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 April 21, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 8   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Remembering Cesar Chavez
People carry a large portrait of Cesar Chavez at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles during an April 6 Mass celebrated in honor of the late United Farm Workers’ founder. Hundreds attended the eighth annual archdiocesan Mass for Chavez.


Co-Cathedral dedicated
The new Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston was dedicated April 2 as the central place of worship for the 1.3 million faithful within the borders of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. A co-cathedral is a cathedral church which shares the honor of being a bishop’s seat, or cathedra, with another church, in this case the Basilica in Galveston.

New S.F. auxiliary bishop
Father William J. Justice, vicar for clergy for the San Francisco Archdiocese, stands outside St. Mary’s Cathedral after being appointed auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese, April 10. Bishop-designate Justice, 65, was ordained in 1968 and has served as a pastor, director of the permanent diaconate office, and secretary in the pastoral ministry office, 1981-1982. San Francisco Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco will ordain Bishop-designate Justice to the episcopate at a May 28 Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

Another slain priest in Iraq
Mourners carry the coffin of Orthodox Father Yousef Adel Abudi during his funeral at the Syrian Orthodox Church of St. Peter and Paul in Baghdad, Iraq, April 6. Father Abudi, 40, was killed by gunmen who fired on the car in which he was traveling. Last month the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul died after being kidnapped and last June a priest and three deacons were murdered.


Call for help in Haitian food crisis
BALTIMORE (CNS) — Violent demonstrations in Haiti have prompted officials from aid agencies to call on the Haitian government and the international community to funnel more resources into the country so people can get food and gasoline. “At the core of the demonstrations is a sense of desperation among the people,” said Bill Canny, country representative for Catholic Relief Services in Haiti, speaking from the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, April 11.

Food is available in Haiti — the poorest country in the Americas — but most people simply can’t afford to buy it, Canny said. CRS, the U.S. bishops’ international relief and development agency, reopened its operations April 11 after several days of looting and rioting over skyrocketing food prices forced it to shut down.

Pastor condemns murder of Oaxacan journalists

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — A Church official in Mexico’s poor southern state of Oaxaca condemned the fatal shootings of two Triqui Indian community radio announcers, saying it was a crime of repression against independent media operators. Father Leoncio Hernandez of the Santiago Apoala parish said the slayings appeared to be a deliberate attempt to silence those who spoke out against injustice. “It is a slaying of two people who are spreading the truth in their communities,” Father Hernandez told Catholic News Service.

Father Hernandez, an outspoken supporter of human rights in Oaxaca, said the attack could be the work of gunmen working for the state government, and he urged a federal investigation into the incident. Radio announcers Teresa Bautista, 24, and Felicitas Martinez, 20, were ambushed and killed as they traveled in a truck to the Oaxacan state capital for a forum on human rights, state police said.

Archbishop seeks help for crisis in Zimbabwe

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg has urged African leaders to act swiftly to defuse the crisis in Zimbabwe, a country facing the threat of political violence after disputed elections March 29.

“I urge (South African) President (Thabo) Mbeki, the leaders of the Southern African Development Community and African Union leaders to use all of their influence and skill to intervene for the release of the Zimbabwean election results,” said the archbishop, president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, in an April 10 statement.

U.S. urged to share Iraqi refugee burden

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The ambassadors of Syria and Jordan called on the United States to share the burden of the unprecedented Iraqi refugee crisis. “The situation is terrible and the burden” on Syria’s resources and population is horrendous, said Imad Moustapha, Syrian ambassador to the U.S. The “United States is categorically refusing to help” solve the refugee crisis, “the largest exodus in the Middle East,” he said.

Moustapha was a participant on one of several panels at an April 4 forum, “The Iraqi Refugee Crisis: Law, Policy and Practice,” in Washington, sponsored by Villanova University School of Law in Pennsylvania. Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, Jordan’s ambassador to the U.S., said the “volume of people in such a short space of time (in Jordan) is staggering to the mind.”

Ireland may tell priests to check immigration

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) — Father Kevin Doran, a Dublin archdiocesan priest, said the Irish government is attempting to turn priests into immigration police by requiring them to check the residence status of foreign nationals before they are married.

