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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jul-19-2013

By Catholic News Service


Younger sisters see smaller orders ahead, but say future still bright

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) -- Some of Sister Chero Chuma's friends back in Kenya think she wasted her visa to the United States by becoming a religious and joining an order of mostly elderly nuns in the Seattle area. "It is amazing when you feel a call and you respond to a call. It is not that you choose to do that," said the Sister of St. Joseph of Peace who recently enrolled in the nursing program at Seattle University. "You want to say we are crazy joining right now," said Sister Chuma, whose order has no formal habit but members wear a peace cross. Sister Chuma was in California for a Giving Voice national gathering of about 75 religious from 30 different congregations at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont in early July. Giving Voice was created by women religious in their 20s, 30s and 40s who are members of orders with diminishing membership -- orders they feel they were called to join despite that demographic decline. Giving Voice "provides a peer group in religious life for women religious who probably don't have a lot of peers in their own congregations -- strengthening their own sense of call in religious life," said Sister Kristen Mathes, 47, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur and a founder of the group that began in 1997.

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Te Deum Ministries multimedia show promotes church's new evangelization

PARAMUS, N.J. (CNS) -- Officials at Te Deum Ministries in Paramus hope their two-hour multimedia presentation called "Array of Hope" will help U.S. Catholic dioceses and parishes engage Catholics in the universal church's new evangelization efforts. In a press release, Te Deum Ministries called "Array of Hope" an "extravaganza" that features "multiple musical acts, motivational speakers and thought-provoking film presentations." Details of the project are available at www.arrayofhope.net. It was developed, according to Te Deum Ministries, as a response to a strategic plan the U.S. Catholic bishops adopted at their annual fall general assembly in Baltimore last November. Operating under the theme "Journey with Christ: Faith/Worship/Witness," the bishops' plan offers a "road map" for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to shape programs and activities to strengthen the faith of Catholics and position them to be active witnesses to their faith in all aspects of life. The multiyear plan is the bishops' response to the call by Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI for a new evangelization. Covering the period from 2013 through 2016, the plan calls U.S. Catholics to encounter Christ more fully through greater participation in a community that focuses on marriage, the family, and the life and dignity of the human person.

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Hobby Lobby wins injunction against HHS mandate

OKLAHOMA CITY (CNS) -- A federal judge in Oklahoma City July 19 granted a temporary injunction to the arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby, saying it would not have to comply with the federal health care law mandating that employers provide coverage of contraceptives in their health insurance plans. U.S. District Court Judge Joe Heaton issued the preliminary injunction, and gave the federal government until Oct. 1 to consider an appeal. The Christian owners of Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby chain have specifically argued that providing emergency contraceptive coverage to their employees, as required by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, violates their religious freedom. The injunction comes several weeks after a federal appellate court ruled that Hobby Lobby can exercise religion under the First Amendment and is likely to win its case against the mandate. "The tide has turned against the HHS mandate," said Kyle Duncan, general counsel with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and lead attorney for Hobby Lobby, in a July 19 statement.

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North Dakota bishops criticize ruling on 2011 law on abortion drugs

BISMARCK, N.D. (CNS) -- North Dakota's Catholic bishops called a decision by a state judge that a 2011 law prohibiting the use of one of two drugs used in nonsurgical abortions violates the state and U.S. constitutions. North Dakota Judge Wickham Corwin July 15 said the two-year-old law was "simply wrongheaded" and that "no compelling state interest justifies this infringement." But Bishops David D. Kagan of Bismarck and John T. Folda of Fargo said in a statement that with his ruling, Corwin recognized a right to abortion in the state constitution "more expansive than that recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court. A lone judge sitting in Fargo has declared that the North Dakota Constitution makes abortion a 'fundamental' right subject to practically no limitations," the bishops said July 16. "In fact, the right 'found' by ... Corwin is more expansive than that used by the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result, the opinion could put all of the state's laws on abortion in jeopardy, including its parental consent laws, health and safety requirements, and conscience protection," they said. The case "is not just about drug-induced abortions," the bishops said. At stake from this ruling are all of the state's pro-life and pro-women laws, such as parental notification, health and safety requirements, and conscience protection for health care providers."

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House abandonment of nutrition items in farm bill called 'misguided'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As Congress lurches toward its summer recess, inside and outside the corridors of Congress, people have been asking, "What in Sam Hill is going on with the House on the farm bill?" "It's anachronistic, unworkable," said Bob Gronski, a policy adviser for the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, about a decision by members of the House to abandon nutrition items in the farm bill, saying they will deal with food assistance programs later. "The message that sends is: 'I don't understand what the House is thinking.'" Said Roger Johnson, head of the National Farmers Union: "It is a very confusing, misguided and dysfunctional process." Armando Nieto, of the Community Food and Justice Coalition, commented that "getting food to the people who need it is problematic. I do believe we're the kind of country where we do take care of the people who are in need." But "there is a segment of Congress that doesn't believe it, that it's just not the role of government" to feed the hungry, he said. "We've got to change it (and) the conversations are not even happening." To recap, summer had barely begun when the farm bill surprisingly went down to defeat in the House. The House version would have more the quadrupled the cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- formerly known as food stamps -- that had been in the Senate-passed version of the bill. Then, on one day's notice, House Republican leaders reintroduced a stripped-down, agriculture-only farm bill, yanking out the funding for nutrition programs like SNAP and saying they'd develop a separate bill later on nutrition. The stripped-down bill was approved by an eight-vote margin, 216-208, with votes cast largely along party lines.

