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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Feb-1-2010

By Catholic News Service


Testimony concludes in same-sex marriage trial in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) -- Closing arguments were expected around the beginning of March in the federal trial challenging the constitutionality of California's ban on same-sex marriage. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, presiding at the nonjury trial, said Jan. 27 that he will set a date for closing arguments after at least a 30-day hiatus to review the evidence. "Obviously a fascinating case," Walker said as he adjourned the proceedings. "Extremely well presented on both sides." The final expert witness for the defense in the trial on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the 2008 voter initiative that defined state-sanctioned marriage as limited to a man and a woman, testified that the "rule of opposites" has been a virtually unwavering principle of marriage throughout human history. "There are no or almost no exceptions to this principle that marriage is between a man and a woman," said David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values.

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Archbishop Hannan pulling for New Orleans Saints to march in

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- Retired Archbishop Philip M. Hannan of New Orleans said "it would be tremendous" if his city's team, the Saints, beat the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV Feb. 7 in Miami. "As a matter of fact, if it happens, the downtown parish of the city will simply explode," he told the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the New Orleans Archdiocese. Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, current head of the archdiocese, and Indianapolis Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein placed a friendly wager on the game. "If we win, he owes me some southern Indiana pork chops, and if they win, I owe him some gumbo," Archbishop Aymond said. "It should be fun." But it was Archbishop Hannan, now 96, who was there at the beginning, when the Saints and their fans were "newly minted," as editor Peter Finney Jr. of the Clarion Herald recounted in his column for the Feb. 6 issue of the newspaper. The archbishop, who headed the archdiocese from 1965-88, even helped name the Saints. According to Finney, the archbishop reassured then-Gov. John McKeithen "that he did not consider the nickname sacrilegious. 'But I have to tell you,' he told McKeithen, 'from the viewpoint of the church, most of the saints were martyrs.'"

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Stronger relations urged between Catholic college presidents, bishops

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- After a year of public clashes between bishops and some Catholic colleges, U.S. Catholic university presidents were urged to forge stronger relationships with their local bishop. During his plenary address Jan. 31 at the annual meeting of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in Washington, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick told college presidents they should reach out to their bishops for more than just good will. The 79-year-old retired archbishop of Washington -- a former college president himself -- told the presidents they would get better cooperation from their dioceses and experience less friction with the hierarchy if they welcomed their local bishops onto campus and included them in the academic fold of their institutions. Though he never mentioned the 2009 controversy over the commencement address by President Barack Obama at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Cardinal McCarrick alluded to it in his address. The decision of Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, to invite Obama to deliver the May commencement speech and present him with an honorary law degree set off a firestorm of criticism by at least 70 U.S. bishops, and ignited a national debate on the university's status as a Catholic institution. Cardinal McCarrick, who from 1965 to 1969 was president of the Catholic University of Puerto Rico, said the nation currently has a polarized "partisan society." But the U.S. bishops should be optimistic about Catholic higher education, he said, and if they are not, they "don't know what is going on" academically or spiritually on the campuses.

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Foreign doctors help Haitian staff in what remains of hospital

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (CNS) -- In what remains of St. Francis de Sales Hospital, the doctors work under a pall of death. Even as teams of foreign doctors met with Haitian staffers to develop treatment plans and organize medical supplies in late January, up to 100 bodies remained in the collapsed three-story pediatrics and obstetrics wing. The hospital staff knows there were at least 25 child patients in the wing and a similar number of family members at their sides when the building tumbled during the magnitude 7 earthquake Jan. 12. Staff members make up the rest of the list of victims. Located a few blocks from the destroyed presidential palace, the hospital had few remaining functions operating in late January. The staff was depending on experts from around the world to help them treat earthquake victims. Teams of trauma specialists from Belgium, Germany, Poland, Japan and the U.S. rotated in and out of the hospital in the weeks following the earthquake. Doctors from the University of Maryland Medical Center and Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego began working with patients Jan. 30 in conditions they said were hardly adequate for victims with nonlife-threatening injuries, let alone the seriously injured. During a five-day suspension of medical evacuations from Haiti to the United States, doctors around Port-au-Prince insisted that the inability to evacuate paralyzed Haitians posed serious obstacles to saving the patients' lives. The flights resumed Feb. 1.

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Pope marks World Leprosy Day, notes St. Damien's role

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI marked World Leprosy Day by remembering St. Damien de Veuster, the 19th-century Belgian missionary who ministered to people with leprosy in Hawaii before dying of the disease. St. Damien, whom the pope canonized at the Vatican last October, "gave his life for his brothers and sisters," the pope said at his noon blessing Jan. 31. "To his heavenly protection I entrust all the people who unfortunately still suffer from this disease today, as well as the health care workers and volunteers who are doing their best to make a world without leprosy," the pope said. Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, is curable today but continues to afflict hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world, said Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, in his message for the 57th World Leprosy Day. According to the most recent statistics released by the World Health Organization, 210,000 new cases of Hansen's disease were registered in 2009.

