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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Nov-16-2012

By Catholic News Service


Rediscovering 'joy of believing' aim of Magnificat event, says founder

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (CNS) -- Father Robert Reed, director of the CatholicTV Network, said with a smile: "There is great power in this hour." The priest addressed 2,800 Catholics who filled the Diocese of Orange's new cathedral in Garden Grove for the Magnificat Day of Faith. As master of ceremonies, he was making a play on the Rev. Robert Schuller's "Hour of Power" nationally broadcast television show. The daylong event was held in Rev. Schuller's famed Crystal Cathedral, the future Christ Cathedral for the Diocese of Orange. The almost all-glass cathedral was purchased by the diocese almost exactly a year before. The church was an ideal location for the first Southern California Magnificat event, according to Magnificat Foundation president Pierre-Marie Dumont, both because of its size and because of people's interest in seeing the property that has been a hot topic in news stories both local and national. It was put up for auction in early 2011 as part of bankruptcy proceedings for the financially struggling Crystal Cathedral Ministries. Previous events hosted by the foundation have been in New York City, in 2002, and Boston, in 2008, and all have the same goal: to be a sort of spiritual booster shot that will impact parishes across the diocese where they take place -- and beyond. "We don't come into a diocese to replace Catholic life in parishes or to be competitive," said Dumont told the Orange County Catholic diocesan newspaper in an interview prior to Nov. 3 event. "We're here to add a supplement -- an experience that will return the people to their parishes with joy."

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The 'green' pope: Benedict's calls for creation care earns notice

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Care for creation has been a hallmark of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy. From his 2009 encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth") to his leadership in guiding the Vatican to reduce its carbon footprint, Pope Benedict continues an 800-year Catholic tradition of holding up the environment as a gift from God that must be protected and sustained. His writings on the environment are so extensive that some Catholics call him the "green" pope. Taken collectively, Pope Benedict's unwavering writings on the importance of protecting God's creation and the need to address climate change offer a starting point for Catholics to respond to the ecological dangers facing the world. In an effort to consider the fullness of those teachings, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change and The Catholic University of America's Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies hosted a symposium Nov. 8-10 in Washington to examine the U.S. Catholic response to environmental concerns might entail. Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, told Catholic News Service that the time was right for Catholics to share the rich tradition of Catholic teaching on the environment in an effort to shape how the world addresses climate change and other environmental concerns. "We do not have time," he said. "We have to begin to do this. If we don't do it right, if we're not faithful to who we are as Catholics, then we cede the issue to the environmental groups. The solutions (they offer) won't be as attentive to the needs of people, particularly poor people," he said.

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New York priest says 'millennials' have stepped up to aid storm victims

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Father Donald Baker is really impressed by how young Catholics have really stepped up to help those affected the most by Hurricane Sandy. "The 'millennials,' those young people in the neighborhood who are in their 20s -- who've become adults since the millennium -- have been outstanding -- absolutely incredible," said the 52-year-old pastor of St. Teresa Church in New York City's gritty Lower East Side. "They truly embodied the charity of Christ. I turn around and there are another dozen eager and willing to help our community," he added. The priest said the amount of damage done by Hurricane Sandy "was surreal." Right after the storm, which made landfall in neighboring New Jersey Oct. 29, "there were people trapped in cars that we had to rescue since the fire department couldn't get down here right away," he recalled in an interview with Catholic News Service. "It was astonishing. But it's precisely moments like this when New Yorkers come together and work together. It's really encouraging." Father Baker added: "The response from my parishioners has been amazing. I'm thankful at how well they stepped up to the task at hand." The New York Archdiocese announced Nov. 16 that it is distributing nearly $1 million raised through a special parish collection to those hardest hit by Sandy, particularly those who suffered losses on Staten Island, as well as lower Manhattan and some portions of the upper counties of the archdiocese. Catholic Charities Sandy Relief Fund will forward the money to the pastors in the local communities, so that they can provide immediate help to about 1,000 families and individuals in need. The hardest hit area of New York City is the borough of Staten Island. At least 43 deaths in New York were attributed to Sandy, with 23 of those in Staten Island. As it made its way through the Northeast, Sandy killed more than 100 people. On Nov. 17, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York was to visit Staten Island for the third time since the storm. His schedule was to include a stop at a Catholic retreat house that opened its facilities for relief efforts and is housing 30 displaced families.

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Loyola Institute for Ministry, CNS launch new website for Year of Faith

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Loyola Institute for Ministry of Loyola University New Orleans and Catholic News Service have launched a new website where Catholic media and others can post news and information on the Year of Faith. The new site will aggregate stories, multimedia treatments and social media sites that deal with the yearlong celebration of the Catholic faith. "We at Loyola University New Orleans are excited about this collaboration for a number of reasons. It represents a way for Catholic higher education and the Catholic media to work together," said Institute for Ministry director Tom Ryan. "It will facilitate publicity about the Year of Faith by gathering in one place the range of information about it, from event announcements to content in print and online media." Ryan added that the site is a "resource for those who want to grow spiritually during this time." Tony Spence, director and editor in chief of CNS, said: "CNS is delighted to partner with the Loyola Institute for Ministry in this excellent project. It will be a great repository for resources on the Year of Faith and new evangelization, locally, regionally, nationally, and even across countries. Users also can post information in English and Spanish." The site can be found online at http://lim.loyno.edu/yearoffaith. Also supporting the project is the Catholic Press Association of the U.S. and Canada, which is working with the Loyola Institute on other Catholic media projects.

