Archive of September 19, 2007

Nebraska family shares journey to Catholicism

Lincoln, Neb., Sep 19, 2007 (CNA) - Throughout the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, classes in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) have or will be starting in the next few weeks. The free, weekly classes provide instruction to non-Catholics who are exploring the faith as well as Catholics who need a “refresher” course in basic catechism and non-practicing Catholics who are considering their return to full communion with the Church.

Many priests have been encouraging their parishioners to consider who they might invite to RCIA. Often, non-Catholics and non-practicing Catholics need that personal encouragement to make the first step.  It was an invitation to “learn more” that brought Jim and Roddy Spangler to RCIA in the fall of 1994. They are now members of St. Joseph Parish in Beatrice, Neb.

In the early 1990s, the Spanglers were still Protestants, as they had been raised. After moving to a Lincoln neighborhood near the Cathedral of the Risen Christ, they practiced their faith haphazardly, attending “the closest Protestant church” whenever it was convenient.

As Jacob was preparing to enter kindergarten and 11-year-old Nellie was just a year or so away from middle school, the Spanglers grew concerned about the size of public schools. Mr. Spangler researched Lincoln’s private school options and determined that the Catholic School system was the best choice for their children.

“I objected at first a little bit, but (was assured that) lots of non-Catholics sent their children to Catholic schools,” Mrs. Spangler recalled.

Jacob was immediately enrolled in Cathedral School’s kindergarten program, while Nellie transferred there for seventh and eighth grade.  Believing that parental involvement in schools is very important, the Spanglers naturally became members of the Home and School Association.  They soon became familiar faces among the school families.

They weren’t very interested in Catholicism at first. However, their neighbors, Paul and Rosemary Reinsch, had given them some information about enrolling their kids in Cathedral school and eventually told them they could learn what Nellie and Jacob were learning about Catholicism through RCIA.

“I thought we already knew what the Catholic Church was all about,” said Mrs. Spangler. “But we also liked the Reinschs and respected them, so we thought we would give it a try.”

They enrolled in RCIA that fall. As the course was taught, Mr. and Mrs. Spangler began to realize that they believed a lot of myths about Catholicism.  Mrs. Spangler said, “I’d never thought about the fact that the Catholic Church was where it all started. And I’d never thought about the word Protestant and being protesters.”

As this information sunk in, it made a huge difference to the Spanglers.  “That’s kind of what convinced us that this is the one true Church…”  Mrs. Spangler said, “but there was still that hesitation.”

As RCIA ended for the year and others began preparing to enter the Church at Easter Vigil, the Spanglers remained on the fence. But it wasn’t because they still had questions about Catholicism – RCIA had taken care of that.

“Even though we were really convinced, we weren’t ready to admit it,” said Mrs. Spangler.

The following year, the Spanglers attended RCIA once again. They also began attending Mass regularly.

“We had already made up our minds [to join the Church] beginning that second year of study,” Mrs. Spangler said. “We wanted to go though the whole thing again, just to learn more and absorb more.”

For the Spanglers, RCIA offered two particular benefits that private study doesn’t: “RCIA helped in that you were able to ask questions,” explained Mrs. Spangler. “And to have all the different priests and laypeople — each one of them shared their experiences and made it a little more clear than just reading a book.”

Meanwhile, the children were also preparing to enter the Catholic Church. Jacob studied for his first Communion with the other second-graders at Cathedral School, while Nellie got a little extra tutoring as her seventh grade class studied religion.

In April 1996, Jacob had the distinction of becoming the first Catholic in the Spangler family, making his profession of faith shortly before his first penance and first Holy Communion. Two weeks later, his parents and sisters were received into the Church and confirmed by Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz during the Easter Vigil.

Mr. and Mrs. Reinsch, the ever-patient friends and neighbors, were their sponsors.

Mrs. Spangler’s gratitude toward them is obvious. “They’re so good,” she said, “They were very patient. They just said, ‘We want you to know what our faith is, to know the truth, not just what the world says about the Catholic faith.’ They didn’t pressure us.”

