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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Nov-9-2012

By Catholic News Service


Bishop links respect for environment to church's sacramental life

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The link between respecting the environment and the sacramental life of the church is inseparable for one bishop overseeing a diocese that encompasses a collection of small islands in the South Pacific. Bishop Bernard Unabali of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, considers the link so unfaltering that when he baptizes a new member of the church or confirms someone or even when he ordains a priest, he asks individuals to plant 10 trees as a way to give rise to new life. Such an act of faith, he told Catholic News Service Nov. 8, is one way he prayerfully encourages people to pursue to help stem the rapid pace of climate change. "(I) use this situation, which is going to be affecting us more drastically than probably in the past, to help people recapture our relationship to the environment," he said. "We must entrench something in our lives to continue this environmental concern, respect and care." Bishop Unabali was in Washington to open a three-day symposium highlighting the urgent calls from Pope Benedict XVI on the importance of Catholics acting on behalf of an increasingly fragile environment in the face of climate change. The event, hosted by The Catholic University of America Nov. 8-10, brought together a dozen Catholic theologians and philosophers to discuss the implications of Pope Benedict's biblically-based ecological vision for the Catholic Church, particularly in the United States. The symposium was sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, and the university and its Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies. Bishop Unabali explained that care for the environment and encouragement of sustainable development for Bougainville have become priorities under the pastoral plan he developed alongside lay parishioners. The plan, he said, is helping foster a greater awareness of the generations-long relationship with the environment that he believes each person is responsible for maintaining.

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Loss of three parishioners a 'terrible blow' to Staten Island parish

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (CNS) -- St. Charles Catholic Church in Staten Island opened its doors to local residents who lost power during Hurricane Sandy, and to the families of three parishioners who lost their lives in that deadly storm. John K. Filipowicz, 51, and his 20-year-old son, John C. Filipowicz, were found in an embrace after they drowned when floodwaters from the hurricane rushed their home. A neighbor of the Filipowiczs and fellow St. Charles parishioner, Leonard Montalto, 53, also drowned in his Staten Island home the night Hurricane Sandy made landfall. In the week following the storm, the funerals for all three of these parishioners were held at the church. "It's a terrible blow to our parish," said Joan Paolino, a Staten Island resident who often meets fellow parishioners at the church before daily Mass to pray the rosary. "This hurricane devastated our community, but these deaths are a real tragedy. My heart breaks for their families." Dominican Sister Jeanine Conlon was well acquainted with all three men who died in the storm, but she had a special connection with John K. Filipowicz. She was one of his teachers when he attended St. Charles School in the1960s and1970s. "He was a cute kid, he was a great guy," said Sister Jeanine, a pastoral associate at the Church of St. Charles. "As an adult I used to see him here. Funny guy, funny, funny fellow. A Marine. A strong, solid man, he came to Mass every Sunday. He'd wave to me and I'd wave back. A good parishioner."

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Pro-lifers closely watching Nevada pregnancy case

RENO, Nev. (CNS) -- Pro-lifers are paying close attention to a Nevada court case involving a mentally incapacitated pregnant woman. The Nevada Supreme Court Nov. 6 allowed a lower-court judge to continue to conduct a hearing about the pregnancy. After the court's OK, Washoe County District Judge Egan Walker continued hearings begun Nov. 2 into the matter. The 32-year-old woman's parents, who are Catholic, are her legal guardians. They want their daughter to be able to continue the pregnancy, now believed to be in its 13th week. They fear that the judge will order an abortion for the woman, who has the intellectual capacity of a 6-year-old. "The Diocese of Reno supports the desire of the parents/guardians of the woman in this case who wish to have the child brought to term," said a Nov. 8 statement from the diocese. The woman and her parents live in the diocese. "There are couples who are willing to care for and love the baby. There is no reason or need to abort this child. Regardless, it would be immoral to do so." Mailee Smith, a staff counsel for Americans United for Life, said in a Nov. 8 statement to Catholic News Service: "AUL's stance is always that abortion should never be forced upon a woman, no matter her mental abilities. Abortion carries significant physical risks, which place this woman at risk just as they do any other woman who would undergo an abortion. "Moreover, that child is a human life, regardless of the woman's mental capabilities," Smith said. "We are also concerned about discriminating against people based on their capacities and denying them fundamental rights." Olivia Gans Turner, spokeswoman for the National Right to Life Committee, told The Associated Press, "The fact their daughter is not as mentally mature shouldn't take away her right to have a child." The state Supreme Court's decision said Walker had the authority to monitor the woman's welfare and hold the hearings.

