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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jan-17-2013

By Catholic News Service

U.S.

Deacon: Rev. King's civil rights advocacy marked by faith, hope, love

GARY, Ind. (CNS) -- The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. may have been a reluctant leader, "but he was willing to put himself out there," said Deacon Melvin R. Tardy Jr. He was "the right person for the moment" in the civil rights movement, said the deacon, an academic adviser at the University of Notre Dame. What separated Rev. King from other contemporaries was faith, hope, and love, he added. Deacon Tardy made the comments at the Gary Diocese's sixth annual King tribute Jan. 13 at Holy Angels Cathedral. Rev. King, the product of a long line of pastors, was a gifted orator, yet down to earth, and his audience "felt what he felt," the deacon said. Using what then was the fairly new medium of television, Rev. King not only touched his audience with a sense of right and wrong, but he also walked the walk. Following the example of Gandhi, Rev. King used nonviolent direct action, Deacon Tardy said, to protest yet remain true to his beliefs. "He used civil disobedience to call people to crisis," the deacon said. "He became a prophetic witness." Rev. King believed the kingdom of God was "something we can have today," Deacon Tardy said, and "he had that sense that innocent suffering can be redemptive," turning enemies into friends. Rev. King also embraced agape -- to love one another "as Jesus loved" -- and he believed that "I will love this person because God loves this person," the deacon noted.

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Citing conscience laws, Illinois judge halts contraceptive mandate

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Catholic owners of an Illinois health services consulting company have won a temporary restraining order against the state's contraceptive mandate. Judge Terence M. Sheen of the DuPage County Circuit Court granted the order Jan. 15 to Christopher and Mary Anne Yep and their company, Triune Health Group Inc., saying Illinois' conscience laws take precedence over the state mandate that the health insurance they provide to their employees must cover abortion, sterilizations and contraceptives. "The unique thing about this order is that it's the first recognition by an Illinois court that the state's contraception mandate may be pre-empted by our religious freedom and conscience laws," said attorney Peter Breen, executive director of the Thomas More Society, the Chicago-based public interest law firm representing the Yeps, who are Catholic. In a parallel case, the Yeps and Triune won a preliminary injunction Jan. 4 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the Department of Health and Human Services' contraceptive mandate. Breen told Catholic News Service Jan. 17 that the Yeps were pleased with Sheen's decision, which cited conscience protections outlined in the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act and Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

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WORLD

Everyone, even atheists, has human desire to know who God is, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The desire to see and know God is innate in everyone, even nonbelievers, Pope Benedict XVI said. But it's especially important that people don't just seek God when they need him but make room for him throughout their busy lives, he said during his weekly general audience in the Vatican's Paul VI hall Jan. 16. At the end of the audience, the pope also greeted U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a Catholic. The brief encounter came during the so-called "baciamano," the moment when the pope offers a select group of prelates and special guests a brief handshake one-by-one rather than a private audience. The pope spoke at length with the former CIA director, who was smiling and gently holding both of the pope's hands, and gave him one of the medallions reserved for special guests. Panetta said later that the pope told him, "Thank you for helping to protect the world." Panetta said he replied, "Pray for me." Panetta, who was stepping down as Pentagon chief, was in Rome as part of a Europe-wide tour to meet with European defense ministers to discuss the conflicts in Afghanistan and Mali.

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Justice, kindness, humility must mark ecumenical journey, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Like the individual path to holiness, the ecumenical path to Christian unity requires justice, kindness and humility, Pope Benedict XVI told members of a pilgrimage from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. On the path of Christian discipleship, he said, "we are called to advance together along the narrow road of fidelity to God's sovereign will in facing whatever difficulties or obstacles we may eventually encounter." Pope Benedict met the Finnish delegation Jan. 17, the eve of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The theme chosen for the 2013 observance was: "What does God require of us?" The prophet Micah clearly answers the question, the pope said. "It is 'to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God.'" Walking humbly in God's presence, obeying his will and trusting in him is not only a description of a real life of faith, but also of the "ecumenical journey on the path toward the full and visible unity of all Christians," the pope said. Progress in the ecumenical journey, he said, "demands that we become ever more united in prayer, ever more committed to the pursuit of holiness and ever more engaged in the areas of theological research and cooperation in the service of a just and fraternal society."

