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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Oct-3-2011

By Catholic News Service


Love manifests God's presence in personal, public life, says archbishop

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Human beings are not fully alive until they live for something greater than themselves, said Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain at the 58th annual Red Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington Oct. 2. "It is God who created us who makes us complete, and it is a life lived in humble union with the servant-Savior that literally does the most good," the prelate said at the liturgy traditionally celebrated in the nation's capital the day before the opening of the U.S. Supreme Court's new term. "It is love which makes the using of one's gifts perfect," Archbishop Sartain said. "It is love which manifests the presence of God in our personal and public lives." He urged the 1,400 people at the Mass -- many of them public servants -- to live life for others. "A sound soul in a sound body makes for a balanced life, a life of integrity. And such sound, healthy living in lives that are given to public service lift up and transform society," he added. Although the faithful can "barely grasp" the depth of God's humility and the greatness of God's love, holiness is a life committed to discipleship -- that which sets the standard for service, Archbishop Sartain noted. "We who are here this day know that it is from God that we come and toward God we are headed," the archbishop said. "The vineyard is his, we are his, and the people we serve are his." The archbishop delivered his homily to members of the Supreme Court, President Barack Obama's Cabinet and Congress. This year's attendees included: Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts; Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito; and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.

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More comments filed objecting to HHS mandate, religious exemption

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic organizations filing comments on the federal Department of Health and Human Services' mandate that health insurance plans cover contraception and sterilization and a proposed religious exemption registered their strong disapproval. The latest round of comments echoed objections raised in those filed earlier by, among others, attorneys for the U.S. bishops and the Catholic Health Association. The comment deadline was Sept. 30, the last day of a 60-day comment period for the mandate and proposed exemption announced Aug. 1 by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. In describing as "narrow" a religious exception from the proposed mandate, Catholic Charities USA president Father Larry Snyder, in a 13-page Sept. 28 memo to an HHS administrator, said the mandate will "force organizations that oppose contraception for religious reasons to choose between (1) offering these services in violation of their religious beliefs, and (2) facing the prospect of substantial fees if they choose not to offer health insurance coverage. This lose-lose choice would impose a 'substantial burden' on these organizations' exercise of religion." Under the HHS proposal, to qualify for a religious exemption, an organization would have to meet four criteria: "(1) has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a nonprofit organization" under specific sections of the Internal Revenue Code. Catholic Charities has been the principal social services agency of the U.S. church for more than a century. "Throughout our history, we have always been able to serve those in need while maintaining our religious identity," Father Snyder said. "These federal regulations, if implemented, would compromise in unprecedented ways the ability of our agencies in local communities across America to provide these services."

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Vatican official calls for religious cooperation in Pakistan

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A top Vatican official urged Pakistani Christians to spread the Christian message, but also to show respect for the Muslim faith. Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, secretary of the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples, called for religious cooperation saying, "As a small minority in a predominately Muslim society, the church in Pakistan lives and moves within a framework which calls for sensitivity and great love for our Muslim brothers and sisters. Christian love urges us to dialogue and to promote positive and constructive relations with individuals and communities of other religions. It is uplifting to hear that tremendous effort has been made in Pakistan to witness the fact that Christians and Muslims can work and walk together in peace," he said in a message marking a new missionary initiative of the Catholic Church in Pakistan. "The Year of the Mission," which began Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30, 2012, marks the 60th anniversary of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Pakistan. More than 100 religious leaders from seven dioceses in Pakistan met at for three-day conference prior to the start of the mission, according to Fides, the news agency of the evangelization congregation. They discussed the challenges faced by minority Christians in Pakistan today, citing religious fundamentalism, inequality, discrimination and extremism. Christians make up only 2 percent of the population in Pakistan, and face many obstacles in enjoying full religious freedom, they said.

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From beginning to death, everyone has guardian angel, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Guardian angels exist to protect every human life from its beginning to end, Pope Benedict XVI said. "The Lord is always near and active in human history, and he also accompanies us with the unique presence of his angels, which the church today venerates" on feast of the Guardian Angels Oct. 2, he said before reciting the Angelus. Guardian angels are "ministers of divine care for every person," he said. "From the beginning to the time of death, human life is surrounded by their unceasing protection," the pope told pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. He asked everyone to pray for the protection of all those who do the Lord's work, especially for those who face religious intolerance. The Gospel reading of the day's liturgy, he said, recalled Jesus' parable of the vineyard where the servants would harm or kill the vineyard workers, even the vineyard owner's own son. The reading "spurs us to pray for all who work in the Lord's vineyard, especially where they face violence and threats because of their faith," he said. After spending nearly three months at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo, the pope made his permanent return to the Vatican Oct. 1.

