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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Oct-19-2009

By Catholic News Service


Wilmington Diocese files for bankruptcy reorganization

WILMINGTON, Del. (CNS) -- Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington announced Oct. 18 that the diocese has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in order "to provide the fairest possible treatment of all victims of sexual abuse by priests of our diocese. This is a painful decision, one that I had hoped and prayed I would never have to make," he said in a statement. "However, after careful consideration and after consultation with my close advisers and counselors, I believe we have no other choice." He said that, given the diocese's "finite resources," the bankruptcy filing offers "the best opportunity" to compensate abuse victims. "Our hope is that Chapter 11 proceedings will enable us to fairly compensate all victims through a single process established by the bankruptcy court," he said. The bishop explained that the diocese was engaged in negotiations regarding eight cases that were to go to trial Oct. 19, but the parties could not reach a settlement. "Our concern throughout the negotiations was that too large a settlement with these eight victims would leave us with inadequate resources to fairly compensate" other claimants, numbering 133, he said.

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Report finds weakened state of US marriage, some encouraging signs

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Although several measures of the health of marriage in the U.S. have declined sharply since 1970, there are some signs of improvement this decade, according to a new "marriage index." The index, produced by the New York-based Institute for American Values and the National Center on African-American Marriages and Parenting at Hampton University in Virginia, assesses the strength of the institution of marriage by using five indicators: the percentage of people ages 20-54 who are married; the percentage of married adults who describe themselves as "very happy" in their marriages; the percentage of intact first marriages among married people ages 20-59; the percentage of births to married parents; and the percentage of children living with their own married parents. The combined score for the five "leading marriage indicators" dropped from 76.2 percent in 1970 to 60.3 percent in 2008, according to the index. But since 2000, there have been small gains in the percentage of intact first marriages (from 59.9 percent to 61.2 percent) and the percentage of children living with married parents (60.5 percent to 61 percent).

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Debate the war but stand by the military, admiral tells Smith dinner

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Vigorous public debate about the war in Afghanistan is preferable to ignoring the situation there and confirms that combat deaths are not in vain, according to U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mullen was the keynote speaker at the 64th annual dinner of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Oct. 15 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. His reflections on war and his repeated calls for support of military personnel were met with applause and interspersed with self-deprecating remarks about the anonymity of his post and his being an unlikely choice to address an event better known for attracting headliners from the political, corporate, entertainment and philanthropic fields. The speakers at last year's dinner were the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and Sen. John McCain of Arizona. "We are engaged in two wars and some pretty serious discussions about how we're going to fight those wars in the future," Mullen said. "It is right that we question ourselves and our assumptions. It is right that we recognize the changing nature of war." He said the American military is the "best counterinsurgency force in the world right now."

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California Catholic college places third in Solar Decathlon on Mall

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As it did two years ago, the entry from Santa Clara University finished third in the biennial Solar Decathlon competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy on the National Mall in Washington. The competition involves 20 colleges, most from the United States, to see which school can build a house that runs entirely on solar power -- but is livable and attractive in the process. Santa Clara was the only Catholic college to compete. The winner was announced Oct. 16. After the first few events in the decathlon, Santa Clara thought victory might have been its this year. "Team California" -- Santa Clara and the California College of the Arts, which has an architectural school Santa Clara lacks -- had finished first in the architecture and communication events, and third in market viability. It captured second-place finishes in three events -- engineering, appliances and home entertainment -- and another third place for the hot-water system. But a sixth place in lighting design, a 12th place in net metering and a 14th in "comfort zone" doomed its chances for the top spot. Even so, Team California amassed 863,089 points. Winner Team Germany topped the field with 908,297 points, while the University of Illinois took second place with 897,300 points.

