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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Feb-6-2013

By Catholic News Service


Struggling moves people to 'higher level of spirituality,' says priest

MELBOURNE, Fla. (CNS) -- Franciscan Father Richard Rohr told a Florida audience that he is about to end 43 years of giving retreats all over the world "and I haven't found a single perfect person." "We all come to God by falling, by doing it wrong," he said. "The ego doesn't like that." The San Pedro Spiritual Development Center in Winter Park partnered with St. Stephen Parish in nearby Winter Springs to welcome the priest Jan. 24-27 on the last leg of his final tour. For two evenings and a retreat weekend for 150 men that sold out before it was ever marketed, Father Rohr inspired more than 1,000 participants -- many of whom attended both evenings, sold more than 1,000 of his books and CDs and signed every book presented for autograph. A prolific author, speaker and founder of the Center for Contemplation and Action in Albuquerque, N.M., he is celebrating his 70th birthday in March with the launch of the Rohr Institute's Living School for Action and Contemplation. "Psychologist Carl Jung said that the two major tasks in life are building your ego structure in the first half and getting beyond the building to the purpose of life in the second," Father Rohr said. "It is transformation that gets you from the first to the second half -- the transformation of failure. The normal paths of transformation are great love and great suffering -- there is something more than you love yourself." He cited families with a handicapped child, couples after divorce, a homosexual coming out, rejection, the marginalized, and the excluded as examples of suffering. "Great suffering lets us see reality is not the way it seems," Father Rohr continued. "Struggling moves you to a higher level of spirituality and whatever happens to you is pure grace."

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Patch offers Scouts chance to 'delve more deeply' into Year of Faith

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (CNS) -- A Scoutmaster in Dodge City has developed what may be the only Scout patch program in the nation for the Year of Faith. Pope Benedict XVI called for a Year of Faith -- from Oct. 11, 2012, to Nov. 24, 2013 -- to give a new impetus to the mission of the whole church for a renewal of the faith. It also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Bishop John B. Brungardt of Dodge City was the catalyst for the patch, said Scoutmaster Tim Wenzl of Troop 162 in Dodge City and spokesman for the diocesan Committee on Scouting. "When Pope Benedict announced the Year of Faith, Bishop Brungardt held a (diocesan) directors' meeting and asked us to think of ways we could tie our departments and organizations into the Year of Faith," said Wenzl, who also is diocesan archivist and media liaison. He knew just the thing that would motivate his Scouts: a colorful patch. "Scouts like to earn patches," said Wenzl, "whether it's for rank advancement or merit badges." Wenzl learned how popular a Catholic patch program could be when he initiated a Year of the Eucharist patch in 2004 and got inquiries from Scout units in 39 states and one foreign country. The square red-and-white patch features the official Year of Faith logo, flanked by the anniversary dates of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, with "Diocese of Dodge City" at the bottom. The patch may be earned by Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Venturers and their adult leaders. Members of parish youth groups may also earn the patch.

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Medical manufacturing company wins injunction against HHS mandate

ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- An appeals court issued a preliminary injunction Feb. 1 against the federal government's contraceptive mandate, saying a Catholic-owned company, Annex Medical, does not have to comply with that part of the Affordable Care Act while its legal challenge makes its way through the courts. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis issued its injunction on behalf of the Minnesota-based manufacturer of medical devices. The U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in Minneapolis had ruled against the company. Annex, which has 16 employees, is not required by law to provide health insurance since it has fewer than 50 employees. The company's owner, Stuart Lind has said his Catholic faith compels him to provide health insurance. However, he objects to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that 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. The requirement, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, currently has a narrow exemption that applies only to those religious institutions that seek to inculcate their religious values and primarily employ and serve people of their own faith. It does not include a conscience clause for employers who object to providing such coverage. The same day the 8th Circuit issued its opinion in the Annex case, HHS issued a new set of proposed rules governing contraceptive coverage. The 80-page document, now open for a 60-day comment period, attempts to address objections raised by Catholic and other entities that the rules as currently written violate their religious beliefs.

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Creation story isn't science but reveals God's love, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The biblical account of creation isn't a textbook for science, Pope Benedict XVI said. Instead, the first chapter of Genesis reveals the fundamental truth about reality: that the world is not the result of chaos, but is born of and continually supported by God's love, the pope said Feb. 6 at his weekly general audience. In a series of Year of Faith audience talks about the creed, Pope Benedict touched on the description of God as "creator of heaven and earth." In an age of science and advanced technology, how are Catholics supposed to understand the Old Testament account of creation that says God created the heavens and earth in six days, and rested on the seventh? the pope asked. "The Bible isn't meant to be a manual of natural science," the pope told the estimated 5,000 visitors and pilgrims gathered for his audience. "Instead it is meant to make understandable the authentic and deep truth of all things," he said. The creation account in Genesis reveals the fundamental truth that "the world is not a collection of opposing forces, but has its origin and steadiness in the Word, in the eternal reason of God, who continues to sustain the universe," the pope said. The creation story also points to the fact, he said, that God has a plan for the world and for humanity, a plan that gives people "the courage to face the adventure of life with trust and hope."

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Archbishop praises former Anglicans for their zeal for Catholic faith

HOUSTON (CNS) -- The prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a Feb. 2 address in Houston called for a "culture of communion" and the continued path toward reunification. "Christ's prayer 'that they all might be one' underscores the imperative of seeking full visible unity among Christians," Archbishop Gerhard L. Muller told a symposium marking the first anniversary of the Catholic Church's U.S. ordinariate for former Anglicans. The Houston-based Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, headed by Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson, sponsored the symposium with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Sessions, which were held in Houston at the archdiocese's St. Mary Seminary, explored the ecclesiology, evangelizing and liturgical missions of personal ordinariates created by the Vatican for former Anglican groups and clergy seeking to become Catholic. While fully Catholic, the groups in an ordinariate retain aspects of their Anglican heritage and traditions. Similar to dioceses, though national in scope, ordinariates were authorized by Pope Benedict XVI in a 2009 apostolic constitution, "Anglicanorum coetibus." Archbishop Muller said in his keynote address: "The Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter serves this vision of unity by making it possible for groups of Anglicans to enter into communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony."

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Former Baltimore teacher who is convicted rapist must remain in jail

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that John Merzbacher, a convicted child rapist and former teacher in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, must remain in prison -- reversing a lower court ruling that opened the door to his possible release. Judge Andre M. Davis, a federal appeals court judge, had issued the lower court opinion in 2010, stating that the Baltimore Circuit Court must give Merzbacher the opportunity to accept a 10-year plea deal that Judge Davis said should have been offered in 1994. Accepting the deal would have resulted in Merzbacher's release since he had already served 15 years in prison. In a Jan. 25 ruling, the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Va., sided with the state courts, which said Merzbacher must remain in prison. "The state court determined that Merzbacher failed to establish a reasonable probability that the prosecutor and the presiding judge would ultimately have accepted and entered a 'mutually agreeable' plea," the judges wrote. The judges said Merzbacher "has failed to demonstrate that the state court's determination there was no reasonable probability that the plea would have been entered and accepted 'was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented.'" In a Jan. 25 statement, Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori said: "After having met with several survivors of John Merzbacher since arriving to Baltimore in May 2012, I have come to some understanding of both the terrible acts committed by Merzbacher and the impact of his horrific crimes on those he abused."


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