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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Sep-16-2011

By Catholic News Service


Priests for Life head is needed for work in Texas, Bishop Zurek says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, remains a priest in good standing in the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, said Msgr. Harold Waldow, vicar for clergy in the diocese. Msgr. Waldow told Catholic News Service Sept. 13 that Bishop Patrick J. Zurek only suspended Father Pavone's ministry outside of the diocese because the well-known pro-life priest is needed for work in Amarillo. Bishop Zurek in a decree Sept. 6 ordered the 52-year-old New York-born priest to return to Amarillo and announced it in a Sept. 9 letter to his fellow bishops. He pointed to "persistent questions and concerns" from clergy and laity about how the millions of dollars donated to Priests for Life are used as the reason for suspending Father Pavone's ministry outside the diocese. "He's here to be obedient to the bishop and try to work with the bishop," Msgr. Waldow said. "He's going to have assignments, and he will be put on our payroll and given health care and other benefits like any other priest of the diocese." For his part, Father Pavone returned to Amarillo the evening of Sept. 13 from Birmingham, Ala., where he had been taping programs for the Eternal Word Television Network for more than a week. Both Msgr. Waldow and Father Pavone said no meeting was immediately scheduled with Bishop Zurek, who left the diocese the afternoon of Sept. 13 for two weeks. Msgr. Waldow clarified Bishop Zurek's concerns in a Sept. 15 statement, saying there is a "dispute" about the audits of two of Priests for Life's affiliated agencies, Rachel's Vineyard, an abortion healing ministry, and Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, a lay Catholic association. "Because there is a dispute ... (it) does not mean that Father Pavone is being charged with any malfeasance or being accused of any wrong doing with the financial matters of Priests for Life," the statement said.

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American Dream becoming unreachable for a larger segment of the country

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Jon Proctor knows the road to self-sufficiency is a long one. It's even longer when the weekly paycheck totals a little more than $200. "We're trying to get back on our feet," the 55-year-old divorced father of six says, explaining how he's scheduled only about 30 hours a week stocking shelves at a Safeway supermarket on the overnight shift. Proctor, a Vietnam-era Army veteran, has been employed at Safeway for four years, moving among several stores in the Maryland suburbs of Washington and now in Alexandria, Va., where he stays in Christ House, a transitional housing residence for single men. Life, he admits, is far different than when he worked 15 years as an electrician earning up to $18 an hour and later was a bouncer at a bar earning as much as $500 a night. The broad-shouldered Proctor landed at the residence run by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, Va., 18 months ago when his 25-year marriage dissolved. He moved out of the couple's comfortable Bethesda, Md., home with little more than clothing. "I'm one of the few who's been on top and now at the bottom," he told Catholic News Service. "So if anybody's out there who has the same feeling of 'Hey I've got it made,' don't count on it because you could be in my situation in a heartbeat." Proctor is among the growing number of Americans living in poverty as revealed by U.S. census data. In 2010, 15.1 percent of Americans -- 46.2 million people, an all-time high in terms of numbers -- were living in poverty, according to statistics released Sept. 13. It was the third straight year poverty rose in the country.

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Cardinal urges theologians to teach faith to 'famished' young adults

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- While acknowledging that their primary job is not catechesis, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo urged young theologians to help educate their fellow young adults who are "hungry, starving for the word of God." The archbishop of Galveston-Houston was the opening keynote speaker for the Sept. 15-17 invitation-only symposium in Washington on "The Intellectual Tasks of the New Evangelization." The conference was sponsored by the U.S. bishops' Committee on Doctrine and the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America. Cardinal DiNardo noted that in his archdiocese alone in the past year 2,500 people joined the Catholic Church, most of them never previously baptized; 1,370 Catholics who had been baptized and received first Communion were confirmed at Pentecost; and 500 young people showed up for a class in the Catholic faith. "The new evangelization is what they want, and you have the expertise to unpack it for them," he told an audience made up of nontenured faculty members in theology or religious studies departments who have received their doctoral degrees within the past five years. "I beg you as a pastor not to lose sight of these young people who are famished," he added.

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Church and state: Why can't they be friends?

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has made the dangers of secularism a major theme of his pontificate. And it's a battle both sides take seriously. On the one hand, the pope warns that societies without the moorings of Christian values will be lost at sea, unaware of or indifferent to the truth that anchors humanity to justice, peace, respect and solidarity. On the other side are groups and individuals that hold so tightly to the democratic tenet of church-state separation, they don't want any voice tied to religion to be let loose onto the public square. In many Western, especially European, nations, when a church leader speaks out on the ethical dimension of any issue, "immediately he is attacked as if he is interfering," said an official at the Pontifical Council for Culture. "Your democracy becomes very selective" and intolerant when a whole sector of the community -- people of faith -- are denied the freedom of speech in the public realm, said Father Theodore Mascarenhas, a member of the Society of the Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier. The separation of church and state, which is a hallmark of a democracy, "has also gone onto the separation of God and life unfortunately," in which religious beliefs and values are expected to be left not only out of the process of public decision-making, but out of people's own personal lives, too, he said. Father Mascarenhas, a professor and biblicist, told Catholic News Service that Europe, seen in its frequent debates on whether to allow women to wear veils or crucifixes on school walls, must be careful not to fall into a kind of "Talibanization."

