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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Aug-7-2013

By Catholic News Service


San Antonio prelate in homily echoes pope's challenge to 'go and serve'

SAN ANTONIO (CNS) -- At the opening Mass of the Knights of Columbus 131st supreme convention Aug. 6, the feast of the Transfiguration, attendees heard comments of congratulations for their charitable efforts as well as a challenge to do more for immigration reform. In his homily, San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller greeted 2,000 attendees in the grand ballroom at the JW Marriott Hill Country Resort with the opening words of Pope Francis at the welcoming ceremony for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, saying: "'It is good for us to be here!'... It is good for all of us to be together around Jesus! It is he who welcomes us and is present in our midst here. These are also my sentiments my brother bishops, priests, Knights and family members!" said the archbishop to an assembly that included 11 cardinals, dozens of archbishops and bishops, and more than 100 priests. "It is good for us to be here in the presence of the Lord, gathered from throughout the world." Archbishop Garcia-Siller described his recent pilgrimage to Brazil as being very festive and very reassuring -- along with very exhausting -- a comment which elicited laughter from the audience. He also said it was filled with lights and shadows, a theme he revisited throughout his homily.

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Bishop says joblessness, exploitation denying millions 'honor, respect'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Millions of workers are being denied the honor and respect they deserve because of a lack of jobs, underemployment, low wages and exploitation, according to the bishop who heads the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. "Earlier this year, Pope Francis pointed out, 'Work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. ... It gives one the ability to maintain oneself, one's family, to contribute to the growth of one's own nation,'" said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., in the U.S. bishops' annual Labor Day statement. "Unfortunately, millions of workers today are denied this honor and respect as a result of unemployment, underemployment, unjust wages, wage theft, abuse and exploitation," Bishop Blaire said. The 1,200-word statement, dated Labor Day, Sept. 2, was available Aug. 6 on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website, www.usccb.org. "The economy is not creating an adequate number of jobs that allow workers to provide for themselves and their families," Bishop Blaire said.

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'Love of neighbor' called motivation for Knights' commitment to charity

SAN ANTONIO (CNS) -- Saying "our order is stronger today than ever before, and the best is yet to come," Supreme Knight Carl Anderson delivered an annual report Aug. 6 that chronicled the record-setting activity of the Knights of Columbus at the organization's 131st annual convention. For the 13th consecutive year, Knights' charitable contributions have grown. While charitable giving in the United States grew by 2 percent last year, charitable donations from the Knights of Columbus grew three times as much, by 6 percent. That increase of $9.4 million set a record of $167.5 million donated last year. Volunteer time donated by Knights of Columbus members also climbed to a new record high, reaching over 70 million hours. Anderson focused on a number of charitable undertakings carried out by the order within the past year, such as helping victims of disasters including Hurricane Sandy, the recent explosion in West, Texas, and the tornadoes in Oklahoma. "Charity has always been a defining characteristic of the Knights of Columbus because our love of neighbor has always motivated us to protect God's gifts," he said. "From the beginning, we have understood that God's gifts include the poor, the suffering the marginalized -- in other words -- every human being."

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Number of permanent deacons grows, but many reaching retirement age

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- While the number of permanent deacons keeps growing, those ordained to the permanent diaconate are steadily reaching retirement age, with a need to replenish their ranks, according to a study released Aug. 6 on the diaconate. There are more than 18,000 permanent deacons in the United States, including more than 15,000 who are active in ministry, according to the study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. However, more than two-thirds of active deacons -- 68 percent -- are at least in their 60s, with 25 percent of all deacons at least 70. Thirteen percent of U.S. dioceses have a mandatory retirement age of 70 for deacons; 80 percent mandate retirement at age 75. "The statistics are encouraging," said an Aug. 6 statement by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. "But they also alert us to the fact many of the deacons will soon reach retirement age. This suggests a need for bishops to recruit a greater number of men to join the ranks of the permanent diaconate." Of the 195 U.S. dioceses and eparchies, only two have no permanent deacons. Of those that do, CARA received information from 145, or 75 percent, or them, and extrapolated the data to provide a nationwide picture.

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Pope joins pilgrims -- via video -- at Shrine of St. Cajetan

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- For the first time in 15 years, Pope Francis was not able to walk along the line of people waiting to get into the Shrine of St. Cajetan to listen to them and bless them. However, Pope Francis did not want to miss an opportunity to speak to the pilgrims lined up in Buenos Aires to celebrate the Aug. 7 feast day of St. Cajetan, patron of Argentina and of jobseekers. Beginning at midnight on the feast day, Pope Francis' recorded video message was being played over and over on big screens at the entrance to the shrine and was being broadcast throughout the day on Canal 21, the television station of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. Pope Francis began by saying he still wanted to continue celebrating the feast with the pilgrims, just like he did every year after becoming archbishop in 1998. The theme for this year's feast day celebration and the Aug. 1-9 prayer novena in Buenos Aires was "With Jesus and St. Cajetan, let us go out to encounter the most needy."

