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 November 6 , 2006VOL. 44, NO. 19Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Vietnamese chapel in D.C.
A girl participates in the dedication of Our Lady of La Vang Chapel at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, Oct. 21. The chapel was a gift from Vietnamese Americans.

CNS PHOTO/MATTHEW BARRICK/NATIONAL SHRINE

Life in a cemetery
A girl takes a bath near tombs in a public cemetery in Manila, Philippines. People living in poverty have taken up residence in the cemetery.

CNS PHOTO/ROMEO RNOCO/REUTERS

Lay ministers no longer can cleanse vessels
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- At the direction of Pope Benedict XVI, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion will no longer be permitted to assist in the purification of the sacred vessels at Masses in the United States.

In an Oct. 23 letter, Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, asked his fellow bishops to inform all pastors of the change, which was prompted by a letter from Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

The U.S. bishops had asked the Vatican to extend an indult -- or church permission -- in effect since 2002 allowing extraordinary ministers of holy Communion to help cleanse the Communion cups and plates when there were not enough priests or deacons to do so. Bishop Skylstad, who heads the Diocese of Spokane, Wash., said Cardinal Arinze asked Pope Benedict about the matter during a June 9 audience, “and received a response in the negative.”

Mexican cardinal calls border fence shortsighted
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Building a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border is a shortsighted move that may hurt the U.S. economy and shows a serious lack of respect for the dignity of Mexican workers, said a Vatican official.

“This wall, together with the fact that this border is patrolled by thousands of armed men ready to shoot on sight those who try to cross it, certainly is not respectful of the dignity of the human person,” said Mexican Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.

President George W. Bush signed a bill Oct. 26 authorizing construction of the fence along a total of 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexican border.

Cardinal Lozano said the bill’s passage and signing were a sign of a “lack of intelligence” in U.S. efforts to find solutions to its border problems as well as a lack of political courage to take a moral stand just before the November elections.

He said the fence is unlikely to stop illegal entry into the United States, but is likely to lead people “to try to cross the border in increasingly risky ways or by putting themselves into the hands of unscrupulous traffickers.”

In addition, the cardinal said, “from an economic point of view, it does not seem to me to be a very farsighted choice.”

Bishops told to find the truth about sex abuse
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said priestly sexual abuse of minors was a “heart-rending” tragedy that requires an effort of purification by the Church.

Addressing Ireland’s bishops at the Vatican Oct. 28, the pope encouraged them to establish the truth of past sex abuse cases, take steps to prevent future crimes and bring healing to the victims.
“The wounds caused by such acts run deep, and it is an urgent task to rebuild confidence and trust where these have been damaged,” the pope said.

Irish church leaders have had to deal with hundreds of allegations of clerical sexual abuse, many of which came to light in recent years.

The bishops set up an advisory committee and an independent, lay-led commission to study the problem, and earlier this year published “Our Children, Our Church,” a child protection policy that included new measures more consistent with state procedures.

Catholic organizations gain from increased giving
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The concept of “donor fatigue” did not seem to afflict the United States’ largest endowments, nonprofits and charitable groups in 2005, with Catholic organizations seemingly benefiting from increased giving as much as most other major philanthropic groups, according to a survey conducted by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

In its annual study of the 400 largest philanthropic organizations, the average increase in private donations was 13.2 percent, but some Catholic organizations eclipsed even that strong showing.

Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore registered a whopping 146.3 percent jump in donations, ranking 32nd out of the top 100 organizations with $342.6 million in contributions. The Catholic Medical Mission Board, based in New York City, took in $196.74 million in donations, an increase of 60.4 percent. It was ranked 73rd. The other Catholic group in the top 100 -- Catholic Charities USA, based in Alexandria, Va. -- ranked 14th with support amounting to $646.19 million. Its contributions rose 11.2 percent.

Britain abandons plans for church school quotas
LONDON (CNS) -- The British government has abandoned plans to impose quotas of non-Catholic students in publicly funded church schools after fierce opposition from the Catholic Church. Alan Johnson, secretary of state for education, said he no longer intends to amend the Education and Inspections Bill to force new faith schools to take up to 25 percent of students from families of a different faith or no faith at all. He said that after exchanging correspondence with Catholic leaders he did not feel that “the legislative route is necessary or appropriate.”

Priests face criminal charges after pilgrimage
HONG KONG (CNS) -- Two leaders of the underground Catholic community in eastern China who visited the Vatican have been charged with “illegal exit” and will probably face trial, an Asian church news agency reported. Local Catholics hired a defense lawyer after learning that the priests might be given a trial.

Father Peter Shao Zhumin, vicar general of the Diocese of Wenzhou, and Father Paul Jiang Surang, sometimes known as Jiang Sunian, the diocesan chancellor, were arrested Sept. 25 in Shenzhen, China. They were transferred to Putaopeng Detention Center in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, UCA News reported.

Claretians in southern Philippines close schools
ISABELA CITY, Philippines (CNS) -- All Claretian schools in the Basilan province were closed indefinitely after Muslim parents warned a group of Catholic nuns and teachers of a possible attack from Abu Sayyaf guerrilla recruits.

Daughters of Charity Sister Felipa Javen, a teacher at Claret High School in Basilan’s Maluso town, said Muslim parents warned her and three other nuns at a school meeting Oct. 15 that the Abu Sayyaf separatist group had targeted Claret High School and its faculty for an attack. About half of the school’s students are Muslim. She said the nuns have always had good relations with Muslims in the area.

Young mayor credits Catholic faith for success
PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- Luke Ravenstahl, Pittsburgh’s new 26-year-old mayor, said he would not be in the position he is in today without his Catholic faith. “I’m not shy to say it, and I do say it whenever I can,” said Ravenstahl.”I would not be where I’m at without my Catholic upbringing and my Catholic education.”

As president of the City Council, Ravenstahl became the mayor of Pittsburgh Sept. 1 following the death of Mayor Bob O’Connor from lymphoma of the primary central nervous system.

“The foundation that was instilled in me and my two brothers, both through my family as well as the school and the Church, are something that I use on a daily basis,” said Ravenstahl, a Democrat, who attended Incarnation Academy and North Catholic High School, both on Pittsburgh’s north side.

Chicago begins Polish-language newspaper
CHICAGO (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of Chicago has begun publishing a Polish-language Catholic newspaper, believed to be the first publication of its kind to be sponsored by a U.S. Catholic diocese.

Katolik, a 20-page tabloid with six pages in color, will be published on the first Sunday of every month. It will include news and information about Poland, Chicago’s Polish community and the Catholic Church on a local, national and international level.

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