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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Oct-10-2009

By Catholic News Service


Victims of hurricane's fury lost as to next steps to take

OAK ISLAND, Texas (CNS) -- The first day Cathy Tran arrived back on Oak Island after Hurricane Ike forced her to leave, she slept on the floor of her home. All she had was a floor -- no roof, no walls, no possessions. Her home was destroyed by the storm surge, possessions thrown around by the tide and waves. Others residents Tran knew in her neighborhood slept on the ground where their homes used to be, attacked by the mosquitoes that swarm the area. Things are a little better for the Magana family -- they have walls. They're the walls of a tent on a driveway. When the Magana family arrived back two days after the Sept. 13 storm, they found most of their home was left where it had been -- and someone else's home was there as well. A neighbor's house was destroyed and parts of it were against the Maganas' home. Now they live in a tent in their driveway, spending their days cleaning up their property and moving debris to be hauled away by trucks. It was stories such as these that Bishop Curtis J. Guillory of Beaumont listened to as he visited with the residents of Oak Island Oct. 2; many of them are members of Our Lady of Light Parish in Anahuac.

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Catholic business schools say financial crisis a learning opportunity

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The current economic crisis has been a hot topic in leading business schools at Catholic universities across the United States. Heads of master's programs in business at a number of Catholic universities said in interviews with Catholic News Service they see the market meltdown as a valuable occasion to teach their students the consequences of imprudent business decisions. Christopher Puto, dean of the University of St. Thomas' Opus College of Business in Minneapolis, remarked: "There are powerful lessons here on the issues of greed, selfishness and the need for sound moral judgment that offer great insight for young people at the start of their careers. "We may be able to use this to guide the development of a new class of business leaders who genuinely understand that profit and the common good are not mutually exclusive ends," he said.

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1929 vs. 2008: Similar forces at work eight decades apart

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Historian Douglas Astolfi points to three periods of "incredible greed" on the part of wealthy corporations in American history. The first occurred in the 1870s during a speculative boom following the Civil War. He identifies the Roaring '20s as the second as investors leveraged stocks to secure loans from banks to buy more stocks while the stock market took off in the post-World War I period. And the third? We're living through it right now, said Astolfi, professor of history at St. Leo University in St. Leo, Fla. Astolfi told Catholic News Service the latest period has been fueled by three decades of financial deregulation and a banking industry that encouraged people to buy on credit because there was plenty of money to be made off a housing bubble which no one thought would ever burst.

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Archbishop appeals to U.S. to help end violence in eastern Congo

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Archbishop Francois Maroy Rusengo of Bukavu, Congo, expressed hope that Americans would listen to his story about the ongoing violence in eastern Congo. Referring to the U.S. congressional representatives he met in October, Archbishop Maroy told Catholic News Service: "I hope they understand the gravity (of the situation). They promised they will see how they can help, and I am going to pray" that they do. "The world is so silenced it is like we are not even humans," he said. Archbishop Maroy spoke to CNS in Washington Oct. 9 before he spoke about the poverty and violence in eastern Congo and the Great Lakes region of Africa to representatives of U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations working in Congo. The archbishop also met with U.S. church representatives and asked them for help rebuilding "houses, schools, hospitals and convents that were destroyed" in the Archdiocese of Bukavu.

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McCain, Obama wrestle over economy in Nashville debate

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) -- The economic downturn of recent months may trump voters' concerns about other issues, said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., after Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain participated in the second presidential debate Oct. 7 at Belmont University in Nashville. McCaskill, a Catholic and Obama supporter who was present for the debate, said that although life issues are paramount for many Catholic voters "Catholicism has always been about healing the sick and taking care of the poor. That weighs in favor of Sen. Obama." Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts whom McCain defeated in the Republican presidential primaries, also was at Belmont for the debate and declared McCain the winner. He called his former rival "a man who has been tested and proven time and time again" and a candidate American voters see as a leader.

