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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS May-9-2008

By Catholic News Service


Poverty's intractability seen spreading to higher-income groups

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Different societal ills command the national spotlight when they threaten to migrate from the underclass to the middle class. It was that way with illegal drugs like LSD and marijuana 40 years ago, and it is that way today with poverty. With many symptoms of a poorer America having manifested themselves in recent months -- among them the housing foreclosure crisis, a weak U.S. dollar and escalating food and energy prices -- a typical American could very well think, "Ooh, maybe I can be poor," according to Sister Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Service who is executive director of Network, the Catholic social justice lobby. Sister Simone was one of the speakers at a recent conference, "Poverty, Families and Policy in the U.S.: Where Do We Go From Here?" held at The Catholic University of America in Washington, and sponsored by the university's Life Cycle Institute.

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N.Y. bishop ends practice of Communion at celebration of the word

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., has ordered an end to weekday Communion services outside the context of Mass by July 1. Citing guidelines for the distribution of Communion in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Bishop Murphy said in a May 9 pastoral letter that his decision would bring the diocese "into conformity with the liturgical norms of the church." The order applies to parishes, schools and social and charitable organizations which had adopted the practice of offering "celebrations of the word" with the distribution of Communion when no daily Mass was scheduled. Such usually brief services often were led by laypeople, nuns or brothers. The distribution of Communion to the sick outside of Mass is permitted as long as the proper ritual is followed, he added. Bishop Murphy said his decision was made after consulting with the diocese's Advisory Committee on Canonical Affairs and the Presbyteral Council.

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Fund to defray costs for Iraqi pilgrims attending World Youth Day

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Organizers for World Youth Day 2008 have established a fund to help defray travel costs for a group of about 100 Chaldean Catholics from Iraq planning to attend World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, July 15-20. The Chaldean Catholics include bishops, priests, seminarians and youths. The group has recorded the World Youth Day theme song in Arabic and Syriac and has been giving support and prayers to families who have been forced to leave their homes as a result of the Iraq War. One of the delegation's organizers is Redemptorist Father Bashar Warda, rector of the major seminary of St. Peter, which reopened earlier this year in Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region. The seminary had been forced to close its Baghdad location four years ago after it was damaged by a car bomb that killed 15 people. Donations to the "Chaldean Catholic Fund" may be sent to: World Youth Day 2008, Attn: Selina Hasham, Polding Centre, 133 Liverpool Street, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia.

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Illinois bill would allow detainees access to religious counselors

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Mercy Sisters JoAnn Persch and Pat Murphy didn't know too much about the system faced by immigrants who are about to be deported when they started praying outside the Broadview detention center last year. But their community, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, had committed itself to stand in solidarity with immigrants. When the sisters asked what they could do to support immigrants, Elena Segura, director of the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform for the Archdiocese of Chicago, suggested they join the regular Friday morning prayer vigil in suburban Broadview. Friday is the day detainees leave the Broadview holding facility on their way to deportation. There, the sisters met the relatives of immigrants about to be deported. Then they saw how the hearings leading to deportation were handled: with the hearing officer in Chicago and the detainee appearing on video, usually from the McHenry County Jail in Woodstock. The two Chicago-based sisters are among the advocates for a bill in the Illinois House of Representatives which would require that detainees have access to visits from religious ministers or clergy.

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Aid agencies accept donations for victims of Myanmar cyclone

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- International aid agencies are accepting donations for victims of the May 3 cyclone that hit Myanmar. The following U.S. and Canadian aid agencies, part of the Caritas Internationalis network, are working with Caritas agencies in southeastern Asia and are accepting donations to assist in Myanmar: Catholic Relief Services -- by phone: (888) 277-7575; online: www.crs.org; or by mailing a check earmarked "Southeast Asia Natural Disaster" to: Catholic Relief Services, P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore, MD 21203-7090. Development and Peace -- by phone: (888) 664-3387; online: www.devp.org/devpme/main-eng.html; or by mailing a check earmarked "Emergency: Burma/Myanmar" to: Development and Peace, 1425 Rene-Levesque Blvd. West, 3rd Floor, Montreal, Quebec, H3G 1T7, Canada. Caritas Internationalis can be accessed online at: www.caritas.org.

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Vatican makes Latin-language documents available online

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Latin is online at the Vatican. Without fanfare, the Vatican's www.vatican.va site has made hundreds of papal and other documents available in a new Latin-language section. The Latin area went live May 9. Visitors clicking on "Sancta Sedes" (Latin for "Holy See") are taken to a menu of documents arranged by pontificate or Roman Curia office. Also posted is the complete neo-Vulgate Latin version of the Bible and Latin editions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Code of Canon Law and the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The papal pages -- "Summi Pontifices" -- cover the last five popes and include encyclicals and other major texts, as well as a selection of speeches, sermons and messages. The last entry on the Latin pages provides information about "Latinitas," the Vatican foundation that promotes the use of Latin.

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Vatican agrees to U.N. conventions on protecting ozone

UNITED NATIONS (CNS) -- By acceding to U.N. conventions on the protection of the ozone layer, the Vatican said it hopes to encourage the world community to support and implement existing treaties. "The Holy See desires to encourage the entire international community to be resolute in promoting authentic cooperation between politics, science and economics," said a Vatican declaration. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations, released the declaration May 5 at the U.N. headquarters in New York of the Vatican's accession to the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, as well as its four amendments. The declaration, dated April 9, said the Vatican "intends to give its own moral support to the commitment of states to the correct and effective implementation of the treaties in question and to the attaining of the mentioned objectives."

