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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Oct-4-2012

By Catholic News Service


Religious orders say social media use spurs more interest in vocations

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Several religious congregations and organizations are taking advantage of social media to "introduce" individuals discerning a call to a vocation and the seminary, convent or monastery that fits them. With more than 1,400 likes on Facebook, the National Religious Vocation Conference takes full advantage of social networking, through its Vision Vocation Guide and other outlets. At VocationMatch.com, also operated by the Chicago-based conference, a brief questionnaire tells "discerners" -- those considering a commitment to religious life -- what their seminary, convent or monastery matches are. People post questions daily about their life circumstances, inquiring about what resources could help them find the right vocation fit, and Vision connects them with the congregation that matches their interests. Patrice Tuohy, executive editor of the Vision Vocation Guide, said social media has brought the organization to a place greater than it could have been 15 years ago. "As the community's use of social networking has increased, so have inquiries. They have quadrupled since we started having a presence online," she told Catholic News Service. Vision is primarily a social networking site that attracts more than 200,000 visitors each year. Seventy-five percent of those are new visitors and 5,000 fill out profiles to find their vocational match, according to Vision's tracking records. Prior to its launch as an online social network, 150,000 copies of the Vision guide were printed, which resulted in 600 inquiries mailed in by readers. Trinitarian Brother Josh Warshak of Baltimore credited Vision with giving him the information he needed in deciding what type of religious life was for him, and he would recommend it to any "discerner."

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Not 'little adults': Pediatric palliative care different in many ways

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Except for sharing a name, palliative care and hospice for children has little to do with providing the same services for adult patients. "Children aren't little adults, and caring for them is different," says Barbara Roberts, executive director of Providence TrinityCare Hospice Foundation, which runs TrinityKids Care, the only pediatric hospice program in Los Angeles and Orange counties. "Often adults are at the end of a long and wonderful life, and doctors know what that progression looks like," Roberts said. "But a child might have something incredibly serious that has to be reviewed and treated ... and (he or she) may still be growing. ... It's really challenging for anyone's expertise." In addition to the medical challenges, there are myriad of emotional consequences to a child's illness that must be dealt with, she said. "No matter who is on hospice, the entire family needs support," she said. "A healthy sibling might wonder, 'Did I do something?' 'Am I going to get sick next?' ... We spend a lot of time really helping the whole family, with a particular focus on the siblings." Only a tiny percentage of the younger population can benefit from palliative care. According to the Annual Summary of Vital Statistics, 2.4 million Americans died in 2009, the latest year for which figures are available. More than 21,000 of them were between the ages of 1 and 19, but the leading causes of death were accidents and homicide. Dr. Justin N. Baker, chief of the Division of Quality of Life and Palliative Care at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., said palliative care and hospice for children usually takes place over a much longer period than that provided for adult patients. "In the adult world, the length of time on those services is quite small and the mortality rate is high," he told CNS in a telephone interview. "In pediatrics, there is much more care of those with complex chronic conditions," which are both "significant and life-threatening."

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Archbishop says 'Ex Corde' affirmed higher education's church role

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- It has been more than 12 years since Blessed John Paul II promulgated "Ex Corde Ecclesiae," an apostolic constitution that clarified the relationship between the diocesan bishop and the Catholic colleges and universities within his diocese. While the 1990 document is known best for the Latin word "mandatum," which required Catholics teaching theology at a Catholic college or university to seek a "mandate" to do so from the local bishop, New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond told an audience at Loyola University New Orleans Sept. 20 that the document overwhelmingly affirmed the essential role of Catholic higher education as "a ministry of the church. (John Paul II) makes it very clear that Catholic colleges and universities are indeed a ministry of the church, and they form, in many ways, the heart of the church," Archbishop Aymond said in his talk, "Catholic Education: The Gifts and Challenges in 2012 and Beyond." In launching the Presidential Centennial Guest Series that celebrates the 100th anniversary of Loyola University New Orleans, Archbishop Aymond said the "mandatum" is rooted in Canon 812, which requires any Catholic who teaches theology in a Catholic institution to have a license or approval to teach from the competent ecclesiastical authority -- the local bishop. "What that really means is that the bishop sends forth that person and shares with him or her the ministry of teaching," Archbishop Aymond said. The document "invites bishops and theologians to dialogue," he said, and offers the opportunity for theology professors "to make a commitment, either in writing or verbally, to always remain faithful to church teaching as a theologian of the church." Archbishop Aymond said it was "unfortunate" that so much attention has been given to the mandate while other elements of the document strongly supporting the role of Catholic higher education often have been overlooked.

