Archive of October 18, 2007

Top 50 Catholic High Schools Announced for 2007

Grand Rapids, Mich., Oct 18, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic High School Honor Roll announced its fourth annual selection of the top 50 Catholic secondary schools in the United States.  The Honor Roll recognizes and encourages excellence in Catholic secondary education and is a critical resource for parents and educators.  It honors those schools that excel in three specific categories:  academic excellence, Catholic identity, and civic education.

This year’s list includes 11 new honorees as well as 11 schools that have earned recognition each of the past four years. Honorees range from newcomer schools such as the Heights School in Potomac, Maryland, to repeat honorees such as All Hallows High School in the Bronx and Brother Rice High School in Chicago.  The state of Texas again led with 6 schools selected, followed by California, Florida, and Michigan with 4 schools each. 9 different religious orders sponsor honorees, including the Christian Brothers, Marists, Dominicans, Legionaries of Christ, Jesuits, and Norbertines.

The Honor Roll is produced in consultation with a national advisory board comprised of Catholic college presidents and noted Catholic scholars.  Advisory board member Rev. John Schlegel, President of Creighton University, said the Honor Roll is significant for Catholic education.  “Catholic High schools that excel at forming students in the faith and at teaching them to think critically and act virtuously are a great asset to the Church,” he said. “Not only do these schools deserve to be recognized, but they should also be imitated by all Catholic schools.”

All of America’s nearly 1,300 Catholic high schools were invited to apply to the Honor Roll by completing three detailed surveys, indicating that inclusion in the Honor Roll requires exceptional merit in each of the areas measured. This balanced approach assesses a school’s adherence to the Church’s educational calling, where the best schools offer more than the strong academic preparation.  The best schools also have vibrant Catholic identities and offer sound civic training that help prepare students to live their faith in the world.

About The Catholic High School Honor Roll

The Honor Roll is an annual list of the top 50 Catholic high schools in the United States, where schools are examined on the criteria of academic excellence, Catholic identity, and civic education.  The Honor Roll is a powerful resource for parents and a great opportunity for schools to receive much deserved recognition. 

The primary goal of the Honor Roll is to encourage schools to educate students as effectively as possible, in a way that integrates Catholic faith and prepares students for active engagement with the world. As a constructive competition, the Honor Roll provides insight into the character of Catholic secondary education and calls everyone to improve the academic and spiritual formation given to America’s youth. In promoting rigorous education, the Honor Roll desires to better prepare students for fruitful vocations in politics, business, and the Church.

The Catholic High School Honor Roll is an independent project of the Acton Institute, an international research and educational organization. The Honor Roll was produced in consultation with a national advisory board comprised of Catholic college presidents and noted Catholic scholars. For more on Acton, please go to

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Vatican to beatify Austrian conscientious objector

Syracuse, N.Y., Oct 18, 2007 (CNA) - “Let us love our enemies, bless those who curse us, pray for those who persecute us. For love will conquer and will endure for all eternity.” — Franz Jagerstatter

Franz Jagerstatter was a rare soul and could be compared to the great contemplatives and saints. He was a simple Austrian farmer who stubbornly refused to serve in the armies of the German Third Reich and to support the Nazi party and was executed as a consequence. Jagerstatter became one of the outstanding figures of Christian resistance to National Socialism.

On June 1, Pope Benedict XVI authorized Jagerstatter’s beatification, which will take place Oct. 27 in Lintz, Austria. Jagerstatter was born in 1907 in St. Radegund, a community by the River Salzach in the western part of Upper Austria where everyone was a farmer. After Jagerstatter’s father was killed in World War I, his mother married Herr Jagerstatter, who adopted him. In 1936 Jagerstatter married Franziska Schwaninger and adopted the life of a peasant. A strong and ardent believer, Jagerstatter began serving as sexton of the parish church. He was known for his diligent and devout service.

