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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Feb-26-2013

By Catholic News Service

U.S.

Saints' relics help people make connection to the holy, says Franciscan

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Thousands of people in New York and New Jersey spent some time recently with a good friend they had never seen before his February visit to the United States. Relics of St. Anthony of Padua toured eight Franciscan churches in the two states Feb. 15-23. More than 8,000 attended eucharistic services that included veneration of the relics. "People really have a strong affection for Saint Anthony. It's almost unbelievable. We call it the 'Anthonian phenomenon' -- that there is such a connection with a person who died almost 800 years ago. He's seen as a friend and a brother," said Conventual Franciscan Father Mario Conte. He is executive editor of the Messenger of St. Anthony magazine in Padua, Italy. The publication sponsored the visit with the Franciscan Friars of the Basilica of St. Anthony, also in Padua. The tour marked the 750th anniversary of the discovery of St. Anthony's incorrupt remains by St. Bonaventure. Father Conte said Bonaventure was present in his role as the Franciscans' superior when St. Anthony's original tomb was opened in 1263 to transfer the bones to the new basilica dedicated to the saint. Onlookers were surprised to find St. Anthony's intact tongue and "vocal apparatus" among his skeletal remains, according to Father Conte. Franciscans consider this a sign that the saint was a messenger of God's love whose preaching brought people back to God, he said.

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Cardinal welcomes opportunity to discuss mutual concerns with Obama

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan in a letter to President Barack Obama accepted a White House offer to continue discussing the Catholic Church's concerns about abortion, traditional marriage and federal rules governing implementation of the Affordable Care Act. "We accept your invitation to address these areas together, always with the civility we have both encouraged in public discourse," the president U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in the letter Feb. 22. "We welcome specifically an opportunity to resolve the perplexing issue of the redefining of our religious ministries," Cardinal Dolan wrote. "Surely we should be able to find some ground where neither of us is asked to compromise conscience." In response to a call from Catholic News Service Feb. 26, a White House official said there was no immediate reaction from Obama to the cardinal's letter. The cardinal also renewed good wishes and offered prayers for Obama as he prepared to tackle a long list of goals for his second term that were outlined in his inaugural and State of the Union addresses. Recalling a meeting with Obama at the White House, Cardinal Dolan pointed to the president's stated desire "to cooperate with us for the good of our beloved country," particularly in the church's educational, charitable and health care services.

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New evangelization can transform hearts and change world, says cardinal

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Like the first disciples who walked with Jesus as his friends, today's Catholics are called to proclaim his good news to an indifferent and sometimes even hostile world that now more than ever needs that message of Christ's truth and love, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl writes in a new book. Titled "New Evangelization: Passing on the Catholic Faith Today," the book was published in January by Our Sunday Visitor. "Today, like the first disciples, we can be Jesus's witnesses, and proclaim his good news in our everyday lives," he writes. "With our hearts transformed by Christ, we can change the hearts of others, and transform the world." Cardinal Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, was relator general of the world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization last October in Rome, summarizing and reporting on the sessions. The pope and the 250 bishops at the synod emphasized that this is the moment for a new Pentecost, and a critical time for all Catholics to take up the work of the new evangelization. "It's our turn now to share the great gift we have been given, the gift of our Catholic faith, and renew the face of the earth," the cardinal writes in his book. The cardinal, who arrived in Rome Feb. 25 to vote in the upcoming papal election, draws on personal stories and church teaching and history to illustrate how the new evangelization requires the personal commitment of today's Catholics to deepen their own faith and share it with others, especially with those who may have drifted from the faith or never heard the Gospel message.

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Hundreds of thousands of families expected for 2015 gathering in US

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- Global attention will turn to Philadelphia in 2015 when the city expects to welcome hundreds of thousands of families for the World Meeting of Families -- and possibly the new pope. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput led a morning news conference Feb. 25 to announce that the Vatican confirmed earlier in the day the long-anticipated selection of Sept. 22-27, 2015, as the date for the gathering of families, Catholic and non-Catholic, from around the world. He thanked Pope Benedict XVI "for choosing Philadelphia and for setting these dates before he concludes his ministry as pastor of the universal church." The pope will resign from his ministry the evening of Feb. 28, and a conclave to choose his successor will begin soon thereafter. The last World Meeting of Families was held in Milan in 2012 and drew 350,000 people for events supported by 5,300 volunteers. On the closing day, more than 1 million attended Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict. Events of this magnitude "demand a great deal of planning and work," Archbishop Chaput said. "They draw many thousands of people -- in this case, many thousands of families with children of all ages. But these events also become moments of grace. "They have the power to transform, in deeply positive ways, not just the spirit of Catholic life in our region, but the whole public community. We're excited to begin this journey."

