People ask, what do we mean by the word, “reconciliation”? To explain the process of reconciliation, we have to humbly admit the reality of sin that offends God, our Father and Creator, by failing to live as God taught us to live in Jesus Christ. Sin is saying no to God, to God’s laws, to God’s will and to God’s love. Because we all sin and thereby weaken our relationship with God, we all need forgiveness. Reconciliation is restoring the prayerful order of love that our loving God wants to have with all of us and the loving relationship we are to have with one another.
Forgiveness is the beginning of the restoration of our relationship and friendship with God and with our neighbor who often suffers because of the consequences of our sin. At the heart of reconciliation is forgiveness.
True reconciliation with God comes through Jesus Christ. Jesus is compassionate and forgiving, and in His passion and death and resurrection, Christ achieved forgiveness for all of our sins. Even when He was dying on the cross, He forgave those who nailed Him to the cross by telling His Father – “Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
Sin separates us from God Who is our goal and the greatest good of our lives. Divine forgiveness and reconciliation fully repair the damage due to sin. Thank God that Christ has given us the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation, Penance, that brings us God’s mercy and gives us the grace of Christ to conquer temptation to sin.
Just as there is no greater good than God, there is nothing worse than sin. Sin ruins everything and turns us away from God, who is our true end and is the source of real happiness. Both sin and forgiveness have eternal consequences. Sin leads to eternal damnation; receiving God’s mercy and forgiveness leads to eternal happiness.
By Bishop Michael Pfeifer, OMI
With the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011, we will notice some changes in the prayers that are prayed in the Mass.
By Bishop Michael Pfeifer, OMI
As has been announced many times during the past several years, we will notice some changes in our Liturgy, in particular in the words that are prayed in the Mass beginning with the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011. The purpose and why of the changes of some prayers in the Liturgy have been explained many times to all the faithful of our Diocese as we receive these changes that began nearly l0 years ago. I am referring here to the latest revision of the Roman Missal, which is the basic ritual text for the celebration of the Catholic Mass around the world.
The priests of our Diocese, who are the main celebrants of the Mass, have been offered many opportunities to prepare themselves for these changes through convocations, letters, articles, electronic means, and dialogue, and study of the text as to the why and how of these changes and in turn have been preparing all of the faithful how to prayerfully enter into these changes according to the revised Roman Missal—our official Eucharistic prayer book. Also, the faithful of the Diocese in our local parishes have been given instruction about the reasons for these changes and now is the time to implement these changes in our main prayer, which is the Mass, and to live out the spirit of these changes in our daily lives where we live, work and interact with the wider society.
The U.S. Catholic Bishops in dialogue with the Vatican have spent much time and study to finally approve the changes of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal that strives, as Pope Paul VI said in 1965, to “affect the spirit and enkindle the hearts with love of God.” The spoken words of the Liturgy do more than just communicate truth or articulate sentiments; they must move the hearts and lead worshipers to a sense of devotion,” and to live in their daily lives what they hear, what they receive and pray at Mass.
With the First Sunday of Advent, the Revised Edition of the Roman Missal will be the official text for prayers that are prayed at Mass by the priest and some parts with all the people, and there will be a number of guides and aides as well as missalettes with the new changes that will be available for all the faithful. We need to remember that this is a new and more accurate translation of the Mass, not a new ritual celebrating the Eucharist. The Mass will have the same parts, the same pattern, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades. It is only the translation of the Latin into the vernacular that is changing, but as this is happening in some key parts of the Liturgy, the faithful will notice these changes in prayers, and will be asked to take part in responding with the prayer changes. As I pointed out, there will be liturgical aides to assist our people to follow these changes beginning with the season of Advent which will incorporate these changes.
As we enter into these new changes in the wording of our prayers at Mass, we need to strive to foster a new spirit of active participation in the mysteries of Christ of His work of loving and saving us that we celebrate in each Mass. To participate and engage in the Liturgy takes work on our part. Even though some particular liturgical ministers, whether priests, deacons, readers or servers or cantors may be doing work for the assembly or congregation that is gathered at each Mass, each of us has an essential role as well. The Liturgy, especially the Mass, is a work that we all do together. The prayers of the Mass help us to do that work, and prepare us to live what we have prayed about in Mass in our daily lives which should give witness of what it means to be a true follower of Christ, believing in His passion, death, resurrection and ascension that He lived not only for Himself but for all of us.