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US House resolution recognizes ministry of Belgian priest in Hawaii

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The House of Representatives passed a resolution Oct. 14 honoring St. Damien de Veuster for his recognition of the human rights and dignity of all and his work with individuals afflicted with Hansen's disease, also known as leprosy, on the island of Molokai in Hawaii. The Belgian-born missionary was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI Oct. 11 along with four others. "I believe that all people, regardless of their religious beliefs, can recognize truly extraordinary persons who give themselves without reserve for the betterment of their fellow human beings -- Father Damien was surely such a person," said Rep. Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, who sponsored the resolution. Delegate F.H. Faleomavaega, a Democrat who represents American Samoa in the House, noted that "many of us here and our colleagues who walk the halls of the Congress have oftentimes passed by the distinctive statue of Father Damien in the Capitol, yet few of us understood that this was a man who essentially gave his life in order to help others." Faleomavaega urged his colleagues to "honor the life and accomplishments of Father Damien and his legacy of self-sacrifice."

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Nuncio: Not clear if politicians heeding church appeals in Honduras

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (CNS) -- The Vatican's ambassador to Honduras told Catholic News Service that although the two men with claims on the presidency are Catholic, it is unclear whether appeals from the church for a resolution of the political situation are having an effect. Archbishop Luigi Bianco, who was named nuncio to Honduras in January, told CNS Oct. 19 that "it's difficult to know" whether the church's public and private efforts at mediation have been persuasive with Manuel Zelaya, removed from the presidency June 28, or Roberto Micheletti, installed as interim president by the congressional leaders who ousted Zelaya. Both men are practicing Catholics who, since June, have used religious imagery and language that echoes church leaders, such as the late Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, in their political rhetoric. Archbishop Bianco said Pope Benedict XVI issued a statement July 12 asking for reconciliation between the parties. The pope asked both sides to overcome "partisan tendencies" and "pursue the common good." The local church in Honduras has been helping with mediation efforts, Archbishop Bianco said.

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Church must proclaim its message of hope to all people, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The church must bear witness to and proclaim its message of hope to all humanity, Pope Benedict XVI said. The Gospel guides people toward the building of one human family living in justice and peace "under the paternity of the one God, who is good and merciful," he said in his Sunday Angelus address Oct. 18 at the Vatican. The pope said World Mission Sunday, which is observed Oct. 18 in most countries, reminds the faithful of their duty "to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel to everyone, in particular to those who still don't know it." Citing Pope John Paul II's encyclical "Redemptoris Missio" ("The Mission of the Redeemer"), he said, "The church exists to proclaim this message of hope to all of humanity, which in our time 'has experienced marvelous achievements but which seems to have lost its sense of ultimate realities and of existence itself.'" Pope Benedict urged the church community to continue Christ's work of proclaiming "the kingdom of God, which is justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

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Pope says Europe needs Christian values to prosper, help others

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If European unity is based only on geography and economics, it cannot succeed in promoting the common good of all Europe's citizens and in helping the rest of the world, Pope Benedict XVI said. The recognition of the dignity of the human person and the obligation to work for the common good -- values Christianity fostered on the continent -- are what inspired the movement toward European unity and are the only guarantee of its success, the pope said Oct. 19 in welcoming Yves Gazzo as the new head of the European Commission's delegation to the Holy See. Gazzo defined the European Union as a "zone of peace and stability which comprises 27 states with the same core values." Pope Benedict said the European Union did not bring those values to the 27 member countries, "but rather it is these shared values that have given birth to and were like a gravitational force" that drew the countries together and inspired them to form a union.

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Tens of thousands protest liberalization of Spain's abortion law

MADRID, Spain (CNS) -- Tens of thousands of people rallied against legislation that would allow girls as young as 16 to have abortions without parental consent in traditionally Catholic Spain. The nation's Catholic bishops had urged people to participate in the Oct. 17 rally down a major boulevard in Madrid. In late September, the government formally approved the Bill on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy. Among other actions, the legislation would make abortion available on demand in Spain up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy as long as, at least three days before the procedure, the woman receives information about her rights and about the help she can expect to receive as a mother if she continues her pregnancy. The measure still must be considered by the Spanish parliament. Abortion is currently allowed in Spain for the first 22 weeks of pregnancy, but only in cases of rape, genetic defect or threats to a woman's health.

