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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS May-7-2008

By Catholic News Service


Survey finds pope's visit got a big chunk of U.S. media's attention

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The news media gave Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United States in April more coverage that week than any topic except the 2008 election campaign, according to an analysis of reporting by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and Pew's Project for Excellence in Journalism. The analysis released May 6 found that coverage of the pope's April 15-20 visit took up 16 percent of the week's "news hole." The presidential campaign accounted for 31 percent of coverage; the law enforcement raid on a polygamist church's compound in Texas received 8 percent of the coverage; the economy got 5 percent and the Iraq War received 3 percent. More than half of the papal coverage focused on two main angles of the pope's visit: his meeting with victims of sexual abuse by priests and his comments on the subject in various places, which totaled 37 percent of the reporting, and his relationship with American Catholics, which accounted for 17 percent of stories, the survey showed.

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Liturgy, stem cells, sex abuse among topics at bishops' June meeting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Matters of liturgy and language will dominate the agenda of the U.S. bishops' spring meeting June 12-14 at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando, Fla. But such hot-button issues as embryonic stem-cell research, medically assisted nutrition and hydration, and clergy sex abuse also will come before the bishops. Much of the three-day meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will be closed to the media, with the schedule calling for executive session, regional meetings and an afternoon of prayer and reflection. As they begin what Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship, called "the final phase of the process of translation and approval of the Roman Missal for use in the United States," the bishops will vote on a new translation of the proper prayers for each Sunday and feast day during the liturgical year. But in a break from previous practice, the 700-page draft text of the readings was distributed to the bishops not on paper but only in electronic form, except for special requests.

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Sisters of Mercy in Buffalo celebrate 150 years of ministry

BUFFALO, N.Y. (CNS) -- Mercy Sister Nancy Hoff compared 150 years of ministry by the Sisters of Mercy in Buffalo to a tapestry that was weaved thread by thread over the years. "Ministries such as hospitals, schools of nursing, long-term care facilities and educational institutions brought their own unique color to the design," said Sister Nancy at a reception April 20 celebrating the anniversary of the Sisters of Mercy community in Buffalo. "God has worked through our imperfections and our loose threads and created a tapestry of Mercy that has made a difference in our diocese for 150 years," said Sister Nancy, who today is president of the New York-Pennsylvania-Pacific West community of the Sisters of Mercy, of which Buffalo is part. Her talk at a reception at the Adam's Mark Hotel preceded a Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral celebrated by Buffalo Bishop Edward U. Kmiec; 35 priests concelebrated the Mass. Mercy Associates, friends and benefactors joined the sisters for the celebration. The day's events brought to an end a year of activities around the theme "Mercy, yesterday, today and forever."

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National Migration Conference set for July 28-31 in Washington

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The challenges and abuses faced by refugees, migrants, trafficking victims and other people on the move will be discussed during the National Migration Conference set for July 28-31 in Washington. The conference is designed to increase public awareness on migration questions as well as to educate policymakers about the needs of people who do not have permanent homes. Topics to be discussed include global migration trends, identifying and supporting victims of traumatic events, immigration law and crimes, detention issues, ethnic information on new refugee people, and family-based immigration. Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles will be among the speakers to address the Washington gathering. The conference is sponsored by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network and the U.S. bishops' Migration and Refugee Services. More information can be found online at: www.nationalmigrationconference.org.

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Pew poll: Americans think more highly of pope after his U.S. visit

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United States in April boosted his image among Americans, including Catholics, according to a recent survey. Sixty-one percent of the 1,000 people surveyed by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life April 23-30, just days after his U.S. trip, said they view the pope favorably. In March, 52 percent of those surveyed had the same response. Among Catholics, the pope's favorable rating rose to 83 percent in April, up from 74 percent in March. The survey included 232 Catholics. The survey also found that nearly half of the responding Catholics (49 percent) say they have a very favorable opinion of the pope, up from 36 percent in March. Among all Americans, 22 percent of those surveyed said they had a very favorable view of the pope. The pope also received improved marks for promoting good relations with other religions between March and April, especially among Protestants in the survey.

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Anglican primate, pope discuss ecumenism, U.S. visit, Muslim dialogue

ROME (CNS) -- Two months before opening the Anglican Communion's Lambeth Conference, the Anglican primate was in Rome to commission his new representative to the Vatican, to meet privately with Pope Benedict XVI and to convene a Christian-Muslim dialogue. Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Communion, said his May 5 meeting with Pope Benedict "was a friendly and informal meeting in which we discussed a number of ecumenical issues, some of the pope's impressions from his American visit and common issues in Christian-Muslim dialogue." As the ordination of openly gay clerics, the blessing of gay unions and the ordination of women bishops in some Anglican provinces threatens to split the Anglican Communion, the July 16-Aug. 3 Lambeth Conference will bring Anglican bishops together to discuss structures and procedures for ensuring unity.