Mrs. Spangler said that personal invitation is an excellent way to encourage friends and relatives to investigate Catholicism. “We may not have done it on our own,” she said.

Each parish or group of parishes in the diocese has an RCIA programs.  Some parishes offer free or low-cost babysitting during the sessions and a small number have the classes available on videotape. Consult your parish office or bulletin for dates, times and more information.

Story submitted by Father Kenneth Borowiak of the Southern Nebraska Register.

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The Pope gives St. John Chrysostom's key to preventing divorce

Vatican City, Sep 19, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI continued in his series of catecheses on the subject of the Fathers of the Church today in his General Audience. The church father that the pontiff drew upon is the saint known as the “Golden Mouth”, or perhaps more commonly as St. John Chrysostom.


The Holy Father stressed how St. Chrysostom teaches that if young couples want to avoid divorce, then they should be formed in their faith before marriage and once married, they should form their children from a young age.


St. John Chrysostom’s life


The Pope began by recalling the fact that this year marks the 16th centenary of the death of St. John Chrysostom, who was born in Antioch, in modern-day Turkey, in the year 349. "Called Chrysostom, meaning 'golden-mouthed,' for his eloquence, it could be said that he is still alive today through his works," the Holy Father observed.


"Ordained a deacon in 381 and a priest in 386, he became a famous preacher in the churches of his city; ... 387 was John's 'heroic year'," said Benedict XVI, the year of "the so-called 'revolt of the statues' when people destroyed the imperial statues as a sign of protest against the rise in taxes."


The Holy Father then went on to observe how this saint "was one of the most prolific of the Fathers, of him we have 17 treatises, more than 700 authentic homilies, his commentaries on Matthew and Paul, and 241 letters. He was not a speculative theologian. He transmitted the traditional and certain doctrine of the Church at a time of theological controversies, caused above all by Arianism,” a heresy which asserted that Jesus was only human.


Modern message of St. Chrysostom


Benedict XVI focused on how "St. John Chrysostom was concerned that his writings should accompany the integral - physical, intellectual and religious - development of the person." The Pope then explained how St. John thought a person should develop in their faith as they grow.


In his works, the saint highlighted the importance of childhood because it is then "that inclinations to vice and virtue appear. For this reason the law of God must, from the beginning, be impressed upon the soul 'as upon a wax tablet'."


Childhood, said the Pope referring to the saint's writings, "is followed by the sea of adolescence in which the gales blow violently as concupiscence grows within us."


For an age such as ours, that is witnessing constant attacks on the family, St. John Chrysostom had great words of wisdom for couples planning to marry.  The eloquent church father said, "that a well prepared husband and wife close the way to divorce: everything takes place joyfully and children can be educated to virtue. When the first child is born, he or she is like a bridge: the three become a single flesh because the child brings the two parts together and all together they constitute a family, a little Church."


The Pope also recalled how the saint used to address his writings to the lay faithful who, "through Baptism, take on the priestly office, royal and prophetic. ... This lesson of Chrysostom on the authentically Christian presence of the lay faithful in the family and in society is today more important than ever."



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Author says Church played a key role in fighting discrimination

Sacramento, Calif., Sep 19, 2007 (CNA) - Historian Kenneth Burt, a member of Presentation Parish in Sacramento, is the author of a new book titled “The Search for a Civic Voice: California Latino Politics.” In research for his book over the past two decades, he says it became clear that the Catholic Church in California has long been a central actor in the struggle to overcome discrimination and encourage civic engagement.


He currently works as the political director of the California Federation of Teachers and previously worked for former state Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.


In a recent interview, Burt discussed major aspects of his book.


Q: Aside from the current debate over immigration reform or maybe the farm workers’ struggle, most people aren’t aware of the church’s long history of political engagement relative to the Latino community. How did you develop an interest in the subject?


A: It probably started in high school when I saw Father Keith Kenny (diocesan priest who died in 1983) celebrating Mass for farm workers seeking justice at the state Capitol. I came to understand that this was a civil rights issue and a labor issue, but it was also a religious issue.


