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Archive of January 20, 2006

Washington archdiocese to open new H.S. geared to low-income students

Washington D.C., Jan 20, 2006 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Washington has partnered with the Salesians of Don Bosco to open a new high school, which will offer a work-study program aimed at providing low-income students with "an affordable college-prep Catholic education."

The new school, Cristo Rey, will open in 2007 in the building that is currently used for Our Lady of Sorrows Elementary School, reported the Associated Press. The parish elementary school will close, and the children will be transferred to a nearby school in September.

Cristo Rey is the first new high school for the archdiocese since 1951. Cristo Rey schools exist across the country. There are currently 11 Cristo Rey schools in the U.S. Another eight are expected to open in the next two years, reported the AP.

Students at Cristo Rey spend four days a week in the classroom and one day at a local business, which pays a nonprofit corporation for the students' work. This money, in turn, pays most of the tuition costs.

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Still rebuilding after Katrina, Catholic aid program gives $515,000

New Orleans, La., Jan 20, 2006 (CNA) - The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) today announced the awarding of more than half a million dollars in special grants to groups assisting low-income victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita rebuild their lives and communities.

Disbursal of the $515,000 follows a separate allocation of $150,000 provided in late September for hurricane relief.

Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on CCHD, announced the 20 grants at a New Orleans press conference. The grants range from $10,000 to $30,000 and cover 11 dioceses.

The poor “need a place at the table as the Gulf Coast plans to rebuild,” Bishop Hubbard stated. “There is much work to be done and we need to listen carefully to their voices and see clearly their needs.”

According to the bishop, the latest allocations “will help the Gulf Coast’s poor and low-income population organize to address and solve their unique long-term needs” and help ensure they “have a voice in the important decisions to be made as cities and communities are rebuilt.”

He commended “the many faith-based groups and community advocacy groups who have joined CCHD in helping the region during this crisis.”

Bishop Hubbard was joined at the podium by Auxiliary Bishop Roger Morin of New Orleans, who refused to leave his post during the hurricane in order to continue ministering to others.

Funds distributed by CCHD come from individual Catholics who donate to a nationwide church collection each year, usually in the fall. Over the years, CCHD has provided more than $280 million in grants. Last September, it awarded nearly $9 million as part of its annual grant cycle assisting local projects that attack the root causes of poverty.

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Legal appeal challenges civil no-fault divorce unconstitutional

Columbus, Ohio, Jan 20, 2006 (CNA) - An Ohio mother of four has launched a constitutional appeal against an Ohio civil divorce and custody decision, arguing her religious beliefs and free speech were used against her in the proceedings.

Marie “Bai” Macfarlane’s husband abandoned her and their four children in 2003 and began no-fault divorce proceedings. Macfarlane is a stay-at-home mother and devout Catholic who homeschooled her children until 2004.

Her potentially precedent-setting appeal was submitted by Ave Maria School of Law professor Stephen Safranek. The Constitutional Law professor argues: “The civil courts do not have sole authority to end her marriage or to control the upbringing of her children. These religious and moral beliefs may be considered alien or quaint in our culture. Yet, the holding fast to such beliefs should not result in discrimination against a mother.”

Macfarlane said she and her husband had agreed to marry for life. “Even if disputes arose, I expected that we would resolve them as Catholics, from the Church’s moral position,” she said.

However, the civil divorce court refused to allow a third party arbitrator, the ecclesiastic authority of the Catholic Church, to determine separation procedures, financial settlements and custody of the children, despite legal precedents set in cases of Jewish or Islamic marriages.

Further, the appeal argues the Guardian for the children in the case was hostile to Macfarlane’s religious views and did not act properly in defending the interests of the children.

The Guardian removed them from their mother’s care although the court psychologist report states the children, “do want more time with their mom” and the older boys “were adamant supporters of homeschooling.”

The court gave the father, who works full time, permanent custody and their stay-at-home mom visitation.

“I was forced to stop homeschooling my three older children. My youngest child is in daycare although I am willing to stay home and care for my children,” said MacFarlane. “I have no right to make any decision regarding their upbringing. Finally, although we as a family poured our lives and savings into a non-profit foundation, my husband runs it and I have been ordered to get another job.”

Macfarlane founded www.marysadvocates.org for people concerned about no-fault divorce. To learn about Safranek’s public interest law firm, visit www.truemarriage.net.

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New feminism expert becomes weekly contributor on ‘Catholic Connection’

Detroit, Mich., Jan 20, 2006 (CNA) - Ethicist and moral theologian Pia de Solenni will be a weekly guest on Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo, a syndicated radio show on 107 stations across the country via the EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network and on Sirius Satellite, Channel 160.

The director of life and women's issues at the Family Research Council will be featured every Thursday, from 9:05 to 9:30 a.m., to discuss women’s issues relating to women's health, life issues and bioethics, the new feminism and culture.

"Catholic Connection brings a unique perspective to the airways by connecting Catholics and other Christians' faith and worldview to a variety of religious and political hot-button issues with a Judeo-Christian basis," says de Solenni.

