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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jan-18-2013

By Catholic News Service


Archbishop Aquila offers prayer for healing at theater reopening

AURORA, Colo. (CNS) -- The path to peace requires rejecting violence and giving to God the desire for vengeance, hatred, bitterness and anger, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver said during a ceremony marking the reopening of a movie theater, the site of a chaotic mass shooting in July. Archbishop Aquila recalled the 70 victims of a gunman, including the 12 who died and 58 who were injured in the July 20 incident, quoting Blessed John Paul II after he was shot in 1981. "'The redemption of the world,' he said, 'is rooted in suffering," the archbishop said. The archbishop was one of several clergy and public officials to speak during what organizers called a "special evening of remembrance and reopening" Jan. 17 at the Century Aurora 16 theater. Archbishop Aquila closed the ceremony with a reflection and a prayer that called for healing and for the community to unify to prevent violence and live in peace. "In suffering, and in the love of God, dawn breaks before us. We are here tonight with one another to remember, to celebrate the lives of those we've lost and to support those who were wounded and continue to heal. We are here to stand together in mourning, in suffering, and we stand together in redemption," he said.

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Faith groups begin to muster their members in support of gun controls

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- If Vincent DeMarco is right -- and he's got a whole bunch of faith leaders and their organizations lined up to work with him -- ending easy access to the kinds of high-power guns used in mass shootings can be accomplished with a tried-and-true strategy. DeMarco, national coordinator of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, believes the financial and political clout of the gun lobby in opposing any gun restrictions can be defeated by the same kind of grass-roots, faith-based strategy that he believes broke through the tobacco lobby's power, enabling the enactment of government controls on tobacco marketing, and new cigarette taxes to fund children's health care. Polls show the vast majority of Americans, including the majority of gun owners, support some restrictions, such as more thorough background checks for gun purchasers and bans on semiautomatic assault weapons, DeMarco said. "But there are people in Congress who don't believe that," he said. "We're going to make sure they know. We're going to succeed because our faith leaders are going to make sure they hear" that their constituents support some controls, he added. Just such an effort that DeMarco headed, Faith United Against Tobacco, is credited with lobbying for steeper cigarette taxes and other government controls on the tobacco industry.

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Nearly 7,000 Catholic schools will have chance to see televised Mass

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Almost 7,000 Catholic schools across the country will have the opportunity to tune in to the second annual televised Mass celebrating National Catholic Schools Week when it airs live Jan. 29 on the Eternal Word Television Network. "We thought it was a wonderful way for all of us to open the new academic year," said John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America. The university is sponsoring the Mass of the Holy Spirit with the Dominican House of Studies in association with the National Catholic Educational Association. It will be celebrated in the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. EWTN's broadcast begins at 12:10 p.m. (Eastern time). Dominican Father Brian Martin Mulcahy, prior provincial, will be the celebrant and will deliver the homily. NCEA President Karen Ristau praised advances in technology that allowed students from many different schools to come together in a Mass "that will serve as a powerful reminder of the ties that bind us together as Christ-centered places of learning."

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Ethics part of all courses in Catholic University's new business school

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Catholic University of America in Washington is spinning off its current economics and business curriculum from its School of Arts and Sciences and fashioning a new business school with the idea of infusing ethics into all course offerings. In 2014, graduates will receive their degrees from the new School of Business and Economics, the university's 13th school. This year's business and economics graduates will still receive degrees from the School of Arts and Sciences. The action to create a new school was taken in a December vote by the university's board of trustees, following three years of evaluating and planning. The new school's creation took effect Jan. 1, and it was announced Jan. 8. Enrollment in business courses has jumped from 300 to 450 since 2008, according to Andrew V. Abela, an associate professor of marketing who is currently chair of the university's Department of Business and Economics and will slide over to the new business school. On Jan. 17, he was made the dean of the new school. "We have very small classes, and we want to keep it that way," Abela, a native of Malta, told Catholic News Service in a Jan. 8 interview at Catholic University. "There's something about the program that the students find appealing," Abela said. He believes it is the correlation of societal institutions with the economy and the application of natural law within the curriculum. Natural law and Catholicism are "right at the heart of what we're teaching," he said.

