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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Mar-8-2013

By Catholic News Service


Multilevel approaches put Jesuits in the thick of immigration issues

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- While politicians and advocacy organizations work at coming up with legislation to reform the U.S. immigration system, the Jesuits are tackling some of its problems head-on at the Mexican border, in higher education institutions and in parishes. Soon, they'll start analyzing what changes might help people to stay in their homelands. Two reports released by Jesuit institutions in recent weeks lay out problems and propose ways of addressing two complex situations: how undocumented immigrants are treated as they migrate and what undocumented students encounter in Jesuit colleges and universities. Jesuit Father Richard Ryscavage, director of Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life and a professor of sociology and anthropology, oversaw the colleges study. He told Catholic News Service that both efforts are part of the Jesuits' worldwide focus on migration of the past five to six years. He said other components in the United States include a project in Long Island to develop a model for debating immigration at the parish level -- framing it from the perspective of faith. "How to make it a little less of a screaming match," is how Father Ryscavage put it. Another effort is a collaboration just beginning with the Red Cross to figure out at what level institutional or economic breakdowns lead people to decide to leave their homes, and then work at fixing it, Father Ryscavage said.

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Poll shows U.S. Catholics give Pope Benedict high marks for ministry

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CNS) -- A telephone survey commissioned by the Knights of Columbus found that U.S. Catholics think favorably of Pope Benedict XVI, who retired in February. The Marist poll, taken March 2-5 -- the week after Pope Benedict's Feb. 28 retirement took effect -- found that Catholics held favorable impressions of the retired pontiff's tenure, his impact on their lives and the direction of both the church and the world. In the poll, 77 percent of all U.S. Catholics, and 82 percent of practicing Catholics, said they had ether a "positive" or "very positive" impression of the retired pope's pontificate. Asked about the outgoing pope himself, 69 percent of Catholics and 75 percent of practicing Catholics had a "positive" or "very positive" view of him. Similarly, 68 percent of Catholics and 77 percent of practicing Catholics said he had a "positive" or "very positive" impact on their life. Seventy percent of Catholics and 75 percent of practicing Catholics said the pope had a "positive" or "very positive" impact on the church's direction, while 65 percent of Catholics and 69 percent of practicing Catholics said in the poll he had a "positive" or "very positive" impact on the moral direction of the world.

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Religious leaders meet with Obama on immigration reform

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- More than a dozen religious leaders sat down with President Barack Obama March 8 to stress their concerns for immigration reform, before ending with a prayer and promising to work with their faith communities on the issue, especially during the rest of Lent and Easter. Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez told reporters after the meeting at the White House that the group emphasized urgency in getting an immigration reform bill through Congress. The group also stressed that legislation should respect the dignity of individuals and focus on family reunification, he said. For the past couple of months, Obama has been holding similar meetings with groups with a stake in immigration reform. Previous such sessions have been held with business leaders, advocacy groups and politicians, for example. In addition to Archbishop Gomez, participants included: United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcano; Bishop Orlando Findlayter of the New Hope Christian Fellowship; the Rev. Kathryn Lohre, president of the National Council of Churches; Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America; Mark Hetfield, president of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Also present were representatives of Southern Baptist, evangelical and Hispanic Christian organizations. Archbishop Gomez told reporters that the religious leaders and the president seemed to agree on the major issues that are important for immigration reform.

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Kenyan bishops urge citizens to keep peace as election tally continues

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- Kenya's bishops called on citizens to remain calm and peaceful as government officials continued counting votes from the country's March 4 elections. Technical problems since polls closed slowed the tally, forcing the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to count ballots by hand. Under Kenya's new constitution, the commission has one week to report results. Election-related violence claimed 14 lives, including six police officers. But incidents of violence have been few since balloting ended, authorities said. As the count continued March 7, the bishops issued a statement thanking Kenyans for turning out in large numbers to vote for president and local officials and for maintaining peace throughout the election period. The bishops said they were saddened by the deaths and offered condolences while urging authorities to do all they could to track down the killers. Despite the violence, they urged Kenyans to "resume their normal work and continue building the nation." Following the previous presidential election in 2007, violence claimed more than 1,000 lives and left large areas of Kenya in ruins as rival ethnic groups fought over the tightly contested outcome. The disputed election led to a power-sharing agreement among Kenya's two major political parties and a new constitution.

