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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Oct-7-2013

By Catholic News Service


Driver's license law shows commitment to immigrants, says archbishop

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- A landmark measure granting California driver's licenses to people who are in the country illegally represents an important commitment to immigrants, said Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez. The archbishop said he hopes the bill -- signed into law Oct. 3 by Gov. Jerry Brown --- will lead the way to comprehensive immigration reform in the United States. "Driving is one of the basic necessities of life," said Archbishop Gomez during the signing ceremony that day at Los Angeles City Hall. "So this new law is going to make a big difference for millions of people in their everyday lives. It will make it easier for them to get to work, to go to school, to go the store, to get to church. This bill will make our families, our communities and our economy stronger." The law goes into effect no later than Jan. 1, 2015, and calls upon the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue driver's licenses to those in the country illegally who can prove their identities, have established California residency and pass driving exams. It was approved Sept. 12 by votes of 28-8 in the California Senate and 55-19 in the Assembly.

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Catholic women focus on actions to address issues locally, globally

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CNS) -- Attendees at a regional conference of the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations focused on how Catholic women can take action, locally and globally, on "all forms of poverty" -- hunger, domestic violence, human trafficking and the needs of migrants. "We come together to pray and work for a world of peace, a world in which all of our brothers and sisters will live lives of dignity, free from all forms of poverty, with souls filled with the love that our Savior taught us as we follow his command to love our neighbors as ourselves," said Mary Elizabeth Stewart, from the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn. She is the National Council of Catholic Women's representative to the union, which held its North American regional meeting Sept. 29-30 in Fort Lauderdale, right after the NCCW annual convention. Stewart is also vice president representative from North America to the union's Executive Committee. The North American regional, which is held every four years and rotates between the U.S. and Canada, drew 164 participants. Their focus was a better understanding of some of today's most pressing issues; their challenge was to develop actions that could be implemented at the parish level and on the international front. "I wish you all the very best and a rich and fruitful conference," said Maria Giovanna Ruggieri, the union's president-general who arrived from Italy. "Each conference has been a gift of the Holy Spirit and that's what I wish for you all. The work that you do here, I wish for the benefit of everybody."

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Charities prepare to mitigate impact of federal government shutdown

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- Catholic charities and churches across the Arlington Diocese in northern Virginia have been looking at how to lessen the impact of the government shutdown on the community. In response to the government freeze, Arlington diocesan Catholic Charities was giving nonperishable food to families affected by the shutdown through food pantries in Alexandria and Leesburg. "We have plenty of supplies, but we don't know the kind of response we are going to get," said Sally O'Dwyer, Catholic Charities vice president for community service. "We will give until we have no more." Oct. 7 marked the seventh day of the partial federal shutdown over a congressional budget impasse, causing federal agencies to furlough roughly 800,000 employees -- many of whom have already filed unemployment claims. The 1.3 million civilian federal employees still working might see their paychecks delayed if the shutdown extends. In the long run, this could increase requests for financial assistance if people are struggling to pay their bills. Emergency assistance coordinators said it was still too early to see how many people will need help as a result of the shutdown.

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Effects of federal shutdown extend beyond furloughed workers

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the congressional stalemate over the federal government's shutdown continued, not only were an estimated 800,000 federal employees temporarily jobless, but other functions and services typically provided by the government without a second thought being given to them were no longer being taken for granted. The Archdiocese for the Military Services said that its use of "contract priests" to celebrate Mass at a number of military installations where no active-duty chaplain is on-site would have to be canceled in most circumstances. "With the government shutdown, GS (general services) and contract priests who minister to Catholics on military bases worldwide are not permitted to work -- not even to volunteer," said an Oct. 3 op-ed essay written by John Schlageter, general counsel for the military archdiocese. "During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so." Scores of Masses had to be canceled as a result. One exception was the Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia where, the archdiocese pointed out Oct. 4, the priest could perform pastoral duties because of the way "the contract is funded." The House Oct. 5 in a 400-1 vote passed a concurrent resolution "expressing the sense of Congress regarding the need for the continued availability of religious services to members of the Armed Forces and their families during a lapse in appropriations." The bill was sent to the Senate for further action.

