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March 24, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 6   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Bay Area Olympian
Polina Edmunds of the U.S. competes in the women's figure skating short program Feb. 19 during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Edmunds, a sophomore at Archbishop Mitty Catholic High School in San Jose, made her senior national debut at the games, placing ninth overall in the free skating event. Polina is not the only famous athlete to come from Mitty. Three-time beach volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings and two-time soccer gold medalist Brandi Chastain are among alumni.
Lucy Nicholson/Reuters, cns

Atheists object to 9/11 memorial
Franciscan Father Brian Jordan, standing with laborers and emergency workers in 2001, blesses a 17-foot-tall cross formed by steel beams that was recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center in New York. A group called American Atheists filed suit in federal court to have the cross removed from a permanent exhibit to be displayed in the soon-to-open National September 11 Memorial & Museum, and replaced with a plaque that would say "atheists died here, too."
Kathy Willens/Reuters, cns

Museum display
Father Dariusz Ras, director of the John Paul II Museum in Wadowice, Poland, stands behind the Browning Hi-Power 9mm pistol used by Mehmet Ali Agca in the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in Rome March 17. The weapon was shown to journalists before being transported to the museum, where it will be displayed for the next three years.
Paul Haring/cns

Experts OK miracle
With evidence of her son's alleged miraculous healing boxed and sealed in front of a portrait of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Bonnie Engstrom gives a reading at a 2011 Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria, Ill. Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, president of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation, said on March 6 he received word that the seven-member board of medical experts who advise the Vatican Congregation for Saints' Causes has unanimously approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Archbishop Sheen, saying there is no natural explanation for the survival of Engstrom's child delivered stillborn and whose heart did not start beating until 61 minutes after his birth. The survival of the child, James Fulton Engstrom, now 3 years old and developing normally, was credited by his parents to a miracle attributable to the intercession of Archbishop Sheen.
Tom Dermody/The Catholic Post, cns

Church named basilica

VICTORIA, Kan. — Capuchin Father Jeff Ernst's voice leapt with emotion when he heard the news: St. Fidelis Church in Victoria would be named a minor basilica, noting, "The state of Kansas doesn't have any" basilicas. Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger of Salina will dedicate the church as a minor basilica June 7. Worldwide, there are more than 1,600 minor basilicas; only 78 of them are in the United States. St. Joseph's in Alameda is the only minor basilica in the Oakland diocese.

Pope Francis' influence

WASHINGTON — While any increase in church attendance prompted by the pope's appeal isn't quite yet measurable, a new survey shows Pope Francis has made an impact on Catholic giving in the year since his papacy began. Results of the survey, released March 13 by Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, found that of the 1,003 Catholics polled, one in four have increased their giving from last year. Of those who did, 77 percent said Pope Francis inspired their giving to some degree.

Pope invited to Congress

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan invitation to Pope Francis to address a joint session of Congress if he comes to the U.S. in 2015 recognizes "the importance of the qualities" the pontiff embodies that resonate with people around the globe, said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington. Those qualities include "a desire for peace, care for the poor, and an ability to bring people together to address the needs of the suffering and marginalized," the cardinal said in a statement March 13, the first anniversary of the pope's election.

Outreach to Irish women

NEW YORK — During a major, historic wave of Irish immigration to the United States at the turn of the last century, a tenacious Catholic effort helped one-third of the young, single Irish women who arrived in the Port of New York. An exhibit celebrating that aid was rededicated March 11 in the Lower Manhattan building that hosted more than 100,000 newcomers between 1883 and 1908. The display originally opened in early 2012, but had to be restored after flooding from Hurricane Sandy caused extensive damage. It traces the work of the Mission of Our Lady of the Rosary for the Protection of Irish Immigrant Girls, which operated from 1883 to 1954 in Watson House, now a landmark.

Templeton Prize winner

WASHINGTON — Msgr. Tomas Halik, a Czech priest, has been named the 2014 Templeton Prize winner for his work in promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding throughout the world. The John Templeton Foundation made the announcement March 13 at a news conference in London. John M. Templeton Jr., foundation president and chairman, said in a statement that this year's winner "inspires us all to break free of repression, whether it comes from a totalitarian government or our own blinkered world view."

Fighting gang violence

EAST PALO ALTO — Josue Barbosa Zamora died in a drive-by shooting Jan. 13, 300 feet from his front door, the latest young man to die violently in East Palo Alto. "Every day I ask myself if it was worth it. We escaped from Mexico because of the violence and poverty and now we found this," said Lorena Zamora, who left her husband behind 10 years ago to bring her three children to the U.S. Zamora spoke in Spanish to photographer Jose Aguirre of Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper. Lorena Zamora joined other grieving mothers, San Francisco Auxiliary Bishop William J. Justice, community members, and parishioners and the priests of St. Francis of Assisi to walk her neighborhood for peace, praying the Stations of the Cross March 8. In 2013, there were 16 homicides in San Mateo County, eight of those in East Palo Alto, a city with a population of fewer than 30,000 people.

Archbishop continues on

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis has returned to public ministry after a thorough investigation by police of an allegation that he had inappropriately touched a male minor in 2009. The Ramsey County Attorney's Office announced on the evening of March 11 that it has declined to file charges against the archbishop.

Mayor invites pope

GREEN BAY, Wis. — If the National Football League's smallest city can be home to the four-time Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, why can't it host a visit from Pope Francis? That's the thinking of Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt, who has sent a letter to Pope Francis inviting him to Green Bay in 2015.

Notre Dame's project

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — At a cost of $400 million, the University of Notre Dame plans to upgrade its football stadium with three additional buildings. The buildings will house student services and academic departments. Named the Campus Crossroads Project, this building project will be the largest in Notre Dame's history, covering more than 750,000 square feet and taking up to five years to complete.

Hunger cause of conflict

WASHINGTON — Hunger, not religion, is the root cause of conflict in sub-Saharan Africa, said professor Charles Steinmetz of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. "A hungry man is an angry man. If there is no job and you cannot feed your family or kids, it leads to extremism," said Steinmetz, a visiting assistant professor of history at the Catholic university.

Poor understanding

WASHINGTON — A handful of U.S. bishops have released some results of public responses to a survey for the Vatican in preparation for the upcoming synod on the family. Several U.S. bishops wrote short reports for the public giving a general sense of the responses. The material was to be submitted to the Vatican by the end of January. Among the comments in common with many of the brief reports was that Catholics admit to a poor understanding of the church's teachings on the family.

Catholic News Service


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