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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Dec-30-2008

By Catholic News Service


Bishop Barry Knestout ordained as new auxiliary bishop for Washington

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Follow the apostles' mission of bringing the "saving power of Christ into this world" by teaching the faith to others, Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl urged new Auxiliary Bishop Barry C. Knestout Dec. 29. The Washington archbishop also offered words of inspiration during Bishop Knestout's episcopal ordination Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, as 1,200 guests listened. Archbishop Wuerl noted that Bishop Knestout, 46, had chosen "Christ Our Hope," the theme of Pope Benedict XVI's April 2008 U.S. visit, as his episcopal motto. Then-Msgr. Knestout served as co-chairman of the papal visit committee in Washington. "As Pope Benedict XVI taught us in his encyclical, 'Spe Salvi' (on Christian hope), and as he repeated here in our archdiocese at the Mass at Nationals Park on April 17, 'the one who has hope lives differently. The one who has hope has new life,'" the archbishop said. The new bishop is a native of the Washington Archdiocese, having grown up in Pope Pius X Parish in Bowie, Md. Bishop Knestout became the first native of Prince George's County, Md., to be ordained a bishop for the archdiocese, which includes Washington and five Maryland counties.

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Atheist again seeks to stop prayers, God references at inauguration

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- An atheist who has lost legal challenges to references to God in the Pledge of Allegiance and previous inaugurations has revived his legal effort to strip the presidential inauguration ceremony of its invocation, benediction and the oath's reference to God. Michael Newdow filed suit Dec. 29 in U.S. District Court in Washington seeking to stop the Presidential Inaugural Committee from including prayers in the inauguration ceremony. The suit also seeks to bar Chief Justice John Roberts, who will administer the oath of office, from including the phrase "so help me God." Newdow filed similar suits twice before, targeting the 2001 and 2005 inauguration ceremonies. Both efforts were rebuffed by federal courts. He also lost a 2004 Supreme Court challenge to the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. The full text of the oath of office in the Constitution reads: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Most, but not all, presidents have added the words "so help me God."

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U.S. Catholic relief agency gets grant to help Haitian AIDS victims

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (CNS) -- Cross International, a Catholic relief agency based in Pompano Beach, was awarded a $4.8 million grant from the U.S. government for a new program to prevent the spread of AIDS in Haiti and provide care to orphans and children. "This is the biggest single grant in the history of Cross, a real landmark in the seven years since we began serving the poor," said Jim Cavnar, president of Cross International. "The competition was tough, and the fact that we were chosen says a lot about our work and how much we have matured as a ministry." The grant was awarded through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR, an initiative spearheaded by the Bush administration in 2003. Cross International was one of 19 nonprofit organizations to be awarded funds in 2008 through PEPFAR's New Partners Initiative. Cross International plans to use the grant money to begin a comprehensive AIDS awareness and care program that targets teens, AIDS orphans and children.

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As Israel attacks Gaza Strip, residents fear it's just the beginning

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- After three days of Israeli attacks on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a local parish priest said the buildings are shaking, the bombing is continuous and "they are bombarding us like the demon." "We are only at the beginning," said Msgr. Manuel Musallam, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Gaza City, in a telephone interview with Catholic News Service Dec. 29. He added that he feared another intifada, or Palestinian uprising. "We will fight against all hope. We pray and we ask God to find a solution," said the priest who is maintaining contact with parishioners through text messaging. The Israelis "are targeting special ... places associated with Hamas, even a mosque used by Hamas members. They are all around us. We can hear the aircrafts," said Msgr. Musallam. At least 360 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed as homes were destroyed and hundreds were injured by the Israeli attacks that began Dec. 27 in an attempt to stop Hamas rocket attacks into southern Israel. Hamas is the Palestinian paramilitary organization that runs the Gaza Strip.