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Ecumenical delegates tell synod Bible unites Christians

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Bible unites Christians, calls them to task for the divisions they have allowed to endure and urges them to reach out to the world's poor and suffering, said ecumenical delegates to the world Synod of Bishops. Many Catholic members of the synod speaking Oct. 7-9 praised Protestant groups for their work in distributing Bibles and expressed admiration for the centrality their churches give to the word of God. At the same time, the first three ecumenical delegates to address the synod expressed hope that as Catholics focus more on the Bible, the Christian churches would draw closer together in faith and in action. U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told the synod Oct. 8 that a close relationship exists between the Scriptures and ecumenism. "The Bible is truly a terrain for unity," he said.

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Spanish prelates say class teaches alternatives to traditional values

MADRID, Spain (CNS) -- Spanish church leaders have said a new government-mandated class teaches alternatives to traditional values. Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera of Toledo said the elementary and high school curriculum "does not respect what parents want for their children." Requiring the class, which was designed by the Spanish parliament to teach democratic and constitutional ideals, takes away a parent's right to decide the moral education of their children and gives that right to the state, while imposing a single-value system for all, Cardinal Canizares said Oct. 2 in an interview with the Spanish COPE radio station. The class, called "Education for Citizens and Human Rights," is required at both public and private schools. Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela of Madrid, president of the Spanish bishops' conference, said in September that "the subject signifies a problem for the Christian conscience" because it teaches an alternative to traditional values in highlighting issues like abortion and same-sex relationships.

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Each Catholic should have a Bible, says Nigerian bishop

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Love and appreciation for the Bible are aided by encouraging Catholics to own a Bible even if they are unable to read it, said a Nigerian archbishop. In his Oct. 9 address to the Synod of Bishops on the Bible, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos said sometimes the church in Nigeria requires that people have a Bible before they can be baptized, confirmed or married. Wealthier Catholics help provide Bibles for others since Catholic editions are very expensive, he said, noting that Catholic editions in the local language are virtually nonexistent. The archbishop said parents are urged to bring to their child's baptism a Bible "which will be kept for the child until he or she can read it." "We encourage the enthronement and sharing (of the) Bible at home and among family members" and encourage "ownership of the Bible even by those who cannot read," he said. Archbishop Kaigama said "the word of God should provide the ingredients for genuine Christian living."

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Synod members say Bible experience must move from head to heart

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholics need better formation in sacred Scripture but without putting so much emphasis on knowledge that the word of God is prevented from entering people's hearts, several members told the world Synod of Bishops. Bishop David Walker of Broken Bay, Australia, told the synod Oct. 9 that today's priests and seminarians are educated better than ever, especially in the scientific study of Scriptures. "However, this has not resulted in a presbyterate whose heart is 'a library of the word' or 'dyed the color of the Scriptures.' Such an approach alone can lead to a head filled with the Scriptures but a heart bereft of them," he said. He told the assembly a person's experience of the Scriptures needs to move from the head to the heart in part by practicing "a meditative prayerful reading" and sharing of Scriptures.

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Patriarchs invite synod members to Mideast to discover land of Bible

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The patriarch of the Melkite Catholic Church, who lives in Syria, and the Latin-rite patriarch of Jerusalem invited members of the Synod of Bishops on the Bible to visit them and discover how living in the land of the Bible can make its words come alive. Melkite Patriarch Gregoire III Laham of Damascus, Syria, and Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem addressed the synod Oct. 10, extending invitations but also talking about some of the challenges Christians in the Holy Land are facing. Patriarch Laham told the synod: "The word of God unites us; it reinforces our faith. We must not be afraid to love the word of God, to share it with our brothers and sisters." Patriarch Twal also invited the synod members to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to take the faithful with them, to pray for Christians in the Middle East and to offer concrete signs of their solidarity. The land under the patriarch's pastoral care is the place where "the Word became flesh," he told synod members. "To read, to meditate and to pray the word of God in the Holy Land is a very special gift. In the Holy Land the Word of God has become a living reality that is concrete and has flesh," he said.

