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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Apr-14-2010

By Catholic News Service


Panel: More passion, less polarization needed to rid world of nukes

MARYKNOLL, N.Y. (CNS) -- Nuclear disarmament is a critical goal that enjoys popular and bipartisan support but is hampered by a lack of passion and the polarization of society and politics, according to speakers at a panel discussion held at Maryknoll headquarters. Nongovernmental organizations, including Catholic Church entities, could make a significant contribution by supporting a treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons, they said. The April 11 program was held in anticipation of May 3-21 meetings at the United Nations where international representatives will conduct a scheduled review of the U.N. nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Dave Robinson, executive director of Pax Christi USA, said U.S. President Barack Obama energized the nuclear disarmament movement with a speech delivered in Prague, Czech Republic, on April 5, 2009. Robinson said Obama envisioned a world without nuclear weapons and that the United States bears a moral responsibility to help achieve it because the U.S. is the only country that has used them. Robinson said the U.N. treaty is the only international accord that addresses the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the disarmament of the countries that have them and also includes a provision to allow nations that forgo them to access nuclear technology for peaceful uses, including energy, medicine and agriculture.

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US Catholics reach out to far-flung Pacific Islanders

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When people hear of U.S. Catholic missions, they are more likely to think about churches in Alaska, the South or the Appalachian and Rocky Mountain regions than the tiny islands scattered in the western Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Japan. Although these islands seem like dots on a map, David Suley, director of Catholic Home Missions for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is determined to get them recognition from U.S. Catholics. He said U.S. Catholics "need to recognize and affirm" the Catholics in this corner of the world who are "a living presence of the church." For two weeks in February, Suley spent time with Catholic communities in this region, accompanying Bishop Michael W. Warfel of Great Falls-Billings, Mont., chairman of the USCCB's Subcommittee on Catholic Home Missions. During their visit, Bishop Warfel and Suley found a strong sense of faith amid challenges of isolation and, in some places, extreme poverty. The Pacific Islands are just part of the U.S. territories to benefit from the Catholic Home Missions Appeal taking place in parishes during the April 24-25 weekend. The appeal, which funds mission dioceses throughout the United States, finances religious education; ministry training, youth ministry and basic support for poor parishes.

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Influence of nun honored for teaching career felt way beyond classroom

MELBOURNE, Fla. (CNS) -- Former Army paratrooper David Isnardi had Mercy Sister Immaculata Knox as a teacher for only a year, but he said she had "such a huge impact" on his life. "From the top of a mountain in Bosnia-Herzegovina, from Israel to the Middle East and North Africa, through the most arduous times, I thought of Sister Immaculata," said Isnardi, who was in her kindergarten class from 1964-65. "When I think back on the finer things in life, I realize that she was that finer thing," he said. People packed an awards banquet at a Florida conference center March 26 to honor the Irish-born nun, whose career spanned almost 50 years of teaching and extended far beyond the classroom. Sister Immaculata was selected as the Brevard County Woman of the Year in Education. The award is the work of the National Women's History Project, which has recognized the "diverse contributions of women" for the past 30 years.

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Priests called to lead people out of confusion, pope says at audience

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a world where many people are confused about right and wrong and even about the meaning of life, priests are called to guide them to Christ, Pope Benedict XVI said. With just two months left in the Year for Priests, the pope began a series of audience talks about the priesthood April 14, saying that over the coming weeks he would look specifically at the priest's mission to teach, sanctify and govern. Speaking on behalf of the groups present at the audience, Vatican officials wished the pope a happy birthday in French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Polish and Italian. The pope was to celebrate his 83rd birthday April 16. Although the international media was still running stories about clerical sex abuse, the pope did not mention the scandal in his audience talk, but rather spoke about how priests are called to identify so completely with Christ that their words, actions and lives fully represent Christ on earth. The teaching mission of a priest is especially important today because "we are living amid great confusion about the fundamental choices in life," about the meaning of life and about what is good and what is bad, he said.