As we enter into these changes, we do so with patience and consideration for all who come together to celebrate or come to take part in the Eucharist. Our priests will be going more slowly in offering the prayers of the Mass, and explaining these changes especially at the beginning as we prayerfully live them out in the Mass. We need to remember that the words expressed in the Liturgy, especially in the Mass, have two primary functions: To communicate God’s Word to the Assembly, and to communicate the gathered Assembly’s prayers and praise to God.
To be in tune with the new changes in the updated Roman Missal, and to pray the revised prayers of the Liturgy especially during Mass will take work, patience, and explanation both for priests and for the faithful. The fruit from this labor, flowing from a language of prayers that moves and stirs our hearts, will be a work that gives God an offering of praise. The people of God, gathered in the liturgical assemblies, will be attuned to God’s presence and able to express themselves in a way that fosters a right relationship with the Lord, and with one another. Anything that we can do to better understand our Liturgy, especially in times of change, will more deeply draw us closer to God.
About an hour into the dinner recognizing the Pioneers of the Catholic Faith as part of the Diocese of San Angelo’s 50th Anniversary weekend, my son pulled out his iPhone and glanced downward at it.
“What is it? I asked him.
“2-0 Detroit,” he said.
Twenty minutes later, he pulled it out again. “4-2 Rangers.” And then again. “6-2 Texas.” And a full thirty minutes after he first checked, he pulled it out again. “9-2,” he said. “Texas has been batting for a half hour.”
Anyone not around Game 6 of the American League Championship on the evening of October 15 was doing a lot of cell-phone scoreboard checking. And you can include among those Ranger faithful nervously anticipating the outcome of that night’s game the Most Rev. Douglas Deshotel and the Most Rev. Mark Seitz, auxiliary bishops of the Diocese of Dallas, both of whom were sitting across the table from us.
Each time our son would check the score, one of the two bishops would ask, “What is it now?” And each time the score changed or didn’t change but reflected the nearing of the end of the game and the ultimate advancement by the Rangers to the World Series, the two bishops from Dallas would clench their fists and raise them somewhat high in the air (doing not such a great job of hiding their joy). Each time, their raised fists would be joined by the not-completely soft intonations of “Yes!” (In truth, their exuberance was met more with a “YES!!” than with the simpler, and a not quite as joyous, “Yes!”) One of the bishops would even close his eyes while lifting his fists in the air.
It was fun to watch and to be a part of. Bishops Deshotel and Seitz were personable, warm, conversational men who obviously love the Church and their faith. What made it all the more fun was that they were really diggin’ on something so regionally esoteric as baseball (at least in football-crazy Texas) while continuing to be holy during dinner and the evening’s celebration.
Baseball often gets a raw deal in Texas. It has long been the lonely step-child to football. The Rangers were bad for 38 years before last season, and the Astros, well, I don’t have to further drive home the point by discussing the Astros.
I (and many others) watched the Rangers lose literally thousands of games from 1972-2008 and have seen some horrible turning of events. One player who punched out his manager, another who assaulted a cameraman, and
another who suffered an emotional collapse and breakdown in the Rangers clubhouse only to disappear and never play again.
I’ve seen them lose more than 100 games in a season more than I care to remember, and I remember watching Ted Williams, “The Best Hitter in the History of the Game,” be driven away from the sport forever after that first horrific Ranger season in Arlington. There have been former Rangers that have gone on to become used car salesmen and booth announcers and former team owners that have gone on to become president.
They have been bad. Horrible. For most of my life, both childhood and adult. And never did they have the luxury of having the moniker “Loveable Losers” attached to them. Until this year. True, the nickname has only been applied at this point by me and only here on this one occasion. But it fits and I'm keeping it.
Only one team can have players jumping into each others arms in celebration at the end of a long season. In America, we are only allowed to crown one champion and too often the team that comes up on the short end is deemed a loser, and as a result, the expert sportswriters will spend much of the next few days and weeks trying to learn why losers are losers, what the loser did wrong and making comparisons between losers.