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Nigerian bishops caution government about religious prophesies

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) -- Five Catholic bishops cautioned Nigerian government leaders about a series of statements from Pentecostal and indigenous religious leaders portending tragedy. The bishops of the Ibadan province said in a statement released Jan. 14 that the warnings, or visions as described by the religious leaders, may be a tactic to control the actions of political and government officials. "We feel a sense of duty to call for caution in this regard and warn that, while prophetic gifts, private revelations and visions may have a religious basis, care must be taken not to see them as substitutes for personal and corporate responsibility," the bishops said. The statement was signed by Archbishop Felix Alaba Job of Ibadan and Bishop Felix Ajakaye of Ekiti on behalf of the bishops of Ilorin, Ondo and Osogbo. Saying they have experienced a series of visions or prophesies, the Pentecostal and indigenous religious leaders have published and distributed warnings that certain government leaders would die or be impeached in the new year. The warnings have sent jitters through government offices, especially because several provincial leaders were being treated for various ailments outside of Nigeria in mid-January.

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Canada cut projects to Catholic agency despite staff recommendations

TORONTO (CNS) -- Government staffers described the bishops' Development and Peace agency as "Canada's most experienced development organization supported exclusively by Canadians" -- then slashed its funding. Internal emails, briefing notes and memoranda obtained by The Catholic Register, a national weekly, reveal that a government decision to cut funding to the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace in 2012 went against the advice of almost everyone consulted, including its own bureaucracy. Last spring's massive cut in funding is not recommended anywhere in 235 pages of documents The Catholic Register obtained from the Canadian International Development Agency through an Access to Information request. Instead, in an email outlining Development and Peace's five-year proposal for $49.2 million in funding for 20 countries, CIDA program officer Doug Henderson told the agency's media relations department, "CIDA has analyzed and agreed with the results... and the amounts allocated in the budget ... and to the entire five-year project. Extensive due diligence has been carried out up front." In a briefing prepared for Canadian International Development Agency President Margaret Biggs, staffers said, "This is a strong proposal from an experienced partner." The Aug. 31, 2011, briefing -- delivered the same day Development and Peace's previous five-year funding agreement ran out -- praised the agency for its outstanding record since 1968.

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PEOPLE

US monsignor joins canons of St. Peter's Basilica, a ministry of prayer

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Although his curriculum vitae includes parish assignments, seminary positions and years devoted to promoting religious education throughout the United States, Msgr. Francis D. Kelly said, "All my life I've been a closet monk." As he prepared to take his post as a canon of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, a position focused on the service of prayer, Msgr. Kelly said, "God knows what he's doing." The chief task of the two dozen canons, he said, is prayer and worship. For the past eight years, the 75-year-old monsignor from the Diocese of Worcester, Mass., has served as superior of the Casa Santa Maria, the residence for U.S. priests studying at the pontifical universities in Rome. He was named a canon of the basilica by Pope Benedict XVI and was to be formally installed Jan. 20. In a Jan. 17 interview with Catholic News Service, Msgr. Kelly said he did not know how he came to be appointed the first U.S.-born canon in almost 50 years; "it's not something I asked for or expected." Italian-born Archbishop Giuseppe De Andrea, 82, a retired Vatican diplomat and priest of the Diocese of Greensburg, Pa., currently is the senior canon; he and Msgr. Kelly both hold positions at the international offices of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. The last U.S.-born priest to serve as a canon was Archbishop Martin O'Connor, a native of Scranton, Pa., who had served as rector of the Pontifical North American College before being named a nuncio, and as president of the then-Pontifical Commission for Social Communications. He retired in 1971 and died in 1986.

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Priest urges Catholics to regain 'ardor' for risen Christ to evangelize

SALT LAKE CITY (CNS) -- To evangelize in today's world, Catholics "need to recover their sense of ardor for Jesus risen from the dead," a Chicago priest told attendees at the national Cathedral Ministry Conference in Salt Lake City. Father Robert Barron, a Chicago archdiocesan priest long involved in media ministry, also told his listeners that Catholics must use new methods to reach out, but he added that "the new evangelization is the same as the old evangelization in many ways, because evangelization is always about declaring the words of Jesus." The priest -- whom Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George calls "one of the church's best messengers" -- brought the fire of the new evangelization to a primarily Catholic audience in a Jan. 10 keynote. He currently is rector and president of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Illinois, and is founder of a global media ministry called Word on Fire, which aims to "educate and engage the culture." He also developed and hosted a 10-part video series called "Catholicism," which has been broadcast on the Eternal Word Television Network and PBS. In his speech, Father Barron used humor and a conversational style and referenced popular culture icons such as Bob Dylan, and Catholic Church figures ranging from St. Irenaeus, who died in the early third century and taught that the creed contains the essential truths of Christian faith, to Blessed John Paul II. Successful evangelization "begins with the beautiful," Father Barron said, referencing Swiss theologian Father Hans Urs von Balthasar. "The beautiful has a way of beguiling you. ... Begin with the beautiful ... then beguile people into a consideration of the good and true."

END


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