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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Feb-15-2013

By Catholic News Service


In the face of secrecy, drone warfare faces barrage of moral questions

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- For a program that the White House has never officially acknowledged, the use of missile-laden drones to strike suspected Muslim militants hardly remains a secret. Even so, while pledging to protect Americans around the globe in his State of the Union address Feb 12, President Barack Obama never used the "D" word -- or what the military calls unmanned aerial vehicles. "Where necessary, through a range of capabilities, we will continue to take grave action against those terrorists who pose a threat to America," Obama said, offering no other details. Beyond the White House, however, the topic of drones is getting plenty of attention. From pointed questions from members of Congress to grass-roots resistance movements around the country, drone warfare in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia has come under increasing scrutiny. The widening debate has focused on moral and ethical concerns surrounding "kill lists" as drone strikes are planned by the Air Force and the Central Intelligence Agency, the legality of drone attacks under international law when war has not been declared, and the expansion of executive power. "It's a conversation the country needs to have," said Morris B. Davis, assistant professor of lawyering skills at Howard University's School of Law. "I think it's been a real disservice by Republicans and Democrats alike (to fail to address drones). The only thing we've really found out about the drone program ... has been through leaks. It hasn't been through the government informing us about what's being done in our name," Morris told Catholic News Service after a presentation on torture Feb. 12 at the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering.

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Cardinals voting in conclave have Catholic school students' prayers

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Although the word "interregnum" might not be in too many spelling bees, the Latin term, which refers to the period between popes, will probably become familiar to Catholics in the upcoming weeks once Pope Benedict XVI officially steps down from office and the eligible cardinals in the conclave vote for his successor. Dominican Sister John Mary Fleming, head of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Catholic Education, called the papal transition a "great opportunity" for Catholic educators to explain what a conclave is and what it involves as well as how students can participate spiritually in the process by praying for the pope and the voting cardinals. Tim Uhl, principal of Juan Diego Academy in Tacoma, Wash., said the teachers at his school were looking at cardinals who might be in the running for pope, or the "papabili." The teachers plan to write up a biography of the cardinal they choose and come up with a compelling reason for his selection as pope. "My hope is that it will trickle down to the students who will become educated about the choices and the meaning of each candidate and the implications for our church," Uhl said in an email to Catholic News Service.

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USCCB provides resources, prayers for Pope Benedict, his successor

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- To help dioceses, parishes and other groups pray for Pope Benedict XVI and for the selection of a new pope, the Secretariat of Divine Worship of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has provided liturgical and musical resources as well as specific prayers. The resources and prayers can be found at www.usccb.org/about/leadership/holy-see/pope-benedict-xvi/upload/Pope-Resignation-Resources.pdf. According to these guidelines, diocesan bishops and parish priests could offer a special Mass for the pope using prayers from the Roman Missal specifically for this purpose. The Mass is permitted on weekdays during Lent. The material suggests that homilies reflect on a particular ministry of Pope Benedict XVI as an example to follow, especially as it relates to Lent. It mentions highlighting a major theme in Pope Benedict's teachings and writings such as: "the need for an authentic personal relationship with Jesus Christ." Other themes include the pope's love for the liturgy, efforts to achieve peace in the world, his ecumenical outreach and his constant care, concern and outreach for the poor, the sick and oppressed. Suggested petitions for the pope include prayers that he be given the strength needed to complete his remaining ministry, prayers for peace and consolation, and prayers that his efforts in fostering unity may bear fruit.