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Prelate urges financial, grass-roots support for traditional marriage

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori and other religious leaders Sept. 26 asked supporters of traditional marriage to join efforts to overturn Maryland's new law legalizing same-sex marriage. More than 200 people attended an invitation-only event at St. Mary's Seminary. The group included representatives from Christian, Muslim and Mormon communities, as well as written support from the Orthodox Jewish community, who were observing Yom Kippur. Church leaders urged those in attendance to take their "feet to the street" and "get souls to the polls" to vote "no" on Question 6, the Maryland ballot referendum that seeks to legalize same-sex marriage. Archbishop Lori hosted the event as chairman of the Maryland Catholic Conference, the bishops' public policy arm. It was sponsored by the Maryland Marriage Alliance. The Catholic conference is a coalition partner of the alliance. The conference's executive director, Mary Ellen Russell, and alliance chairman Derek McCoy also spoke at the event, as did the Rev. John Jenkins, pastor of First Baptist Church of Glenarden; the Rev. Frank Reid, pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Baltimore; and Martin Johnson, a leader in the Maple Ridge Bruderhof Community near Ulster Park, N.Y. In Maryland, state lawmakers in February passed a measure to allow same-sex marriage in the state and it was signed into law in March by Gov. Martin O'Malley. Under its provisions, same-sex couples would be permitted to marry beginning Jan. 1, 2013. Opponents of the law collected enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot for the Nov. 6 election, so Maryland voters will decide if the law takes effect. Same-sex marriage is on the ballot in three other states as well. In Washington, a referendum seeking to overturn that state's same-sex marriage law is on the ballot. In Minnesota, voters will decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In Maine, voters will decide on an initiative on same-sex marriage, three years after a referendum overturned a law passed by the Legislature.

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Pope, at Marian shrine, entrusts Year of Faith, synod to Mary

LORETO, Italy (CNS) -- During a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto, Pope Benedict XVI formally entrusted to Mary the world Synod of Bishops and the Year of Faith. The pope was marking the 50th anniversary of Blessed John XXIII's visit to the Marian shrine, about 175 miles northwest of Rome, when he entrusted to Mary's care the Second Vatican Council, which began Oct. 11, 1962. "Fifty years on, having been called by divine providence to succeed that unforgettable pope to the See of Peter, I, too, have come on pilgrimage to entrust to the Mother of God two important ecclesial initiatives: the Year of Faith," which was to begin Oct. 11 and the Synod of Bishops, which was to open Oct. 7. About 10,000 people gathered in the square outside the Loreto shrine for the pope's morning Mass. Most of the pilgrims stood in the shadow of the shrine, protected from the sun shining in a clear blue sky. At the end of his homily, Pope Benedict turned to Our Lady of Loreto with several petitions. "I wish to entrust to the Most Holy Mother of God all the difficulties affecting our world as it seeks serenity and peace," the pope said. He prayed for Mary's intercession in responding to the "problems of the many families who look anxiously to the future" and for young people just starting to build their adult lives. The pope prayed for the poor, lonely and suffering who are "awaiting signs or decisions of solidarity and love."

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Newark archbishop ordains deacons from North American College in Rome

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, N.J., ordained 33 men from the Pontifical North American College to the diaconate Oct. 4 in St. Peter's Basilica. Hundreds of family members, friends and students filled the pews at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter's as they watched the joy-filled liturgy rich in symbolic tradition. Those attending the Mass included U.S. Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and a former rector of the U.S. seminary in Rome; a number of U.S. bishops; and John McCarthy, who has been named Australia's ambassador to the Vatican. Two of the new deacons studying at the college are Australians and were ordained for the Archdiocese of Sydney. The 31 Americans were ordained for 29 different dioceses across the United States. The men processed into the basilica to the sounds of the "Laudate Dominum" ("Praise the Lord"). Archbishop Myers, a former student at the college and chairman of its board of governors, delivered the homily. He recalled being in Rome during the last sessions of the Second Vatican Council, which, he said, put renewed emphasis on the Word of God, which the new deacons will be called upon to preach and explain. "We Catholics did not always value the Word of God as we should have. The Second Vatican Council and the authentic renewal to which the Holy Spirit called the church changed that," he said.

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Shanghai's priests, nuns forced to attend government classes

SHANGHAI (CNS) -- Priests and nuns in the Shanghai Diocese were forced to attend compulsory "study classes," which observers believe were imposed by Chinese authorities in response to the new Shanghai auxiliary's renunciation of the Catholic Patriotic Association. In September, approximately 80 diocesan priests and 80 nuns of the Our Lady of Presentation Congregation were divided into three groups to take three days of classes at the Shanghai Institute of Socialism, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News. Classes lasted 12 hours each day and included university professors lecturing about strengthening the sense of duty toward China, the law, and the independent church principle, UCA News reported. The main subjects included state-religion relations, the Communist Party's religious concepts, policies and regulations, the socialist core value system and economic development in China, it said. A priest who asked that his name not be used told UCA News that all priests and nuns obeyed directives given by the diocese, so the classes ran smoothly. Religious officials at the city and district levels sat in throughout the classes, he said. Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin, 45, quit the government-approved Catholic Patriotic Association at his ordination July 7. Since then, he has been in "retreat" at the Sheshan Seminary with a "certain degree of freedom," sources told UCA News. The priest told UCA News that he thought government officials would criticize Bishop Ma's episcopal ordination during the classes, but they did not. "Anyhow, it is understood that the so-called study classes were to counter the ordination," the priest said.