So I started reading and talking to people and realized that the social gospel went back to Pope Leo XIII, Msgr. John Ryan, and the “Bishops’ Program of Social Reconstruction” in 1919. This in turn served as the foundation for President Theodore Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s and 1940s. The New Deal was pro-labor and sought to incorporate immigrants and their children into civic life. Roosevelt appointed Msgr. Ryan as the first director of his Fair Employment Practices Commission during World War II.


Because Latinos were the most vulnerable Catholic population in California, the church took a number of initiatives here to materially uplift and to empower Latinos. These efforts began shortly after Mexicans, including a number of exiled priests, began arriving en masse in Los Angeles after the start of the Mexican Revolution in 1910.


Q: What are your primary findings in the book?


A: The first discovery is that the birth of Latino politics started earlier than was previously understood. Latinos started running for office, they established the first political action committee, and backed supportive Anglo candidates in the 1930s.

This was in the context of the New Deal and President Roosevelt’s outreach to the “foreign born” — which included the Irish, Italians and Jews — who were not yet in the political mainstream. Latinos had unique needs, but there were also a lot of shared interests with these other ethnic groups.


The second finding flows from the first — that is the central role of coalitions in electing candidates and enacting legislation. The total number of Latino voters started out small, but the group achieved a number of successes as part of larger coalitions.


Q: How does the current role of the Church in policy issues differ from earlier periods?


A: In the 1930s and 1940s, relatively few Latinos were registered to vote and politically-oriented Latino organizations were in their infancy. The group with the largest Latino membership was the Church. This created a lot of responsibility.


For example, early in World War II the federal government conducted a secret study because they were worried that discrimination against Latinos in California and the Southwest would hurt the war effort. It was vetted with U.S. Sen. Dennis Chavez (D-New Mexico) and representatives of the Catholic bishops. People forget that Roosevelt provided the start-up funds for the Bishops’ Committee for the Spanish-Speaking, with John J. Cantwell, the Irish-born Archbishop of Los Angeles serving as its titular head.


The church likewise played a big role in empowering local communities. Parish priests helped organized the Mexican American-oriented Community Services Organization (CSO). Between 1948 and 1960, CSO registered 440,000 new voters. CSO also trained a generation of Mexican American leaders, participated in a number of coalitions and helped elect Latinos to local office in several cities.


Q: Describe a few of the larger issues that the Church championed in the 1940s and 1950s.


A: The big issue was fair employment. Some law firms, for example, advertised for “Protestant” attorneys; other businesses sought “white” workers. Mexican Americans were subjected to prejudices based on skin color, language skills, country of origin and religion.


Msgr. Thomas O’Dwyer, a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, served as co-chair of the California Committee for Fair Employment Practices. Edward Roybal, the Latino whom Msgr. O’Dwyer had helped elect to the Los Angeles City Council, was another co-chair. Jews, African Americans, Protestants and the unions were all represented in the grand coalition. Support built and the state Legislature finally passed a fair employment bill in 1959. Gov. Pat Brown, who had campaigned on the issue, signed it into law.


The other big issue was the poverty among seniors who had left Mexico to escape the violence of the Mexican Revolution or the Christo Revolt (where church groups battled the secular government). They had helped build the California economy by working in agriculture or in factories. Moreover, their children had served with distinction in World War II. But because they lacked papers, they were ineligible for state old age pensions.

So Msgr. O’Dwyer joined Mexican Americans and their allies in the unions and the Jewish community in pushing eligibility for long-term non-citizens. It was quite a legislative odyssey, and it is one of my favorite stories in “The Search for a Civic Voice.”

The bill ultimately became law. It passed by a Legislature without a single Latino member. Part of the credit goes to Brown, the Catholic governor, and John F. Kennedy, the Catholic president, whose administration helped pay the added costs.


Q: You also describe the importance of priests in mentoring and working with a number of Latino leaders, such as Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.


A: Yes, priests committed to the social gospel mentored Latino activists, starting with those active in their unions or concerned with farm labor. The clergy, particularly in the barrio, also worked closely with the Community Services Organization (CSO).

This was important on several levels. First, the clergy helped train indigenous neighborhood leaders. Second, this led to parishes becoming more engaged in the community. And third, the church provided protection against unfair attacks.


