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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Oct-8-2012

By Catholic News Service


Concern for protecting nature spurs Catholic youths to visit Washington

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As 19-year-old Annalisa Martinez put it, "It's our job to be leaders." She made the comment after she and a group of her peers from a Catholic parish in Denver met with Colorado's U.S. senators on Capitol Hill for an environmental cause: urging federal protection for Browns Canyon in Colorado. Ranging in age from 12 to 19, the Latino youths from Denver's St. Cajetan Parish and an organization called Environmental Learning for Kids were brought together by the Washington-based Hispanic Access Foundation. Maite Arce, executive director of the foundation, founded the nonprofit after growing up as the child of Mexican immigrants who had trouble accessing information and resources in their new country. The foundation has partnerships with mostly faith-based community groups, such as St. Cajetan, to organize events and programs that inform Hispanics about education, voting, the environment and other issues, as well as to promote responsible citizenship and community involvement. St. Cajetan is one of the oldest Hispanic Catholic parishes in the Denver Archdiocese. Over a three-day visit in Washington in mid-September, the youths' schedule included a meeting with Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, both Colorado Democrats, to express their concern for Browns Canyon and to promote scholarships for Hispanic students. The canyon, southwest of the Denver metro area, is a popular place for hiking, camping, viewing wildlife, fishing and white-water rafting. Udall has proposed that Congress designate it as national monument or wildlife preserve. It's a place the youths and many others have grown to love, they said. They were among those who went on a recent trip to the canyon sponsored by Hispanic Access Foundation and Environmental Learning for Kids; 250 families participated in the trip, the first of its kind for many in the group.

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Plenary in Chicago brings together Catholic-Muslim regional dialogues

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Bringing members of three Muslim-Catholic regional dialogue groups together for their first national plenary session in Chicago was a groundbreaking event, but its members agreed that the dialogue must move forward. The "Living Our Faiths Together" plenary, held Oct. 3-5 at Catholic Theological Union, included a retrospective look at Muslim-Catholic dialogue, keynote talks by both Catholic and Muslim speakers, and opportunities for members to share what they have done so far and what direction they think the dialogue should take in the future. The meeting took place in the aftermath of the killing of J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and the uprisings throughout the Arab world that participants say are a response to a YouTube video that was highly offensive to Muslims. But members of the dialogue groups said that it's important for all to remember that Muslims and Christians have lived in peace with one another far more than they have lived in conflict, and that neither group should make the mistake of blaming the other for the actions of a few. Muslim keynote speaker Jamal Badawi said the short answer to whether Muslims and Catholics can live their faiths together is, "Yes, we can. We did it in the past and we are doing it right now in this blessed gathering." Badawi is an Egyptian-born Canadian who has the distinction of having served on both management and religion faculties at St. Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and has written extensively about Islam.

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Young adults don't think alike on religion, race, government

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The youth vote -- which was big in 2008 when more than 22 million young adults in the U.S. under the age of 30 went to the polls -- looks elusive this year. New surveys, including one from the Pew Research Center, show that young voters are more disengaged this election year. Forty-eight percent of this group is giving the election "a lot of thought" this year compared to 65 percent in 2008. Similarly, only 63 percent definitely plan on voting, compared to 72 percent four years ago. Another study, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, finds that nearly two-thirds or 66 percent of younger millennials (age 18-25) are currently registered to vote and 50 percent said they are certain to vote in the November election. The study: "Diverse, Disillusioned and Divided: Millennial Values and Voter Engagement in the 2012 Election" was released Oct. 4. Daniel Cox, director of research and co-founder of Public Religion Research Institute, who presented the survey results at Georgetown University, said the reasons given in the survey for voter apathy included: disinterest, bored by politics, too busy to vote, not convinced votes count and not liking the election choices. More white younger millennials (71 percent) reported being registered to vote than blacks (60 percent) or Hispanics (53 percent) in their age group. Overall, the respondents gave Democratic President Barack Obama a 16-point advantage. When the group was broken down into various faith practices, 55 percent of Catholic younger millennials favored Obama while 38 percent favored Mitt Romney, his Republican opponent. Eighty percent of white evangelical Protestants in the survey group support Romney, while 15 percent support Obama. A slim majority (51 percent) of white mainline Protestants younger millennial voters also prefer Romney. The young voters also have very diverse opinions about religion and politics. Nearly half (49 percent) of younger millennials said it is somewhat or very important for a candidate to have strong religious beliefs, while 48 percent said it is not too important or not at all important.