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Religion can be powerful force for freedom, justice, panelists say

UNITED NATIONS (CNS) -- The same unwavering, absolute commitment to faith that can make religion a source of conflict and division can also make it a powerful force for freedom, justice and liberation, panelists said at an Oct. 7 forum at the United Nations. They also said the Catholic Church, because of its social teaching and transnational nature, is particularly well-positioned to prevent conflicts from breaking out and to mediate those that are ongoing. The forum on "Peace-building: A Role for Religion" drew a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 people. It was co-sponsored by the permanent observer mission of the Holy See, the Path to Peace Foundation and the Catholic Peacebuilding Network. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, apostolic nuncio to the United Nations, said the Holy See delegation helped draft guidelines used by the U.N. Peacebuilding Commission to acknowledge the role of faith-based organizations at the forefront "in fostering dialogue, in peacemaking and in post-conflict resolution."

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No promises: Pope praises Pius XII, but sainthood cause still on hold

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Among the thousands who crammed into St. Peter's Basilica for a Mass commemorating Pope Pius XII, many were hoping for an announcement about his beatification, a step toward sainthood. That didn't happen. Pope Benedict XVI strongly praised Pope Pius and prayed that his sainthood cause would make progress, but he made no promises and set no dates. He did not declare Pope Pius "venerable," the step that would have advanced the cause and, no doubt, would have prompted much applause in the basilica. To make sure that no one got the wrong idea, the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, told reporters not to expect the pope to go off and sign such a decree immediately after the Mass. The pope was demonstrating his "spiritual union" with those hoping for canonization, but gave no indication about future steps, Father Lombardi said.

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Women of the Bible held wide range of roles throughout history

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Benedictine Sister Ruth Fox likes to tell stories about women. Not just any women, but women of the Bible. She talks about Shiphrah and Puah in Exodus, two women who put their lives at risk by defying the pharaoh's law of death in order to uphold God's law of life. Then there's the prophet Huldah -- one of few women or men called a prophet -- who made history, as told in Chapter 22 of the Second Book of Kings, by verifying the authenticity of an ancient scroll discovered in the Temple. And there's Phoebe, whom Paul refers to by the Greek word for deacon in his Letter to the Romans because of her service to the church of Cenchreae. (The New American Bible uses the word "minister" in place of the Greek "diakonis" because the concept of deacon had yet to evolve in the young church.) Sister Ruth, 72, said she tells these stories -- and many others -- because they are important for the faithful to hear, and especially because they are not included in the Lectionary used at Sunday Masses.

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Despite hardships, American in Mexico recommends mission life

QUERETARO, Mexico (CNS) -- Through almost four decades of missionary work, American Kathy Vargas has had to suffer through threats, hardship and indifference. In the 1970s, wealthy landowners in the jungles of Chiapas state threatened Vargas and her husband for evangelizing to indigenous groups and teaching them to defend their rights. In the '80s, the couple saw their Mexico City neighborhood devastated by an earthquake. More recently, Vargas has faced a struggle to raise funds and get the government interested in a community center that teaches self-respect and civic values to thousands of schoolchildren. She shrugged off these difficulties, however, in a recent interview with Catholic News Service in the central Mexican city of Queretaro, her adopted hometown. "I recommend mission life, highly," said Vargas, a Maryknoll lay missionary since the mid-1980s. The rewards, she added, outweigh the difficulties "one hundredfold." Vargas grew up in Ohio and New Jersey, and served in the highland town of San Cristobal de Las Casas in 1970 as a Maryknoll sister.

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Eight with Catholic Worker ties arrested at strategic space meeting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- For longtime peace activist Peg Gallagher, "dying" Oct. 8 at an international gathering of space and defense professionals in her hometown of Omaha, Neb., was no big deal. Gallagher said her participation in a "die-in" to protest the militarization of space during the Strategic Space and Defense 2008 conference at Omaha's Qwest Center was her way of witnessing her Catholic faith. "I think we should all be there making a fuss about what we're allowing our country to do," Gallagher, 89, a member of St. Cecilia Cathedral Parish, told Catholic News Service Oct. 10. "We claim to be Christians. What kind of Catholics are we?" She said, "I feel I have to protest for my own character, my own being honest and true to my religion." Gallagher was one of eight people with ties to Midwest Catholic Worker houses arrested during the protest at the convention center, which was hosting one of the country's largest annual gatherings of defense contractors and military personnel focusing on space weapons and worldwide strategic communications.


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