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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS May-2-2013

By Catholic News Service


Hospitalized N.Y. dad gets to see daughter's first Communion

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (CNS) -- Confined to Strong Memorial Hospital as he waits for a heart transplant, Timothy Day of Kenmore, N.Y., wasn't going to be able to attend his 8-year-old daughter Erin's first Communion. So Erin decided the celebration of the Eucharist should come to him. "I gave her the choice if she wanted to go through with her class or have it here with me, and she said she wanted to do it with me, and that's pretty special," said Day, who has been living at the hospital for nearly two months. "The most special part was just being with my dad," Erin told the Catholic Courier, newspaper of the Rochester Diocese, in a telephone interview after the Mass April 26. Several weeks ago, staff at the family's parish, St. Paul in Kenmore, in the Buffalo Diocese, approached the Rochester Diocese to see if a priest would be available to celebrate a first Communion Mass in the Interfaith Chapel at the hospital. They were told it would be possible if they were willing to have the first Communion on a Friday, and if they would be willing to have Retired Bishop Matthew H. Clark of Rochester celebrate the Mass. Day also received the sacrament of the sick during the Mass.

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FDA 'acted irresponsibly' in lowering age for emergency contraceptives

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Food and Drug Administration "acted irresponsibly" with its decision to lower the age limit from 17 to 15 for purchasing an over-the-counter emergency contraceptive, said an official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "No public health consideration justifies the unsupervised sale of such drugs to young teens," said Deirdre McQuade, spokeswoman for the USCCB's Secretariat for Pro Life Activities. Plan B One-Step now will be sold openly on pharmacy shelves while the generic brands will still be sold under pharmacy counters and only for those 17-years of age. Those who purchase the drugs will have to show identification to prove their age. A ruling by a federal judge in early April said the Food and Drug Administration must make emergency contraceptives available to all ages by May 6. The Justice Department announced May 1 that it is appealing this decision, saying the judge who issued the ruling had exceeded his authority and that his decision should be suspended while the appeal is underway. The appeal and a request for an injunction will not affect the FDA's April 30 decision to allow emergency contraceptives to be sold without a prescription to 15-year-olds.

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Virginia students learn about space by readying a satellite for launch

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- Space is calling for students at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington. As part of a three-year project, with assistance from NASA engineers, students will build a "CubeSat," a miniature satellite used for space research. The CubeSat -- some 4 inches long and 3 pounds in weight -- is scheduled to be launched in 2014 from either a rocket or the International Space Station. Once launched, the satellite will collect photos and data that will be used internationally for education and research. On average, the typical CubeSat stays in space for three months, although some have remained in orbit for three years. More than 60 high schools and universities participate in the CubeSat program. St. Thomas More is the first elementary school in the world to participate in the project. "Usually these are built by universities or even grad students, so it's quite remarkable that we're trying to do this with grade school students," said Joe Pellegrino, a NASA mission manager and St. Thomas More parent who suggested the project for the school. "During the course of my career, I've built satellites and I thought that the CubeSat would be something achievable the kids could perform that would really get them interested in science and space," he said.

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Detroit Archdiocese to sell four buildings, relocate offices

DETROIT (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of Detroit announced it has sold four buildings in or close to downtown Detroit and will relocate its administrative offices sometime next year to another building downtown where it will be the anchor tenant. The archdiocesan chancery building, which sits next to St. Aloysius Church, and an unoccupied two-story building next to it are being sold to the same buyer. The Gabriel Richard Building, a 10-story structure that houses many archdiocesan departments and offices, has been sold to another buyer. The archdiocesan print shop, in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood, adjacent to downtown, is being sold to a private telecommunications firm. Proceeds from the sales will net the archdiocese $3.2 million, the archdiocese said in an April 30 press release. The archdiocese added the funds will be used for repairs and maintenance on other properties. Workers in the buildings will stay put for at least another year while its new quarters in the Capitol Park Historic District are being refurbished. The print shop will move to a former high school building on the grounds of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in the city. The move will reduce the available office space for archdiocesan offices from 150,000 square feet to no more than 50,000 square feet, depending on whether the archdiocese leases five floors or six at the new location.

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Immigrants at rally say legislation fight is all about the papers

GEORGETOWN, Del. (CNS) -- For the residents of this small town in agriculture-focused Sussex County, the pending immigration reform legislation in Congress is first and foremost about papers. Work permits, Social Security cards, permanent residency or green cards, and driver's licenses -- that's what the mostly Guatemalan immigrants in Georgetown say they most look forward to should the legislation become law. "To get a good job, you need a Social Security number," said Adriana, who came from Guatemala with her husband 11 years ago. Some of her seven children, ages 2 to 11, clambered on her and one another as they waited not-very-patiently for a two-hour May Day immigration reform rally to end. For her husband to be able to get a better job than his work at a recycling plant would "change everything," she told Catholic News Service. A better job would enable them to send more money to support their struggling relatives in Guatemala, and the better future she envisions for her children will be more assured, she said. Having papers that say she's in the United States legally would mean Adriana could travel back to Guatemala to see her mother and introduce her to the grandchildren she has never met. "Without papers, nothing is easy," she said.

