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Archive of April 10, 2008

Google sued for banning religious pro-life ad

London, England, Apr 10, 2008 (CNA) - A Christian group in the United Kingdom is suing Google, claiming the dominant search engine company engaged in religious discrimination by refusing to take its pro-life advertisements, the Daily Mail reports.

The group was trying to publicize its articles against abortion before a controversial vote in the House of Commons that could place restrictions on abortion.

The Christian Institute, which describes itself as a “non-denominational Christian charity,” wanted to purchase an advertisement that would be displayed whenever the word “abortion” was typed into the search engine.

The proposed advertisement, which would have linked to the group’s web site, reads "UK abortion law - news and views on abortion from the Christian Institute. www.christian.org.uk."

Google’s Dublin-based advertising office said that their refusal was based off of a company policy.  “At this time, Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain 'abortion and religion-related content'," the office said, according to the Daily Mail.

However, Google does accept advertisements for abortion clinics, secular pro-abortion sites, and secularist sites which attack religion.

The advertisement was part of the Christian Institute’s efforts to promote its on-line articles on abortion before legislation regulating the practice arrived in the House of Commons.

Next month’s vote on the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill provides the House of Commons its first opportunity in 18 years to vote on the upper time limit for legal abortions.

The Christian Institute has filed a lawsuit against Google, arguing the company discriminates against Christians in violation of the Equality Act 2006.  The institute is seeking damages, costs, and permission to publish its advertisement.

The Daily Mail reports that Mike Judge, a spokesman for the Christian Institute, called Google the “doorway to the internet.” "If there is to be a free exchange of ideas then Google cannot give special free speech rights to secular groups whilst censoring religious views,” Judge said.

"To say that religious sites with material on abortion are 'unacceptable content' [while] advertising pornography is ridiculous," Judge insisted.

The institute has the support of former Tory MP Anne Widdecomb, a Catholic, who said, “It does seem to me to be the most appalling and blatant case of religious discrimination and also to be a very silly attempt to stifle due debate.”

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Video of bobblehead Pope removed after complaint

Washington D.C., Apr 10, 2008 (CNA) - An advertisement encouraging people to use the Washington, D.C. Metro to travel to the Papal Mass at Nationals Park was removed from YouTube after Catholic leaders raised concerns about its use of a Pope Benedict bobblehead doll, the Washington Post reports.

The advertisement used a bobblehead doll of the Pope less than eight inches tall.  It wore a red cape and a red skullcap, which is called a zucchetto.  In a video posted on YouTube, the doll was depicted riding the D.C. Metro, sitting next to a man reading “Car and Pontiff” magazine. 

In the video, the man turns to the bobblehead and asks, in Latin, “Car in shop?”

The man then flips the magazine, which had photos of the Popemobile, to the back page, which shows an ad about taking the Metro to Mass.  "Thank Heaven for Metro," the man intones in Latin.

The video also shows the bobblehead doll buying a special one-day pass and demonstrating Metro etiquette such as standing on the right side on an escalator.

"Our concern is that this was a bad bobblehead," said Susan Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington. "You had unauthorized merchandise, and you had a misdressed pope."

Gibbs listed some errors in the doll’s dress.  "Popes don't wear red skull caps," she said, also pointing out that Popes don't wear red capes, but white ones.

Lisa Farbstein, the Metro’s director of media relations, developed the idea for the video.  She said she bought the bobblehead doll of the Pope on eBay, where it is listed for $16.99, including shipping.  She said the Metro staff acquired the Latin translation from an internet service.  “We're not 100 percent certain that it is grammatically correct, but this was all part of our tongue-in-cheek attempt at humor," she said, according to the Washington Post.

"We did not intend to offend," Farbstein said.

"We were really trying to encourage people to purchase the one-day pass and to reach out to new audiences who don't tend to use other, more conventional means to get their news and information."

The Archdiocese of Washington did not ask for the video to be pulled, but Farbstein said the Metro voluntarily withdrew it.

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Devoted Catholic Navy SEAL awarded Congressional Medal of Honor

Washington D.C., Apr 10, 2008 (CNA) - A Navy SEAL and devoted Catholic who died after jumping on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers’ lives was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on Tuesday.