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South African bishops condemn brutality against Mozambican taxi driver

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) -- South Africa's bishops condemned police brutality toward a Mozambican taxi driver who died after being dragged behind a police vehicle. The "gruesome murder" of Mido Macia, 27, "is another horrifying manifestation of the brutality, and lack of respect for human dignity, of too many of our South African police," Bishop Abel Gabuza of Kimberley, chairman of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference's justice and peace department, said March 7. Eight police officers have been arrested on murder charges after Macia was found dead in a police cell with signs of head injuries and internal bleeding. "While we commend the courage and wonderful work being done by so many dedicated police officers, we strongly condemn the torture and outright violation of human rights that is becoming the order of the day for others," Bishop Gabuza's statement said. A video of the Feb. 26 incident in the east Johannesburg area of Daveyton shows Macia scuffling with police after he illegally parked his minibus taxi. He was subdued and tied to the back of a truck before the vehicle drove off in front of onlookers.

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Voting for new pope to begin March 12

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal electors assembled in Rome will begin voting for the next pope March 12. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, announced the date for the start of the election, known as a conclave, in a message to reporters March 8. The first session of voting inside the Sistine Chapel will begin in the afternoon, following a morning Mass "Pro eligendo Summo Pontifice" ("for the election of the supreme pontiff") in St. Peter's Basilica. Rules governing papal elections state that a conclave must start between 15 and 20 days after the Holy See falls vacant; but shortly before his resignation Feb. 28, Pope Benedict XVI issued a decree allowing cardinal to move up the start date if they choose. The College of Cardinals decided the date on the fifth day of its pre-conclave meetings, after waiting for the 115 cardinals eligible and expected to vote. The last to arrive in Rome was Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, who joined the others March 7. At the morning session March 8, before announcing the scheduled vote, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, told the assembly that with the changes made by Pope Benedict, the cardinals would not have to debate on whether they were authorized to begin the conclave before March 15, Father Lombardi said.

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African, Asian pope would attract people to Gospel, says mission leader

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- An African or Asian pope would send an important message to the world and help promote the Gospel to those outside the church, said the national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States. "It would be great to see a black face again smiling from the Chair of St. Peter. It would be great to see a Chinese face," said Oblate Father Andrew Small, whose office works to help Catholics better understand the church's universal mission and to gather support, prayers and donations for evangelization efforts in the world's lesser developed countries. The cardinal electors "might elect a perfect internal candidate who's going to be very good for the church and for the people who know the church," he told Catholic News Service March 8. "But that might not be the way that we can really position the church in the world," he said, which might be better achieved "if the cardinals were to elect somebody who speaks to those outside of the church in a very robust way like an African like an Asian." The spiritual and pastoral qualities of the man elected pope are "obviously hugely important for us in the church," he said. "But I think given that the whole world is now looking at the Sistine Chapel, you wouldn't be doing it justice if you just think about what do we as leaders want, instead of saying, 'What does the world need to see?'" he said.

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Universal priest, prophet and king: Next pope faces global challenges

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Like the rest of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, including the 5,100 bishops and 412,000 priests, the pope exercises what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls his "baptismal priesthood" by participating in "Christ's mission as priest, prophet and king." The bishop of Rome exercises his ministry in a unique way, of course, as pastor of the universal church. In practically everything he does, he has special responsibility for preserving and building unity among members of the largest, most widespread and ethnically diverse organization on earth. That responsibility is crucial to defining the particular challenges that await the man whom 115 cardinal electors will choose in the conclave starting March 12. Priest: In his almost eight-year pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI worked to emphasize the liturgy's continuity with the church's millennial traditions. He encouraged a revival of eucharistic adoration and the use of Gregorian chant. Most significantly, he lifted almost all restrictions on celebration of the Tridentine Mass, which had fallen practically out of use amid the modernizing reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council. Prophet: Pope Benedict made it a major project of his pontificate to shape the church's understanding of Vatican II, emphasizing that the council's doctrines did not represent a radical break with the past but followed in continuity with tradition. King: The most obvious challenge that the next pope will face in regard to governance is the one closest to home: the need for reform of the Roman Curia, the church's central administration. In their preparatory meetings over the week prior to the papal election, the cardinals discussed the corruption and mismanagement sensationally documented in the 2012 "VatiLeaks" release of confidential correspondence to the Italian press.