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Bishops hail repeal of capital punishment in Maryland

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- One U.S. Catholic bishop hailed the repeal of the death penalty in Maryland as "a courageous step toward a culture of life." The comment, by Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, was issued May 2, the day Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, signed the bill that repeals capital punishment. In Baltimore, Maryland's largest city, the interior and exterior lights of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary were to be lit at dusk that evening, and remain illuminated overnight, in honor of the repeal. Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore had testified in support of the legislation to repeal the death penalty at hearings in the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates, the legislature's lower chamber. In 2008, Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden of Baltimore had served on the Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment, which examined the use of capital punishment in the state. "We must lift up the dignity of all human life -- even for those convicted of the worst crimes -- and work to transform our culture so that it respects the inherent dignity and value of all people," said Bishop Blaire in his statement.

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Cardinal Dolan asks for prayers for kidnapped Orthodox clergy in Syria

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan challenged Massgoers to hold onto hope and to pray for the safety and well-being of two Orthodox archbishops kidnapped in Syria in late April while carrying out a humanitarian mission. "Our prayers are singularly fervent this spring morning as I invite all of us to unite in supplication," Cardinal Dolan said during Mass May 2 in St. Patrick's Cathedral for Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo and Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Gregorios Yohanna of Aleppo. Both prelates were kidnapped April 22 in northern Syria while on a humanitarian mission to secure the release of two priests -- an Armenian Catholic and a Greek Orthodox -- kidnapped in February. The cardinal was joined by Orthodox leaders and other Catholic prelates. The Mass fell on Holy Thursday in the Orthodox Church. "Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, our own United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and our brother Orthodox bishops from around the world have pleaded for prayers for these two brave men," Cardinal Dolan said in opening remarks.

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Saying 'yes' to God's love makes saying 'no' to sin easier, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Christian faith is about saying "yes" to God's love and forgiveness in a way that saying "no" to sin will come naturally, Pope Francis said at his early morning Mass. The church is "a community of 'yes,' and the 'no's' are a consequence of this 'yes,'" the pope said May 2 during the Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae where he lives. Sri Lankan Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo concelebrated the Mass, which was attended by employees of the Vatican Museums. Preaching about the earliest Christian community and the debates among the disciples over whether pagan converts had to live according to Jewish law and practice, Pope Francis said it is clear that the promptings of the Holy Spirit can create problems for people. The Holy Spirit does two things, he said, "first, it pushes," which can create problems, then "it creates harmony in the church." The pope said, "There were many opinions" among the early disciples about the outreach to the pagans and whether they could be exempt from circumcision and the other precepts of Jewish law that the first Christians kept.

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Catholics, Buddhists must work together to defend life, cardinal says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholics and Buddhists share "a profound reverence for life," which should motivate them to work together to protect human life, including the life of the unborn, said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. "It is urgent for both Buddhists and Christians, on the basis of the genuine patrimony of our religious traditions, to create a climate of peace to love, defend and promote human life," the cardinal said a message marking the Buddhist celebration of Vesakh. Each spring, the pontifical council sends its best wishes to Buddhists around the world for Vesakh, a feast commemorating key events in the life of the Buddha. The message for 2013 was released by the Vatican May 2. "Pope Francis, at the very beginning of his ministry, has reaffirmed the necessity of a dialogue of friendship among followers of different religions," Cardinal Tauran said, and he reaffirmed the Catholic Church's belief that individuals have a moral obligation to love and protect life and all of creation. In addition, the cardinal noted how Pope Benedict XVI's message for the Jan. 1 celebration of World Peace Day emphasized the Catholic belief that peace is impossible without "respect for human life in all its many aspects, beginning with its conception."

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Pope Francis welcomes retired Pope Benedict back to Vatican

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- For the first time in history, the Vatican is home to a pope and a retired pope. Pope Francis welcomed his predecessor, retired Pope Benedict XVI, to the Vatican May 2 outside the convent remodeled for the 86-year-old retired pontiff and five aides. Pope Francis and Pope Benedict entered the convent's chapel together "for a brief moment of prayer," said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman. Pope Benedict had been staying at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo since retiring Feb. 28. Pope Francis traveled to the villa 10 days after his election to visit, pray and have lunch with Pope Benedict; the new pope also has telephoned his predecessor on at least two occasions. In response to questions about the fact that Pope Benedict seemed to be much frailer than he was two months ago, Father Lombardi told reporters, "He's an elderly man, weakened by age, but he is not suffering from any illness." In the last year of his pontificate, Pope Benedict was seen walking with a cane on more and more public occasions; after Pope Benedict retired, Father Lombardi confirmed that he had had a pacemaker inserted before becoming pope in 2005 and had undergone a brief procedure in November to replace the battery.

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Harrisburg Bishop McFadden dies attending bishops' meeting in Pa.

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- Bishop Joseph P. McFadden of Harrisburg died May 2 in Philadelphia where he was attending a meeting of Pennsylvania's Catholic bishops. According to a Facebook posting from the diocese, Bishop McFadden awoke at the rectory where he was staying and felt ill. He was taken to a hospital and was pronounced dead at about 7:40 a.m. No cause of death was immediately available. He was 65 and had been the bishop of Harrisburg for three years. He was also chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Catholic Education. Bishop McFadden was born May 22, 1947, in Philadelphia, the only boy of three children. He went to Catholic schools his whole life. While studying at St. Joseph University in Philadelphia, he played on the freshman basketball team, and also started coaching basketball, including his high school alma mater, St. Thomas More High School for Boys. Upon graduation from St. Joseph, he took a teaching job at West Catholic High School for Boys, and coached basketball and baseball teams there. He entered the seminary in 1976 and was ordained for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1981.


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