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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Nov-15-2012

By Catholic News Service


CCHD provides $500,000 grant to aid Hurricane Sandy victims

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Victims of Hurricane Sandy along the East Coast are getting an added boost in their recovery under a $500,000 grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. The special grant will support "people coming together to reorganize the fabric of their communities," Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif., chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, said in a statement released Nov. 13 during the bishops' annual fall general assembly. The infusion of funds is designed to help "build a resilient support system for those most vulnerable to natural calamities, the poor," he said. The subcommittee also introduced a national strategic grant program to address poverty-related issues. Bishop Soto described the initiative as an "innovative approach to poverty" that will complement CCHD's existing program that supports community-based organizations. More than $2 million was approved by the committee to address systemic causes of poverty and empower local communities to implement lasting solutions to the challenges they face. The new grant program is one of a series of actions developed under CCHD's "review and renewal" in 2010 to empower low income communities. The effort will fund projects that focus on poverty and risk factors affecting family life and human dignity. CCHD officials are looking to fund proposals that "bring a holistic, pastoral approach" in addressing economic and psycho-social factors in family life.

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New evangelization calls all Catholics to share faith, says cardinal

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The church's new evangelization and its call to share the faith is the responsibility of all Catholics, said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington. "It's our moment ... it's our turn to share in this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, this new Pentecost," he said. That sense of a "new Pentecost" unfolding in the church, he said, was shared by the 250 bishops from around the world who participated in the world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization convened by Pope Benedict XVI Oct. 7-28. Cardinal Wuerl was appointed by the pope to serve as the relator of the synod, summarizing and reporting on the bishops' suggestions and recommendations. In that role he 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. After his return to Washington, he gave an overview of the synod Nov. 5. On the first day of the U.S. bishops' annual fall general assembly in Baltimore, a couple of the U.S. bishops who were synod delegates gave a brief report to the body of bishops. In a recent talk at the Catholic Information Center in downtown Washington, he gave an overview of the synod. Just as the first disciples were called by Jesus to be his witnesses, Cardinal Wuerl said, today's Catholics must be witnesses to the good news and help others encounter the risen Christ in a world where many have not heard the Gospel or have drifted away or grown lukewarm in their faith. The challenges that the early church faced in bringing Christ to an indifferent or even hostile culture mirror those of our times, he said.

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As Sandy recovery continues, parishes help meet theirs, others' needs

OYSTER BAY, N.Y. (CNS) -- With the hurricane winds, massive tides and driving rain now more than two weeks behind them, Long Islanders continue to help rebuild their community, homes and lives. Hurricane Sandy hit all of the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island, which lies east of New York City, but some communities, particularly those on the South Shore, were devastated by the swollen tides created by the storm. Damage caused by Sandy has been estimated at $50 billion, though some reports put the figure at $60 billion. As of Nov. 14, the Long Island Power Authority had restored electricity to 99 percent of its customers, more than two weeks after Hurricane Sandy made landfall. About 35,000 customers still had no power, because their homes were damaged by flooding and in need of electrical repairs. At the peak of the storm, power was knocked out for 8.5 million customers in 10 states, with the majority in New York and New Jersey. The Rockville Centre Diocese has asked parishes to take up both a monetary collection and a collection for needed items such as food, blankets and hygiene supplies, and set up four distribution centers. "We're coordinating the response," said Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Brennan, diocesan vicar general, assigned by Bishop William F. Murphy to organize the diocese's response. "That way the parishes that were not as badly hit can help those that were." Long Beach was one of the hardest-hit areas in the region. On Nov. 14, Long Beach Catholic Regional School was able to reopen. A message on the school's website announced a Nov. 13 parent meeting. "We hope that many of you can join us," it said, "but if this meeting time causes a hardship and you cannot make it, then please feel free to contact us either through email or call school -- once we are open -- and we will answer any of your questions. Be well, stay safe and God bless you all."

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Pope says all Christians must face together challenge of secularization

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sharing an obligation to spread the good news of salvation in Christ, all Christian communities are challenged by the fact that many people today do not think they need God, Pope Benedict XVI said. "The spiritual poverty of many of our contemporaries, who no longer perceive the absence of God in their lives as a privation, represents a challenge for all Christians," the pope said Nov. 15 in a meeting with members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Pope Benedict said authentic ecumenical prayer, dialogue and cooperation cannot ignore "the crisis of faith that vast regions of the planet are experiencing," nor can Christians ignore signs that many modern people still feel a need for some kind of spirituality. Efforts to reunite all Christians are an essential part of the new evangelization, the pope said. Responding to the obligation to share the Gospel and to heal a divided Christianity, he said, every Christian must "return to the essential, to the heart of our faith, giving the world a witness of the living God, that is, a God who knows us and loves us and in whose gaze we live; a God who awaits the response of our love in our everyday lives." Pope Benedict said the theological dialogues the Catholic Church is engaged in with other churches and Christian communities are important means of keeping the ecumenical focus on finding unity in the faith and not simply on trying to find ways to get along better.