For example, in 1952, Cesar Chavez joined the CSO in San Jose and started to register Latinos to vote. Certain Anglos said he was a Communist. Members of the clergy rallied to the defense of Chavez and the CSO. Getting people involved in their community, the clergy said, was both patriotic and part of God’s desire for his people.


Q: In covering the Viva Kennedy campaign in 1960, you discussed the Latino reaction to the attacks on John F. Kennedy’s religion. Describe it for us.


A: Protestant clergy claimed that a Catholic was unfit to be president because he would take orders from the pope. This sent a powerful message to Latinos: It did not matter how rich and powerful you might become in America, if you were a Catholic you remained vulnerable.


Cesar Chavez recalled that “Every time that (Kennedy) got put down for being a Catholic this made points with the Mexicans who are all Catholics. (Latinos) looked at him as sort of a minority kind of person.”


Viva Kennedy was the first national Latino-oriented presidential campaign. Mexican Americans voted for Kennedy in a higher proportion than any other group. Kennedy, in turn, became the first president to appoint Latinos to top federal jobs.


Q: How has the face of immigration changed?


A: The sheer number of immigrants has grown to historic levels, with Latinos replacing Europeans as the largest segment. This has created some backlash, which parallels the social challenges faced by the Irish during their great migration.


The other change is that today a lot of white ethnics don’t have the same emotional identification with fellow Catholic immigrants as did their parents and grandparents. This is because of the distance to their families’ immigration story. It is also due to changes in the larger society. Catholics no longer feel the sting of discrimination, so there is less group cohesion, and old ethnics are now integrated into the larger white or Anglo society.


Q: How would you measure the political advances for Latinos over the last 75 years?


A: The advances are huge. The size of the Latino electorate is sufficient to command the respect of candidates and elected officials. Plus there are numerous organizations and Latinos serve at the highest levels of government.


Three of the last five Assembly Speakers have been Spanish-surnamed, for example, and Latinos have been elected mayor in Sacramento, San Jose and Los Angeles. Compare this to 1961, when the Legislature extended benefits to non-citizens. At that time there were no Latino legislators. Nor were there any big city mayors or even many city council members.


Despite these gains, life is hard for many new arrivals. There is a striking similarity between many of the old ethnic parishes of the 1930s and the new Latino parishes today. There is a strong sense of community forged by a common language, working class jobs, a shared faith, and the hope for a better future for their families.


Q: Deacon Jeffrey Burns, archivist for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, lauded you for paying “special attention to the Catholic dimensions of (Latino politics), a dimension which is often neglected.” Why haven’t more scholars examined it?


A: That’s a great question. It is probably due to the secular orientation of the academy. I didn’t start my research looking for a religious angle. As I listened to people’s stories and examined the archival documents, it became clear that the church was important in people’s lives and that the church played a role in the larger search for a civic voice.

But I do think I was more open to the role of the faith community. I can still recall marching with Cesar Chavez in my youth. There was always an American flag, a Mexican flag and a banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe. And it was quite common to see nuns and priests participating.


For the book I interviewed some very dedicated clergy in California and had the pleasure to spend time with the late Msgr. George G. Higgins at his home on the campus of The Catholic University of America. He was the U.S. bishops’ social justice man for some 50 years, and had strong ties to Latinos, labor and the church in California.


“The Search for a Civic Voice: California Latino Politics” (Regina Books) is available online from and Readers may contact Kenneth Burt at


The original article can be found at:

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Catholic leaders hosting three events in DC for Week of Prayer and Fasting

Washington D.C., Sep 19, 2007 (CNA) - Washington will host three national events for the 15th Annual International Week of Prayer and Fasting next month. The goals of the International Week of Prayer and Fasting are to promote the culture of life, the conversion of nations and an end to abortion.

The organizers are asking people to participate by fasting, daily Masses and prayer, such as Holy Hours, Rosaries, Divine Mercy Chaplets and confession.

Three days of events have been organized in Washington, from Oct. 6 to 8.

