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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Nov-19-2013

By Catholic News Service


Bishop urges temporary protected status for Philippine citizens in U.S.

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The "widespread loss of life and property" in the Philippines caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan warrants granting temporary protected status to Philippine citizens residing in the United States, a U.S. bishop told federal officials in a Nov. 18 letter. The status, known as TPS, allows citizens of the designated country to reside legally in the United States with work authorization. The U.S. government grants it after determining that armed conflict, political unrest, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions exist in a nation and that the return of that country's nationals would further destabilize the nation and potentially bring harm to those who return. In the case of people from the Philippines, TPS "would protect them from deportation to a nation that, for the time being, is unable to assist them in their reintegration," said Seattle Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Migration. "(It) would ensure that nationals of the country currently residing in the United States are able to work and to send remittances back to their families, thus helping aid the recovery," he wrote in a letter addressed to Rand Beers, acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Copies of the letter were sent to Secretary of State John Kerry and Denis McDonough, White House chief of staff. Haiyan cut a path of devastation across the central Philippines Nov. 8. Vietnam also was hit by the typhoon.

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Victims of powerful Illinois tornado lose everything but faith, charity

WASHINGTON, Ill. (CNS) -- As Father Stephen Willard was preparing to celebrate the 11 a.m. Sunday Mass at a filled St. Patrick Church in Washington Nov. 17, the most powerful tornado to hit Illinois since 1885 was taking aim at neighborhoods on the western edge of this community of 15,000. With sirens blaring, worshippers were instructed to go to the middle of the church. Father Willard went outside to hurry inside people who were just arriving. "At one point I looked up and saw the funnel cloud and tornado to the west of us," said Father Willard. It was one of many tornadoes that swept through several Midwest states that day, spawned by a strong late-season storm system. At least eight people were killed; six of them lived in Illinois. The power went out, the storm passed, and Father Willard offered a "quick Mass" that included prayers for anyone who might be affected. Text messages received by parishioners throughout the church were the first indication that homes had been damaged, but the scope of the tragedy was realized only when Massgoers began trying to make their way home.

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Napalm bombing survivor 'came from war,' now 'values peace,' she says

ATLANTA (CNS) -- An entire generation instantly recognizes the image of an unclothed Vietnamese girl running toward the camera in terror after a bombing at her village. Taken by Associated Press photographer Nick Ut in June 1972, the black and white photograph became one of the most iconic pictures from the Vietnam War. Napalm bombing survivor Phan Thi Kim Phuc, the girl from the picture, visited Marist School in Atlanta and asked the students to help spread a message of peace and forgiveness. Dressed in a traditional Vietnamese dress, Phuc delivered a soft-spoken yet mighty testimony during her October visit. "I came through the fire and I am blessed to be here," said Phuc. Students, faculty and guests gathered in the school's Centennial Center to hear Phuc's presentation of "Love, Hope and Forgiveness." She was 9 years old when the attack occurred. She and her family had been hiding in a Buddhist pagoda in Trang Bang and she was severely injured with third-degree burns over much of her body. Phuc's clothing was burned off by the intense heat of napalm. A sticky gel-like substance, napalm was used in incendiary bombs and flamethrowers and contained gasoline and soaps.

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Pope prays that people will care for and listen to grandparents

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Just as fine wine grows stronger with age, grandparents and other elderly Catholics "have the strength to leave us a noble inheritance," Pope Francis said at his early morning Mass. Celebrating the liturgy Nov. 19 in the chapel of his residence, Pope Francis once again denounced a cultural tendency "to discard" the elderly "because they are a bother." Instead, "the elderly are those who transmit history to us, who transmit doctrine, who transmit the faith and give it to us as an inheritance," the pope said, according to Vatican Radio. The day's first reading, from the Second Book of Maccabees, told the story of the 90-year-old Eleazar, who chose martyrdom rather than violating Jewish dietary laws or just appearing to violate them because he didn't want to give a bad example to the young. "By manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myself worthy of my old age," Eleazar says, "and I will leave to the young a noble example of how to die willingly and generously for the revered and holy laws."

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Pope's embrace was heavenly, says man with disfiguring disease

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- For someone who has frequently been shunned and humiliated because of a disease that has severely disfigured his entire body, receiving the pope's loving embrace was like being in paradise. Vinicio Riva, who is afflicted with neurofibromatosis, said his brief encounter with Pope Francis Nov. 6 at a general audience in St. Peter's Square "seemed like forever." Images of the pope kissing and embracing the Italian man made headlines, but his identity and background weren't known until two Italian news outlets found and interviewed him. "My heart was bursting," he told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera Nov. 18. When the pope hugged him tight, "I felt like I was in paradise." Riva, 53, lives in a small village near Vicenza in northern Italy with his younger sister Morena Riva, who has the same genetic disorder, and their aunt, Caterina Lotto, who cares for them. The siblings' late mother also suffered

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Bishops: To respond to pope's call for mission, parishes need new model

