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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Apr-10-2012

By Catholic News Service


Benedictine nun who as young actress starred with Elvis returns to film

BETHLEHEM, Conn. (CNS) -- On Hollywood's red carpet Feb. 26, the night of the 84th Academy Awards presentations, actress Michelle Williams was wearing Louis Vuitton. Cameron Diaz was wearing Victoria Beckham. Black-habited Mother Dolores Hart, prioress of the Abbey of Regina Laudis, told reporters she was wearing the seventh-century Benedictine St. Telchilde. "They didn't know what I was talking about," Mother Dolores said in an interview at the rural Connecticut abbey 12 days and 3,000 miles later with The Catholic Transcript, newspaper of the Hartford Archdiocese. "I think maybe that's why they didn't take many pictures of me on the carpet, because they didn't know what to do with me," she added with a laugh. If you watched the event on television, you might have caught a glimpse of Mother Dolores standing incongruously on the red carpet wearing the habit of St. Telchilde, or Theodichildis, first abbess of the Benedictine Jouarre Abbey in Seine-et-Marne, France. Mother Dolores was in Hollywood because a short HBO documentary titled "God Is the Bigger Elvis," which features her and other cloistered nuns at Bethlehem's abbey, was up for an award. While it didn't win, the nun's presence at the Oscars brought back memories for her fans. Yes, this mother prioress has a fan base. Known for sharing Elvis Presley's first on-screen kiss, in the 1957 movie "Loving You," Dolores Hart was a promising young stage and screen star and also appeared in films with Montgomery Clift, Anthony Quinn, Marlon Brando and others. She appeared with Elvis again in the 1958 movie "King Creole."

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Now-venerable Cuban priest's role as bridge-builder grows, bishop says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Father Felix Varela was a bridge-builder among Cubans and among Americans in his own 19th century, and with the Vatican declaring him venerable, the Cuban priest becomes relevant in that way for new generations, said the vice postulator of his sainthood cause. Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros of Brooklyn, N.Y., a Cuban-American who is shepherding Father Varela's cause, told Catholic News Service that he was elated by the April 8 announcement of the Vatican's declaration. The declaration recognizes that the priest lived heroic Christian virtues. It is the first official step on a path to sainthood. It was announced on Easter Sunday by the New York and Miami archdioceses, where there are many proponents of Father Varela's cause, and the Diocese of St. Augustine, Fla., where he died, and by the Cuban bishops' conference. A statement from the Cuban bishops' conference called Father Varela "a worthy Cuban priest, exemplary in Christian and priestly virtues and eminent in his patriotism." Bishop Cisneros told CNS in an April 10 phone interview that he had expected the declaration to be announced by Pope Benedict XVI during his March 26-28 visit to Cuba and wasn't certain why that didn't happen. "It might have been a snafu," he suggested. The Congregation for Saint's Causes issued its decree March 14, though it wasn't made public until the announcement by the dioceses.

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US bishops report on child abuse allegations, costs for 2011

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Although allegations of child sex abuse by U.S. priests and deacons continue to surface, the vast majority involve actions taken decades ago by clergy who have since died or been removed from ministry, according to a new report. The 2011 survey of abuse-related allegations and costs conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington was released April 10 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It showed that there were 594 new credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by diocesan or religious-order priests or deacons during 2011, but only 23 of the new allegations (4 percent) involved children who were under the age of 18 in 2010 or 2011. The allegations were made by 588 people against 461 clergy members. By the end of 2011, 62 of the new credible allegations of sexual abuse had been determined to be false or unsubstantiated. Three-quarters of the alleged offenders identified in 2011 were deceased, already removed from ministry and/or laicized or missing. Twenty-one priests or deacons named in 2011 were permanently removed from ministry that year, while another 18 priests or deacons accused before last year were permanently removed from ministry in 2011. Four priests were returned to ministry in 2011 based on the resolution on an allegation made in 2010 or earlier, the report said.

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Series of tribute CDs pays homage to Medical Mission Sisters' music

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Plenty of well-known recording artists have been the subject of tribute albums recorded by all-star casts of performers doing cover versions of their songs. The tribute subjects have ranged from Bruce Springsteen to the Eagles to Sonny Bono to Woody Guthrie. Now, a new tribute subject has been unveiled: the Medical Mission Sisters. Those who came of age after the Second Vatican Council are probably familiar with the sisters' first album, "Joy Is Like the Rain," released in 1966. It was certified gold for sales of 500,000 copies -- unheard-of at the time for Catholic religious music, and possibly the only gold record for the genre until the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo do Silos' 1994 CD "Chant" went triple platinum for sales of 3 million. The sisters were prolific, recording 15 albums in the studio -- more than Madonna, the Eagles, and scores of other pop, rock and soul stars -- before their songwriter, Sister Miriam Therese Winter, switched her writing to theological topics. Dan Paulos, director of the Shrine of St. Bernadette in Albuquerque, N.M., and head of the St. Bernadette Institute of Sacred Art, has an ambitious tribute plan. Of the estimated 250-300 songs the Medical Mission Sisters recorded, he plans on rerecording 100 of them, including 12 songs Sister Miriam Therese wrote but never recorded. The first CD, "Loving You," contains 21 songs, including three of the new tunes. Paulos told Catholic News Service that Sister Miriam Therese even returned to the recording studio. "The first recording was 46 years ago, and four of the originals (sisters) went back and recorded more songs," he said.

