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placeholder April 6, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA

April 8: Visit Sant'Egidio community, a Catholic lay association, New York City

April 10-14: On duty with the Navy

April 15: Installation of Bishop Robert McElroy, San Diego

April 16: Priest Personnel Board, Chancery

      7:30 p.m., Confirmation, Holy Spirit-Newman Hall Parish, Berkeley

April 17: 8:30 a.m., Mass, Capital Campaign reception, St. Michael Parish, Livermore

      Noon, Capital Campaign reception, St. Anthony Parish, Oakley

April 18: 10 a.m., Confirmation, Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland

      5 p.m. Mass, Capital Campaign reception, Santa Maria Parish, Orinda

April 19: 11:30 a.m., Confirmation, St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Livermore

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Diocesan honors
Stephen P. Mullin, left, who has served in parish ministry for 28 years, the last half as parish life director at All Saints Church in Hayward, and now the parish outreach coordinator for Catholic Charities of the East Bay, was awarded the Diocesan Medal of Merit by Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, on March 26. The Medal of Merit is given to those laity, religious or clergy known for their faithfulness to the Church and who have performed extraordinary service to the Diocese of Oakland on a parish or diocesan level, generally for a period of at least 20 years.

Joining with bishop
In a ceremony at the Cathedral Event Center March 26, Rev. Johnson Abraham, left, parochial administrator at St. Agnes Parish, Concord, was incardinated into the Diocese of Oakland, meaning he is now under Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ's jurisdiction. Father Abraham was a priest of the Diocese of Diphu, India, and has worked in Oakland since 2000.

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Upcoming events

The Cathedral of Christ the Light, 2121 Harrison St., Oakland, is planning several events:

A concert by Canadian organist Ryan Enright is set for 5 p.m. April 26; free will offering
The San Francisco Boys Chorus will celebrate the music of America, featuring Broadway favorites as well as spirituals and contemporary music by American composers at 5:30 p.m. May 17; for more information and cost, www.sfbc.org.

An organ student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Bryan Dunnewald, will perform music by Bach, Mozart, Marcel Dupré and Calvin Hampton at 5 p.m. May 24; free will offering.

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Meeting with religious
Pope Francis hands his speech to Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples, Italy, after deciding to speak off the cuff during a meeting with religious at the cathedral in Naples March 21. At the end of his meeting, the vial of dried blood of the city's patron saint appeared to miraculously liquefy. "The bishop said the blood is half liquefied," he said. "It means the saint loves us halfway; we must all convert a bit more, so that he would love us more." The blood of the fourth-century martyr is Naples' most precious relic.
Paul Haring/cns

Steady church growth

The number of Catholics in the world and the number of priests and permanent deacons rose slightly in 2013, while the number of men and women in religious orders declined, according to Vatican statistics. For the second year in a row, the number of candidates for the priesthood also decreased.

The numbers come from the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, which was completed in February and published in March. The yearbook reported worldwide church figures as of Dec. 31, 2013. By the end of 2013, the worldwide Catholic population had surpassed 1.253 billion, an increase of about 25 million or 2 percent, modestly outpacing the global population growth rate, which was estimated at 1 percent in 2013.

Catholics as a percentage of the global population was up less than a percentage point at around 17.7 percent. As it has done in previous years, the latest Vatican statistical yearbook estimated there were about 4.8 million Catholics that were not included in its survey because they were in countries that could not provide an accurate report to the Vatican; for example, China and North Korea.

New nuncio to Cuba

Pope Francis has tapped his representative in Iraq and Jordan to be the new nuncio to Cuba. Italian Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, who turns 55 March 23, was named the Vatican's new ambassador to Cuba March 17. He has held the dual posts of nuncio to Jordan and to Iraq since late 2010.

Help Middle East faithful

Iraqi and Syrian refugees who have fled persecution in their homelands and the Palestinian Christians struggling to survive in the land of Jesus deserve the prayers and material support of Catholics around the globe, a Vatican official said. Catholics can "become promoters of dialogue through peace, prayer and sharing of burdens" with Middle East Christians, said Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches. In a letter sent to bishops around the world, Cardinal Sandri asked for continued support for the traditional Good Friday collection for the Holy Land.

How people understand

ROME — Allowing priests to celebrate Mass in the language of the local congregation rather than in Latin allowed the faithful to understand and be encouraged by the word of God, Pope Francis said. "You cannot turn back, we have to always go forward, always forward and who goes back is making a mistake," he told parishioners after commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first time a pope celebrated Mass in the vernacular following the Second Vatican Council.

Death penalty "unacceptable"

Pope Francis came out squarely against the death penalty once again, calling it "unacceptable" regardless of the seriousness of the crime of the condemned. Pope Francis met with a three-person delegation of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty March 20, and issued a letter on the occasion urging worldwide abolition. Citing his previous messages against the death penalty, the pope called capital punishment "cruel, inhumane and degrading" and said it "does not bring justice to the victims, but only foments revenge."

Be accountable

Bishops of dioceses around the world have an obligation to work to prevent clerical sexual abuse and to ensure that priests in their dioceses do not commit acts of abuse, said Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. "If, unfortunately, these crimes are verified, they fall under the exclusive competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which, however, always needs the assistance and collaboration of ordinaries and well-prepared canonists to act effectively and prudently," he said in a speech at Rome's Pontifical Urbanian University.

Don't give up

Don't pack it in or shift into cruise control, Pope Francis told his fellow seniors. Today's frenetic world, especially young people and families, needs the older generation's prayers, wisdom and gifts to give them the encouragement, hope and faith they often lack, he said at his weekly general audience March 11.

God forgives; you too

Opening one's heart to God's forgiveness means also being willing to forgive others, Pope Francis said. "If I am not capable of forgiving, I'm not capable of being forgiven," he said March 10 in the homily at his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.

— Catholic News Service

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