In an East Room ceremony, President George W. Bush described the life of Petty Officer Second Class Michael Anthony Monsoor, praising his sacrifice that earned him the United States’ highest decoration for military valor.

“The Medal of Honor is awarded for an act of such courage that no one could rightly be expected to undertake it,” the president said.

A biography posted on the Navy’s web site said that Monsoor would attend Mass “devotionally” before going on military missions. 

Monsoor was born in California on April 5, 1981, to a Marine father and a social worker mother.  The third of four children, he overcame asthma and coughing fits to become a football player and a superb athlete.

After enlisting in the Navy in March of 2001, Monsoor passed SEAL training and became a “frogman” in September 2004.  Less than a third of trainees finish the intense preparation for the elite special forces group.

Monsoor was deployed to Ramadi, Iraq in the spring of 2006, where he served as both a heavy machine gunner and a communications operator in military operations against insurgents.  On September 29, he and two fellow SEALs had taken a position on a rooftop when an insurgent’s grenade bounced off of Monsoor’s chest and landed next to his teammates.

President Bush described the seaman’s actions that followed:

“Mike had a clear chance to escape, but he realized that the other two SEALs did not. In that terrible moment, he had two options -- to save himself, or to save his friends. For Mike, this was no choice at all. He threw himself onto the grenade, and absorbed the blast with his body. One of the survivors puts it this way: "Mikey looked death in the face that day and said, 'You cannot take my brothers. I will go in their stead.'"

The president also described how Monsoor and another SEAL rescued a wounded teammate during a firefight earlier in 2006.

“With bullets flying all around them, Mike returned fire with one hand while helping pull the injured man to safety with the other. In a dream about the incident months later, the wounded SEAL envisioned Mike coming to the rescue with wings on his shoulders,” President Bush said.

Interestingly, Michael’s parents named him after St. Michael the Archangel and as President Bush noted, September 29, the day of Monsoor’s death, was St. Michael’s feast day.

President Bush, who reportedly cried during the ceremony, presented the Medal of Honor to Monsoor’s parents before an audience that included the two men Monsoor saved.

“Mr. and Mrs. Monsoor,” the president said, “America owes you a debt that can never be repaid. This nation will always cherish the memory of your son. We will not let his life go in vain. And this nation will always honor the sacrifice he made. May God comfort you. May God bless America.”

The president said Monsoor was the fourth Medal of Honor recipient in the “war on terror.” 

A tribute video to Michael Monsoor can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfK2BQCIIes

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Pope appoints auxiliary for Archdiocese of Denver

Denver, Colo., Apr 10, 2008 (CNA) - This morning the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict has appointed Msgr. James D. Conley of Wichita, Kansas as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Denver. During a press conference in Denver today, Bishop-elect Conley spoke of how much he looks forward to serving in Denver and of his admiration for Archbishop Chaput, calling him a “big hero of mine over the years.”

In his 23 years as a priest, Bishop-elect James D. Conley, 53, has served the Catholic Church in a wide variety of ways—as pastor, college campus chaplain, director of Respect Life ministries, theology instructor and as a Vatican official. 

Throughout all of these assignments, the Bishop-elect explains that he has seen his life as a priest as a call to service and complete surrender to “God’s providential hand.”

For his episcopal motto, Bishop-elect Conley, a convert to the Catholic faith,  has chosen the same motto as the great 19th century English convert, John Henry Cardinal Newman, “cor ad cor loquitur” which means “heart speaks to heart.”

Speaking about the English churchman, Bishop-elect Conley said, “Cardinal Newman had a huge influence on my own conversion and in my vocation to the priesthood. He continues to be a kind of spiritual mentor to me.”

“For me, this motto teaches us that souls are won over to Christ, heart to heart, person to person, through goodness and friendship. Cardinal Newman once wrote that next to the influence of supernatural grace, the greatest influence over the human soul is the example of goodness and virtue in another person,” he said.