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Cardinal sees 'phenomenal' solidarity, compassion in Sandy recovery

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Everywhere New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said he has gone to visit people and communities in the hurricane-ravaged areas of the archdiocese, he has heard stories "not just of the pain and destruction caused by Sandy, but the overwhelming goodness of people in helping those in need." He made the comments in a Nov. 8 statement to announce the success of special collection to respond to families, individuals, parishes, Catholic institutions and charities, and other community organizations harmed by Sandy. Cardinal Dolan asked that all of the archdiocese's nearly 375 parishes hold a special collection the weekends of Nov. 3-4 and Nov. 10-11. The final tally for the collection will not be known until sometime after the second weekend, but pastors were already "reporting a generous response from the people to this special appeal for help," the cardinal's announcement said. The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation and the Cardinal's Annual Appeal will each contribute an additional $500,000 to the relief fund. Cardinal Dolan praised the response of individuals and agencies alike to the devastation and hardship caused by the super storm. "Catholic Charities and our parishes are doing a magnificent job in reaching out and providing help to people on Staten Island, in Lower Manhattan and elsewhere, as are so many other agencies and individuals," he said. "This new fund will augment those efforts already under way in providing direct aid where it is needed most." A board of pastors from those areas of the archdiocese most affected by the hurricane will oversee distribution of the funds to ensure they go to the people and institutions most in need of help with their recovery efforts. "We have an obligation -- a sacred duty -- to help those who are hurting," Cardinal Dolan said. "The efforts of the Catholic Church, along with so many other organizations and individuals, are helping us to fulfill this responsibility to care for our brothers and sisters in need."

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Latino voter turnout: key to Obama victory and theme for priorities?

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- On the first weekend in October, hundreds of young people in Maryland, many too young to vote and most ineligible as noncitizens anyway, were laying the groundwork for the largest turnout of Latino voters -- 10 percent of the total -- in any U.S. election. That Saturday, young adults who call themselves DREAMers held a rally and then marched through busy traffic in the Maryland suburbs just outside of Washington to the University of Maryland, College Park. They told their stories of being brought to the United States as children and now trying to find a path to legal immigration status, a college education and life out of the shadows. Maryland's voters would be asked on Election Day to validate a law passed earlier in the year giving this group of students the chance to attend state universities at in-state resident tuition rates if they meet various criteria. The DREAMers were out to rally support for the issue. But they also focused on registering voters and turning out the vote in general. DREAMers around the country participated in similar rallies, voter registration and get-out-the-vote work, even in states without a measure to help them on the ballot. Turn out they did, and for one candidate in particular. Exit polling conducted for a consortium of news organizations found 71 percent of Latinos voted to re-elect President Barack Obama. A separate pre-election poll of likely voters in 11 states, most with substantial Hispanic populations, predicted a 75 percent vote for Obama among Latinos. Obama had a majority of Hispanic votes in 2008 as well, but by a smaller margin. While most Latinos told pollsters the economy was their main concern in their voting choice, how the candidates have approached immigration issues was a strong second priority.