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Bishop says Israel, Hamas must make tough decisions to end violence

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- The Israeli government and leaders of Hamas must make courageous decisions to end the violence that has once again forced residents of Southern Israel into their bomb shelters and residents of the Gaza Strip into their homes, said Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali of Jerusalem. "We are sad for this escalation. It does not lead to peace but only leads to more violence," Bishop Shomali told Catholic News Service Nov. 16. "This is a vicious circle of violence and (retaliation) is really not the solution. Courageous decisions need to be taken from the part of Israel and also on the part of Hamas not to remain in the circle of retaliation." He said simultaneous international intervention from Egypt and the United States is needed if the violence is to stop. "Left alone, Israel and Hamas will remain in a circle of retaliation," he said. "The most important thing is to find a comprehensive solution to the whole Palestinian-Israeli conflict; if not, we will remain with the same retaliations and the same problems," he said. Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said some 120 rockets were fired into southern Israeli communities from Nov. 10 to Nov. 14, when Israel launched air strikes that targeted and killed Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari. More than 20 Palestinians and at least three Israelis have died in the violence. In a Nov. 15 statement, Jerusalem's Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal expressed his "deep concern" at the escalation, reiterating that violence will not solve the crisis. Only a global solution can find a resolution to the conflict, said a statement from his office.

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Heal all people while keeping Catholic identity alive, says archbishop

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In their mission to serve all people, Catholic health care facilities also must be vigilant in maintaining their Christian identity and protecting the life and dignity of the human person, said the head of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry. "It's fundamental that Catholic health centers maintain their proper identity without compromise, welcoming everyone without, however, ceding to harmful forms of secularization or relativism," said Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, council president. The archbishop opened the council's Nov. 15-17 international conference, which focused on "The Hospital, Setting for Evangelization: a Human and Spiritual Mission." Adhering to the Gospel is "almost impossible to undertake and maintain faithfully" if people don't see their work as "an authentic vocation" and if people's lives are "devoid of faith in humanity and charity-love," he told the nearly 600 participants from around the world. While Catholic health workers are expected to be at the forefront in medical and scientific developments and therapies, they must also "humanize" such progress, protect patients from being turned into "mere objects," and respect all human life from its conception to its natural end, he said. Catholics who are inspired by their faith "have to be proponents and pioneers of an ethical formation that will accompany their professional studies," said Msgr. Jean-Marie Mupendawatu, the council's secretary. Health care workers can't ignore ethical problems they encounter on the job thinking such dilemmas are a concern only for ethicists and moral theologians, he told journalists Nov. 13.

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By the numbers: Consistory to expand variety in College of Cardinals

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Shortly after announcing he was creating six new cardinals, Pope Benedict XVI said he was doing so to show that "the church is a church of all peoples, (and) speaks in all languages." The six new "princes of the church" hail from six different countries in North America, Latin America, Africa and Asia, and represent both the Latin-rite of the Catholic Church as well as two of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Inducting them into the College of Cardinals Nov. 24, Pope Benedict will bring up to 120 the number of cardinal-electors -- those under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope. With the exception of the Catholic newspaper Avvenire, the headlines in Italian newspapers the morning after Pope Benedict announced the new cardinals all pointed out the absence of new Italian or new European cardinals. Painting the pope's move as drastic and trying to make sense of it, Il Foglio and several other papers jumped to the conclusion that the pope deliberately excluded Italians because of the "VatiLeaks" scandal. The scandal saw the publication of private Vatican and papal correspondence, much of it painting a picture of careerism and corruption in the Vatican, mostly involving Italian curial officials and bishops. Il Foglio's headline was: "A consistory to lead the church out of its Roman misgovernance." The new cardinals will make up only 5 percent of the electors in the College of Cardinals, but they shift the continental balance, even if just slightly. The percentage of European electors will drop from almost 55 percent Nov. 16 to just over 51 percent Nov. 24; the figure contrasts sharply with the fact that, according to Vatican statistics, less than 24 percent of the world's Catholics live in Europe.

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Pope tells young to welcome Christ's embrace, share his love

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When young Catholics from around the world gather in Rio de Janeiro in July, they will be under the gaze of the city's famous statue of Christ with outstretched arms, a reminder of his desire to embrace all people, Pope Benedict XVI said. In his message for World Youth Day 2013, the pope asked young people to welcome Christ's embrace and share with others the joy of being loved by him. In preparation for the international youth gathering July 23-28, Pope Benedict asked young Catholics to "reread your personal history," looking at how the faith was passed down to them from previous generations. The pope also asked them not to wait to begin the task of sharing their Christian faith with others. "We are links in a great chain of men and women who have transmitted the truth of the faith and who depend on us to pass it on to others," he said in the message released Nov. 16 by the Vatican. The theme of World Youth Day 2013 is: "Go and make disciples of all nations. This mandate should resound powerfully in your hearts," the pope told young people. In fact, he said, the heart has a major role to play in bringing them closer to Christ, motivating them to share his Gospel and determining the words and actions they should use in approaching others. "Many young people today seriously question whether life is something good and have a hard time finding their way," the pope said.