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Justice Department argues denial of same-sex benefits unconstitutional

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Justice Department, in a brief filed Feb. 22 at the U.S. Supreme Court, said a federal law that defines marriage as between one man and a woman, denying financial benefits to legally wed same-sex couples, is unconstitutional. "Moral opposition to homosexuality, though it may reflect deeply held personal views, is not a legitimate policy objective that can justify unequal treatment of gay and lesbian people" found in the 1986 Defense of Marriage Act, said the "amicus," or friend-of-the-court brief, written by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. It was filed in the case of United States v. Windsor, for which the court will hear oral arguments March 27, a day after it hears oral arguments in another case weighing the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, Hollingsworth v. Perry. The second case is a challenge to California's Proposition 8, a ballot initiative approved by voters in 2008 to ban same-sex marriage. Last May, President Barack Obama said he now supported same-sex marriage, and later ordered the Justice Department not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. It was not clear whether the Justice Department would file a brief in the Proposition 8 case. On Jan. 29, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops filed separate briefs in the two challenges facing the high court urging the court to uphold traditional marriage. "Civil recognition of same-sex relationships is not deeply rooted in the nation's history and tradition -- quite the opposite is true," the USCCB said.

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WORLD

Pope Benedict to be 'pope emeritus' or 'Roman pontiff emeritus'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI will continue to be known as Pope Benedict and addressed as "His Holiness," but after his resignation, he will add the title "emeritus" in one of two acceptable forms, either "pope emeritus" or "Roman pontiff emeritus." Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said decisions about how the pope would be addressed and what he would wear were made in consultation with Pope Benedict and with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the chamberlain of the church, along with others. After Feb. 28, Pope Benedict will continue to wear a white cassock, but it will be a simplified version of the papal vestment, mainly without the little white cape piece on the shoulders, Father Lombardi told reporters Feb. 26. Pope Benedict will leave behind his emblematic red shoes, Father Lombardi said. Instead, he will wear brown shoes, beginning with loafers he was given as a gift last March during a visit to Leon, Mexico. The Jesuit said the pope has found the zapatos to be very comfortable. The safety of the pope emeritus will be ensured by the Vatican police, Father Lombardi said. Three hours before his pontificate ends, Pope Benedict intends to fly by helicopter to the papal summer villa at Castel Gandolfo.

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While @Pontifex hibernates during interregnum, @TerzaLoggia set to fly

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The pope's @Pontifex Twitter fans will get two more tweets before the account goes into "hibernation" during the "sede vacante" period starting when Pope Benedict XVI steps down. Also, while the papal tweets go on hiatus, the Vatican's Secretariat of State will be preparing to launch its first tweet from its new Twitter account @TerzaLoggia. The new account, which had 2,000 followers and no tweets as of Feb. 26, will offer official news and information, ideally starting during the "interregnum," the period between popes. While the exact launch date is not known, Greg Burke, media adviser to the Vatican's Secretariat of State, told Catholic News Service: "Stay tuned. It'll be sooner rather than later." Meanwhile, contrary to some news reports, the @Pontifex account will not be permanently shut down after the pope resigns Feb. 28, but will merely remain inactive for the period of the "sede vacante." The name "Pontifex," meaning "bridge builder" and "pope," was chosen to refer "to the office more than the person," and highlights the leader of the church and the Catholic faithful, said Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

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Vatican will soon issue special stamps, coins marking 'sede vacante'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican will be issuing special-edition stamps and minting special coins marking the upcoming "sede vacante," the period when the see of Rome is vacant before the election of a new pope. The stamps will be marked with the "sede vacante" symbol, which is a special striped umbrella extended over a pair of crossed keys, as well as be printed with the words, "Sede Vacante," "Citta del Vaticano" (Vatican City), and the year in Roman numerals. They will be issued March 1 in four denominations of 70 and 85 eurocents, 2 and 2.50 euros. Collectors will have to wait longer for the coins, however, which may be out as late as May, said an official at the Vatican's stamp and coin office. A 2 euro coin and a silver 5 euro commemorative coin will be issued for sale, while a portion of the 2 euro coins will be put into general circulation. The "sede vacante" coins will have the denomination on one side and the "sede vacante" symbol on the other.

