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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Oct-2-2012

By Catholic News Service


US Catholics urged to renew commitment 'to defend' life during October

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- During October, designated each year as Respect Life Month by the U.S. Catholic Church, Catholics should "renew their personal commitment to defend all human life, especially the most vulnerable members of the human family," said the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities. "By our unflinching defense of human life and religious freedom, by our witness to the transcendent nature of the human person, and by our compassionate service to our brothers and sisters in need, may we spark a renewal of love and commitment to the true good of others," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston. "Only a love that seeks to serve those most in need, whatever the personal cost to us, is strong enough to overcome a culture of death and build a civilization worthy of human beings made in God's image," he added in a statement. Respect Life Sunday, the first Sunday in October, kicks off a yearlong Respect Life Program, marked by special liturgies and events. The program theme for 2012-13 is: "Faith opens our eyes to human life in all its grandeur and beauty." The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities has published a packet of materials for priests, parish groups and other organizations. The packet includes several brochures, each one addressing a different human life issue. Topics include: resources for those facing an unplanned pregnancy; religious liberty; conscience protection in health care; marriage; contraceptives and women's well-being; physician-assisted suicide; and pornography.

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Cardinal says Year of Faith a time for Catholics to deepen, share faith

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the Catholic Church prepares to celebrate the Year of Faith and bishops from around the world gather in Rome for a synod dedicated to the new evangelization, Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl called on Catholics to deepen their faith and to share it with others. "All around us are people who should truly be with us at Mass, who should be with us at church, who should be with us in the parish," Cardinal Wuerl said Sept. 30 in an address at the John Carroll Society's annual brunch following the Red Mass. The cardinal addressed the group of Catholic professionals and business men and women on the eve of his departure for Rome, where he will attend and serve as "relator," or general secretary, for the Oct. 7-28 Synod for the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. He said the synod -- which will draw about 200 bishops from around the world -- will consider "how do we re-propose for a hearing all over again our faith." Lamenting that some Catholics "did not get that type of (religious) education we got when we were growing up," Cardinal Wuerl said the new evangelization and the Year of Faith are opportunities to reach those "who really don't know a lot about the faith and those who drifted away because they think they know the faith and it offers nothing for them." He called on the faithful to "renew our own faith ... have confidence that what we believe is actually true ... (and) share the faith with one other person."

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Missouri Catholic businessman to appeal judge's decision on HHS lawsuit

ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- A federal court ruling that rejected a Catholic St. Louis business owner's challenge to the federal mandate that employee health insurance cover contraceptives will be appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. U.S. District Judge Carole Jackson Sept. 28 granted the Obama administration's motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Frank O'Brien, who sued the Department of Health and Human Services over a requirement that all employee health insurance plans include coverage for contraceptives, including some that can cause abortions, and sterilization. The Washington-based American Center for Law and Justice, which represents O'Brien and his company, said Oct. 1 it would appeal Jackson's ruling. O'Brien is chairman of O'Brien Industrial Holdings, a holding company that operates several businesses that explore, mine and process refractory and ceramic raw materials. The company has a Jan. 1 deadline to have a new health care policy for its 87 employees. In dismissing the suit, Jackson wrote that being forced to pay for health insurance services contrary to an employer's religious beliefs is not a substantial burden on the employer's religious rights. The ruling addressed multiple legal arguments raised on First Amendment and other grounds by O'Brien and his attorneys. Among them, Jackson said that as a secular company, O'Brien Industrial Holdings "by definition cannot 'exercise' a religion and therefore cannot assert claims under (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act) or the First Amendment Free Exercise clause." She noted that other courts also are considering the question of "can a corporation exercise religion?" The mandate's limited religious exemption applies only to those Catholic and other religious organizations that seek to inculcate their religious values and primarily employ and serve people of their own faith.

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Cardinal Rigali had back stage pass to Vatican II's proceedings

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) -- Cardinal Justin Rigali, former archbishop of St. Louis and Philadelphia who is currently in residence in Knoxville, was a priest assistant at the Second Vatican Council -- a spot that essentially gave him a backstage pass. The significance wasn't lost on the then-27-year-old Los Angeles priest, who called it a privilege to play a minor role at the council. The experience shaped his career of more than 50 years as a priest, bishop, archbishop and cardinal who has worked closely with Popes Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II. He participated in the election of Pope Benedict XVI as a member of the College of Cardinals and continues to serve on two Vatican congregations. He is a member of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. "Yes, it was a privilege to play a minor role in Vatican II. But it was an immense personal enrichment that brings with it everlasting memories and also a sense of having heard what went on and having seen how seriously the bishops worked under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit," Cardinal Rigali said. He vividly recalled 2,500 bishops from around the world filing into St. Peter's Basilica in procession on Oct. 11, 1962, closely followed by Pope John XXIII, to open the council, which concluded Dec. 8, 1965. The priest worked closely with the bishops and cardinals in attendance, a list that reads like a Who's Who among Catholic leaders.

