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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Sep-11-2012

By Catholic News Service


World needs Archbishop Sheen's example of faith, virtue, says homilist

PEORIA, Ill. (CNS) -- Calling Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen "the model of virtue our world needs today," friends and family of the famed media evangelist and author gathered Sept. 9 to give thanks for Pope Benedict XVI's recent decree of "venerable" for him, advancing his sainthood cause. The congregation also prayed for "an even greater celebration to come." Peoria Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, who formally opened the diocese's inquiry into the cause a decade ago, was the principal celebrant of a Mass of thanksgiving that drew an overflow crowd to St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria. Among the concelebrants was Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, N.J., who, as Peoria's bishop in the 1990s, was among the effort's early supporters. "Today, as we give thanks for the gift of this great man, let us double our commitment to pray for the success of the cause and that we, like Archbishop Fulton Sheen, will courageously continue to spread the message of the Gospel of Christ throughout the world," said Bishop Jenky. On June 28, Pope Benedict XVI affirmed the heroic virtues of Archbishop Sheen and declared him venerable. If one of three documented, alleged miraculous healings through his intercession is approved, Archbishop Sheen could become the first American-born bishop to be beatified. The beatification ceremony also could be the first to take place in the United States, perhaps in Peoria. A second miracle must be confirmed for canonization.

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Cardinal Dolan traces historic role of religious freedom in US

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- To the enthusiastic reception of an audience of John Carroll Society members Sept. 10, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan traced the historic origins of U.S. religious freedom in light of a current battle with the government over those rights. Saying that he wanted to "restore the luster" on "this first and most cherished freedom," Cardinal Dolan, who also is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said he was afraid "that the promotion and protection of religious liberty is becoming caricatured as some narrow, hyper-defensive, far-right, self-serving cause." Rather, he said, "freedom of religion has been the driving force of almost every enlightened, unshackling, noble cause in American history." This year, the U.S. bishops have waged a campaign to draw attention to what they describe as "religious liberty under attack" through a variety of governmental policies and societal trends. Chief among the issues they have cited is a mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services that employers provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, including some that can induce an abortion, and sterilization. The USCCB and other religious organizations say an exemption to the mandate for religious employers that consider such services morally objectionable is too narrow. Other concerns highlighted by the USCCB's summer "Fortnight for Freedom" events included court rulings and policies -- such as allowing adoption by same-sex couples -- that have pushed Catholic institutions out of adoption, foster care and refugee services. They also cited threats abroad, including attacks on churches in Iraq, Nigeria and Kenya. Cardinal Dolan, who holds a doctorate in American church history, said a historical perspective can help explain that the defense of religious freedom "is not some evangelical Christian polemic, or wily strategy of discredited Catholic bishops, but the quintessential American cause, the first line in the defense of and protection of human rights."

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Orthodox leader: North America's churches can be example for Ukraine

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, Manitoba (CNS) -- Catholic and Orthodox churches in Canada and the United States can be an example for their counterparts in Ukraine, Canada's top Ukrainian Orthodox leader told the Ukrainian Catholic Synod of Bishops. Ukrainian Orthodox Metropolitan Yurij of Winnipeg, Manitoba, addressing the worldwide synod Sept. 10, told the bishops it was "evident that our God is blessing us and helping us develop this better relationship. We also pray that in Ukraine this same attitude will develop as well," he said at the first meeting of the synod. The synod is private, but part of its initial session was open to media. Metropolitan Yurij told several dozen Ukrainian Catholic bishops that the North American Catholic and Orthodox bishops have worked through the "animosity" that once marked relations between their churches, and they now collaborate. "In Ukraine, they have to go through the same kind of process," he said, and the bishops outside Ukraine must be patient with their brothers. While the majority of Ukrainians are Orthodox, they are divided into three churches: one in communion with the Russian Orthodox Church, one with a patriarch in Kiev and the third known as the Autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The forced unification of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1940s "is one of the principal problems," the metropolitan said.

