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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jul-1-2013

By Catholic News Service


U.S. bishops want to give 'careful analysis' to HHS final rules

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The final rules issued June 28 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services implementing its mandate that employers provide coverage of contraceptives "will require more careful analysis," New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said in a statement. The cardinal, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the 110-page ruling is "long and complex" and the bishops will "provide a fuller statement when that analysis is complete." The HHS final ruling updates proposed rules the department had issued in February. It had left the rules open for comment through April and received more than 400,000 comments. The HHS contraceptive mandate, part of the Affordable Care Act, will require most employers, including religious employers, to provide coverage of contraceptives, sterilization and some abortion-inducing drugs free of charge, even if the employer is morally opposed to such services. It includes an exemption for some religious employers that fit its criteria. Cardinal Dolan said June 28 that he appreciated the "five-month extension on implementing the complex proposal," meaning the government extended its "safe harbor" period to Jan. 1, 2014, protecting employers from immediate government action against them if they fail to comply with the mandate. Before the final rules were released, that period was to end Aug. 1 of this year. The administration's final rules also include a separate accommodation for nonprofit religious organizations -- including charities, hospitals and universities -- that will not have to "contract, arrange, pay, or refer for contraceptive coverage" that they object to on religious grounds.

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Teachers from around U.S. discuss relationship between faith, science

COVINGTON, La. (CNS) -- What do high school teachers do for summer vacation? At least 32 of them just spent a week in Covington pondering the relationship between theology and science. The teachers -- 16 science teachers and 16 theology teachers from across the country -- gathered at St. Joseph Abbey and Seminary College for the Steno Learning Program's third annual institute, held June 16-22. The institute's goal is to educate teachers about the relationship between faith and science in the Catholic tradition, empowering them to share this knowledge with their students. "We have set the standard high and exceeded that," said Chris Baglow, professor of dogmatic theology at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans and the director of the Steno program. Steno is named after saint and scientist Nicholas Steno (1638-86) and is sponsored by the Pope Benedict XVI Institute for Faith, Ethics and Science of McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in Mobile, Ala., where Baglow also teaches.

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Archbishops' wager over NBA Finals turns into win for homeless in Miami

MIAMI (CNS) -- A wager between two archbishops turned into a win for the homeless, as 20 pounds of brisket and 10 pounds of fajitas arrived from San Antonio and landed at Camillus House June 28. That was the wager San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller made with Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski regarding the outcome of the Miami Heat-San Antonio Spurs NBA championship series. After the Heat's exciting seventh-game win June 20, and second consecutive NBA championship, Archbishop Wenski decided to share the bounty with the neediest of Miami's residents. Half the meat will stay at Camillus House and the other half will go to the Missionaries of Charity. Both are homeless shelters that minister to Miami's neediest residents. "Winning in the name of the poorest of the poor" is how Msgr. Chanel Jeanty, archdiocesan vicar general and chancellor for administration, described the bet's outcome. Looking a bit like Heat star Dwyane Wade while wearing the Heat championship cap, Msgr. Jeanty delivered the meat to Camillus House in the name of Archbishop Wenski, who was out of town.

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Archbishop hopes documents' release will close chapter, begin healing

ST. FRANCIS, Wis. (CNS) -- In releasing between 6,000 and 7,000 pages of documentation related to clergy sexual abuse in the Milwaukee Archdiocese, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki hopes that a chapter in the church's history can be closed and that healing for abuse survivors, their families and the church can continue. He expressed that hope in "Love One Another," his June 25 email communique to priests and others involved in ministry in the Milwaukee Archdiocese, sent six days before the archdiocese posted the documents on its website: www.archmil.org. The material was posted July 1. "My hope in voluntarily making these documents public is that they will aid abuse survivors, families and others in understanding the past, reviewing the present and allowing the church in southeastern Wisconsin to continue moving forward," he wrote. In early April, the archbishop announced that approximately 3,000 documents from priest personnel files, files of the bishops and vicar for clergy and other sources in the archdiocese would be made public by July 1 and called this planned release an effort to build "upon our commitment to transparency." The announcement came a day before a scheduled hearing before Judge Susan V. Kelley in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the court overseeing the Milwaukee Archdiocese's Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection case. In January 2011, the Milwaukee Archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to the mounting financial toll of the sexual abuse crisis.

