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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jun-25-2008

By Catholic News Service


Oblates to focus their missionary zeal on secular culture of U.S.

SAN ANTONIO (CNS) -- The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate have never been known for shrinking from difficult tasks. Their nickname, "Cavalry of Christ," recalls their willingness to ride to distant, remote places where others couldn't or wouldn't go. Now, the Oblates' U.S. province has launched a nontraditional kind of mission to people who are turned off by church to help them understand the ways that God works in their lives. In San Antonio, the Oblate School of Theology's Pat Guidon Center for Continuing Education recently hosted 24 men and women for a dialogue about the complexity of secular culture and the challenge of how to approach people in a secular environment with the Gospel. Participants included 21 Oblate priests and brothers, two women and a Marist. Three Oblates -- Father John Mark Ettensohn, Brother Pat McGee and Brother Paul Daly -- have been authorized by their congregation's U.S. province leadership to open a house in Indianapolis where they plan to live in community and invite people from the neighborhood.

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Vietnamese Catholics gather in Washington to celebrate their faith

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- For three days, Vietnamese Catholics from around the country came together at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington to pray and learn about their faith. Vietnamese Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City presided at several Masses during the June 19-21 pilgrimage. Events included a seminar on family ministry, workshops on Catholic religious education, and discussions on the role of laypeople today as witnesses to Jesus and how families today can live their faith in the United States. Vietnamese Catholics also participated in a eucharistic procession, adoration and confession, dance performances and a Marian procession. Thu Bui, chairman of the parish council at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church in Arlington, Va., and the lay chairman of the Vietnamese Catholic Federation in the Mideastern States, said about 2,500 Vietnamese Catholics from 25 states attended this year's pilgrimage, sponsored by the Federation of Vietnamese Catholics in the USA.

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AOL co-founder seeks to give consumers power in health care decisions

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The man who calls himself "the quintessential tech guy" has taken on a new challenge -- empowering consumers to take more control over their own health and to bring about a revolution in health care. Steve Case, co-founder of America Online and former chairman of AOL Time Warner, spoke June 23 at the leadership luncheon at the 2008 Catholic Health Assembly in San Diego. "Our nation's health care industry is at a crossroads with many ills and ... no clear remedies," he said. "And the more stories I hear, the more it's apparent that it's affecting everyone -- regardless of factors such as race, sex, age or income." In 2005 Case founded Revolution Health Group and two years later he launched RevolutionHealth.com, a free health and medical information site designed to assist "the family's chief medical officer -- women and other caregivers," according to the Web site.

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Cardinal urges Vietnamese Catholics in North America to integrate

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As a cardinal from Vietnam began his U.S. tour, he advised Vietnamese Catholics living in North America to integrate with the faithful in their newly adopted country, but remain close to the culture of their homeland and remember its martyrs. "I tell them, 'You are here, you are not'" refugees anymore, said Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City in English. "I tell them, 'You should be a witness of faith for the people here,'" Cardinal Man said. The cardinal, who spoke to Catholic News Service in Washington June 24, discussed his U.S. tour, how he views recent dialogue between the Vatican and the Vietnamese government, and the role Vietnamese Catholics living in North America should have with the church in their homeland. In the past several years, the cardinal said he has traveled to more than a dozen countries where Vietnamese Catholics now live and routinely encourages them to adapt to their local church communities while remembering Vietnam.

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Catholic service program combines faith, prayer, service to the poor

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In 1999, 28 high school students embarked on a weeklong journey to serve the poor in Trenton, N.J. In 2008, the program's 10th year of existence, 426 will follow in their footsteps. In 1999 the program was called New Jersey Service Project, but as it began to grow, the name was changed to Justiceworx in 2005. Justiceworx still hosts high school students for a week of service, but its success has spurred four other programs. All five are part of the Center for FaithJustice. The center and the programs were founded by Sean Sanford and his mother, who is director of campus ministry at Immaculata High School in Somerville, N.J. Sanford began the New Jersey Service Project while working as the youth minister at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Skillman, N.J. Sanford, executive director of the center, also is executive director for St. Joseph's Seminary in Princeton, N.J. The seminary, a Vincentian-run retreat and formation center, is home base for the Center for FaithJustice. The center's mission is to combine justice and faith in what it calls a "worx" model of ministry in line with the Vincentian charism of prayer and service to the poor.

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Peter's Pence collection helps pope give emergency relief to needy

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The theme for this year's Peter's Pence collection June 28-29 was taken from the theme of Pope Benedict XVI's April trip to the United States: "Christ Our Hope." Money raised through the collection goes to the Vatican to allow the pope to provide emergency financial assistance to the needy around the world, especially victims of wars, oppression, diseases and natural disasters. Catholics' "generous contributions to the Peter's Pence collection connect them to a centuries-old tradition of providing financial support to the works of the Holy Father," said Archbishop John G. Vlazny of Portland, Ore., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on National Collections. The collection officially dates back to the 1860s, but has its roots in ninth-century England, when the king collected money -- a "pence" -- from landowners as financial support for the pope. Every year the collection is held on the Sunday closest to June 29, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

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Pope says values must focus on Jesus to avoid chaos, anarchy

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If values like tolerance, freedom and dialogue do not have Jesus as their point of reference, they lose their true meaning and can lead to chaos, anarchy and empty chatter, Pope Benedict XVI said. It is from Jesus that "we learn the truth about ourselves" and how to understand all the values that are upheld rightfully in the world, he said during his June 25 general audience in St. Peter's Square. "Tolerance that doesn't know how to distinguish between good and evil would become chaotic and self-destructive" while absolute freedom that ignores the rights of others "becomes anarchy and destroys authority," he said. The pope's remarks were part of his catechesis highlighting the life and teachings of St. Maximus of Constantinople, a monk and doctor of the church who lived in the sixth and seventh centuries.