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Vatican hires finance crime expert to aid compliance with global norms

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In an effort to comply more fully with international standards against financial criminal activity, the Vatican has hired an outside expert in combating money laundering and financing terrorism. Rene Brulhart, a 40-year-old Swiss international lawyer, started working as a consultant to the Vatican in September on "all matters related to anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism," Vatican Radio reported Sept. 11. Brulhart's "role is to assist the Holy See in strengthening its framework to fight financial crimes," the broadcast reported. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said in a written statement that the hire is "a powerful sign of (the Vatican's) commitment to work in this direction." A report by European finance experts released in July said the Vatican had passed its first major test in becoming more financially transparent and compliant with international norms. But the report by Moneyval -- the Council of Europe's Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism -- said there were still critical loopholes that needed tightening and other "important issues" to be addressed. For example, the committee found the Vatican's own financial oversight agency, the Financial Information Authority, lacked adequate legal powers and the independence necessary to monitor, inspect and sanction all Vatican agencies and foundations based in Vatican City State that have financial dealings or commercial transactions.

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Ukrainian or English: Pastors balance needs of Catholic communities

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (CNS) -- Many Ukrainian Catholic leaders serving the faithful outside the homeland face a dilemma: Do they serve the needs of the new immigrants and elderly by using Ukrainian in liturgies, or do they minister in English to keep younger people coming to church? Ukrainian "has revived a little with the new immigrants," who want their native language used in church so their children will know how to speak it, said Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadephia. Some places, he added, place an "inordinate emphasis" on Ukrainian-language liturgies. Yet, especially among teens and younger Americans, "even those who speak Ukrainian don't want to go to a Ukrainian service," he said. Parents tell priests they are tired of arguing with their children about going to a service they do not understand. "You don't hear them protesting -- they just walk away," he told Catholic News Service. In large Ukrainian Catholic parishes, liturgies are offered in Ukrainian and English. Of his 67 parishes, he said, only two would not offer bilingual homilies. But the Philadelphia Archdiocese's situation is even a bit more complicated: Many immigrants are from Eastern Ukraine, and their language is Russian, so priests minister to them in their native language. This upsets Ukrainian nationalists, Archbishop Soroka said, "but we can't hold back evangelization because of Ukrainian nationalists. If we don't reach out to them," Russian-speaking Ukrainians will go to Orthodox or evangelical churches, he said.

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Caritas Pakistan works to stay ahead of floods from monthlong monsoon

LAHORE, Pakistan (CNS) -- As rains and flash floods continued drenching Pakistan, Caritas Pakistan workers entered the worst areas to assess damage and determine what type of aid was immediately needed. A month of monsoon rains devastated several communities, claiming at least 78 lives, injuring dozens more and damaging or destroying 1,600 homes, the National Disaster Management Authority reported Sept. 10. "Our teams are already in the field. We had been monitoring the heavy monsoon for a month and feared more damage," Amjad Gulzar, executive secretary of Caritas Pakistan, told the Asian church news agency UCA News. Urban flooding was reported in Hyderabad and Multan dioceses and Quetta apostolic vicariate. Many of those displaced in the most recent flooding had not been able to return to the communities they abandoned in flooding a year ago. Catholic Relief Services staff also joined the assessment effort, visiting communities in southern Pakistan, including Sindh province and the Baluchistan region of Balochistan province, according an agency spokeswoman. Monsoon rains have come late and are heavier than expected," CRS reported. "Initial reports from affected communities and government agencies indicate that there are a number of homes that are destroyed and significant damage to agricultural lands." Flooding also damaged Our Lady of Fatima Church in Fatimapur, Punjab province.