At the end of his remarks at this morning’s press conference, Msgr. Conley asked for the prayers of the Church in Northern Colorado that he might “assist your good archbishop with deep love, fidelity, and courage. And in return, I promise to pray for you and your families as we begin this journey together. God bless you.”     

Archbishop Chaput welcomed the new Bishop-elect saying, “I'm grateful and very pleased for this appointment from the Holy See. Bishop-elect Conley has an extraordinary heart for the Church.  He proved his skills as a pastor in Kansas. Before that, he served the global Catholic community with distinction in Rome. He has a keen mind and a warm sense of humor. He’s done wonderful work with young adults, and as a convert himself, his energy and enthusiasm for the Catholic faith are infectious. He’s a tremendous gift to the Church here in Colorado.”

The ordination of Msgr. Conley as a bishop will take place on May 30, 2008, which is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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Benedict XVI names five U.S. bishops in advance of visit

Vatican City, Apr 10, 2008 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has named five new bishops for the United States, the largest number of prelates named in a single instance by a Pope during the last 10 years.  The new bishops are Bishop Richard Edmund Pates of Des Moines, Bishop Anthony Basil Taylor of Little Rock, Auxiliary Bishop James Douglas Conley of Denver, Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantu of San Antonio and Auxiliary Bishop William J. Justice of San Francisco.

Editor's Note: An individual story on each bishop can be read by clicking on their name below.

Bishop Plates of Des Moines

The new bishop of Des Moines has up to now been Auxiliary Bishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.  Bishop Richard Edmund Pates was born on February 12, 1943 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. After his elementary studies at St. Paul’s Catholic School, he entered the Nazareth Hall minor seminary and later studied theology at the Saint Paul Seminary.

He was ordained a priest on December 20, 1968 at St. Peter’s in Rome. He was rector of the Saint John Vianney Seminary from 1981-1987 and has been a member of the committee on Education of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference.


Bishop Taylor of Little Rock

The new bishop of Little Rock was born on April 24, 1954 in Forth Worth, Texas. He studied at the University of Oklahoma and after two years entered the Archdiocesan Seminary of Oklahoma City.  He studied philosophy at Saint Meinrad Seminary in Indiana, and in 1976 he was invited to study at the North American College and the Gregorian University in Rome. He obtained a doctorate in theology from Fordham University.

He was ordained a priest on August 2, 1980, and has served as Parochial Vicar at Sacred Heart Church in Oklahoma City and as Parochial Vicar at St. Matthew’s Parish in Elk City, with special focus on serving Hispanic parishioners.

In addition, he has been a member of the Diocesan Finance Council, president of the Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council, member of the Archdiocesan Stewardship Commission and the Saint Gregory University Priests Advisory Council.


Auxiliary Bishop Conley of Denver

The new auxiliary bishop of Denver was born on March 19, 1955 in Kansas City, Missouri.  He studied at the University of Kansas, where he obtained a Bachelor’s in English Literature.  On December 6, 1975, at the age of 20, he left the Presbyterian church and was baptized at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Lawrence.  He studied philosophy at St. Pius X Seminary in Erlanger, Kentucky, and theology at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Wichita on May 18, 1985.  He has been Parochial Vicar at St. Patrick Parish in Wichita and director of the Respect Life Office.  He obtained a degree in Moral Theology from the Alfonsian Academy in Rome. Since August 1, 2006, he has been serving as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Wichita.


Auxiliary Bishop Cantú of San Antonio

The new auxiliary bishop of San Antonio was born in December 5, 1966 in Houston, Texas.  He entered Holy Trinity Seminary and obtained a degree in English Literature from the University of Dallas in 1989.  He studied theology at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston and obtained a Master’s degree in 1994.  He also studied theology at the Gregorian University in Rome.

He was ordained a priest on May 21, 1994 for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and has served as Parochial Vicar of St. Christopher’s Parish in Houston, Parochial Vicar of St. Cecilia’s Parish in Houston, Parochial Vicar of St. Francis Cabrini’s Parish in Houston, and Holy Name Parish in Houston.

When Bishop-elect Cantú is ordained, he will be the youngest bishop in the U.S. and the ninth youngest in the world.


