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Archive of March 31, 2006

Bishop's report: US Church received 783 new abuse claims in 2005, but most are decades old

Washington D.C., Mar 31, 2006 (CNA) - Results of the United States Catholic bishops’ third nationwide audit show that dioceses nationwide  received a total of 783 new claims of sex abuse by clergy in 2005, although  most of the allegations involve cases that are decades old. In 2004, the number of new claims for that year was 1,092.

The third audit, as with the first two, were conducted by the Gavin Group, a private firm that employed teams comprised mainly of former FBI agents.

The new claims, reported yesterday, bring the total number of accusations against Catholic clergy to more than 12,000 since 1950.

However, this year’s audit drew some criticism because of changes in how it was conducted. In the first two annual audits, nearly all 195 dioceses received an on site visit. During the most recent review, 104 dioceses simply filled out a questionnaire; the others were visited.

Prior to the new audit, the abuse problem was known to have cost dioceses more than $1 billion since 1950.

But the cost in 2005 alone was nearly $467 million, including settlements, therapy for victims, support for offenders and attorneys' fees, among other things,says the report.

A separate report found a slight decline in compliance with all of the provisions of the bishops’ 2002 sex abuse policy. Only 88.5 percent of dioceses were fully compliant compared with more than 95 percent the year before.

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Holy Father prays for freedom of Catholic Church in China

Vatican City, Mar 31, 2006 (CNA) - The Vatican has announced that during the month of April, Pope Benedict XVI will focus his prayer specifically on the plight of the much-persecuted Church in China.

The text of the Holy Father’s April mission intention, released today, is "That the Church in China may carry out its evangelizing mission serenely and in full freedom."

The Vatican is currently exploring ways to better serve Catholics in China, where the communist government has established a government-sponsored Church which discourages--sometimes violently--the faithful from giving primary adherence to the Holy Father.

A large underground Church, faithful to the Pope, exists as well, but experts say its religious liberties are being trampled by a closely-watching government.

China’s newly elevated Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun has encouraged Catholics in the country to “be patient” as they wait for religious freedom. The Vatican has expressed an openness to listening to the Chinese government in hopes of compromise but China has insisted that it will not work with the Holy See unless they break ties with China.

The Church has consistently rejected that idea.

Pope Benedict has said that he is open to a trip to China in the near future, but said that he’s leaving the timing up to God.

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Universal approval of Latin Missal could be on the way

Vatican City, Mar 31, 2006 (CNA) - The St. Pius V Missal, which the Catholic Church used until 1962 before it was replaced by the new ordinary following the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, could be approved for universal use, according to sources close to the Vatican.

The decision on the use of the Missal, which was the subject of consultations between Pope
Benedict XVI, the cardinals of the Church and the heads of the different Vatican diacasteries, could be announced after another meeting the Pope has scheduled for April 7 with Curia leaders.

The Pius V Missal contains the Mass celebrated in Latin according to the “Tridentine” rite and is currently allowed only with the permission of the local bishop.  Universal approval would mean the traditional rite could be celebrated freely throughout the world by priests who wish to do so.

The move is not directly related to the Lefebvrist schism, since as a theologian the Pontiff had always expressed in interest in bringing back the rite.  Nevertheless, Vatican sources note that this would be an important step in resolving the schism, as the possibility of freely celebrating the Mass of St Pius V is one of the points of contention with the Lefebvrists.

In July, the Society of St. Pius X—known as the Lefebvrists—will elect a new superior.  The group will chose between openness to reconciliation embodied in the current superior Bernard Fellay or the decidedly anti-Vatican stance of Richard Williamson, another of the four bishops illicitly consecrated by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

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Following viewing of new film biography, Pope calls John Paul II ‘tireless prophet of hope and peace’

Vatican City, Mar 31, 2006 (CNA) - Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI had the opportunity to view the latest in a recent string of films exploring the life of the late John Paul II who died one year ago Sunday. The Holy Father viewed the Italian-made "Karol, un Papa rimasto uomo" or “Karol, a Pope Who Remained a Man,” along with several other Vatican representatives in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.

Directed by Italian Giacomo Battiato, the new made for television film recounts the second part of the life of John Paul II. The director had explored his young life in an earlier film, "Karol un uomo diventato Papa" or, “Karol, a Man Who Became Pope.”