De Solenni's work has appeared in various publications including The Wall Street Journal Europe, The Washington Post, and National Review Online. She has also made appearances on MSNBC, The O'Reilly Factor, CNN, ABC News Now, Scarborough Country and the BBC.

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Pope tells seminarians: Reach out to God’s people, particularly poor, suffering

Vatican City, Jan 20, 2006 (CNA) - Earlier today, Pope Bendict XVI met with seminary students from Rome’s Almo Collegio Capranica’ whom he charged with faithfulness to the teaching authority of the Church, commitment to their own personal sanctity and a willingness to reach out to the poor and suffering.

The students, who were accompanied by their rector, are preparing to celebrate the feast of the school’s patron, St. Agnes.

The Holy Father today received the rector and students of the diocesan seminary of Rome, the Almo Collegio Capranica, on the eve of the feast day of their patroness, St Agnes. The Almo Collegio forms students to the priesthood for Rome, other Italian dioceses and the rest of the world.

The Holy Father charged the seminarians, particularly during their formation, to take advantage "of every opportunity to bear effective witness to the Gospel among the men and women of our time."

He explained that "In order to respond to the expectations of modern society, and to cooperate in the immense evangelical activity that involves all Christians, there is need for well-trained and courageous priests who, without ambition or fear but convinced of gospel truth, make the announcement of Christ their first concern…”

The Pope also challenged them to be “ready to reach out to human suffering, bringing the comfort of God's love and the warmth of the ecclesial family to everyone, especially the poor and those undergoing difficulties."

The Holy Father added that "together with human maturity and close adherence to revealed truth, which the Magisterium of the Church faithfully reflects, [this requires] a serious commitment to personal sanctity and the exercise of virtue, especially humility and charity.”

“It is also necessary”, he said, “to nurture communion with the various elements of the People of God, so that everyone may have a growing awareness of belonging to the one Body of Christ."

In order to fulfill this call, the Pope invited the seminarians to keep their “gaze fixed on Christ.”

“The more you remain in communion with Him,” he said, “the more able you will be faithfully to follow His footsteps so that, 'love which binds every thing together in perfect harmony,' brings your love for the Lord to maturity under the guidance of the Holy Spirit."

Pope Benedict concluded his address asking the group to follow the example of committed priests, and former seminarians of the Almo Collegio, who, he said, "have produced abundant fruits of knowledge and goodness in the Lord's vineyard."

The Almo Collegio trains seminarians for the priesthood in the Diocese of Rome, other diocese’ in Italy, as well as various Sees throughout the world.

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Despite large potential, Catholic television lacks resources, networking, says Archbishop Foley

Vatican City, Jan 20, 2006 (CNA) - Earlier today at the Vatican, Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications told members of an organizational committee for the World Congress on/ Catholic Television that, although strong initiatives currently exist, Catholic television sorely lacks resources.

The meeting was held in the Vatican's Palazzo San Carlo.

In his address to the committee Archbishop Foley lamented that, although there are many "Catholic television initiatives, there are often insufficient resources in programming, finance or trained personnel to keep them all in operation.”

Observing that “One of the factors that seem to be missing is coordination and, indeed, cooperation,” the archbishop said that "Because of the nature of our universal responsibility as the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, we thought it might be a good idea to respond to requests from around the world to be a forum for planning and, indeed, helping to implement such coordination and cooperation.”

He stressed that “In no field more than broadcasting and telecasting is there more need for networking…”

This networking, he said, should allow common programming to be “offered throughout the world.” Likewise, he stressed the need for training facilities which “can be offered on an international basis,” and said that “ideas and programs” need to be shared within the industry.

"May our planning and our eventual congress”, the archbishop concluded, “help Catholic television to be a type of nervous system for the Church…a system which helps to inform, to energize ... the Church to an ever more perfect unity and to the continuing work of evangelization."

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US, European and Canadian bishops express solidarity with Christians in Holy Land

Rome, Italy, Jan 20, 2006 (CNA) - Bishops from the Episcopal Conferences of Europe, Canada and the United States expressed their solidarity with Christians in the Holy Land and called for the establishing of a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinian people, where “two viable states and three religious confessions” dwell together.

The bishops were participating in the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land.  “We have come as pilgrims in prayer to pray for the prosperity of the Church and of all the peoples of the Holy Land,” they said in a statement.

Bishops from Episcopal conferences of Austria, Canada, England and Wales, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States were among those in attendance.

In their message the bishops underscored that the meeting provided the chance to witness “the vibrant faith of the Church in her worship, in her service to the people through many ecclesial institutions.”  Nevertheless, they exhorted the faithful to pray for the Christians of the Holy Land, to go on pilgrimage to the holy sites and to support “generously the institutions of the local Church” by promoting “initiatives that bring peace and justice.”

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Catholics form collective to voice concerns of Church in World Social Forum

Caracas, Venezuela, Jan 20, 2006 (CNA) - A collective formed by Catholics in order represent the Catholic Church will participate in the controversial World Social Forum, to be held in Venezuela January 23-29.

