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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jan-11-2008

By Catholic News Service


Changing terms and hearts seen as key to immigration debate

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The immediate future looks a bit grim for those trying to improve the lot of immigrants in the United States. Presidential candidates are trying to outdo each other in espousing harsher approaches to handling illegal immigration. There's essentially no chance of a comprehensive immigration bill moving through Congress until after the presidential election in November. Many state legislatures reconvening this month will work on bills that would require local police to enforce federal immigration laws and make it harder to get jobs, housing and public services without legal papers, as well as other measures meant to push immigrants who lack documentation to leave the jurisdiction. And the public rhetoric about immigrants just seems to be getting more and more acidic. But Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, the new chairman of the U.S. bishops' migration committee, is optimistic that the church's faith-based position on aiding immigrants will eventually win the day -- changing hearts and attitudes in the United States. "It's about building bridges, not building fences," he said, summarizing the approach he believes the United States needs to resolve the tangled mess of immigration laws, policies and human situations.

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Baltimore's new archbishop talks about hopes, challenges

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- In the more than three months since he assumed leadership of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien has begun to examine one of the key issues he addressed in his Oct. 1 installation homily: how the church can help Baltimore leaders deal with the problems of the city. Having toured the city's 50 parishes, the 15th archbishop of Baltimore has seen a snapshot of Baltimore and its people. "The contrast is stark really," Archbishop O'Brien said. "I think anybody who wants to take a walk can find areas with very nice homes, well-kept lawns, good streets and sidewalks, and maybe 15 minutes later find themselves in a neighborhood that is just racked, torn apart, as if a war had just been fought. The poverty, violence, insecurity and fear are evident." Poverty, illegal drug activity, violent crime and nearly 300 homicides in 2007 are among the urban evils that stand out for the new archbishop as he becomes familiar with Baltimore.

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Pope tells Italian police to recognize God in all people

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Meeting with the Italian police who ensure his security when he is outside the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI said humanity will struggle to see itself as one family unless people believe in God and recognize all were created by him. "Let us be clear: Without the transcendent foundation, which is God, society risks becoming simply a group of neighbors (and) ceases being a community of brothers and sisters called to form one large family," the pope said Jan. 11. He asked the officers to make sure that in all their dealings with the public they consciously seek "the face of a brother or a sister whom God places on your path, a friend, even if unknown, to be welcomed and assisted with patient listening." Seeing everyone as a creature of God, one recognizes the supreme value of that person, the pope told the officers.

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Pope's straight talk to Rome officials causes political storm

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In an apparent rebuke to Rome government officials, Pope Benedict XVI criticized what he called "very serious degradation" in areas of the city and the surrounding region. The pope urged the officials to resolve a series of emergencies in education, housing, poverty, unemployment and public safety. He also warned that there should be greater support for the traditional family "founded on marriage" -- an implicit criticism of recent efforts in Rome to grant legal recognition and benefits to cohabiting couples. The talk Jan. 10 ignited a storm of political controversy, and the next day the Vatican issued a statement expressing amazement at the reaction. It said it was not the pope's intention to ignore the "appreciable commitment" of the city and the region to deal with the problems. The pope made his remarks in a meeting with administrators led by Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni; the president of the province of Rome, Enrico Gasbarra; and the president of the region of Lazio, Pietro Marrazzo. All three are members of center-left political parties.

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New photo resource provides interesting peek into Vatican's past

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Scholars, history buffs and the public at large will now be able to peek inside some of the Vatican's historical black-and-white photograph collection. The written contents of the Vatican photo service's entire Giordani Collection have been transcribed into a searchable Microsoft Word file that can be sent, free of charge, to anyone on request by e-mailing photo@ossrom.va. Thanks to the new resource, some half-million images, mostly black and white and taken between 1933 and 1975, will be available more easily to the public for research and sale. Prospective buyers also can request the photos they would like to purchase by e-mailing photo@ossrom.va, specifying the photo caption and the corresponding number. This new electronic file is a modest but significant start to the Vatican photo service's long-term plans of updating and improving how it archives and preserves its collections. The collection takes its name from Francesco Giordani, the private Rome-based photographer the Vatican commissioned starting in the 1930s, long before the Vatican set up its own photography service in 1977.

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Italian priest denies Communion to excommunicated Archbishop Milingo

ROME (CNS) -- At the start of a visit to Italy, excommunicated Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo was denied Communion when he attended a Mass at a local parish church near Naples. The former Zambian archbishop and his wife, Maria Sung, attended an early evening Mass at a local church in Pompeii Jan. 10, one day after his arrival in Italy from South Korea. When the archbishop approached the celebrant -- Father Francesco Soprano -- he refused the Eucharist to the archbishop, who then reportedly blessed the celebrant and lightly touched his head, according to Italian media reports. Archbishop Milingo, who was married in a Unification church ceremony in 2001, was excommunicated by the Vatican in 2006 for illicitly ordaining married men. While he is excommunicated, the archbishop cannot receive the Eucharist or any sacrament of the church. The 77-year-old former archbishop of Lusaka was to be in Italy Jan. 9-27 to promote a new book, meet with supporters of his U.S.-based Married Priests Now! movement, and attend to various medical visits.

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Cardinal urges Holy Land Christians to be examples of selfless love

ROME (CNS) -- During a visit to the Holy Land, U.S. Cardinal John P. Foley urged Christians there to be an example of selfless love and pray for those who persecute them. The cardinal, head of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, made his remarks in a series of homilies and talks Jan. 7-10 while visiting Jerusalem and two parishes in Jordan. The cardinal sent Catholic News Service in Rome his texts before his visit. In his Jan. 9 homily at the parish in Madaba, Jordan, the cardinal wrote, "In an age and in a land where so many people seem to live by the 'lex talionis' -- an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth -- it is extremely important for us as Christians to give an example of selfless love." He wrote it was important not just to pray for one's own loved ones, but also "for those who sometimes seem to treat us unjustly." In his Jan. 10 homily at the parish in Zerka, Jordan, the cardinal expressed his joy at being able to celebrate Mass with the faithful who were "descendants of the first followers of Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ."

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New Orleans priest tells Canadian students God gave him confidence

SHERWOOD PARK, Alberta (CNS) -- When U.S. Father Tony Ricard walks into a room, he gets noticed. He holds his head high, looks people in the eye, speaks loudly and is absolutely sure of himself. In fact, he says, he loves being him. Some call that cockiness, and he's been told as much. But Father Ricard said it is simply confidence. "I am confident because God gave me this (gift); I'm blessed because I am a child of God," he told students at Archbishop Jordan High School in Sherwood Park Jan. 8. "And so are you. When you walk into a room you should hold your head high." Father Ricard, pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in New Orleans, whose church and community were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, spoke to the youths about who they are as children of God and about making good decisions. The popular, energetic and well-traveled youth speaker used humor and laughter to convey his message and had students on their feet for most of his presentation.


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