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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Mar-6-2013

By Catholic News Service


Students get to learn about process, select 'new pope' in mock conclave

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNS) -- Students from St. Louis Catholic School in Alexandria erupted in cheers as Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson was elected the "new pope" during a mock conclave held at a gym-turned-"Sistine Chapel" March 4. The "conclave" explained the pope selection process in a tangible way. Middle schoolers acted as cardinals, Swiss Guards, priests, sisters, nurses, reporters and security personnel to re-enact a conclave for the whole school. "It was a lot of fun for them just to dress the part but they really got into it. Some even picked this or that cardinal they knew (of)," said Father Matthew H. Zuberbueler, pastor of St. Louis, which is in the Arlington Diocese. "During the selection, they were very solemn. Every word mattered." The 34 "cardinals" of St. Louis School included well-known members of the College of Cardinals, along with representatives of all the continents. The "cardinals" spent two weeks learning about their specific role in the church and following media speculation about who was likely to replace Pope Benedict XVI. "It's a really good experience for us to learn what really happens in Rome," said John Ferguson, a seventh-grader who played Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet. The rest of the school learned about the cardinals' native continents to prepare for the conclave. On March 1, the "cardinals" visited the elementary school classrooms to introduce themselves.

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CCHD awards $800,000 to three groups working on immigration reform

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Three faith-based organizations working to reform the country's immigration laws are set to receive $800,000 from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. The grants to the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, known as CLINIC, Migration and Refugee Services of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the PICO National Network will bolster campaigns to mobilize Catholics to act on behalf of immigrants, said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif., chairman of the bishops' CCHD subcommittee. "We are at a significant juncture where there is apparent political momentum to make a just an humane immigration reform policy," Bishop Soto told Catholic News Service March 5, pointing to renewed calls from Republican and Democratic leaders to reform immigration laws. The grants will help keep the Catholic Church in the forefront of the immigration debate, he said. "There is still cause for concern that immigrants and American society will not get the bill they need. For that reason, it's important for the Catholic community to continue to engage this important debate," he said. "This additional funding hopefully will not only help to engage more of the faithful in this process, but bring the important values of human dignity and family unity to the debates," he added.

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Rights struggles that led to Selma marches continue today, say nuns

ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- Two women religious from St. Louis who took part in the 1965 voting rights marches in Selma, Ala., say the struggles to sustain civil and human rights continue today. Sister Barbara Moore, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet who is a member of Ascension Health Ministries, sees this most urgently in the disparity in health care. "This includes many people who do not have access. We're trying to promote 100 percent access," she said. "I've seen many people in different parts of the world who experience this. Who is going to care for these people?" Sister Antona Ebo, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, sees parallels with Selma today. "There is a concerted effort to suppress the votes of the poor and blacks," she said. "The effort was made during the last election to make sure we didn't have people standing all the way around the block, just to get the right to vote, but it is still happening in individual states." She said she finds it hard to single out one rights issue that stands out above the others. but she noted the number of births in this country has significantly dropped, and it doesn't help when "you keep having babies, and have them killed at the same time."

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Confessors called to help Catholics recognize truth of God's love

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The sacrament of penance, or reconciliation, helps Catholics recognize "the truth about themselves: that they are beloved children of the Father, who is rich in mercy," said Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro. The cardinal, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican court that deals with the sacrament of penance and matters of conscience, said the sacrament is an integral part of evangelization because it is a proclamation of the good news of God's love. Cardinal Monteiro de Castro, one of the few top Vatican officials whose job does not end with the end of a pontificate, spoke to more than 500 seminarians, deacons and priests attending a March 4-8 Vatican course on the sacrament and matters of conscience. "To evangelize is not only to teach doctrine and proclaim the truth. To evangelize is especially to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel that can touch human hearts and open them to accept the love of God," he said. Msgr. Krzysztof Nykiel, regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, said the priests who are the best confessors know how to balance being a father, counselor and judge; they must know and understand church teaching and know how to convey it in the confessional with "prudence, discretion, discernment and goodness."

