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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jan-22-2013

By Catholic News Service


Prayers at morning service, swearing-in ceremony mark Inauguration Day

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- President Barack Obama's second Inauguration Day Jan. 21 started with a private prayer service at St. John's Episcopal Church and centered on a swearing-in ceremony bracketed by prayers and highlighted by an inaugural address dotted with references to God-given societal rights and obligations. Speaking to a crowd estimated at a million gathered on Capitol Hill, down Pennsylvania Avenue and along the National Mall, Obama called the public to "shape the debates of our time not, only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals." He went on to define his oath of office: "The oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol," he said, "was an oath to God and country, not party or faction. And we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service." In a speech that was phrased less in concrete policy objectives than in broad philosophies, he started by linking the words of the Declaration of Independence to the realities of modern life. "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," he quoted from the declaration.

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Multifaith prayer service starts Obama's first workday of new term

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- President Barack Obama began the first work day of his second term Jan. 22 in prayer at a multi-faith service at the National Cathedral, where readings, prayers, songs and the sermon focused on the challenges of leadership and the need to face them with the bolstering of faith. More than 2,200 people filled the cathedral church of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, where religious services of national importance traditionally are held. The Rev. Adam Hamilton, homilist, began by thanking Obama and Vice President Joe Biden "for giving yourselves, for sacrificing, for living in glass houses, for accepting the constant barrage of criticism with very little praise, for being willing to risk everything in order to serve this country." His sermon followed a sequence of Scripture readings and prayers for those who govern, for those who serve in various capacities, for the people and for all the nation. Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, who heads the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, set a minor bilingual theme for the service in welcoming participants first in Spanish, which was repeated in English by the Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the cathedral. The prayers and readings were interspersed with traditional hymns and contemporary selections by two different choirs and Christian vocalist Wintley Phipps. The song "Determined to Go On," performed by the Children of the Gospel Choir of the Washington Performing Arts Society, stirred Obama and his wife, Michelle, into rhythmic swaying in time with the music. Its lyrics include the lines: "The race is not given to the swift, nor to the strong; but to the one who endureth 'til the very end. Might not be able to feel it, nor even see it; Walk by faith, not by sight."

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Meeting between pope, Vietnam's Communist Party head boosts relations

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Vietnam were strengthened further when Pope Benedict XVI met Nguyen Phu Trong, marking the first time a pope had met with the general secretary of the nation's Communist Party. Trong, who has been general secretary of the party's central committee party since 2011, was accompanied by an 11-person delegation of other high-level party and government officials. The Vatican was one of a number of stops the delegation had planned in Europe. The pope and Trong met Jan. 22 and held closed-door talks for half an hour. The party official was treated with all the pomp and circumstance of a typical head-of-state visit, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told journalists after the meeting. The two also exchanged gifts; Trong presented the pope an engraved tray with mother of pearl inlay, and the pope gave him a picture of the Casina Pio IV villa in the Vatican Gardens. The general secretary and his delegation then met with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Vatican secretary for relations with states, and other officials from the Secretariat of State. Discussions were "cordial," "very serene and very constructive," Father Lombardi said.

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Pope establishes eparchies for Ukrainians in Britain, France

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has raised the church jurisdictions for Ukrainian Catholics in Great Britain and France to the level of eparchies, or dioceses, and named the U.S. bishops who had been their exarchs to be their eparchial bishops. The new diocese in Great Britain will be known as the Eparchy of the Holy Family of London, the Vatican announced Jan. 18. The new diocese in France will be known as the Eparchy of St. Volodymyr the Great. Both eparchies are named after their cathedral churches. 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. Bishop Borys Gudziak, 52, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., is the eparchial bishop of the new Paris-based eparchy. He was installed Dec. 2 as the exarch for Ukrainian Catholics in France. He also ministers to Ukrainian Catholics in Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. 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.

