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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Sep-20-2013

By Catholic News Service


Curia meeting seen as way to give pope more input from 'entire church'

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, one of eight cardinals appointed by Pope Francis to advise him on possible reforms of the Roman Curia, said Sept. 18 he has received extensive feedback from cardinals and archbishops in the U.S. and Canada in preparation for an Oct. 1-3 meeting with the pope. In New Orleans to celebrate Mass and preach at the Louisiana Priests' Convention, Cardinal O'Malley said he did not know what to expect as a result of the gathering in Rome. Cardinal O'Malley said the group of eight cardinals will meet first among themselves at the end of September and then with Pope Francis, before accompanying the pontiff to Assisi Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Asked what his expectations were for the cardinals' deliberations, Cardinal O'Malley smiled and said: "I don't know. Obviously, there's been many surprises in the last few months, and I think there'll be more of the same."

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San Diego Catholics call bishop a steady leader in good times and bad

SAN DIEGO (CNS) -- With his retirement Sept. 18, the local Catholic community said "thank you" to Bishop Robert H. Brom for his steady leadership that guided the Diocese of San Diego through times, both joyful and difficult. That day, Bishop Brom turned 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation. Pope Francis accepted it the same day, and Coadjutor Bishop Cirilo B. Flores automatically succeeded him as the fifth bishop of San Diego. Bishop Brom, who had headed the diocese since 1990, said in a statement his heart was "filled with gratitude" upon retiring and added that he was grateful to God for the "many blessings" he has received during over the years, "both in joyful and in challenging times." He said he also was grateful "to those with whom I have shared ministry -- the bishops, priests and deacons, the men and women religious, and many very talented and generous lay faithful." Bishop Brom will be remembered most of all for his pastoral visits to parishes as diocesan bishop. He made visits five times to all of the approximately 100 parishes in the two-county, 8,852-square-mile diocese.

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Congress' shutdown showdown: Good theater, but is it good government?

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- "The play's the thing," Shakespeare wrote. The drama being played out in Congress since the lawmakers returned from summer vacation has made for riveting viewing, with cable news channels showing shifting vote totals on crucial bills in real time. But questions arise on the strategy of each house of Congress passing bills knowing they would never get passed in the other chamber, all under the looming shadow of a government shutdown in early October and a deadline for raising the national debt ceiling. It can lead one to wonder whether the high-stakes game of "chicken" serves the public. The answer is no, at least in the mind of leaders of major Catholic organizations. "Congress has a responsibility to the American people and millions of them depend on salaries, benefits and programs that the government is responsible for," said Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, in a Sept. 18 statement.

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Idaho lawmaker introduces Marriage and Religious Freedom Act in House

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A bill introduced in the U.S. House to keep the federal government from discriminating against churches, religious groups and businesses that uphold marriage as being between one man and one woman is "of fundamental importance," two U.S. Catholic bishops said Sept. 20. A day earlier, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, introduced the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act, known as H.R. 3133. Dozens of lawmakers have co-sponsored the measure, including Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J., Steve Scalise, R-La., Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., Diane Black, R-Tenn., Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., and Ann Wagner, R-Mo. San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, called the measure significant, noting that individuals and organizations that uphold traditional marriage are increasingly being targeted for discrimination by state governments -- this must not spread to the federal government. An example of discrimination at the state level cited in background materials released by the U.S. bishops' conference pointed to a New Mexico Supreme Court ruling that said a husband and wife who own and operate a photography studio "must act against their religious beliefs" and take photographs of a same-sex commitment ceremony, "if they want to do business in the state." Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, also expressed strong support for the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act. "In a growing climate of intolerance against individuals and organizations who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, this act is an important step in preserving their religious liberties at the federal level," he said.

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Pope condemns abortion as product of 'throwaway culture'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In his strongest public words to date on the subject of abortion, Pope Francis affirmed the sacredness of unborn human life and linked its defense to the pursuit of social justice. "In all its phases and at every age, human life is always sacred and always of quality. And not as a matter of faith, but of reason and science!" the pope said Sept. 20 to a gathering of Catholic gynecologists. Pope Francis characterized abortion as a product of a "widespread mentality of profit, the 'throwaway culture,' which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many." That mentality, he said, "calls for the elimination of human beings, above all if they are physically or socially weaker. Our response to that mentality is a decisive and unhesitating 'yes' to life." The pope grouped together unborn children, the aged and the poor as among the most vulnerable people whom Christians are called especially to love.

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Family law expert seeks more support for women to embrace work, kids

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Many doors have opened the past several decades for women in education and employment, but very little has been done to support women as mothers and wives, said a U.S. expert in family law. Western Europe is quite advanced, "but is not joined by many, many countries in the degree of its policies that allow women to work and to take care of their children," said Helen Alvare, professor of law at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Alvare and others spoke at a Vatican news conference Sept. 20, highlighting some of the issues being discussed at a Sept. 19-21 international congress sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family. Nearly 200 jurists also attended the gathering, which focused on family rights and today's challenges. "There has been great focus on policies that essentially allow the woman to enter into the world on the terms of a man without children," Alvare said.

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Bishop of St. Cloud, Minn., retires; Alaska bishop named successor

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop John F. Kinney of St. Cloud, Minn., and named Bishop Donald J. Kettler of Fairbanks, Alaska, to succeed him. Bishop Kinney, who has headed the St. Cloud Diocese since 1995, is 76. Canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignation at age 75. Bishop Kettler, 69, has been the bishop of Fairbanks since 2002. The changes were announced in Washington Sept. 20 by in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States. During a Sept. 20 news conference in St. Cloud, Bishop Kettler, whose installation Mass is scheduled for Nov. 7, said he was pleased to be appointed to the diocese and believed he would be up to the task, because he already sensed "so much support." The bishop, who was born in Minneapolis and graduated from St. John's University and St. John's School of Theology in Collegeville, Minn., said he had a sense of "coming home" with this appointment.

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Brazilian rancher convicted in fourth trial for murder of U.S.-born nun

SAO PAULO (CNS) -- Brazilian rancher Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura again has been found guilty of masterminding the 2005 assassination of U.S.-born Sister Dorothy Stang. A judge sentenced Moura to 30 years in prison after he was declared guilty just before midnight Sept. 19, the court in Para state said in a statement. Moura has been tried three other times for the murder of Sister Dorothy, a naturalized Brazilian citizen who was a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and a native of Dayton, Ohio. In 2007, Moura was sentenced to 30 years in jail for masterminding the assassination. In Brazil, if a person is sentenced for more than 20 years, he has the right to be retried with a new jury. During the 2008 trial, Moura was declared innocent of the charges. In 2009, the verdict was annulled by the courts of the state of Para, and Moura was tried again in 2010. He was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years. But the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled that Moura's attorneys did not have enough time to prepare for the 2010 trial and ordered him to be tried again.


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