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Living dreams: Youth program targets those at risk in Managua barrio

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (CNS) -- With his telenovela good looks and his "call me Chico" invitation, no one would guess 22-year-old Francisco "Chico" Gonzalez had skirmished with the police before landing in a special program for at-risk youths. Chico's barrio, Jorge Dimitrov, was settled in 1982 after Lake Managua flooded and forced people out of their homes. Now, new generations are being born and raised in his neighborhood. Chico had quit high school after the first year, he said, and was "just wandering through the barrio with nothing to do" when a young woman told him about a program called Youth Builders. "I wanted to change," he said. "I had a lot of formation because I was arrogant and angry," he said. "I needed to learn to control my temper." The program taught him skills -- those he could use to work and those he could use to change his attitudes. "The youth program is a top priority," said the Hugh Aprile, Nicaragua's country director for the U.S. bishops' Catholic Relief Services, which helps fund the program. Aprile said 80 more young people will go through the program over the next year. Rina Campos, who oversees youth programming for Youth Builders in Nicaragua, said the program targets poor, at-risk young people and tries to "increase their standard of living" and "improve the connection among youth, their families and their communities." The organization does this through vocational training, community service and enterprise development.

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Supporting missions improves people's lives, Vatican official says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Supporting the church's work in missionary lands with their prayers and their financial contributions, Catholics also improve the lives of the poor and promote dialogue, said the new prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. "Evangelization always promotes the development of peoples," Archbishop Fernando Filoni told L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Oct. 2. "The proclamation of the Gospel brings and creates solidarity," said the archbishop, who was appointed in May to head the Vatican congregation responsible for the church in mission territories. The Vatican newspaper interviewed him about the importance of the church's observation of October as a month dedicated to the missions. World Mission Sunday is Oct. 23. Archbishop Filoni said all of the baptized have a responsibility for mission; besides being a command of Jesus, being blessed with the gift of faith naturally should lead people to want to share it. Sharing the good news of God's love and of salvation offered through Jesus, he said, helps people live with greater dignity and instills in them the values they need to improve their societies. "In defending the principles of the Gospel, one must speak of justice," which many of the countries in the mission lands need, he said. While the first obligation of Christians is to tell others about Jesus, reaching out to them also includes concretely recognizing their human dignity by supporting education, health care and government and social networks that protect their human rights, he said.

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New Jersey bishop discloses he will soon begin kidney dialysis

CAMDEN, N.J. (CNS) -- Bishop Joseph A. Galante of Camden told Catholics of his diocese that he would soon begin dialysis treatment to combat worsening kidney disease. He said that despite the near-daily treatments, "this should enable me to be able to continue an active work schedule both in the office and for the celebration of liturgies in our parishes." Bishop Galante, 73, said in a Sept. 29 letter to Catholics of the diocese that he had first received treatment 11 years ago for Type 2 diabetes. "For a little more than a year, I have been suffering from chronic kidney disease, which is now at Stage IV," he added. "Over the past two months, I have had a series of medical procedures to prepare for dialysis. One of these procedures had complications which necessitated a hospital stay due to an infection which is now being treated by intravenous antibiotics." Bishop Galante said his dialysis treatments would, at the beginning, take place at his home six days a week for up to three hours a day. "This illness, with its inconveniences and diminished strength and energy, has provided me with a graced opportunity for deeper prayer and reflection. I have come more and more to appreciate and cherish the relationship I have with you," Bishop Galante said. "I daily offer to our heavenly Father my illness with all that goes with it for you, that you may have a deeper faith and trust in Jesus and more fervent practice of that faith," he added.

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Retired Miami Auxiliary Bishop Fernandez, 76, dies after long illness

MIAMI (CNS) -- Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski celebrated a funeral Mass Oct. 3 for retired Miami Auxiliary Bishop Gilberto Fernandez, who died Sept. 30 after a long illness. He was 76. Those who worked with the late bishop said they will remember him as being humble, gentle and "a true Christian gentleman." Archbishop Wenski called him his "twin," referring to the fact they were ordained together as auxiliary bishops Sept. 3, 1997, by now-retired Archbishop John C. Favalora of Miami. Bishop Fernandez retired for health reasons in December 2002 after just a few short years as a bishop, "but his long illness was a cross that he embraced and offered" for the Miami Archdiocese, the archbishop said in a statement. "We trust that he will continue to pray for us as we now entrust his soul to the Lord. May he rest in peace." The funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Mary Cathedral, followed by burial in the priests section of Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery in Miami. When he retired, Bishop Fernandez did not release any details about his health, but at the time asked the people of south Florida "to help me with your prayers, and I will help you also with mine." At the time of his death, news reports said he had suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Born in Feb. 13, 1935, in Havana, Gilberto Fernandez was one of eight children -- five boys and three girls. He and three of his brothers became priests and a sister became a woman religious. He studied at Good Pastor Seminary in Havana and was ordained a priest May 17, 1959, for the Archdiocese of Havana.


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