Nation and World News

Vatican works to put values back in sports

The square in front of St. Peter

World and National News Briefs

Religious leaders oppose border fence

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Legislation calling for construction of a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexican border passed both houses of Congress before they adjourned until after the November elections. The fence was widely criticized by advocates for comprehensive immigration reform, who said the bill was little more than an election-year stunt aimed at voters who want a crackdown on illegal immigration. In a Sept. 29 teleconference, Kevin Appleby, director of migration and refugee policy for the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services, said the bishops opposed a fence for a variety of reasons. For one thing, half of those who are in the country illegally come in legally and stay beyond their permitted period, he said. Also, a fence will not prevent people from attempting to cross into the United States over even more difficult terrain, he added. But it’s also a moral issue, said Appleby, citing a Government Accountability Office report that showed the number of deaths in the southwestern deserts doubled after the United States began to blockade less hazardous crossing points in the 1990s.

Bishops restructuring national staff

WASHINGTON (CNS) — If the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approves a proposed reorganization plan this November, by 2008 there will be at least 63 fewer employees on the bishops’ national staff than are currently authorized. The 260 currently authorized positions under consideration are to be reduced to 197. The cost savings would allow the bishops to reduce their yearly diocesan assessment for USCCB staff and programs by 16 percent in 2008. In 2007 the assessment will account for $11.9 million, or 9 percent, of the organization’s $139 million budget. Of the positions that the bishops will consider eliminating from the 2008 budget, 35 have already become vacant by not replacing some employees who have retired or left. The figures do not include staffing for Catholic News Service, Migration and Refugee Services, the National Religious Retirement Office or the offices for the bishops’ national seminaries in Rome and in Louvain, Belgium. In a Sept. 29 news release the USCCB said one of the goals of restructuring is "to assure that the USCCB emphasizes major themes or priorities in three- to five-year cycles."

Pope’s wartime home to be museum

KRAKOW, Poland (CNS) — The Archdiocese of Krakow will open a museum in the house where Pope John Paul II lived during World War II. The Krakow house is "very run down" and needs "total renovation," said Father Jan Kabzinski, archdiocesan steward. The archdiocese plans to use period furniture "to recreate the atmosphere and show the poverty he faced as a young person," Father Kabzinski added. As Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul moved with his father to the house from his nearby Wadowice hometown in 1938, when he enrolled as a student at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University. He lived in the two-room basement while working as a laborer under Nazi occupation at a stone quarry and factory. His father died at the house in February 1941, and young Wojtyla stayed there for three more years with a friend, Mieczyslaw Kotlarczyk, until he began studying secretly at the Krakow seminary.

Author says evidence proves Shroud real
SYDNEY, Australia (CNS) — A newly published book cites new scientific evidence challenging claims that the Shroud of Turin is a fake and reasserting that it is the burial cloth of Jesus. In "The Shroud Story," author Brendan Whiting argues that results from carbon dating carried out in 1988 — suggesting the shroud dated from medieval times — are anomalous and that "there is nothing about the Shroud of Turin that prevents it from being over 2,000 years old." An Australian author and researcher, Whiting now points to research by eminent U.S. chemist Raymond Rogers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico that shows the sample used for the carbon dating was polluted by fragments of invisible mending done to the linen cloth in the Middle Ages. The book, which took four years to write, details the history of the shroud, a 14-foot by 4-foot linen cloth that bears the life-size image of a man bearing wounds consistent with scourging and crucifixion. It is now housed in the Turin cathedral in northern Italy.

Official reiterates Vatican’s priorities

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican’s new secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, told diplomats that aiding the world’s poor, preventing war and cultivating respect for human rights remain the Vatican’s top priorities in the international arena. "We need a universal engagement in favor of the planet’s most dispossessed, the poorest ones, the people who often search in vain for a means to support themselves and their family," Cardinal Bertone said Sept. 29. "The dignity, freedom and unconditional respect of every human being in his fundamental rights, in particular the right of conscience and religion, should be among our primary concerns," he said. Cardinal Bertone, who took over as secretary of state in mid-September, spoke in his first encounter with the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.