- - -

Preliminary pope talk focuses on teaching, preaching, holiness

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, 69, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, is the "proto-deacon" of the College of Cardinals and will be the one, at the end of the conclave, who will announce to the world, "Habemus papam" ("We have a pope"). The cardinal said he hoped to be able to introduce a new pope who, like Pope Benedict XVI, knows how to teach the Catholic faith to others. In an interview with the French Catholic agency, I.Media, he was asked about the qualities a new pope should possess. "Christians must be able to give a reason for their faith with knowledge of the contents of this faith," the cardinal said. "He must also be a pope very open to dialogue with cultures and religions," he added. When Cardinal Tauran said the next pope really will have to "reform the curia" and promote more coordination among offices, the reporter asked if Pope Benedict hadn't also set out to do that. "Yes, but the curia is a big machine. It may need a younger pope," he said. Asked the ideal age for the next pope, Cardinal Tauran said, "The ideal age is more or less 65 years ... even 70 years if he is in good shape." Cardinal Justin Rigali, 77, the former archbishop of Philadelphia, told Knoxnews.com Feb. 25, "Nobody has all of the qualities -- everybody's human, huh? -- so they have to find someone who has the most important ones." For Cardinal Rigali, the most important qualities include communication, media and language skills to "get his message to the people," an ability to connect with different kinds of people and the strength to "confront all the issues that affect humanity," including issues of social justice and the defense of human of life, the cardinal said.

- - -

Conclave start date might not be known until after March 4

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- It is possible the world's cardinals will not begin meeting at the Vatican until March 4, and they cannot set a start date for the conclave until they have met, the Vatican spokesman said. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, will send out letters March 1 -- a Friday -- formally informing the world's cardinals that the papacy is vacant and calling them to meet at the Vatican. "It is likely they will not meet Saturday or Sunday," he said, so the meetings are unlikely to begin before Monday, March 4. As of Feb. 26, he said, it was impossible to say how long the cardinals would want to meet before they feel ready to announce a date for the conclave to begin. The formal convocation, he said, will be sent by email or fax for immediacy, but hard copies will be mailed to the cardinals' permanent residences so they'll have a copy for their archives. In addition, he said, while many cardinals were arriving in Rome before the papacy ended Feb. 28, "the cardinals will not live at the Domus Sanctae Marthae," the Vatican guesthouse used during the conclave -- "until almost the eve of the conclave."

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Latin Americans hope new pope understands them -- and their region

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (CNS) -- If numbers were used to choose the next pope, he might come from Latin America. Four in 10 Catholics live in Latin America, more than any other region, and it is home to the countries with the two largest Catholic populations, Brazil and Mexico, respectively. Yet, few Latin Americans are betting that one of the region's 19 cardinals will replace Pope Benedict XVI in March when the papal conclave convenes. And few seem to mind. Latin American Catholic leaders, scholars, and laypeople told Catholic News Service that, more important than seeing one of their cardinals become pope, is having a pope that understands the region. Some expressed hope that the next pope would grant more autonomy to local churches and more widely recognize Latin America's importance to the universal church -- for both its size and for its contributions to church doctrine. Their sentiments reflected a sense of detachment from the Vatican, perceived as being Eurocentric and often out of touch with social issues that continue to trouble the region. "Independently of where the pope comes from, he will be the pope for all if he is able to understand the concerns of Latin America," said Father Roger Araujo, a priest in Lorena, Brazil. "The people of Brazil hope the pope will understand the yearnings of the modern world," he said.

- - -

Catholic leaders take cautious steps in addressing Mexican violence

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Authorities say thieves in search of money to fund a drug habit murdered Father Jose Flores Preciado, an octogenarian known for hearing afternoon confessions in the cathedral of the coastal state of Colima. The Diocese of Colima and its leader, Bishop Jose Amezcua Melgoza, responded with a call for silent marches Feb. 17 and 18 -- heeded by an estimated 10,000 residents in three cities hit hard by Mexico's crackdown on drug cartels and organized crime. "We want to be (agents) of peace and, at the same time, we wish that our march is a strong call to the conscience and conversion of everyone," Bishop Amezcua said afterward. Such marches might appear minor, but they signaled a slight shift in the church's response to the brazen violence in Mexico, which the Interior Ministry says has claimed nearly 70,000 lives since late 2006 and left more than 27,000 people missing. Church leaders have mostly stayed on the sidelines as the violence spread, calling for prayer, responding to allegations its parishes laundered drug money through its collection plates and releasing a pastoral letter in 2010 that even they admit had little impact. They seldom challenged government authority -- not entirely unexpected in a country with a history of sour church-state relations.