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Cardinals agree to media blackout of pre-conclave meetings

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Citing unauthorized press reports on their preparatory meetings for the upcoming papal election, the College of Cardinals agreed to a media blackout similar to one observed before the previous conclave in 2005. The change was announced March 6 in an email to reporters from Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, following the third day of pre-conclave meetings among cardinals at the Vatican. "Concern was expressed in the general congregation about leaks of confidential proceedings reported in Italian newspapers," Sister Walsh wrote, using the official name for the meetings, which started March 4. "As a precaution, the cardinals have agreed not to do interviews." In a second statement later March 6, she added, "The U.S. cardinals are committed to transparency and have been pleased to share a process-related overview of their work with members of the media and with the public, in order to inform while ensuring the confidentiality of the General Congregations." The statements followed the last-minute cancellation of a briefing for journalists by New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George, both of whom will vote in the papal election.

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No conclave date, but cardinals develop 'profile' of new pope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Although by March 6 the world's cardinals had not set a date to begin the conclave to elect a new pope, they had begun discussing "the profile" required of the next pope to meet the needs of the church, the Vatican spokesman said. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, like everyone in the hall for the cardinals' meetings, takes an oath of secrecy, although he is allowed to give the press an idea of the broad themes discussed. During the March 6 session, he said, 18 cardinals spoke and the principal themes were: "The church in the world today and the needs for the new evangelization; the Holy See, the Roman Curia and their relationship with the bishops; the expectations for and a profile of the future pope that result from these expectations of the world and the needs for the good governing of the church." All but two of the 115 cardinal electors expected to enter the conclave were present at the meeting, Father Lombardi said. Polish Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw was expected to arrive later that day, and Vietnamese Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City was expected March 7. At a news briefing, Father Lombardi was asked repeatedly about the "delay" in setting and announcing a date, and whether it indicated divisions among the cardinals. "One senses strongly within the College (of Cardinals) the desire for an adequate, serious, profound preparation, not hurried. So in this situation it still has not seemed opportune to put a date for the conclave to a vote," he said.

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Sistine Chapel goes from tourist magnet to polling place for pope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Sistine Chapel's transformation from a world-famous tourist site to the prayer-filled space where cardinal electors will choose the next pope is under way. Vatican workers have begun installing protective panels to cover the mosaic tile floors, and mini-scaffolding will raise a false floor level with the altar and eliminate any steps. Workers will then have to put in tables and chairs for the expected 115 cardinal electors. Like for the 2005 conclave, two stoves will be installed: one to burn ballots and the other to burn chemicals to create different colored smoke to let the public know if a pope was selected or not. Father Lombardi said that burning the ballots with wet or dry straw had made the right color, but never really created enough smoke to offer a clear signal. In order to begin the preparations, the chapel, where the conclave will take place, was officially closed to tourists March 5. Maintaining secrecy is part of the cardinals' oath, and technicians sweep the chapel for electronic surveillance or recording devices before the conclave. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told journalists March 6 that jamming devices are used to disable cellphone signals, but that they are not installed under the false flooring as had been reported in the past.

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Amid pre-conclave meetings, cardinals gather for prayer

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Seated under Gian Lorenzo Bernini's statue "Chair of St. Peter," which celebrates the teaching authority of the pope, more than 100 cardinals gathered March 6 to pray as they prepared to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. The cardinals began their prayer in St. Peter's Basilica with the recitation of the rosary in Latin, but with the announcement of the glorious mysteries in Italian. Although space was limited in front of the Altar of the Chair, the cardinals invited the public to join them. Singing the eucharistic hymn "Jesus, Dulcis Memoria," the cardinals began a period of eucharistic adoration. The first verse of the hymn in English is: "Jesus, the very thought of thee with sweetness fills the breast! Yet sweeter far thy face to see and in thy presence rest." Then they knelt in silent adoration. After five full minutes, they began evening prayer, led by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the basilica.