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Bishop urges Ghanaians to have peaceful, honest elections

ACCRA, Ghana (CNS) -- The president of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference called on Ghanaians to show professionalism during the Dec. 7 general elections. The president, Bishop Joseph Osei-Bonsu of Konongo-Mampong, said all Ghanaians have a stake in ensuring that the elections are peaceful. "All Ghanaians, especially politicians, need to be reminded that politics, like religion, is devoted to the service of personal and social vocation of the same human being," he said. "All politics should thus promote the integral development of all citizens as one family." His remarks were contained in a statement issued at the end of the bishops' November plenary meeting. The statement urged political parties to discourage their supporters from engaging in voting multiple times and voting in the name of the deceased. It also urged candidates to educate their supporters on the dangers of cheating. "The Electoral Commission is the only body mandated by law to declare the official winner of elections," it said. It urged candidates to accept election results, noting that "good losers are also peacemakers."

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Mexican bishops elect Guadalajara cardinal as new president

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The Mexican bishops' conference has elected Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega of Guadalajara as its president, tapping a prelate known for his positive relations with the country's incoming president. Cardinal Robles was elected Nov. 14 at the bishops' semi-annual meeting, replacing Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla. His elevation to conference president came less than three weeks before President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto takes office Dec. 1, bringing back the once-staunchly anti-clerical Institutional Revolutionary Party to power after 12 years in opposition. The party has discarded much of its public disdain for the prelates, and Pena was scheduled to meet with the bishops at their meeting. But Bernardo Barranco, a columnist on religious affairs and former electoral institute official, said the conference was taking no chances by electing Cardinal Robles. The cardinal served as bishop of Toluca -- capital of Mexico state, where Pena was governor -- and became close with the party clan in which the incoming president cut his political teeth. "He should get along well with the new administration," Barranco said. Pena fostered cordial relations with Catholic leaders in during his 2005-2011 term as governor and was even invited to the Vatican in 2009 by the bishops of Mexico state for a pre-Christmas audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

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FADICA to be headed by former staffer of USCCB and White House

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Alexia Kelley, whose background includes work for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, is the new president and CEO of FADICA, Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, a network of more than 40 Catholic foundations. William F. Raskob, FADICA chairman of the board, announced Nov. 14 that Kelley would replace Frank J. Butler, who retired earlier this year after serving as president more than 30 years. Most recently, Kelley has worked in the White House faith-based office as senior policy adviser and center director at the Department of Health and Human Services. There, her responsibilities included facilitating partnerships with community and faith-based groups to provide health and wellness programs on issues such as childhood obesity, vaccinations, mental health and disaster response. She also served as liaison from the faith-based office to the State Department's religion and foreign policy working group. From 1993 to 2002, Kelly worked for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the USCCB's domestic anti-poverty program. She went on from there to work for the Environmental Resources Trust, and then co-founded Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. The organization worked to promote Catholic civic involvement on issues related to human life and dignity, poverty, the environment and peace.

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Organists plentiful but not many parishes 'blessed' with budget for one

NEW YORK (CNS) -- If music conservatories are producing a bumper crop of organ performance graduates, why can't the parish down the street get a substitute organist for the 10 a.m. Mass? There's no single answer, but liturgical musicians who spoke with Catholic News Service attribute it to parish finances, cultural changes and the pastor's interest in music. "Not many parishes are blessed with a budget for both a music director and an organist," said Jennifer Pascual, music director at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. "Music directors are expected to be skilled musicians, conductors and administrators." Joseph Viserta, music director at the Church of the Resurrection in Rye, said: "A lot of parishes don't have the resources to pay a qualified organist to work full time, so these musicians have other jobs, sometimes as music teachers in public schools, and they show up on Sunday, play for two Masses, run a choir practice and get a stipend." If there is a music director, he or she is typically also an organist, Viserta said. The Second Vatican Council gave the role of music in worship a huge boost. In its 1963 Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the council affirmed music is an integral part of the liturgy. It called for the congregation's active participation at Mass through musical elements including acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons and songs. As parishes heeded the call to incorporate more music, many moved away from traditional organ pieces to contemporary music played on a variety of instruments. The results varied in quality and mirrored cultural changes in society and the church, according to Paul J. Murray, music director, organist and liturgy coordinator at the Church of the Holy Family in Manhattan.


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