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Vatican agency says at least 20 church workers killed in 2008

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- At least 20 church workers were killed in 2008, demonstrating that Catholic men and women -- bishops, priests, religious and laity -- continue placing their lives at risk in order to proclaim the Gospel and serve the poor, said the Vatican's Fides news agency. Publishing its annual list of missionaries killed during the year, the agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples said all Catholics have an obligation to remember those who sacrificed their lives, to thank God for their witness and to resolve to be more courageous in demonstrating their own faith. "In profoundly different situations and contexts, according to their own talents, attitudes and with their own limits, all of them consecrated their lives to the unique mission of proclaiming and witnessing to the love of Christ, who died and rose again for the salvation of mankind," said a Dec. 30 Fides statement. "Without heroics or solemn proclamations, they did not hesitate to put their lives at risk each day in many different contexts of suffering, poverty and tension," Fides said.

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Religious leaders urge Palestinians, Israelis to end violence in Gaza

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- Religious leaders in Jerusalem urged Palestinians and Israelis to "return to their senses" and end the violence that has engulfed the Gaza Strip and southern Israel. They denounced the hostilities in Gaza and "all forms of violence and killings from all parties" and called for Jan. 4 to be marked as a day of justice and peace in "the land of peace." "We follow with deep concern, regret and shock the war currently raging in the Gaza Strip and the subsequent destruction, murder and bloodshed, especially at a time when we celebrate Christmas, the birth of the King of love and peace," they said in a Dec. 30 statement. The heads of 13 churches in Jerusalem, including Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem and Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, head of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, signed the statement. At least 360 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed as homes were destroyed, and hundreds were injured by the Israeli attacks that began Dec. 27 in an attempt to stop Hamas rocket attacks into southern Israel. Hamas is the Palestinian paramilitary organization that runs the Gaza Strip.

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Gazan Catholics in West Bank say inability to leave is mixed blessing

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- For some Gazan Catholics, it was a mixed blessing being stuck in the West Bank as Israel attacked the Gaza Strip. Several members of Gaza's Holy Family Parish, who asked not to be named, were given exit permits to spend the Christmas holiday in the West Bank with relatives days before the attack began Dec. 27. For those who had permits for the entire family, it is a blessing they are all together. But for the others who had family left in Gaza, it is a troublesome time. At least 360 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed as homes were destroyed and hundreds were injured by the Israeli attacks in an attempt to stop Hamas rocket attacks into southern Israel. Hamas is the Palestinian paramilitary organization that runs the Gaza Strip. A source told Catholic News Service Dec. 29 that, although he was happy his children were spared the traumatic experience, he worried about his relatives and his home in Gaza. "I want to return to my home and my work. The situation is very difficult," he said in a telephone interview.

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Cancer claims life of Benedictine Brother Dietrich Reinhart, 59

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. (CNS) -- Two months after resigning as president of St. John's University so he could focus on his treatment of malignant melanoma, Benedictine Brother Dietrich Reinhart died Dec. 29 at age 59. The first nonordained person to hold the position, Brother Dietrich stepped down from his post Oct. 21. He had been university president since 1991. A funeral Mass was to be celebrated Jan. 6 in the St. John's Abbey Church in Collegeville. Benedictine Abbot John Klassen was to preside, with burial to follow in the abbey's cemetery. During his 17 years as president Brother Dietrich saw the university's enrollment grow by nearly 14 percent and its endowment quadruple from $36 million to more than $145 million. Other significant undertakings during his tenure included the designation, with St. John's Abbey, of the entire 2,700-acre university campus as an arboretum and the commissioning of calligrapher Donald Jackson to handwrite and illuminate The Saint John's Bible, the first such endeavor by a Benedictine monastery in 500 years.

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Rookie head coach finds winning combination, takes team to playoffs

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- One day this fall, John Harbaugh walked into a barbershop near his home. As the wholesome-looking 46-year-old sat in the barber's chair, a young hairdresser carefully snipped his closely cropped brown hair. "What are you doing this weekend?" she asked casually. "Oh, I don't know," he replied, "a little bit of this and that." The hairdresser kept up her poker face a little longer. She was trying to tease a man whose visage has quickly become one of the more recognizable in the region. A year ago, Harbaugh, a lifelong Catholic, was plucked from relative obscurity to become the third head coach in Baltimore Ravens history. As the regular season of the National Football League came to a close in late December, he had achieved an 11-5 record and taken his team into the playoffs. The Ohio native sticks to the ideals that have defined his life: treating others with respect and staying humble. Catholicism, he says, gave him those principles and they apply to the hairdresser just as much as they do to the multimillion-dollar athletes he coaches.


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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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