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Woodstock Theological Center to close in June after 40 years

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Jesuit-run Woodstock Theological Center, on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington -- another Jesuit-run institution -- will close at the end of June, a victim of the shrinking number of Jesuits available to staff it. Hopes are that Georgetown will assume the center's work and assets. "The trustees made a decision to look at Georgetown first. If that doesn't work, they'll look at other places," said Jesuit Father Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Woodstock. Father Reese said the decision to close was the culmination of "a process that's been going on for the past few months. We've been involved in a strategic plan for the past few months, planning for the next five years, and the trustees decided that because of the manpower needs of the Jesuits, it just wasn't viable to keep the center going as a Jesuit institution with all of the other colleges and universities and institutions and theological seminaries that we run," he said. "The numbers just don't add up." About the closure, Father Reese told Catholic News Service in a Feb. 15 telephone interview, "I wasn't all that surprised, but simply sad." Woodstock had been supported by the order's three East Coast provinces: Maryland, New York and New England. "The enormous transformations experienced by the Society of Jesus in the last 40 years have influenced the allocation of human and material resources," said a Feb. 15 announcement of Woodstock's impending closure as an independent ministry of the provinces.

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Detroit homeless organize with help from CCHD, Capuchins

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Can the homeless be organized? In Detroit, the answer is yes. And the homeless are doing it largely by themselves, with a little help from some college students, a Capuchin monastery and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which provides funding. They've taken on the name Detroit Action Commonwealth -- a swipe, with its initials, at a city institution, the private Detroit Athletic Club, which for a long time did not admit blacks and to this day does not admit women into its ranks. "They say you can't organize the homeless. Well, we up and did it," said Clark Washington, a Detroit Action Commonwealth board member and treasurer of one of its chapters. Washington got involved when a friend came over to his daughter's house, where he was living; he was, he recalled, watching television with the remote-control "clicker" in his hand. The friend wanted Washington to join him at a meeting that was going to be held at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. Washington said he wasn't that inclined to go to a meeting, but went because "I get to eat." The meeting was a "ban the box" meeting -- the box being the blank square applicants for Detroit city government jobs must check if they have been convicted of a felony. In a city where unemployment is already high, ex-felons have found it nearly impossible to get jobs if they tell the truth on their job applications, and get fired if employers find out they've lied.

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Migration center study shows 11.7 million undocumented immigrants in US

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A new study concludes that there are about 11.7 million of what it calls unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., 4 million more than in 2000. In a report released Feb. 15, the Center for Migration Studies, a New York-based educational institution also quantified why residents of some states, particularly in the Southeast, have perceived a significant growth in the number of immigrants around them. Seven Southern states with the fastest growing population of undocumented immigrants each saw the number of such immigrants increase by more than 11 times between 1990 and 2010. The study explained that nationwide, about 18 percent of the foreign-born population was undocumented. The percentage in those seven states was about that as well in 1990. But in 2009, in those states about 47 percent of their foreign-born residents were unauthorized to be here, the study found. They got more immigrants overall, and a higher percentage of them were undocumented. "In 1990, the foreign-born population in the seven states was small, about 500,000, and fewer than one in five were unauthorized residents," the study published in the International Migration Review said. "But by 2010, the foreign-born population had quadrupled to 2.6 million and nearly half of them were unauthorized." The study was co-written by Robert Warren, former demographer for the Immigration and Naturalization Service and John Robert Warren, sociology professor at the University of Minnesota.

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Objection raised over benefits to same-sex partners of military members

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The U.S. Defense Department's new policy that confers some military benefits on the same-sex domestic partners of members of the military undermines the traditional definition of marriage, two archbishops said Feb. 15. Archbishops Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services and Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, raised objections to the new policy announced Feb. 11. "This new policy under the guise of 'equal benefits' undermines marriage as the union of one man and one woman because it treats two persons of the same sex as spouses," Archbishop Broglio said in a statement. "Can the secretary of defense establish a policy that undermines federal law as established by DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act)?" DOMA defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Archbishop Cordileone, in a separate Feb. 15 statement, called the new policy discriminatory. "By singling out two people of the same sex in a sexual relationship for special consideration, the policy excludes other possible types of relationships between two adults, thus treating the same thing differently," he said. The Defense Department policy extending marriagelike benefits to same-sex partners of military members was announced Feb. 11 by outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. He said the benefits would include access to military identification cards, military commissaries, and various family support programs on bases and posts.

