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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jan-25-2013

By Catholic News Service


Enthusiasm buoys Vigil for Life as cardinal urges adoption alternative

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- For 39 years, Dave Katich of All Saints Parish in Etna, Pa., wanted to attend the opening Mass for the National Prayer Vigil for Life, but something always kept him away. Not this year. Katich and his wife, Debi, finally joined their friends from All Saints, Frank and Sherry Rectenwald, for the four-hour trip to Washington from their homes just north of Pittsburgh for the two days of distinctly Catholic events marking the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. "I felt compelled to be here," Katich told Catholic News Service an hour before the Mass began in the filled-to-capacity Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. "It's probably the most important thing our faith believes, the right to life. Every human being has the God-given right to live." The two couples were among the thousands who began filing into the basilica hours before the liturgy. Many of those in attendance prayed overnight in the basilica's crypt, keeping a vigil for life. Standing with her mother and younger brother near one of the side chapels about halfway back in the massive church, Isent George, 8, was dwarfed by the throng of people passing back and forth as they sought out old friends and tried to find just the right spot in the hope of catching a glimpse of the celebrants on the main altar. She understood the importance of being at the Mass. "We should end abortion because it's actually murdering the embryos that are actually babies formed from God," she said. "God made that creation and we have no right to kill babies."

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Faithful urged to preach pro-life in and out of season like St. Paul

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As thousands of Catholics prepared to brave freezing temperatures to participate in the 40th annual March for Life, Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of Dallas asked them to imitate the example of St. Paul, who preached "in season and out of season." St. Paul "was not afraid to stand in the center of Athens and preach the word of God to politicians and intellectuals," Bishop Farrell said in his homily at a Jan. 25 Mass that closed the annual National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The apostle preached "whether it was convenient or it became uncomfortable for others to listen to him," he added. The Mass was celebrated on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, a rarity in that the date of the March for Life is typically Jan. 22 -- the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 decision that legalized abortion virtually on demand nationwide -- except when the anniversary date falls on a weekend. But with the public ceremonies for the presidential inaugural taking place Jan. 21, March for Life organizers chose Jan. 25 for the march to assure enough hotel rooms in the Washington area for those coming to the march and related events. Bishop Farrell's diocese is where lawyers for Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade, originally brought the case to court. As a pregnant 22-year-old in 1969, McCorvey was referred by an adoption attorney to lawyers seeking a plaintiff for an abortion suit against the state of Texas.

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In fits and starts, deportation 'Band-Aid' for young immigrants evolves

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the six-month mark approaches in an administration program to defer deportation for some young undocumented immigrants, the pace of applications has slowed, but more than 150,000 people have been approved for the status that comes with a work permit and a Social Security number. Meanwhile, states and the federal government are still settling details of exactly what it means to be approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Immigrants, or DACA, when it comes to getting driver's licenses, in-state resident tuition rates, some kinds of jobs and other issues. One website with information about the program, United We Dream, calls those who are approved "DACA-mented." The reality is that recipients of deferred action are not in an immigration status that leads to permanent legal residency. In announcing the program June 15, President Barack Obama called the effort "a temporary, stopgap measure" until a more permanent solution to the problems of the immigration system can be passed by Congress. In Sanford, N.C., LaSalette Father Robert Ippolito, pastor at St. Stephen the First Martyr Church, has processed 574 applications for DACA for his parishioners and others in central North Carolina. So far, he told Catholic News Service, none of the applications has been turned down, "although I may be on the verge of my first one." Some of his applications are processed and approved within a month, others are taking up to three months. The explanation given by the office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, that each application would be considered on its own merits is certainly proving to be true, he said. DACA is open to those who came to the United States before their 16th birthdays and are not yet 31, have been in the U.S. at least five years, have clean criminal records, are either in school or have completed at least high school and who meet other criteria. Approval means the government will not pursue deportation unless the individual breaks the law. It comes with a work permit and a Social Security card and is issued on a two-year, renewable basis. Proof of many things must be submitted with applications, but the type of documentation that qualifies as proof is open to interpretation.

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Best friends call eight-mile walk to attend march a 'holy pilgrimage'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Among the thousands of people gathered in Washington Jan. 25 for the annual March for Life were two best friends from Christendom College, Paul Wilson and John Schofield, who had walked eight miles from St. Mary's Church in Alexandria, Va., on a "holy pilgrimage." Others found their way on long bus trips from every corner of the country to mark the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States. For Luke Ferke, a 14-year-old attending the march for the first time, the 20 hours he spent on the bus were all so he could "stand up for people (who) don't have a chance to have life." Donning a yellow scarf, Adam, who wouldn't give his last name, told Catholic News Service he came from Pennsylvania with his wife and children to "take a stand against the sin of abortion ... (and to) inform younger kids" about the importance of being pro-life. "Children give us a perspective of what really matters," said Jamie Legrand as she ran after her playful children at an interdenominational prayer service held at Constitution Hall. Mother and pro-life activist, she drove more than five hours with 15 youths from the Charismatic Episcopal Church, which she attends in Long Island, N.Y. "(I'm) not here to argue, not here to fight," she said, "just here to pray" for the unborn and those affected by abortion.

