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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Oct-31-2013

By Catholic News Service


Catholics must make space for the soul online, Vatican official says

BRAINTREE, Mass. (CNS) -- The Internet will host the parish community of the future, according to Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. "Social media is redefining how we understand local community," he said. "The digital parish will be where people cluster around shared interests and shared ideas." Msgr. Tighe made the comments in a keynote address at the sixth annual Catholic New Media Conference held at the Archdiocese of Boston's Pastoral Center in Braintree. He stressed the importance of Catholics bringing their faith to the digital arena, a place where people are spending a greater portion of their lives. According to data compiled by eMarketer in August, the average American adult spends more than five hours online every day, and a 2011 survey of Brits found that one in four spend more time on the Internet than they do asleep. Msgr. Tighe said that people are going online to connect with others. "I am extremely hopeful because look what people are doing in social media -- relationships and friendships, searching for information, sharing ideas, following. They are all fundamental human realities," he said in his Oct. 19 address.

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Vatican not worried about possibility U.S. monitored its calls

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican has no evidence its calls were monitored by the U.S. National Security Agency and, even if they were, "we have no concerns about it," the Vatican spokesman said. Asked about the possibility that the NSA's electronic eavesdropping program had monitored Vatican calls, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi told reporters Oct. 30: "We have no evidence of this." The spokesman made his comments after the Italian newsweekly Panorama announced that its issue going on sale Oct. 31 would include a report that phone calls to and from the Vatican were among the 46 million calls in Italy allegedly monitored between Dec. 10, 2012, and Jan. 8, 2013. The magazine said it also is possible the eavesdropping continued for months and included calls made on the eve of the conclave that elected Pope Francis in March. The NSA said in a statement the eavesdropping claims were false. The agency "does not target the Vatican," said a statement from the NSA Public Affairs Office dated Oct. 30 and sent to Catholic News Service in Washington Oct. 31. "Assertions that NSA has targeted the Vatican, published in Italy's Panorama magazine, are not true." The magazine's story was prepared in the midst of growing European coverage and anger over the NSA's alleged call-monitoring program.

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Four petitions on high court docket ask intervention on health law

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Supreme Court now has petitions asking it to review lower court rulings in three different lawsuits that challenge the federal government's requirement for employer-sponsored health insurance to include contraceptive coverage. Three petitions filed in the last six weeks involve private, for-profit companies owned by Christians who object to their employee insurance funds being used for treatments they consider immoral. A fourth case related to the Affordable Care Act is Liberty University's appeal of the "employer mandate" to purchase government-defined health insurance for employees as applied to the Christian university. The soonest the court might decide to take or deny certiorari in any of the cases would be at its conferences of late November or early December. The court typically holds conferences to review petitions three or four days each month. The Justice Department Oct. 21 filed three documents weighing in on whether the court should take the cases. The department's legal opponents now have time to respond to those filings before the cases are put on the justices' conference list. Meanwhile, organizations and individuals with an interest in the outcome of the cases also may file petitions arguing for or against the Supreme Court becoming involved. As of Oct. 31, a handful of such friend-of-the-court briefs had been filed for some of the petitions. They were filed on behalf of coalitions of employers, physicians, states and faith-based organizations.

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Vatican, American Bible Society offer 'lectio divina' manual

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican publishing house, the American Bible Society and the vicar general of the Diocese of Mar del Plata, Argentina, have teamed up to develop a step-by-step manual in the Catholic art of praying and meditating with the Bible. "Part of the aim of the project is to get Catholics to read the Bible and the other is to get them to rediscover 'lectio divina,'" the traditional Catholic method of reading, meditating on and praying with the Bible, said Mario Paredes, who runs Catholic programs for the American Bible Society. The manual, in Spanish and English, will be available for purchase through the American Bible Society's website, www.bibles.com. Presenting the manual, "Pray With the Bible, Meditate With the Word," at the Vatican Oct. 30, Father Gabriel Mestre, the author and Mar del Plata vicar general, said Pope Francis' morning Mass homilies "are the result of 'lectio divina.'" He said the homilies offer a glimpse into the pope's process of reading the text, meditating on it, praying with it and reflecting on what it is calling him and other Christians to do.

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At Mass near John Paul's tomb, pope focuses on experiencing God's love

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Surprising pilgrims at Blessed John Paul II's tomb, Pope Francis made an early morning visit to St. Peter's Basilica and celebrated Mass with the mostly Polish pilgrims. More than 100 priests and pilgrims were gathered Oct. 31 at the basilica's Chapel of St. Sebastian for a morning Mass near Blessed John Paul's tomb. Pope Francis arrived unannounced to preside at the liturgy and prayed for the late pope's intercession to help today's Christians be strong, not weak in their faith. Being Christian means putting God at the center of one's life and drawing strength from his boundless love in order to persevere in hard times, Pope Francis said in his homily. "Without Christ's love, without living this love, recognizing it and being nourished by it, you can't be Christian," he said, according to a full transcript of the homily released by Vatican Radio.

