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April 11, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 7   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Mother Angelica

Mother Angelica, founder of EWTN, dies

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Mother Angelica, who founded the Eternal Word Television Network and turned it into one of the world's largest religious media operations, died March 27 at age 92. Feisty and outspoken, she was a major controversial figure in the U.S. church in the closing decades of the 20th century. At the same time, the international scope of EWTN's media operations gave her a ready calling card at the Vatican.

She built the venture into a network that transmits programs 24 hours a day to more than 230 million homes in 144 countries via cable and other technologies. It broadcasts in English and several other languages. Mother Angelica had been ill for years. She was operated on Dec. 24, 2001, in a Birmingham hospital to remove a blood clot in her brain after she suffered her second major stroke. It left her with partial paralysis and a speech impediment.

Last November, she was placed on a feeding tube as she continued to battle lingering effects of the strokes. In February, members of her religious order, the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, said she was in delicate condition and asked for prayers for her. Mother Angelica died at her order's Our Lady of Angels Monastery in Hanceville, where she "was surrounded by the prayers and love of her spiritual daughters, sons and dear friends," said a statement from the Poor Clares.

Because Mother Angelica died on Easter Sunday, some revisions had to be made as church law prohibits reading from the Office of the Dead during the Easter octave. The first reading for the funeral Mass, celebrated at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, also had to be changed. Selected to take its place was a passage from the Book of Revelation, where St. John said he "saw a new heaven and a new earth."

She "reflected the Gospel commission to go forth and make disciples of all nations" said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. bishops' conference. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, who served on the EWTN board of directors for many years, called Mother Angelica "a woman of extraordinary faith, intelligence, energy and determination." He added he "saw firsthand the tremendously positive impact her work for Jesus Christ had on many millions of people."

Women more religious

WASHINGTON — Women, especially among Christians around the world, generally are more devout than men when standard measures of religious commitment are considered, a Pew Research Center study found. Christian women are more likely to attend weekly religious services, be involved in daily prayer and consider religion important in their lives at higher rates than men, according to the study's findings, released March 22. However, among Muslims, religious practice by men was significantly higher than by women when using the same standards, researchers discovered. The findings correspond to the cultural norm in most Islamic societies that Muslim men are expected to attend communal Friday midday prayer in the mosque. Women can fulfill the Friday prayer requirement individually, either inside or outside the mosque. The findings are part of a comprehensive look at religious practices by gender among Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and the religiously unaffiliated in 192 countries and territories. Overall, 83.4 percent of women around the world identify with a faith group while 79.9 percent of men do so. The study utilized census data, surveys and population registers from recent years in analyzing religious practices.

Final Four champions
Villanova Wildcats guard Phil Booth (5) celebrates with guard Mikal Bridges (25) after the team's 77-74 win over the North Carolina Tar Heels April 4 in the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four in Houston. Booth is a 2014 graduate of Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore. Villanova is the oldest Catholic university in Pennsylvania.

No easy answers
BALTIMORE — As Canada prepares for the legalization of assisted suicide throughout the country in June and nearly half of the U.S. states take up some kind of legislative proposal on the topic this year, questions arise about its pastoral implications. What should a hospital chaplain do if confronted with a patient who expresses a determination to use assisted suicide? Can anointing of the sick be given to such a patient? How do pastors decide whether a person who carried out an assisted suicide should receive a Catholic funeral? Experts in Catholic health care and ethics seem to have reached agreement on the answer to those questions: It depends. "At this point in time, you really can't give an answer," said Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who headed hospitals in Florida and the District of Columbia before becoming president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association in 2005.

Abortion-related measures
INDIANAPOLIS — A new Indiana law that protects unborn children by banning abortions based on potential disabilities, gender and race "reflects the love that God has for everyone by affirming that every human life is sacred," Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin said. "This is a decisive step in promoting life, not death, for unborn human life," he said. In Utah March 28, Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill into law that requires anesthesia for the fetus in a narrow range of abortions. The bill was highly contested by medical professionals but passed easily through both houses of the state Legislature.

Patty Duke

Patty Duke dies at 69
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Patty Duke, who had much of her childhood — and even her Catholic faith — ripped away from her by managers molding her into a child star, died March 29 in Idaho. She was 69. "It is with great warmth and love that I acknowledge the symbolism and the pageantry of my childhood Catholic experience," she told Catholic News Service in a 1995 interview. She won an Oscar for best supporting actress for portraying the blind Helen Keller, and later an Emmy portraying Helen's teacher, Annie Sullivan, in a 1979 TV remake of "The Miracle Worker." She was the star of "The Patty Duke Show" on TV. But the fame came at a price. A husband-and-wife management team took Duke, born Anna Marie, out of her parents' home and into their own, calling her Patty. In her memoir, "Call Me Anna," Duke recalled how her managers dyed her first Communion dress pink so she could wear it for an audition.

Catholic schools' health
SAN DIEGO — The health of the nation's Catholic schools is mixed, their leaders announced March 29, noting that they served nearly 24,000 fewer students than last year although 14 new schools opened across the country. They gave an assessment of the schools on the opening day of the National Catholic Educational Association's annual convention, held in San Diego through March 31. The leaders outlined some of the steps they are taking to support the growth in Catholic school education, including fundraising for tuition assistance, marketing, and strengthening academic and faith formation. Nearly 5,000 teachers and administrators attended instructional and professional development workshops on topics that included admission, education trends, finance management, formation programs, Hispanic outreach, instructional strategies, leadership, public policy, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and application of technology. The conference and expo was presented in partnership with the Catholic Library Association. "There's a strong demand and enthusiasm for Catholic schools," noted Bishop George V. Murry, SJ, of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the NCEA board of directors. Speaking at an opening news conference, he said that around 27 percent of schools had waiting lists.

World Youth Day safety
WASHINGTON — World Youth Day organizers in the United States and Poland remain in touch with diplomatic and security officials in their respective countries to ensure that pilgrims will remain safe during the festival of faith in late July. Security is expected to be extremely tight in Krakow, Poland, the WYD host city, as authorities in both countries work to prevent any incident that would threaten visitors.

Press for abortion ban
WARSAW, Poland — Poland's Catholic bishops have called for a permanent ban on abortions to mark the anniversary of their country's Christian conversion in A.D. 966. "Each person's life is protected by the Fifth Com-mandment, do not kill. So the attitude of Catholics is clear and unchanging," the bishops' conference said in a March 30 statement.

Relics found in rubble of destroyed church
VATICAN CITY The relics of Syrian St. Elian, which originally were thought to have been destroyed by members of the so-called Islamic State militia, have been found amid the rubble of the desecrated Mar Elian Church in Qaryatain, Syria.

The sanctuary was bulldozed in August 2015, according to Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Father Jacques Mourad, the prior of the Syriac Catholic monastic community, was kidnapped three months earlier when the terrorists initially raided the church.

Father Mourad, who was freed Oct. 11, reported the discovery of the relics to Fides April 5. "The fact that the relics of Mar Elian are not lost is for me a great sign," the priest said.

The relics of St. Elian, a third-century martyr, were discovered after Syrian military forces had retaken control of Qaryatain.

Catholic News Service


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