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South African bishops ask world to help resolve Zimbabwean crisis

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference has called on the international community to work with leaders in the region to resolve the political crisis in Zimbabwe. "We are deeply concerned at this situation and warn that unless there is a unified effort from the international community, with the leadership of southern African countries, the hopeless situation of violence, famine and uncertainty will result in a vast humanitarian crisis that will engulf the whole southern African region," bishops from South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland said June 24. In the statement issued by South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, conference spokesman, the bishops called for "a consensus model of government that involves all Zimbabweans" to be established by the international community in cooperation with the Southern African Development Community.

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Brazilian priests expected to run for office despite bishops' warning

BRASILIA, Brazil (CNS) -- Dozens of priests in Brazil are expected to ignore the wishes of their bishops and the Vatican and seek political office in October's municipal elections. In anticipation of the priests' action, the Brazilian bishops' conference, known in Brazil by its acronym CNBB, has reminded priests of canon law provisions that prohibit clergy from holding political office as well as church teaching about the incompatibility of political power with their vocations. However, Brazil's national association of priests, the National Presbyteral Association of Brazil, claims there is nothing incompatible with a priest serving his community as a town councilor or mayor. Father Sostenes Arruda is one priest considering a run for public office. He said he wants to be mayor of Jaboatao dos Guararapes, his hometown in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. A career diplomat who last worked at the Brazilian Embassy in Croatia, Father Arruda wants to run under the banner of the Socialism and Freedom Party. Father Arruda told a Brazilian newspaper that Archbishop Joao Braz de Aviz of Brasilia, the nation's capital, informally supports his candidacy.

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Vatican presses traditionalists with reconciliation expiration date

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican has pressed the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X to accept five conditions, including respect for the pope and his authority, as part of a reconciliation offer. The conditions were communicated by letter to the head of the society, Bishop Bernard Fellay, by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who has conducted an on-again, off-again dialogue with the traditionalists for several years. One of the conditions set forth in Cardinal Castrillon's letter was that the society respond favorably by the end of June. Vatican sources said the deadline indicated some Vatican impatience with the dialogue that began in 2000 and has yet to yield results. The Vatican offer was first reported by the Italian newspaper, Il Giornale, and followed a meeting June 4 between Cardinal Castrillon and Bishop Fellay.

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Anglican bishops gather in Jerusalem to discuss their future

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- More than 300 conservative Anglican bishops and some 1,000 of their faithful gathered in Jerusalem to discuss the future unity of the Anglican Church. Bishops attending the Global Anglican Future Conference, known by its acronym GAFCON, June 22-29 said they were frustrated by the ineffectual response from Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, to their long-term disagreements over the ordination of openly gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions. Many of the bishops in attendance said they would not be participating in the July 16-Aug. 4 Lambeth Conference, in England, which brings together the world's Anglican leadership every 10 years. The consecration of an openly gay bishop is in "direct violation of the Bible and historic Christian teaching," Anglican Archbishop Henry Orombi of Kampala, Uganda, a GAFCON organizer, said in a statement posted on the conference Web site.

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Anglican theologian, pioneer of modern ecumenism, dies at 87

LONDON (CNS) -- An internationally respected Anglican scholar and a pioneer of the modern ecumenical movement died at the age of 87. The Rev. Henry Chadwick, a distinguished theologian and historian of the early church, died peacefully while hospitalized in Oxford, England, June 19. His funeral was to be June 25 in Oxford. The married father of three was known for his enthusiasm for dialogue with the Catholic Church. He was a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission between 1969 and 1981, and between 1983 and 1990. The commission is the official body in which dialogue between the Catholic and Anglican churches occurs. Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, paid tribute to Rev. Chadwick in a June 19 article in The Guardian, a London daily newspaper. Rev. Chadwick was so effective that people began to joke that "the Anglican Church may not have a pope, but it does have Henry Chadwick," the archbishop wrote.

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Mercy sister who taught 'Timmy Russert' says knowing him 'a blessing'

ERIE, Pa. (CNS) -- Days after being thrust into the national spotlight, Sister Lucille Socciarelli said she is grateful to be a Sister of Mercy. "That is how I met little Timmy Russert," said Sister Lucille, Russert's seventh-grade teacher at St. Bonaventure School in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1963. "He was one of the blessings of my 55 years as a Sister of Mercy," she said in an interview for Catholic News Service. Russert, NBC News Washington bureau chief and moderator of "Meet the Press," died of a heart attack June 13. He often credited Sister Lucille as the person who steered him toward a career in journalism when she tried to channel his boyish energy into editing the school newspaper, The Bonnette. The close friendship between the two placed her on the national stage during Russert's funeral as she spent time with Russert's family and spoke at a memorial at the Kennedy Center in Washington June 18.

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Pope appoints U.S. cardinal to help lead synod on Bible

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI appointed U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as one of three delegate presidents for the world Synod of Bishops on the Bible this fall. The pope also named as delegate presidents for the Oct. 5-26 assembly Cardinals Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India, and Odilo Scherer of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Vatican announced the appointments June 24. Though Pope Benedict, as pontiff, is president of the synod, the three cardinals will take turns presiding over the synod's daily sessions. The synod will bring together some 250 bishops to discuss the theme "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."


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