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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jun-24-2009

By Catholic News Service


Bishops urge G-8 leaders to remember poor, address climate change

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic bishops in the Group of Eight industrialized countries have urged their nations' leaders to remember the poor and address the issue of global climate change during the upcoming G-8 summit. Leaders from eight of the globe's wealthiest countries, including President Barack Obama of the United States, will convene in Italy July 8-10. The Catholic leaders, who head the bishops' conferences in their respective countries, made the request in a June 22 letter. Their plea was similar to an entreaty from Pope Benedict XVI to Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown in preparation for the Group of 20 meeting April 2 in London. "Development aid, including the commercial and financial conditions favorable to less developed countries and the cancellation of the external debt of the poorest and most indebted countries, has not been the cause of the crisis and, out of fundamental justice, must not be its victim," the pope wrote to Brown. With the G-8 summit approaching, the heads of the Catholic bishops' conferences seemed to continue the pope's efforts. They reminded government leaders of one of the main priorities of the Catholic Church: to protect human life and dignity.

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Ruling gives religious workers 'peace of mind,' CLINIC head says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Seattle judge's order overturning a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services policy on visas for foreign-born religious workers will give those workers "the peace of mind to continue providing important services in their communities and parishes," said the head of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. Mark Franken, executive director of the agency known as CLINIC, commented in a June 23 statement on U.S. District Court Judge Robert S. Lasnik's recent order requiring the federal immigration agency to treat immigrant religious workers the same way as other immigrants. Previously, foreign citizens immigrating on the basis of petitions by family members or employers of those designated as "priority workers" or those having special skills or experience could file concurrent applications for a visa and for permanent residency. Religious workers were required, however, to wait until the agency had approved separate visa applications by employers before applying for permanent residency. "The bar discriminated against religious workers and created a burden for hundreds of religious workers," Franken said.

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Bishops clarify 'ambiguities' in 2002 Catholic-Jewish document

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The "ambiguities" in a 7-year-old document from Catholic and Jewish dialogue partners are continuing to cause confusion, two committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a June 18 note. The USCCB committees on Doctrine and on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs said the Catholic section of a 2002 document, "Reflections on Covenant and Mission," written by participants in an ongoing dialogue between the National Council of Synagogues and the USCCB interreligious affairs committee, "contains some statements that are insufficiently precise and potentially misleading." In a note issued in San Antonio during the bishops' June 17-19 spring meeting, the committees said, "'Reflections on Covenant and Mission' should not be taken as an authoritative presentation of the teaching of the Catholic Church." Of special concern are the document's "description of the church's mission and, in particular, what evangelization means with regard to the Jewish people," the committees said. By stating that the Jewish people's "witness to the kingdom ... must not be curtailed by seeking the conversion of the Jewish people to Christianity," the document "could lead some to conclude mistakenly that Jews have an obligation not to become Christian and that the church has a corresponding obligation not to baptize Jews," they added.

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Cardinal urges Boston priests to be united in sacramental brotherhood

BURLINGTON, Mass. (CNS) -- Priests today must be inspired by the ministry of St. John Vianney, their patron saint, which was characterized by love and prayer, Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley said. He urged priests to forge a renewed fraternal unity that celebrates their shared missions of serving Christ and being shepherds for his people. The cardinal made the comments at the Boston Archdiocese's 2009 Presbyteral Convocation, held June 10 to help archdiocesan priests prepare for the Year for Priests, which opened June 19. Pope Benedict XVI announced the church's yearlong focus in March in an effort to further appreciation and support for priests around the world. Nearly 350 priests gathered in Burlington to share a day of brotherhood and renewed unity with Cardinal O'Malley, their archbishop. The theme of the convocation was "Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests."

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Minnesota cathedral designated as national shrine of St. Paul

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) -- As the June 29 close of the year of St. Paul drew near, the Cathedral of St. Paul announced its new designation as the National Shrine of the Apostle Paul. The cathedral is among about 100 U.S. Catholic churches that have been honored with the designation, and it's the only one dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle, said Msgr. Anthony Sherman, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Divine Worship. The designation came from the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at the request of Archbishop John C. Neinstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The title "shrine" recognizes the cathedral's national importance and designates it as a pilgrimage destination for groups from across the United States, said Father Joseph Johnson, the cathedral's rector. Visitors from beyond the archdiocese -- Catholic and non-Catholic alike -- already tour the cathedral when they visit St. Paul. Parish groups from around the Midwest have organized pilgrimages to the building, Father Johnson added. The shrine designation may result in more pilgrims, he said.