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, Ontario, recalled once having a parish that needed a new furnace and was considering hiring a youth pastor. The parishioners raised $90,000 in three weeks for the furnace, but failed to find funds for the youth pastor, figuring there were few young people to serve. Archbishop Prendergast cited the story as an example of "the maintenance model of the church versus a missionary model of the church." It's a model that has been deployed by too many dioceses in the United States and Canada and one that some senior clergy recognize as outdated and doing nothing to put people in church pews or contribute to parish life -- much less increasing the kingdom of God. Pope Francis wants that to change and has called on Catholics to adopt a more audacious, missionary mindset. But several U.S. and Canadian church leaders at a Mexico City conference on the new evangelization said that means a new mindset in countries where people are becoming cultural Catholics or "consumers of religion" and fail to make mission a priority. "Our job in parishes and dioceses is not just to take care of the people we've got, but to welcome back those who have left and to invite new ones," New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan told Catholic News Service.

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Catholics must learn to make mission a priority, says Boston cardinal

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The United States is experiencing a "transition from a strong cultural Catholicism to an intentional Catholicism," and that requires "a new evangelization (that) responds to the questions of today," said Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley. "Doing things as they were always done doesn't work," he told participants at a conference held at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the new evangelization of the Americas. His Nov. 18 remarks were part of a panel titled, "Culture and Society on the American Continent: Mission and Contribution of the Church." Cardinals Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and Francisco Robles Ortega of Guadalajara, Mexico, were the other panelists. The new evangelization reflects an attempt by the church to renew Catholicism in the Americas, where the church has a long history and deep cultural traditions, but has become less relevant for an increasingly large part of the population. Mission has not always been a priority associated with Catholics, unlike evangelicals, Cardinal O'Malley said. "This is something that we have to change," he said. In his speech, Cardinal O'Malley outlined three areas of focus for the U.S. Catholic church's missionary work: the protection of children, the promotion of marriage and the incorporation of immigrants.

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Pope names Dallas seminary rector to be bishop of Fort Worth

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Msgr. Michael F. Olson, who is currently rector of Holy Trinity Seminary at the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, to head the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas. Bishop-designate Olson, 47, is a Fort Worth diocesan priest. He succeeds Bishop Kevin W. Vann, who was named bishop of the Diocese of Orange, Calif., in September 2012. The appointment was announced Nov. 19 in Washington by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishop-designate Olson, who has been Holy Trinity's rector since 2008, will be ordained and installed Jan. 29 at a Mass to be celebrated in the Fort Worth Convention Center. He will become the second youngest bishop in the United States to lead a diocese. The youngest bishop is fellow seminary classmate Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, N.M. Both are graduates of the St. Mary's Seminary in Houston. "I am very humbled and deeply moved by Pope Francis' appointment of me to serve as the bishop of Fort Worth," the newly named bishop said at a news conference at the Fort Worth diocesan Catholic Center. "In a very special way, I am delighted to return home to the Diocese of Fort Worth to serve the priests, deacons, religious, and all of the faithful as their bishop." He is the first priest of the Diocese of Fort Worth to be named a bishop. He will lead a fast-growing diocese of an estimated 710,000 Catholics in 90 parishes in the 28-county north Texas region.

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'Bishop Bling' pays fine in perjury case

HAMBURG, Germany (CNS) -- The so-called "luxury bishop" or "Bishop Bling" of Limburg agreed to pay a fine of 20,000 euros rather than contest charges that he perjured himself before the Hamburg District Court. The court press office announced Nov. 18 that Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst had paid the fine, which is about $27,000. Hamburg prosecutors had charged him with lying to the court in a case involving the magazine Der Spiegel. The bishop had sued for an article alleging that he had flown first class on a trip to India for charity work when he told a Der Spiegel reporter that he flew business class. Although the bishop denied that he said he flew business class, the reporter had a recording of his words. Pope Francis ordered Bishop Tebartz-van Elst to leave the Diocese of Limburg pending a separate investigation into allegedly exorbitant expenditures for his residence and diocese center. A commission appointed by the German bishops' conference is conducting an audit of the project.

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Bon Jovi urges everybody to pitch in to help homeless, others in need

CAMDEN, N.J. (CNS) -- Musician Jon Bon Jovi visited the future site of Joseph's House of Camden in an effort to ensure that Camden's homeless would no longer just be "Livin' on a Prayer." "Today we have the opportunity to see the progress on what a year ago was just a vision," Bon Jovi, a New Jersey native, said Nov. 6. He was joined by leaders of the Camden Diocese, Camden Mayor Dana Redd and donors as well as individuals who benefited from Joseph's House. First opening near the city's business district in 2010, Joseph's House has served as a temporary, six-month facility offering food and shelter for Camden's chronically homeless during the winter months. Last summer, a 17,000-square-foot facility was acquired, and when completed at the end of this year or early next year, the new Joseph's House will accommodate 75 adults each night. It will provide food, shelter and services year-round for Camden's homeless. "We not only realize the need for safe and accessible shelter, but also the need to have many services provided under one roof, and help (the homeless) secure a more stable future, by having the opportunity to take the next step," Bon Jovi said.


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