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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jul-5-2013

By Catholic News Service


Catholics urged to speak truth 'with love' in religious freedom fight

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As people of faith and as Americans, the nation's Catholics should kneel in prayer and also stand in defense of religious freedom, Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl said July 4 during the closing Mass for the Fortnight for Freedom at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. "There is a time to be on one's knees. There is also a time to stand up. ... Today, there are things that should mean enough to all of us, including our religious liberty, that we simply need to stand -- to stand up for what is right, to stand up for what is ours, to stand up for freedom of religion," the cardinal said. The cardinal said that American Catholics, through their faith and love, can change the world and make it a better place. "It begins with all of us having the courage to stand for what we believe ... (to stand up) for our faith and freedom." The Mass marked the close of the second annual Fortnight for Freedom, a two-week period in which the nation's bishops called on Catholics across the country to pray and act in defense of religious freedom. Dioceses across the U.S. celebrated Masses, held prayer services and organized marches and other events to mark the close of the fortnight, which began June 21, the vigil of the feast of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, who were martyred for their faith. In Washington, the liturgy -- televised nationally by EWTN -- drew an overflow crowd of 5,500 people and was concelebrated by five bishops and by 72 priests.

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Report shows complex factors leading to huge deficits in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput in a June 28 column posted on CatholicPhilly.com called the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's new financial report "very serious -- and that's an understatement." True to his word, a 37-page report released July 3 shows an operating deficit of $39.1 million for the fiscal year spanning July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012. An accompanying supplemental document to the report, audited by the firm Grant Thornton, put the deficit in the context of new accounting procedures and one-time expenses and revenues during the period. Those "nonrecurring" items included revenues of $15.8 million from the sale of Cardinal Dougherty and Northeast Catholic high schools, which closed in 2010, and expenses totaling $21.2 million. Considering those one-time adjustments, the "core" operating deficit for the year was $17.4 million. Notable components of those expenses were a $13 million increase in the self-insurance reserve needed to pay insurance claims against the archdiocese in areas such as workman's compensation; liability and automobile insurance; and legal and professional fees of $11.9 million. Those fees stemmed from some of the unprecedented events that made 2011-2012 a very mean year.

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In first encyclical, pope celebrates faith as the light of human life

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' first encyclical, "Lumen Fidei" ("The Light of Faith"), is a celebration of Christian faith as the guiding light of a "successful and fruitful life," inspiring social action as well as devotion to God, and illuminating "every aspect of human existence," including philosophy and the natural sciences. The document, released July 5, completes a papal trilogy on the three "theological virtues," following Pope Benedict XVI's encyclicals "Deus Caritas Est" (2005) on charity and "Spe Salvi" (2007) on hope. Publication of the encyclical was one of the most awaited events of the Year of Faith which began in October 2012. Pope Benedict "had almost completed a first draft of an encyclical on faith" before his retirement in February 2013, Pope Francis writes, adding that "I have taken up his fine work and added a few contributions of my own." Commentators will likely differ in attributing specific passages, but the document clearly recalls the writings of Pope Benedict in its extensive treatment of the dialogue between faith and reason and its many citations of St. Augustine, not to mention references to Friedrich Nietzsche and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. On other hand, warnings of the dangers of idolatry, Gnosticism and Pharisaism, a closing prayer to Mary as the "perfect icon of faith," and an entire section on the relevance of faith to earthly justice and peace echo themes that Pope Francis has already made signatures of his young pontificate.

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Encyclical illustrates continuity of two papacies, officials say

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Presenting Pope Francis' new encyclical and acknowledging how much of it was prepared by retired Pope Benedict XVI, top Vatican officials hailed it as a unique expression of the development of papal teaching and unity in faith. "It is a fortunate coincidence that this text was written, so to speak, by the hands of two popes," said Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at a news conference July 5 marking the release of "Lumen Fidei" ("The Light of Faith"). "Notwithstanding the differences of style, sensibility and accent, anyone who reads this encyclical will immediately note the substantial continuity of the message of Pope Francis with the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI," the archbishop said. Archbishop Muller, along with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Commission for Promoting New Evangelization, emphasized not only the collaboration of the two popes, but their shared view of faith as a "common good," a gift that is transmitted and nourished by the church, but is meant to be shared with all humanity. Christians have an obligation, they said, to help others by proclaiming the Gospel, but also by living their faith in order to transform the world into a place of authentic brotherhood and care for the weakest. Cardinal Ouellet told reporters that Pope Francis' decision to take up the work begun by Pope Benedict and add some of his own reflections, which he states explicitly in the encyclical, witnesses to their unity in faith. "The light of faith is passed from one pontiff to another like a baton in a relay, thanks to 'the gift of the apostolic succession,'" the Canadian cardinal said.