That film was screened by Pope Benedict and other Vatican officials in May of 2005, shortly after John Paul II’s death.

Following yesterday’s screeing, the Pontiff expressed his thanks to Battiato and his collaborators, including the actor Piotr Adamczyk who plays the role of John Paul II. He said that they displayed both "knowledge and talent" in presenting "the central moments of the apostolic ministry of my venerated predecessor."

"With this second episode of the film,” Benedict said, “the story of the earthly life of the beloved Pontiff comes to an end," and “Once again we heard the opening appeal of his pontificate, which sounded out so often down the years: 'Open the doors to Christ! Do not be afraid!'“

He pointed out that the film “showed us a Pope immersed in contact with God and, for this very reason, ever sensitive to the expectations of mankind”; it “caused us to reconsider his apostolic journeys all over the world; it gave us the opportunity to relive his meetings with so many people, with the great ones of the earth and with ordinary citizens, with illustrious figures and with unknown individuals.”

The Holy Father said that among these figures, “special mention should be made of his embrace with Mother Teresa of Calcutta,” who he said was “united to John Paul II by an intimate spiritual harmony.”

He also noted that the film allowed viewers to be “Horrified as if we were present,” as “we reheard the shots of the tragic attempt on his life in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981.”

"From all this," the Pope concluded, "emerged the figure of a tireless prophet of hope and peace, who traveled the roads of the earth to communicate the Gospel to everyone.”

His vibrant words returned to our minds, condemning totalitarian regimes, murderous violence and war; words full of consolation and hope expressing his closeness to the relatives of victims of conflict and dramatic terrorist attacks, such as that against the Twin Towers in New York; courageous words of denunciation towards consumer society and hedonistic culture which aims to create a purely material wellbeing that cannot satisfy the profound needs of the human heart."

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Mass attendance up in Boston despite church closings

Boston, Mass., Mar 31, 2006 (CNA) - The number of people attending Mass in the Archdiocese of Boston has risen slightly since widespread church closings began in 2003, archdiocesan officials reported.

Last year, 319,559 Catholics attended mass regularly, up from 316,811 in 2003. During the same period, the number of parishes fell from 357 to 303. The bulk of the closings occurred in 2004, but mass attendance that year was 321,908 — higher than in 2005.

The 2005 statistics show that just 17 percent of Catholics in the Archdiocese of Boston regularly attend mass, compared with 34 percent of Catholics nationwide who say they attend church weekly, reported the Associated Press.

The steady attendance through the closings was a validation of the archdiocese's closing plan, Kathleen Heck of the archdiocese told the Associated Press. Fifteen parishes remain to be closed.

As well, the archdiocese's current Catholic population dropped more than 11 percent, falling below two million for the first time in 15 years, Church officials said.

However, diocesan officials admitted that the methods used to tabulate attendance numbers are not scientific, nor are they consistent from year to year.

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Planned Parenthood targets teens with iPod and movie pass giveaway

San Francisco, Calif., Mar 31, 2006 (CNA) - Anyone who makes an appointment at one of the eight facilities run by Planned Parenthood Golden Gate (PPGG) before April 30 can enter to win an iPod. This is just one of the schemes the abortion agency has organized to try to lure teens into its San Francisco clinics, reports the group, Life Decisions International.

“Planned Parenthood has resorted to common corporate tactics in an effort to get young people to encourage their peers to voluntarily become the pro-abortion group’s new victims,” says LDI president Douglas Scott. “This incentive is clearly aimed at young people.”

A poster announcing another Planned Parenthood program, called “Tell-A-Friend,” includes the image of a teenage girl whispering into the ear of another teenage girl: “Get free movie tickets? Yes, when you tell a friend about Planned Parenthood.”

Teens are told to obtain a Tell-A-Friend card at a local Planned Parenthood office or to download one from the agency’s website.

“Give Tell-A-Friend cards to any friends who don’t go to Planned Parenthood,” the details state. “When they come in for an appointment--and turn in your [Tell-A-Friend] card--we will mail you two FREE movie passes, and your friend will receive $10.00 off their visit.” The movie tickets are redeemable at any United Artist theater.

The card states that to be eligible for the free movie tickets the teen referral(s) must be new to Planned Parenthood or they must not have used its “services” for at least two years. PPGG lists its “services” on the card: birth control, annual exams, pregnancy testing, STI [sexually transmitted infection] testing & treatment, HIV testing, and emergency contraception.