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Pope creates body to revamp Vatican's bookkeeping, fiscal responsibility

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has named a new commission to investigate current accounting practices among all Vatican offices and bodies and to help devise new strategies for greater fiscal responsibility and transparency. The new pontifical commission of business and legal experts will "offer technical support" and "develop strategic solutions" to help the Vatican simplify and better coordinate its scattered resources, budgets, properties and assets, and create "a more careful organization of the economic activities of all Vatican administrative offices." The Vatican announced the creation of the new commission July 19, saying its eight members would "begin its work as soon as possible" with its first meeting scheduled right after the pope returns from Brazil July 29. The pope authorized the creation of the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See July 18 with a document called a "chirograph," a brief writing on a very limited subject.

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In Sao Paulo parish, Australian pilgrims welcomed like family

SAO PAULO (CNS) -- For thousands of young people, the week preceding World Youth Day was their first experience meeting Catholics of other nations and cultures. A group of young people from Australia spent Mission Week, as it was called, interacting with parishioners at St. Jude Thaddeus Parish in Sao Paulo. "The welcoming we have received here in Sao Paulo and at this parish has been overwhelming," Father Peter Zwaans of Adelaide told Catholic News Service July 18. Father Zwaans is part of a group of 17 pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Adelaide and the Diocese of Port Pirie who joined 16 other pilgrims from the Darwin Diocese at St. Jude's. "The youths are between 18 and 34, and include teachers, seminarians and priests," said Lisa McCormick, coordinator for the Adelaide-Port Pirie group. Hannah Stavrou, 18, was the youngest member of the group. She said she was struck by how differently people in Brazil practice Catholicism. "During the very first Mass, I was amazed by the number of young people attending. There was a lot of chanting and dancing," she said, smiling.

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Pope Francis visits Pope Benedict, asks him to join WYD in prayer

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis paid a personal visit to retired Pope Benedict XVI, informing him about the final details for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro and asking him to pray for Pope Francis and for the pilgrims who will gather in Rio July 23-28. During the visit, which lasted about 30 minutes July 19, Pope Francis gave his predecessor a booklet with a detailed account of the trip itinerary, along with the times the events will be broadcast in Italy, "so that he can spiritually participate in the events and, if he'd like to, follow the broadcasts," said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman. Pope Francis also gave Pope Benedict one of the commemorative medals minted for the Brazil trip. On one side is a relief of Pope Francis in profile; on the reverse is a reproduction of the famous Rio statue of Christ with his arms outstretched and the words "Rio 2013 World Youth Day" -- in Portuguese. "Benedict XVI assured him of his prayers, recalling his intense and marvelous experiences at previous world gatherings with young people in Cologne, Sydney and Madrid," Father Lombardi said. Pope Benedict chose Rio as the site of World Youth Day 2013 and announced his choice at the end of World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid. He also chose the theme, "Go and make disciples of all nations."

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L'Arche has been led by 'beautiful, gentle hand of God,' says Vanier

TROSLY-BREIL, France (CNS) -- Inside a rustic chapel 4,000 miles away from his diocese, Bishop Martin J. Amos of Davenport, Iowa, presented a peace award to Jean Vanier for fostering total acceptance of people as they are -- with and without disabilities. The 84-year-old philosopher, writer and man of prayer accepted the Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award in the French village where he began L'Arche a half-century ago. Inspired by the Gospels and social justice activists such as Dorothy Day, he has made it his mission to create a sense of home, of belonging, of family, for adults with intellectual disabilities. In 1964, Vanier moved into a small stone house in Trosly with Philippe and Raphael, who had previously lived in an institution. That gesture of compassion has blossomed into an international federation of 150 L'Arche communities worldwide, including one in Clinton, Iowa. Vanier chose the name L'Arche, the French word for both the ark and the arch, connecting his project to Noah's Ark. Vanier's extraordinary contribution to peace, demonstrating how it begins with the individual, warranted the decision to travel abroad to hand-deliver the award, Bishop Amos said. "Very early in his encyclical Pope John XXIII talked about one fundamental principle: that each individual person is truly a person. Without this basic principle all other rights and duties, all the injustices are on shifting sand," the bishop noted in his remarks during the July 7 award ceremony in Hosanna, the L'Arche community hall in Trosly.


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