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placeholder June 23, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 12   •   Oakland, CA

June 23: 11 a.m., Archbishop Matthias Shwe from Myanmar

      5:30 p.m., diocesan Finance and Investment committees

June 24: 10 a.m., Bishop's Administrative Council, Chancery

      6 p.m., Jewish Community Relations Council dinner, honoring the visit of
       Pope Francis to Holy Land, San Francisco.

June 26: Noon, Presbyteral Council, Cathedral rectory

June 27: 5 p.m., priests' annual picnic

June 28: 10 a.m., Regina Mundi Guild Mass and brunch, Cathedral of Christ the Light

      5 p.m., dinner with parish clergy, Christ the King Church, Pleasant Hill

June 29: 2 p.m., 150th parish anniversary Mass, St. Paul Parish, San Pablo

June 30: 10 a.m., Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo

July 1: 5:30 p.m., dinner with major donors of the diocesan Capital Campaign

July 3: 9 a.m., Vicar for Clergy

      11 a.m., meet with new director of the Department of Evangelization and Catechesis

      5:30 p.m., dinner with major donors of the diocesan Capital Campaignre

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More parishes hit goal

St. Anthony-Mary Help of Christians Parish, Oakland, is the most recent parish to meet or exceed its goal for the 2014 Bishop's Appeal. With the generosity of all donors, we have reached 94 percent of the diocesan goal of $2.5 million. At least 33 parishes have now met or exceeded their goal. For more information, contact Ken Hokenson, director, Office for Mission Advancement, at 510-267-8314 or khokenson@oakdiocese.org.

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Aid to families urged

NEW ORLEANS — Speakers addressing the U.S. bishops at their spring general assembly in New Orleans urged them to continue their ministry of caring for those in need — even as they face obstacles — and to reach out in a special way to couples and families.

Helen Alvare, law professor at George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Virginia, told the bishops June 12 that significance of linking service to those in need with the church's new evangelization efforts may have "arrived just in the nick of time" particularly as the church faces challenges to its service ministries from new government regulations. Alvare, who is also a consultor for the Pontifical Council for the Laity, didn't specify the challenges in her address, but the audience was keenly aware of them, particularly as dioceses and Catholic organizations are in the middle of lawsuits seeking relief from the federal mandate that most employers cover contraceptives in their employee health plans.

One of the bishops asked Alvare about carrying on the church's charitable work with the Health and Human Services contraceptives mandate, which is being fought in the courts by many Catholic and other religious employers. She responded that the country's "fixation with constitutional freedom of sexual expression has put us in a difficult place" because it "makes the church appear as a group asking for special exemptions when the government is offering freedom and equity."

She added that it is "getting difficult to partner" with the government, when church agencies have always believed that partnership was an important way to meet the needs of the poor. "Part of me worries," she said, that people will seek charity services without the church "even though we do it and do it well."

Committee extended

NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Catholic bishops June 11 unanimously approved by voice vote a three-year extension of the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, a proposal for a limited revision of their quadrennial statement offering guidance for election decisions and to continue to use current guidelines for permanent diaconate formation. The votes came on the first day of the bishops' June 11-13 annual spring assembly in New Orleans. To keep down costs, especially since they had only three items requiring a vote, the bishops did not use electronic voting but simply expressed "ayes," and in this case, no "nays." Prior to the vote about extending the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Freedom for three years, Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, the committee chair, compared the body's work to the "humble beginnings of the pro-life movement." He noted that the March for Life, which began a year after the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, was initially a small gathering and now is the "largest pro-life march in the world." Organizers of these initial efforts, he said, didn't expect changes overnight, but are now seeing shifts in opinion on abortion, especially as polls show how "young people are more pro-life than their parents." That effort, he said, has taken a lot of hard work in building bridges, policy work and teaching with pastoral sensitivity about the value of life.

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Pope Francis enthusiasm
People take photos on tablets and phones as Pope Francis arrives to open the annual convention of the Diocese of Rome in Paul VI hall at the Vatican June 16. In his talk, the pope responded to concerns about the difficulties of keeping families active in parish life.
Paul Haring/cns

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Beatification closer

The possible miracle needed for the beatification of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen took another step toward papal recognition June 17 when a panel of theologians met at the Vatican, the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation announced. As a normal part of the sainthood process, the theologians met to consider whether or not the promoters of Archbishop Sheen's cause demonstrated that the proposed miracle — the survival of a child delivered stillborn — occurred after prayers for the intercession only of Archbishop Sheen. Archbishop Sheen was a Peoria diocesan priest who gained fame for his 1950s television show "Life Is Worth Living" and for his 16 years at the helm of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. The archbishop died Dec. 9, 1979, in New York.

Intolerable power

Pope Francis said it was "increasingly intolerable" that the world's financial markets have the power to determine people's fate instead of being at the service of people's needs. He also criticized the way "the few derive immense wealth from financial speculation while the many are deeply burdened by the consequences." The pope called on governments to create an investment market that has a positive impact on people's lives and to combat "an economy which excludes and discards" others. Pope Francis met June 16 with experts taking part in a two-day conference in Rome on "impact investing," which promotes investing in companies, organizations and funds that will have a positive and measureable impact on communities and the environment.

Focus on prayer

ROME — In a historic square in the center of Rome, Pope Francis urged Catholics to gather strength in prayer and then set out for the margins of society, bringing the Gospel and material aid to the poor, the elderly, the young and the excluded. "Prayer saves the anonymous city dweller from a temptation that we, too, face: activism that believes everything revolves around us, indifference or self-pity," he said June 15 during an evening visit with members of the Rome-based Community of Sant'Egidio.

Joint action urged

Although they have not yet reached full unity, Roman Catholics and Anglicans continue their dialogue, come together in prayer and work side by side, including on a new project to combat human trafficking around the world. "I thank God that, as disciples sent to heal a wounded world, we stand together with perseverance and determination in opposing this grave evil," Pope Francis told Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury June 16 during a meeting at the Vatican. Archbishop Welby, the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, was in Rome to hold his second meeting with Pope Francis, to visit Anglican communities in the city and to participate in a meeting of the Global Freedom Network, which they and other faith leaders founded to combat human trafficking and modern slavery.

Catholic News Service

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