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Gang truce deserves support, not criticism, says Salvadoran bishop

SAN SALVADOR (CNS) -- Against all odds, as virtually everyone thought that the truce between violent Salvadoran gangs would break at any time, Bishop Fabio Colindres Abarca has proved otherwise. The agreement not only continues but has also led gang leaders to seek an agreement with the government. Yet skepticism reigns. "There are people who don't understand this process and don't want anyone to support it, and that is not only negative, it's evil," Bishop Colindres, who heads the Military Ordinariate of El Salvador, told Catholic News Service. Bishop Colindres helped broker the truce in March that is putting an end to the violence carried out by El Salvador's two most notorious gangs: MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, and their archenemies of Barrio 18. The other mediator is former guerrilla commander Raul Mijango. The media, analysts, entrepreneurs and most of the population distrust that gang members want to stop the bloodshed, partly because the groups have terrorized the population with murders, robbery and extortion for years. "People have a right to doubt, to deny, but not to destroy this process," said Bishop Colindres. Between 1980 and 1992, many Salvadorans fled the country's bloody civil war and settled illegally in the United States, where some absorbed the gang culture. Once deported, they reproduced that culture at home, where it rooted rapidly in slums, fueled by poverty and marginalization of the poor. Now the two gangs make up an army of more than 60,000 members. Their power has increased to the extent that they provide foot soldiers for drug trafficking operations in Central America.

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Navy's youngest 'traffic cop' for D-Day invasion dies at 92

BETHESDA, Md. (CNS) -- At 23, Joseph P. Vaghi Jr. was the Navy's youngest beachmaster at Omaha Beach in Normandy during the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion, a role he likened to being a "traffic cop," as he held a map and guided troops ashore, through minefields, mortar blasts and machine-gun fire. Earlier this year at the age of 91, Vaghi received the Legion of Honor Chevalier from the French government, France's highest civilian honor, in thanks for his heroic contribution to that country's liberation during World War II. On Aug. 25, the feast day of St. Louis of France, a day when the French celebrate the liberation of Paris, Vaghi died at a Bethesda retirement home. A retired architect known for his devotion to his Catholic faith and his family, Vaghi was 92. At the beginning of the Aug. 30 funeral Mass for Vaghi at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, one of his four sons, Msgr. Peter Vaghi, that parish's pastor, placed a cross on his father's casket that had been carved by his dad's own father, an Italian immigrant and cabinet maker who started his own woodworking business in Bethel, Conn. In his homily, Msgr. Vaghi noted, "The Catholic faith was infused into his family by the example of his immigrant parents." In a 2004 interview with the Catholic Standard, Washington archdiocesan newspaper, Vaghi said that when he went into Normandy, "I had absolutely no fear, because I knew God would look after me. If he wanted me, that would be it." At Normandy, Vaghi ran to a burning Jeep and pulled away gasoline cans and boxes of hand grenades to prevent them from exploding and possibly killing the wounded soldiers on the beach. He later earned the Bronze Star for his heroism there, and was featured in the Ken Burns' documentary, "The War." Vaghi also took part in a second D-Day, the Easter Sunday, 1945, invasion of Okinawa, Japan.

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Catholic philanthropist, former Florida senator Phil Lewis dead at 82

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CNS) -- A funeral Mass was celebrated Sept. 10 at St. Juliana's Catholic Church in West Palm Beach for Philip D. Lewis, a former Florida state senator and past board chairman of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities. Lewis, 82, died at his home in West Palm Beach Sept. 4. No cause of death was given. "We have lost a true servant leader," said William F. Raskob, board chairman of FADICA. "One who lived his faith through humble, personal service to the poor, and whose trademark was big-hearted, generous, loving encouragement to those who brought the message of Christ to a hurting world." Lewis was active in FADICA for more than three decades and served as its chairman from 2002 to 2005. Born Sept. 27, 1929, in Omaha, Neb., and raised in Chicago and Palm Beach, Lewis attended Georgetown University in Washington before founding Philip D. Lewis Real Estate, which specialized in commercial and industrial real estate and investments. A daily communicant and member of various Catholic and diocesan organizations, he was named a Knight of St. Gregory by Pope Paul VI in 1965 and attended the Second Vatican Council as an unofficial lay adviser. Lewis was elected to the Florida State Senate in 1970 and served 10 years, including two years as Senate president.


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