with Muslims, poor

DAVENPORT, Iowa (CNS) -- Lebanese Bishop Salim Ghazal, noted for his efforts to advance Muslim-Christian relations and to care for those in need, will accept the 2007 Pacem in Terris award in November in Davenport. Bishop Martin J. Amos of Davenport is to present the award Nov. 4 at St. Ambrose University to Bishop Ghazal, a retired auxiliary bishop in the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch, based in Beirut, Lebanon. The award was created in 1964 to commemorate Pope John XXIII's 1963 encyclical, "Pacem in Terris" ("Peace on Earth"). The honor is given by the Quad Cities Pacem in Terris Coalition, which includes representatives from the Davenport Diocese, Churches United of the Quad Cities, St. Ambrose University, Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., Bridges of Faith and Pax Christi Quad Cities. Bishop Ghazal's work to bridge Muslim-Christian divides dates back to the early 1960s. Ordained a priest in the Melkite Basilian Order of the Most Holy Savior in 1958, he was assigned to an area near Sidon, Lebanon, in 1961. There he taught religion to both Christian and Muslim students, wrote Don Mosley in a nomination for the award.


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