The first day will feature a Youth and Young Adult Festival at Catholic University of America, Pryzbyla Center. Speakers include Bishop Sam Jacobs, Ryan O'Hara of Youth Arise and chastity speaker Jason Evert.

The Culture of Life Awards Banquet will be held the following day at Georgetown University Conference Center. Presidential Candidate Alan Keyes, EWTN personality Raymond Arroyo, Congressman Chris Smith and actor Eduardo Verastegui are expected to attend.

A Eucharistic Prayer Day at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will be held on Oct. 8, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The speakers will include Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, Fr. Clement Machado of the Vatican and pro-life activist Bobby Schindler known for trying to stop his sister Terri Schindler-Schiavo from being euthanized.

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Archbishop of Krakow writes screenplay about life with John Paul II

Krakow, Poland, Sep 19, 2007 (CNA) - The archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was John Paul II’s personal secretary, will contribute to a film entitled, “A Life with Karol,” which will recount his more than four decades with the Polish Pope.

According to the cardinal’s spokesman, Father Robert Necek, the script for the movie was written by the cardinal himself, with the help of Catholic writer Gian Franco Svidercoschi and Polish filmmaker Pawel Pitera, who will be the director. 

The film scheduled to be released next year, is a 140-minute fictional documentary. A TV version will also be made, with the film split into three 50-minute episodes.

The film’s title will be same as the book by Cardinal Dziwisz, which is being sold in Rome and Krakow.  The script is in the form of interview carried out by Svidercoschi.

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German archdiocese decries celebration of MTV awards on All Saints’ Day

Munich, Germany, Sep 19, 2007 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Munich has asked the mayor of that city, Christian Ude, to revoke the permission granted for the celebration of the MTV Europe Music Awards, which will take place on November 1, the solemnity of All Saints.

Mayor Ude said “the event should go on” and he refused to revoke MTV’s permission to hold the awards.  “This is an event that only happens once, it cannot be rescheduled and it will only take place at the Olympic Hall. Nobody is going to be prevented from going to church or to the cemetery,” he said.

Winfried Röhmel, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Munich, told the DDP news agency that All Saints’ Day “is not vacation time for people to go to parties.”

“If somebody like Mr.(Justin) Timberlake is only available on All Saints’ Day, then we should throw our culture of religious holidays in the trash,” he told the newspaper Abendzeitung.   The decision by the city to approve the event is “deplorable and disrespectful,” he added.

According to Bavarian law, All Saints’ Day is to be “a day of calm,” in which public entertainment should be allowed only for “important reasons” or if “it respects the serious nature of this day.”

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Maryland appeals court rules marriage is between a man and a woman

, Sep 19, 2007 (CNA) - The state appeals court of Maryland ruled yesterday that marriage in the state can only be between a man and a woman.

Reuters reports that the court ruled in a 4-3 decision that “the state has a legitimate interest in maintaining heterosexual marriage as the institution that allows procreation and the traditional family structure.”

"Our task ... is to determine whether the right to same-sex marriage is so deeply embedded in the history, tradition and culture of this state and nation that it should be deemed fundamental," the court wrote in a 244-page opinion. "We hold that it is not."

The court did recognize that homosexual relationships “extend to the core of the right to personal autonomy," but do not need the courts to formally declare them a marriage.

One U.S. state, Massachusetts, has legalized gay marriage, and four others, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and most recently New Jersey, have civil unions which give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual married couples.

An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, David Rocah, which argued for the plaintiffs, called the decision "a bitter disappointment." But he said a bill to allow gay marriage will be introduced into the Maryland legislature early next year.

On the other side, the decision was welcomed by the Family Research Council, which filed a brief in favor of the state's law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

"We commend the court for upholding the law rather than imposing the views of a persistent minority," the organization said in a statement. "This is an outright rejection of judicial activism and strengthens the legal battle against same-sex 'marriage.'"

The Alliance for Marriage also filed an amicus brief in the case stating:
"While we applaud today’s court decision in Maryland, it is important to remember radical activists will continue their assaults on marriage in state legislatures and courts,” said Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage.  "AFM's Marriage Protection Amendment is clearly the only hope for the American people to determine the future of marriage under our laws."
"Most Americans believe that gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose.  But they don't believe they have a right to redefine marriage for our entire society," said Daniels.  "Americans want our laws to send a positive message to children about marriage, family and their future."