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Threats to religious liberty in US are of 'grave concern,' nuncio says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a Nov. 4 speech at the University of Notre Dame, the apostolic nuncio to the United States warned that the "menace to religious liberty is concrete on many fronts" today particularly "within your own homeland." Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, speaking in South Bend, Ind., at a university-sponsored conference on religious freedom, said threats to religious liberty in the United States may not be as obvious as the religious persecution in other countries, but he stressed that the "not so obvious" threat often "appears inconsequential or seems benign but in fact is not." The archbishop highlighted the Health and Human Services' contraceptive mandate as a threat to religious liberty, but he was quick to point out it was just one example of attacks on "authentic and legitimate exercise of religious freedom" in the United States and stressed that people should not forget "the other perils to religious liberty that your great country has experienced in recent years." He said religious persecution occurs when "some people question whether religion or religious beliefs should have a role in public life and civic affairs. The problem of persecution begins with this reluctance to accept the public role of religion in these affairs," he said, especially when the protection of religious freedom "involves beliefs that the powerful of the political society do not share." Archbishop Vigano said religious liberty has been threatened when Catholic Charities agencies across the country are "being removed from vital social services that advance the common good because the upright people administering these programs would not adopt policies or engage in procedures that violate fundamental moral principles of the Catholic faith."

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Faith, science must cooperate to protect people, planet, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Dialogue and cooperation between faith and science are urgently needed for building a culture that respects people and the planet, Pope Benedict XVI told his own science academy. Without faith and science informing each other, "the great questions of humanity leave the domain of reason and truth, and are abandoned to the irrational, to myth, or to indifference, with great damage to humanity itself, to world peace and to our ultimate destiny," he told members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Nov. 8. As people strive to "unlock the mysteries of man and the universe, I am convinced of the urgent need for continued dialogue and cooperation between the worlds of science and of faith in building a culture of respect for man, for human dignity and freedom, for the future of our human family and for the long-term sustainable development of our planet," he said. Members of the academy were meeting at the Vatican Nov. 5-10. As science becomes ever more complex and highly specialized, educational institutions and the church have an important role to play in helping scientists broaden their concerns to include the ethical and social consequences of their work, an academy member told Catholic News Service. "We make scientists today who are excellent specialists and remarkable technicians, but they have little culture in terms of the history of science," philosophy and ethics, said Pierre Lena, a French Catholic astrophysicist who is working to revamp the way science is taught in schools and universities.

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Ambassador says tensions did not prevent US-Vatican cooperation

ROME (CNS) -- Miguel Diaz, preparing to leave his post as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, acknowledged tensions between the Obama administration and the U.S. Catholic bishops, but said his goal always was to build bridges between the U.S. government and the Vatican. Meeting a small group of reporters Nov. 8, Diaz said he grew up "on the hyphen" of being a Cuban American proud of both heritages; he said his experience balancing two identities informed how he dealt with the tensions of being an American Catholic and a representative of the U.S. government. Those tensions became particularly acute in the past year after the Department of Health and Human Services mandated that nearly all health plans, including those offered by most Catholic-sponsored universities and agencies, would be required to cover sterilizations and contraceptives, including some that can cause an abortion. Diaz, a theologian who has served as ambassador since 2009, paid a farewell visit to Pope Benedict XVI Nov. 5 and was scheduled to leave Rome a few days later, joining his family in Dayton, Ohio, where he was to become professor of faith and culture at the Marianist-run University of Dayton. Diaz insisted the HHS mandate and the U.S. bishops' strong objections to it as a violation of religious freedom was a "domestic matter" that did not come under his responsibility as a foreign-policy representative. However, even Pope Benedict XVI voiced concerns about the mandate. He told a group of U.S. bishops in January, "Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices."