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Church has right to bring Gospel values to public debate, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic teaching and the truths of the Gospel have a right to be heard in public debate, especially in a country where so many people claim to be Christian, Pope Benedict XVI told the bishops of England and Wales. However, the church must recognize dissent within its own ranks and not accept it as being part of a balanced discussion, he said Feb. 1 in an address to bishops who were making their "ad limina" visits. The meeting with the bishops, who were at the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses, took place as Pope Benedict prepares to visit Great Britain in September. Referring to the Equality Bill under debate in Britain's Parliament, the pope said some legislation designed to guarantee equal opportunity for all people actually would impose "unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs." Catholic bishops have said the bill means churches could be sued by anyone who was turned away as a candidate for the priesthood on grounds of gender or sexual lifestyle.

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Vatican making final review of English liturgical translations

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments is pulling together the final version of the English translation of the complete Roman Missal, the book of prayers used at Mass. The Vox Clara Committee, an international group of bishops established to advise the congregation about the translation of the Roman Missal into English, met in Rome Jan. 26-29. A statement released at the end of the meeting said members "reviewed various reports on the steps being taken for editing, coordination of manuscripts and reviews for internal consistency of the English-language translation" of the Roman Missal. Marist Father Anthony Ward, an official of the congregation for worship, said that because bishops' conferences approved the Roman Missal in sections over a period of years, a final review and minor edits were needed to ensure consistency. For instance, he said, the same Latin prayer may be used in two different Masses and may have been translated slightly differently during the bishops' approval process. The Vox Clara statement said committee members reviewed the last two sections of the Roman Missal translation to be approved by bishops' conferences in English-speaking countries: The proper of saints, a collection of specific prayers related to each saint in the universal liturgical calendar; and the common of saints, general prayers for celebrating saints listed in the "Roman Martyrology," but not in the universal calendar.

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Haitians in tent camp give thanks, place future in God's hands

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (CNS) -- With words of praise to God in a melodic song that carried over the din of thousands of people, Dolce Rochelle let it be known to anyone who cared that no matter the challenge, she was doing just fine. One of an estimated 50,000 people living in makeshift shelters of sheets, blankets and plastic tarps on what was once a golf course at the Petionville Club, Rochelle passes her days singing and selling goods for a friend out of her tent. "I like to praise God," she said, a smile gracing her face. Rochelle, her husband and daughter lost everything -- their home in the Delmas neighborhood, their few possessions, their way of life -- Jan. 12 during a magnitude 7 earthquake. "I've got hope because in what happened, my family and I didn't die," she said Jan. 31. In a world where the future remains uncertain, Rochelle and many others camped out at the Petionville Club expressed a great deal of hope that God will help them survive. The U.S. bishops' Catholic Relief Services has worked with the United Nations and the U.S. military to turn the informal gathering of people into a formal camp. A two-week supply of food was delivered recently, and 40,000 shelter kits were scheduled to be delivered the week of Feb. 1, said Lane Harthill, CRS spokesman in Port-au-Prince.

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Ralph McInerny, retired Notre Dame professor, author, dies at age 80

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (CNS) -- Ralph McInerny, a retired University of Notre Dame professor and prominent Catholic author, perhaps best known for writing the Father Dowling mystery series, died Jan. 29 of complications from esophageal cancer at Our Lady of Peace Hospital in Mishawaka. He was 80. A funeral Mass was celebrated Feb. 1 at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame followed by burial at Notre Dame's Cedar Grove Cemetery. McInerny, a Notre Dame professor from 1955 until he retired last June, was the Michael P. Grace professor of medieval studies and a professor of philosophy. For many years, he directed Notre Dame's Medieval Institute and the university's Jacques Maritain Center. McInerny, a Minneapolis native, held degrees from the St. Paul Seminary in Minnesota, the University of Minnesota and Laval University in Quebec. An expert in the work of St. Thomas Aquinas and philosophers Maritain and Soren Kierkegaard, McInerny wrote and lectured extensively about ethics, philosophy of religion, and medieval philosophy.

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Sister Mary Daniel Turner, a former head of LCWR, dies at age 84

SILVER SPRING, Md. (CNS) -- A funeral Mass was celebrated Feb. 1 at St. Camillus Church in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring for Sister Mary Daniel Turner, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur who was a former superior general of her order and former executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Sister Daniel, 84, died Jan. 27 in nearby Burtonsville of complications from cancer. Born Margaret Turner in Baltimore in 1925, she entered religious life in 1943, earning degrees from what was then Trinity College and The Catholic University of America, both in Washington. She later earned a master's in theology from St. Michael's College in Toronto. In 1992, Sister Daniel wrote "The Transformation of American Catholic Sisters," chronicling the journey of U.S. nuns in the years before and after the Second Vatican Council. She was featured in the video message to an exhibition that opened in January at the Smithsonian Institution's Ripley Center called "Women in Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America." Sister Daniel served as provincial superior for her order 1962-69, and in 1972 began a six-year term as executive director of LCWR, an umbrella organization for U.S. sisters that represents about 95 percent of all women religious.. Her tenure there was followed by six years as her order's superior general. Trinity College awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1984 for her service to the church.


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