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Bishops to review handling of wrongful death suit against Catholic hospital

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CNS) -- The Catholic bishops of Colorado's three dioceses said Jan. 24 they plan to review the handling of a civil lawsuit citing "wrongful death" in the case of a woman who died along with her unborn twins at a Catholic hospital. The hospital is part of the Catholic Health Initiatives network, which "has been accused by some of undermining the Catholic position on human life in the course of litigation," the bishops said. Defense lawyers cited a Colorado law that says the unborn are not "persons," while Catholic teaching holds that life begins at the moment of conception. "Today, representatives of Catholic Health Initiatives assured us of their intention to observe the moral and ethical obligations of the Catholic Church," the bishops said, adding that while they could not comment on "ongoing legal disputes," the prelates planned to "undertake a full review" of the litigation and the network's "policies and practices." The case centers on Lori Stodghill, who was seven months pregnant with twin boys when she began feeling sick on Jan. 1, 2006. Her husband drove her to St. Thomas More Hospital in Canon City, which is in the Pueblo Diocese. The lawsuit states that Stodghill's obstetrician, Dr. Pelham Staples, was on call that evening but did not answer his pager. She died of a massive heart attack shortly after arriving at the hospital. Stodghill's husband filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Catholic Health Initiatives, arguing that Staples might not have been able to save his wife but should have tried to save the twins through a Cesarean section.

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At annual March for Life, crowds show endurance, passion to continue

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Participants at the annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 25 demonstrated just how determined they are not only by showing up in such large numbers on a bitter cold day but by continuing a 40-year tradition of protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion. “Forty years ago, people thought opposition” to the Supreme Court's decision “would eventually disappear,” Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley told the crowd assembled on the National Mall for a rally prior to the march along Constitution Avenue to the front of the U.S. Supreme Court. He noted that Nellie Gray, founder of the annual march who died last year, “was not going to allow that to happen” nor was the pro-life movement. “The march grows stronger every year,” said the cardinal, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities. Various media outlets put the estimate for this year’s March for Life crowd at between 500,000 and 650,000. An official crowd estimate has not been provided by police since about 1995. As of early Jan. 29, March for Life officials had not issued their own crowd estimate. A separate “virtual” March for Life sponsored by Americans United for Life Action for those unable to travel to Washington drew 70,000 participants.

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Jesuit says confusion over Vatican II is normal, even 50 years later

ROME (CNS) -- A 91-year-old Jesuit who served as an expert at the Second Vatican Council said, "I'm just beginning to understand the depth and breadth of the council" and its teachings. Jesuit Father Ladislas Orsy, a visiting professor at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, told an audience in Rome Jan. 24 that while every ecumenical council in church history led to debate -- and sometimes even schism -- it always has taken more than 50 years for a council's teachings and reforms to take root in the Christian community. "Granted we may see a great deal of confusion today; granted we may even see a denial of the council or we may even hear a way of explaining away the council," Father Orsy said during a speech that was part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity celebrations at Rome's Centro Pro Unione. Vatican II can be examined as a historical event, and theologians can use a variety of scholarly tools to propose different interpretations of its teachings, but one thing Catholics cannot deny is the church's teaching that the Holy Spirit is active in its ecumenical councils, he said. Father Orsy asked his audience, "Are you surprised that there is a bit of disarray today in the Roman Catholic Church when this happened in the case of Nicea, dealing with the very foundation of our faith?" The Council of Nicea in 325 affirmed the divinity of Christ.

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Let's Go! Vatican: New guidebook gives tourist tips, scholarly details

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The official Vatican City travel guide was released, aimed at making life easier for pilgrims and tourists, and offering accurate and exhaustive details for scholars and historians. The "General Guide to Vatican City" says it's trying to fill the gap created over the 80 years since the Vatican published its first official guide one year after the city-state was established in 1929. Even though there are many other travel guides out there, "what was still missing was an essential, rigorous work that illustrates" every aspect of Vatican City, the guide's introduction says. The dark blue paperback was published in English, Spanish, French and Italian in a joint venture by Jaca Book -- a Milanese publishing company -- the Vatican Museums and the Vatican publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana. In 447 pages, the 2012 guide packs in colorful photos, maps, contact information and extensive details about the artistic, archaeological, architectural and historical patrimony housed on Vatican City State's 109 acres. The smallest country in the world has "one of the highest concentrations of art works in the world," the guide says.

