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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jan-28-2013

By Catholic News Service

U.S.

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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Battle for soul of US culture 'up to you,' priest tells youths at rally

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Likening the 40-year struggle against legal abortion in the United States to the Israelites' 40 years in the desert, Father Carter Griffin encouraged the more than 14,000 people attending the Archdiocese of Washington's Jan. 25 Youth Rally and Mass for Life at the Verizon Center to be the future of the movement for life by being "a generation open to life, open to love (and) open to faith. You are a force to be reckoned with! The battle for the soul of our culture is up to you. This is your moment! I promise you, if you are faithful, you will change the world!" said Father Griffin, the homilist at the archdiocese's annual Mass for Life preceding the national March for Life in the nation's capital. Father Griffin, the archdiocese's director for priest vocations and vice rector of its Blessed John Paul II Seminary, said the effort to change the hearts of people and the law of the land must begin with individuals striving for holiness, as they stand for life and seek eternal life. "The most important thing we can do to promote a culture of life -- even more important than voting, marching and speaking out -- is to grow in holiness," he said. The archdiocese also sponsored a Youth Rally and Mass for Life that morning that drew more than 11,000 mostly out-of-town marchers to the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland at College Park.

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West Coast pro-life rally, march 'here to stay,' says event's co-chair

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) -- Tens of thousands of pro-life supporters crammed San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza and walked through the city's center for the ninth annual Walk for Life West Coast Jan. 26. "The pro-life movement is here to stay, we're here to grow," the walk's co-chair, Eva Muntean, told the rally. Following the rally, participants walked the two miles from City Hall to the Ferry Building, traveling through the heart of the city's shopping and financial districts, filling Market Street for more than one mile. More than 50,000 participated, organizers estimated. "You may imagine how happy I am here to see so many people loving the life that is given to us by our creator to give witness to the life and to the Gospel," said Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the papal nuncio to the United States. "I feel with you, that you are the best of the United States of America." The archbishop, who flew to San Francisco after addressing a youth rally in Washington Jan. 25, shared a special message from Pope Benedict XVI commending the pro-life participants for "this outstanding public witness to the fundamental human right to life." He shared a tweet sent by the pope, who said he was "grateful to all those who take part in this outstanding public witness to the fundamental human right to life and to the moral imperative of upholding the inviolable dignity of each member of our human family, especially the smallest and the most defenseless of our brothers and sisters."

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Judge says HHS suit filed by archdiocese, other plaintiffs 'premature'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Jan. 25 dismissed a lawsuit filed against the federal contraceptive mandate by the Archdiocese of Washington and its co-plaintiffs, saying the case is premature in light of the government's "promises to amend the mandate. Importantly, this ruling was not based on the merits of our case," said a statement issued by the archdiocese. "In fact, the court's ruling today places the onus squarely on the government," it said, "to fulfill its binding commitment to address the religious freedom concerns" of the archdiocese, The Catholic University of America, the Consortium of Catholic Academies, Archbishop Carroll High School and Catholic Charities of D.C. "This requires the government to revise its HHS mandate in a way that truly respects our right to serve all those in need without violating our religious beliefs," the archdiocese said. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued the ruling, saying that "if after the new regulations are issued, plaintiffs are still not satisfied, any challenges that they choose to bring will be substantially different from the challenges in the current complaint." Jackson was referring to the federal government stating that it will publish notice of proposed rulemaking in the first quarter of this year and issue a final rule on the mandate before August. In the meantime, the Obama administration has in place a "safe harbor" period that protects employers from immediate government action against them if they fail to comply with the mandate. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate requires employers, including most religious employers, to include coverage for contraceptives, sterilization and some abortion-inducing drugs free of charge, even if the employer is morally opposed to such services.

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WORLD

Pope marks Holocaust Remembrance Day, calls for end to hatred

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day calls humanity to work to overcome all forms of hatred and racism and to respect the dignity of each human person. Praying the Angelus Jan. 27 with visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square, the pope called attention to the international day for remembering the victims of the Nazis. "The memory of this immense tragedy, which so harshly struck the Jewish people most of all, must represent for everyone a constant warning so that the horrors of the past are not repeated, all forms of hatred and racism are overcome and respect for the dignity of the human person is promoted," the pope said. Pope Benedict later invoked the intercession of Sts. Damien de Veuster and Marianne Cope of Molokai, Hawaii, as he also marked World Leprosy Day. In a statement released Jan. 25, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, said the fact that some 220,000 men, women and children contracted Hansen's disease in 2011 demonstrates that too many people do not have adequate access to health education and basic health care and that a strong stigma still is attached to the disease, which prevents people from seeking a diagnosis and treatment.