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At home and abroad, popemobile fills with gifts for pope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When he's riding in the popemobile -- at the Vatican or, for example, in Rio de Janeiro -- Pope Francis uses his hands not just to bless people and hold the babies he's kissing. He uses them to catch things. Tossing, lobbing and throwing things to the pope or into the popemobile has been a growing phenomenon at the Vatican, but it took on epic portions during World Youth Day in Rio. "We filled a jeep four times with objects of every kind," said Alberto Gasbarri, the chief organizer of papal trips. Gasbarri's partial inventory included: "T-shirts, hats, scarves, balls, flowers, bandanas, photographs, letters, drawings, rosaries -- and even a bishop's ring." Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said: "It's true, it was pretty substantial." It wasn't clear if the ring belonged to a bishop who tossed it or if it was meant as a gift from one of the pilgrims to the pope. The haul was divided between the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro and the Vatican, Gasbarri told Catholic News Service Aug. 6. Some of the things left behind will be souvenirs of the pope's visit, while much of the clothing will be distributed to the poor.

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Archaeologists restore 2,000-bed Crusader-era hospital in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- Israeli archaeologists have restored part of a 2,000-bed Crusader-era hospital run by the St. John of the Hospital order in the Old City of Jerusalem. Dating to the 11th century, the ancient structure was operated by members of the order, dedicated to St. John the Baptist and also known as the Knights Hospitallers, precursors to the Rome-based Knights of Malta. The Hospitallers treated pilgrims of all faiths making their way to Jerusalem, according to historical documents. Written mainly in Latin, the documents helped archaeologists piece together the history of the building, which more recently, until about 13 years ago, had been used as a fruit and vegetable market in the Christian Quarter. For more than a decade, the site had been left locked and unused until the Waqf Islamic Trust, the building's owner, decided to move forward with construction of a restaurant there. As with all new construction in Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority was called in to carry out a salvage excavation prior to the work. Located near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, the structure had been known to archaeologists mainly because of the mapping of Crusader remains in the area in the 19th century, said Amit Re'em, excavation co-director for the antiquities authority.

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Appeals court dismisses sexual abuse lawsuit against Vatican

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- At the request of a man allegedly abused by a priest in 1965, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed his case claiming the Vatican was the priest's employer and could be liable for damages. Jeffrey S. Lena, the counsel for the Holy See, said in a statement that the lawsuit "never should have been filed in the first place." He told Vatican Radio in an email interview, "This case was based on a couple of simple and erroneous ideas about the Catholic Church. First, that all priests are controlled by the Holy See and second that the Holy See receives information about the activities of all priests and makes specific decisions, either directly or 'by and through' dioceses and religious orders." The plaintiff, a former Oregon resident known as John V. Doe, and his attorneys were trying to prove that the Vatican exercised direct control over priests, Lena said, but "this is not how the Catholic Church works." If the Vatican had been recognized as the abusive priest's employer, the alleged victim of abuse could have sued the Vatican for damages.

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Canadian Catholic hospitals see dwindling support for care standards

TORONTO (CNS) -- Officials at Canada's largest Catholic hospitals and health services expressed concern that national health care standards are becoming a thing of the past after provincial and territorial leaders did not address the issue at their July Council of the Federation meetings. Health was not the top of the agenda for premiers gathered in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, July 24-26 and not much got done to ensure a sustainable national health care system, said James Roche, executive director of the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada. As part of the Health Action Lobby, the alliance had urged provincial premiers to address coming funding shortfalls and federal government reluctance to enforce the Canada Health Act. The basic question is, "Are the provinces really committed to a national health system?" Roche said. "I don't think health care was really that big an issue at the gathering, and I suppose that's understandable," Roche said. "(We) have always been concerned about a national perspective for health care and we didn't hear much about the fact that this meeting of the Council of the Federation is the last one that will take place prior to expiration of the (2004) health accord."

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Newtown pastor, parish Knights of Columbus council receive recognition

SAN ANTONIO (CNS) -- The pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Newtown, Conn., and the parish's Knights of Columbus Council were honored Aug. 6 with a new award from the Knights of Columbus at the order's 131st supreme convention in San Antonio. Msgr. Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima, and St. Virgilius Knights of Columbus Council 185, represented by Grand Knight Timothy Haas, were presented the first Caritas Awards by Supreme Knight Carl Anderson in recognition of "extraordinary works of charity and service." Newtown was the scene of last December's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that resulted in the deaths of 26 residents, most of whom were young schoolchildren. "Heroes rise to the occasion," said Anderson at the States' Dinner before an audience of some 2,000 Knights and their families. "Msgr. Weiss was heroic in the face of unimaginable tragedy." Anderson then described how Msgr. Weiss was supported by his brother Knights of Newtown's St. Virgilius Council.

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Artist combines faith, imagery, biblical messages for his religious art

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (CNS) -- Christopher Ruane remembers drawing and coloring pictures of Christ and listening to his father, Michael Ruane, read him stories from the Bible. Today, these visuals and biblical messages from his childhood are fused with his strong faith, respect for traditional art and astute sensitivity to the culture around him as he creates a unique type of religious art using photography. "I don't just photograph people, I photograph every single element in the picture," he said. Although all of Ruane's pieces are rooted in Scripture, his work is a departure from the more recognizable, traditional religious art. He presents biblical stories and messages with a modern interpretation, using strikingly vivid colors and visuals that range from surreal to starkly realistic. "My work is supposed to illicit a powerful response -- and make you think about Christ and contemplate who you are in your faith," he said in an interview with The Catholic Accent, newspaper of the Greensburg Diocese. Using Photoshop, he engages in a labor intensive process of bringing together each photographed element to create a cohesive image that communicates a Christ-like message. "The images have the clarity of traditional fine art photography with the heart, soul and freedom of painting," Ruane said.


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