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Bishops urge Catholics to vote on Scotland’s independence

September 2nd, 2014 Posted in International News Tags: , ,


Catholic News Service

Scotland’s archbishops have encouraged Catholics to vote in the forthcoming referendum on independence, and to pay attention to the issue of religious freedom.

The Sept. 18 ballot will decide whether Scotland will break away from union with England and Wales after more than 300 years.

Archbishops Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow and Leo Cushley of St. Andrews and Edinburgh each issued pastoral messages Aug. 31 to encourage Catholics to help to shape the outcome of the election.

They did not direct Catholics precisely how to vote but urged their participation and asked them to reflect on issues of concern when making their decision.

In his message, Archbishop Tartaglia, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said the bishops were “deeply conscious of the importance of this referendum.”

“I encourage and urge all those eligible to vote to do so with complete freedom of choice and in accordance with their prayerful judgment of what is best for the future,” he said. “May God guide us and bless us in whatever choice we make in good conscience.”

In a longer pastoral letter, Archbishop Cushley asked the faithful to have religious freedom at the forefront of their concerns when considering how they should vote.

“We are called to promote peace, integral human development and authentic human rights, and to have a special care for the poorest and the weakest in society,” Archbishop Cushley said.

“We are also concerned for the rights of all people, to freedom of conscience and to the right to believe and to practice their faith,” he continued. “These freedoms are as important as they are fragile, as has been proven all too often, to the dismay and death of many millions.”

He added: “These freedoms are absolutely essential to a modern democratic society, and we should always be vigilant of those who would seek to limit them.”

The archbishop explained that the promotion of laws “which allow us to believe, teach and live our faith and morals is and will always be of concern to us, whether at the Scottish, U.K. or European levels.”

“So I encourage you, in the light of Catholic social teaching, carefully to consider the issues and to do your civic duty on the day itself,” he said.

The referendum was called by the Scottish National Party after it won Scottish parliamentary elections by a landslide in 2011.

The party has fought a long campaign for the repeal of the 1707 Act of Union that united Scotland to the rest of Britain.

On referendum day voters will be presented with the single question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” to which they will be invited to answer either yes or no.

Opinion polls have repeatedly found that a small majority say they are in favor of Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland, but support for independence appears to be increasing, and the narrowing margin is making the outcome of the vote uncertain.

Much of the public debate has so far focused on the issues of North Sea oil reserves, which nationalists say would make an independent Scotland a wealthy nation, and the continued use of the pound as currency.

Residents of Scotland who are at least 16 years old are eligible to vote, meaning that 400,000 non-Scots living in the country will have a say in the referendum while some 800,000 Scots living in England and Wales will not.


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Pope Francis to preside over 20 September weddings at Vatican


Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will preside over his first wedding ceremony as pontiff during a nuptial Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Sept. 14.

Pope Francis will preside at 20 weddings at St. Peter's in September. (CNS)

Pope Francis will preside at 20 weddings at St. Peter’s in September. (CNS)

The Vatican confirmed Aug. 29 that 20 couples from the Diocese of Rome will be married by the pope, the bishop of Rome. The papal Mass celebrating the couples’ marriage will come just a few weeks before the start of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family, Oct. 5-19. Since Pope Benedict XVI never publicly presided over a marriage ceremony as pope, the mid-September ceremony will be the first papal celebration of a wedding since 2000, when St. John Paul II married eight couples from different parts of the world as part of the Jubilee for Families. St. John Paul presided over another joint wedding for a group of couples in 1994 as part of his celebration of the International Year of the Family. He also married a number of other couples at private Masses during his lengthy pontificate.

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Finding peace of mind after a concussion: Schools in diocese to begin baseline brain function testing


Dialog reporter


What should have been a routine trip to the store and dinner last October turned into a multi-month nightmare for Bella Raytick. She accidentally hit her head on the car door when she opened it. By the time Bella and her mother, Ann Casapulla, reached the store, the signs of a concussion were already evident.