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The sick, their caregivers can gain indulgences on World Day of Sick

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The sick, their caregivers and any Catholic who prays for or lovingly assists someone who is ill can gain an indulgence with prayers and service on or around the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, which the Catholic Church marks as World Day of the Sick. A special Mass and services marking the Feb. 11 day of prayer for the sick will be celebrated at the shrine of Our Lady of Altotting in Germany. Catholic faithful can receive one indulgence each day Feb. 7-11 by joining observances at Altotting or at any church or shrine designated by their local bishop, according to the Vatican decree announcing the indulgence. Catholic health care professionals, volunteers and family members of the sick who cannot attend a special World Day of the Sick service "can obtain the same gift of a plenary indulgence if, during those days, they generously offer at least a few hours of loving assistance (to the sick) as if they were offering it to Christ the Lord himself," and fulfill the prayer requirements in a timely manner. The sick and the aged who cannot attend special services can obtain the indulgence by "spiritually participating" in them, particularly if the Mass in Altotting or a local World Day of the Sick Mass is being broadcast on a local television or radio station. The Vatican decree also said a partial indulgence is available in early February "to all the faithful every time they turn to the merciful God with a contrite heart" and pray for the sick.

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Catholic samba group turns parade into procession after nightclub fire

SAO PAULO (CNS) -- A Catholic samba group in Rio de Janeiro changed its parade plans after the nightclub fire that killed more than 230 people, most of them students from the local university in Santa Maria. The Catholic samba block group known as Revelry for Christ was scheduled to parade through downtown Rio Jan. 27. Instead, the group turned its parade into a religious procession, with approximately 30,000 would-be party-goers singing Catholic hymns and making their way to Rio's metropolitan cathedral, where Archbishop Orani Tempesta celebrated Mass. "Many of you left your homes early this morning for this annual youth parade which is the Revelry for Christ," said Archbishop Tempesta, "but the Lord reserved another moment for you to show the world that the youth of today can show solidarity." This year's theme for the parade was World Youth Day, scheduled to be held in Rio de Janeiro July 23-28. Sao Paulo Cardinal Odilio Pedro Scherer asked Catholics in his archdiocese to celebrate Mass for the victims of the fire. "The sadness increases with the awareness that the tragedy was a consequence of a series of errors and omissions, certainly avoidable, if security norms had been observed," said the archbishop.

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Lack of faith can hurt marriage, may affect validity, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A lack of faith in God can damage marriage, even to the point of affecting its validity, Pope Benedict XVI said. "Faith in God, sustained by divine grace, is therefore a very important element for living in mutual dedication and conjugal fidelity," he said. The pope said he was not suggesting there was a simple, automatic link "between the lack of faith and the invalidity of marriage." Rather, he hoped "to draw attention to how such a lack may, although not necessarily, also hurt the goods of marriage," given that referring to God's plan "is inherent in the covenant of marriage." The pope made his comments Jan. 26 during a meeting with members of the Roman Rota, a Vatican-based tribunal that deals mainly with marriage cases. The current crisis of faith has brought with it a state of crisis for the Christian vision of marriage as an indissoluble bond between a man and a woman, the pope said. "The indissoluble covenant between man and woman does not require, for the purpose of sacramentality, the personal faith of those to be married," he said. "What is required, as the minimum condition, is the intention of doing what the church does" when it declares a marriage is a sacrament. While the question of intent should not be confused with the question of the individuals' personal faith, "it is not always possible to completely separate them," he said.

- - -

PEOPLE

Nigerians must not give up on democracy, bishop says

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) -- Nigerians must not give up on democracy, said Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto. "I have been listening to what people are saying about revolution," the bishop said. "But I can tell you very frankly that no revolution is going to take place in this country." Bishop Kukah spoke at the 10th Daily Trust Newspapers Dialogue on the theme "Nation Building: Challenges and Reality" in Abuja Jan. 23. Catholic News Service obtained a copy of his text. He said few Nigerians are able to separate being in power from being in office, as many Nigerians assume that only those who are in office should provide the solutions to the country's problems. Bishop Kukah criticized people who describe Nigeria as a mere geographical expression and say it cannot be united. "There isn't a single nation in the world that was not a mere geographical expression until nation-building built it up," he said. He said he had discovered that every Nigerian leader since Prime Minister Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, who served in the early 1960s, came to power simply by accident. "Their good luck may have been our bad luck, but that's a different matter. But it is important that we should begin to recruit leadership in a way and manner that can guarantee us a future," he said.

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Polish archbishop says Cardinal Glemp headed church during hard times

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- Polish Cardinal Jozef Glemp took over as head of the Polish church during "hard and uncertain" times, Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk of Gniezno told hundreds of people at the cardinal's funeral. "His life was not easy and his service (was) demanding," Archbishop Kowalczyk said during the homily at the Jan. 28 Mass in St. John's Cathedral. "He had to measure up to the evil of martial law, lead the church through a difficult time of systemic transformation and then, at the cost of misunderstanding and rejection, courageously call good and bad by their names." The archbishop said that when Cardinal Glemp became archbishop of Warsaw in July 1981, Poland was strike-bound and the Polish pope, Blessed John Paul II, had narrowly survived assassination. He said Cardinal Glemp turned out to be "full of faith and hope, calm and discernment." Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski praised the cardinal for his later role in "building a free and democratic Poland" and said his own family had benefited from the cardinal's aid committee for imprisoned opposition members. "He was a good son of the homeland and profound patriot, able to act in the name not only of patriotic emotions, but also of a rational view of each situation, quietly evaluating the interests of state and nation," Komorowski said in a funeral oration.

END


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