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Fight against terrorism, crime can't be criminal, immoral, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While condemning terrorism and organized crime as brutal and barbaric forms of violence, Pope Benedict XVI also criticized efforts to fight crime in ways that go against moral norms and the rule of law. "Action against crime should always be carried out with respect for the rights of each person and of the principles of the rule of law," he told members of Interpol, the international police organization that coordinates crime fighting and crime prevention around the world. Since all forms of violence are "unacceptable" because they wound human dignity and offend the whole of humanity, "it is therefore necessary to combat criminal activities within the limits of moral and juridical norms," he said Nov. 9 during an audience with about 1,000 members of Interpol, who were in Rome for their general assembly. The pope said terrorism is "one of the most brutal forms of violence," which "sows hate, death and a desire for revenge." Modern terrorism, he said, "has transformed itself into an obscure web of political complicity, with sophisticated technology, enormous financial resources and planning projects on a vast scale." Organized crime also is a major concern as it "acts and strikes in darkness, (and operates) outside any rules." It engages in a number of illicit and immoral activities, such as human and organ trafficking; arms and contraband smuggling; and the trade in pharmaceuticals, which often kill instead of cure and are "used in large part by the poor. These crimes transgress the moral barriers which were progressively built up by civilization and they reintroduce a form of barbarism which denies man and his dignity," the pope said.

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Vatican official hopes fake papal tweets stop once official site opens

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Once the Vatican launches Pope Benedict XVI's official Twitter feed before the end of the year, it's hoped all the fake papal tweets will cease and desist, said a Vatican official. There are dozens of unofficial @PopeBenedict handles and usernames in a number of different permutations and languages on Twitter; many are using an official portrait of the pope as their avatar and some boast thousands of followers. Some of these Twitter accounts are being run "obviously by people of goodwill" who tweet about real news and activities of the pope, said a Vatican official who requested anonymity. However, "We hope they will give up when they see the official site is up," the official said. The Vatican will have a verified and authenticated papal Twitter account, which will help users distinguish the official Pope Benedict stream from the imposters, the official said. No specific date has been set for its launch other than "before the end of the year," he added. Unfortunately, there are some phony accounts "that aren't very helpful" because they obviously don't have the best interest of the pope or his teachings in mind, he said. For example, some bogus feeds produce off-color or inappropriate commentary. But if it's obviously satire, comedy or parody, "nothing can be done about that because of freedom of expression," the official said. Yet, there's little risk of people mistaking those accounts with the official account, he added. However, if an account holder is using the pope's name with the aim of misrepresentation, misleading users or "username squatting" in order to prevent the Vatican from using the name or to illicitly offer the account name for sale, "then Twitter can close them down," he said.

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New archbishop of Canterbury shaped by Catholics, favors women bishops

MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- The newly appointed leader of the world's Anglicans is a former oil executive who said his spiritual director was a Catholic monk. Bishop Justin Welby of Durham, who will become the new archbishop of Canterbury, did not name the monk, but told a Nov. 9 news conference at London's Lambeth Palace that he was influenced by both Benedictine and Ignatian spirituality. He also told reporters that he would be voting in favor of the ordination of women as bishops when the General Synod -- the Church of England's ruling body -- will decide the matter at a two-day meeting beginning Nov. 19. Bishop Welby's appointment as the primate of England and the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion was announced Nov. 9 following selection by the Crown Nominations Commission and approval of Queen Elizabeth II, the supreme governor of the Church of England. His appointment will be confirmed with an election by the canons of Canterbury Cathedral. The 56-year-old will be enthroned as the 105th archbishop of Canterbury in Canterbury Cathedral March 21 in succession to Archbishop Rowan Williams, who leave the post in December. Soon after the appointment was announced, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, issued a statement welcoming the appointment of the father of five who gave up a six-figure salary to be an Anglican cleric. "I know that Bishop Welby will bring many personal gifts and experience to his new role," said Archbishop Nichols.

