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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS May-31-2011

By Catholic News Service


Charter review, assisted suicide among topics facing bishops in June

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Although the U.S. bishops' spring general assembly will focus primarily on a review of the 2002 "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" and consideration of a new document on physician-assisted suicide, the June 15-17 meeting in Seattle also will include a variety of presentations looking forward and back. Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services since 1993, will address the bishops about his nearly four decades of work with the international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic community as his retirement nears. Msgr. David Malloy, a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, also will address the assembly as he concludes a five-year term as general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The bishops are expected to look to the 2012 elections as they discuss their perennial "Faithful Citizenship" document on political responsibility, and Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington will report to them on progress toward incorporation of Anglican groups into the Catholic Church in the United States under Pope Benedict XVI's November 2009 apostolic constitution "Anglicanorum coetibus." Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin will speak to the U.S. bishops about the International Eucharistic Congress to be held in his city in June 2012. Maryknoll Father Edward Dougherty, superior general of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, will talk to them about the 100th anniversary of the organization founded by the bishops to recruit, train, send and support American missioners overseas.

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Initiative launched to share Christian, Jewish, Muslim pulpits

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- It will happen for just one Sunday in June, but on that day, dozens of houses of worship across the United States will open their pulpits to clergy from the other two Abrahamic faiths to read from their scriptures. The project, called Faith Shared, is set for June 26. A few synagogues and mosques are among those that have signed up for the initiative, as well as Christian communities across the denominational spectrum, including one Catholic church in North Carolina. "Just having something public is not going to be a big, big deal here, but to have someone come in and read from the Quran and to recognize publicly the existence of Islam and to reverence and respect is a good thing for the church to do," said Jesuit Father Pat Earl, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Charlotte, N.C. The project is co-sponsored by the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First. "The United States is the most religiously diverse nation in the world," said the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, a Southern Baptist minister who is president of the Interfaith Alliance, during a May 18 conference call with reporters. "Crucial to peaceful relationships across this land, as well as to our democratic form of government. are pluralism and religious freedom." Rev. Gaddy said, "We're calling upon congregations to say by means of their actions, 'We come from different traditions, hold different beliefs and engage in different rituals in our churches, mosques and synagogues. have different beliefs yet emphasize religious freedom and search for answers to life's questions through our respective faiths.'"

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New York rallies fight governor's effort to legalize same-sex marriage

NEW YORK (CNS) -- With a push on by supporters of same-sex marriage to legalize it in New York State, supporters of traditional marriage -- including New York's archbishop -- are mounting their own campaigns to keep marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made clear that he will sign a bill legalizing same-sex marriage but said recently he will not introduce one in the state Senate session that ends June 20 unless he's comfortable that the votes are there to pass it. On May 24, more than 350 people attended a morning rally outside the Capitol in Albany, and hundreds more met with lawmakers in their offices later that day, according to organizers of the event. Other recent efforts to fight any such measure included a rally in the Bronx that drew several thousand people, a pledge by the advocacy group National Organization for Marriage that it will spend $1.5 million in advertising and campaign contributions to head off same-sex marriage, and a blog posting by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan saying that the definition of marriage is "hard-wired into our human reason." The archbishop also wrote that he's dismayed to hear that Catholics and others who oppose same-sex marriage are branded as "bigots and bullies who hate gays." "Nonsense!" he wrote in a blog posting titled "Marriage: the core of every civilization."

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Gregorian chant helps church express its universal identity, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In giving priority to Gregorian chant and to classical liturgical music, the Catholic Church is not trying to limit anyone's creativity but is showcasing a tradition of beautiful prayer, Pope Benedict XVI wrote. Music at Mass should reflect the fact that the liturgy "is primarily the action of God through the church, which has its history, its rich tradition and its creativity," the pope said in a letter marking the 100th anniversary of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. In the letter, released by the Vatican May 31, the pope wrote that sometimes people have presented Gregorian chant and traditional church music as expressions "to be overcome or disregarded because they limited the freedom and creativity of the individual or community." But, he said, when people recognize that the liturgy does not belong to an individual or parish as much as it belongs to the church, then they begin to understand how, while some expressions of local culture are appropriate, priority should be given to expressions of the church's universal culture.

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Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue begins new phase

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After a six-year hiatus, the official Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue began a new phase in May, looking at unity within the church and at the way Christian communities deal with moral questions. The third phase of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, known as ARCIC III, met May 17-27 at an ecumenical monastery in northern Italy. Pope Benedict XVI and Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams authorized the new phase of the dialogue, which is focusing on "the church as communion, local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal church come to discern right ethical teaching." Since ARCIC II finished its work in 2005, the Anglican Communion has been experiencing strong internal tensions over the ordination of women as priests and bishops, the blessing of gay unions and the ordination of openly gay clergy. Differing positions on those issues also has created a sense that Anglicans and Roman Catholics are growing further apart, rather than approaching unity. A statement issued at the end of the meeting said the commission hopes to use the "receptive ecumenism" approach in its discussions, an approach "which seeks to make ecumenical progress by learning from our partner, rather than simply asking our partner to learn from us. Receptive ecumenism is more about self-examination and inner conversion that convincing the other," the statement said.