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Ex-priest recanting testimony has no bearing on Msgr. Lynn, lawyer says

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- Only days before the start of the March 2012 trial of Father James Brennan and Msgr. William Lynn on charges related to the clergy sexual abuse scandal, former priest Edward Avery admitted he'd sexually assaulted a 10-year-old altar boy at his Northeast Philadelphia parish in 1999. Avery -- who was laicized, or removed from the clerical state, in 2006 -- pleaded guilty and soon began serving a sentence of two-and-a half to five years in prison. Now, Avery says he never touched the boy and only entered his guilty plea to get a lighter sentence. He recanted his testimony Jan. 17 on the witness stand at the trial of Oblate Father Charles Engelhardt and former Catholic school teacher Bernard Shero. Their trial began the week of Jan. 14. Both men are charged with sexually assaulting the same altar boy from 1998 to 2000. Msgr. Lynn was convicted of conspiracy in June, becoming the first high-ranking clergyman in the United States to be convicted for failing to deal with the abuse scandal in the church. He is currently serving three to six years in state prison. Father Brennan awaits a retrial in the spring after his case ended in a hung jury in June. While the revelation about Avery in the courtroom was dramatic, one veteran legal expert believes it will have little bearing on Msgr. Lynn. "It means nothing except political posturing," said Jeffrey M. Lindy, a criminal defense lawyer with long experience and a former member of Msgr. Lynn's legal defense team.

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Pope establishes Holy Family Eparchy for Ukrainians in Great Britain

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has raised the church jurisdiction for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain to the level of an eparchy, or diocese, and named the U.S. bishop who had been its exarch to be the eparchial bishop. The new diocese will be known as the Eparchy of the Holy Family of London, the Vatican announced Jan. 18. Bishop Hlib Lonchyna, 58, a native of Steubenville, Ohio, who had served as apostolic exarch for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain since 2011 continues, but with a new title, the Vatican said. According to Vatican statistics, there are just over 10,000 Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain, and they are served by 12 diocesan priests. The elevation of the jurisdiction to an eparchy or diocese usually indicates a growth in the stability of a Catholic population and of priests and religious to serve them. In an email response to questions, Bishop Lonchyna said, "An exarchate is a temporary structure and may be suppressed if there is no need for it," for example, if most of the people have died or moved away. "But an eparchy, like a diocese, is permanent; it may not be suppressed. If, however, there no longer are any faithful, it becomes a titular see," which are the dioceses assigned to auxiliary bishops. As for the name of the new eparchy, the bishop said it is taken from the name of the Ukrainians' cathedral church in London, Holy Family.

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Vatican mummy health check: It's never too late for an endoscopy

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Experts have just concluded a two-year study on the seven adult mummies in the Vatican Museums' collections. The mummies underwent a full battery of X-rays, CT scans, endoscopic explorations, histological exams and a whole spectrum of genetic testing, leading one researcher to joke: "These mummies have gotten more medical attention now than when they were alive." In fact, scientists can now make the kind of diagnoses ancient Egyptian doctors were probably unable to divine. The scientific advancements in genetics, imaging technology and nano research also have brought new and unexpected discoveries with minimally and non-invasive techniques -- a far cry from the "unwrapping" autopsies of the 19th century. For one thing, the mummy Ny-Maat-Re, "who we always referred to as 'she,' is in fact actually a man," said Alessia Amenta, Egyptologist and curator of the Vatican Museums' Department for the Antiquities of Egypt and the Near East. The hieroglyphics on the mummy's three-dimensional painted coverings made of plaster and linen bandages -- called cartonnage -- had identified it as "the daughter of Sema-Tawi." But 3-D CT scan results from early January showed the never-unwrapped mummy is clearly male, Amenta said. "This discovery is very recent and opens a whole host of questions we hope we will be able to answer," she said during a Vatican news conference Jan. 17.

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Bishops ask Kenya to end ethnic violence in Tana River region

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- Kenyan bishops asked government leaders to end ethnic violence in the country's coastal region near the Tana River, where fighting has left hundreds killed and displaced in the last five months. "Young children going to school have been killed with their school bags strapped on their backs while the elderly, unable to run for their safety, have been burned in their houses by their neighbors with whom they have lived closely for several decades," said a Jan. 18 statement signed by representatives of the bishops' justice and peace commission and heads of coastal dioceses. "We are saddened and shocked by the violence and deaths in this part of the country but, more so, we are surprised that -- despite the heavy presence of the security agents, promises to end the violence, peace and reconciliation meetings -- nothing has changed," they said. The bishops said the Tana Delta was known for its natural resources and urged the government to investigate if this was related to the prolonged violence. "Could it be that there are external foreign forces or influence(s) that are behind the violence just to benefit a few selfish individuals?" they asked. They also called on the government to prosecute those responsible for criminal activities. "The National Police Service should undertake prompt and effective criminal investigation and apprehend all the perpetrators," they said, adding that an independent police oversight authority should investigate allegations against the police for their failure to anticipate the violence.