LDI is currently investigating to determine if United Artists donated the tickets to Planned Parenthood or if they were purchased by the group.

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Spokane Diocese forced to stop paying lawyers in midst of bankruptcy case

Spokane, Wash., Mar 31, 2006 (CNA) - The Diocese of Spokane, Washington is so impoverished that it has stopped paying its lawyers in the midst of its bankruptcy case, reported the Associated Press. Their lawyers have not been paid for at least two months.

The diocese sought bankruptcy protection more than one year ago because of all the claims filed by people who claimed they were sexually abused by priests.

According to its most recent financial statement, the diocese has about $2 million in cash, reported the AP. While it's unclear how much it owes, legal fees alone add up to at least $1.4 million.

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Taiwanese minister: “The Holy See will not abandon Taiwan's Catholics”

Taipei, Taiwan, Mar 31, 2006 (CNA) - Following a meeting with the Vatican’s representative in Taiwan, Archbishop Ambrosio Matha, Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Relations, Huang Chih Fang expressed his confidence that the Holy See “will not abandon Taiwanese Catholics.”

According to the Fides news agency, Huang said the Taiwanese government requested the meeting because of recent statements by the Vatican’s top foreign-relations official, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, who said “the time has come for establishing diplomatic ties with China.”

Speaking to reporters in Taipei, Huang said the Vatican is studying the China-Taiwan situation “from the point of view of its concern for Catholics and not for political considerations.”  

Asked about whether Archbishop Matha guaranteed the maintaining of current bilateral relations, Huang said, “The Holy see values the rights of Catholics and religious freedom.  It will not abandon the 300,000 Taiwanese Catholics for the 8 million Catholics in China.  The Holy See has clearly said its principal concern is the rights of Catholics.”

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New 'sister city' bond between birthplaces of John Paul II and Padre Pio

Rome, Italy, Mar 31, 2006 (CNA) - San Giovanni Rotondo in Italy and Wadowice in Poland, cities where St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina and the Servant of God John Paul II were both respectively born, have established an official relationship as “sister cities”.

According to the Kath.net news agency, during a festive ceremony on March 28 at the basilica dedicated to Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, the mayors of the two cities exchanged documents and gifts officially establishing a relationship of “sister cities.”  

Among the special guests at the unique ceremony was Jerzy Kluger, 86, a friend of young Karol Wojtyla.

During the event, the Polish edition of the book, “The Pope and the Friar,” by Stefano Campanella, was presented.  The book relates the special relationship between John Paul II and Padre Pio.

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Pope Benedict focuses prayer on political rights of women

Vatican City, Mar 31, 2006 (CNA) - During the month of April, Pope Benedict XVI has said that he will focus much of his prayer on the political rights of women, still discouraged in many parts of the world.

The Vatican announced the Holy Father’s prayer intentions for the month today.

The text of Benedict’s general prayer intention is "That the individual, social and political rights of women may be respected in every nation."

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Family under assault from hedonistic mentality, says new Spanish cardinal

Madrid, Spain, Mar 31, 2006 (CNA) - In the prologue for a new book containing a collection of John Paul II’s writings on marriage and the family, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera of Toledo, who is vice president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, said that marriage and the institution of the family are under attack today from a “certain kind of hedonistic, permissive and uncaring mentality.”

The cardinal characterized the new book as a “very valuable contribution for all times, but most especially for the present moment we are experiencing in Spain with the harassment of the family and with the upcoming World Meeting of Families which will be held in Valencia and presided over by Pope Benedict XVI” in July.

In his prologue, the newest Spanish cardinal added that the family is experiencing serious difficulties today due to the pressure from “the plague of divorce, which above all leaves as its victims the children.”

Pope John Paul II, he continued, “made marriage and the family one of the keys of his pontificate.  So many teachings, so many gestures, so many writings, statements, discourses, catechesis, so many works, so many initiatives in favor of the family, to defend it, to proclaim in season and out of season the Gospel of the family, tabernacle of life, hope of humanity,” Cardinal Cañizares said, recalling the late pope’s vast body of teaching on marriage and the family.

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October 31, 2014

Friday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

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Lk 14:1-6

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First Reading:: Phil 1: 1-11
Gospel:: Lk 14: 1-6

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Lk 14:1-6

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