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Christian cooperation key to proclaiming the Gospel, pope says

ROME (CNS) -- Christians must work together to offer the faith they share to a world that seems to find it more and more difficult to believe, Pope Benedict XVI told Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant leaders. "Unity is in itself a privileged means -- almost a requirement -- for proclaiming the faith in an increasingly credible way to those who do not yet know the Savior or who, having received the proclamation of the Gospel, have almost forgotten this precious gift," Pope Benedict said Jan. 25. Presiding over an evening prayer service at the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the pope said that, even as divided Christians continue their theological dialogues in the search for full unity, "It is necessary to pursue concrete collaboration among the disciples of Christ on behalf of the cause of transmitting the faith to the modern world. "In today's society, it seems that the Christian message has a diminishing impact on personal and community life, and this represents a challenge for all churches and ecclesial communities," Pope Benedict said in his homily at Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. The key to meeting the challenge, the pope said, is for Christians to pray to God for the gift of unity and step up their efforts at "reconciliation, dialogue and mutual understanding. Communion in the same faith is the basis for ecumenism," he said.

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Pope reassigns responsibility for seminaries, religious instruction

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In an administrative move reaffirming his efforts to promote a Catholic revival in the West and greater adherence to traditional church teaching, Pope Benedict XVI has reassigned responsibility among Vatican offices for the religious education of laypeople and future priests. According to two papal decrees released by the Vatican Jan. 25, responsibility for seminaries has shifted from the Congregation for Catholic Education to the Congregation for Clergy, and responsibility for catechesis has moved from the latter office to the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. The pope announced the changes in October, during the world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization, but did not sign the decrees putting them into effect until Jan. 16. Under the new regime, Pope Benedict wrote, the Congregation for Clergy is now in charge of the "promotion and governance of all that pertains to the formation, life and ministry of priests and deacons." Emphasizing the need to link the preparation of seminarians with their lifelong education after ordination, the pope quoted a warning from Blessed John Paul II that any "discontinuity or even difference between these two formative phases would lead immediately to grave consequences for pastoral activity and the fraternal communion among priests, particularly those of different ages."

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Mali's bishops say situation has reached 'tragic proportions'

OXFORD, England (CNS) -- Mali's Catholic bishops praised efforts by their acting head of state to hold the country together and backed his appeal for a "general mobilization" against Islamist insurgents. "The situation we are living through is very grave and has reached tragic proportions in recent days," the bishops' conference said in a Jan. 24 letter to President Dioncounda Traore. "Through you, as supreme head of our armies, we salute Mali's armed and security forces in their common efforts to liberate our country," said the letter. "We are aware of the appeals you have made, and we endorse them, body and soul." The letter was published during the bishops' Jan. 21-25 plenary in the capital, Bamako. The meeting coincided with the recapture of rebel-held towns by French-backed Malian forces. The bishops said the Catholic Church had highlighted the plight of displaced people since the start of the 2012 insurgency, during which ethnic Tuareg rebels seeking a separate state overran northern Mali alongside Islamist fighters from Ansar Edine, which is believed linked to al-Qaida. They added that they would seek a "mobilization of the Christian community" throughout Lent, which begins Feb. 13, to help secure the country's future. "We continue to believe a new Mali will emerge from this harsh ordeal, reconciled with itself and its values," the bishops told Traore, who was installed after a March 2012 military coup. "These are the values of faith, fear and respect of God, sincere fraternity between its different components, love of homeland and a sense of sacrifice."

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New York couple recalls their nearly 40 years of marching for life

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Bill and Peggy Devlin have taken a long view of the March for Life. Since attending the first march around the U.S. Capitol on a 70-degree day in 1974, the couple, from St. Frances de Chantal Parish in Wantagh, N.Y., have missed just one. In nearly 40 years of marching, they've seen snow, rain, plenty of cold and not many days like that first sunny and warm one. This year they braved the bitter cold to walk along Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court, continuing a long tradition of protesting the court's decision to legalize abortion. They knew when they attended that first march that they would most likely have to do it again, but neither of them thought they would still be making this pilgrimage of sorts about 40 years later. This year, as in so many previous years, they awoke in pre-dawn hours for a 4:45 a.m. Mass at their church before boarding the bus with fellow parishioners to make the trek from Long Island to Washington. The group knows the routine. Even the advent of technological advances such as cell phones has not changed their day much as far as keeping track of each other. They always get dropped off at a certain location, walk a few blocks to attend the rally, which in recent years has been on the National Mall, walk to the U.S. Supreme Court and then meet with fellow parishioners to wait for their bus at St. Peter's Church on Capitol Hill, which opens its parish hall and serves refreshments to out-of-town marchers. The march has a rhythm to it that Bill Devlin knows. He has seen the crowd grow in number and also get younger. He remembers when more participants lobbied their representatives in Congress. In recent years, he said, fewer marchers have done so, often stymied by the long security checkpoints.


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