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 February 18, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 4   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Worldwide protest against FARC
ABOVE LEFT: 500 people march to San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza, Feb. 4, as part of a worldwide rally against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Among the rally speakers was F.L. Paz, who was kidnapped by FARC six years ago and held captive in the Colombian jungle for six months before escaping. ABOVE RIGHT: A nun holds a banner during the Feb. 4 rally in Quito, Ecuador. Thousands of Colombians also took to the streets across their country and abroad demanding peace and the release of all hostages of the guerrilla group.


Anniversary at Lourdes
Thousands of pilgrims pray in the presence of the Eucharist at the Sanctuaries of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France, Feb. 11, marking the 150th anniversary of Mary’s first appearance to St. Bernadette Soubirous.


Another U.S. saint?
Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, Ill., affixes the seal of the diocese on a crate of preliminary research into the life and virtues of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. The documentation now goes to the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes to examine whether the late archbishop should be considered for canonization.


Survey looks at Catholics’ understanding of marriage
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Although nearly three-quarters of American Catholics say they are somewhat or very familiar with Church teachings on marriage, many mistakenly believe that a non-Catholic spouse must promise to raise the couple’s children as Catholic and that Church teaching accepts divorce in cases of marital infidelity.

Those were among the results of a nationwide survey commissioned in April 2007 by the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Marriage and Family Life on U.S. Catholic attitudes and practices regarding marriage. The survey was carried out in June 2007 by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University via the Internet polling firm Knowledge Networks and was made public Feb. 11.

“This is the first time that such a varied and comprehensive body of data about Catholic patterns in marriage has been collected and analyzed,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky. He is chairman of what is now the bishops’ Subcommittee on Marriage and Family Life of the newly renamed Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

Pope decries chauvinism, violence against women

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI decried chauvinism and the “serious and relentless” exploitation, discrimination and violence being waged against the world’s women. “There are places and cultures where women are discriminated against or undervalued just for the fact that they are women,” he said Feb. 9 in remarks to participants attending a Vatican-sponsored international congress to mark the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter, “Mulieris Dignitatem” (“On the Dignity and Vocation of Women”).

Pope Benedict told some 250 participants during a special audience at the Vatican that discrimination can be the result of “religious arguments and family, social and cultural pressures” aimed at supporting “the disparity of the sexes.”

Pope’s April trip to U.S. is now official

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican officially announced Pope Benedict XVI’s April 15-20 trip to the United States. The Feb. 8 announcement said the pope would visit Washington and New York City. It will be Pope Benedict’s eighth apostolic journey outside Italy.

The six-day trip will include an April 16 meeting with President George W. Bush at the White House, a prayer service that same day with U.S. bishops at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and an April 17 Mass at the new baseball stadium in Washington.
In New York, the pope will address the United Nations April 18, celebrate an April 19 Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, visit ground zero April 20 and say Mass later that day in Yankee Stadium.

Prayers for teacher stabbed at Catholic school

PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (CNS) — Columbus Bishop Frederick F. Campbell asked for prayers Feb. 7 following the stabbing of a teacher at Notre Dame Elementary School in Portsmouth. Police said William Michael Layne, 46, of Portsmouth, stabbed his estranged wife, Christi Layne, 53, inside her fifth-grade classroom at about 9 a.m. She was listed in critical but stable condition at Cabell-Huntington Hospital in Huntington, W.Va. None of the 17 students in the classroom were reported injured.

Refugees from Chad face desperate situation

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — Thousands of people who fled Chad to neighboring Cameroon after rebel fighting in early February are in a desperate situation without any infrastructure to support them, said a spokesman for the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services. “They’re in a predicament: Do they stay in Cameroon where they don’t have drinking water, or go back to Chad where there is no money?” Lane Hartill, regional information officer for CRS in West Africa, said.

There was very little food available in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, after a Feb. 2 and 3 rebel attack and “there is no access to cash” with banks closed, Hartill said. Markets were looted in the fighting and food that is available is expensive, he said.

Israel OKs multiple-entry visas for church workers

JERUSALEM (CNS) — The Israeli Ministry of the Interior has agreed to provide multiple-entry visas to “high-ranking church personnel” who must travel in and out of Israel for their work. Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit said the Church would need to submit a list of such personnel to be “checked and approved” by the ministry before the multiple-entry visas would be issued. Sheetrit said all other religious who need to leave Israel for work would be able to apply and receive re-entry visas to Israel before departure from the country.

Benedictine Sisters score funds during Super Bowl

PHOENIX (CNS) — While the NFL and advertisers used Super Bowl XLII as a chance to further their enterprises and increase profits, some Benedictine Sisters in Phoenix used the big game as an opportunity to raise funds for their community. They turned Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery and Retreat Center into an affordable hotel for football fans and raised $10,000 from lodging fees and a raffle.

Deacons to be ordained during Tridentine Mass

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A former Vatican official will ordain four seminarians in a Tridentine Mass celebrated in the cathedral of Rome, Feb. 23. The ordination Mass will be the most prominent celebration of the old rite in Rome since Pope Benedict XVI relaxed restrictions on its use last year.

The Mass, to be celebrated by Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, will follow the 1962 Roman Missal, known commonly as the Tridentine rite. Those to be ordained are members of the Good Shepherd Institute, a society of apostolic life that uses only the Tridentine rite. The institute, based in France, is made up primarily of priests and seminarians who left the schismatic Society of St. Pius X and reconciled with the Vatican in 2006. The men will be ordained to the transitional diaconate, the stage before ordination as a priest.

Chinese Catholics help snow-stranded migrants

HONG KONG (CNS) — Catholics in southern and central China helped stranded migrants who could not return to their hometowns for the Chinese New Year because of snowstorms, rain or traffic chaos. Three days before the beginning of the weeklong lunar new year, more than a million migrant workers from southern China’s Guangdong province were stranded at the Guangzhou train station.

Bishop Joseph Gan Junqiu of Guangzhou said the diocese was preparing to celebrate the holiday in parishes with some stranded migrant workers, and 200 local Catholics were making traditional dumplings for the occasion. A few days earlier, the bishop and accompanying Catholics brought food, medicine and 100 quilts for the stranded workers at the station.

Vietnam to return nunciature to Catholics

HANOI, Vietnam (CNS) — After round-the-clock prayer vigils and protests on the grounds of the former apostolic nunciature in Hanoi, Vietnamese authorities have decided to return the building to the Catholic Church. City officials said the government would return the former nunciature, which the communist government confiscated in 1959, after the Vietnamese lunar new year celebrations Feb. 7-9.

Church sources said that civil authorities decided to let the Church have the building “to show good will and respect toward the pope.”


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