Not 12 hours after the Rangers fell to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 107th Fall Classic, one Dallas sports writer had already used the term “Major League Baseball’s Buffalo Bills."
Please. Really? Can you not find a better way to spend your time rather than making some ridiculous comparison so you can bring this baseball team down the few pegs you feel it needs to be brought down simply because they came up on the short end of a sporting event?
This Rangers’ team should be celebrated. Not scorned and needlessly picked apart.
This team has provided more highlights for its fans in the last two years than it did in the previous 38.
Our Only-One-Champion attitude in American sport is today trying to ruin it for those who support the Rangers. But any fan who has had the mettle to stick around since the era of the Giant Tuna Can that was Arlington Stadium, David Clyde and even a pitcher many years ago who was challenged by literally having one leg noticeably shorter than the other, this is not a time to fret. It is a time to be thankful.
When the Rangers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, they joined the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves as the only teams to ever lose back-to-back championships. Ron Washington has now lost one less World Series than the revered Tom Landy lost Super Bowls. Heck, even Vince Lombardi endured five seasons in which his Green Bay Packers did not make the NFL Championship game.
And then there is this statistic: In the 107 World Series, only 36 teams have taken the eventual champions to a seventh game before losing. I like those numbers. They may seem my way of simply justifying hidden disappointment, but it's much more than that. The progress this team has made should be enough for any of the long-suffering Ranger fans.
So what does this have to do with the Catholic faith? Plenty.
Watch any Ranger game and in between pitches you see images of family. People in love with each other and with a game. And the way the organization responded with help and assistance, compassion and sympathy in the wake of the tragic death of a Brownwood firefighter who fell from the stands during a game was something right out of Scripture. Every organization in professional sports should learn a thing or two about how to treat people by watching the Rangers.
My grandmother was buried with a Texas Ranger cap in her casket. My father died during the seventh inning stretch of a Ranger game as it played on a TV in his room following the fading last note of “God Bless America,” and attending Ranger games every summer is as routine in my family's life as breathing. By the time you read this, my daughter and I will have danced at her wedding. As our father-daughter song, we chose Merle Haggard’s “That’s The Way Baseball Go,” a song about Ranger baseball and manager Ron Washington. And we will have broken out our Ranger caps during the song. That’s how big Ranger baseball is to our family: that my daughter would risk messing up her hair just to wear a baseball cap during her reception.
The Rangers have taught us how to overcome prolonged hardship and how to win and lose with integrity. Anybody who has weathered this 40-year ride knows exactly why today should be a time of raising our clenched fists and saying “YES!!” rather than whining about missed opportunities and looking for someone to blame.
By Jimmy Patterson
8-9 — CORPUS CHRISTI, Kenedy Foundation Board Meeting
9 — CRANE, Good Shepherd – Confirmation at 6:30 p.m.
13-17 — WASHINGTON, DC, Meeting of USCCB
20 — EDEN, St. Charles – Confirmation at 11:00 a.m.
21 — SAN ANGELO, St. Joseph – Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service at 6:30 p.m.
22 — ODESSA, St. Elizabeth – Mass for 18th Anniversary of Adoration Chapel at 6:30 .m.
24 — SAN ANGELO, Sacred Heart Cathedral – Thanksgiving Day Mass at 9:00 am
25-27 — Rest and Prayer
1 -- DALLAS, Mass for Holy Spirit Circle
3 -- CARLSBAD, State School – Christmas Prayer Service at 11:00 a.m.
3 -- SAN ANGELO, Santa Fe Depot – Read Christmas Stories at 7:00 p.m.
4 -- SAN ANGELO, Ft. Concho Chapel – Mass at 11 a.m.
5 -- SAN ANGELO, Newman Center – San Angelo Deanery Advent Night of Prayer for Priests, Sisters and Deacons at 6:30 p.m.
6 -- SAN ANGELO, Diocesan Pastoral Center – Presbyteral Council Meeting 11:00 a.m. to 2 P.M.
6 -- SAN ANGELO, Christ the King Retreat Center – Annual Christmas Party for Priests, Deacons and Sisters at 5:30 p..m
7 -- WALL, St. Ambrose – Mass for 70th Anniversary of Parish at 6:00 p.m.
