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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Dec-27-2012

By Catholic News Service


Work begins on dorms for Catholic students at secular universities

MELBOURNE, Fla. (CNS) -- Catholic students at one secular university in Florida soon will have a dormitory all their own. In a historic collaboration, Bishop John G. Noonan of Orlando, Fla., Anthony J. Catanese, president of Florida Institute of Technology, Matt Zerrusen, president of the Newman Student Housing Fund, and Salvatorian Father Douglas Bailey, chaplain of Catholic campus ministry at the school, participated in the ceremonial groundbreaking for Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Student Residence Dec. 7. The ceremony was the second in as many months at a secular university in which housing specifically designated for Catholic students is being constructed. A similar ceremony took place Oct. 3 at Texas A&M University-Kingsville for St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center, which includes a dormitory and chapel. The Newman Student Housing Fund is financing the new residence hall at the Florida school. The dormitory will house 140 students beginning in the fall. Once the dormitory is completed, construction of a chapel will begin. "Fifty percent of students on college campuses lose their faith by the time they graduate," Zerrusen said. "This is unacceptable. It is a huge, huge deal in campus ministry, and all the Newman Centers want to add dorms. These are the first, the pioneers. We are creating authentic Catholic campuses inside secular ones. If we want a way to change the culture of campus life and affect the future of our country, this is a big way of doing that. We can't sit back and watch these kids go uncatechized. We've got to do something, and we are."

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Parishioners mourn firefighters ambushed while responding to blaze

WEBSTER, N.Y. (CNS) -- Christmas Masses in the Diocese of Rochester, N.Y., took on a somber tone as parishioners mourned two volunteer firefighters fatally shot while responding to a fire in a lakeshore community outside of Rochester. Firefighters Michael Chiapperini, 43, and Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, died in a hail of gunfire Dec. 24 after being lured to a blaze that New York State Police said was set by the gunman. Two other firefighters, Joseph Hofstetter and Theodore Scardino, were injured in the ambush and remained hospitalized in satisfactory condition Dec. 27. Police said William Spengler Jr. ambushed first responders before turning a gun on himself. Police are also investigating the remains of another victim found in the charred ruins of the home that Spengler shared with his sister, Cheryl Spengler. The fire eventually destroyed seven homes as first responders delayed battling the inferno until police secured the neighborhood located on a narrow strip of land along the Lake Ontario shore. Many people at St. Rita Parish in Webster were touched by the tragedy, said Father Lance Gonyo, pastor. Kaczowka occasionally attended Mass at St. Rita when he was unable to make it to his home parish of St. Stanislaus, where he had been active with the Polish community and had been an altar server, staff members of both parishes said. A funeral Mass for Kaczowka was scheduled for Dec. 31 at St. Stanislaus Church. He is survived by his parents and two brothers.

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Irish cardinal urges Catholics to make known their abortion opposition

DUBLIN (CNS) -- The president of the Irish bishops' conference urged Catholics to make their views on abortion clear to politicians as the government considers legalizing abortion in limited circumstances. In his Christmas message, Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, reiterated the church's opposition to such legislation. "Public representatives will be asked to decide whether a caring and compassionate society is defined by providing the best possible care and protection to a woman struggling to cope with an unwanted pregnancy or by the deliberate destruction of another human life," the cardinal said. "I hope that everyone who believes that the right to life is fundamental will make their voice heard in a reasonable, but forthright, way to their representatives, reminding them that the right to life is conferred on human beings, not by the powerful ones of this world but by the creator. There is no more important value than upholding the right to life in all circumstances." While the government has pledged to introduce abortion legislation in 2013, Minister for Health James Reilly has insisted that his plans will take "full account of the equal right to life of the unborn child."

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New ventilation system to suck dirt, dust off Sistine Chapel visitors

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In an effort to protect Michelangelo's famed frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums will be installing a new ventilation system to suck the dust, dirt and humidity from visitors. With 5 million tourists pushing through the turnstiles each year, all that traffic is taking its toll as "dust, temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide are the great enemies of paintings," said Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums. To lighten the heavy human footprint, the museums are installing a 110-yard-long carpet leading to the chapel's entrance to clean off people's shoes, he told the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera. Suction vents will line the same path to vacuum hair, dust and other particulates off of visitors before they head into the chapel, and a new climate control system will lower temperatures "to remove heat and humidity from people's bodies," he said. He has said reducing the impact by limiting the number of visitors was "unthinkable." The construction of the new dirt-and grime-prevention system has "made a lot of headway," and Paolucci said he hoped it would be fully operational before the end of 2013. The museums' director also wants to sweep away visitors' ignorance about the cultural, historical and theological significance of the Renaissance master's frescoes by offering an instructional preview virtual tour beforehand.

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Justice Sotomayor denies injunction against contraceptive mandate

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor denied two companies' request for an injunction while they challenge part of the Department of Health and Human Services' contraceptive mandate in court. In an order filed Dec. 26, Sotomayor ruled that the owners of the Hobby Lobby craft store and the Mardel Christian bookstore chains did not qualify for an injunction while they challenge requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The law takes effect Jan. 1. Sotomayor ruled on the petition because she oversees the federal circuit where Hobby Lobby filed suit challenging the HHS mandate. The companies' Oklahoma City-based owners contend that the mandate violates their religious beliefs because some of the drugs they are required to cover can lead to abortion. The family-owned companies have said they have no moral objection to "the use of preventive contraceptives" and will continue to cover those for employees. The owners have appealed lower-court rulings that denied their claims on religious grounds. Sotomayor's decision does not pertain to any of the other lawsuits filed by Catholic and other religious organizations against the mandate. The justice said it is not "indisputably clear" that the companies' owners deserve the injunction while their appeals are pending.

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Montreal deacon who was bishops' spokesman faces child porn charges

OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) -- William Kokesch, a Montreal permanent deacon who served nearly 10 years as a communications director for Canada's Catholic bishops, has been charged with producing and distributing child pornography. On Dec. 27, Kokesch, 65, was released on bail after posting a $10,000 cash bond. The judge ordered him not to use computers or be around anyone under 18 without adult supervision. The married father of five grown children is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 27. Information revealed during a bail hearing was placed under a publication ban at the request of Kokesch's lawyer. Constable Danny Richer, Montreal Police Service spokesman, said several people have contacted the police with information concerning the case since news broke of Kokesch's arrest Dec. 21. Investigators have met with those people and "are trying to analyze the new information," he said. On Dec. 21, after police received a complaint from the public, they searched Kokesch's church office at St. Edmund of Canterbury Parish in Beaconsfield and his home in Pointe-Claire, Richer said. They discovered more than 2,000 child porn images on a computer and other information devices they seized in the search, Richer said. Kokesch, who was ordained to the diaconate in 1981, spent the Christmas holidays behind bars. The Montreal Archdiocese removed Kokesch from "all ministry and pastoral activity" upon learning of his arrest, according to a Dec. 22 statement.


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