Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 26, 2010
World News in Brief
Bishops take actions against nuns over health reform
At least two U.S. bishops have taken actions to indicate their disapproval of the support some women's religious communities and the Catholic Health Association gave to the final version of health care reform legislation.
Bishop Lawrence Brandt of Greensburg, Pa., has directed diocesan offices, parishes and the diocesan newspaper not to promote the "vocation awareness program of any religious community" that was a signatory to a letter urging members of the House of Representatives to pass the health reform bill.
In Providence, R.I., Bishop Thomas Tobin asked the Catholic Health Association to remove the diocesan-sponsored St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island from its membership rolls, saying that CHA leadership had "misled the public and caused serious scandal" by supporting health reform legislation that the bishops opposed.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was against the measure because its provisions on abortion funding and conscience protections were morally unacceptable.
When the bill passed, the bishops reiterated their decades-long support for providing access to health care for all but expressed regret that health care reform came with the possibility of expanded abortion funding and urged vigilance that an executive order by President Barack Obama would, as promised, ensure no federal funds will be spent on abortion.
Some Catholic groups reacted with enthusiasm to the passage of health reform and Obama's executive order, and others said the order would have no effect on abortion funding.
Benedict marks fifth anniversary with cardinals
Pope Benedict marked the fifth anniversary of his election with a formal luncheon with 46 cardinals in Rome, thanking God and the cardinals for their help in carrying out his ministry. "After five years, I can only say thank you, thank you especially to the Lord himself who guides me, but also to all of you," he said at the end of the luncheon April 19 in the frescoed Sala Ducale of the Apostolic Palace. In its report on the meal, the Vatican newspaper said the pope cited the words of St. Augustine, who spoke of the Church being on a pilgrimage through the tribulations of the world, supported and consoled by God. "In that context, the pontiff accented the sins of the Church, recalling that the Church - wounded and sinful - still experiences the consolation of God," the newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, reported.
Mexican bishops laud priests' heroic work
The Mexican bishops' conference says priests have suffered threats of violence, kidnapping and extortion from Mexico's narcotics-trafficking cartels. The conference also confirmed that a growing number of priests - mostly serving in remote and mountainous areas rife with illegal drug trade activities - have been transferred to other parishes, assigned other types of work or even moved to other parts of the country because of threats. Other priests, meanwhile, have been forced to raise up to $800 to make weekly extortion payments. "Many priests live their ministries in a heroic way, amid the fear of threats, poverty, violence, extortion and aggressions," the bishops said in an April 14 statement. The violence overflowing parts of Mexico has claimed at least 22,700 lives since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and sent the army and federal police to crack down on the cartels.
Jesus had wise words for troubled disciples - Quinn
Jesus' words to his "very troubled and confused disciples" before his passion and death offer guidance today at "a perilous and critical point in the life of the church," Archbishop John Quinn told participants in the National Federation of Priests' Councils convention April 13. The retired archbishop of San Francisco spoke about Christ present in the darkness during the annual NFPC meeting April 12-15 in Houston. Saying "the great works of God have been accomplished in darkness," Quinn cited chapters 14-17 of John's Gospel as containing the words that should guide priests and the Church today. Jesus "begins by giving them a forthright commandment: 'You are not to let your hearts be troubled,'" he said. "This is not an exhortation. It is a command." Jesus tells his disciples that "in the trouble and the crisis they confront, where disaster seems inevitable and there is no solution, with the Father and the Spirit he will be with them," Quinn said. "This is how the Bible teaches us to persevere in darkness and in trial."
Trials will leave priesthood stronger - psychologist
The priesthood and the Catholic Church itself will emerge from today's crises stronger than ever, says a priest-psychologist. Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, an expert in treating psychological and spiritual difficulties, especially among priests, spoke April 13 at the annual convention in Houston of the National Federation of Priests' Councils. Although a look at newspapers and blogs gives the impression that the priesthood "is dispirited, discouraged and disintegrating," Rossetti said two studies he conducted of 4,000 priests between 2002 and 2010 show that "priests like being priests; they find great satisfaction in their lives." "Rather than disintegrating under the pressure and stress of our day, it appears to me that our priests are becoming stronger."
Eucharist proves God intervenes in world - pope
When the liturgy focuses on the people gathered in the Church and not the Lord, it plays into the temptation to believe God is incapable of intervening in the world, Pope Benedict told bishops from Brazil. An exclusive focus on community reflects "a mindset unable to accept the possibility of a real divine intervention in this world to help mankind," the pope said April 15. Pope Benedict said a "constant concern" of the popes has been to remind Catholics that Jesus rose from the dead and "continues to live and is really present in the consecrated host and chalice." Too often, he said, Catholics have lost sight of Christ as the principal actor at the Mass and instead focus on the people present.
Debate over human nature part of culture war - Weigel
The United States is currently engaged in a "great culture war" that involves "a battle over the nature and dignity of the human person," author and scholar George Weigel told participants at a pro-life conference organized by University of Notre Dame students. On one side are those who say everything in the human condition is "plastic, malleable, changeable, improvable," he said. On the other side are those who say moral truths are built into the world and into human beings that they can know by reason and which teach them how to live as individuals and citizens, he said.
Shroud can help people in search for God - pope
After the Shroud of Turin went on public display April 10, Pope Benedict said he hoped the shroud would help people in their search for God. The shroud, which many believe to be the burial cloth of Christ, is being displayed in Turin's cathedral from April 10 to May 23. The last public exposition of the shroud was in 2000. The pope is scheduled to view the shroud during a one-day trip to Turin May 2. Pope Benedict said he was happy about the exposition, which has "once again encouraged a large flow of pilgrims, but also studies, reflections, and above all an extraordinary call to the mystery of Christ's suffering."
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