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Vatican AIDS conference focuses on need to change sexual behavior

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Back-to-back speeches at a Vatican AIDS conference illustrated that condoms in AIDS prevention remains a sensitive issue for both church officials and international health experts. Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, told conference participants May 28 that he was delighted when Pope Benedict XVI, in his recent book-length interview, "Light of the World," hypothesized that use of a condom to prevent infection could be a first step toward moral responsibility. As Vatican officials listened with rather pained expressions, Sidibe quoted the relevant section from the pope's book. "This is very important. This has helped me to understand his position better and has opened up a new space for dialogue," Sidibe said. A few minutes later, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi also quoted from the pope's book -- the part that began, "We cannot solve the problem (of AIDS) by distributing condoms." Like other church officials at the conference, Archbishop Tomasi, the Vatican's representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva, took the view that condom campaigns have failed to tackle the fundamental issue of irresponsible sexual behavior in the spread of the AIDS virus. The two-day conference was billed as a forum for clarifying pastoral practices when it comes to the church's efforts against AIDS. No guidelines were issued, but they may come later; the Vatican typically lays down principles at a gathering like this one, and specific instructions may emerge somewhere down the road.

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Pope meets members of German sodality he joined 70 years ago

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI joined a men's Marian sodality when he was 14 years old, but as a teen he never had a chance to participate in a sodality function because World War II scattered the members "to the four winds," he said. Meeting May 28 with members of the Marianische Manner Congregation, the Bavaria-based fraternal organization, the pope said he had joined the group in 1941. "They were dark times -- there was the war," the 84-year-old pope said. "Hitler had conquered, one after the other, Poland, Denmark, the Benelux countries and France, and in April 1941 -- about this time 70 years ago -- he occupied Yugoslavia and Greece. It seemed that the continent was in the hands of this power that put into question even the future of Christianity," he said. The pope said he was accepted into the Marian sodality, "but soon after, the war against Russia began. The seminary was dissolved and the congregation -- before it was able to meet -- was already scattered to the four winds."

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Church must find more effective ways to evangelize, says pope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- New evangelization means finding the most effective ways to proclaim the Gospel to a world that is either too distracted or too blind to see the divine, Pope Benedict XVI said. Today's spiritual crisis is marked by people excluding God from their lives, "generalized indifference" toward Christianity and stringently pushing faith from the public to the private sphere, he said. The church will have to "find ways to make the proclamation of salvation more effective," he told members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. The newly created council, headed by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, met for its first plenary assembly May 30 to June 1. Pope Benedict, who established the new council, said he hoped the members would help outline a plan for the whole church in regards to the urgent task of evangelization, which must include formation, especially for young people. It's important for people to understand that "being Christian is not a kind of outfit to wear in private or on special occasions but is something that is alive and all-encompassing, capable of taking on all that is good in modern times," he said. Part of reinvigorating the missionary spirit involves making sure one's actions are compatible with one's beliefs, he said.

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Spanish court indicts 20 ex-Salvadoran soldiers for 1989 Jesuit murders

MADRID (CNS) -- Spain's National Court has invoked a special law to order the arrest and trial of 20 former Salvadoran military officers for the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter. Five of the six Jesuits were naturalized Salvadorans of Spanish birth. In announcing the charges, the Spanish court invoked its universal jurisdiction law, which says that some crimes are so grave they can be tried anywhere. Issuing an indictment May 20, Judge Eloy Velasco Nunez said El Salvador's juridical process "was a defective and widely criticized process that ended with two forced convictions and acquittals even of confessed killers." Among those he indicted were a former Salvadoran defense minister. A 1993 U.N. Truth Commission report said high-ranking Salvadoran military officials were responsible for ordering the murders and ordered a cover-up. The six priests and two women were murdered Nov. 16, 1989, at their residence on the campus of Central American University. The U.N. report concluded that units of the U.S.-trained Atlacatl battalion forced their way into the Jesuits' residence, ordered them into a garden, shot them and did away with witnesses, such as the housekeeper and her daughter. Before leaving, the soldiers scribbled graffiti blaming leftist guerrillas for the killing.