Jagerstatter was also known for his opposition to the Nazi regime. The thought of fighting in Hitler’s war was unconscionable to him and he regarded it as a matter of personal guilt and serious sin. When Jagerstatter was called to active duty in the military, he sought counsel from at least three priests and his bishop. Each tried to assure him that military service was compatible with his Christianity. Jagerstatter knew that bishops and priests would be arrested if they said anything other than what the government permitted. Yet he asked, “If the church stays silent in the face of what is happening, what difference would it make if no church were ever opened again?”

Jagerstatter knew that he couldn’t change world affairs but he wanted his refusal to fight to be a sign to others lest they be carried away with the tide. Jagerstatter reconciled his church’s advice of subservience to the governing authorities with his conscience by reporting to the induction center but refusing to serve. After being imprisoned in Linz and Berlin, Jagerstatter was convicted in a military trial at which he explained that if he fought for the nationalist socialist state, he would be acting against his religious conscience. He had reached the conviction that as a believing Catholic he could not perform military service. Jagerstatter, however, offered to serve as a medical orderly. The court did not respond to his request.

Jagerstatter was then taken from Berlin to Brandenburg/Havel on Aug. 9, 1943. He was told that his death sentence would be carried out later that day. A priest by the name of Father Jochmann spent considerable time with the condemned man and was impressed by his calmness and composure. That night, Father Jochmann told some Austrian nuns that Jagerstatter was the only saint he had met in his life.

On Aug. 9, Jagerstatter was beheaded, the first of 16 victims. The nuns planted flowers on the site where Jagerstatter’s urn was buried, and on their first trip to their motherhouse in Vocklabruck after the war, they brought the urn containing Jagerstatter’s ashes to his homeland.

The urn was buried by the church wall in St. Radegund. His wife and three young daughters survived Jagerstatter. At the time of his death he said he would rather his children have a father martyred for following Christ than a Nazi for a father.

On Oct 25, St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Binghamton, NY will host a liturgy to honor Jagerstatter’s beatification. “This is a powerful and teachable moment for us about how we are forming our conscience,” said pastor of St. Catherine’s, Father Timothy Taugher. “It’s the call of the Gospel to peace.” Sponsored by the St. James Justice and Peace Council, it will offer an opportunity to learn more about Jagerstatter and about facing the military challenge with a conscientious objector status.

Four men from the Central New York and Pennsylvania areas and who are actively involved in the justice and peace movement will be traveling to Austria to witness the beatification of Jagerstatter. Along with Father Bill Pickard, who is Director of Urban Ministries at the Diocese of Scranton, Pa., activist, author, speaker and teacher Jack Gilroy, PAX Christi member Dick Keough and Father Bernard Survil of Greensburg, Pa., will be attending the beatification.

Keough said he is looking forward to visiting the village where Jagerstatter lived. “It’s a great opportunity to be on holy ground,” said Keough. “Jagerstatter was a true child of God.” He believes that the courage Jagerstatter displayed when he refused to fight in the war is extremely inspiring. Jagerstatter knew he was alone. He had the support only of his wife. “It’s inspiring, especially for young people who haven’t had the teaching of conscientious objection,” said Keough. “We shortchanged our young people in failing to teach them the non-violent Jesus. Jesus calls us all to be nonviolent and He told us to love our enemies.”

Gilroy said he wanted to attend because he will feel a sense of power against powerful government control. He noted that for the last 1,700 years, the Catholic Church has caved into the government’s training to kill. “Now we are accepting to any government rule,” said Gilroy. “People should take to heart the fact that Jagerstatter stood up against war. The priests and the bishop have to work on changing the hearts of parishioners — to not let them cave in to the power of government initiatives. If people were willing to stand up like Jagerstatter, there wouldn’t have been a World War II.”

The original story can be found at the Catholic Sun.


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Vatican Museum opens exhibition on Apocalypse

Vatican City, Oct 18, 2007 (CNA) - "Apocalypse: the Final Revelation" is the title of an exhibition inaugurated today in the Sistine Hall of the Vatican Museums. The exhibit aims to invite people “to reconsider the last book of the New Testament through a selection of masterworks, outstanding among them a series of ancient icons."