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New Iraqi patriarch pledges dialogue, warns against emigration

BAGHDAD (CNS) -- The new patriarch of Chaldean Catholics pledged to foster coexistence and dialogue and urged Christian Iraqis not to leave their homeland, warning that if emigration continues, "there will be no more Christians in the Middle East." Ululating and applause nearly drowned out the choir as Patriarch Louis Sako approached the altar at St. Joseph Cathedral for his installation March 6 amid tight security. The 64-year-old patriarch, who had served as archbishop of Kirkuk, Iraq, since 2003, replaces Cardinal Emmanuel-Karim Delly, 85. "I open my heart and mind to you all carrying my motto: 'Authenticity, Unity and Renewal,'" Patriarch Sako told church officials, religious, laypeople, imans and senior Iraqi officials gathered in the cathedral. Eastern Catholic leaders, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Sunni parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi were among those who attended the installation. Of the challenges and risks facing him in his new mission, the patriarch said, "I refuse to put a black cloth over my eyes. My responsibility is huge, and the inheritance is very heavy, but I have a great hope ... to face the reality objectively and clearly."

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Venezuelan president changed nation, had rocky relations with bishops

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (CNS) -- Hugo Chavez, a socialist president who transformed Venezuela while acting as chief protagonist in what was one of the worst Catholic Church-government relationships in Latin America, died March 5. He was 58. Chavez died of complications from a respiratory infection nearly two years and four surgeries after his cancer diagnosis was made public. He flew to Cuba for his fourth surgery in early December and developed post-surgical complications, including bleeding and a lung infection, doctors said. Last April 5, Holy Thursday, shortly before his third surgery for cancer, Chavez attended a Catholic Mass in Barinas, the state in western Venezuela where he was born and where his brother, Adan Chavez Frias, is now governor. Wearing a rosary and dressed in a blue and white tracksuit, Chavez pleaded for his life. "I ask God to give me life, however painful. I can carry 100 crosses, your crown of thorns, but don't take me yet. I still have things to do," he said, according to press reports. Catholic leaders spoke of Chavez's relationship with the church and his legacy for Venezuelans. "The people of Venezuela held him up, considered him a public leader that they felt a connection to; someone they were close with," said Auxiliary Bishop Jesus Gonzalez de Zarate of Caracas, secretary-general of the Venezuelan bishops' conference. There was "great hope for his recovery and that he would serve his third term."

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Conclave is more a time of discernment than election, prelate says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The process of selecting a new pope is "ultimately not an election, ultimately it is a discernment," said Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington. The cardinal, who is 82, is no longer eligible to vote in a conclave, but he can participate in the pre-conclave sessions. He spoke to Catholic News Service soon after the pope announced his resignation. The importance of discernment in the selecting a new pope was reiterated during the March 6 news briefing at the Vatican when reporters asked for a date of when the conclave might begin. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, stressed that the time prior to the conclave was necessary for discernment and reflection and should not be rushed. "The new pope will be a fallible man elected by fallible men," Cardinal McCarrick said, stressing that the cardinals must rely on God's wisdom in discerning the best candidate. The ritual involved in the process of voting, he said, makes one very aware that the person's name on the ballot should not just be based on a personal decision.

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Cleveland priest who leads breakaway faith community excommunicated

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Cleveland priest who leads a faith community formed after its parish was closed in 2010 has been excommunicated for schism. Bishop Richard G. Lennon of Cleveland said in a March 4 decree that Father Robert Marrone, who is identified as pastor and administrator of the Community of St. Peter, incurred the excommunication "latae sententiae" (automatically) for failing to reconcile with the Catholic Church. Canon 751 of the Code of Canon Law defines schism as "the refusal of submission to the supreme pontiff or of communion with the members of the church subject to him." Father Marrone has celebrated weekly Mass and the sacraments for the 300-member community since August 2010. The priest could not be reached for comment. Frank Titas, a Community of St. Peter board member, told Catholic News Service March 6 that members were saddened and disappointed by Bishop Lennon's action. Diocesan spokesman Robert Tayek told CNS March 6 that Bishop Lennon is willing to meet with community members "over this serous matter. It's kind of in their court," he said. "We're leaving it up to them." Bishop Lennon had said in a letter to community members soon after the parish closed that they risked excommunication if they formed a group outside of the auspices of the Catholic Church.


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