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US-born bishop, known for his criticism of Zambian government, retires

LUSAKA, Zambia (CNS) -- A Zambian has replaced Bishop Paul F. Duffy of Mongu, the U.S.-born prelate known for criticizing the Zambian government for neglecting the needs of poor people. Bishop Evans Chinyemba, former provincial head of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Zambia, was ordained in ceremonies May 28 at Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral in Mongu. His vocation was nurtured by Bishop Duffy. Church leaders praised Bishop Duffy, 78, for his work during the 14 years he served in the diocese in Zambia's Western province. "Well done, Bishop Duffy. We are proud of you. We are proud of what you have realized in Mongu in such a short period of time," Archbishop Nicolas Girasoli, papal nuncio to Zambia and Malawi, said to the hundreds who attended the Mass. "You indeed completely worked for the good and well-being of the voiceless and all people of Western province, regardless of their religious affiliation. Everyone knows you, loves you here in Mongu because you have been a shepherd and a father to all," he said. Addressing Bishop Chinyemba, the nuncio urged him to be close to the needs of the people and to speak on behalf of the poor as his predecessor did. "You succeed a great bishop," Archbishop Girasoli said. "Try to imitate and continue the apostolic pastoral ministry of Bishop Paul Duffy. Be faithful to his pastoral legacy."

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Oregon Jesuit priest confirmed as new House chaplain

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Jesuit Father Patrick J. Conroy was unanimously approved as the next House chaplain in a May 25 vote. Father Conroy, 60, a native of Washington state, had been nominated by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, himself a Catholic, as the ideal candidate for the position. The Jesuit succeeds Father Daniel Coughlin, a priest of the Chicago Archdiocese who retired in April after 11 years on the job. Father Conroy most recently was a theology teacher, campus ministry assistant and coach at Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore., and long served as a pastor to Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. Boehner, who attended Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cincinnati, decided he wanted a Jesuit to serve as the next pastor and confidant to House members and staff. Father Conroy's nomination initially was held up by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who expressed concern that the Jesuit belongs to the Oregon province of the Society of Jesus, which agreed in March to pay about $166 million in settlements to 500 people who have sought damages for abuse they said they suffered under Jesuits at schools and parishes in the Northwest. She later dropped her objections. Father Conroy has not been accused of any involvement in the sexual abuse of minors or any cover-up of such abuse.

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Feuerherd, NCR's editor-in-chief and publisher, dies at age 48

ROCKVILLE, Md. (CNS) -- Joseph Feuerherd, editor-in-chief and publisher of the National Catholic Reporter, died May 26 after an 18-month battle with metastasized soft tissue sarcoma. He was 48. He died at the Montgomery Hospice's Casey House in Rockville with his family at his side. A funeral Mass was scheduled for June 1 at the Theological College of The Catholic University of America in Washington. Interment was to take place at Holy Name of Mary Cemetery in Montrose, Pa., at a later date. Feuerherd had been editor-in-chief and publisher of the lay-edited weekly newspaper, based in Kansas City, Mo., since October 2008. At the time of his appointment, he said he was thrilled the NCR board had chosen him, but he was also "humbled and energized by the opportunity to lead a publication that is vital to American Catholics who love their church." Before taking the top post, he had spent about 24 years filling a variety of roles at the paper, ranging from intern to Washington correspondent. Arthur Jones, NCR's editor in the 1970s who had hired him as an intern during his time as the paper's Washington bureau chief, posted a lengthy tribute to Feuerherd on NCR's website, www.ncronline.org. "As publisher he crisscrossed the country; as editor he firmly and generously crossed swords with many public figures on contentious issues, and heartily applauded others. He had strong opinions, but a moderate approach; he was a centrist who heard people out," wrote Jones, who is now NCR's books editor.

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Advertising director of Baltimore archdiocesan newspaper dies of cancer

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Cecil "Chic" Davis, longtime advertising director and general manager of The Catholic Review in Baltimore, died May 31. He was 71. Davis was diagnosed with lung cancer in January after being admitted to the hospital in late December. Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, publisher of the archdiocesan newspaper, said he was saddened to hear the news. "Chic's death leaves a tremendous void for those who knew and loved him, and for the paper to which he gave so many years of dedicated service," the archbishop said. "He brought a level of expertise and passion to his work, and approached each day with faith-filled joy as he sought to proclaim the good news to the Review's many readers." A celebration of Davis' life was to be held June 3 at a community center called the Other Barn in Oakland Mills in the suburb of Columbia. Burial was to take place June 5 in North Carolina. Born Dec. 18, 1939, Davis was among the most highly respected members of the Catholic Press Association and was given its most prestigious honor, the St. Francis de Sales Award, in 2008. He was regularly honored by the CPA for other awards and also received recognition from the Maryland, Delaware, D.C. Press Association. He led local, regional and national workshops on newspaper advertising for the CPA and American Advertising Federation, and served as a consultant to other newspapers, regarding their advertising and business strategies.


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