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With call to faith, pope marks 900th anniversary of Knights of Malta

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians who dedicate their lives to prayer and to concrete care of the sick and the poor help others experience "the bountiful tenderness of our heavenly Father," Pope Benedict XVI told the Knights and Dames of Malta. The work of mercy and charity, motivated by faith and supported by prayer, the pope said, "is not mere philanthropy, but an effective expression and a living testimony of evangelical love." Pope Benedict met some 4,000 Knights and Dames of Malta and members of their volunteer corps Feb. 9 in St. Peter's Basilica after a Mass to mark the 900th anniversary of Pope Paschal II's formal recognition of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, known less formally as the Knights and Dames of Malta. Established to care for pilgrims during the time of the Crusades, it lives on today as a lay Catholic religious order, a worldwide humanitarian network and a sovereign territory. "In order to offer love to our brothers and sisters, we must be afire with it from the furnace of divine charity: through prayer, constant listening to the word of God, and a life centered on the Eucharist," the pope told the group.

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Conclave to silence at least nine tweeting cardinals

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Parrots may squawk in the Vatican Gardens during a conclave, but the cardinals are not allowed to tweet. For most of the 117 red-vested princes of the church who are eligible to vote for a new pope, Twitter isn't an issue at all. But the College of Cardinals does include at least nine active tweeters. From the moment they enter the Sistine Chapel to cast their ballots, they will be forbidden access to their accounts along with all other forms of communication with the outside world. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York (@CardinalDolan) informed his almost 80,000 Twitter followers when Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation Feb. 11. As of Feb. 15, Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston (@CardinalSean) had not mentioned the pope's resignation on his Twitter feed. In fact, the last tweet to his more than 9,200 followers was posted two days before the pope's announcement. After the pope's announcement, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, (@CardRavasi) president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, almost immediately tweeted a traditional prayer in Latin: "Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genetrix" ("Under thy protection we seek refuge, O Holy Mother of God.") The Italian cardinal, often mentioned on pundits' lists of possible popes, has more than 35,400 followers and tweets frequently. Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Scherer of Sao Paulo (@DomOdiloScherer) is not a daily tweeter. But on Feb. 14 he used Twitter, with its 140-character maximum for messages, to comment, "I am impressed with the interpretations I have read of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI."

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Pope Benedict's resignation and the mystery of the missing encyclical

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI's historic decision to resign at the end of February has astonished and perplexed the world in many ways, not least because of what might be called the mystery of the missing encyclical. In December, the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said that Pope Benedict's fourth encyclical would be released in the first half of 2013. Treating the subject of faith, the encyclical would complete a trilogy on the three "theological virtues," following "Deus Caritas Est" (2005) on charity, and "Spe Salvi" (2007) on hope. Then, on the day after the pope's announcement, Father Lombardi announced that Pope Benedict would not issue another encyclical after all. The news was surprising because it suggested that Pope Benedict, a former professor who has placed a priority on his teaching role as pope, had abandoned the most prominent teaching project of his pontificate just before its completion. This, even though Father Lombardi said that the pope had pondered resignation for several months, and the Vatican newspaper reported that he first considered the move in March 2012. It was hardly plausible that so prolific an author might be suffering from writer's block, even given the deteriorating "strength of mind and body" he cited in announcing his resignation. Three days after that announcement, Pope Benedict delivered a highly structured, 46-minute long public talk, without a prepared text and only occasionally consulting his notes.

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Shipyard chairman, financial consultant appointed head of Vatican bank

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In one of his last efforts to clean up the image of the Vatican bank, Pope Benedict XVI approved the hiring of the chairman of a German shipyard as the bank's new president. Ernst von Freyberg, 54, fills a nine-month-long vacancy at the helm of the bank after its former president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was ousted in May for incompetence. The commission of cardinals for the Vatican bank, formally called the Institute for the Works of Religion, announced the appointment Feb. 15 in a six-month-long hiring process that included the help of an independent head-hunting agency. "The Holy Father has closely followed the entire selection process ... and he has expressed his full consent to the choice made by the commission of cardinals," the Vatican said in a written statement. Von Freyberg is chairman of Blohm+Voss Group, a Hamburg-based shipbuilding company that builds and repairs yachts and ocean liners and is part of a consortium that builds warships for the German navy. Responding to journalists' inquiries about whether the company's activities conflicted with Catholic values, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said working in the shipbuilding industry does not disqualify a competent candidate, especially when the businessman is heavily involved with charity and "has a notable human, Christian sensibility."