The event, which will run until December 7, has been organized at the initiative of the St. Florian Committee of the Archdiocese of Udine, Italy.

The exhibition is made up of around 100 artifacts (codices, paintings on wood panel, canvases, sculptures, jewelry, engravings and drawings) dating from the 4th to the 20th centuries. They come from many well-known museums in Europe and the United States: the Vatican Museums, the Louvre, the Pompidou Center, the Musee de Cluny, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, the national museums of Budapest and of Warsaw, and St. Mark's Basilica in Venice.

Artists who have contributed to the display are: Beatus of Liebana, Pedro Berruguete, Guido Reni, Alonso Cano, Albrecht Durer, El Greco, Francisco Zurbaran, Salvador Dali, Giorgio de Chirico, and many others. One section of the exhibition is made up of Byzantine and Russian icons, including one of the vision of the Apocalypse from the Monastery of St. John the Theologian in Patmos, the Greek island where the Apostle wrote the last book of the Bible.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is composed of important works that record the history of the artistic representation of the Apocalypse.  These include: a series of 16 engravings by Durer from the "Apocalypsis in figuris;" Guido Reni's "St. Michael Defeating Satan;" El Greco's "Immaculate Conception" inspirited by the apocalyptic vision of the woman clothed with the sun; the "Savior Enthroned" by the School of Novgorod; Catalan Romanesque and French Gothic sculptures; and the book "Apocalypse" containing works by seven 20th century artists, published by Josef Foret in 1961 and blessed by Pope John XXIII.

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Speed up the reform of U.N., says archbishop to the world authority

, Oct 18, 2007 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, was in New York yesterday addressing the U.N., where he delivered a speech calling for reform of the “world authority”. “Were Pope Paul here with us today he would certainly… be making remarks on the slow progress of U.N. reform,” the primate of Ireland said.

On the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's encyclical Populorum Progressio, his only social encyclical, Archbishop Martin spoke of how the world needs the U.N. to be a body which promotes peace around the world through development.

He used the dominant theme of Pope Paul’s encyclical that “development is the new name for peace” to make his point. The archbishop also explained that “the biblical notion that peace is more than the absence of war,” is key to understanding development.

This development cannot be based solely on building infrastructure. “For Populorum Progressio, the measuring stick [of true development] is the human person,” he said.
Having called for true development, Archbishop Martin explained its importance for the U.N. and politics in general.
"Were Pope Paul here with us today he would certainly be saying thanks to all those who have given themselves in the service of humanity within the U.N. system. He would surely also certainly be making remarks on the slow progress of U.N. reform. We need a well-functioning U.N. Today's possibilities for inter-connectivity among peoples offer new and innovative ways of cooperation, also within the U.N. system."

"In talking about responsibility for development and of international cooperation," said Archbishop Martin, the encyclical "consistently stresses the role of public authorities. This recalls today's debate about both good governance and the important role of politics."

"Politics," he concluded, "is an essential dimension of the construction of society. We need around the world a new revival of politics. Around the world we need a new generation of politicians inspired by ideals, but also capable of taking the risks involved in transmitting those ideals into the 'possible,' through the optimum use of resources and talents to foster the good of all."

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First Texan cardinal calls his selection "very humbling and surprising"

Houston, Texas, Oct 18, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Daniel N. DiNardo, head of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, is one of the two Americans Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to be elevated to the cardinalate, and the first Texan prince of the Church.

Referring to the decision, at a news conference Wednesday Cardinal-designate DiNardo said "It says something about Texas and how wonderful Texas is in the terms of the growth of our Catholic faith."  He called the choice "very humbling and surprising" and offered his full loyalty and obedience to the Pope. 

The cardinal-designate and other observers saw his elevation as recognition of the numerical growth of Catholicism in the southern United States.  1.3 million Catholics live in the archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, while altogether there are 6.5 million Catholics in Texas.  He credited his elevation to the work of all the previous bishops, priests, and vowed religious of his diocese.  He especially thanked his predecessor, retired Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza.