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At pallium Mass, pope encourages archbishops to be ministers of unity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Every bishop is called to be "a servant of communion," working tirelessly to overcome divisions so that differences become a treasure and not a source of conflict, Pope Francis said. The Christian community should be "like a great mosaic in which every small piece joins with others as part of God's one great plan," the pope said June 29 as he celebrated the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul and bestowed the pallium on 34 archbishops from 19 countries. The pallium is a woolen band that symbolizes an archbishop's unity with the pope and his authority and responsibility to care for the flock the pope entrusted to him. Archbishops wear the pallium around their shoulders over their liturgical vestments when celebrating the liturgy in their regions. A pope also wears one, although his is marked with red crosses, while an archbishop's has black crosses. The archbishops, named in the past year, included: U.S. Archbishops Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco; Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis; Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Ore.; and Michael O. Jackels of Dubuque, Iowa; Canadian Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-Le Pas, Manitoba; and U.S.-born Archbishop Gintaras Grusas of Vilnius, Lithuania.

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Archbishops reflect on the meaning of the pallium

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Making a pilgrimage to Rome with members of their flock, 34 archbishops named in the past year knelt before Pope Francis and received woolen bands symbolizing both their unity with him and their charge as shepherds of a local church. At the beginning of a Mass June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the pope bestowed the pallium, a woolen band worn around the shoulders, on archbishops from 19 countries. They included: U.S. Archbishops Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco; Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis; Alexander K. Sample of Portand, Ore.; and Michael O. Jackels of Dubuque, Iowa; and U.S.-born Archbishop Gintaras Grusas of Vilnius, Lithuania. Each year on the Jan. 21 feast of St. Agnes, the pope blesses two lambs raised by Trappist monks outside Rome. Benedictine nuns at the Monastery of St. Cecilia in Rome use wool from the blessed lambs to make the palliums, which are kept by St. Peter's tomb until the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. The palliums are about 3 inches wide and have a 14-inch strip hanging down the front and the back. The strips are finished with black silk, almost like the hooves of the sheep the archbishop is symbolically carrying over his shoulders.

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Pope Francis says Pope Benedict's conscience told him to resign

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI's resignation was "a great example" of what it means to follow one's conscience through prayer, Pope Francis said during his Sunday Angelus address June 30 to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Following one's conscience doesn't mean chasing after one's own self-interests; it calls for listening to God, understanding his will and carrying out his plan with determination, Pope Francis said. Pope Benedict provided a "recent marvelous example" of following one's conscience, Pope Francis said, evidently referring to the retired pope's decision to leave office. "Pope Benedict XVI gave us this great example when the Lord led him to understand, in prayer, what was the step he should take," Pope Francis said. "He followed, with a great sense of discernment and courage, his conscience, that is, the will of God, who spoke to his heart." References to the retired pope drew applause from the crowd, which Pope Francis urged on with encouraging gestures.

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Pope Francis' first encyclical to be published July 5

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' first encyclical, which he has said is largely the work of retired Pope Benedict XVI, will be published July 5. The Vatican announced July 1 that "Lumen fidei" (The Light of Faith) will be presented at a news conference featuring Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops; Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. An encyclical on faith was long expected as the last volume in Pope Benedict's trilogy on the three "theological virtues," following his encyclicals "Deus Caritas Est" (2005) on charity, and "Spe Salvi" (2007) on hope. In June, Pope Francis told bishops meeting in Rome that his first encyclical would be largely the work of his predecessor.

