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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jun-29-2012

By Catholic News Service


Flooding in Duluth, Superior dioceses worst seen in more than 40 years

HUDSON, Wis. (CNS) -- In adjoining port cities where rivers flow into the western tip of Lake Superior, Catholic officials continued to help people who were displaced and had their homes damaged by 10 inches of rain that fell in just a few hours. The June 20 torrential rains that hit areas of the Diocese of Superior, Wis., and the Diocese of Duluth, Minn., caused the worst flooding that those places have experienced in more than 40 years. The high waters created sinkholes, washed out roads, and damaged houses and other buildings in several neighborhoods. Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency visited the area for the first time June 28 to assess the damage. It could take up to three months for storm victims to receive federal disaster aid. A similar weather scene played out in northern Florida, where even more rain fell over a four-day period as Tropical Storm Debby slowly made its way across the state. As Debby headed east toward the Atlantic Ocean June 27, the storm was downgraded to a tropical depression. New reports said the hardest hit area in Florida was around Tallahassee, the state capital, with some places getting as much as 26 inches of rain. FEMA officials also were assessing the situation in that state. In Minnesota, many people hit hard by the storm are not used to asking for help, said Patrice Critchley-Menor, Duluth's diocesan social apostolate director. "They are used to giving, not getting," Critchley-Menor said, adding that she and others working with relief efforts have heard many times that "others have it worse, or this could have been even worse."

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More to come: Lawsuits over HHS mandate keep health reform law in court

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Although legal scholars and political observers will likely spend days parsing each line of the 193 pages of U.S. Supreme Court opinions and dissents on the health reform law, the court's June 28 decision is not likely to be its final word on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. "It seems to me the (Obama) administration has won one legal challenge and there are 23 others waiting in the wings," said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and a professor of constitutional law at The Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law. The Becket Fund represents Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, Colorado Christian University in Denver, Eternal Word Television Network in Birmingham, Ala., and Ave Maria University in Florida in lawsuits challenging the Department of Health and Human Services' mandate requiring most religious employers to provide contraceptives and sterilization to their employees free of charge. Another 12 lawsuits involving 43 Catholic dioceses, schools, hospitals, social service agencies and other institutions were filed simultaneously in May; several private employers, Catholic organizations such as Priests for Life and Legatus and some non-Catholic colleges also are challenging the mandate in court. The June 28 decision dealt with the individual mandate -- the requirement that individuals buy health insurance or pay a penalty to the Internal Revenue Service -- but the lawsuits against the HHS mandate relate to the law's employer mandate, which punishes employers who do not provide health insurance to their employees. "The court's opinion today did not decide the issues in our cases," said Hannah Smith, another Becket Fund senior counsel. "We are challenging the HHS mandate on religious liberty grounds which are not part of today's decision. We will move forward seeking vindication of our client's First Amendment rights."

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HHS mandate called 'unprecedented assault on religious freedom'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The right to religious freedom as stated in the First Amendment "goes into the soul of America. People came here for religious freedom," said Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, R-N.Y. Buerkle was one of four members of the U.S. House of Representatives who gathered at Georgetown University June 28 to discuss religious freedom in front of an audience concerned about the health care reform law and the federal contraceptive mandate issued by Department of Health and Human Services. Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown, gave the introduction and welcome. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., led off the morning discussion, saying he believes the HHS mandate "would force everyone to choose between their government and their beliefs." The HHS mandate, part of the new heath care law, requires most religious employers to provide contraceptives, including some abortion-causing drugs, and sterilization to their employees at no cost. It includes a narrow exemption. For the panel of speakers at Georgetown, a major problem with the mandate is its lack of a conscience clause. Quoting James Madison, Fortenberry said, "Conscience is the most sacred of all property." Said Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn.: "It (HHS) will force religious organizations to violate their conscience. It is an unprecedented assault on religious freedom." The lawmakers also agreed that it is more than just a "Catholic" problem. "This is not a Catholic issue," Buerkle said. "It is about the rights of religious freedom at every level."

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Pope says pallium is sign of tie to heaven and earth, Christ and pope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After placing a woolen band around the shoulders of 44 new archbishops as they knelt before him, Pope Benedict XVI told them it was a reminder of their ties to heaven and earth and of their loyalty to Christ and the successor of Peter. "You have been constituted in and for the great mystery of communion that is the church, the spiritual edifice built upon Christ as the cornerstone, while in its earthly and historical dimension, it is built on the rock of Peter," the pope said June 29 during his homily on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. However, he added, the "church is not a community of the perfect, but a community of sinners, obliged to recognize their need for God's love, their need to be purified through the cross of Jesus Christ." Before celebrating Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict gave the archbishops from 23 countries the woolen pallium as a sign of their sharing with him authority over the faithful in their archdioceses. The pallium is presented every year to new archbishops or those who have been assigned to a new archdiocese. The archbishops included Archbishops Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia; William E. Lori of Baltimore; Samuel J. Aquila of Denver; and William C. Skurla, who leads the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh. Among the others were four prelates from Canada, including Archbishop Christian Lepine of Montreal, and two from Australia, including Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane.