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Muslim proposal needs critical observations, says German Jesuit

ROME (CNS) -- Welcoming the invitation to dialogue proposed by 138 Muslim scholars, Christian theologians must demonstrate they take the initiative seriously by highlighting its promises and acknowledging potential pitfalls, said a German Jesuit expert on Islam. Jesuit Father Christian W. Troll, a professor of Islamic studies, spoke May 6 at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University about "A Common Word," the letter Muslim scholars sent to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders in October. The letter outlined their proposal for a new level of Christian-Muslim theological dialogue focused on common teachings about faith in one God, love of God and love of neighbor. "We must be the first to recognize the beauty of the form and content of this letter," Father Troll said. But "together with gratitude, esteem and trust, this kind of dialogue requires study, criticism and the desire to learn from and inform the other; otherwise it is just a spectacle without dignity," he said.

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Christians must persevere in prayer for unity, pope says at audience

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Despite the difficulties and divisions, Christians must persevere in prayer for full unity, Pope Benedict XVI said while the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church looked on. "We are certain that Our Lord Jesus will never abandon us in our quest for unity" as the Holy Spirit continues to sustain those who strive to overcome the divisions and heal "the lacerations in the living flesh of the church," the pope said. Just a few days before the feast of Pentecost, the pope shared the stage during his May 7 general audience in St. Peter's Square with Catholicos Karekin II, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The patriarch and a delegation of 18 bishops were in Rome May 6-10 to meet with the pope and Vatican officials, as well as scholars and students at various pontifical institutes. After warmly greeting and embracing the patriarch before the main audience, the pope thanked him for his dedication to ecumenism and his "personal commitment to the growing friendship" between the two churches.

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Pope appeals for mercy, generosity for suffering cyclone victims

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI appealed to the world community to be merciful and generous by offering aid and working to relieve the suffering caused by Cyclone Nargis, which killed tens of thousands in Myanmar. During his May 7 general audience in St. Peter's Square, the pope called on people to open their hearts "to compassion and generosity so that with the collaboration of all who are able and want to lend help, the suffering caused by this huge tragedy can be alleviated." When the pope spoke, more than 22,000 people had been killed, 41,000 were missing and 1 million were homeless after the cyclone's heavy rains and winds of up to 120 mph swept over southern Myanmar May 3. The cyclone damaged at least three major cities, including Yangon, the capital of Myanmar and its largest city. Earlier, in a telegram sent on behalf of the pope by the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the pope had expressed deep sadness and "heartfelt sympathy" after hearing news of "the tragic aftermath" of the disaster.

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International Eucharistic Congress organizers keep spiritual focus

QUEBEC CITY (CNS) -- Organizers of the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress are keeping a spiritual focus while planning all the programming, accommodation, food and logistics for thousands of pilgrims. "The Christian faith is at the center of our identity," said Msgr. Jean Picher, secretary-general of the June 15-22 congress in Quebec City. "We are organizing opportunity. It is the Holy Spirit who will provide the results," he said. In some ways the preparations have felt like a protracted Lent "with its Good Fridays," he said. Sister Doris Lamontagne, a member of the Little Franciscans of Mary and assistant secretary-general of the congress, said it is an opportunity to reflect on who is present in the Eucharist and "who is Jesus Christ." To welcome Jesus, people need to change their lives and come back to him, Sister Doris said. Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec, president of the congress, has described the three-year preparations as a time of conversion. The congress will be a time of celebration, he said.

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Officials optimistic eucharistic congress in Quebec won't run deficit

QUEBEC CITY (CNS) -- The cost of hosting the International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City in June is expected to be more than double the original estimate, but organizers are optimistic there will be no deficit. "I'm confident our budget will be balanced," said Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet, president of the planning committee for the June 15-22 event. He noted that a special collection for the congress will be held in each parish in Canada May 25 -- the feast of Corpus Christi -- as part of a two-year commitment made by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. "We received, last year, a little more than a million (dollars) from the first collection, and we hope the second one will be more than this figure," Cardinal Ouellet said at a news conference April 24 at the diocesan center in Quebec. Currently, Canadian and U.S. dollars are worth about the same.