“Instantly I had a headache, and my eyes hurt,” Bella said. “When we got to Staples, it’s so bright in there, it hurt my head so bad.”

Bella, then in seventh grade at All Saints Catholic School in Elsmere, got through dinner, but she couldn’t think straight or complete simple tasks. She went to school the next day, which was Halloween. That proved to be a mistake. Read more »

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Labor Day 2014 — U.S. bishops lament young adults’ high unemployment rate


WASHINGTON — In their 2014 Labor Day statement, the U.S. bishops denounced the fact young adults have “borne the brunt” of unemployment and underemployment in this country and around the world.

“Our younger generations are counting on us to leave them a world better than the one we inherited,” wrote Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

Writing the statement on behalf of the bishops for Labor Day, which is Sept. 1, the archbishop spoke of Pope Francis’ teaching against an “economy of exclusion” and applied it to the millions of unemployed young adults in the United States. Read more »

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Did you hear? Pope sees saintly virtue in refusal to gossip

August 28th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,


The refusal to gossip is the quickest way to sainthood, Pope Francis said at his weekly general audience Aug. 27.

“How much gossip (happens) in parishes,” the pope lamented. “We mustn’t do it. I won’t tell you to cut off your tongue. No. Not that. But do ask the Lord for the grace to not do it, all right?”

The refusal to gossip, in fact, is such an outstanding Christian virtue, it should make a person a saint overnight, the pope said. Read more »

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Bucket line — Catholic schools decide how to take part in ALS fundraising effort


Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a major fundraising effort that began this summer to raise money to research a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease, has left many people scratching their heads.

The challenge involves dumping a bucket of ice water on someone’s head and nominating others to go through the same process within 24 hours or make a donation to the charity of one’s choice to support further research to treat and cure ALS. The ALS Association, based in Washington, is the largest organization researching the disease.

Fausin Weber, headmaster, left, and Deacon Brian Edwards, chair of the theology department at Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville, Tenn., were doused with ice water in the ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge" at half time at the school's Aug. 22 football game. Proceeds were donated to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, which sponsors ALS research without using embryonic stem cells. (CNS photo/Rick Musacchio, Tennessee Register)

Fausin Weber, headmaster, left, and Deacon Brian Edwards, chair of the theology department at Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville, Tenn., were doused with ice water in the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” at half time at the school’s Aug. 22 football game. Proceeds were donated to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, which sponsors ALS research without using embryonic stem cells. (CNS photo/Rick Musacchio, Tennessee Register)

The challenge went viral on social media. As of Aug. 26, the ALS Association had received $88.5 million in donations from July 29-Aug. 26 compared to $2.6 million during the same time period a year ago.

Friends have challenged friends on Facebook and celebrities have joined the fundraising fray. Now with schools starting their new year, Catholic schools across the country have also considered the challenge. But there has been some hesitation, particularly after reports that the ALS Association, which is researching for a cure for the disease, uses embryonic stem cells in some of its research.

Some dioceses have issued statements urging schools that participate to send donations to other research organizations, such as the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, which does not use embryonic stem cells in its research.

The Catholic Church opposes any research involving the destruction of human embryos to create stem cells. Adult stem cells, so called because they are derived from living human beings, also have promising scientific value but do not require destruction of an embryo. The reprogrammed stem cells can sometimes be used to replace damaged cells.

Carrie Munk, a spokeswoman for the ALS Association, told Catholic News Service in an Aug. 26 email that the organization primarily funds adult stem cell research and is at the end of funding one single embryonic study, which is funded by one specific donor. Read more »

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Pope names archbishops of Madrid, Valencia


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis reassigned two prominent Spanish bishops, giving a new leader to the country’s largest diocese and leaving a vacancy at the head of the Vatican’s liturgical office.

The Vatican announced Aug. 28 that the pope had named Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra as the new archbishop of Madrid and Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera to be archbishop of Valencia, in eastern Spain.