The 58 year-old cardinal-designate was ordained a priest in his hometown of Pittsburgh and spent six years working at the Vatican in the Congregation for Bishops.  In 1997 he was named bishop of Sioux City, Iowa where he shepherded 100,000 Catholics and, in his own words, "fifteen thousand square miles of corn fields."  He was appointed archbishop of Galveston-Houston by Pope John Paul II in 2004.

"This is, at the same time, a unique and historic honor for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, indeed for the Catholic Church in that region of our country," Fr. David M. O'Connell, president of the Catholic University of America told Reuters.  The cardinal-to-be is a university alumnus and a trustee.

Cardinal-designate DiNardo was among the 23 new cardinals named by Pope Benedict XVI.  He is among the eighteen cardinals-designate eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pontiff.  Pope Benedict said he would make the 23 men “princes of the Church” in a ceremony at the Vatican to be held November 24.

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FDA approved RU-486 under questionable circumstances, group charges

Washington D.C., Oct 18, 2007 (CNA) - The approval process of the RU-486 abortion pill faced new charges of political favoritism, poor oversight, and lax production safety standards in a release from Judicial Watch on Tuesday.

Judicial Watch, a public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, recently received 175 pages of new documents pertaining to the RU-486 abortion pill that had previously been withheld by the Food and Drug Administration.

According to Judicial Watch, the documents confirm that the drug was manufactured by the China-based Hua Lian Pharmaceutical Company at the time of approval.  Hua Lian failed its first FDA inspection and was not in compliance with FDA standards at the time the FDA approved its manufacturing facility in August of 2000.  This is the first official documentation confirming that the drug was manufactured in China. 

The documents also highlight conflicts of interest in the testing of the abortion drug.  One of the drug trials was conducted by Dr. Suzanne Poppema, President of the National Abortion Federation.  Another trial was performed by Dr. Daniel Mishell, a senior scientist for RU-486's patent holder, the Population Council.

“These documents show the reckless and politicized nature of the FDA’s decision to approve the abortion pill,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.  “The FDA certainly has a lot of explaining to do.  For starters, why has the FDA previously refused to disclose the Chinese connection and the related safety issues?  And why did the FDA allow the abortion lobby to participate in the clinical trial process?  The American people deserve answers.”

Previous Judicial Watch investigations have revealed serious health complications resulting from the use of the drug, resulting in some calls to recall RU-486 from the market.  Many of the drugs approved under the former head of the Chinese State Food and Drug Administration are being recalled.  The former head was recently convicted on corruption charges and executed.

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Japan: Medical association approves euthanasia

Tokyo, Japan, Oct 18, 2007 (CNA) - The Japanese Association of Acute Medicine issued a statement this week approving the practice of euthanasia for terminally-ill patients under certain circumstances. A person can be euthanized if they ask for it in writing, if a review is done by a panel of doctors when the will of the patient is unknown, or if the family is unable to make a decision.

According to the Kyodo news agency, this is the first case of medical association approving a document of this type.  However, there is a precedent in the Japanese court system. Although current Japanese law is silent about euthanasia, some judges consider it when it is requested by a patient who is terminally ill and can no longer respond to treatment.

The statement indicates that doctors could practice euthanasia as long as the patient is supported by their family and has expressed his wishes in writing.  If his wishes are not known and the family is unable to decide, a medical team will make the decision.

In March of 2006, reports surfaced of a hospital in Imizu, Japan that was disconnecting the respirators of patients between the ages of 50 and 90. According to hospital officials, in all cases the family consented, but consent of the patient was not always obtained.  In 1998, a doctor from Yokohama euthanized a comatose man with a lethal injection and was sentenced in 2005 to three years in prison. 

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Indian archbishop chosen to become cardinal

Mumbai, India, Oct 18, 2007 (CNA) - One of the "most simple and approachable" Catholic leaders in India has been chosen for the cardinalate by Pope Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Oswald Gracias, of the Archdiocese of Bombay, was the only Asian among the 23 newly designated cardinals.  The Archdiocese of Bombay, which includes India's commercial center Mumbai, contains over half a million Catholics. 

