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placeholder February 21, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 4   •   Oakland, CA

Feb. 24: Bishops and Vocation Directors Meeting, St. Patrick’s Seminary

Feb. 25: Morning, San Francisco Province Bishops Meeting, San Francisco

     Evening, Cathedral Symposium for Priests, Rectory

Feb. 26: Italian Catholic Federation Mass and Lunch, Good Shepherd, Pittsburg

Feb. 26-27: Parish Visitation, St. Bonaventure, Concord

Feb. 28–Mar. 8: San Francisco Province Retreat, Los Altos

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Assignment change

Effective Feb. 15, Deacon Jorge Angel will be moving from Corpus Christi, Fremont, to his new assignment at the Cathedral Parish of Christ the Light, Oakland.

Lenten regulations

Ash Wednesday (March 9) marks the beginning of Lent. The following regulations regarding fasting and abstinence are observed: Catholics ages 14 and over are compelled to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Fridays of Lent. Individuals between 18 and 59 are also obliged to fast — eat one full meal — on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Eating two smaller meals is permitted if necessary to maintain strength, but eating between meals is not.

Divine Mercy in Sunol

Questions and concerns have come to the Chancery Office regarding a proposed Divine Mercy Shrine in Sunol and fund raising efforts associated with it. All should be advised that while the Divine Mercy Group did obtain permission to raise funds to purchase land in Sunol, no permission has been given by either Archbishop Vigneron or Bishop Cordileone for the construction of a shrine nor has permission been given to raise funds for any construction on the site.

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Don’t let cuts hurt poor

Bishops around the country are reminding state legislatures and their fellow citizens that the nation’s budgetary problems are not over and must not be resolved on the backs of the poor. “In the devastation of shrinking city and state budgets across the country, all face excruciating choices,” said the Massachusetts bishops in one of the most recent statements, issued Feb. 9. “Our pledge is that we will do all we can as bishops to enable institutions — parishes, Catholic Charities, health care facilities and schools — to continue to do their best in extending help to our neighbors in need,” they said. “Our plea is that in the decisions facing our elected officials, and in the discussions and actions of all citizens, there be preserved, for the sake of human dignity, a special place and regard for the vulnerable.” That pledge and plea were being made across the country by bishops or their representatives in statements and testimony about states’ efforts to balance their budgets.

Bishops rule on health care

In an exchange of letters with the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the head of the Catholic Health Association has affirmed that the local bishop is the “authoritative interpreter” of the ethical and religious directives that guide Catholic health care. Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is CHA president and CEO, said her organization “has a sincere desire to work with the church and individual bishops to understand as clearly as possible clinical issues and bring the majesty of the Church’s teaching to that.”

In response to the letter, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, USCCB president, said the Church must “speak with one voice” against the “increasing political and social pressures that are trying to force the church to compromise her principles.”

—Catholic Voice news services

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Pope’s August schedule

When Pope Benedict XVI travels to Madrid for World Youth Day in August, he will hold special meetings with young university professors and with young religious sisters. In early February, organizers of World Youth Day 2011 published what they said was the pope’s “entire agenda” for his Aug. 18-21 trip to Spain. WYD will begin Aug. 16, before the pope arrives; many of the events will take place near Madrid’s central Plaza de Cibeles and at the Cuatro Vientos Air Base, organizers said. The pope will arrive at the Barajas airport Aug. 18, where he will be greeted by the king and queen of Spain, they said. While much of the schedule repeats standard World Youth Day events, a couple of new appointments have been added to the pope’s schedule.

Number of priests rises

The number of Catholic priests in the world has increased consistently over the past decade and the “relative superabundance” of priests in Europe and North America has begun to attenuate, the Vatican said. The “relative superabundance” refers to the percentage of the world’s priests who live in Europe and North America compared to the percentage of the world’s Catholics who live there. The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano said that in 1999, just more than 15 percent of the world’s priests lived and ministered in Central and South America while 42.4 percent of the world’s Catholics lived there.

Changes for annulments

Pope Benedict XVI is studying the possibility of slightly modifying the responsibilities of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments so that very technical marriage annulment cases would be handled by a church court. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said the proposed change aims only at giving the Roman Rota responsibility for technical administrative procedures such as those involved in releasing a couple from the obligations of marriage when they have not consummated their bond.

—Catholic Voice news services

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