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Nigerian bishop credits security forces for diminishing bombing's toll

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) -- A Nigerian archbishop credited security forces for preventing a catastrophe at a Christian church on Easter when a suicide bomber was turned away and ended up detonating a car bomb on a busy street in the northern city of Kaduna. Archbishop Mathew Ndagoso of Kaduna said that while the blast claimed dozens of lives, the death toll would have been much higher had the bomber been able to enter the grounds of the Evangelical Church of West Africa, where Easter services were being held. Authorities said many of the 39 people who died were motorcycle taxi operators. More than 30 people were injured, police said. Debris from the blast was strewn across a major road in the city. The Evangelical Church of West Africa and the All Nations Christian Assembly Church sustained serious damage from the blast but reported no injuries. Nearby hotels and homes had their windows blown out and roofs torn off by the force of the explosion. Archbishop Ndagoso said the blast did not affect any of the Catholic parishes in Kaduna. No organization had claimed responsibility for the bombing by late April 10, although the city has been at the center of long-standing violence rooted in religious, ethnic and political differences. The archbishop commended the National Emergency Management Agency for its quick response at the bombing scene.

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Cardinal Aponte, church's only Puerto Rican cardinal, dead at age 89

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (CNS) -- Cardinal Luis Aponte Martinez, the second Puerto Rican to be ordained a bishop and the only Puerto Rican cardinal, died April 10 at Hospital Espanol Auxilio Mutuo in San Juan after a long illness. He was 89. The head of the San Juan Archdiocese for nearly 30 years, he retired in 1999. Cardinal Aponte participated in the two 1978 conclaves that elected Pope John Paul I and Blessed John Paul II, but he was already over 80 and ineligible to vote by the time Pope Benedict XVI was chosen. Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuno declared five days of official mourning for the cardinal, who died on the 62nd anniversary of his priestly ordination. "His wide priestly and pastoral work leaves a rich spiritual legacy, not only for the Catholic faithful, but also for all men of good will," the governor said in a statement. "The cardinal captivated all who knew him; he reached, by his loyalty to God and his church, the highest place in the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico." After the cardinal's body is taken to churches in Lajas, San German, Ponce and Santurce to permit local Catholics to pay their respects, his funeral Mass was to take place at 3 p.m. April 16 in the Cathedral of Old San Juan. Cardinal Carlos Amigo Vallejo, retired archbishop of Seville, Spain, was expected to preside, with the Puerto Rican bishops and the apostolic delegate in Puerto Rico concelebrating. Cardinal Aponte's death leaves the College of Cardinals with 210 members, 123 of whom are under the age of 80.

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Jesuit seminarian took photographs of Titanic's infamous voyage

DUBLIN (CNS) -- Commemorations of the sinking of the Titanic 100 years ago will put the spotlight on a young Irish priest whose photographs are some of the only surviving images of life onboard the liner on its first and last voyage. Jesuit Father Frank Browne, 1880-1960, became a prominent documentary photographer and a much-decorated chaplain in the British army in World War I. A collection of his photographs, "Father Browne's Titanic Album" has been reprinted to mark the centenary of the demise of the massive liner, which was constructed in Belfast, Ireland, and was believed to be unsinkable. More than 1,500 people died when it sank April 15, 1912. The new edition of the book is edited by Jesuit Father Edward O'Donnell, and the foreword is written by Robert Ballard, who first located the ship's wreckage in September 1985, the same month as a chance finding of 42,000 of Father Browne's photographs in the basement of the Jesuits' headquarters in Dublin. Frank Browne lived an eventful life. As a novice he met Pope Pius X in 1909 when he accompanied his uncle, Bishop Robert Browne of Cloyne, to a private audience at the Vatican. He was also a university classmate of Irish writer James Joyce, who featured the young seminarian as "Mr. Browne the Jesuit" in his masterpiece "Finnegans Wake." In 1912, the Jesuit novice was still three years from ordination. Because of a gift from his uncle, he was able to experience the Titanic's luxurious accommodation in the initial stages of its maiden voyage, from Southampton, England, to Cherbourg, France, and on to Queenstown, Ireland.

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Cardinal Daoud, former Syriac Catholic patriarch, dies at 81

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Mourning the death of Syrian-born Cardinal Ignace Moussa Daoud, who died April 7 in a Rome hospital, Pope Benedict XVI also prayed for the people of the Middle East "living through difficult times." The 81-year-old cardinal was the retired prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and the former patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, led the Latin-rite funeral Mass April 10 in St. Peter's Basilica. Cardinal Daoud's body was to be flown to Beirut for a Syriac-rite burial with the other patriarchs of Antioch. In his homily, Cardinal Sodano said he had visited the ailing patriarch a few days before he died. He said Cardinal Daoud told him he was "offering to the Lord his suffering for the good of the holy church and above all for the unity of all Christians." In a condolence message to Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan of Antioch, Pope Benedict called the cardinal a "faithful pastor who devoted himself with faith and generosity to the service of the people of God." The pope also assured the patriarch that during "these days, when we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord," he was offering special prayers "for the peoples of the region who are living through difficult times." Cardinal Daoud was born Basile Moussa Daoud in Meskene, Syria, Sept. 18, 1930, and had served as archbishop of Homs, one of the cities now being most deeply affected by violence as the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reacts to efforts to oust him.


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