His predecessor as archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Ivan Dias, moved to Rome in 2006 to serve as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

The 62 year-old cardinal-designate served six years as archbishop of Agra, the oldest diocese in northern India.  He currently heads the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, the national body of the country's Latin-rite bishops.  A two-time president of the Canon Law Society of India, he also teaches canon law at two Catholic seminaries.

The cardinal-to-be is also known for his ability to resolve conflicts. In 2006 he helped unify a Goa-based religious congregation that had split into two feuding groups in 1977.

Cardinal-designate Gracias recently challenged the Indian government's economic policy, believing its projects should be designed in consultation with the people they would affect.   He urged priests and laypeople to join public rallies and to lobby for beneficial policies.

His admirers say he has a way with words and is an affectionate and helpful man who never refuses a request.  They say his "bright face is always lit up with a smile."

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Planned Parenthood charged with violating Kansas laws against abortion

Kansas City, Mo., Oct 18, 2007 (CNA) - Planned Parenthood is facing criminal charges in Kansas for aborting late-term, pre-born babies in violation of state law. 

On Wednesday, Kansas District Attorney Phill Kline filed a 107-count indictment against the abortion provider.  The charges are 23 felony counts of making false information, 26 misdemeanor counts of failure to maintain records, 29 misdemeanor counts of failure to determine viability for a late-term abortion and 29 misdemeanor counts of unlawful late-term abortion.

The felonies carry possible fines of up to $100,000 for each count, and the misdemeanors carry possible fines of up to $2,500 for each count.

Judy Smith, State Director of Concerned Women of America's Kansas branch, said, “We believe that the allegations brought against Planned Parenthood of Overland Park need to be investigated.  The people have a right to expect that the laws enacted by their representatives are followed to the letter.”

"Planned Parenthood is accused of falsifying records to cover up numerous violations of state law against aborting late-term babies," said Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America.  "Now we know what Planned Parenthood means by 'privacy' when it refuses to release information on the abortions it commits on pre-born babies -- it is claiming privacy on its own alleged illegal actions."

Ms. Wright suggested some of these illegal activities could have been committed with taxpayer support, since Planned Parenthood receives federal funding.  She called on the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate other Planned Parenthood branches across the nation to discover whether they too were involved in illegal activity.

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Wife of Irish Anglican bishop converts to Catholicism

Dublin, Ireland, Oct 18, 2007 (CNA) - The wife of a Church of Ireland bishop has converted to Roman Catholicism, the Associated Press reports.

Anita Henderson formally converted Sunday in the private chapel of Catholic Bishop John Fleming in Ballina, County Mayo in the west of Ireland.  Her husband, Church of Ireland Bishop Richard Henderson, and their three children, were present for the ceremony.

The two bishops issued a joint statement, saying "Her decision, made after much heart-searching, deserves the respect of us all and we trust that all people of goodwill will share in this."  They continued:  "This is a time of unprecedented hospitality, friendship and collaboration between our local churches. ...We believe that such genuine and honest searching is a positive indicator in these times - and will not go unrewarded by the God we all strive to love and serve."

"This is the culmination of a long journey of spiritual searching," Mrs. Henderson said in a statement. "I feel under God that is what I am being called to do."

Mrs. Henderson, whose father is also a Church of Ireland minister, has been involved in ecumenical cooperation in Ireland.  She has attended Catholic retreats at a County Sligo community of American monks and nuns, and the couple's three children all have attended a Catholic convent school.

Archbishop Alan Harper, head of the Anglican-affiliated Church of Ireland, affirmed the importance of religious liberty.  He also called for prayers for the couple.  "She has made what was for her and her husband a particularly difficult decision and a particularly difficult move. We must now pray that they are sustained in their integrity and continuing ministry. ...There are some awkwardnesses," he said.

