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 September 17, 2007   •   VOL. 45, NO. 16   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Honoring Blessed Mother Teresa
Volunteers, slum dwellers and nuns from the Missionaries of Charity order gather beside the tomb of Blessed Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India, for a special prayer on the 10th anniversary of her death Sept. 5. Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950.

CNS PHOTO/JAYANTA SHAW/REUTERS

Pope visits Austria
Pope Benedict XVI receives the offertory gifts from children while celebrating Mass in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Austria, Sept. 9. The pope called on Catholics to protect Sunday as a day of worship in an increasingly busy world.

CNS PHOTO/CHURCH/HANDOUT/REUTERS

In Austria, pope sticks to core values theme
VIENNA, Austria (CNS) — On a three-day pilgrimage to Austria, Pope Benedict XVI brought a core theme of his pontificate to Central Europe, warning that a drift away from Christian values is leaving society unfulfilled, less charitable and without a real future.

Although the pope’s events during the Sept. 7-9 visit were low-key, his message was not. To diverse audiences of Catholic faithful, politicians, church ministers and volunteers, he argued that Europe risks adopting a godless vision that will inevitably lead to a spiritual, social and demographic dead end.

One of the pope’s most telling speeches came in Vienna on the first day of his trip, when he addressed a group that included scores of international diplomats and representatives. Instead of covering the usual list of global trouble spots, the pope made a strong pro-life appeal, zeroing in on the problems of abortion and euthanasia.

Beyond the moral issue of the taking of innocent life, the pope raised a wider question: whether Europe, with its low birth rate and rapidly aging population, is “giving up on itself.”

Southern Calif. dioceses agree to settlement
SAN DIEGO (CNS) — The Diocese of San Diego and the Diocese of San Bernardino, which was divided from the San Diego Diocese in 1978, agreed Sept. 7 to pay $198.1 million to settle lawsuits with 144 victims of sexual abuse by priests between 1938 and 1993. The dioceses had originally offered $95 million to settle the claims. The plaintiffs sought $200 million.

Earlier in the year, the San Diego Diocese filed for bankruptcy protection hours before a trial was to begin in one of the first lawsuits alleging that the Church was responsible for sexual abuse by priests. The judge in the bankruptcy case had recently threatened to throw out the bankruptcy case if the Church didn’t reach an agreement with the plaintiffs. The settlement is one of the largest in the country.

Under the agreement, the San Bernardino Diocese and its insurer, Catholic Mutual, will pay $15.1 million for 11 cases. The San Diego Diocese will pay $77 million and Catholic Mutual will cover another $75.7 million for a total of 111 cases. San Diego will pay another $30.2 million for 22 cases involving members of religious orders. A statement from the San Diego Diocese said it hoped at least part of that amount could be recovered from the religious orders.

Infamous prison to become prayer center
BOGOTA, Colombia (CNS) — An infamous Colombian prison named “La Catedral,” once home to narco-trafficking kingpin Pablo Escobar, soon will be turned into a center of prayer. The administration of the site recently was given to the Monastic Brotherhood of St. Gertrude the Great, which plans to turn the ruins into a religious site and retreat center.

When Colombian authorities were ready to arrest Escobar in 1991, he agreed to go to prison — but in a luxury facility built to his own specifications on a mountainside above the city of Medellin. From inside the prison, which was equipped with a soccer field, a waterfall and a giant dollhouse for his daughter, Escobar continued ruling his drug empire and ordering murders.

Escobar lived there only 13 months before learning he was to be transferred to a real prison. He fled in July 1992, but was hunted down by police and shot dead on a rooftop the next year.

Parishioners asked about human rights abuses
HONG KONG (CNS) — The Diocese of Hong Kong has asked parishioners to vote on the 10 worst human rights abuses since Hong Kong was transferred from Britain to China 10 years ago.
Jackie Hung, an official of the diocese’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, said she hopes the campaign would raise awareness among parishioners and let them view human rights issues in light of Catholic social teaching. The deadline to vote among a list of 50 human rights abuses is Oct. 15.

Pope says global wealth also belongs to poor
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The world’s wealth and resources do not belong to a select few; they also belong to the poor, Pope Benedict XVI said as he urged people to aid the needy and protect the environment. “Christ is present even in the poor so they must never be insulted,” abused or deemed worthless, the pope said Sept. 5, the 10th anniversary of the death of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Musicians send pope iPod with modern church music
LONDON (CNS) — British musicians recorded the classic Irish hymn, “Sweet Heart of Jesus,” in a calypso, disco style and sent it to Pope Benedict XVI on an iPod nano. Pope Benedict might like it, or he might become the first pontiff in history to throw an iPod into the trash. The musicians’ intention, however, was to soften the pope’s attitude toward modern church music.
The gift is from contemporary Catholic songwriters Jo Boyce and Mike Stanley, and it features a new album of classic hymns reworked in modern forms of music.


Oregon parish revives Assisi pledge against war
PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — Discouraged by developments in Iraq, a committee at St. Juan Diego Parish here is asking parishioners to take the Assisi pledge, a statement made by 200 religious leaders at a 2002 meeting in Italy convened by Pope John Paul II. The meeting took place in Assisi, Italy, the home of St. Francis, who is often evoked because of his life of nonviolence and efforts for peace.

The pledge says, in part, “We commit ourselves to proclaiming that violence and terrorism are incompatible with the authentic spirit of religion.”


Earthquake destroyed Peruvian churches, sites
LIMA, Peru (CNS) — Three churches on Peru’s list of cultural heritage sites were declared a total loss and more were badly damaged after the huge earthquake that struck the country’s southern coast, said the director of the National Institute of Culture. Eight others were seriously damaged, eight suffered moderate damage and one was slightly harmed in the magnitude 8 quake that struck Peru Aug. 15.


Rabbi’s knighthood for work with Catholics
NEW YORK (CNS) — Rabbi Leon Klenicki, former interfaith affairs director of the Anti-Defamation League in New York, was invested into the order of St. Gregory the Great during an Aug. 26 ceremony in New York.

The knighthood was granted by Pope Benedict XVI for Rabbi Klenicki’s work with Catholics and Jews. A renowned scholar and theologian, Rabbi Klenicki joins a select group of Jews, and only a handful of rabbis, to receive the papal knighthood. He is the author and co-author of hundreds of books and papers dealing with the theological and practical aspects of improving relations between Catholics and Jews.

 

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