8 -- SAN ANGELO, Mass for the Immaculate Conception at 12:00 Noon
9 -- ODESSA, St. Joseph – Mass for Christian Family Movement at 6:30 p.m.
10 -- MIDLAND, St. Ann – Diocesan Schools Commission meeting -9:00 am. to 12:00 Noon
11 -- SANDERSON, St. James – Mass at 11:30 a.m.
12 -- SAN ANGELO, Sacred Heart Cathedral – Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass at 6:30 p.m.
13 -- MIDLAND, Our Lady of Guadalupe – Midland/Odessa Deanery Advent Night of Prayer at 6:30 p.m.
14-18 -- MADRID, SPAIN, Oblate Beatification Celebrations
20 -- EDEN, Detention Center – Christmas Mass at 1:00 p.m.
20 -- SAN ANGELO, Sacred Heart Cathedral – Christmas Penance Service at 7:00 p.m.
21 -- SAN ANGELO, Baptist Memorial Center – Christmas Mass at 2:00 p.m.
24 -- SAN ANGELO, Sacred Heart Cathedral – Christmas Vigil Mass at Midnight
25 -- SAN ANGELO, Goodfellow AFB – Christmas Day Mass at 9:00 a.m.
26-29 -- Rest and Prayer
Christ the King
15-18 -- DOSA Good Leaders, Good Shepherds
18-20 -- Beginning Experience
21 -- Heart of Mercy Prayer Group
22 -- Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
24-27 -- CLOSED – Thanksgiving Holiday
28 -- Heart of Mercy Prayer Group
29 -- Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
1-2 -- The Incarnation - Advent CKRC Mini Mission
5 -- Heart of Mercy Prayer Group
6 -- Bishop’s Christmas Party for Clergy
9 -- Catholic Daughters Christmas Party
10 -- DOSA Continuing Ed. of Deacons Church History #2
10-11 -- GFAB Wolf Pack Christmas Party
12 -- Heart of Mercy Prayer Group
13 -- Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
19-21 -- Seminarian Winter Gathering
23-26 -- Office Closed Christmas Holiday
26 -- Heart of Mercy Prayer Group
30-31 -- Office Closed - New Year’s
San Angelo Deanery
No workshops currently scheduled
1-Rev. John A. Pierce (1979)
5-Rev. Angel Vizcarra, O.P. (2004)
12-Deacon Nestor Perez (1993)
12-Rev. James Aaron, (1999)
20-Rev. John Waldron (1995)
28-Rev. Nicholas Femenia, C.M. (1999)
29-Rev. Msgr. Louis Moeller (2008)
30-Rev. John Hoorman, C.PP.S.(1995)
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- At the start of their annual three-day fall assembly in Baltimore, the U.S. bishops were urged to restore the luster, credibility and beauty of the Catholic Church in the hearts of its members. Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York called on his fellow bishops Nov. 14 to communicate to the world that the sinfulness of the church's members is not "a reason to dismiss the church or her eternal truths, but to embrace her all the more." In his first presidential address since election as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last November, he opened and closed with the words: "Love for Jesus and his church must be the passion of our lives." He noted that the church still has plenty to say to the modern world. "She dares the world ... to foster and protect the inviolable dignity of the human person and human life; ... to protect marriage and family; to embrace those suffering and struggling; to prefer service to selfishness; and never, ever to stifle the liberty to quench the deep-down thirst for the divine." Archbishop Dolan later pointed out that he was encouraged by a Nov. 8 private meeting he had with President Barack Obama at the White House. He said he found the president to be "very open to the sensitivities" of the U.S. Catholic Church on issues related to religious freedom that the two discussed. He said the current issues related to religious liberty and government might be an area where there is room for compromise. Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., and chairman of a new Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, outlined some of the issues at stake in a report to the bishops. He said several situations involving church and government are related to policies of the Department of Health and Human Services. They include draft HHS regulations that would require all private health insurance plans to provide coverage for sterilization and contraception. HHS also recently denied a one-year grant to the U.S. Catholic bishops' Migration and Refugee Services to aid foreign-born human trafficking victims. The attention has focused on requirements in the guidelines for the new grants that called for agencies to offer the "full range of reproductive service," including abortion and contraception, to trafficking victims.