Measures included in the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, currently being debated in the Irish parliament, would require all wedding officiators to check residence permits and refuse to perform marriages without a permit. Officiators could be sentenced to five years in prison and liable to a fine of more than $790,000 if they fail to check the status. “This would effectively turn priests into immigration police and would not under any circumstances be acceptable to me,” he said.

Hong Kong Diocese cancels pilgrimage

HONG KONG (CNS) — The Diocese of Hong Kong has canceled a plan to send organized pilgrimages to China’s most prominent Marian shrine May 24, a special prayer day for Chinese Catholics, after Shanghai government authorities said it would be inconvenient.

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong said the diocese had planned the pilgrimages and a local novena in response to the call Pope Benedict XVI made last June in his letter to Catholics in China. Over the past months, however, Chinese authorities have conveyed concerns to the Vatican about the Hong Kong pilgrimage. To ease their worries, the cardinal said he decided not to go on the pilgrimage and to have it organized on a smaller scale.

Posthumous Medal of Honor to Catholic SEAL

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A tearful U.S. President George W. Bush presented the parents of Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor with a posthumous Medal of Honor for saving the lives of two Navy SEAL teammates by sacrificing his own in Ramadi, Iraq. Monsoor was 25 when a hand grenade tossed by Iraqi insurgents hit his chest and landed on the ground in front of him. Monsoor immediately threw himself on the grenade, smothering its blow. He died less than 30 minutes later.

At the April 8 ceremony at the White House, Bush said this highest military medal was “awarded for an act of such courage that no one could rightly be expected to undertake it.”

Camden Diocese to reduce parishes by half

CAMDEN, N.J. (CNS) — Bishop Joseph A. Galante of Camden has announced a reconfiguration plan that will reduce the number of parishes in the diocese from the current 124 to 66 over the next two years. Citing the need to bring new vitality to parish life, Bishop Galante said parishes in the six southern counties of New Jersey would be reconfigured into 38 merged parishes; three parish clusters, involving a total of six parishes; and 22 stand-alone parishes.

He said the reconfiguration came in response to population changes, a decline in religious practice, fewer priests available for ministry, and the need to advance key pastoral priorities identified by Catholics at more than 140 “Speak Up” sessions held in 2005 and 2006.

Mexican bishops deny drug lords’ donations

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Several Mexican bishops denied that the Catholic Church accepts donations from drug lords after the president of the Mexican bishops’ conference said drug traffickers have been “very generous” to the Church. Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City said the Church condemns drug trafficking as a social evil and that it never accepts drug money.

Auxiliary Bishop Marcelino Hernandez Rodriguez of Mexico City emphasized during his homily April 6 that money laundering carried out by making donations to the Church is completely unacceptable.

Bishops call for end to farmworker ‘exploitation’

TUCSON, Ariz. (CNS) — Expressing “deep concern for the men and women” who labor in the fields of southwestern Arizona and northern Mexico, the bishops of Tucson and Mexicali, Mexico, have issued a joint statement calling for legislation to end “exploitation of the undocumented farmworker.”

Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas and Mexicali Bishop Jose Isidro Guerrero Macias urged passage of the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits and Security Act, a bipartisan bill in the U.S. Congress known as AgJOBS, which they said would be “a very positive step toward reversing discrimination.”

German Church used slave labor during WWII

MAINZ, Germany (CNS) — A German cardinal said a report detailing how the Church used slave laborers during World War II was an “important building block” for reconciliation. “The Church’s memory was blind for too long to the fate and sorrows of men, women, youngsters and children who were brought from all over Europe as slave laborers to Germany,” said Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, former president of the German bishops’ conference.

“This documentation, scientifically examining a forgotten chapter of contemporary Church history, cannot and should not be understood as a final reckoning. It is rather an important building block on the way to a future of reconciliation for the Christians of Germany and Europe,” said the cardinal.

After eight years of research by a special commission, the 703-page report called “The Catholic Church and Forced Labor 1939-1945” was presented in Mainz April 8. Karl-Joseph Hummel and Christoph Koesters headed the commission of historians that prepared the report.


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