Auxiliary Bishop Justice of San Francisco

The new auxiliary bishop of San Francisco was born on May 8, 1942.  He obtained a degree in Philosophy and a Master’s in Divinity at St. Patrick’s Seminary.  He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of San Francisco on May 17, 1968. He later obtained a Master’s in Applied Spirituality from the University of San Francisco. He has served as Parochial Vicar and for several years as Archdiocesan director of the permanent deaconate.  He has been pastor at three different parishes and studied Spanish in Guadalajara, Mexico.

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Pope gives San Antonio youngest bishop in U.S.

, Apr 10, 2008 (CNA) - At 5 a.m. Central Time this morning, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict has named Fr. Oscar Cantú as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of San Antonio, making him the youngest bishop in the United States and ninth youngest in the world.

Archbishop José Gomez introduced Bishop‐elect Cantú, 41,  at a press conference this morning, saying, “Bishop‐elect Cantú will be a blessing to the people of the Archdiocese of San Antonio. His knowledge of the faith and well‐rounded pastoral experience has prepared him well for the work that is ahead of him.”

Bishop-elect Cantú reacted to the news of his appointment by saying, “I am humbled by the confidence the Holy Father has shown in me and I look forward to getting to know the people of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.”

Bishop‐elect Cantú was born and raised in Houston, TX, attended Catholic school in Houston and was ordained a priest for the then Diocese of Galveston‐Houston in May of 1994. Since his ordination, he served in a number of parishes in the Houston metropolitan area. He currently is the pastor of Holy Name Parish in Houston, which was his childhood parish. He has also taught at the University of St. Thomas School of Theology and the University of St. Thomas at St. Mary’s Seminary.

Archbishop Gomez said, “I met Father Cantú when he was a seminarian and have continued to follow his priestly ministry. While we haven’t worked together before, I am confident he will be a blessing to our archdiocese. His being bi-lingual and bi-cultural will make him a perfect fit.” Besides speaking English and Spanish, Bishop-elect Cantú also speaks French and Italian.

Fr. Cantú will be ordained a bishop by Archbishop José H. Gomez on June 2.

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Benedict XVI appoints Fr. William Justice auxiliary bishop for San Francisco

San Francisco, Calif., Apr 10, 2008 (CNA) - The Holy Father has appointed William J. Justice, who is a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, as an auxiliary bishop for Archbishop George Niederauer.

In a statement issued this morning, Archbishop Niederauer said, “On behalf of Auxiliary Bishop Ignatius Wang, and the priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, I gratefully thank our Holy Father for this appointment, and I congratulate our new Bishop-elect William Justice and assure him of our prayers
and support for his ministry among us as Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco.”

Bishop-elect Justice was born on 8 May 1942. He received a Master of Arts in Philosophy and a Master of Divinity at Saint Patrick Seminary.

On May 17, 1968 he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of San Francisco and then went on to obtain a Masters in Applied Spirituality at the University of San Francisco.

Archbishop Niederauer spoke about the qualities of Bishop-elect Justice saying he brings his “pastoral experience, generous heart and wise judgment for which he is known among the clergy, religious and laity of the Archdiocese.”  He also noted that Bishop-elect Justice’s fluency in Spanish, which he learned in Guadalajara, Mexico will be a “particularly fruitful resource for his new apostolic ministry.”

Fr. Justice will be ordained a bishop on Wednesday, May 28, 2008, at 2:00 p.m. in St. Mary’s Cathedral.

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Bishop Richard Pates becomes third Twin Cities bishop sent to Des Moines

Des Moines, Iowa, Apr 10, 2008 (CNA) - The third consecutive auxiliary bishop from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has been appointed to be bishop of the Diocese of Des Moines.  Bishop Richard E. Pates has been named the ninth bishop of Des Moines, Iowa.

In a statement from the Diocese of Des Moines, Bishop Pates, 65, states, “I am ever so grateful to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, for appointing me as the ninth bishop of Des Moines. It is a welcome privilege to be called to serve such a vibrant, spirited community in America’s heartland. It is a particular honor to succeed Bishop Charron, a good friend and a conscientious shepherd and effective leader.”