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Keeping the habit: Franciscans look to counter culture's impact

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis frequently denounces two aspects of modern culture: the way it encourages people to throw away whatever or whoever they no longer find useful and the belief that nothing lasts forever, not even love. Hundreds of members of the Franciscan family -- friars from different branches as well as different congregations of religious women -- gathered in Rome Oct. 29 to discuss the impact the "culture of the provisional" is having on religious life. In brown robes or black veils or bright batik African scarves, the sisters and friars spent a day discussing a key challenge for modern religious life: "fidelity and perseverance." The problem is decades old, but all the speakers quoted Pope Francis' succinct descriptions of the cultural atmosphere that makes it difficult today for young people to make lifelong commitments and encourages those who have made vows to head for the door when trouble arises. Meeting with families -- grandparents, engaged couples, parents and children -- in late October, Pope Francis said the "culture of the provisional cuts life up into pieces." Meeting with novices in July, he said he'd once heard a seminarian say he would go forward to ordination and "try out" the priesthood for 10 years, and then he'd see.

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India's Catholic officials to promote children's health, eye donations

BANGALORE, India (CNS) -- Catholic officials said they would promote children's health and eye donations in an effort to promote wellness. Father Tomi Thomas, director-general of the Catholic Health Association of India, told Catholic News Service the organization's members would encourage children to eat healthy foods and get physical exercise. The association and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India teamed up to launch children's health clubs. "Today, children lead sedentary lifestyles, play virtual and not real games, eat junk food and (opt for) chemical (soft) drinks," said Salesian Father Joseph Manipadam, executive secretary of the bishops' commission for education and culture. "This leads to serious health hazards." The commission will involve the 20,000 Catholic schools and more than 600 colleges and other institutions to set up the health clubs, under the auspices of the Catholic Health Association of India. In late October, the CHAI held its 70th anniversary assembly in Bangalore. More than 800 convention delegates pledged to donate their eyes.

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Pope Francis set to create first batch of cardinals in February

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will create his first cardinals during a consistory Feb. 22, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter. The pope also is expected to use the occasion "to have a meeting with the cardinals for consultations" immediately before the ceremony, as retired Pope Benedict XVI did in the run-up to his consistories, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman. No specific dates were given for that meeting. The names of the new cardinals usually are announced a little more than a month before the consistory itself. Father Lombardi told reporters Oct. 31 that also in mid-February, the pope will have members of the governing council of the Synod of Bishops meet in preparation for the extraordinary session on the family in October 2014 and to have his Council of Cardinals, the group of eight advisers, hold what will be their third gathering. The spokesman said that the pope wanted to hold a consistory for the creation of new cardinals during the same time period as the cardinals' other meetings "to facilitate all these appointments." The group of eight cardinals will probably meet Feb. 17 and 18, Father Lombardi said, to continue their work on helping the pope reform the Roman Curia. The group met Oct. 1-3 and scheduled its second meeting at the Vatican for early December.

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Pope moves causes, including of U.S.-born nun, toward beatification

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Moving four candidates closer to beatification, Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of a bishop in communist-controlled Romania and the heroic virtues of three religious women: one born in the United States, one Irish and one Italian. The recognition of the martyrdom of Bishop Anton Durcovici of Iasi, Romania, in 1951 clears the way for his beatification, a step toward sainthood. Recognizing the heroic virtues of the three religious women Oct. 31, Pope Francis declared them venerable. A miracle attributed to their intercession still is needed before they can be beatified. Mother Celestine Bottego, founder of the Xaverian Missionary Sisters of Mary, was born Dec. 20, 1895, in Glendale, Ohio. She lived in Butte, Mont., until she was almost 15, and then moved with her mother to Italy. She was teaching English at a school run by the Xaverian Fathers when one of them, Father Giacomo Spagnolo, asked her to consider forming a women's branch of the order. After her initial hesitation and a period of prayer, she formed the congregation in 1944. She died in Italy in 1980 at the age of 84.

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Pittsburgh bishop appointed USCCB liaison to Catholic Charities USA

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has named Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik as the new episcopal liaison to Catholic Charities USA. He succeeds Bishop Michael P. Driscoll of Boise, Idaho, who had held the post since 2002. "Catholic Charities USA is a significant organization aligned to the USCCB," Bishop Zubik said in an Oct. 29 statement. "Catholic Charities challenges us to live out Jesus' call to serve the neediest among us." Pope Francis "has called us to a greater outreach with the poor, and I welcome this opportunity to deepen this relationship on behalf of the U.S. bishops," he added. Catholic Charities USA, which has its headquarters in the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Va., is the national office for local Catholic Charities agencies and affiliates in dioceses nationwide.

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EWTN's Warsaw is new chairman at network; Keck succeeds as president

IRONDALE, Ala. (CNS) -- Michael P. Warsaw, a longtime executive at the Eternal Word Television Network who has been its president since 2000 and CEO since 2009, has been promoted to board chairman. Warsaw also continues in his role as the global network's CEO. Doug Keck, executive vice president, has succeeded him as president. Keck continues in his role as chief operating officer, a post he has held since 2009. The EWTN board of governors voted to promote the two executives during a recent board meeting. Warsaw joined EWTN in 1991 and has held senior management positions in the areas of television production, satellite operations and technical services. With the network's 2011 acquisition of the National Catholic Register, he became the paper's publisher. Keck has been with EWTN since 1996 and has been responsible for overseeing the network's television, radio and Internet programming and production. As COO he has had an expanded role in the day-to-day operations. He also is host of the EWTN's "Bookmark" program.


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