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Pope says Christian divisions 'disfigure' the church

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The divisions among Christians have "disfigured" the church, Pope Benedict XVI said. "The church is the bride of Christ, who makes her holy and beautiful by his grace," the pope said Jan. 20 before praying the Angelus with visitors gathered in the rain in St. Peter's Square. Even though the church is Christ's bride, he said, the fact that the church is made up of human beings means that it always needs purification. "One of the most serious faults that disfigures the face of the church," the pope said, is the sin "against her visible unity, particularly the historical divisions that have separated Christians and still have not been overcome completely." Pope Benedict said the Jan. 18-25 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was a time for all Christians to reawaken their desire and their prayerful commitment to full communion. He said that the Dec. 28-Jan. 2 pilgrimage sponsored by the Taize ecumenical community of monks, who brought tens of thousands of young Christians to Rome from all over Europe, was "a moment of grace when we were able to experience the beauty of being one in Christ." The reflections for the 2013 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity were prepared by young people in India and showed a particular concern for the work Christians can and do accomplish together to fight discrimination in their country and around the world.

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Archbishop Di Noia urges SSPX to take new attitude in unity talks

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The traditionalist Society of St. Pius X will have a future only if it returns to full communion with the Vatican and stops publicly criticizing the teaching of the pope, said the Vatican official responsible for relations with traditionalist Catholics. "Surely the time has come to abandon the harsh and counterproductive rhetoric that has emerged over the past years," U.S. Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, vice president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," wrote to members of the SSPX in an Advent letter. The archbishop's letter was sent several weeks before the SSPX superior, Bishop Bernard Fellay, gave a speech in Canada Dec. 28 in which he described the Jews as enemies of the church and described as "evil" the Mass as reformed by the Second Vatican Council. In the speech, Bishop Fellay reviewed his group's so-far unsuccessful reconciliation talks with the Vatican. He said he had continued the discussions for three years because top Vatican officials told him that Pope Benedict's true views were not reflected in official statements demanding the group accept the validity of the modern Mass, the Second Vatican Council as part of tradition and the magisterium (the church's teaching authority) as the judge of what is tradition. Vatican Radio reported Jan. 20 on the contents of Archbishop Di Noia's Advent letter and provided links to the full text in both English and French. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told the French Catholic newspaper La Croix that the letter was a personal appeal from Archbishop Di Noia.

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Pope: 'No' to gender philosophy, 'yes' to supporting human dignity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The church must promote the beauty of marriage between a man and a woman and warn against ideologies opposed to human nature, including philosophies of gender that portray male and female as cultural inventions, Pope Benedict XVI said. The pope made his remarks during a Jan. 19 audience with workers and leaders of Catholic charities and members of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican office in charge of coordinating and promoting charitable giving. The council was meeting Jan. 17-19 for its plenary assembly, focusing on the theme of "Charity, Christian anthropology and new global ethics." Pope Benedict said all Christians, especially those who work for charitable organizations, "must let themselves be guided by principles of faith through which we take on God's 'point of view' and his plan for us." The Christian vision of humanity and the world "also provides the correct criteria for evaluating" the best ways to carry out charitable activity today, he said. While there is "a growing consensus today about the inalienable dignity of the human being" and people's interdependence and responsibilities toward others, there are also many "darks spots" that are obscuring God's plan, he said.

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After rally, Irish officials consider suicide threat as abortion reason

DUBLIN (CNS) -- In the wake of the largest pro-life demonstration ever to have taken place in Ireland, cracks have begun to emerge in the coalition government over its plans to legislate for abortion. More than 25,000 people converged on Dublin Jan. 19, braving bitterly cold weather, to attend the "Unite for Life" vigil in the capital's Merrion Square, just opposite the Irish parliament. Before the vigil, Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin joined more than 1,500 priests, religious and laity at a prayer service at St. Andrew's Church in the city center to pray for "the child in the womb." The "Unite for Life" rally was organized by a coalition of pro-life groups opposed to the government's plans to introduce legislation to allow for restricted abortion when there is a risk to a woman's life, including a threat of suicide. The massive turnout appeared to take politicians and the mainstream media by surprise, and by Jan. 21, Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton revealed that she was working on an alternative abortion bill that would exclude the threat of suicide as a reason to allow the procedure. Speaking on RTE Radio, Creighton said she had "grave reservations" about accepting the risk of suicide as a ground for abortion "because I think it is very, very difficult to identify a system that would allow for that while also ensuring we don't open the floodgates." She said she and many of her colleagues in the Fine Gael party had "deep concerns" over abortion, and she said the government needed to ensure that whatever legislation it introduced was "restrictive."