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Vatican invites the sick and suffering to help priests through prayer

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry invited the sick and suffering of the world to help the church through prayer and by offering up their suffering during the Year for Priests. The president of the council, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, encouraged the sick and suffering to pray for an increase in priestly vocations and for priests who are sick and afflicted. "I invite you, sick brothers and sisters, to unceasingly address your prayers and the offering up of your sufferings to the Lord for the holiness of your priests," Archbishop Zimowski said in a letter released Oct. 14 at the Vatican. He said the prayers would help priests "perform the ministry that is entrusted to them by Christ." He also asked the sick to pray for the beatification and canonization of Pope John Paul II. The late pope founded the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry in February 1985. The council will celebrate its 25th anniversary during the Year for Priests.

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Pope appoints Indiana pastor to head Diocese of Cheyenne

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has named Father Paul D. Etienne, a pastor in the Indianapolis Archdiocese, as the new bishop of Cheyenne, Wyo. The appointment was announced Oct. 19 in Washington by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop-designate Etienne, 50, succeeds Bishop David L. Ricken, who was named the bishop of Green Bay, Wis., in July 2008. In an Oct. 19 statement, Bishop Ricken said, "While I have never met Father Etienne, his biography seems to have prepared him well for service as the eighth bishop of Cheyenne. I want him to know that he is coming to a diocese with good and faithful people, priests, deacons and religious, and a beautifully scenic and vast territory." Bishop-designate Etienne's episcopal ordination will take place in early December, according to an announcement by the Cheyenne Diocese, although no exact date was given.

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Archbishop Burke celebrates Tridentine Mass in St. Peter's Basilica

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Gregorian chant of the Tridentine Mass filled the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of St. Peter's Basilica Oct. 18 as U.S. Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, head of the Vatican's highest court, celebrated a pontifical high Mass. The Mass marked the liturgical close of a conference in Rome on Pope Benedict XVI's 2007 apostolic letter, "Summorum Pontificum," which expanded permission for the celebration of the Mass using the 1962 Roman Missal, commonly known as the Tridentine rite. Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, said in a statement Oct. 19, "The Mass represented an extraordinary event, an event authorized on the occasion of the conference." The cardinal declined further comment, but another Vatican official said the Mass probably was the first pontifical high Mass using the 1962 rite to be celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica in almost 40 years. In his 2007 letter, the pope said the Mass from the Roman Missal in use since 1970 remains the ordinary form of the Mass. The day before Archbishop Burke celebrated the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict had named him a member of the Congregation for Bishops.

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Aid workers released in Darfur; Irish priest still held in Philippines

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) -- Irish Catholics observed World Mission Sunday Oct. 18 with prayers of hope for a kidnapped Irish priest, Columban Father Michael Sinnott, and prayers of thanks for the release of kidnapped aid workers in the Darfur region of Sudan. Fear was rising over the health of Father Sinnott, kidnapped Oct. 11 from his order's residence in Pagadian, Philippines, about 600 miles southeast of Manila. His Columban colleagues are concerned that without access to several types of heart medication the 79-year-old priest will become gravely ill. Aid workers Sharon Commins, 32, of Dublin, and Hilda Kawuki, 42, of Uganda, were released early Oct. 18 after being held for 107 days by an armed gang in Darfur. The women work for the Irish aid agency Goal. News of the women's release offered additional hope to Father Sinnott's family, said Picpus Father Eamon Aylward, a representative of the Irish Missionary Union. He celebrated a televised Mass marking World Mission Sunday and the work of nearly 2,000 Irish missionaries and countless lay aid workers serving in more than 80 countries around the world.


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