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'Prayer and action' give hope that reform still possible, says marcher

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In Phoenix, Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, St. Louis and more than 150 other cities Oct. 5, thousands of people carried signs at marches and rallies to call on Congress to pass immigration reform legislation. A rally and concert in Washington Oct. 8 were scheduled to bring the immigration concerns to the capital. In Phoenix Oct. 5, an estimated 4,000 people in red shirts walked from Immaculate Heart of Mary Church to the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse during the "National Day of Dignity and Respect." They carried signs reading: "Immigration reform now!" "No more raids" and "Papers for my parents. Unfortunately, immigration reform has become a political question," said Phoenix Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares, who spoke to marchers outside the church. "For us in the church, it's a religious question. Jesus Christ told us that what we do to the least of our brothers and sisters, we do to him." The procession in Phoenix followed a float bearing images of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the risen Christ. Traditional Mexican dancers, whose performances honor Mary, followed close behind.

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Holy Spirit 'source of unity' on 'all that matters,' Dallas bishop says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In his homily at the 61st annual Red Mass in the nation's capital, Dallas Bishop Kevin J. Farrell said that the Holy Spirit can help people seek unity and work for the common good. "The Holy Spirit is the source of unity on all that matters, and the source of variety in and among the many differences we have that make us who we are," Bishop Farrell said Oct. 6. He said that the Holy Spirit, as it did at the first Pentecost, today "bestows wisdom, clarity, insight and, yes, unity." The annual Mass is held on the Sunday before the U.S. Supreme Court opens its new session on the first Monday of October, and it is sponsored by the John Carroll Society of the Archdiocese of Washington. Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington was the principal celebrant at the Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Concelebrants included Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services and Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, Va. The Mass is celebrated to invoke God's blessings on those who work in the administration of justice.

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Pope sends official to Lampedusa where migrants' boat sank

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As efforts to recover the bodies of migrants who drowned off Italy's southern coast continued, Pope Francis again asked people to pray for the victims and he sent his almoner to Lampedusa to pray over the 194 corpses recovered as of Oct. 6 and to visit the survivors. During his midday Angelus address Oct. 6, Pope Francis asked the thousands who joined him in St. Peter's Square for the Marian prayer to join him for a moment of silence. "We remember those who lost their lives in Lampedusa," the pope said. "Let us all pray silently for these brothers and sisters of ours -- men, women and children. Let our hearts cry for them." The boat, reportedly carrying more than 500 migrants from northern Africa, capsized Oct. 3 and sank near Lampedusa, Italy's southernmost island. After interviewing the 155 survivors in a migrant reception center on the island, Italian officials said someone set a fire on the boat to signal a problem; when too many of the passengers moved away from the fire to one side of the boat, it capsized.

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Legionaries of Christ renewal goes forward with January general chapter

ROME (CNS) -- Members of the Legionaries of Christ will begin their extraordinary general chapter Jan. 8 to elect new leaders and approve a new constitution, the key step in an effort to renew the order after revelations about the misconduct of their founder. Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, appointed by retired Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 to govern the order, announced the date of the opening of general chapter in a letter to the 953 priests and the hundreds seminarians of the Legion of Christ Oct. 4. The chapter, he wrote, "comes at the end of a long journey of spiritual renewal and will have as its principal purpose the conclusion of revising the constitutions," which set out the nature and purpose of a religious order, the way new members are brought in and formed, and govern all aspects of the members' life together. The chapter should conclude by the end of February, the cardinal wrote, but it will be up to the chapter delegates to establish a firm timetable. The constitutions adopted by the delegates -- expected to be about 60 priests -- must be approved by Pope Francis before they take effect.

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Opera star urges students at Catholic school alma mater to dream big

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. (CNS) -- Imagine a place filled with more than 400 children, yet so quiet you can hear someone breathe. That was the scene at St. Ann School in Prairie Village -- and the person doing the "breathing" was world-renowned opera star and Grammy Award winner Joyce DiDonato. "The only way I can make my voice travel is if I make it go on my breath," she told the students gathered for a mini-concert in the church. Her audience was mesmerized as she demonstrated her point by singing a note softly and then adding breath until her voice filled the church from altar to foyer. How did these students rate a private session with one of the world's greatest opera singers? DiDonato is actually from the local area and returned home in late September to star in the Lyric Opera of Kansas City's production of Bellini's "The Capulets and the Montagues." Her homecoming included the visit to St. Ann School in the Kansas City Archdiocese. DiDonato grew up in St. Ann Parish, attended school there, and went on to graduate from Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park. The sixth of seven children in a close-knit Catholic family, her older sister is St. Ann music director Amy Hetherington. DiDonato told her audience that when she used to be a cantor at St. Ann and perform in musicals at Bishop Miege, she dreamed of becoming a pop star someday. "Opera was something I didn't understand," she confessed.


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