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March 26, 2007 VOL. 45, NO. 6Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Urging peace
A member of the Offre Joie organization stands with a dove behind barbed wires separating Riad el Solh and Martyrs’ squares in Beirut, Lebanon, March 17. The two squares are separated by barbed wires and guarded by the Lebanese army. Hezbollah-led protesters have staged a sit-in at Riad el Solh Square for more than 100 days. Offre Joie is urging unity and peace among rival political sides.

CNS PHOTO/JAMAL SAIDI/REUTERS

House of Hope
HIV-positive orphans pose for a photo last month at the Assunta Ashanilayam (House of Hope) run by a Franciscan congregation in Warangal, India. Opened in 2004, the hospice now cares for 27 HIV-positive orphans whose parents have died of AIDS.

CNS PHOTO/AN TO AKKARA

Honoring a hero
Franciscan Father Jerome Massimino looks at the 20-pound, 2-by-3-foot sculpture an Irish sculptor created using Waterford crystal that shows Franciscan Father Mychal F. Judge, a chaplain with New York Fire Department, being carried out of the World Trade Center rubble. The sculpture was dedicated March 14 at Engine 1, Ladder Co. 24. Father Judge died Sept. 11, 2001, while giving last rites to a firefighter in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the center’s twin towers.

CNS photo/Octavio Duran

Pope: truth, not trends, must guide Christians
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Truth, and not what is “merely fashionable,” must guide Christians as they enter into dialogue with those who hold different philosophies or religious beliefs, Pope Benedict XVI said during his weekly general audience, March 21.

Creating men and women with the gift of reason, God ensured that they could recognize the truth about God, creation and life, said the pope, whose talk focused on St. Justin, the philosopher and martyr decapitated in Rome in 165 for being a Christian.

Pope Benedict explained that Justin spent his life pondering truth, particularly through Greek philosophy. His search led him to prayer, the study of the Jewish prophets and ultimately to Christianity.

The truth introduced to the Jews and partially explained in philosophy finds its completeness in Christ, Pope Benedict said.

Human rights leader sees progress in Ireland
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Progress for human rights and equality under the law is moving at a slow but steady pace in Northern Ireland, said a leading human rights activist, Maggie Beirne. While it is hard to get people in Northern Ireland to agree on major political issues, there is growing cooperation on the neighborhood and local levels to achieve common goals, she said.
The key issue is whether Northern Ireland should remain under British rule as part of the United Kingdom or whether it should join Ireland. The Protestant majority generally favors remaining under British rule while the minority Catholics mostly favor union with Ireland.

Catholics must refuse procedures that destroy life
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic health care professionals, including hospital administrators, have an obligation to refuse to participate “in any medical intervention or research that foresees the destruction of human life,” said the Pontifical Academy for Life. The academy, in a statement dated March 15, defended the right of both individuals and hospitals to declare their status as conscientious objectors to procedures that destroy human life.

In addition to refusing to participate in abortions, the statement said, doctors, pharmacists and nurses also must be aware of their “moral responsibility” when asked to provide so-called “emergency contraception,” clarifying the difference between treatment designed to prevent conception, for instance in the case of rape, and treatment designed to destroy a human embryo before it can be implanted in the uterus.

Archbishop opposes boosting nation’s military
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Boosting the military of Japan would be a “grave threat” to Asian Pacific countries, said Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki. He strongly criticized Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s upcoming referendum to revise Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which is an obstacle to Japan’s remilitarization and military involvement overseas.

If Japanese citizens vote in favor of the referendum May 3, the government would be permitted to maintain de jure military forces which could be deployed for combat. Japan’s military would be the third largest in the world, behind the United States and Russia, said the archbishop.

Nun will accompany man to his execution
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CNS) – Daughter of Charity Sister Doris Moore plans to be in Texas, March 28, when Vincent Gutierrez is scheduled to be executed. “I’ve been with him on the whole journey,” said Sister Doris, who began corresponding with Gutierrez in 1998 when he arrived on death row at age 19. After an initial letter to introduce herself, Sister Doris -- then working at one of her order’s wellness centers in San Antonio -- committed to driving four hours to Livingston, Texas, to visit Gutierrez at least twice a year.