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Pope to send daily text messages during World Youth Day

SYDNEY, Australia (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI will send daily text messages directly to pilgrims during World Youth Day July 15-20 in Sydney, said youth day organizers. The pope's text messages of hope and inspiration will be carried by World Youth Day's official communications partner, Telstra, said a World Youth Day statement May 7. The Vatican has not commented. "We wanted to make WYD08 a unique experience by using new ways to connect with today's tech-savvy youth," said Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, World Youth Day coordinator. A Telstra spokesperson said the GSM cell-phone networks running for World Youth Day "will mean many cell phones used by pilgrims from the United States will also work here." Pilgrims also can purchase a prepaid SIM card for their cell phones when they arrive in Australia. In addition to its official Web site -- www.wyd2008.org/index.php/en -- World Youth Day also will offer an online social networking site -- www.xt3.com -- to be launched in coming weeks.

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Pope tells Armenian Orthodox God can work miracle of Christian unity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God can work miracles, including the miracle of Christian unity, Pope Benedict XVI told the Armenian Orthodox patriarch and 18 bishops. "If our hearts and minds are open to the Spirit of communion, God can work miracles again in the church, restoring the bonds of unity," the pope said May 9 during a prayer service with Catholicos Karekin II, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Catholicos Karekin was visiting the Vatican along with Armenian Orthodox bishops from Armenia, Russia, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, the United States, Canada, Brazil, France, Italy and Germany. Some 100 Armenian pilgrims from around the world joined Pope Benedict and the Armenian bishops for the midday prayer service in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace; afterward, the patriarch joined the pope for lunch.

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British cardinal: Catholics must nurture dialogue with atheists

LONDON (CNS) -- Catholics must seek to nurture understanding and dialogue between Christians and atheists, a British cardinal said. Addressing the rise of aggressive secularism in Britain, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, argued that God was often misrepresented by prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins, author of the 2006 best-seller "The God Delusion." In reality, the cardinal said, there was a persistent element of doubt in the convictions of both Christians and atheists that "could become the basis for an open dialogue. The line dividing faith from unbelief passes through the heart of each of us," Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor said in a May 8 lecture, "Faith in Britain Today." "I would want to encourage people of faith to regard those without faith with deep esteem because the hidden God is active in their lives as well as in the lives of those who believe," he said.

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Lebanese archbishop calls for reconciliation amid violent clashes

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNS) -- After several days of violence, a Lebanese archbishop called on sectarian groups to reconcile peacefully and urged the Vatican to help. "The Lebanese do not at all want war. We are insisting that the Christian political leaders be wise and avoid participation in this armed conflict," Maronite Catholic Archbishop Bechara Rai of Jbeil told Catholic News Service May 9. "We are calling on them to do everything to reconcile peacefully the two groups. We should do whatever necessary to interrupt this armed conflict. The church, the (Maronite) Patriarchate should take initiatives," said Archbishop Rai. "The Vatican should intervene in the spirit of the 1997 apostolic exhortation, 'New Hope for Lebanon.' This pontifical document gives directions on the political level and was agreed upon equally by Muslims and Christians," said the archbishop. "A democratic Lebanon, the success of the Christian and Muslim conviviality and pluralism are the door to peace in the Arab countries and the Middle East."

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Retired Stockton Bishop Donald Montrose dies

STOCKTON, Calif. (CNS) -- Retired Bishop Donald W. Montrose of Stockton, Calif., died May 7, on the 59th anniversary of his priestly ordination and just six days shy of his 85th birthday. His funeral was scheduled for May 12 at the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Stockton, followed by burial at San Joaquin Catholic Cemetery. Bishop Montrose had been retired since 1999, after serving as head of the Stockton Diocese since 1986. Prior to that he spent three years as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and two years as rector-president of St. John's Seminary College in Camarillo, Calif. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Los Angeles Archdiocese May 7, 1949. An obituary in The Record, Stockton's daily newspaper, noted Bishop Montrose's fondness for singing along with the mariachi band in local processions for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He also was recalled as a great storyteller with a good sense of humor and a fondness for sweets and golf.

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Pacing the pope: Pope's seclusion is prudence, not disappearing act

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Every pontificate has its rhythm, and sometimes Pope Benedict XVI's seems to have more than one. In recent weeks, journalists have seen the 81-year-old pontiff go from seven-hour days on the public stage to virtual seclusion behind the Vatican walls. Predictably, that led to one alarming report -- promptly denied by the Vatican -- about the pope's supposedly "fragile heart." In fact, what may appear from the outside as warning signs probably reflect a more subtle process: pacing the pope. In the week leading up to Pope Benedict's six-day U.S. visit, his activities were reduced to a minimum. He gave no speeches, met with no groups and only a few individuals, and limited his public appearances to a weekly general audience and a Sunday blessing. In Washington and New York, the pope sailed through a busy schedule with no evident problems, a fact that pleased his aides immensely. But once he got back to Rome, he took another rest and held no public audiences for a week. Some might call it a disappearing act. Vatican officials would simply call it prudence.

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Woman who had affair with retired Zimbabwean archbishop dies

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (CNS) -- Rosemary Sibanda, who had an affair with retired Zimbabwean Archbishop Pius Ncube, died May 2 in a Bulawayo hospital where she had been admitted with pneumonia. Archbishop Ncube, one of the most outspoken critics of his country's political leadership, resigned as archbishop of Bulawayo last year after the sex scandal. According to The Herald government newspaper, Sibanda was described as a reserved person who cared for her neighbors. She was born April 19, 1964, in Filabusi, a village in Matabeleland South province in Zimbabwe. A lawsuit alleging that the archbishop committed adultery was made public in July and state-run newspapers published photos they said were of Archbishop Ncube and a woman, taken with a concealed camera placed in the archbishop's bedroom. As a result of the photos, Onesimus Sibanda, a state-employed railway technician, claimed damages from Archbishop Ncube for the affair with his wife.


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