Papal Message

Pope Benedict XVI last week met with a group of recently appointed bishops who are participating in a meeting in Rome and spoke to them about their responsibilities to the faith and the faithful.

Simple parish Web addresses suggested

Our Lady of Hope in Dundalk had the perfect Web address: www.ourladyofhope.com.

World and National News Briefs

Chinese release captured bishop

HONG KONG (CNS) — A young bishop whose episcopal ordination is not recognized by the Chinese government was released five days after being taken away by plainclothes security officers who broke into the cathedral compound. After his Sept. 16 release, Bishop Joseph Wu Qinjing of Zhouzhi was hospitalized because of a concussion, reported UCA News, an Asian Church news agency based in Thailand. A Church source close to the 38-year-old bishop told UCA News Sept. 19 that before Bishop Wu’s release he was forced to write a statement saying his episcopal status was illegal. The statement said he was ordained without an election. It added that his management of the diocese and presiding over Church activities as bishop have violated the Chinese government’s religious affairs regulations. The Church source added that Bishop Wu also was forced to promise in the statement that he would not wear a miter or bishop’s vestments during liturgies or appear as a bishop at large-scale Church activities.

Bishop says death sentence is ‘revenge’

FARGO, N.D. (CNS) — Imposing the death penalty on convicted murderer Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. "reinforces the false perspective of revenge as justice," Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo said Sept. 22. "It diminishes respect for all human life, both the lives of the guilty and the innocent," he said after a federal jury in Fargo decided Rodriguez should be executed by lethal injection. Rodriguez, 53, was convicted of the 2003 kidnap, rape and murder of 22-year-old University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin. Sjodin, from Pequot Lakes, Minn., was abducted from the parking lot of a shopping mall in Grand Forks Nov. 22, 2003. In April 2004, after winter snows melted, her body was found in a ravine outside Crookston, Minn., near the home of Rodriguez, a registered sex offender. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson set Jan. 5 as the date for Rodriguez’s official sentencing. It will be the first federal death sentence handed down in North Dakota and the first death sentence issued by any court in the state in more than a century. North Dakota state laws have excluded capital punishment for decades.

Abp. Milingo, 4 others excommunicated

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Recent ordinations made without papal approval have placed Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo and the four prelates he recently ordained under automatic excommunication, the Vatican said. Starting with his "attempted marriage" in 2001 until his Sept. 24 ordinations of four bishops in Washington, Archbishop Milingo’s actions have led him to "a condition of irregularity and progressive breach in communion with the Church," said a written statement by the Vatican press office. Various Church officials tried "in vain" to contact the retired archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia, and "dissuade him from continuing acts that provoke scandal," the Sept. 26 press statement said. It said that despite the "patient vigilance" shown by the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI in hoping the retired archbishop would return to full communion with the Church, the archbishop's Sept. 24 ordinations "have dashed such hopes." The Vatican statement also said "the Church does not recognize nor does it intend to recognize in the future such ordinations."

Riots follow executions in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNS) — The three Catholic men convicted of murdering 200 Muslims during sectarian riots in Central Sulawesi province in 2000 were executed by firing squad Sept. 22, triggering rioting in other provinces. Father Jimmy Tumbelaka, spiritual counsel for Fabianus Tibo, 60, Dominggus da Silva, 39, and Marinus Riwu, 48, said the men were handcuffed and tied to chairs. Da Silva and Tibo allowed themselves to be blindfolded, but Riwu refused, added Father Tumbelaka, parish priest for Poso, the town where the 2000 riots occurred. Father Tumbelaka recounted that the men were taken out of solitary confinement in Palu’s Petobo jail at 11:30 p.m. Media reported the execution was carried out amid tight security on the outskirts of Palu. Father Tumbelaka said police and prosecutors rejected the men’s last request, that their bodies be taken to St. Mary Church in Palu for a Mass to be said by Bishop Joseph Suwatan of Manado.

Sex-abuse expert: Church raised bar for all

The response of the Catholic Church in the United States to its child sexual-abuse problem has raised the bar on sex-abuse prevention for all organizations that serve children, said Monica Applewhite, an expert in abuse prevention strategies.

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