Archbishop Osoro, 69, had served as archbishop of Valencia since 2009. To replace him there, Cardinal Canizares, 68, leaves his job as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments; his successor has not been announced.

In Madrid, Archbishop Osoro replaces Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, who at age 78 is three years past the standard retirement age for bishops.

During his 20 years as archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Rouco was elected to a record four three-year terms as president of the Spanish bishops’ conference. Archbishop Osoro is currently vice president of the conference.

Archbishop Osoro was born in Castaneda, in northern Spain, May 16, 1945. He studied at the Pontifical University of Salamanca, where he earned a joint degree in philosophy and theology. He later earned degrees in science and adult education from Madrid’s Complutense University and a degree in pedagogy from the University of Salamanca. He was ordained in 1973.

He was appointed bishop of Orense in 1996 and archbishop of Oviedo in 2002 before Pope Benedict XVI moved him to Valencia.

Born in Utiel, Oct. 15, 1945, Cardinal Canizares was ordained in 1970 after training at the local seminary and studying at the Pontifical University of Salamanca and Madrid’s Pastoral Institute. He later taught theology at both schools for two decades, while running San Gerardo Parish in Madrid.

Appointed bishop of Avila in March 1992, Cardinal Canizares drafted documents for the Spanish bishops’ conference on subjects ranging from ecclesiology and the sacraments to sexual and medical ethics.

He was named archbishop of Granada in December 1996 and was transferred to Toledo six years later.

Cardinal Canizares served as vice president of the Spanish bishops’ conference from 2005 to 2008. Pope Benedict made him a cardinal in 2006 and named him prefect of the worship congregation two years later.


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‘The November Man’ serves up late-summer turkey

August 28th, 2014 Posted in Movies Tags: , ,


Catholic News Service

There’s not much cause for thanksgiving in “The November Man.” That’s because the only thing out of the ordinary about this espionage-themed action flick is the level of visceral violence on display.

Scene from movie 'The November Man'Director Roger Donaldson’s screen version of Bill Granger’s novel, “There Are No Spies,” follows the adventures of retired CIA agent Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan). He is reluctantly lured back into the world of secret ops by the need to protect Natalia Ulanova (Mediha Musliovic), a source-turned-lover for whom he still carries a torch.

Natalia has been working undercover in the offices of Arkady Federov (Lazar Ristovski), the front-runner in the race to become the next president of Russia. There, she’s unearthed evidence of the lurid war crimes Federov committed during the conflict in Chechnya.

As Peter tries to get Natalia to safety, however, he’s confused to find himself at odds with his former colleagues, including trigger-happy agency assassin David Mason (Luke Bracey), who was once Peter’s trainee. The measures they take to thwart Peter’s extraction of Natalia leave him not only enraged and bent on revenge, but determined to follow up on Natalia’s quest to torpedo Federov’s candidacy.

Since Natalia’s clues point to a Belgrade social worker named Alice (Olga Kurylenko) as the one person who might be able to produce a witness to Federov’s atrocities, Peter and David are soon struggling for custody of her.

Eventually, the murky, conspiracy-driven story line also takes in the shifting fortunes of two Langley bigwigs, Peter’s ex-boss Hanley (Bill Smitrovich) and scowling pen-pusher Weinstein (William Patton).

The bloodletting along Peter’s path ranges from skulls exploded by high-powered rifle bullets to major arteries slashed by knives. Add to that an explicitly portrayed encounter between David and a casual acquaintance, as well as Peter’s visit to a strip club to chat with a pimp who might know something to Federov’s discredit, and what you’re left with is a viewing experience that frequently plays on the lowest aspects of human nature.

The film contains excessive gory violence, graphic nonmarital and implied premarital sexual activity, upper female and rear nudity, about a half-dozen uses of profanity and a steady flow of rough and crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is O, morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R..