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Armed rebels target Christians in Central African Republic, priest says

OXFORD, England (CNS) -- Christians in the Central African Republic are being systematically targeted by armed rebels, a missionary priest in the country said. Comboni Father Leo Tibenda told Catholic News Service March 7 that rebels seeking to overthrow the government of President Francois Bozize arrived at his mission in early January promising not to harm anything belonging to churches or mosques. "But they started victimizing local Christians, telling them their cattle, many given by the church via Caritas, now belonged to the state. Most wear turbans, which isn't the custom here, and are much better armed than the government's soldiers. Their presence is fueling serious tension between local Christians and Muslims," the Ugandan-born priest said. "The general mood here is that the Muslim community has been in collusion with Seleka," he said. Father Tibenda spoke with CNS after accompanying Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga of Bangui on a visit to the southern town of Grimari March 5 and 6. Troops from the Multinational Force of Central Africa, FOMAC, escorted the church contingent. Many priests had fled their parishes in the region, leaving their churches to be ransacked and desecrated, while most local Christians feared attack if they left their homes and farmsteads, Father Tibenda said.

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Tourists, locals stake out spot where cardinals gather for meetings

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Everyone is curious about the cardinals. As they arrive for their daily meetings or general congregations at the Vatican before the conclave, reporters and photographers are on the scene, often behind a barricade but sometimes literally chasing the cardinals with microphones and cameras. Cardinals who get approached by the media are immediately flanked by Italian police officers. Other cardinals quietly slip through the crowd, choosing to avoid a main street and preferring to duck into a side street after walking across St. Peter's Square. Many are driven to the meeting and only visible to the crowd from the car windows. The cars are saluted by two Swiss Guards and allowed to enter the closed-off street. Reporters are not the only ones trying to get a glimpse of these cardinals often wearing black coats and carrying small black briefcases as they make their way to the Vatican synod hall. On March 7, crowds assembled under the colonnade in St. Peter's Square and even in the street -- craning their necks and holding aloft cameras as cardinals approached. All heads turned when someone in the group saw a cardinal walking toward them and pointed or said his name. They took pictures, waved and sometimes asked questions while greeting the prelates. For the most part, the cardinals responded with a smile or wave, although a few passed by without even looking up. When one cardinal smiled at the crowd and said "good evening," the group laughed and cheered.

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New president named at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- Jesuit Father James J. Fleming, executive vice president of Wheeling Jesuit University, has been appointed the school's 10th president by the board of trustees, effective July 1. He will succeed Richard Beyer, who has decided not to seek a second term. Beyer, who has been president since 2010, will work closely with Father Fleming on the transition. Mimie Helm, board chairman, said in a statement March 7 that Father Fleming is "ideally suited" for the post. She called him "a dynamic and visionary leader who possesses a keen knowledge of the university and, obviously, the Jesuit values on which it was founded and continues to operate." Father Fleming said in a statement: "Wheeling Jesuit University is a great institution possessing even greater potential. I'm excited to work with our exceptional faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends for many years to come to realize this potential." The 53-year-old priest joined Wheeling Jesuit University in 2010 as the institution's first vice president for mission and identity and then chief of staff. He became executive vice president in 2012. He previously served as director of mission planning and assessment for Boston College and was a member of that faculty from 2000 to 2010.

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First woman named president of University of St. Thomas

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) -- Julie Sullivan, executive vice president and provost of the University of San Diego, has been named to succeed Father Dennis Dease as president of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul when he retires June 30. She will become the first woman and layperson to lead the Catholic university in its 128-year history. Father Dease has been president for 22 years. "I am thrilled and honored to have been chosen" for this position, said Sullivan, 55. "Deciding to leave USD ... has been very difficult. However, USD is in excellent hands and the great work will continue." Mary Lyons, University of San Diego president, said: "Dr. Sullivan's contributions to the growth and development of our university are abundantly evident. Losing a chief administrator of her caliber and a good friend, who has become such an integral part of our university's success, will be very difficult." During Sullivan's tenure, the Catholic university has expanded significantly, from the completion of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies to the founding of the Shiley-Macos School of Engineering, to an increase in the number of faculty. In 2011, the San Diego campus was designated a Changemaker Campus by the Arlington Va.-based organization Ashoka, which supports social entrepreneurs around the globe.


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