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Priestly ministry requires giving oneself to Christ, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Priests can preach the Gospel effectively only if they give their lives totally to Christ, Pope Benedict XVI said. At his weekly general audience June 24, the pope said the fact that the new Year for Priests overlapped for 10 days with the concluding year of St. Paul is a useful reminder that priests must be missionaries as well as celebrants of the sacraments. "Because he belongs to Christ, the priest is radically at the service of men and women. He is the minister of their salvation, their happiness, their authentic liberation," he told an estimated 11,000 people gathered for the audience in St. Peter's Square. Pope Benedict said he hoped the Year for Priests, which began June 19, would help priests "grow toward the spiritual perfection" they need to be effective ministers and would help the faithful "appreciate more fully the great gift of grace which the priesthood is." The pope said, "An authentic service of the Word requires that the priest tends toward a denial of self," so that with St. Paul he can say, "I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me."

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Marking Red Cross anniversary, pope appeals for release of volunteers

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Marking the 150th anniversary of what became the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Pope Benedict XVI appealed for the release of all people held by kidnappers in conflict zones and especially for the release of an Italian Red Cross worker in the Philippines. The volunteer, Eugenio Vagni, was captured by armed men Jan. 15 on the southern island of Sulu, the site of ongoing clashes between the military and Muslim separatists. Pope Benedict made his appeal at the end of his weekly general audience June 24. The Red Cross was founded on that date in 1859 by a Swiss citizen moved by the lack of medical care for soldiers wounded in the Battle of Solferino, a city in northern Italy. "Over the years the values of universality, neutrality (and) independent service have attracted millions of volunteers around the world, forming an important bulwark of humanity and solidarity in many contexts of war and conflict as well as in many emergencies," the pope said.

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Canadian bishops find no wrongdoing by aid agency's Mexican partners

TORONTO (CNS) -- The Mexican partners of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace were imprudent when they signed a statement on human rights sent to the United Nations, but Canada's bishops have found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the aid agency or its partners, said the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Archbishop V. James Weisgerber of Winnipeg, Manitoba, said the bishops' report based on an investigation into allegations first made on a pro-life Web site will include recommendations for tighter protocols on the development agency's future partnerships. Those recommendations will be withheld until all bishops have read the report, he said. LifeSiteNews.com reported March 11 that Development and Peace funded Mexican groups that lobbied in favor of legal abortion. The charges prompted several Canadian bishops to say they would withhold donations collected during the agency's Share Lent campaign and the agency to temporarily suspend funding for the groups in question.

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Spanish bishops say abortion legislation threatens common good

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Spain's Catholic bishops have criticized legislation that would liberalize the country's abortion laws, calling the bill "a very serious danger for the common good." In a document posted on the bishops' conference Web site in mid-June, the bishops' Permanent Commission said it felt a religious duty to inform the public about its concerns over the legislation. The bill, expected to be considered by the parliament in July, would allow girls as young as 16 to terminate a pregnancy without parental consent. It also would allow abortions to be performed without restrictions up to the 14th week of pregnancy. In the document, "Declaration on the Draft Bill of the 'Abortion Law': Endangering the Life of the Unborn," the bishops quote Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical, "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life"), and the Second Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World ("Gaudium et Spes"), which called abortion and infanticide "unspeakable crimes." The bishops said they "wish to emphasize some aspects of the draft bill in question that, upon becoming law, would be a serious regression in the protection of an unborn life, a major abandonment of the pregnant mothers and, finally, a very serious danger for the common good."

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Pope names Indian missionary to succeed Archbishop Ncube in Zimbabwe

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has named a 49-year-old Indian member of the Society of the Divine Word to be the new archbishop of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Bulawayo has been without an archbishop since September 2007 when Archbishop Pius Ncube, an outspoken opponent of Zimbabwe's political leadership, resigned in the midst of a sex scandal. He later admitted that he had an affair with a woman. Pope Benedict named Father Alex Thomas Kaliyanil, the superior of the Divine Word missionaries in Zimbabwe, to be the new archbishop of Bulawayo. Archbishop-designate Kaliyanil has served as a missionary in Zimbabwe since 1989, said the Vatican, which announced the appointment June 20. Ordained to the priesthood in 1988, the archbishop-designate's ministry in Zimbabwe has included service in several parishes, as a diocesan treasurer and as an adviser to the Catholic aid agency Caritas Zimbabwe. He has been regional superior of the Divine Word missionaries, also known as Verbites, since 2008.

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Raped Indian nun identifies another assailant, but not rapist

BHUBANESWAR, India (CNS) -- A Catholic nun raped during anti-Christian violence in India's Orissa state last year has identified one more assailant, but not the rapist. In a police lineup of about 80 people, the nun identified the one who tried to strangle her, said a priest who works with Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar. The June 23 police lineup was conducted inside Choudwar Circle Jail in Cuttack, the state's ancient capital, under tight security, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News. Police mixed prisoners with eight people they arrested in connection with the case. The 28-year-old nun examined the lineup with Father Thomas Chellen, who also was attacked in August. In a similar exercise in December, police paraded about 90 people, and the nun identified two -- one who slapped her and another who was in the crowd that attacked her. "The church is happy that she was able to identify one more culprit. That will help the case a lot," said the archdiocesan priest. "She is also relieved that she could identify him after such a long time."


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