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Reclaim truth about Jesus' church, Archbishop Dolan tells bishops
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York called on his fellow bishops Nov. 14 to communicate to the world that the sinfulness of the church's members is not "a reason to dismiss the church or her eternal truths, but to embrace her all the more." In his first presidential address since election as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last November, Archbishop Dolan opened and closed with the words: "Love for Jesus and his church must be the passion of our lives." Describing the church as a spiritual family that "to use the talk show vocabulary ... has some 'dysfunction,'" he said the bishops' "most pressing pastoral challenge today is to reclaim that truth, to restore the luster, the credibility, the beauty of the church." But he cited "chilling statistics we cannot ignore" that "fewer and fewer of our beloved people -- to say nothing about those outside the household of the faith -- are convinced that Jesus and his church are one. So they drift from her, get mad at the church, grow lax, join another or just give it all up," Archbishop Dolan said. "If this does not cause us pastors to shudder, I do not know what will."
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Catholic women gathered in Chicago urged to work to end death penalty
CHICAGO (CNS) -- Work to end the death penalty. That's what Sister Helen Prejean asked of more than 650 women Nov. 9 at the National Council of Catholic Women's annual conference held over three days in downtown Chicago. NCCW consists of more than 4,000 women's organizations in U.S. parishes and dioceses. Sister Prejean, a Sister of St. Joseph of Medaille, delivered the event's keynote address and shared details of how she started working to end the death penalty. In the early 1980s, the Louisiana Prison Coalition asked the nun to correspond with Patrick Sonnier, a convicted murderer on death row. Sonnier admitted to killing two teenagers with his brother. Sister Prejean eventually became Sonnier's spiritual adviser and was present at his death by electrocution. She chronicled her journey in her book "Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States," which later became a movie starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. Through her experience with Sonnier and working with the poor, Sister Prejean said, God changed her heart and prompted her, through grace, to look deep into the issues surrounding capital punishment and the legal system. "Many, many times we don't know from square one if we got the right person. It's so broken," Sister Prejean said of the legal process and the death penalty.
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New apostolic nuncio introduced to US bishops gathered in Baltimore
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, introduced the new apostolic nuncio to the United States to the U.S. bishops Nov. 14 at the beginning of their annual three-day meeting in Baltimore. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano said he was pleased to be with the bishops for the first time and also expressed personal greetings from Pope Benedict XVI. He told the bishops the pope puts great hope in this country for the future of the universal church. The nuncio also praised the United States for being filled with vitality and always looking for a better tomorrow. The nuncio, who is Italian, served most recently as secretary-general of the commission governing Vatican City. He arrived in the United States just two days before the bishops meeting. On Oct. 19, he was named to fill the position left vacant with the July 27 death of Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who had been the apostolic nuncio to the United States since 2006. Archbishop Vigano said the funeral in Italy of Archbishop Sambi, his great friend of 40 years, was the beginning of his spiritual journey to the U.S. post and noted that he had spent some time with Archbishop Sambi just a few weeks before his death from complications after surgery. The nuncio also assured the bishops that Archbishop Sambi's presence was in their midst. In a previous interview with Catholic News Service, Archbishop Vigano described his upcoming role as an "important, vast and delicate" task; he said he was grateful to Pope Benedict for entrusting him with the mission and he felt called to renew his "trust in the Lord, who asks me to set out again" to a new country.
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Penn State scandal shows scope of sex abuse scourge, archbishop says
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The scandal rocking Penn State University shows both the scope of the sex abuse problem and the value of safe environment training, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said at a Nov. 14 news conference. Responding to a question following the first session of the USCCB fall general assembly in Baltimore, Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York said the news that has led to the indictment of several Penn State officials and the firing of the university's president and its longtime football coach, Joe Paterno, "has reopened a wound in the church as well. It shows that the scourge (of sex abuse) is not limited to any one faith and certainly not limited to priests," he said. "It's in organizations, in universities, all over the place, in families and, yes, in priests." Archbishop Dolan said the church's own sex abuse scandal "makes us a little timid about wanting to give advice -- glass houses and all that." But he said the church's experience with providing safe environment training to help children and their parents, as well as clergy and church volunteers, become more aware of the warning signs of child sex abuse has been "phenomenally advantageous" over the past decade. "We've got a long way to go, but we have made major strides," he said.