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Pope recognizes election of new Coptic Catholic patriarch

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI formally welcomed the election of the new head of the Coptic Catholic Church, 57-year-old Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sidrak of Alexandria. The former bishop of Minya, Egypt, was elected patriarch Jan. 15 by members of the Coptic Catholic Synod of Bishops during a meeting in Cairo. As is customary for the patriarchs of the Eastern churches in union with Rome, newly elected Patriarch Sidrak formally requested communion with the pope. The Vatican announced Jan. 18 that the pope had extended "ecclesial communion" to him. Choosing a successor to 77-year-old Cardinal Antonios Naguib was the primary agenda item at the January synod. The cardinal suffered a stroke Dec. 31, 2011, and has had a slow recovery, including continuing paralysis and difficulty speaking. Pope Benedict accepted his resignation for health reasons. Cardinal Naguib was succeeded by the same bishop who earlier succeeded him as bishop of Minya, a city in central Egypt known for its strong Christian communities. About 50 percent of the residents belong to the Orthodox or Catholic churches, while in Egypt as a whole about 90 percent of the population is Muslim.

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Two Americans receive new assignments as Vatican diplomats

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI gave new assignments in mid-January to two U.S. archbishops serving as Vatican ambassadors. Archbishop Joseph S. Marino, a native of Birmingham, Ala., who will be 60 Jan. 23, was named the Vatican's first nuncio to Malaysia, as well as nuncio to East Timor and apostolic delegate in Brunei. Archbishop Charles D. Balvo, a 61-year-old native of Brooklyn, was named nuncio to Kenya, as well as observer at the U.N. Environment Program and its Agency for Human Settlements, both based in Nairobi. Archbishop Marino moves from Bangladesh, where he has been nuncio since 2008, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital. The Vatican and Malaysia announced the establishment of full diplomatic relations in mid-2011. Almost 60 percent of Malaysia's 29 million residents are Muslim, while Catholics account for just over 3 percent of the population. In neighboring Brunei, which has a population of about 408,000 people, about 67 percent are Muslim and almost 5 percent are Catholic. By contrast, close to 98 percent of the 1.1 million people of East Timor are Catholic. Archbishop Balvo moves to Kenya from New Zealand, where he has served as nuncio since 2005.

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Pope chooses Cardinal Ravasi to lead annual Lenten retreat

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has asked Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, to lead his Lenten retreat Feb. 17-23. The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reported Jan. 18 that the cardinal will focus on "Ars orandi, ars credendi" (the art of praying, the art of believing), looking particularly at "the face of God and the face of man in the Psalm prayers." Pope Benedict and top officials from the Roman Curia suspend their normal schedules from the afternoon of the first Sunday of Lent until the following Saturday morning. Instead, they gather each morning and afternoon in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel for common prayer, eucharistic adoration and meditations offered by a different guest preacher each year. Cardinal Ravasi, 70, told L'Osservatore that he would begin by reflecting on the verbs associated with prayer: to breathe, to think, to struggle, to love.

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Pope names successor to head of church in Ireland

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Eamon Martin as coadjutor archbishop of Armagh, Northern Ireland, making him the designated successor to Cardinal Sean Brady as the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland. The Vatican announced the appointment Jan. 18. After serving as vicar general of the Diocese of Derry, Northern Ireland, last year Archbishop-designate Martin became its diocesan administrator upon the retirement of Bishop Seamus Hegarty. In brief remarks to the media in Armagh, Archbishop-designate Martin said, "There is need for renewal in the church, so that the message of Christ, in all its richness, is presented in ways which engage a new generation. There is a need for a mature relationship between church and society, in both parts of this island, and people of faith have a vital role to play. "It would hugely impoverish our faith if we were expected to 'leave it at home' or 'keep it for Sundays,' excluding it from our conversations and actions in daily life," he said.


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