Bishop Joseph L. Charron, who announced his retirement last year expressed his delight in the appointment of Bishop Pates.  “I am very pleased with the announcement of Pope Benedict’s appointment of Bishop Richard Pates as the next bishop of Des Moines.  Personally, I have known Bishop Pates for many years, since we worked closely together in Washington, D.C, in the late ’70s. I consider him a friend and look forward to working with him in serving the good people of southwest Iowa.”

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Bishop Pates attended Nazareth Hall Seminary and later St. Paul Seminary there.  He was ordained a priest in 1968 and a bishop in 2001.

Bishop Pates has served in several roles since ordination: vocation director, secretary to the archbishop, vice chancellor of the archdiocese, rector of St. Johan Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, moderator for the Minneapolis Deaneries Council of Catholic Women, and auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said: “I am delighted that Bishop Pates has been named by the Holy Father to become ordinary of the Diocese of Des Moines. He is a person of outstanding quality and exemplary administrative ability with a pastoral touch that is sorely needed in the church today. I will miss him, but I send him to the priests, women religious and people of Des Moines with my best wishes and congratulate them for receiving such an outstanding leader.”

Bishop Pates will be installed as bishop of Des Moines on May 29 and will serve 97,000 people in 82 parishes.

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Holy Father announces appointment of Bishop of Little Rock

Little Rock, Ark., Apr 10, 2008 (CNA) - Today Pope Benedict appointed Father Anthony B. Taylor as the seventh bishop of Little Rock.   Bishop-elect Taylor is currently a priest in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and will replace Bishop J. Peter Sartain who was appointed to the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois in 2006.

According to the Diocese of Little Rock, Bishop-elect Taylor was born in Texas in 1954 and is the oldest of seven children.  After studying at St. Meinrad Seminary College in Indiana and later in Rome, he was ordained a priest in 1980.

The bishop-elect also earned his doctorate in biblical theology from Fordham University in 1989.

Since ordination Father Taylor has served as vicar for ministries; minister to priests; director of the permanent diaconate Program; chairman of the Presbyteral Council, Clergy Personnel Board and Clergy Retirement Board; and as a member of the Archdiocesan Finance Council.  He also has extensive experience in Hispanic ministry.

While serving as a priest in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, Bishop-elect Taylor Father Taylor also became the episcopal delegate for the cause of canonization for Father Stanley Rother, an Oklahoma priest who was martyred in Guatemala in 1981.  The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City sponsored and staffed a parish there from 1963-2001. 

Father Taylor will replace Bishop J. Peter Sartain who has been serving as the bishop of Joliet, Illinois since June 2006.

 

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Feminists seeking pressure from Europe to legalize abortion in Latin America

Brussels, Belgium, Apr 10, 2008 (CNA) - The pseudo-Catholic organization Catholics for a Free Choice, together with other feminist groups, has asked the European Parliament to “encourage” Latin American countries to legalize abortion. 

European parliamentarians met in Brussels recently to debate the issue of abortion a meeting about “the rights of women in reproductive health in Latin America.”

During the meeting, the representative of Catholics for a Free Choice, Elfriede Harth, urged European lawmakers to “encourage the governments of Latin America to resist pressure from the Vatican and act in the interests of their citizens, prioritizing the issues of health and human rights.” She also called for “health and sexual and reproductive rights in Latin America” to be included in the European Parliament’s agenda.  Harth went on to say that historically speaking, Europe has a “debt” to pay to Latin America for “imposing religion on the people.”  

Emma Ortega, who represents the International Democratic Federation of Women in Ecuador, used the argument of clandestine abortions to demand more “sexual education and planning” policies as well as increased promotion of contraceptives in Latin America.

Pro-abortion forces have been criticizing Nicaragua for prohibiting abortion in 2006, and praising the government of Mexico City for legalizing it last year.

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Award-winning movie “Bella” to be made into novel

Washington D.C., Apr 10, 2008 (CNA) -  

With its debut in Mexico one month away, Nelson Publishers has announced it will publish a novel based on the original screenplay of the movie “Bella,” which won over audiences in the U.S. with its strong pro-life and pro-family message.