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Catholic group enlists young adults to help people 'lift themselves up'

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- When Towana Bowers-Scott looks at Anthony Newman, she doesn't see a youthful do-gooder spending his second post-college year doing a year of service for a Catholic organization. The 30-year-old Baltimore high school dropout sees a tireless tutor determined to help her pass her GED high-school equivalency exam. "He don't give up on us," Bowers-Scott said, following a tutoring session with Newman at the McElderry Park Community Resource Center in an east Baltimore neighborhood littered with boarded-up houses and all of the markings of extreme poverty. "When we need him, even for extra work, he's here," she said. "When we don't understand something, he makes us take our time. Not him taking his time. He makes us take our time to get it done right." Nearly 400 other young adults recently began a year of service with Notre Dame Mission Volunteers through an AmeriCorps program to serve impoverished communities throughout the U.S. and abroad. During a September orientation for several new mission workers at the Baltimore province center of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the magnitude of their undertaking was laid out for them. Leaders of the Notre Dame Mission Volunteers-AmeriCorps Program told the incoming mission workers they are foot soldiers on the ground empowering the poor and "helping people help themselves. Teach them what they need to know for life," Notre Dame Sister Katherine Corr told the young mission workers as they prepared to begin their year of service. "You know, they've got to know their arithmetic. But, they also have got to know they are important. They're special. They need to count on us for caring about them."

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Handing on faith must be priority for all in church, says new charter

DOUGLASTON, N.Y. (CNS) -- Parish vitality depends on competent, professionally trained catechetical leaders, according to a new charter by New York state's Catholic bishops. "The Catechetical Leader in the Third Millennium" document was launched Sept. 27 at a meeting of the New York state bishops and diocesan directors of religious education. More than 400 pastors, religious educators and 22 bishops participated in the daylong event, which was held at the Immaculate Conception Center in the Douglaston section of Queens. In a letter convening the meeting, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York wrote: "The very vitality of our parishes is dependent on the quality of the catechesis we offer, not just to the children and youth, but also to adults, many of whom have a sketchy understanding of the faith and are in danger of slipping away, taking their children and the future of parish life with them." The charter outlines the priority that the state's bishops, pastors, pastoral managers and parish catechetical leaders should give to handing on the faith in these challenging times, according to Cardinal Dolan. "It underscores the role of catechesis at the heart of evangelization and the crucial importance of professionally prepared catechetical leaders of children, youth and adults." Cardinal Dolan said the document reflects deep concern about the diminishing number of professionally prepared catechetical leaders and the consequent detrimental effect on parish catechetical programs. "We all wish that in each parish, faith formation could receive all the support it deserves. In reality, it is one of many activities competing for the shrinking resources of a parish," he said. At the launch event, Bishop Terry R. LaValley of Ogdensburg and Auxiliary Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Brooklyn described the charter and a companion document on its implementation. The documents were developed in partnership with the New York State Council of Diocesan Directors of Religious Education.

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Hawaiians gear up for Rome for Blessed Marianne Cope's canonization

HONOLULU (CNS) -- More than 225 people from Hawaii are on the official Honolulu diocesan tour to see Blessed Marianne Cope become a saint Oct. 21 in St. Peter's Square. The group was advised to get their euros ready, buy a good pair of walking shoes and break them in, and pack cool weather clothes to layer. Randy King, president of Seawind Tours and Travel, offered these tips Sept. 18 to the canonization pilgrims who gathered at St. Augustine Church in Waikiki. The travelers, scheduled to arrive in Rome Oct. 16, will be given about a week of spiritual and cultural activities leading up to the canonization. "It's special -- once in a lifetime," said Jean Maria, a parishioner from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Ewa Beach, who will be traveling with her husband, Stan. Seawind Tours and Travel, selected by Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva to coordinate the diocese's official pilgrimages for Mother Marianne's celebration. It is the same company that organized diocesan tours for the 2009 canonization of St. Damien de Veuster of Molokai and before that his beatification and that of Mother Marianne, in 2005. Seawind has created four different tour packages for the event. Two of the packages include accommodations, transportation and activities primarily in Rome. The other two feature excursions to additional cities. One tour group will be making a two-day stop in Syracuse, N.Y., before crossing the Atlantic. These pilgrims will visit the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, Blessed Marianne's order. A shrine and museum of the life of the soon-to-be-saint are located at the motherhouse.