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Spaniards not asking for euthanasia; it’s only the government’s agenda, say scientists

Madrid, Spain, Sep 19, 2007 (CNA) - The spokesperson for the scientific organization Hay Alternativas (There Are Alternatives), Gador Joya, criticized Spain’s Minister of Justice, Mariano Fernandez Bermejo, for slipping the issue of euthanasia into the government’s agenda and said there was no public outcry for the practice to be considered a right.

Bermejo said he considered “Spanish society ready for the debate on euthanasia,” arguing that with “the increase in the quality of life, longevity has also increased, and it is in this context that many begin to reflect on the individual right to set a final limit, the final limit of one’s existence.”

According to Gador Joya, “Neither Spanish societies, nor those affected by terminal illnesses or handicaps, have asked for a debate on euthanasia.  The cases in which it has been requested have been manipulated and used by the media and organizations interested in legalizing euthanasia in Spain.”

Joya said Spanish society is demanding that all those who suffer from some kind of handicap or who are in the last stages of their illness be assisted in living a life of greater dignity and that their family members get the help they need to assist their loved ones.
“We ask the government to invest in palliative care and pain treatment centers, which are scarce in our country, so that all those obstacles that might make the lives of the infirm and their families more difficult will be eliminated,” Joya stated.

Joya also criticized the appointment of Bernat Soria as Minister of Health, saying it reflects a policy of attacking human life in any stage.  “Bernat Soria has already expressed his support for euthanasia,” Joya said, “something that our organization has denounced.”

Hay Alternativas is an organization of more than 3,200 scientists.

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Apostolic Nuncio calls for respect for human life in Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sep 19, 2007 (CNA) - Amidst a debate on the eventual legalization of abortion, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Dominican Republic, Archbishop Timothy Broglio called on the country’s leaders and citizens to protect all human life.

“My call as a man, a priest and a representative of the Holy Father is that human life be respected and that everything be done to respect that reality, and that the current law not be changed,” Archbishop Broglio said.  “To kill a baby before he is born is also a criminal act,” he said.

Jose Antonio Retamar, director of the international office of Fundacion Vida, said the “attempts to legalize abortion in the Dominican Republic are a test of how much corruption there is in the country’s political life.  If human feticide is allowed, then there is serious corruption among our legislators,” he added.

Retamar noted that in the Dominican Republic, which has a population of nine million, estimates are that 80,000 abortions take place per year, whereas in Spain, which has a population of 45 million and where in practice abortion on-demand is allowed, 100,000 abortions take place each year.  “This shows that the statistics on abortion are exaggerated when it is convenient to do so,” he pointed out.

Pelegrin Castillo of the National Progressive Force political party insisted that the country’s leaders “strengthen policies and programs that defend the family,” and he called on Dominicans to protect the family as “the main producer of human and social capital.”

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Diocese of Pittsburgh voluntarily sets up $1.25 million fund for abuse victims

Pittsburgh, Pa., Sep 19, 2007 (CNA) - The Diocese of Pittsburgh has voluntarily set up a $1.25-million fund to settle with the victims of 32 cases of clergy sexual abuse.

Ron Lengwin, a spokesman for the diocese, said church authorities had determined that many of the allegations of abuse were credible but they had not investigated every one.

"In some cases it's impossible to come to any judgment with (the cases) because they are 50 years old," he told Reuters.

The fund will be distributed by an independent arbitrator based on each victim's age, the type of abuse and how it has affected the person's life, said Alan Perer of the Pittsburgh law firm SPK. In addition, victims will be offered generous counseling.

The settlement was the only way to go since the Pennsylvania courts had barred lawsuits because the alleged abuses, most of which occurred during the 1960s, were too long ago, Perer told Reuters.

The victims were 23 men and nine women. They are mostly in their 40s and 50s now. Three other men withdrew their claims.