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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 17 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. In an interview with Vatican Radio, the cardinal said Pope Benedict asked him in late December, saying, "I'm curious to see how you handle a very long series, one that is made up of 17 parts." The cardinal told Vatican Radio, "This spiritual, human and cultural curiosity is very moving in one way, but also suggests a certain intimacy."

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Pope names movie expert to head Vatican TV, streamlines accreditation

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI named a priest who is an expert in cinema and communications to head the Vatican's television production center, CTV. Father Dario Edoardo Vigano, 50, replaces Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, as director of CTV, while the Jesuit remains general director of Vatican Radio and head of the Vatican press office. The pope also named Father Vigano to be secretary of the television's administrative council, according to the Vatican. In an effort to simplify the accreditation process for journalists, the pope also named Angelo Scelzo, who served as undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, to be the second vice-director of the Vatican press office. Scelzo, a lay journalist, will continue his role of overseeing the accreditation process for still photographers and audiovisual journalists, but will do so at the press hall, rather than at the pontifical council. Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini will continue as the other vice-director of the press hall, serving print journalists. The Vatican announced the new appointments Jan. 22.

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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. Msgr. Kelly was named a canon of the basilica by Pope Benedict XVI and was formally installed Jan. 20 in a brief ceremony attended by hundreds of friends, a half dozen ambassadors and five U.S. cardinals living in Rome: Cardinals James M. Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and Edwin F. O'Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem; and Cardinals William J. Levada, J. Francis Stafford and Bernard F. Law, retired from Vatican posts. Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, led the ceremony at which Msgr. Kelly formally recited and signed a profession of faith and an oath of obedience to Pope Benedict and his successors.

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Clerics apologize to abuse victims as lawsuit files become public

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- As the Archdiocese of Los Angeles released church records on clergy sexual abuse, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony again apologized to abuse victims, saying he was naive about its impact on their lives. The cardinal, who retired as archbishop of Los Angeles in 2011, also said in a statement Jan. 21 that he prays for victims of abuse by priests daily as he celebrates Mass in his private chapel. "It remains my daily and fervent prayer that God's grace will flood the heart and soul of each victim, and that their life journey continues forward with ever greater healing," he said, explaining that on his altar he keeps cards with the names of each of the 90 victims he met with from 2006 to 2008. "As I thumb through those cards I often pause as I am reminded of each personal story and the anguish that accompanies that life story," Cardinal Mahony said. "I am sorry," the cardinal's statement concluded. Cardinal Mahony's comments followed the publication by the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press portions of documents filed in court as part of a lawsuit against the archdiocese. Some of files showed archdiocesan officials worked to conceal child molestation by priests from law enforcement authorities in the 1980s. The release came two weeks after a Superior Court judge's ruling that the names of personnel identified in the files could be made public. Judge Emilie H. Elias' Jan. 7 ruling overturned an earlier decision by a retired federal judge who, acting as a mediator in a settlement between the archdiocese and those who claimed they were sexually abused, said that material to be released should have names redacted to prevent the documents' use to "embarrass or ridicule the church."

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Catholic Hall of Famer Stan Musial dies at 92

ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- A funeral Mass was scheduled for Jan. 26 at St. Louis Cathedral Basilica for Stan Musial, the Hall of Fame outfielder-first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals. Musial, a Catholic who played all 22 of his major-league seasons with the Cardinals, died Jan. 19 at age 92 at his home in nearby Ladue, surrounded by family. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, a former auxiliary bishop in St. Louis, will celebrate the funeral Mass. Bishop Richard F. Stika of Knoxville, Tenn., who as a priest of the St. Louis Archdiocese was Musial's pastor in Ladue, will preach the homily. Musial, frequently called "Stan the Man" for his hitting prowess, won seven National League batting championships. At the time of his retirement following the 1963 season, he held 17 major league batting records. He banged out 3,630 hits during his career -- split evenly, with 1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road. He belted 475 home runs, 725 doubles and 175 triples, an uncommon mix of power and speed. He won the National League's Most Valuable Player award three times, as well as three World Series championships with the Cardinals. The owner of a .331 lifetime batting average, he became President Lyndon Johnson's physical fitness adviser following his retirement. Although he never led the National League in home runs or stolen bases, he topped the league in virtually every other important category, including games played, at-bats, hits, doubles, triples, runs batted in, total bases, walks, intentional walks, batting average, on-base average and slugging percentage.


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