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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Nov-30-2010

By Catholic News Service

U.S.

Bishop Hubbard urges Senate to ratify START during lame-duck session

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Citing the Catholic Church's concern for the sanctity of human life, the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace called on U.S. senators to set aside politics and ratify the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., speaking on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged senators in a Nov. 29 letter to approve the treaty known as START during the lame-duck session in the final weeks of 2010. Citing earlier statements by both Pope Benedict XVI and the bishops' conference, Bishop Hubbard called ratification of the arms control accord critical "because it is a modest step toward a world with greater respect for human life." Bishop Hubbard's letter pointed to statements that Pope Benedict and the U.S. bishops have made welcoming the treaty, which was signed April 8 in Prague by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as well as long-standing support within the church for nuclear arms control. The treaty would commit the two nations to reducing their strategic arsenals to 1,550 warheads deployed on long-range missiles, bombers and submarines. Under the previous START pact, which expired in December, both countries reduced their strategic arsenals to 2,200 weapons each. "Nuclear weapons are a grave threat to human life and dignity," the bishop said. "Nuclear war is rejected in church teaching" because it targets innocent civilians, threatens to spew radiation far and wide, and would cause untold devastation.

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WORLD

Pope says Catholic newspapers have 'irreplaceable' role

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said the Catholic press has an irreplaceable role in forming Christian consciences and reflecting the church's viewpoint on contemporary issues. Despite the crisis in print media today, the Catholic newspaper still has a vital role to play in diocesan communications, the pope said. He made the remarks Nov. 26 to members of the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies, which represents 188 Catholic newspapers. The pope said that while secular media often reflect a skeptical and relativistic attitude toward truth, the church knows that people need the full truth brought by Christ. "The mission of the church consists in creating the conditions so that this meeting with Christ can be realized. Cooperating in this task, the communications media are called to serve the truth with courage, to help public opinion see and read reality from an evangelical viewpoint," he said. A primary task of the Catholic newspaper, he said, is to "give voice to a point of view that reflects Catholic thinking on all ethical and social questions." The pope said the printed newspaper, because of its simplicity and widespread distribution, remains an effective way of spreading news about local diocesan events and developments, including charity initiatives.

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Pope says ordaining women is not the church's choice to make

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In his latest book, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed that the church has "no authority" to ordain women as priests and rejected the idea that the rule was formed only because the church originated in a patriarchal society. The pope said that man did not produce the form of the church, and does not have the power to change it. Christ gave the form of the priesthood when he chose his male Apostles, he said in the book-interview, "Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times." He said: "The church has 'no authority' to ordain women. The point is not that we are saying we don't want to, but that we can't." This requires obedience by Catholics today, he added. "This obedience may be arduous in today's situation, but it is important precisely for the church to show that we are not a regime based on arbitrary rule. We cannot do what we want," the pope said. In the book, the pope responded to the argument that ordination was restricted to men only because priestesses would have been unthinkable 2,000 years ago. "That is nonsense, since the world was full of priestesses at the time," the pope answered. "All religions had their priestesses, and the astonishing thing was actually that they were absent from the community of Jesus Christ."

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Bishop criticizes British policy of repatriating Iraqi refugees

LONDON (CNS) -- A British bishop has criticized his government's policy of repatriating Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution, saying it was not true that Iraq was safe. In a special Mass at London's Westminster Cathedral Nov. 26, Auxiliary Bishop William Kenney of Birmingham, England, denounced the policy. The Mass was celebrated for the victims of the Oct. 31 massacre at Baghdad's Our Lady of Salvation Syrian Catholic Church, where 58 people died as military officials tried to end a terrorist siege. "We know the situation of our brothers and sisters still in Iraq who wake at night frightened by the knock at the door, the unusual sound, the gunshot or the explosion, the knowledge that few if any will defend them, the constant fear and tension of not knowing what will happen next," Bishop Kenney said in his homily. "We who are here in England are angry when our government said ... that it was safe for people to be repatriated to Iraq," he told a congregation drawn largely from London's Iraqi Christian community. "You know in a way few others do how untrue that is. Our emotions are of deep sorrow and possibly also of anger: anger that innocent people are killed in this way, that our friends, our relations are sacrificed for, at best, short-term political gain, and, at worst, for no real reason at all, other than that they are followers of Jesus Christ."