In all, 17 priests were accused, nine of whom are now dead. The remaining priests have all been removed from ministry.

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Fundraising underway for new Italian chapel at the Basilica of the National Shrine

Washington D.C., Sep 19, 2007 (CNA) - A new Italian chapel, representing the nation’s Italian heritage, will be constructed in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

The Italian-American bishops are supporting the construction of the chapel, which will be in honor of Our Lady of Pompei. Among the many national chapels in the shrine, this will be the first to recognize the Italian community.

The process to establish the Italian chapel began in the fall of 2006, under the leadership of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, archbishop-emeritus of Philadelphia.

The U.S. bishops of Italian descent have personally donated more $40,000 to launch the fundraising campaign for the $2-million chapel. They are now appealing to the wider Italian-American community for contributions.

A design for the chapel has been approved. It will be located in the west narthex of the basilica, where hundreds of thousands of visitors enter.

The main feature will be a mosaic, inspired by the original oil painting on canvas that depicts Our Lady and the Christ Child offering the Rosary to Saints Dominic and Catherine. Adorning the walls of the chapel will be the Mysteries of Light, added to the Rosary by Pope John Paul II in 2002. This will be the first time the Mysteries of Light will be represented within the walls of the Basilica.  
Construction is scheduled to begin next spring.

For more information, e-mail [email protected]

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Study finds sexual orientation can be changed through religious mediation

Colorado Springs, Colo., Sep 19, 2007 (CNA) - A new study has found that it is possible to change one's sexual orientation through religious mediation.

Study findings were first released last week in a book, "Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation."

The researchers, Stanton Jones of Wheaton College and Mark Yarhouse of Regent University, tracked men and women who had undergone a program of group discussions, counseling, journal writing, Scripture reading and prayer to change their gender orientation.

Focus on the Family has lent their support to the study’s findings, in which 67 percent of participants reported a change toward heterosexual orientation or ... successfully continuing to work towards that goal.

In a statement, Melissa Fryrear, director of Focus on the Family’s gender issues department, said study results are comparable with the success rates for dealing with "other difficult issues," such as depression.

"This study bolsters our position of advocating for people's right to self-determination," said. Fryrear, who previously self-identified as a homosexual.

“If someone has unwanted same-sex attraction, it is their right to seek alternatives to change," she said.

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Pope looks with hope towards “blessed day” of full unity between Catholics and Orthodox

Vatican City, Sep 19, 2007 (CNA) - The Holy Father has sent a message to the 10th Inter-Christian Symposium, dedicated to dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox. Pope Benedict XVI said that although Christian unity is not yet perfect, we all look with hope towards “the blessed day” of full communion in order to celebrate the one Eucharist.

The ecumenical initiative, organized every two years by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical Antonianum University and by the Department of Theology of the Aristotle University of Thessalonica, seeks to flesh out the common heritage of the faith and traditions between Catholics and Orthodox.

The theme of this year’s symposium is “St. John Chrysostom: Bridge Between East and West" and coincides with the 1600th anniversary of the death of the saint, considered a doctor of the Church both in the East and the West.

The Holy Father said the symposium would contribute to “to upholding and corroborating the real -- though imperfect -- communion that exists between Catholics and Orthodox, so that we may reach that fullness which will one day enable us to concelebrate the one Eucharist.”  “And it is to that blessed day that we all look with hope, organizing practical initiatives such as this one,” the Pope added.

The Holy Father also pointed out that, “The ecumenical cooperation in the academic field contributes to maintaining an impetus toward the longed for communion among all Christians.”

St. John “Golden-Mouthed”

In his message the Pope referred to St. John Chrysostom as “a valiant, illuminated and faithful preacher of the Word of God, upon which he founded his pastoral action; such an extraordinary hermeneutist (scholar of Scriptural interpretation) and speaker that, from the fifth century, he was given the title of Chrysostom, which means golden-mouthed.”

In 2004, the Holy Father continued, “my venerated predecessor John Paul II gave part of the relics [of St. John] to His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and, thus, this great Father of the Church is now venerated in the Vatican basilica as well as in the Church of St. George in Fanar.”

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