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Papal butler says he's innocent of theft, but guilty of betraying pope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Paolo Gabriele, the papal butler charged with stealing and leaking papal correspondence, said he was innocent of charges of aggravated theft, but "I feel guilty for having betrayed the trust the Holy Father placed in me. I loved him like a son," Gabriele said of the pope during the second day of his trial. The morning session of the trial Oct. 2 also featured brief testimony by Cristina Cernetti, one of the consecrated laywomen who work in the papal apartment; and longer testimony by Msgr. Georg Ganswein, Pope Benedict XVI's personal secretary. Msgr. Ganswein, who described himself as "extremely precise," said he never noticed any documents missing, but when he examined what Vatican police had confiscated from Gabriele's Vatican apartment, he discovered both photocopies and originals of documents going back to 2006, when Gabriele began working in the papal apartment. Taking the stand first, Gabriele said widespread concern about what was happening in the Vatican led him to collect photocopies of private papal correspondence and, eventually, to leak it to a journalist. "I was looking for a person with whom I could vent about a situation that had become insupportable for many in the Vatican," he testified Oct. 2. Gabriele told the court that no one encouraged him to steal and leak the documents. Although he said he acted on his own initiative, Gabriele told the court he did so after "sharing confidences" about the "general atmosphere" in the Vatican with four people in particular: retired Cardinal Paolo Sardi, a former official in the Vatican Secretariat of State; Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica; Ingrid Stampa, a longtime assistant to Pope Benedict XVI, going back to his time as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger; and Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi, who worked in the secretariat of state until 2011.

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Vatican investigates conditions of butler's detention

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Paolo Gabriele, the papal butler on trial in the Vatican, told judges that for 20 days he was held in a tiny cell where he could not even fully extend both arms and where Vatican police kept the lights on 24 hours a day. Gabriele's testimony about the conditions of his detention after his arrest in May came in response to questions posed by his lawyer Oct. 2, the second day of his trial on charges of aggravated theft for allegedly stealing reserved papal correspondence and leaking it to a reporter. After the testimony, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the Vatican court had ordered an investigation into the claims. The Gendarme Corps of Vatican City State, as the Vatican police force is formally known, issued a statement saying that Gabriele was held in a small cell for 20 days while previously scheduled remodeling work was sped up and completed on a larger room for prisoners. The police said the work included improvements "responding to the requirements requested by the Convention Against Torture," a 1984 international agreement, which the Vatican signed. As for the lights being left on, the police said the decision was made that it was a necessary precaution to ensure that Gabriele did not hurt himself. The statement added, however, that Gabriele was given a sleep mask. Gabriele's Vatican physician made regular visits, the statement said, adding that Gabriele even told the doctor that he was "resting peacefully" and, in fact, was not as nervous as he had been before his arrest.

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Archbishop: Morality, not popular trends, must motivate legal decisions

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Lawmakers and those who serve justice must make decisions based on their strong faith and moral convictions, and not on popular cultural trends, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio said Sept. 30 at the 60th annual Red Mass in Washington. "The faith we hold in our hearts must motivate the decisions, the words, and the commitment of our everyday existence," he said. "That existence is extraordinary, because it is infused with divine grace." Archbishop Broglio, who heads the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, was the homilist and Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington was the principal celebrant at the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. It is celebrated each year on the Sunday before the first Monday in October, when the Supreme Court begins its new term, to offer prayers and invoke the Holy Spirit on those who serve in the judiciary. Cardinal Wuerl invoked "God's blessing on those who are involved in the administration of justice" and also asked "prayers for our nation." Speaking to more than 1,300 people -- many of them federal officials or public servants -- who attended the Mass in Washington, Archbishop Broglio said that "not everything contemporary is good and ... stable foundations are essential."

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British cardinal says pope prevented him from joining House of Lords

MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI personally intervened to prevent a British cardinal from occupying political office when he retired from active ministry. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, retired archbishop of Westminster, said the British government was considering appointing him as a member of the House of Lords after he reached 75, the retirement age for bishops and cardinals. However, Pope Benedict opposed the idea because he did not wish to set a precedent that might have been copied by bishops in South America and Africa who wished to join the governments of their countries, the cardinal said in an interview published Sept. 30 by the London-based Sunday Telegraph. Under church law, Canon 285 prohibits clerics from holding political office. "The idea was quite attractive," Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, 80, told the newspaper. "I consulted the pope and his chief adviser and they were against it," he said. "It's to do with having the freedom to be outside the political system." Asked if the pope had personally blocked him from becoming a Lord, the cardinal answered: "Yeah, more or less." The British Constitution allows Anglican bishops to sit as "lords spiritual" or "spiritual peer" in the House of Lords in a practice that pre-dates the Reformation. It would be normal for the archbishop of Canterbury to join the House of Lords on retirement as leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion.


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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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