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 February 23, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 4   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Repairing relations
Pope Benedict XVI exchanges gifts with Rabbi Arthur Schneier, left, of New York’s Park East Synagogue, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, during their meeting at the Vatican Feb. 12. The Pope reiterated to the group that denying or minimizing the Holocaust “is intolerable and altogether unacceptable.” Earlier in the month the pope had lifted the excommunication of a schismatic bishop; he later learned the bishop had denied the Holocaust, and recon-sidered that decision.

Grieving in Seoul
People pray in front of the body of South Korean Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, retired archbishop of Seoul, during a Memorial Mass for him at Seoul’s Myongdong Cathedral Feb.16. Cardinal Kim, Korea’s first cardinal, died early that day in Seoul at age 86.

Chinese bishop released after 30-month detention
XIWANZI, China (CNS) — Auxiliary Bishop Leo Yao Liang of Xiwanzi has been released by Chinese authorities after being detained since July 2006, but he was warned not to exercise his episcopal authority or preside at large-scale Church activities.

Bishop Yao, 85, was detained in part for consecrating a large new church in Guyuan county in 2006. Public security officers sent him back to his church in Xiwanzi, in northern Hebei province and parish workers were forbidden to hold any welcome gathering. Bishop Yao, who is not registered with the government and whom the government recognizes only as a priest, said laypeople are free to visit him. He is not allowed to travel outside his parish area.

Crash claims 9/11 widow heading to Jesuit school

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Beverly Eckert, a victim of the Feb. 12 plane crash near Buffalo, N.Y., was en route to present a scholarship award in honor of her late husband at Jesuit-run Canisius High School in Buffalo. Eckert, a Sept. 11 widow, also had planned to take part in a weekend celebration in Buffalo of what would have been her husband’s 58th birthday.

Her husband, Sean Rooney, died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. That day he spoke to his wife by cell phone up until the second tower — where he was trapped — collapsed. Eckert, a resident of Stamford, Conn., was aboard Continental Flight 3407 from Newark, N.J., to Buffalo when it crashed into a home seven miles from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, killing all 49 passengers and crew onboard and one person on the ground.

Apologies for defending Legionaries’ founder

WASHINGTON (CNS) — When it became public Feb. 4 that Legionaries of Christ founder Father Marcial Maciel Degollado had fathered a daughter, the order’s former communications director decided he had to apologize for having defended him after sex abuse allegations against the priest first became public in 1997.
Jay Dunlap used his blog to apologize to those who said they had been sexually abused by the priest and to the people he said were “misinformed by statements I made” defending Father Maciel. On Feb. 4 Legionaries of Christ officials said they only recently learned their late founder had fathered a child.

In the past, Father Maciel had been accused of sexually abusing young seminarians in the order. A spokesman for the order in Rome said the allegations “have never been proven definitively,” but Dunlap told CNS that “in my conscience I had to come forward to apologize to any victim who was being denied or doubted.”

Catholics to support global poverty initiative

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Catholics across a broad spectrum of the Church are being mobilized in a renewed effort to fight global poverty. Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are seeking one million Catholics during the next two years to join an initiative designed to show that the difficulties Americans are facing during the current financial crisis are intricately intertwined with the plight of the poor around the world.

The effort, Catholics Confront Global Poverty, is tied to Pope Benedict XVI’s World Peace Day message of Jan. 1 in which he called for humanity to work toward greater human dignity through the promotion of peace and international aid that promotes human development, said Stephen Colecchi, director of the U.S. bishop’s Office of International Justice and Peace.

Catholic website for military families

FRONT ROYAL, Va. (CNS) — Judy McCloskey, a Catholic parishioner, a Navy wife and a mother of six, has started the Web-based apostolate CatholicMil.org (http://catholicmil.org) to help military families cope with the stresses of deployment. She uses her own experiences to offer guidance and comfort to other military families trying to stay balanced, whether they’re stationed overseas or at home waiting for their loved ones to return.

Catholic agencies send relief items to Gaza

JERUSALEM (CNS) — Humanitarian aid packages sent by Catholic organizations into the Gaza Strip have reached more than 5,000 families, but sometimes with difficulty and delay. Omar Shaban, a project coordinator in Gaza for the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services, said that by Feb. 9 CRS completed three shipments of food and nonfood items, which were distributed to some 1,500 families in three different regions of the Gaza Strip.

In addition to food, the packages included blankets, candles, towels, hygiene items, baby formula and detergent. CRS purchased the items in January with a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development and $100,000 from its American donors.

Obama applauds renewal of SCHIP

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Joined by representatives of Catholic Charities USA and the Catholic Health Association, President Barack Obama signed into law Feb. 4 legislation reauthorizing and expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as SCHIP. Obama called the $32.8 billion bill — one of the first signed during his presidency — “only a first step” and a “down payment on my commitment to cover every single American.”

Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, who attended the signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House, praised Congress and Obama “for acting so swiftly on this vital law.” He added in a statement, “Without SCHIP, vulnerable children of low-income families would not receive the care they need to be strong and healthy citizens and productive individuals in our society.”

Archbishop pledges wildfire victims support

CANBERRA, Australia (CNS) — The head of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference said the Church would lend both spiritual and practical support to families victimized by a series of wildfires that left more than 180 dead in Victoria state. Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide said Catholic relief agencies, such as St. Vincent de Paul were providing much-needed assistance

Faith-based office to be reworked

WASHINGTON (CNS) — President Barack Obama created by executive order Feb. 5 a White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which will expand upon and rework the Bush administration’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

The office’s top priority, according to the White House release, will be “making community groups an integral part of our economic recovery and poverty a burden fewer have to bear when recovery is complete.” It also will focus on reducing demand for abortions, encouraging fathers to stand by their families and working with the National Security Council to “foster interfaith dialogue with leaders and scholars around the world.”


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