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Bethlehem University students: Palestinian statehood would offer hope

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (CNS) -- Palestinian students at Bethlehem University spoke of how their lives would change if the United Nations recognized Palestine as an independent country. They could receive a visa to travel abroad without having to go to Jerusalem, since other countries would have representatives in Palestine who could issue visas. They could fly to other countries from their own airport rather than having to travel by land to use the Jordanian airport, since Palestinians are not allowed to use the Israeli international airport because of security concerns. "Maybe there will be corruption and maybe we won't have democracy as we would like it right away," said Nagib Kasbary, 20, a Catholic and a business administration student at the university, which is run by the Christian Brothers. "Look at us now ... we have not had (presidential elections) for five years. It will be the same or worse, but it will become better with time," he said. "That is normal for any new country." Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would ask the United Nations to recognize an independent Palestinian state when he addresses the General Assembly Sept. 23. "We want a state and we want it now," said Kasbary, who acknowledged the bid is unlikely to pass a U.N. Security Council vote because of the announced U.S. veto.

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Vatican calls for improved medical care to combat maternal deaths

GENEVA (CNS) -- Scientifically, and not just morally, the best way to prevent maternal deaths is to improve the medical care offered to pregnant women, not divert needed resources into promoting contraception and abortion, a Vatican official said. The international community "has made insufficient progress in preventing about 350,000 deaths that occur annually during pregnancy and childbirth," said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva. The archbishop took part in a Sept. 15 U.N. Human Rights Council discussion on "adopting a human rights-based approach" to reducing maternal mortality. He said the Catholic Church agrees that pregnant women, like all women and men, have a right to decent health care, and, he said, the church has demonstrated that fact by operating hospitals and clinics around the world, including in the poorest and most rural areas of the globe. However, the archbishop said, the church strongly disagrees with U.N. proposals that promote contraception and abortion as important elements in projects to prevent maternal deaths. "The World Health Organization has demonstrated that women in Africa die primarily from five major causes: hypertensive diseases, obstructed labor, hemorrhage, sepsis and infection, and HIV-related diseases," he said.

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Knights of Holy Sepulcher welcome Archbishop O'Brien in ceremony

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Officials at the Vatican headquarters of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem welcomed U.S. Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien as their new pro-grand master. Archbishop Giuseppe De Andrea, the assessor of the chivalric organization, placed a gold chain and pendant around Archbishop O'Brien's neck and told him his new role "is like a chain that ties him to the Holy Land" and to the knightly order of the Holy Sepulcher. The informal ceremony Sept. 16 took place in the order's headquarters -- a 15th-century palace housing ornate ceilings and rooms decorated with three-dimensional illusions of finely detailed trompe l'oeil. Archbishop O'Brien thanked everyone present, including the order's honorary assessor, Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, for their warm welcome. The archbishop said that just a month ago he had no idea that he would go from leading the Archdiocese of Baltimore to heading an order made up of nearly 25,000 members around the world. His appointment was announced Aug. 29. "I am grateful to the Holy Father for his trust in me and hope in the years ahead I will be a help to the Holy See and to the wonderful land where Christ walked," he said to all those gathered. Archbishop O'Brien succeeds U.S. Cardinal John P. Foley, who resigned in February due to ill health. In an interview with Catholic News Service, the 72-year-old archbishop praised the work Cardinal Foley had done for the order and said "I hope, if not to fill his shoes, to follow his footsteps."

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Adelaide archbishop: Senator's interference in abuse case was 'unjust'

SYDNEY (CNS) -- An Australian archbishop criticized a senator for interfering in an alleged sexual abuse case, calling the move "unfair and unjust." Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide also denied that the archdiocese had dragged its feet on the investigation, saying he was responding to requests from the accuser, Archbishop John Hepworth, leader of the Traditional Anglican Communion, who repeatedly said he was not emotionally prepared to pursue the issue. Archbishop Hepworth, whose breakaway group of Anglicans is seeking membership in the Anglican ordinariate established by Pope Benedict XVI, told The Australian newspaper in mid-September that he left the Catholic priesthood decades ago after being sexually abused as a seminarian and young priest in the 1960s and 1970s. The Archdiocese of Melbourne compensated him for his complaint against two priests, now deceased, but he talked to the press after he said his allegation against the one surviving priest was not investigated by the Archdiocese of Adelaide. Then Sen. Nick Xenophon, representing South Australia, became involved, saying the surviving priest was Msgr. Ian Dempsey, a parish priest in Brighton. "I am deeply distressed that Sen. Xenophon has named the priest in Parliament," Archbishop Wilson said Sept. 15. "There was no need for him to do so, especially when this would appear not to have been Archbishop Hepworth's wish."


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