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Christian unity must be based on shared apostolic faith, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To promote Christian unity, Catholics and Orthodox must hold firm to the faith handed down by the apostles and witness together to the Gospel as the good news humanity is seeking, Pope Benedict XVI told Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. "By generously offering their lives in sacrifice for the Lord and for their brethren, the apostles proved the credibility of the good news that they proclaimed to the ends of the known world," the pope said in a written message delivered Nov. 30 to the patriarch in Istanbul. The pope's message was carried to Patriarch Bartholomew by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who led a Vatican delegation to a celebration of the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, the patriarchate's patron saint. The pope said marking an apostle's feast day should be a "strong summons" to all Christians "to renew their fidelity to apostolic teaching," a topic that has become increasingly important in ecumenical dialogue as disagreements increase over what are essential points of faith and what modern adaptations are permissible or even necessary. In the modern world, the pope wrote, it is especially important for Christians to work more closely in sharing the Gospel and in presenting Christ "as the answer to the deepest questions and spiritual aspirations of the men and women of our day."

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Canadian bishops voice concerns about bill to prevent human smuggling

OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) -- Canada's Catholic bishops joined an array of organizations and advocacy groups critical of legislation aimed at preventing human smuggling. The bishops argued that the Preventing Human Smugglers From Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act could hurt bona fide refugees. "Although nations have a legitimate right to counter human smugglers because of grave abuses, notably human trafficking, they also have a duty to take measures that respect the rights of refugees," Archbishop Brendan O'Brien of Kingston, Ontario, chairman of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' Commission for Justice and Peace, wrote in a Nov. 25 letter to Jason Kenney, minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism. The letter raised concerns that several provisions in the bill "may contravene international law and Canadian law and penalize the refugees more than the smugglers." Archbishop O'Brien reiterated the stand taken by the bishops in a 2006 pastoral letter on immigration and refugees, which said, "It is a fundamental inversion of values, according to Catholic teaching, when laws and policies place national interests and security before human dignity." Kenney and Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews announced the bill Oct. 21 in Vancouver, British Columbia, in front of the Ocean Lady, a ship that brought 79 Tamil asylum seekers to Canada in 2009. In August, the MV Sun Sea brought 492 smuggled Tamils to Canada after three months at sea.

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PEOPLE

Trappist monks in Iowa close chapter on farming as means of income

PEOSTA, Iowa (CNS) -- Farmers from miles around gathered at the New Melleray Abbey farm south of Dubuque Nov. 20 for a historic auction that marked the end of farming as a means of support for the Trappist community. On the cold sunny morning, potential buyers climbed in the cab of the tractors and examined the well-maintained equipment that worked the 2,000 acres of cropland owned by the monastery. Abbot Brendan Freeman, who spoke to the crowd before the auction, said it was a "bittersweet day for us, as all through our history we have been farmers," summarizing the 160-year tradition that was coming to an end. Factors in the decision included the costs involved in farming, low prices paid for crops and the fact the abbey has fewer members and those who do live there are getting older. The first monks came to Dubuque from Ireland at the invitation of Bishop Mathias Loras and established New Melleray Abbey in 1849. They supported themselves through the sale of farm animals and crops raised on their acreage, which includes 600 acres of prairie given to them by Bishop Loras and 600 acres they bought for $1.25 an acre. Abbot Freeman told how the early monks sold hogs to William "Hog" Ryan" in nearby Galena, Ill., who sold pork to the Union Army during the Civil War, and of the most recent efforts in organic farming and raising organic Angus beef. But eventually the economy took its toll. "Prices went way down," the abbot continued, "and we don't have the monks to do the fieldwork anymore."

END


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