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Four years later, Vatican takes a different approach toward Obama

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The day after Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, hailed his election as a "choice that unites," exemplifying America's ability to "overcome fractures and divisions that until only recently could seem incurable." Pope Benedict XVI sent the president-elect a congratulatory telegram the same day, noting the "historic occasion" of his election. Four years later, the Vatican's reaction to Obama's re-election had a markedly different tone. "If Obama truly wants to be the president of all Americans," said L'Osservatore Nov. 7, "he should finally acknowledge the demands forcefully arising from religious communities -- above all the Catholic Church -- in favor of the natural family, life and finally religious liberty itself." Speaking to reporters the same day, the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, voiced hope that Obama would use his second term for the "promotion of the culture of life and of religious liberty." The statements alluded to Obama policies favoring legalized abortion, same-sex marriage and a plan to require nearly all health insurance plans, including those offered by most Catholic universities and agencies, to cover sterilizations and contraceptives, which are forbidden by the church's moral teaching. The insurance mandate in particular, which U.S. bishops have strenuously protested for the past year, has proven an even greater source of division between the church and the Obama administration than their previous disagreements and threatens to aggravate tensions between Washington and the Vatican during the president's second term. From the beginning of Obama's presidency, his support for legalized abortion and embryonic stem-cell research inspired protests by the church and controversy within it. Some 80 U.S. bishops publicly criticized the University of Notre Dame for granting Obama an honorary degree in 2009.

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Pope appoints Boston vicar general as auxiliary bishop of archdiocese

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Msgr. Robert P. Deeley, vicar general of the Boston Archdiocese since 2011, to be an auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese. The appointment was announced Nov. 9 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States. A Massachusetts native, Bishop-designate Deeley, 66, served at the Vatican as an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2004 to 2010. Since his ordination as a priest of the Boston Archdiocese in 1973, he has served in a number of capacities, including as parochial vicar, pastor, secretary of metropolitan tribunal, judicial vicar and head of a deanery. He also is a former president of the Canon Law Society of America. Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston will ordain the newly named bishop to the episcopacy Jan. 4 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. He held a news conference at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center in Braintree, Mass., to discuss the appointment of the new auxiliary. Throughout his priesthood, Bishop-designate Deeley "has served with a deep and abiding commitment to Christ and the church," the cardinal said in a statement. In every post he has held, "he has contributed greatly to the life of the church, always focused on bringing people closer to God." Cardinal O'Malley said as an auxiliary, Bishop-designate Deeley will continue to serve as vicar general and moderator of the curia. "I am humbled by the Holy Father's confidence in me by appointing me to the episcopacy," Bishop-designate Deeley said in a statement. Cardinal O'Malley "provided me the great opportunity last year to return home to Boston and be of service to the archdiocese," he said, referring to coming back after serving at the Vatican.

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Irish man whose wife was murdered says faith has helped him cope

DUBLIN (CNS) -- A Catholic man whose wife was murdered on their honeymoon last year said his faith has helped him come to terms with his loss. John McAreavey, 28, has set up a charitable foundation in memory of his late wife, Michaela, to help young people celebrate their Catholic faith. Michaela McAreavey, 27, was murdered as the couple honeymooned in Mauritius just 12 days after the wedding. Two hotel workers charged with her murder were acquitted after a lengthy trial earlier this year. Asked if the murder of his wife had led him to question his faith, John McAreavey said: "Quite the opposite. My faith gave me great resolve. Thank God I have my faith." His wife, a religion teacher in a Catholic school, had "an unwavering faith," he said. McAreavey established the Michaela Foundation so that "the values which Michaela lived in her life should live on, and (so) that young people can succeed in life fulfilment and happiness with faith, confidence and fun as their foundation." The campaign received a huge boost with a charity Gaelic football match in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Nov. 3. The "Match for Michaela" drew an estimated 20,000 fans to raise funds for the foundation. McAreavey said the messages on social media sites from young people inspired by his wife's story -- which they read in the match program -- made him emotional and hopeful that "the foundation will continue to be a positive inspiration in peoples' lives in years to come. It's going to be a busy 2013," he said of plans to introduce the foundation to at least five counties next year as well as finalizing plans for a center in his wife's home parish of Glencull in County Tyrone. The initiative will be coordinated from the new center.


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