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Pope, opening synod, says Christ is the answer to humanity's questions

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To evangelize means to help people understand that God himself has responded to their questions, and that his response -- the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ -- is available to them as well, Pope Benedict XVI said. "Our role in the new evangelization is to cooperate with God," the pope told the more than 260 cardinals, bishops and priests who are members of the world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization. "We can only let people know what God has done." In a 21-minute, off-the-cuff reflection during morning prayer at the synod's opening session Oct. 8, Pope Benedict spoke of the importance of prayer in the church's push for a new evangelization, the meaning of evangelization, and sharing the Gospel through both proclamation and charity. The pope examined the use of the word "evangelion," the Greek term that is the root of the English word "evangelization," and which is itself translated as "Gospel." In the Book of Isaiah, he noted, the Hebrew equivalent of the word describes "the voice that announces a victory, that announces goodness, joy and happiness," transmitting the message that "God has not forgotten his people," and that he intervenes with power in history to save them. In the New Testament, the pope said, "evangelion" is the good news of the incarnation of Christ, the coming of God's son into the world to save humanity.

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Cardinal Wuerl: Evangelization should be relevant, rooted in tradition

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic efforts to reach out to lapsed members must show them the relevance of faith today, but "must do so without losing its rootedness in the great living faith tradition of the church," Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington told Pope Benedict XVI and bishops from around the world gathered at the Vatican. Cardinal Wuerl, appointed by the pope as relator of the world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization, introduced the synod's work Oct. 8 with a global overview of the challenge of evangelization today, and laid out the values that he said must be the foundation of the church's outreach. Speaking in Latin, the cardinal addressed the pope, synod members, experts and observers for more than 45 minutes. The cardinal said a "tsunami of secularism" has washed across the world, leaving in its wake a tendency to deny God's existence, or to deny that God's existence is relevant to human thinking and action. Yet, without God "the very understanding of what it means to be human is altered," he said. A key task of the new evangelization is to help people see that human dignity and human rights flow from the fact that human beings are created in God's image, he said. The new evangelization, initiated by Blessed John Paul II and enthusiastically embraced by his successor, is a project aimed at reviving Christian faith in increasingly secular societies. "Whatever we hope to achieve in this synod and whatever pastoral goals we set for re-proposing Christ to this age, we must do so firmly rooted in the biblical vision of man created in the image and likeness of God, as part of a creation that reflects God's wisdom and presents a natural, moral order for man's activities," Cardinal Wuerl said.

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Catholic leaders: Nobel Prize for medicine a triumph for ethics

MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Catholic leaders in Europe hailed the decision to give a Nobel Prize to two pioneers of adult stem-cell research as a triumph for ethics. A statement from the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, known as COMECE, said that awarding the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine to John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka represented an "important milestone" in recognizing the superior potential of adult stem-cell research over destructive experimentation on human embryonic stem cells. The Anscombe Bioethics Centre, an institute serving the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom and Ireland, also described the award as an "achievement of great ethical significance." Said David Jones, director of the Anscombe center in Oxford, England: "This technique offers hope of progress in stem-cell research without relying on the unethical destruction of human embryos. The past attempts to clone human embryos and the bizarre experiments to create admixed human-nonhuman embryos have delivered nothing. In contrast, the transformation of adult cells into stem cells is making great progress," he continued. "This is science at its best: both beautiful and ethical." The Nobel committee said England's Gurdon and Yamanaka of Japan had "revolutionized" science through their work. "These discoveries have also provided new tools for scientists around the world and led to remarkable progress in many areas of medicine," the committee said.

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Vatican court finds papal butler guilty, sentences him to 18 months

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A three-judge panel of Vatican jurists found Paolo Gabriele, the papal butler, guilty of aggravated theft and sentenced him to 18 months in jail for his role in leaking private papal correspondence and other confidential documents. The verdict was read Oct. 6 by Giuseppe Dalla Torre, president of the three-judge panel, just two hours after the fourth and final session of the trial. Dalla Torre began reading the sentence with the formula, "In the name of His Holiness Benedict XVI, gloriously reigning, the tribunal, having invoked the Most Holy Trinity, pronounced the following sentence. ..." He then said the judges had found Gabriele guilty and sentenced him to three years in jail, but reduced the sentence for four reasons: Gabriele had never been convicted of a crime before; the value of his previous service to the Vatican; the fact that he was convinced, "although erroneously," of having acted for the good of the church; and his declaration that he was aware of "betraying the Holy Father's trust." The reading of the verdict and sentence took less than five minutes. Gabriele showed no emotion as the verdict was read, and afterward Vatican police led him to a side room while others exited the courtroom. His lawyer, Cristiana Arru, said they would take him back to his Vatican apartment under house arrest. The defense has three days to inform the court if it intends to appeal. "It's a good sentence, a balanced sentence," she told reporters. She said she and Gabriele had made no decision about the appeal.

