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March 20, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 6   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Catholic/Lutheran service
The Rev. Lowell Almen, co-chair of the U.S. Lutheran Catholic Dialogue, blesses the congregation during a March 2 prayer service in Chicago. Catholic and Lutheran bishops gathered to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and to release a statement on the two churches' ongoing relationship.

Philippines poised to reintroduce death penalty
A woman holds up a noose during a Feb. 18 protest against plans to reimpose the death penalty, put on hold 11 years ago, at the Walk for Life in Manila. The Church continues to oppose the measure that passed the Philippine House on the third and final reading March 7 and is widely expected to move quickly through the Senate. This latest version specifically targets drug crimes.

Future saint
The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announced that one its native sons, Father Stanley Rother, a North American priest who worked in Guatemala and was brutally murdered there in 1981, will be beatified Sept. 23 in Oklahoma. Pope Francis recognized Father Rother's martyrdom last December, making him the first martyr born in the United States.

Teens urged to "wake up"
People gather Feb. 25 during the 2017 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim. Nearly 12,800 teens from across the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, neighboring dioceses and beyond kicked off the 2017 Religious Education Congress with Youth Day, held all day Feb. 23. Since the first daylong youth event in 1971 with Cardinal Timothy Manning, then archbishop of Los Angeles, thousands of Catholic and public high school students have packed the Anaheim Convention Center annually for an energizing day of fellowship, worship, engaging speakers and activities before the annual congress begins the following day. Themed "What Are You Waiting For?" this year's Youth Day challenged teens to wake up, act now, and not delay in living out the Gospel in everyday life.

Catholic-Muslim dialogue
CHICAGO — Regional Catholic-Muslim dialogues over the past 20 years "have been open and honest, appreciating our commonalities and being honest about our differences," said Muzammil Siddiqi of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California. "We have to bring it to the wider public in this era of fear and mistrust," he added. He made the comments as Catholic and Muslim leaders and scholars met March 7-8 for the National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

Show compassion
WASHINGTON — While one Catholic archbishop was urging a fix to the country's immigration laws before a Catholic crowd, another was pleading with the government not to separate mothers from their children while in immigration detention, and yet another, a cardinal, was accompanying a grandfather to an appointment that could have resulted in his deportation. Catholic Church leaders in the U.S. spent the week of March 6-10 trying to allay fears, urging compassion, not just from the government but from those who are not seeing "God's creation" when they malign unauthorized immigrants.

Education degrees only
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Aquinas College in Nashville announced March 10 it will reconfigure its degree programs to focus solely on preparing teachers for Catholic schools and will close its degree programs in the arts and sciences, business and nursing. The school will no longer offer residential services or student life programming. The changes, which will take effect for the semester that begins in the fall of 2017, will mean about 60 faculty and staff will lose their jobs and about 140 students will have to complete their degrees at other colleges or universities.

'Blessing' for diocese
SALT LAKE CITY — An elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said leaders of his church "look forward to partnering" with Salt Lake City's new Catholic bishop "as we stand together and give witness to Jesus Christ as his disciples." Elder M. Russell Ballard made the comments about Bishop Oscar A. Solis, who was installed March 7 as the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, which encompasses the state of Utah.

St. Francis' investment
MOUNTAIN VIEW — A California Catholic high school did away with future car washes and pizza kit sales March 2 when the $15,000 investment it made with Snap Inc., the company that developed the messaging app Snapchat, sold shares to the public and the school stepped into a windfall of at least $24 million. "The school's investment in Snap has matured and given us a significant boost," Simon Chiu, president of St. Francis High School, in Mountain View, said in a letter to parents posted on the school's website. The "significant boost" will be used for financial aid, professional development, teacher training and funding of school programs and will not support the school's annual operating expenses.

Diocese files Chapter 11
NEW ULM, Minn. — A third Minnesota diocese has filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Bishop John M. LeVoir of New Ulm said March 3 he asked diocesan attorneys to take the action in response to the enactment of the 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act, which temporarily lifted the civil statute of limitations on child sexual abuse claims for three years. That three-year window ended May 25, 2016.

Trump visits school
ORLANDO, Fla. — President Donald Trump visited St. Andrew Catholic School in Orlando March 3 to show his support for school choice. The president was joined by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott in a tour of the school that started with a visit to a fourth-grade class. The visit, which was private, was dubbed as a listening session.

Bishops' vary on sanctuary
WASHINGTON — The bishop of Sacramento said Catholic churches in the diocese could offer sanctuary to immigrants facing deportation, while the archbishop of Washington cautioned that offering sanctuary does not legally guarantee protection if federal agents come calling. Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento said his concern for immigrants revolved around the possibility of an order for mass deportation from President Donald Trump's administration. But, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington said in a March 2 interview with editors at The Washington Post that while the Catholic Church's values mandate opposition to deportation of people already living in the United States, there is no certainty that immigrants staying on church grounds would avoid being arrested and eventually sent to their home country.

Relations deteriorating
CARACAS, Venezuela — A series of attacks and confrontations against Catholics in Venezuela has marked a renewed deterioration of relations between the church and the national government. Some church leaders have openly speculated that the events could form part of a broader, coordinated campaign.

Policy 'reprehensible'
TORONTO — In a biting letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the president of the Canadian bishops' conference called the government's new overseas abortion policy "a reprehensible example of Western cultural imperialism." In a separate letter to Trudeau, Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto expressed "deep concern and disappointment" and called it "arrogant for powerful, wealthy nations to dictate what priorities developing countries should embrace."

Hope for a miracle
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — El Salvador's Catholic Church circles swirl these days with news about a possible miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Oscar Romero, one that many hope will lead to his canonization. But in the not-so-quiet whispers of hope, there's also the yearning that the momentum will help the beatification cause of his martyred Jesuit friend, Father Rutilio Grande. Father Grande was killed 40 years ago — March 12, 1977 — while on his way to a novena. More than a dozen bullets went through his body, killing him and parishioners Manuel Solorzano, 70, and 16-year-old Nelson Rutilio Lemus

Pray for Salesian
COCHIN, India — A year after an Indian priest was abducted by suspected Islamic militants in Yemen, Catholics in his home state of Kerala are still praying for his release, reported ucanews.com. Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil was taken by a group of armed men who stormed a home for the elderly run by Missionaries of Charity nuns in Aden, March 4, 2016.

Human remains found
DUBLIN — The commission set up to investigate the treatment of unmarried mothers and their babies in Irish care homes during the 20th century says it has found "significant" human remains at the site of a former home in western Ireland. A spokesman for the commission said March 3 that the commission was shocked by the discovery made in Tuam, County Galway, at the site formerly managed by the Bon Secours religious order. The Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation is currently probing how unmarried mothers and their babies were treated between 1922 and 1998 at 18 state-regulated institutions, many of them run by religious orders.

Catholic News Service


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