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Catholic, Orthodox leaders to issue statement urging reconciliation

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- Catholic and Orthodox leaders from Poland and Russia will issue a joint statement committing their churches to fostering reconciliation between the two historically feuding countries. Archbishop Henryk Muszynski, Poland's former Catholic primate, said the text could be compared to a famous 1965 declaration by Poland's Catholic bishops to their German counterparts; that document contained the words "we forgive and ask forgiveness." However, he cautioned that Polish-Russian ties had not yet "matured sufficiently" for a comparable pledge of mutual forgiveness and said it was still "very difficult to reach a common position with Russians" on historical issues. "As Poles, we speak clearly about our sufferings from two totalitarian systems -- the German Nazi and the Soviet communist -- but our Russian partners don't usually place them on the same level," the archbishop told the Polish Catholic news agency KAI. "As bishops, we'll be powerless in this area until historians reach a consensus," he said. "We have the same Gospel and sacraments, and we face similar challenges from the world around us -- so we are close and cannot act as antagonists," he said.

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UNESCO adds Church of Nativity to list of heritage sites in danger

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (CNS) -- UNESCO has placed sites -- including the Church of the Nativity -- in Bethlehem, West Bank, on its list of World Heritage in Danger. In a 13-6 vote with two abstentions, the World Heritage Committee added the sites to the danger list June 29 during a meeting in St. Petersburg. In its application, Palestine, which became a full UNESCO member last October -- said the church had not had upkeep and repairs since 1967, when Israel began occupation of the West Bank and because of Israeli restrictions on movement in and out of the territory. Inscribing a site on the List of World Heritage in Danger allows the World Heritage Committee to allocate immediate assistance from the World Heritage Fund to the endangered property. It also alerts the international community to situations in the hope that it can join efforts to save these endangered sites. The United States and Israel -- who were not committee members -- had opposed the move. Last fall, the custos of the Holy Land, Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, told the Italian bishops' news agency SIR the Franciscans were hoping the Church of the Nativity would not be included on a UNESCO list. He said he and other Christian leaders believed the initiative would make "it harder for us to run (the church), because, under UNESCO rules, the board in charge of running a place for the U.N. agency is the government, not the owner of a site."

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Father Pavone allowed to minister outside diocese, must consult bishop

AMARILLO, Texas (CNS) -- A Vatican decree allows pro-life activist Father Frank Pavone to minister outside the Diocese of Amarillo, where he was incardinated in 2005, but he still must obtain specific permission to do so from Amarillo Bishop Patrick J. Zurek. The decree from the Congregation of the Clergy was dated May 18 and became public about a month later. Bishop Zurek said in a June 20 statement that the congregation "has sustained Father Frank A. Pavone's appeal of his suspension from ministry outside the Diocese of Amarillo. As a gesture of good will, I will grant permission to him in individual cases, based upon their merits, to participate in pro-life events with the provision that he and I must be in agreement beforehand as to his role and function," the bishop added. The priest, who is national director of Priests for Life, also must continue his ministry as chaplain to the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, a religious order in Channing. He was appointed chaplain by the bishop. A June 26 statement on the Priests for Life website, said the group was "happy to announce that the Vatican has upheld Father Frank Pavone's appeal and has declared that Father Pavone is not now nor has ever been suspended. Father Pavone remains a priest in good standing all over the world." Last September, Bishop Zurek suspended the priest from ministry outside the diocese, saying he was needed for work in Texas and remained a priest in good standing in the Amarillo Diocese.

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J. Kevin Doyle, Benedictine University business professor, dead at 64

LISLE, Ill. (CNS) -- A memorial Mass was offered June 29 at St. Joan of Arc Church in Lisle for John Kevin Doyle, a professor of business administration at Benedictine University in Lisle and award-winning philatelic editor and writer. Doyle, 64, died June 21 after a two-year struggle with kidney cancer. Kevin, as he was known to his family and friends, was a son of James and Ethel Doyle, staff members of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada from 1958 to 1988. Jim was the CPA's executive director and Ethel was reading service manager in that period. Doyle also was the brother of Brian Doyle, editor of Portland Magazine of the Holy Cross-run University of Portland and a well-known Catholic writer and anthologist. In addition to his wife, Jane Bates Doyle, he is survived by son Neal Andrew Doyle, of Cambridge, Mass.; daughter Meghan Eileen Doyle, of Lisle; and three other siblings -- Elizabeth M. Doyle, Wappingers Falls, N.Y.; Peter J. Doyle, Broomfield, Colo.; and Thomas M. Doyle, Lake Mary, Fla. Kevin Doyle was a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, then earned his doctorate in computer science at Syracuse University. He was initially on the faculty at Emory University, then worked at Bell Labs and Lucent Technologies before joining Benedictine University several decades ago.


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