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Cardinals, bishops to be among Americans at eucharistic congress

QUEBEC CITY (CNS) -- About 40 cardinals and bishops from the United States are among the nearly 500 Americans who have registered for the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City June 15-22. Not surprisingly, said Msgr. Jean Picher, secretary-general of the congress, most that have signed up are from the northeastern United States, an area geographically close to Quebec. He said in an interview in late April that many of them also have ancestral links to Quebec, founded 400 years ago by Samuel de Champlain and known as "the cradle of French civilization in America. I think this number could easily double in the next few weeks because it's so easy to travel from the United States to Canada," said Msgr. Picher. "And we would like very much to have American Catholics share their religious experience with us." Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington will be the first speaker at the opening plenary session the first full day of the congress, June 16.

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Theologians to participate in symposium on Eucharist in Quebec

QUEBEC CITY (CNS) -- Church leaders and theologians from around the world will take part in a major theological symposium on the Eucharist just before the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City June 15-22. Each day of the June 11-13 symposium will focus on one aspect of the Eucharist: as "an eschatological gift to world history," as "a constitutive gift to the church in the world" and as "a gift for the church's mission." The symposium, which will be held at Laval University -- Canada's first university and the first institution in North America to offer higher education in French -- has the same theme as the congress, "The Eucharist, Gift of God for the Life of the World." Msgr. Jean Picher, secretary-general of the eucharistic congress, told Catholic News Service April 24 that 200 people had registered for the symposium. Participants are from several countries, including Canada, the United States, Mexico, Italy and France.

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Brazilian court acquits rancher accused of ordering U.S. nun's murder

SAO PAULO, Brazil (CNS) -- A Brazilian jury acquitted one of the ranchers accused of ordering the assassination of U.S. Sister Dorothy Stang in 2005. Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura, known as Bida, was acquitted May 6 of ordering the killing of the nun, a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Last year de Moura was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the crime, but according to Brazilian law every defendant sentenced to serve more than 20 years has the right to appeal the decision and demand a new trial. Part of the reason for the acquittal was that Rayfran das Neves Sales, Sister Dorothy's confessed killer, said during his retrial that he alone was responsible for the killing. Sales said he felt threatened by the missionary and mistook her Bible for a gun. In earlier depositions, Sales had accused de Moura of ordering Sister Dorothy's killing. The jury increased Sales' prison time from 27 to 28 years May 6.

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Pope praises Templeton winner for work linking religion, science

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Praising Msgr. Michal Heller, the Polish cosmologist and philosopher who won the 2008 Templeton Prize, Pope Benedict XVI said he hoped the priest's work would help more people recognize that "the heavens proclaim the glory of God." In a message to Msgr. Heller, dated April 30 and released May 7 at the Vatican, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, a top official in the Vatican Secretariat of State, said the pope was pleased the monsignor was being honored for his contributions to the dialogue between religion and science. "He wishes to encourage all those who devote their lives to exploring the profound insights to be gained from scientific research in the context of religious belief," the archbishop said, and he asks God to bless "all those whose work serves to promote a deeper understanding of the relationship between religion and science." Announced in March, the prize was officially awarded to Heller by Britain's Prince Philip during a private ceremony in London's Buckingham Palace May 7.

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Former baseball teammates to share new link as fellow bishops

SALINA, Kan. (CNS) -- Playing baseball together that summer of 1968, Paul Coakley and James Conley could never have dreamed that, four decades later, they both would be bishops in the Catholic Church. That their lives have run such a parallel course since their childhood days continues to amaze Bishop Coakley, who has headed the Salina Diocese since 2004. Bishop Coakley will be a co-consecrator at the episcopal ordination of Bishop-designate Conley, named an auxiliary bishop of Denver April 10, in the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver May 30. "Our paths have run parallel to one another's for 30 years or more," Bishop Coakley said. "And now this latest development." They met that summer of 1968 in Overland Park; Bishop-designate Conley's father was the baseball team's coach. They were good friends through middle school and high school and were roommates at the University of Kansas. Both also studied at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.; both were ordained priests for the Diocese of Wichita, and both later studied in Rome.

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Quebec cardinal never dreamed mission area would be his home province

QUEBEC CITY (CNS) -- When Cardinal Marc Ouellet became a priest in 1968, he dreamed of becoming a missionary. Instead of work in a far-off jungle or city slum, Cardinal Ouellet hoped to be a "missionary to priests." He joined the Sulpicians, an order that specializes in priestly formation. His vision did not include becoming archbishop of Quebec and primate of Canada. Nor did he ever imagine his home province as his mission field. Yet he sees in his life a continuity "on that line of missionary," especially as he prepares to host the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City June 15-22. "I could not have been better prepared to do what I'm doing," he said. His theological reflections over the past 10 years have involved a deepening of sacramental theology, specifically marriage and the Eucharist, and developing "an awareness of fundamental importance of the Eucharist as the ground of the church."


Copyright (c) 2008 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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