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Bishops consider renewing resolution on diocesan financial reporting
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops were to vote on a resolution that would extend a call to bishops to adhere to sound financial reporting within their dioceses. The resolution was first enacted in 2000, and renewed in 2004 and 2006. The 2006 renewal was for five years, running through November 2011. The bishops were asked to extend the current resolution for another five years, through November 2016. While it was possible for bishops to submit amendments to the resolution, the bishops' Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance preferred to renew the 2006 resolution "without ... taking on something more," Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., committee chair, said Nov. 14, the first day of the bishops' Nov. 14-16 fall general assembly in Baltimore. "At this point our committee didn't want to be adding to the original resolution," he said. In a message to the bishops, Bishop Paprocki said the committee surveyed bishops last year about their thoughts on the resolution. "Respondents to the committee's survey expressed overwhelming support for the resolution's continuance into the future," he added.
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Bishops discuss optional memorials for late pope, Mother Marianne Cope
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops, gathered in Baltimore for their fall general assembly, voted Nov. 14 to add Oct. 22 as an optional memorial for Blessed John Paul II in the proper of saints calendar for the United States. The bishops also were to vote on adding an optional memorial for Blessed Marianne Cope. Oct. 22 was recommended as the memorial for Pope John Paul by the bishops' Committee on Divine Worship when it met in June. The date is the late pope's feast day and the anniversary of his installation as pope in 1978. He was beatified May 1. Jan. 23 was suggested as the memorial for Mother Marianne by the Vatican following her beatification in 2005, according to Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans, committee chairman, in a Nov. 14 presentation on the memorials. Archbishop Aymond, speaking on the first day of the bishops' three-day meeting in Baltimore, said the date for such memorials are typically set for the date of the person's death, which in Mother Marianne's case was Aug. 9, 1918. However, that date is the feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), who died Aug. 9, 1942. Jan. 23 is the optional memorial in the United States for St. Vincent de Paul. That date was transferred from Jan. 22 so that the U.S. church can observe the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children -- which itself shifts to Jan. 23 when Jan. 22 falls on a Sunday.
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Ukrainian primate lauds work of annual collection for Eastern Europe
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The new primate for the world's 8 million Ukrainian Catholics lauded the work of the U.S. bishops' annual national collection to aid the church in Central and Eastern Europe. The collection "has provided financial support for the development of basic church structures which had been destroyed by the communist regime," said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, who had overseen as apostolic administrator a Ukrainian eparchy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before his election as primate earlier this year. "We will always remember" the help given by the U.S. church, Archbishop Shevchuk said Nov. 14, the first day of the U.S. bishops' fall general assembly in Baltimore. The church in Ukraine -- the largest Eastern church by numbers -- has benefited from the financial assistance, he added. "Today the church is undergoing a period of rebirth and resurrection," Archbishop Shevchuk said. "We are blessed with many vocations. Our seminaries now have three applicants for every available space." The archbishop suggested the church could aid Ukrainian society. "Our society is just emerging from the post-communist ideology," according to Archbishop Shevchuk. "Ukraine is undergoing tremendous social and economic changes today," he continued. "We are marked by a lack of credibility in government and our social and political institutions."
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Bishop reports on success of ads aimed at strengthening marriage
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- A series of advertisements for the U.S. bishops' campaign to strengthen marriage have been successful in the numbers of people they have reached and the awards they have garnered from professional advertising organizations, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., said Nov. 14. The bishop, who is chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, made the comments on the opening day of the bishops' fall general assembly in Baltimore. In a presentation on the work of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, Bishop Rhoades said the public service announcements with messages about marriage had been measured as having 1.3 billion "audience impressions" since they began several years ago. He said the campaign "which won a national public relations award in 2009, has been the most successful of its kind ever sponsored by the USCCB." A series of public service announcements with the theme of "a good marriage goes a long way," was released in September to 1,600 television stations and 7,000 radio stations, he said.