The collective is bringing together representatives of various Church ministries throughout Venezuela that seek to respond to the Church’s “challenge to build a more just, humane, fraternal and Christian society, in hopes of achieving the common good and of creating more favorable conditions for the human person and the family,” the collective’s leaders stated.

“The communities, groups, organizations and institutions of the Church should let their voice and the strength of their witness be heard, and above all they should share their experience of years of service to the poor and excluded in order to continue united in their efforts, without forgetting the commitment of Christians to transform this world,” they added.

Although some analysists have warned this year’s World Social Forum could become  a propaganda tool for the government of Hugo Chavez, the collective believes its participation is a response to “the need to make our voices and our proposal for a new world based on the Gospel and the social teachings of the Church heard by all.”

“The present-day divorce between the eschatological and the historical, between faith and daily life is a call-to-action for us as Christians and an invitation to proclaim the Good News of the risen Jesus, as one more step in response to the challenges of the beginning of the third millennium in our personal, family, pastoral and community life, in order to reach out to our brothers and sisters on issues that are of importance, such as fundamental human rights in economic social, cultural and environmental matters.  We are disciples and missionaries of Jesus, and our witness, together with our mission of evangelization, is carried out by Him, with Him and in Him:  The Way, the Truth and the Life, so that our peoples can have life in Him,” the collective stated.

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Moving testimony by newly-ordained terminally ill priest in Chile

Santiago, Chile, Jan 20, 2006 (CNA) - Francisco Jimenez Araya is 30 years old and has suffered from terminal cancer since last November.  He has faced his illness with courage and although at some point he may have thought his life’s dream would never come true, it did just a few days ago: he was ordained to the priesthood.

Last June he was ordained a deacon and was preparing for ordination to the priesthood when he was diagnosed with the illness. Soon he began  to receive treatment at a Hospital in Santiago. 

Known by friends and family as “Panchito,” Jimenez was ordained a priest on January 11 at the Holy Cure de Ars Home, a home for priests in Santiago, during a ceremony led by Bishop Rafael de la Barra of Illapel.

Panchito chose a verse from Psalm 99 as his priestly motto: “Serve the Lord with joy.”

During his homily, Bishop De la Barra said that with his testimony the new priest is offering “a great service to the Church and the infirm that live with him, showing them hope and faith in God.”

He added that Father Jimenez is now a priest forever and that “despite his illness, a miracle is always possible.”

“He can be treated as a priest with all appropriateness.  Proof of that is his ability to celebrate Mass even when he must be confined to a wheelchair,” the bishop said.

Before returning to the hospital, the new priest told reporters his ordination came at a time when his treatment was on hold, and he said that although he was happy being a deacon, the dream of his life was to become a priest.

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Homosexual group seeks to disrupt White House Easter egg hunt

Washington D.C., Jan 20, 2006 (CNA) - The organization Soulforce, which claims to be Christian but attacks Catholic and Protestant associations, is preparing a media campaign to call on members to be among the first thousand “families” to enter the White House during celebrations on the Monday after Easter, when the White House opens its doors for its traditional Easter egg hunt.

According to the Archdiocese of Madrid’s news service Analisis Digital Soulforce has called on its militants to camp out on April 16 to be the first in line so that on Monday, April 17, the “Bush White House” is “surprised by gay and lesbian families.”

“This is something people will talk about for a long time, an event that will make history!” the group said in an email.  “On April 17, 2006, when the White House lawn is open for the annual Easter egg hunt, imagine if the first thousand families that get in are lesbian, homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals,” reads the email. 

Soulforce told members to wear t-shirts with the letters LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals) so that millions of Americans will see “our families” on television. The group also asked that members keep mum about the plans, but the plan was uncovered by WorldNetDaily.

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Archbishop Foley addresses Swiss Guards for their upcoming 500 anniversary

Vatican City, Jan 20, 2006 (CNA) - During a mass celebrated today for the upcoming 500 anniversary of the Swiss Guards, Archbishop Foley reminded them that there are martyrs among them, who died defending the Holy Father.

“Everyday, at the gate of the Vatican, you meet hundreds of people of all faiths or no faith. You know well that we are many priests, friars and nuns who work at the Vatican, but the people that go through every day don’t see us but see you. For them, you represent the Pope, the successor of Peter, in fact you represent Jesus,” said Archbishop John Patrick Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in the homily of the mass celebrated today at the Vatican, on the occasion of the 500 anniversary of the Swiss Guard.


"Twenty years after the Guard entered at the service of the Holy Father-he reminded- 147 of you were killed defending the Pontiff from the criminal troops of the emperor Charles V. We can, in some sense recognize them as martyrs, because they gave their lives to defend the successor of Peter.”

Referring to the daily work of the “Army of the Pope,” Foley remarked the cultural pluralism of Switzerland and of the Swiss Guard.


“Consider you work, not only a duty, as it actually is, but an opportunity to reflect the joy and love of Jesus Christ in any action, word and gesture.” So that “not only you defend the Pope but also share the true faith.”

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