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 December 13, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 21   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Nun greets Sudan refugees
Sister Rosa Le Thi Bong, a Vietnamese member of Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions, greets children in the Makpandu refugee camp in Southern Sudan. More than 4,000 people who fled the Lord’s Resistance Army reside at the camp. The country plans a January referendum on secession stipulated by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended decades of civil war between Sudan’s North and South. The independence vote has widespread support throughout Southern Sudan, including among Catholics and other Christians.
CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey

Mass draws tears
An evacuee from South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island cries during a Dec. 5 Mass at a makeshift shelter converted from a sauna in Incheon, west of Seoul. About 400 evacuees have lived in the shelter since North Korea attacked the small island Nov. 23 with artillery shells, killing two South Korean marines and two civilians.
CNS photo/Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters

New York basilica
Guo Chun Yan and other recently baptized Chinese-American Catholics serve as candle bearers during inauguration ceremonies for the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in New York Dec. 5. Located in Manhattan’s Little Italy neighborhood, the multiethnic parish offers Mass in English, Spanish and Chinese.
CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

European culture built on strong families, pope says

VATICAN CITY — The very identity and culture of Europe would change drastically if the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman were no longer the most common, basic form of people living together, Pope Benedict XVI told a new ambassador from Hungary, Gabor Gyorivanyi. The pope said strong, stable families are essential for “a healthy development of civil society, countries and peoples.” The pope said easier divorce and widespread cohabitation have led people to lose sight of the value of the stability and the indissolubility of marriage. Too, traditional marriage and family life is weakened by the legal recognition of “various types of union that have no foundation in the history of European culture or law.”

Catholic leaders: Civil unions bill ‘regrettable’

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Catholic Conference of Illinois, which represents the state’s bishops on public policy matters, said it regretted passage of a bill legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples. The legislation, approved by the House Nov. 30 and the Senate Dec. 1, provides spousal rights to same-sex partners in a civil union and grants them legal rights in surrogate decision-making for medical treatment, survivorship, adoptions and accident and health insurance. The Catholic conference said “ Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. Marriage has been established by our Creator in harmony with the nature of man and woman and with its own essential properties and purpose.”

Pope praises end to death penalty in Philippines

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI applauded the church’s role in abolishing the death penalty in the Philippines and encouraged the country’s bishops to continue to support all human life. He praised the Church in the Philippines for its public role in supporting human life from conception to its natural end and in defending the family and marriage between a man and a woman. The country abolished capital punishment for the second time in 2006 after it was reinstated in 1993.

End sought to intolerance, violence, abductions

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI appealed for an end to violence and intolerance in the world, especially in Iraq and Egypt. He also called for prayers and solidarity for victims of human trafficking, specifically the hundreds of African immigrants who are being held hostage by human traffickers in Egypt’s Sinai Desert near the Israeli border. “I invite all of you to pray for every situation of violence, intolerance and suffering that exists in the world,” the pope said in his Sunday Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square Dec. 5.

Jesus’ name always should be on Catholics’ minds

SEATTLE — Saying the name of Jesus should be on the lips of Catholics in all parts of their lives, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain was installed Dec. 1 as the fifth archbishop and ninth bishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle. A standing-room-only gathering of 2,200 people packed St. James Cathedral for the installation of the 58-year-old prelate, who was appointed to Seattle by Pope Benedict XVI Sept. 16. “As we go through the day, we should pray his name silently to remind ourselves of his nearness and seek his protection,” he said.

Arsenic-loving microbe expands definition of life

VATICAN CITY — The discovery of the first known microorganism on Earth to thrive on the toxic chemical arsenic will help expand scientists’ understanding of the definition of life, said the head of the Vatican Observatory. “It’s clear that if we are searching for life forms in the universe, we have to at least know what to look for: that is, to define what a living being is,” said Jesuit Father Jose Funes. The recent discovery of a life form based on a completely different chemistry “will surely contribute to expanding our conceptual horizons on the subject” of what could be life and living matter.

New hymnal helps multilingual parishes

PORTLAND, Ore. — Spanish- and English-speaking worship communities in the United States can celebrate their faith and culture side by side with a hymnal developed by OCP titled “One Faith, Una Voz.” An announcement from the Portland publisher said it is the only Catholic hymnal featuring bilingual songs along with original language English and Spanish titles. Pedro Rubalcava, director of Hispanic ministries at OCP, a nonprofit publisher of liturgical music and worship resources, said multicultural English- and Spanish-speaking communities were looking for a way to honor their own traditions, while sharing in the common act of celebrating Mass.

Ratzinger asked for action against abusers

VATICAN CITY — A newly disclosed letter reveals that as early as 1988, the future Pope Benedict XVI pressed for swifter and more streamlined procedures to punish priests guilty of “grave and scandalous conduct.” The letter, written by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when he was head of the Vatican’s doctrinal congregation, expressed concern that the normal process for dealing with such priests — which typically involved a request for dispensation from priestly obligations — took too long and was seen more as a favor than a punishment.

Crucifixion relics stolen from shrine in India

BANGALORE, India — Three historic relics of crucifixion preserved at a 10th-century church under the Syro-Malabar Irinjalakuda Diocese in India’s Kerala state were discovered missing Nov. 30. Police are investigating the disappearance of the relics from the Holy Cross Shrine Church Mapranum in Irinjalakuda. The stolen relics include what is believed to be a piece of the cross on which Jesus was crucified, a blood stain of Christ and a piece of the towel with which his face was wiped during the Passion. The shrine houses a letter from Pope Leo XIII confirming the authenticity of the relics that reached the church in September 1887.

Pontiff favors electric popemobile, official says

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI would welcome having an electric popemobile as a further sign of his commitment to protecting natural resources and safeguarding the earth, said a top Vatican official. Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the commission governing Vatican City State, said if a sponsor offered the pope an electric-powered vehicle that “was in working order, efficient and suitable, why not? It would be a sign of his environmental concern.”

— Catholic News Service


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