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St. Peter's Basilica offers absolution in Chinese, 13 other languages

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Confessors in St. Peter's Basilica can offer absolution in 14 languages, including Chinese. There are 14 Conventual Franciscans from 10 different nations who live in the Vatican and hear confessions full time in the basilica, said the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, April 14. Each Franciscan hears confession for up to five hours a day, but for no longer than three hours at a time, for a total of 24 hours a week, it said. The members of the college of confessors at St. Peter's come from Italy, Malta, Poland, Germany, Spain, Romania, Croatia, Brazil, the United States and Taiwan. Father Nevin Hammon, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., and a member of the U.S. Conventual Franciscans' Immaculate Heart Province, has been a confessor at St. Peter's since 1998. The priests can offer confession in Italian, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Romanian, Polish, Croatian, Slovenian, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Maltese, and Chinese.

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Mexican bishops ask forgiveness for priests who sexually abused minors

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The Mexican bishops' conference asked for forgiveness for the actions of "dishonest priests" who sexually abused minors. The bishops promised to work closely with the civil authorities in the future and follow a zero-tolerance policy with priests accused of sexual abuse. "Today, as pastors, we want to ask for forgiveness from those that have been victims of abuse ... for the part of dishonest priests, who, with their abominable actions have damaged innocent children, betrayed their ministries, dirtied the institution (of the church) and stained the priestly figure," said the statement, read April 13 at the bishops' spring planning meeting by Auxiliary Bishop Victor Rodriguez Gomez of Texcoco, conference secretary-general. "We want to express that we won't oppose the intervention of the civil authorities to enforce the law in these and other cases," the statement said, although it did not say how many abuse cases there had been.

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Pope offers prayers for Chinese after earthquake

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI offered his prayers for the people of northwest China after a strong earthquake struck April 14, causing at least 400 deaths and leaving more than 10,000 people injured. "My thoughts go to China and to the population stricken by a strong earthquake, which caused numerous losses in human lives, injuries and enormous damage," the pope said April 14 at the end of his weekly general audience. "I pray for the victims and am spiritually close to those people tried by such a serious calamity; for them, I implore God to relieve their suffering and give them courage in this adversity," he said. Pope Benedict also said he hoped the international community would offer whatever assistance the Chinese need to carry out rescue work and provide emergency assistance after the quake in Qinghai province. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake registered magnitude 6.9, and Chinese officials said it destroyed some 80 percent of the houses around its epicenter.

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Report for late New York cardinal's sainthood cause presented to pope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The life and holiness of the late New York Cardinal Terence J. Cooke, summarized in a 2,000-page tome bound in white, was presented to Pope Benedict XVI at the end of his weekly general audience April 14. The volume is the "positio" or position paper, which will be filed formally with the Congregation for Saints' Causes as an initial step in the Vatican process to determine whether the cardinal should be beatified and canonized. Presenting the "positio" to the pope were: New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan; Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien; Patricia Handal, coordinator of the Cardinal Cooke Guild, which is promoting the sainthood cause; and Msgr. Joseph R. Giandurco, the cause's vice postulator. Cardinal Cooke, who was born in 1921, was archbishop of New York City from 1968 until his death in 1983. "He was a holy man and people just knew it," Archbishop O'Brien told Catholic News Service after the papal audience. "At a very difficult time in the life of the church, he used to say his goal as archbishop was to move the whole church forward, but together."

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Amid ongoing abuse cases, priest urges Canadians to remember Gospel

OTTAWA (CNS) -- As new revelations about old cases of priestly sexual abuse dominate the news, Basilian Father Thomas Rosica urged Catholics not to forget the church's Gospel message. "We must address these issues, but we cannot and must not become imprisoned in the past," the CEO of the Salt and Light Media Foundation said in an e-mail interview. "We cannot allow the freshness, newness and reconciliation of the Gospel message to be anesthetized." "We must recognize the wounds and be about the work of healing and reconciling," he said. In mid-April a new lawsuit against the Archdiocese of St. John's, Newfoundland, and retired Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, alleges he sexually abused a boy living at the Mount Cashel Orphanage more than 25 years ago. Bishop Lahey already faces child pornography charges. In a lawsuit involving victims of Bernard Prince, a defrocked priest who served as a Vatican official, a letter has surfaced that shows the bishop of his diocese worried that a credible abuse complaint might become public and hurt the church.


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