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 September 21, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 16   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Prayers of remembrance
Delegates representing various religions visit Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland to pray for peace, Sept. 8. Up to 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, died in the former Nazi death camp during World War II. At far right is Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Pope John Paul II’s former personal secretary and the current archbishop of Krakow.

Pro-life leaders deplore murder of Mich. activist
OWOSSO, Mich. (CNS) — Pro-life leaders condemned the Sept. 11 murder of a Michigan man who was protesting against abortion outside a public high school in Owosso, 10 miles west of Flint. The suspect, arrested by police, said he targeted the man for his activism.

The dead man, James Pouillon, 63, a General Motors retiree, was shot about 7 a.m. while protesting outside Owosso High School in the city as students were gathering for classes. A 33-year-old Owosso Township long-haul truck driver, Harlan James “Hal” Drake, was arrested later that morning. Police said Drake, once in custody, confessed to having killed a second man. The body of James Fuoss, 61, was found on the property of the gravel business he owned an hour after the Pouillon murder.

Prosecutors in Shiawassee County said Drake had singled out Pouillon because of the visible style of his regular protests outside the school. It was not immediately disclosed why Drake killed Fuoss.

Web site launched for peace in Africa

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Catholic Task Force on Africa has launched a new Web site, www.yesafricamatters.org, to spread the word on conditions in Africa prior to the Oct. 4-25 Synod of Bishops for Africa at the Vatican.

The new Web site provides background on the connections between the Catholic Church in the United States and Africa. It lists many of the partnerships and twinning relationships as well as the missionary communities from the United States in Africa. The site also contains a section specifically on the synod with resources and links to universities and other advocacy groups that can help readers better understand Africa’s current challenges.

Beijing seminary to train pastoral workers

BEIJING (CNS) — The national Catholic seminary in Beijing will offer a master’s degree to train mainland Chinese pastoral workers and catechists. The seminary is now receiving applications to its first three-year pastoral and catechetical master’s program that will start Oct. 5. The Ferdinand Verbiest Institute of the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium is helping to organize the program.

Swiss bishops oppose ban on minarets

FRIBOURG, Switzerland (CNS) — The Swiss Catholic bishops’ conference said it opposed a proposal to ban the construction of minarets in Switzerland. They said the ban would hinder interreligious dialogue and that Swiss building codes already regulate the construction and operation of minarets, the high, slender towers attached to mosques.

The ban was proposed by the Swiss People’s Party, the largest party in the Swiss parliament. Supporters of the initiative see minarets as political symbols and signs of an increasing Islamic presence in Switzerland. The proposal will be put to a nationwide referendum Nov. 29.

Pope to rekindle faith-art dialogue

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has invited hundreds of artists to meet with him in the Vatican in an attempt to rekindle the special historical relationship between faith and art. More than 500 personalities from the worlds of art, theater, literature and music have been asked to gather with the pope under the legendary Michelangelo frescoes in the Sistine Chapel Nov. 21.

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said the meeting was to be the first of many initiatives aimed at bridging the gap that has developed between spirituality and artistic expression over the last century or so. He said the Church hoped that dialogue could help artists regain the “transcendence” that once inspired the 16th-century painter and sculptor Michelangelo, his contemporaries and countless other artists of religious works over the centuries.

Detroit Archdiocese: layoffs, restructuring

DETROIT (CNS) — A major financial restructuring plan for the Archdiocese of Detroit, which is losing approximately $42,000 per day, calls for a 29 percent decrease in the number of employees, the sale of buildings, moving administrative support offices to a more cost-efficient property in the city, and the elimination of the subsidy for The Michigan Catholic, the archdiocesan newspaper.

The six-county archdiocese will be reorganized into four regions for the delivery of programs, services and ministries to its 1.4 million Catholics under the restructuring plan announced by Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron. The archbishop said he had accepted the restructuring recommendations from two separate committees, comprised of laypeople and clergy, following a six-month study on the financial viability of the archdiocese.

Nun who backs ordination of women cannot teach

CINCINNATI (CNS) — A decision deemed to be a personnel matter in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has garnered international attention for Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk and the woman religious he has determined can no longer teach religious education on behalf of the archdiocese.

Sister Louise Akers, a 66-year-old Sister of Charity, met with the archbishop in early August at her request to discuss why the archdiocesan Office of Catechesis and Evangelization had removed her from its list of approved teachers and speakers for archdiocesan programs and events.

The archbishop said she needed to publicly dissociate herself from the Women’s Ordination Conference and rescind her support of women’s ordination in order to receive permission to teach and lecture in the name of the local Church.

In 1994 Pope John Paul II issued a document saying that, because Jesus chose only men as his apostles, the Church is not authorized to ordain women. He also said the position was a definitive, ordinary Church teaching that must be firmly held by Catholics and is not subject to change.

Legionaries detail Order’s reforms

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Legionaries of Christ have initiated a number of reforms since publicly acknowledging Feb. 4 that the order’s founder, Mexican Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, fathered a child. The reforms include the training of Legionaries on best practices when dealing with minors to protect children from sex abuse; reconfiguring business and management practices; and altering the depiction of Father Maciel in the order’s communications, including Web sites and publications.

In February, Legionaries’ officials said they had 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. Father Maciel died Jan. 30, 2008, at the age of 87. In May 2006 the Vatican decided after its own investigation against conducting a canonical trial, but rather ordered the then-frail Father Maciel to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.

Church officials: drug cartels recruit youth

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — The executions of 18 young men during a prayer service at a Mexican drug rehabilitation center Sept. 2 failed to surprise many Church and public safety officials, who say Mexico’s drug cartels increasingly are luring vulnerable youths into lives of addiction and crime.

“Every day there are more young people” involved in the drug trade, said Father Jose Jesus Mata Trejo, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Chihuahua, to the south of Ciudad Juarez, where the executions occurred. He said the cartels target vulnerable young people with few economic opportunities, “pay them in cash and drugs,” and are developing domestic markets for drugs due to difficulties in smuggling illegal merchandise across the Mexican-U.S. border.

Investigators say gunmen interrupted the evening prayer at El Aliviane rehabilitation center Sept. 2, lined up the participants and opened fire with assault rifles. No motive has been given for the attack, but it occurred in a Ciudad Juarez neighborhood located mere blocks from a busy bridge that links the border city with El Paso, Texas.

Priest-governor won’t run for president of Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — Father Eddie Panlilio, who has served as governor of the Philippines’ Pampanga province since 2007, said he will not run for president in 2010 and will instead throw his support behind Sen. Benigno Aquino III. In July Father Panlilio had announced he was ready to seek a dispensation from his priestly duties to run for president. He has not exercised his ministry since 2007.

Asked about his next move, Father Panlilio said he might resume his ministry or run for a second term as governor of Pampanga. He also said he is considering running for other government posts.

Massachusetts diocese to close nineteen parishes

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (CNS) — The Springfield Diocese announced parish reconfigurations and 19 parish closings during Aug. 29-30 weekend Masses. Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell met with the pastor of each parish that will be affected and wrote a letter for each parish to be read at the Masses.

The diocese said the closures are needed because of a change in demographics, a decline in the number of clergy, and financial pressures.


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