- - -

PEOPLE

New York's Cardinal Dolan: Happy warrior of the new evangelization

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Popes are elected by members of the College of Cardinals, not by the general Catholic population and certainly not by the media. Yet Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan's presence on practically every journalist's list of potential next popes bespeaks a real and important influence among his peers. The most obvious reason is the New York archbishop's ebullient, extroverted personality and quick, frequently self-deprecating wit -- traits that forcefully contrast with the formality typically associated with princes of the church, but which visibly charmed other participants at the February 2012 consistory at which Pope Benedict XVI made him a cardinal. In his introductory speech to a special day of reflection and prayer on the eve of that occasion, Cardinal Dolan achieved the rare feat of making the normally reserved Pope Benedict laugh out loud. The cardinal's talk also impressed his listeners as a show of erudition and evangelical zeal, leading the pope himself to praise his words as "enthusiastic, joyful and profound." No doubt there are churchmen in Rome and elsewhere who find the cardinal's style disconcerting in someone who will help choose the successor of St. Peter -- and who could even assume that role himself. He is almost certainly the first cardinal to downplay expectations of his election as pope by saying that they must have been induced by "smoking marijuana." Yet such quips are no more shocking than Blessed John XXIII's frequent jokes and references to his peasant background were in his time.

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Cardinal Wuerl: Confronting secularism a priority for next pope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The man cardinals choose as the next pope must be someone with the requisite energy and mastery of modern communications media to promote a revival of the faith in increasingly secular societies around the world, said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington. The cardinal, who will vote in the upcoming papal election, spoke with Catholic News Service hours after arriving in Rome Feb. 25. "The secularism that is just engulfing our culture," he said, "will be weighing heavily on the hearts and minds in the conclave. Those people who think they know the Gospel and it doesn't have any meaning for them, they're the people we have to find a way to touch, to invite once again to the embrace of Christ," he said. "That thought, that concern, that issue, is going to be something that we'll all carry with us into the conclave." Cardinal Wuerl, 72, said the same idea dominated the world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization, which met at the Vatican in October 2012. As the synod's relator, Cardinal Wuerl synthesized the remarks and recommendations of his fellow bishops in two speeches during the gathering, which he now considers a "providential moment," since it brought together 52 of the 117 cardinals eligible to vote for the next pope less than five months before the election.

- - -

Boston prelate known for humility, humor, crisis management

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In 1989, Bishop Sean P. O'Malley of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, flew to the neighboring island of St. Croix to stay with a priest unable to evacuate before a pending storm. The storm -- Hurricane Hugo -- whipped through the Caribbean and devastated St. Croix. When it was over, the bishop was out on the streets, picking up debris, talking to people and changing a tire. He also got to work helping restore the island, "as soon as he could find a working phone" to make appeals for financial help, recalled Mary Conway, former communications director for the St. Thomas Diocese and former editor of the Catholic Islander diocesan newspaper. She said the public schools were closed for two months after the September hurricane, but Catholic schools reopened within two weeks, and Bishop O'Malley urged all of the island's children to attend the schools, free of charge, stressing their need for routine and assurance that "things were all right." That kind of immediate troubleshooting combined with pastoral care illustrates the way Cardinal O'Malley has faced an entirely different storm -- clergy sex abuse -- in each of his assignments after St. Thomas: Fall River, Mass.; Palm Beach, Fla.; and Boston, where he is the current archbishop. His efforts to restore the church's credibility are often mentioned -- particularly by Italian newspapers -- as factors that make "Cardinal Sean" as he is known, a possible candidate for the next pope. The brown-robed Capuchin cardinal, of course, downplays any speculation that he would become the next pope. At a news conference in Boston after Pope Benedict announced his resignation, he told reporters: "I've bought a round-trip ticket, so I'm counting on coming home."

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Cardinal Ries, expert in history of religions, dies at 92

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Belgian Cardinal Julien Ries, who died Feb. 23 at the age of 92, never tired of "witnessing to the faith in a spirit of dialogue," Pope Benedict XVI said. The cardinal was a "prominent man of faith who served the church with fidelity. With his teaching and research, particularly in the area of the history of religions," the pope said, he helped modern men and women recognize key role of faith in the life of the human person. Pope Benedict made his comments in a telegram of condolence released at the Vatican Feb. 25. The cardinal was professor emeritus of the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve. Born April 19, 1920, in Fouches, Belgium, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1945. He founded the Center for the History of Religions at the university and served as president of its Oriental Institute from 1975 to 1980. From 1979 to 1985, he was a consultant to the Vatican office that became the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He retired in 1991 and is considered one of the great religious anthropologists, having written extensively in the field.

END


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