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Bishop Hughes' long service to church as priest, bishop recalled

FORT THOMAS, Ky. (CNS) --- Retired Bishop William A. Hughes of Covington, who headed the diocese from 1979 to 1995, died Feb 7 at Carmel Manor in Fort Thomas. Bishop Hughes, who had resided at Carmel Manor since 2004, was 91 years old. "He has now gone home to God," said Bishop Roger J. Foys, the current bishop of Covington. "While we grieve his death, we also take comfort in the knowledge that our true home is in heaven and that those who are faithful to the Lord in this life will live with him forever in the next." Bishop Foys presided at the reception of Bishop Hughes' body at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington Feb. 14. A noon funeral Mass was celebrated at the cathedral Feb. 15. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville was the principal celebrant, with Bishop Robert N. Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., as homilist. Bishop Hughes's episcopal motto as head of the Covington Diocese was "To Serve, Not Be Served." His leadership was greatly influenced by the Second Vatican Council, which ended in 1965. "His episcopacy was devoted to a fuller understanding and implementation of the council's documents, especially those that enhanced the spiritual lives of laypeople and their roles in the church," said a Feb. 14 statement from the diocesan Communications Office.

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Minnesota Catholic honored at White House with highest civilian honor

MINNEAPOLIS (CNS) -- Donald Tillman and Joanna Wiborg found themselves in a "bad situation" in early February -- they were homeless with nowhere to go. The couple came to Mary's Place in Minneapolis with their three children ages 12, 11 and 3, not knowing what to expect. They were nervous and the children were scared. But the couple had never met Mary Jo Copeland. "She took us in and made us feel right at home," Tillman said. "It really helped us in a bad situation." The children were happy and felt at home within minutes, Wiborg said. Stories like this happen every day at Sharing and Caring Hands, and Mary's Place. Copeland founded Sharing and Caring Hands in 1985 as a safety net for those who couldn't get help from the government -- those who fell through the cracks. Today, the organization helps thousands of individuals and families with emergency needs for rent, utilities, health expenses, food, clothing, shoes, travel expenses, job costs and more. On Feb. 15, Copeland was honored by President Barack Obama with the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation's second-highest civilian honor, for her years of service to the community. She was among 13 recipients chosen from more than 6,000 nominations. Copeland traveled to Washington to receive her medal from the president. She was accompanied by her daughter Barb and Father Cory Rohlfing, pastor of St. Jude of the Lake in Mahtomedi. "I still haven't taken it all in," Copeland said in an interview before she left for Washington.

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EWTN's founding president and longtime board chairman dies at 83

HANCEVILLE, Ala. (CNS) -- Deacon Bill Steltemeier, founding president of the Eternal Word Television Network and its longtime board chairman, died Feb. 15 following a lengthy illness. He was 83. The deacon, who died at his home in Hanceville, was known to EWTN viewers around the world as a close associate of Mother Angelica, the network's foundress. Vespers and the Divine Mercy chaplet will be Feb. 18 at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, followed by public visitation. A prayer vigil and rosary will follow. The funeral Mass will be celebrated the morning of Feb. 19 at the shrine, followed by burial that afternoon at Calvary Cemetery in Nashville, Tenn. "Other than Mother Angelica herself, there is no one who has been more closely associated with the mission of EWTN throughout its history than Deacon Bill Steltemeier," said Michael P. Warsaw, EWTN's president and CEO. "In all respects, he was a man of incredible faithfulness. As a husband, a father, an attorney and in his vocation as a permanent deacon, Bill always remained focused on serving God and serving others," Warsaw said in a statement. "He devoted himself totally to Mother Angelica's mission and sacrificed all he had to help her build EWTN into the tremendous vehicle for evangelization that it has become," he added.


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