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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS May-7-2014

By Catholic News Service

U.S.

'Faith calls for sacrifice': Oregon family descended from martyr-saint

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- Phu Nguyen, a University of Portland sophomore, is descended from a saint. Phu's great-great-great-grandfather died for abiding by his faith. The Vatican considers the torture endured by the renowned Vietnamese martyrs among the worst in the history of Christianity. St. Matthew Nguyen Van Phuong was born in Vietnam in 1801. After his parents died, he was raised by the local priest in Quang-Binh, in the central part of the Southeast Asian nation. Matthew married and became a devoted layman. One of his tasks was finding homes where a priest could say Mass out of sight from government officials. In a country already marked by two centuries of bloody persecution of Catholics, this took pluck. Before Mass one day during Advent, 1860, rumors emerged that authorities were coming for Matthew. He and the priest went into hiding for five months, but guards hunted them down. Captors etched a cross on the ground and demanded that the priest and layman tread on it as a sign of renouncing Christ. Where many gave in, they refused. They were beheaded on the spot, joining tens of thousands of martyred Vietnamese Christians. "I think it's a powerful reminder of the faith that I have," says Phu, who grew up with a statue of his holy ancestor in his family home in Portland. "It shows the love and sacrifice that my faith asks of me."

- - -

New National Review Board members include judge, prosecutor, therapist

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Three new members of the U.S. bishops' National Review Board, which monitors dioceses' performance in dealing with sexually abusive priests and creating a safe environment for children throughout the church, were appointed May 1 by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the bishops' conference. The new members are Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald J. Schmid of Granger, Indiana; Judge Mary. K. Huffman of Centerville, Ohio; and Nelle Moriarty, a marriage and family therapist in Rochester, Minnesota. Their terms start in June. The all-lay board was established by the U.S. bishops in 2002 to provide an independent review and to critique how well U.S. Catholic dioceses were dealing with sexually abusive priests and their victims, and to keep track of what policies, personnel and programs the bishops were establishing to create a safe environment for children. The board's formation was part of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" that the bishops adopted that year in response to published revelations earlier in 2002 about the number of priests across the country who had molested children and especially the number of them who had been left in ministry or returned to ministry after church authorities learned of their actions.

- - -

WORLD

Pope: Never forget to pray! Speak from the heart, ask God for help

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Never forget to pray, even while commuting, taking a walk or when waiting in line, Pope Francis said. And don't just stick to prayers memorized from childhood, but include heartfelt requests and pleas for help, advice and guidance, he said. During his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square May 7, the pope continued a series of audience talks on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. Looking at the gift of counsel, Pope Francis said people know how important it is to go to the right person -- to "people who are wise and who love us" -- to get the best advice, especially concerning difficult or "thorny" situations. Through the Holy Spirit, God is there to enlighten people's hearts and "help us understand the right things to say, the right way to act and the right road to take" when it comes to an important decision, the pope said. By opening one's heart to God, "the Holy Spirit immediately begins to help us perceive his voice and guide our thoughts, our feelings and our intentions" to be in harmony with God's will.

- - -

PEOPLE

Melkite Catholic patriarch urges end to foreign interference in Syria

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CNS) -- Syrian Catholics have a part to play in re-establishing peace in their homeland, despite their status as a minority. But before any serious attempt is made, foreign troublemakers must leave the country, a leading prelate said. Syrian-born Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham, who was in Brooklyn recently as part of a U.S. tour to raise awareness of what is going on in Syria, says the perspective is being misreported. Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio hosted a dinner at his residence April 29, at which the patriarch spoke to a small group of local residents of Middle Eastern descent. He disagrees with the description of what's happening in Syria as a civil war. "It is really a foreign war in Syria," said the 84-year-old patriarch. "And it's being waged against Syria. The country, Syria, is one of the most -- excuse me if I say it in America -- one of the most democratic countries in the whole Arab world. Except, let us say, Lebanon, or Israel." He claimed that foreigners have infiltrated the land and are causing all the trouble. "The people (in Syria) are happy, they are," he said. "There is some corruption. The secret service is very strong. OK, it is a regime, you know. It is a party boss, for 40 years now, but the new president is improving many things. Slowly, slowly. And I see a new vision, a new look of the world."

END


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