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PRD party decides to end protests outside Mexico City cathedral

Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 18, 2007 (CNA) - The organization Peaceful Civil Resistance, which was harassing the Catholic Church after the defeat of PRD presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, announced it would end the violent protests against Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera it has organized outside the Cathedral of Mexico City.

Gerardo Fernandez Noroña, a spokesman for the group that for weeks interfered in the celebration of the Mass at the Cathedral, announced the organization had made a “decision to suspend its protests” against the alleged “political activism” of the cardinal.

Standing in front of picketers Fernandez Noroña said the purpose of the “resistance” is not the Catholic Church, but rather to make a statement against President Felipe Calderon, who they call a “usurper” of the presidency.

Last week Cardinal Norberto Rivera denounced the sympathizers of Lopez Obrador for harassing him and he requested federal and city officials provide greater police protection.

Archdiocesan officials also revealed that the cardinal has received death threats, which they believe have come from PRD members.

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Law on legalizing abortion in Uruguay fails due to lack of votes

Montevideo, Uruguay, Oct 18, 2007 (CNA) - On Tuesday night, the Uruguayan Senate decided to postpone a vote until the following day on the “Sexual and Reproductive Health” law that would legalize abortion in the country.

At the close of debate, which was suspended after only half an hour because of a bomb threat, fifteen lawmakers had voted in favor of abortion and fifteen against, with one abstention. 

When debate resumed the votes remained the same and the motion to legalize abortion in Uruguay failed.

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“Lovers of Liberty” refuse to accept “Education for Citizenship”

Madrid, Spain, Oct 18, 2007 (CNA) - “Responsible people and lovers of freedom, and of course Catholics, cannot accept” the controversial course Education for Citizenship, according to the Council of the Laity of Madrid.

According to a statement released by the Council, which is affiliated with the Archdiocese of Madrid, Education for Citizenship “is incompatible with the right of parents to morally educate their children”. It is intended to “form the consciences of students, establish a relativistic ethic and defend terms and concepts of gender ideology.”

In response to the obligation of students aged 10-17 to take the course, the Council noted that the Spanish bishops “have pointed out that the gravity of the situation does not leave room for passive and accommodating positions and they encourage us to act in a responsible and committed way,… to defend freedom of conscience and of education.”

The laity of the Archdiocese of Madrid expressed their support of proposals made by numerous family organizations that defend against the imposition of the course by appealing to the constitutional right of conscientious objection.  The Council encouraged parents to make use of that right no matter if their children study in private or public schools.

“We think Catholic parents,” the statement continues, “should be the first to react in response to this attack on freedom and we would consider it a lack of solidarity with the rest of Spanish families if we did not do so just because the course may not be offered in one’s specific community or because Catholics schools have promised to adapt the course’s contents to their principles.”

The Council of the Laity called on families to “courageously assume their responsibility as the moral guides of their children and the transmitters of the faith, despite the difficulties that the Education for Citizenship course represents.”

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New Canadian archbishops appointed

Vatican City, Oct 18, 2007 (CNA) - On Thursday, the Holy Father appointed two archbishops in Canada, Bishop Anthony Mancini, as the Archbishop of Halifax, and Bishop Martin William Currie to lead the Archdiocese of Saint John’s, Newfoundland.

Bishop Mancini was ordained a priest in 1970, and was consecrated a bishop in 1999.  As Archbishop of Halifax, he will serve 161,125 Catholics plus an additional 37,105 as the apostolic administrator of Yarmouth.

Mancini will take the position in November.  “I am looking forward to meeting the people of God in the Archdiocese of Halifax,” The bishop stated.

The Most Reverend Bishop Martin William Currie of Grand Falls, Canada was born in Marinette Canada in 1943.  He was ordained in 1968 and was appointed a bishop in 2001.

Bishop Currie will remain Bishop of Grand Falls, a position he has held for seven years, as well as taking on the responsibility of serving as the Archbishop of St. John’s Newfoundland.  The archdiocese contains 111,000 Catholics in 39 parishes.

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