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'We certainly feel God's love': Caritas helps Syrians in Jordan

ZARQA, Jordan (CNS) -- A sick Syrian father said he and his family lived outdoors in the cold, under plastic sheeting, for months after their dwellings were destroyed near Damascus. They recently arrived in this desert town on the outskirts of the Jordanian capital, Amman, seeking help from a Catholic charity. "We don't have homes anymore. Syrian government planes destroyed them," said Abu Suleiman, a graying 62-year-old man sitting cross-legged on a dingy rug in a small, sparse room bulging with young children. "With no electricity or water, we were forced to move from village to village in southern Syria. We strung up the plastic for makeshift tents and lived under the trees." Abu Sulieman, like other Syrian refugees, uses a traditional Syrian name rather than his given name to avoid retribution from Syrian authorities. He and his 30 dependents are among the 4,500 families that Caritas, the Catholic Church's humanitarian nongovernmental aid agency, assists in Zarqa. The town is one of several Jordanian communities where Caritas and its partners reach out to Syrian refugees with medical, educational and humanitarian assistance, regardless of religion, race or gender. Most of the refugees are Sunni Muslims and come with little more than just the clothes on their backs.

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Pope Francis will visit refugees, immigrants detained on Italian island

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will visit a tiny Italian island to greet refugees and immigrants, pray for those who have lost their lives at sea and call for greater solidarity. The Vatican said Pope Francis was "deeply affected" by a recent tragedy in mid-June in which at least seven people drowned while they sought to stay afloat on a large tuna cage. They had been part of a group of nearly 100 immigrants who were jammed onto an inflatable raft sailing from North Africa. To pay homage to these and countless other victims over the years, the pope will make a half-day visit to Lampedusa July 8. He will take a short boat ride out to sea to toss a floral wreath into the water and pray for those who have lost their lives in their attempt to reach Italian soil. He also will visit with survivors and refugees on the island and celebrate an open-air Mass. He will use the occasion to support "the island's inhabitants and make an appeal to everyone's responsibility of taking care of these brothers and sisters in extreme need," the Vatican said in a July 1 statement announcing the trip.

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Central African bishops: Insurgence has ruined nation's social fabric

BANGUI, Central African Republic (CNS) -- Catholic bishops in the Central African Republic said their country's occupation by Islamist-led rebels has left its livelihood "looted and destroyed" and its "social fabric completely torn up. Never has our country known a conflict so grave in its magnitude and duration -- never has any military-political disorder spread through our territory with such a violent impact," the bishops' conference said. "The very men supposed to be assuring security for people have turned into their executioners, arrogating to themselves the right to commit every outrage," the bishops said, referring to members of the Seleka alliance who took over the presidency in late March. "These Seleka elements, mostly Chadians and Sudanese, can kill, rape, pillage and ransack with impunity, burning houses, barns and whole villages in reprisal for the legitimate defense put up by the population," the bishops said. Their statement, dated June 23, was released in late June after the bishops' 11-day plenary in Bimbo. The bishops said "no final balance" had been made of "the loss of human lives, robberies, pillagings and village burnings," which had left families "illegally stripped of homes occupied by strong men or armed bands."

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Director, deputy director of Vatican bank resign

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The director and the deputy director of the Vatican bank, which is being investigated by a special papal commission, resigned July 1. A statement from the Vatican press office said Director Paolo Cipriani and Massimo Tulli, deputy director, offered their resignations "in the best interest of the institute and the Holy See." The bank has been working to revamp a marred image of secrecy and scandal with greater transparency. The July 1 statement said Ernst von Freyberg, Vatican bank president, would assume the function of interim general director, effective immediately. Von Freyberg thanked Cipriani and Tulli for their service to the bank, formally known as the Institute for the Works of Religion, or IOR in Italian. "Since 2010, the IOR and its management have been working hard to bring structures and processes in line with international standards for anti-money laundering," he said. "While we are grateful for what has been achieved, it is clear today that we need new leadership to increase the pace of this transformation process. Our progress is in no small measure due to the continued support from the governing bodies of the Institute and its personnel."


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