The novel has been written by Lisa Samson, an award-winning author of 19 books.

The screenplay by Alejandro Monteverde, Patrick Million and Leo Severino tells the story of Jose, “a man who gave up his life for the woman he loved.  Bella is an encouraging story that celebrates life, love, family and relationships,” said Nelson Publishers.

Produced by Metanonia Films, the movie was highly acclaimed in 2007 and won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, the awards for Best Movie and Best Actor at the 2008 MovieGuide Awards, and the prestigious Legado Award of the Latin Center at the Smithsonian Institute.

The movie will be released on DVD on May 6.

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Italians say goodbye to courageous mother who sacrificed her life to save child

Rome, Italy, Apr 10, 2008 (CNA) - Bishop Corrado Pizziolo of Vittorio Veneto celebrated the funeral Mass on Wednesday for Paola Bredda, a courageous 38 year-old mother who refused to undergo cancer treatments in order to save her unborn child.

A large number of the faithful filled the Cathedral of Pieve di Soligo to say goodbye to Paola, whose testimony of maternal love was a source of inspiration to the country.  Her death, which occurred on Tuesday, was reported in the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano.

Paola Bredda died at her parents’ home, where she had spent her last days with her husband Loris Amodei, and her children Ilaria, 3, and Nicola, the newborn baby boy whose life she saved by refusing cancer treatment.

Paolo was six months pregnant when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She decided to continue on with the pregnancy and postpone treatment in order to prevent the child from dying.  Nicola was born at eight months, and is now 17 months old.  Paola underwent surgery for her cancer after giving birth but several weeks ago she suffered relapse.

A sacrifice for love

In his homily, Bishop Corrado Pizziolo said, “Paola gave priority to the life of the baby she carried in her womb to the detriment of her own.  We can put it bluntly: she sacrificed her own life for that of her baby. There is no greater love than this: to give one’s life for those one loves.  She did this. Jesus, and the Gospel he lived for us, is what we see lived out in the life of our sister.  A life that shows how it is possible to concretely live the Gospel.”

“We are also here to thank the Lord.  It seems paradoxical and absurd to be grateful in a time of sorrow,” the bishop said.  “We are here to be grateful not only for the death of Paola, but also for her life, which was a gift” that “gave life to so many people, the ones she loves, her husband, her children…,” Bishop Pizziolo said.

“Our hope is that the life of our sister Paola has not ended.  It will still be a gift.  United to the love of Jesus, she will mysteriously continue on and truly bear fruit,” he added.

“We need these things because our faith runs the risk of being nothing but words,” the bishop stressed.  “We need events from the Gospel like this in order to make it real, in order to strengthen our faith,” he said.

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175 children to sing for Pope in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C., Apr 10, 2008 (CNA) - One hundred and seventy five children chosen from a group of 400 will be part of a special choir that will sing at the papal Mass with Benedict XVI on April 17 at National Stadium.  The children met last weekend to rehearse at Holy Family Church in Maryland. 

They will accompany the Holy Father, together with an adult choir composed of 250 people.  At rehearsals the choir went over a vast repertoire of music from over 35 countries in different languages.  “The songs are a sign of our cultural diversity and they show faith in Christ and the commitment to the Holy Church,” said choir director Tom Stehle.

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D.C. children to sing “Happy Birthday” to Pope

Washington D.C., Apr 10, 2008 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate his 81st birthday next Wednesday during his trip to the United States.  That day, a group of children from a Catholic school will sing “Happy Birthday” to him, 630 WMAL reports.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington, Kathy Dempsey, said that the children from Annunciation Catholic School are enthusiastic about the opportunity to sing for the Holy Father.

"They've been practicing and they're tickled pink," Dempsey said.  She said several schoolchildren were brushing up on their German for the German-born Pontiff.

Dempsey said that the Pope was beyond celebrity status for the children.

“Not to say that celebrities don't have substance, but the pope is all about substance and he represents God's love.”

“And the young people, they get that," she said.

After a brief birthday celebration on Wednesday, the Pope will visit the White House.  The next day, he will celebrate Mass in Nationals Park before a crowd of thousands.

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