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Bishops urge Kenyans to choose candidates with integrity

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- In a country where two of the presidential candidates are wanted by the International Criminal Court, Kenya's Catholic bishops urged voters to ensure to vote for people of high integrity when they go to polls for general elections March 4. They told voters to avoid candidates with a track record of corruption and violence and said "unfit candidates" did not fear God and did not follow or respect the law. Others who are not fit for office include people involved in illegal and illicit business and those who have used others or paid others to commit a crime. "Kenyan voters should also not elect persons who preach or induce others to violence and hatred, by word or action, as well as persons who have been involved in drug trafficking and peddling," the bishops said in a statement. The bishops also advised against voting for candidates who keep changing their position on important national issues. Father Vincent Wambugu, secretary-general of the bishops' conference, told Catholic News Service that the bishops were simply trying to guide voters. "The bishops do not intend to dictate to the voters as to whom they should vote. On the contrary, the bishops felt strongly that they should give them some guidelines on the issue," he said. Father Wambugu said the bishops were concerned that some candidates had questionable integrity.

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Canadian bishops criticized for deference to 'political conservatism'

TORONTO (CNS) -- A "culture of silence" and deference to "political conservatism" has permeated the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, charged the head of the Jesuit-founded Justice and Faith Center in Montreal. In a letter to Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, Alberta, conference president, Elisabeth Garant cited recent actions by conference officials that she said amounted to "a serious step back away from the rich church tradition of social justice." In particular, she pointed to the elimination of the CCCB's position of senior adviser for social justice; delaying and moderating the fall education campaign of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace; inviting Canada's minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, to a meeting and failing to question refugee policy reforms. Garant's letter was to be discussed at a meeting of the CCCB executive committee Nov. 27-28. Until then, the conference has said it will not comment. Garant, who served five years as a member of the CCCB's Commission for Justice and Peace, accused the bishops of becoming too close to Canada's Conservative-led government because the conference has not addressed social justice issues with the government for nearly two years. At that time, Kenney dismissed a letter from the justice and peace commission as another in "a long tradition of ideological bureaucrats who work for the bishops' conference producing political letters signed by pastors who may not have specialized knowledge in certain areas of policy."

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Vatican official visits US, thanks Catholics for generosity to missions

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When the secretary of the Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples traveled to the United States, he met with scholars, political gurus, bishops -- and students at St. Michael's School in Newark, N.J. The students at the school -- kindergarten through eighth grade -- raised $61,000 in 10 years for the work of the Pontifical Mission Societies. To show his gratitude, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, secretary of the evangelization congregation, visited the school Nov. 8 and presented students and faculty with the 2012 Pauline Jaricot Award. Jaricot founded the Society of the Propagation of the Faith. Recounting the visit Nov. 12 in a reception at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, Oblate Father Andrew Small, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, recounted how he told the students that word of their work at St. Michael's had made it all the way to Rome, and now a representative of Rome had come all the way to St. Michael's to thank them. In his remarks at the embassy, Archbishop Hon said he had noticed that Americans always have generous donations for the missions, and he thanked them. He said the money was used for four things: worship, evangelization, charity and sustainability of the church, including of formation of seminarians. The church is a "place of worship that unites people," he said. Churches are needed "for evangelization, to preach the good news and support charity among all the people who are very much in need."

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College honors bishop for dedication to Latino evangelization

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Learning to accept one's own background and culture is an important first step in evangelization, said Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of Las Cruces, N.M., Nov. 12, upon receiving an award from the Mexican American Catholic College for his dedication to evangelization in the Latino community. At a reception during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, Bishop Ramirez received the college's San Juan Diego Leadership Award, for "answering the call of Our Lady of Guadalupe to 'go and put forth all your effort,' to build a temple of multicultural unity through Jesus Christ," as the school's press release put it. In accepting the award, Bishop Ramirez lauded the school, which primarily trains people for Catholic ministry, as a crossroads for people from around the world. He said that it came as a surprise to him when he found himself learning about his cultural roots through his involvement at the Catholic college in San Antonio. "That was a moment of grace," he said. A Texas native ordained a Basilian priest in the Archdiocese of Houston in 1966, Bishop Ramirez served as executive vice president of the school, then called the Mexican American Cultural Center, from 1976 to 1981. In that capacity, he first became involved in the first and second "Encuentros," large gatherings of Latinos involved in Spanish language ministry. Arturo Chavez, president of the college, said Bishop Ramirez is a leader who is very outspoken, and prophetic in what he says.


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