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Pope names Vatican's top abuse investigator to be bishop in Malta

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI named the Vatican's top investigator of abusive priests to be the new auxiliary bishop of Malta. Msgr. Charles Scicluna, who was born in Toronto to Maltese parents, served for the past decade as the Vatican's first promoter of justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, handling cases brought against clergy accused of the sexual abuse of minors. The Vatican announced the new appointment Oct. 6 without naming the monsignor's replacement as promoter, a post that would be filled by papal appointment. "I look forward to returning to Malta, to assist and to learn from Archbishop (Paul) Cremona and to listen to and serve the Maltese people," Bishop-designate Scicluna told the TimesofMalta.com the day of his appointment. He said he expected to be able to bring his experience of the universal church to the small Mediterranean archipelago south of Italy. "My real wish is to be a good listener," he said. "I will gain the right to speak" as auxiliary bishop, "but before I speak, I need to listen," he said, adding that "change will come through dialogue." Bishop-designate Scicluna, 53, will be ordained a bishop Nov. 24 in Malta. A Times of Malta editorial Oct. 7 commended the appointment, praising the new bishop as "an achiever, a doer and a highly accomplished speaker," who is also very media-friendly. Bishop-designate Scicluna became promoter of justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2002 to handle accusations of clerical sex abuse, after the doctrinal congregation was given the authority in 2001 to take over such cases from local bishops for investigation. He has taken a tough stance against abusive priests, saying the church must respond to allegations clearly, and not react with "inertia, a culture of silence or repression."

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Pope adds two saints to list of church 'doctors'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict added a 16th-century Spanish priest and a 12th-century German abbess to the roster of doctors of the universal church. The pope proclaimed the new doctors, St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen, at Mass Oct. 7 in St. Peter's Square, where the thousands in attendance included pilgrims waving Spanish flags, and German nuns in traditional habits. In his homily, Pope Benedict said that St. John, "a profound expert on the sacred Scriptures," knew how to "penetrate in a uniquely profound way the mysteries of the redemption worked by Christ for humanity." Noting St. Hildegard's knowledge of medicine, poetry and music, the pope called her a "woman of brilliant intelligence, deep sensitivity and recognized spiritual authority. The Lord granted her a prophetic spirit and fervent capacity to discern the signs of the times." The doctors of the church, saints honored for particularly important contributions to theology and spirituality, come from both the Eastern and Western church traditions. The 35 doctors include early church fathers such as Sts. Jerome, John Chrysostom and Augustine, and theologians such as Sts. Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure and John of the Cross, but also St. Therese of Lisieux, who was honored by Blessed John Paul II in 1997, despite her lack of scholarly accomplishment.

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California bishops laud dedication of national monument to Cesar Chavez

KEENE, Calif. (CNS) -- California's Catholic bishops said they were grateful that a national monument was being dedicated to farmworker labor leader Cesar Chavez, who "was profoundly influenced by Catholic social justice teaching." Chavez, who co-founded the United Farm Workers union in 1962, "strived to be a good disciple of the Lord Jesus by bringing the kingdom of God to the vineyards, fields and groves of America," they said in a statement released Oct. 3. The dedication was Oct. 8. "Seeing the hard plight of migrant laborers, he became a community organizer in 1952, and eventually the founder of the United Farm Workers in 1962," added the bishops. "Through his influence and dedication, countless farm laborers today have basic protections -- from clean drinking water and safe working conditions to minimum wages and access to health care." The monument was dedicated in Keene, the birthplace of the UFW. Thousands were present at the dedication, which included an address by President Barack Obama. With the president were Helen Chavez, Cesar Chavez's widow; Paul Chavez, his son and president of the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation; UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta; and current UFW president Arturo Rodriguez. Also present at the Oct. 8 dedication were two Hispanic Cabinet secretaries, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, as well as U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Obama toured the Chavez Memorial Garden and placed a red rose at the gravesite where Cesar Chavez was laid to rest in 1993.


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