Sister Doris now works at the Helping Hand food pantry in Little Rock, but she has remained a consistent presence in Gutierrez’s life.

Carjackers shoot, kill missionary priest in Kenya
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- Carjackers shot at close range and killed a Missionaries of Africa priest before taking his car in Nairobi. Father Martin Addai, 46, was traveling near the Missionaries of Africa house when he died of massive bleeding from the gunshot wound March 10. He was on his way to visit friends when he was shot and his body thrown on the side of the road. The assailants escaped with the vehicle.

Catholic philosopher wins Templeton Prize
NEW YORK (CNS) -- A Canadian Catholic philosopher is the 2007 winner of the Templeton Prize for his life’s work on the need to bring both secular and spiritual dimensions to bear in studying such problems as violence and bigotry. Charles Taylor, 75, is currently professor of law and philosophy at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and professor emeritus in the political science department at McGill University in Montreal, the city of his birth.

Presented annually since 1973 by the John Templeton Foundation, the prize has a value of more than $1.5 million in U.S. currency, making it the world’s largest annual monetary award to an individual. He is the first Canadian to win it.

Phase of John Paul II’s sainthood cause to close
ROME (CNS) -- The diocesan phase of the investigation into the life and holiness of Pope John Paul II will close officially April 2, the second anniversary of the pope’s death. This means that the cause’s promoter has interviewed all of the eyewitnesses he felt needed to be heard and has examined all of the candidate’s writings. In addition, a panel of historians has written a report on the candidate’s actions and writings in the historical context in which he lived.

While the documentation will be handed over to the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes after the April 2 ceremony, the promoter and his assistants still must prepare the official “positio,” or position paper, arguing that Pope John Paul heroically lived the Christian virtues. Normally in order for a beatification to take place, a separate report must be prepared and accepted recognizing a miracle attributed to the candidate’s intervention.

Anti-terrorism bill hinders refugee applicants
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A coalition of religious groups and refugee advocates is calling on Congress to back off from provisions of the Patriot Act and Real ID Act that they argue have blocked thousands of vulnerable people from being admitted to the United States. The two laws include sections barring anyone who has provided “material support” to “terrorist organizations” from entering the United States.

By criminalizing broadly defined “material support,” the laws prohibit the admission of people who have, even under coercion, provided any kind of financial, physical and material aid to members of a wide range of organizations involved in armed resistance to any national government. A March 8 statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, notes that asylum, refugee protection and legal immigration status are being denied even to people who have provided assistance to people under threat of death.

A briefing paper prepared by the USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services said in some situations, people have been excluded from refugee protection for the very reasons they were forced to flee from their homelands, including women and children who have been raped and tortured.

L.A. institute promotes Catholic-Orthodox ties
LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- With a $5 million pledge by philanthropist Michael Huffington, Loyola Marymount University has established the Huffington Ecumenical Institute to promote Catholic-Orthodox dialogue and understanding. “I feel very passionate about this project,” said Huffington, a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, “because my dream is that someday I’ll get to see members of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church be able to take Communion in each other’s churches.”

Loyola Marymount, a Jesuit institution with about 5,000 undergraduates and 3,000 graduate students, said it plans to identify another $5 million in matching funds for the institute. The institute will sponsor ecumenical dialogues and other constructive encounters among Catholic and Orthodox theologians, religious leaders and church members. It also will develop a collection of library and Internet resources to be housed in the university’s theology department .

Vatican’s U.N. mission gets diplomatic immunity
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In an executive order March 7 President George W. Bush granted diplomatic immunity and privileges to the members of the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations. Diplomatic immunity ensures safe passage for diplomats outside their home country. They are not subject to lawsuits or prosecution under the laws of the host country.

Plans for cathedral dedicated to Mother Teresa
PRIZREN, Kosovo (CNS) -- The government of predominantly Muslim Kosovo has approved plans for a cathedral dedicated to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Bishop Dode Gjergji of Sape, Albania, said that all the documents were being finalized and the work will start this year.
The cathedral’s architectural design includes a Catholic cultural and educational center on the 32-acre compound in Pristina. The cathedral had been approved before, but two days after a 2005 ground-breaking ceremony, the site was damaged by a grenade explosion.

 

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