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May 8, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Pope Francis and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, right, attend an ecumenical prayer service at the Church of St. Peter in Cairo April 28.

People cheer as they wait for Pope Francis' arrival to celebrate Mass at the Air Defense Stadium in Cairo April 29.

Catholic leaders: Papal trip was blessing for Christian,
Muslim Egyptians

AMMAN, Jordan — Pope Francis' historic, 72-hour visit to Cairo has left a profound mark on Egyptians, Catholic leaders said, as they anticipate increased ties with fellow Orthodox Christians and Muslims.

"The pope's visit was a big blessing to the Egyptians, both Muslims and Christians. It boosted the morale of the Egyptian people, especially after the Palm Sunday blasts," Father Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Egyptian bishops, told Catholic News Service by phone. "He gave a message of love, peace and hope."

Father Greiche referred to a pair of terrorist attacks April 9 at two Egyptian churches. The Islamic State group claimed credit for the attacks, which killed at least 45 people, injured more than 100 others and shook the Middle East's largest Christian community to the core.

"The pope's visit for Catholics in Egypt was a great happening, very positive," Jesuit Father Samir Khalil Samir, a noted Egyptian Catholic theologian and Islamic studies scholar, told CNS. The professor teaches at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome and St. Joseph's University in Beirut.

Even more important, he said, was the historic improvement in ecumenical ties between the Catholic and the Coptic Orthodox churches. Pope Francis and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II signed a declaration on common baptism.

New education ideas
Dominican Sister Maria Francesca Wiley, a teacher at St. Pius V School in Providence, Rhode Island, center, smiles April 18 during the National Catholic Educational Association's Convention & Expo at the America's Center in St. Louis. More than 8,000 Catholic educators attended the three-day NCEA convention this year and many of them picked up ideas during the gathering to use in their own schools. Sister Judith Abique, a Sister of St. Paul of Chartres, plans to integrate Theology of the Body concepts in religion classes at St. Joseph School in Waipahu, Hawaii, where she is vice principal and religion coordinator. Shelly Jensen, a learning consultant at Immaculate Conception School in Union, said she appreciated the many sessions for special education teachers and said she was pleased to see so many people with the "same mission, goals and identity for Catholic education."

Science society meets
CHICAGO — "Origins," the first conference of the Society of Catholic Scientists, gave more than 100 participants the opportunity to learn about everything from the birth of stars to the beginnings of human language and to reflect on how their faith and work inform each other. But perhaps the most important benefit of the conference and the fledgling society that sponsored it was the chance for Catholic scientists to connect with one another as they met April 21-23.

DNC pledge
WASHINGTON — New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan described the recent pledge from the Democratic National Committee's chair to support only pro-abortion candidates "disturbing" and "intolerant." The cardinal, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, urged members of the Democratic party to "challenge their leadership to recant this intolerant position."

Bike for vocations
PEORIA, Ill. — Being a priest has made Father Michael Pica, Father Adam Cesarek and Father Tom Otto so happy that they are preparing to share their joy with people from Rock Island to Danville — literally. From April 24 to 28, the three priests will ride their bikes 350 miles across the Diocese of Peoria — the width of Illinois — to raise awareness for vocations and show people that priesthood is a wonderful life.

Strategy of survival
WASHINGTON — A new study categorizes what kinds of responses emerge when Christians around the world are persecuted, noting that, most often, Christians choose a strategy of survival. However, the findings also show Christians might choose a strategy of association — seeking to secure their religious freedom by developing ties with other Christian communities, non-Christian religions, and secular figures — and, on occasion, they use strategies of confrontation. The report, "In Response to Persecution, Findings of the Under Caesar's Sword Project on Global Christian Communities," also offers recommendations for businesses, nongovernmental organizations, governments and scholars to help keep situations from getting worse.

Steelers chairman dies
PITTSBURGH — One reason there is such affection for Dan Rooney, said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, is that he was clearly a man of the people, a person of western Pennsylvania and a quintessential Pittsburgher. "Whether he was Ambassador Daniel Rooney, Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers president or just Dan, he reflected so well the qualities of this part of the world," the cardinal said of the beloved chairman of the Steelers in celebrating his funeral Mass April 17 at St. Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh.

Jesuits apologize
WASHINGTON — Georgetown University and the Society of Jesus' Maryland province apologized April 18 for their roles in the 1838 sale of 272 enslaved individuals for the university's benefit. More than 100 descendants attended a morning "Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition and Hope" that the university created in partnership with descendants, the Archdiocese of Washington and the Society of Jesus in the United States.

More suicide legislation
WASHINGTON — More states are considering assisted suicide legislation, although few seem to be making inroads in adding themselves to the five states and the District of Columbia where it is legal. A bill in Alaska closely modeled after Oregon's Death With Dignity Act, which took effect 20 years ago, was the subject of a legislative hearing April 6. In addition to Oregon, Washington state and the District of Columbia, assisted suicide is also legal in California, Colorado and Vermont.

States can redirect funds
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed a bill into law April 13 that allows states to redirect Title X family planning funding away from clinics that perform abortions and to community clinics that provide comprehensive health care for women and children. The new law overrides a rule change made in the last days of the Obama administration that prevented states from doing so.

Armenian genocide film
WASHINGTON — "The Promise," a film dramatizing the genocide of Armenians in the Turkish-ruled Ottoman Empire at the outset of World War I, was two years in the making, but probably a half-century in the idea stage, according to George Winter, one of the movie's producers. Kirk Kerkorian, the Armenian-American who owned the MGM studio 1969-86, had wanted to make a film about the genocide, but could not. "It was a controversial topic, even when he owned the company," Winter said.

Religious practices uninfluenced by education
WASHINGTON — Although higher educated U.S. adults are typically linked with lower levels of religious practice, a new study by the Pew Research Center shows that Christians are the exception to the rule.

Among Christians, those with higher levels of education appear to be just as religious as those with less schooling and highly educated Christians are even more likely than less-educated Christians to say they are weekly churchgoers.

Christians are also almost equally likely at all education levels to pray daily, attend worship services weekly and say they believe in God with absolute certainty.

The study, released April 26, shows that 52 percent of highly educated Christians are most likely to say they are weekly churchgoers, compared with 45 percent of those with some college and 46 percent with at least some high school.

The tendency for Christian college graduates to practice their religion on par with their less highly educated counterparts is evident across a variety of Christian traditions, but among evangelical Protestants, the numbers are highest. Eighty-seven percent of evangelical-protestants with college degrees say they are highly religious. Those with some college education fall in at 83 percent; 82 percent of highly religious evangelicals have a high school diploma or less schooling.

In looking specifically at Catholics, they appear less religiously observant than evangelicals. But like Christians in general, they follow similar religious practices no matter what their education level is.

Catholic News Service


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