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Cardinal Wuerl: Synod strives to turn back 'tsunami of secularism'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- At the Synod of Bishops, which opens Oct. 7 with a papal Mass in St. Peter's Square, some 250 prelates from around the world will meet for three weeks to talk and pray about the new evangelization. Long after the bishops have expressed their diverse views, Pope Benedict XVI will have the last word in an authoritative document of reflections called a post-synodal apostolic exhortation. In the meantime, none of the participants has a better overview of the Vatican gathering, or of the questions it will examine, than Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington. As the synod's relator, Cardinal Wuerl has reviewed preliminary suggestions from bishops' conferences around the world and synthesized them in a speech he will deliver in Latin at the first working session Oct. 8. The cardinal will address the assembly again 10 days later, once more in Latin, to summarize hundreds of speeches by his fellow bishops. Initiated by Blessed John Paul II and eagerly embraced by his successor, the new evangelization is a project aimed at reviving Catholic faith in increasingly secular societies, especially the wealthiest Western nations. For Cardinal Wuerl, it is also an opportunity to fulfill the goal for which Blessed John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council: a faithful presentation of Catholic teachings in a way "attractive to a very rapidly changing culture." It's no mere coincidence, the cardinal said, that the synod overlaps with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the council, Oct. 11, which Pope Benedict has designated as the beginning of a special Year of Faith. Like Vatican II, the cardinal said, the synod will emphasize continuity with the church's ancient traditions. "There is a continuum of Catholic faith going all the way back to the creed, going all the way back to the apostles," Cardinal Wuerl said. "That continuum is where we find the articulation of our faith."

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Man protesting government economic policies climbs St. Peter's Dome

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A 49-year-old Italian man protesting the economic policies of Italy and Europe scaled a fence on top of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica Oct. 2 and remained perched above a window for 28 hours, even during Pope Benedict XVI's weekly general audience in the square below. With the help of two Vatican firefighters and the rope he had tied around himself, the protester, Marcello Di Finizio, climbed back up to the public walkway on top of the dome about 8 p.m. local time. He was escorted to a nearby Italian police station for what he told The Associated Press were "formalities." While many in the crowd of 20,000 people attending Pope Benedict's general audience that morning noticed a banner hanging from the dome, it was impossible to read from the square and almost no one seemed to know a man was up there. Pope Benedict did not mention Di Finizio during the audience. Di Finizio, who had scaled the fence on the dome in July as well, runs a beachfront business in northern Italy, renting out umbrellas and lounge chairs. He has been protesting Italy's plan, in compliance with European Union directives, to auction off licenses to operate such businesses on public beaches. Shortly after the pope's general audience ended, Catholic News Service reached Di Finizio on his cellphone. Speaking from the dome, he told CNS: "I'm here to ask for help. Our government, our state, doesn't exist. Sectors of the economy, the beach sector, have been paralyzed for years by government policies.

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Australian laywoman was a pioneer for Catholic women at the Vatican

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Rosemary Goldie was a historic figure for the church in many ways. With her 1966 appointment as undersecretary of the Council for the Laity, she became the first woman to hold a senior management position in the Roman Curia. Even before that, she was one of the first women appointed to attend the Second Vatican Council. Pope Paul VI eventually named a total of 23 women, 10 of them members of religious orders, as official observers at the council's last two sessions in 1964 and 1965. The observers attended the council's plenary meetings as silent witnesses. But they took an active part in the preparation of "Gaudium et Spes," the council's Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, and of the council's Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity. During the working group's deliberations on the apostolate draft decree, Goldie argued for distinguishing various fields of the apostolate, such as the family, associations and church communities. According to Adriana Valerio in her 2012 book, "Mothers of the Council," Goldie believed breaking the apostolates into categories was necessary to develop a spirituality adapted to lay Catholics' different lifestyles and needs. Her goal was to have both laymen and laywomen be recognized as mature and responsible adults who could carry out the same tasks and hold the same responsibilities, Valerio wrote. Goldie didn't want women to be seen or treated as a separate "issue," as if they were somehow marginalized from society, or to have their concerns seen as of significance only to themselves, the author wrote in "Mothers of the Council."


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