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October 23, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

People pray as they walk through the forest during an Oct. 7 mass rosary prayer on the Polish-Czech border near Szklarska Poreba, Poland.

Thousands gather to pray rosary

On Oct. 9, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, thousands of Polish Catholics gathered along their country's border to pray for peace, as well as for the future and salvation of Poland and the world.

The event, entitled "Rosary at the Borders," was organized by a lay movement called the Solo Dios Basta Foundation (God Alone Suffices). It was supported by the Polish Bishop's Conference and was sponsored by several state-owned companies. Approximately 90 percent of the country, home of the Polish Pope St. John Paul II, identifies as Catholic.

According to the New York Times, participants gathered for prayer at 320 churches near the border of Poland as well as in 4,000 designated prayer zones.

The prayer took place on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which also commemorates the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, during which Mary, through the prayer of the rosary, is credited for a key victory against the Ottoman Empire. It also fell a week before the 100th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, who encouraged the world to pray the rosary for peace.

Some participants also voiced concerns about the spread of Islam and the loss of Christianity and European culture.
The event's website noted that in almost every major Marian apparition, Mary asks that the rosary be recited.

Organizers anticipated at least 1 million participants, though officials have said they do not yet have the final numbers for the event.

Love story with God
People carry offertory gifts as Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass of new saints in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 15. The pope canonized groups of martyrs from Mexico and Brazil, an Italian Capuchin priest and a Spanish priest. Like the Catholic Church's newest saints, Christians are called to live their faith as a love story with God who wants a relationship that is "more than that of devoted subjects with their king," Pope Francis said. Pope Francis proclaimed 35 new saints, including: the "Martyrs of Natal," Brazil, a group of 30 priests, laymen, women and children who were killed in 1645 during a wave of anti-Catholic persecution; and the "Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala," three children who were among Mexico's first native converts and were killed for refusing to renounce the faith.

Columbus Day support
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A new survey shows that almost six in 10 Americans, or 57 percent, believe that celebrating Columbus Day is a "good idea," while only 29 percent oppose the holiday. Almost two-thirds of respondents who said they were Catholic, or 65 percent, expressed a "favorable" or "very favorable" opinion of Columbus and the national holiday that honors him. Overall, the poll found that Americans support Columbus and the observance of Columbus Day by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. The survey results were released Oct. 3 by the Knights of Columbus, which is based in New Haven. The Marist Poll conducted the survey, funded in partnership with the Knights of Columbus. Columbus Day is a national holiday in many countries in the Americas and elsewhere to officially celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas Oct. 12, 1492. The federal holiday in the U.S. this year was Oct. 9.

10 million views
BALTIMORE — A hurricane-stricken Puerto Rican and a local fan who dropped off pizza are among the admirers of a video of the choir from Cardinal Shehan School in Baltimore that has gone viral and been clicked on approaching 10 million times. ABC's "World News Tonight" broadcast a story about the middle school choir's video the evening of Oct. 15.

Planned giving 'key'
LOS ANGELES — Colleges, hospitals and universities "are well-established" in the area of planned giving, but such programs are just as applicable to Catholic parishes, schools, dioceses and many other institutions, said one of the organizers of an upcoming national seminar in Los Angeles. "It is a key part of our future," said Kimberly Jetton, director of the Office of Planned Giving of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Jetton made the comments in an announcement that the archdiocese is partnering with the National Catholic Planned Giving organization based in Omaha, Nebraska, to hold a seminar Nov. 1-3 in Long Beach for parishes, high schools, elementary schools and entities in the archdiocese and around the country. For more information, www.codesweb.com.

Sessions affirms liberty
WASHINGTON — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' memo on religious freedom issued for all federal agencies and departments to follow "helpfully reaffirms that the law protects the freedom of faith-based organizations to conduct their operations in accordance with their religious mission," said Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore. The guidance "helpfully reaffirms that the law protects the freedom of faith-based organizations to conduct their operations in accordance with their religious mission."

Court upholds wait
DAVENPORT, Iowa — An Iowa District Court judge Oct. 2 upheld the state's 72-hour waiting period for abortions, signed into law in May by former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland had filed a petition for injunctive relief immediately after the bill was signed into law May 5, claiming that it would place an undue burden on patients, particularly low-income women who have to drive long distances for abortion services. The Iowa Supreme Court ordered a temporary injunction halting enforcement of the law the same day.

Room for students
MIAMI — Catholic schools in the Miami Archdiocese are accepting students and enrollment inquiries from Puerto Rican families displaced to Florida after the devastating impact of Hurricane Maria. An informal survey conducted in early October by the Miami Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Schools indicated that some 50 students from Puerto Rico — including two from the U.S. Virgin Islands — had already been placed in Catholic elementary and secondary schools within the archdiocese and more enrollments are expected in the coming months.

New auxiliary in Orange
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Thanh Thai Nguyen, a priest of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida, to be an auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Orange, California. The appointment was announced in Washington Oct. 6 by Msgr. Walter Erbi, charge d'affaires at the Vatican's nunciature in Washington. Born in Vietnam, Bishop-designate Nguyen, 64, fled the country in 1979 by boat with his family and spent 10 months in a refugee camp in the Philippines before arriving in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1980.

Contraceptive mandate
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration Oct. 6 issued interim rules expanding the exemption to the contraceptive mandate for religious employers, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, who object on moral grounds to covering contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs and devices in their employee health insurance. Leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops praised the action as "a return to common sense, long-standing federal practice and peaceful coexistence between church and state." The contraceptive mandate was put in place by the Department of Health and Human Services under the Affordable Care Act. While providing an exemption for religious employers, the new rules maintain the existing federal contraceptive mandate for most employers. President Donald Trump had pledged to lift the mandate burden placed on religious employers during a White House signing ceremony May 4 for an executive order promoting free speech and religious liberty, but Catholic leaders and the heads of a number of Catholic entities had criticized the administration for a lack of action on that pledge in the months that followed.

Bishop Kicanas retires
WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, and named as his successor Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger, who has headed the Diocese of Salina, Kansas, since 2012. Bishop Kicanas, former vice president and former secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has headed the Diocese of Tucson since 2003. He is 76.

Forty institutions divest
WASHINGTON — Forty Catholic institutions, including the Belgian bishops' conference and a leading church social welfare agency in South Africa, have decided to divest from fossil fuel companies. The organizations cited the call of Pope Francis in his 2015 encyclical, "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," to take steps to protect the environment as well as the importance of making investments that lead to a carbon-neutral economy in an effort to address climate change.

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