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Padua to honor supermodel-turned-businesswoman at annual dinner



WILMINGTON – Kathy Ireland, a former supermodel who is now the chief executive officer of a design and marketing company, will be honored at the sixth annual Padua Academy Dinner in Honor of Women’s Achievement, which will be held April 16, 2015, at the Chase Center on the Riverfront.

Founded in 1993, Kathy Ireland Worldwide now grosses more than $2.2 billion in annual retail sales, according to Forbes magazine. Ireland, in addition to being the CEO, is also the chief designer of the company. Read more »

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Catholic aid groups hope latest Israeli-Hamas cease-fire holds

August 27th, 2014 Posted in Featured, International News


Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM — Catholic aid organizations are hopeful that the most recent cease-fire between Israel and Hamas will hold as they begin to assess the needs in Gaza after 50 days of war.

“This is a window of opportunity,” said Sami El-Yousef, Catholic Near East Welfare Association’s regional director for Israel and the Palestinian territories. “(We hope) the unity government will take the lead. A lot of people here think the stage is set (for) a meaningful resumption of negotiations. Now it is up to leaders on both sides to make it happen, to move beyond (the same political hurdles.)

Palestinian civil defense officers inspect the rubble of a destroyed tower shortly after the ceasefire was announced Aug. 26 in the Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya. Catholic aid organization officials, who are coordinating aid in the region, say they hope the Egyptian-brokered Israeli-Hamas ceasefire proposal will hold. (CNS photo/Mohammed Saber, EPA

Palestinian civil defense officers inspect the rubble of a destroyed tower shortly after the ceasefire was announced Aug. 26 in the Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya. Catholic aid organization officials, who are coordinating aid in the region, say they hope the Egyptian-brokered Israeli-Hamas ceasefire proposal will hold. (CNS photo/Mohammed Saber, EPA

“Both leaderships must rise up to the occasion for us to move forward. Otherwise, the temporary cease-fire may last for a few months, then we will be back to the resumption of hostilities.”

The cease-fire that took effect Aug. 26 calls for the easing of the Israeli-enforced embargo to allow humanitarian aid and construction material into Gaza under strict monitoring. Egyptians, who brokered the cease-fire, will open the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip. Terms also include enlarging the offshore zone for Palestinian fishermen to six miles.

The agreement was the latest of numerous attempts to end a seven-week conflict in which more than 2,100 largely civilian Palestinians and 70 Israelis, including 64 soldiers, were killed.

The organizations have coordinated their aid efforts, with Caritas Jerusalem focusing on food and cash assistance while Catholic Relief Services is distributing nonfood items and CNEWA is assisting with repairing damaged homes and institutions.

Father Raed Abusahlia, director of Caritas Jerusalem, said his agency’s long-term emergency appeal would last until Christmas. He said Caritas will provide food to 2,000 families as well as a cash distribution about $350 to all the Christian families in Gaza, with specific emphasis on those who lost all of their possessions and homes.

Caritas also will provide all the necessary school supplies for the students of the five Christian schools in Gaza, although it is not clear when school will begin.

“At the same time we have already sent three truckloads of food, diapers, milk and hygiene supplies last week,” he said, noting that the almost $84,000 worth of supplies came from local Catholic parishes as well as four Israeli groups.

El-Yousef said response to CNEWA’s earlier appeal for help from its donors has surpassed expectations, largely thanks to donations from European donors; he said donations would soon top $1 million. He added that the money will be largely used to help rebuild and rehabilitate Christian homes and institutions damaged during the conflict.

He said the big challenge is the Holy Family School, which Argentine Father Jorge Hernandez of the Institute of the Incarnate Word opened up to shelter hundreds of Palestinians who fled their homes during the Israeli airstrikes. Much of the furniture has been destroyed and the classrooms, which were used and divided as living quarters, must be restored to their previous conditions.

El-Yousef said when school begins in Gaza, CNEWA will implement its psychosocial intervention plan. The United Nations says approximately 373,000 Gaza children are in need of psychosocial help, he noted.


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