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Egypt's Catholic leaders welcome Morsi's ouster, hope for democracy

OXFORD, England (CNS) -- Egypt's Catholic leaders welcomed the military overthrow of the country's Islamist president and voiced confidence that Christians and Muslims can work together to build a "real" democracy. "What has happened is absolutely not a military coup -- our armed forces have responded to the desire of the people," said Father Hani Bakhoum Kiroulos, spokesman for the Catholic Coptic Church. "Millions of people took to the streets because they were unable to live under such a regime. They expressed their views and demanded freedom, and the military took action accordingly," he told Catholic News Service July 5. Father Kiroulos said the preceding four days of protests, in which the military deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, had united Christians and Muslims. "The church isn't just a collection of buildings, but a mass of people -- and we are part of the Egyptian people and with the majority who've expressed their will," Father Kiroulos said. "If the Egyptian people suffer, we will suffer too. But we hope (they) can now all join together, Christians and Muslims, in creating a new country and a better future," he said. The head of Egypt's armed forces, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, announced the takeover July 3 after giving Morsi a 48-hour ultimatum to overcome a nationwide paralysis, worsened by mass protests in Cairo, Alexandria and other towns. The move was welcomed as a "defining moment in the nation's history" by Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, who appeared beside the general during his televised address, along with the country's grand imam, Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb.

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Pope clears the way for the canonizations of John Paul II, John XXIII

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis signed a decree clearing the way for the canonization of Blessed John Paul II and has decided also to ask the world's cardinals to vote on the canonization of Blessed John XXIII, even in the absence of a miracle. After Pope Francis met July 5 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, the Vatican published a list of decrees the pope approved related to Blessed John Paul's canonization and 11 other sainthood causes. Publishing the decrees, the Vatican also said, "The supreme pontiff approved the favorable votes of the ordinary session of the cardinal- and bishop-fathers regarding the canonization of Blessed John XXIII (Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli) and has decided to convoke a consistory that will also involve the canonization of Blessed John Paul II." Normally, after a pope signs a decree recognizing the miracle needed for a canonization, the pope consults with cardinals around the world and calls a consistory -- a gathering attended by any cardinal who wants and is able to attend -- where those present voice their support for the pope's decision to proclaim a new saint. A date for a canonization ceremony is announced formally only during or immediately after the consistory.

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Archbishop says pope told him Quebec must 'rise again'

MONTREAL (CNS) -- Quebec must "rise again" and recover its traditional faith, Pope Francis told Quebec Archbishop Gerald Lacroix, who recently visited Rome. The archbishop recounted in detail his June 26 audience with the pope at the Vatican to Montreal's French newspaper, La Presse. He said when he introduced himself as the archbishop of Quebec, "the pope replied, 'Ah, Quebec! Land of missions, a land that has known many great missionaries!'" Archbishop Lacroix said he indicated to the pope that Quebec wants to continue in the footsteps of the great missionaries, and the pope responded, "Quebec must rise again." He would like us Quebecers "to find again our faith that gave us life and that built our country," Archbishop Lacroix said. "We have to find again our roots of faith, rise again as Christians and find once again the Gospel in our lives." In recent years, Quebec, formerly referred to as a "priest-ridden province," has undergone in-depth reforms to separate church from state. Mass attendance has gone from 90 percent before 1960 to around 6 percent, according to a 2008 poll, although at least three-quarters of Quebec's population of 8 million still describes itself as Catholic.

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U.S. nun's killer to serve rest of time under house arrest in Brazil

SAO PAULO (CNS) -- The man who confessed to killing a U.S.-born nun in 2005 in Brazil's Amazon has been released from prison. Rayfran das Neves Sales, who served a little less than eight years of a 27-year sentence for shooting Sister Dorothy Stang, a member of the Notre Dame de Namur Sisters, will carry out the rest of his sentence under house arrest. Sales was one of the four other men accused of plotting and carrying out the assassination of Sister Dorothy. Two other accomplices are in jail serving sentences from 17 to 30 years, while the rancher said to be the mastermind of the plot remains free, waiting for a re-trial scheduled for September. Sister Dorothy, a native of Dayton, Ohio, had lived in the Amazon region for nearly four decades and was a naturalized Brazilian. She worked closely with the Brazilian bishops' Pastoral Land Commission in favor of land rights for the poor and for sustainable development in the region. The work she did angered many large landowners, and she had received death threats. A lawyer for the Pastoral Land Commission, Jose Batista, told local media the decision showed that "crime pays" and said it would encourage criminal activities in the region.


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