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Bishops approve 2012 budget, 3 percent assessment increase for 2013
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 14 approved a budget of $217.4 million for 2012 and a 3 percent increase in diocesan assessments for 2013. The vote was 223-6, with one abstention, on the budget, which represents just a 3.1 percent increase over the 2011 budget. The assessment vote was 147-30, with six abstentions. Both votes required a two-thirds majority of diocesan bishops; a minimum of 131 votes was necessary for approval. The votes came on the first day of the bishops' three-day fall general assembly in Baltimore. Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., USCCB treasurer, said it was "providential" for the USCCB to have undergone a reorganization in 2008, before the onset of the U.S. economic downturn. "By the time the financial disaster hit, this conference was already downsizing and reorganizing," he said. "A year later, the entire world was being told to."
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Embryos cannot be destroyed even for important research, says pope
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In rejecting research using embryonic stem cells, the Catholic Church is not trying to impede science or delay treatment that can save lives, Pope Benedict XVI said. The church's opposition to the use and destruction of embryos flows from the conviction that all human life is sacred and that destroying the most defenseless will never lead to a true benefit for humanity, the pope said Nov. 12 to participants in a Vatican-sponsored conference on research using adult stem cells. "When the end in view is so eminently desirable as the discovery of a cure for degenerative illnesses, it is tempting for scientists and policy-makers to brush aside ethical objections and to press ahead with whatever research seems to offer the prospect of a breakthrough," the pope said. However, "the destruction of even one human life can never be justified in terms of the benefit that it might conceivably bring to another," he said. The Pontifical Council for Culture partnered with NeoStem Inc., a U.S. company researching and marketing adult stem-cell therapies, to sponsor the conference, "Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture." The 30 speakers, along with patients who had been treated with stem cells, looked not only at the scientific progress being made with adult stem cells, but also at the cultural, ethical and political issues surrounding the research, its use and its availability. Pope Benedict told conference participants that "in drawing attention to the needs of the defenseless, the church thinks not only of the unborn, but also of those without easy access to expensive medical treatment."
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Pope set to light world's largest Christmas tree using iPad
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With a tap on an iPad, Pope Benedict XVI will light the world's largest electronic Christmas tree in the Italian town of Gubbio without having to leave his home in Vatican City. The City of Gubbio and the Diocese of Gubbio announced at a news conference Nov. 12 that the pope would light the tree via a video link set up by the Vatican Television Center. The tree-lighting ceremony takes place on the evening of Dec. 7, the eve of the Immaculate Conception. From his apartment in Vatican City, the pope will turn on the tree using an application on the iPad 2. Before lighting the tree, the pope will send a video message to the citizens of Gubbio thanking the volunteers on the committee who organized the event and who have been responsible for setting up the tree for decades. The electronic tree extends more than 2,000 feet upon the face of Mount Igino near Gubbio, and uses more than 25,000 feet of electrical cable. Built in 1981, it was recognized in 1991 by the Guinness World Records as the world's largest Christmas tree and stays lit until the Epiphany.
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British court: Church can be held liable for crimes of clergy
MANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- A British court has ruled that the Catholic Church can be held legally liable for the crimes of abusive clergy, but an English bishop said his diocese does not believe the woman on whose testimony the case is based. The Nov. 8 ruling by the High Court in London for the first time defined in British law the relationship of a priest to his bishop as that of an employee to an employer, instead of seeing the priest as effectively self-employed. This means that a bishop and a diocese can be punished for the crimes of a priest. Survivors' groups hope that it will also mean that many people who claim to have been abused by clergy will be able to claim compensation more easily. The case involves a 47-year-old mother of three, referred to only by the initials JGE, who claims she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Father Wilfred Baldwin as a 7-year-old girl in The Firs children's home in Waterlooville, in southern England, in the early 1970s. She claims that she also was attacked in the dressing room of a church on the day she made her first Communion. Besides the Diocese of Portsmouth, she is also seeking damages from the English province of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity, which ran the home, because she said the nuns witnessed the abuse but did not intervene. The court was not asked to judge the truth of the allegations but was specifically asked, as a preliminary hearing on the case, to rule on the question of whether the "relationship between a Catholic priest and his bishop is akin to an employment relationship."
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Pope asks for prayers for Benin trip
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI asked for prayers for his trip to Benin and for those suffering from violence on the African continent. The pope, addressing pilgrims at his noon blessing Nov. 13, said he was traveling to Benin "in order to strengthen the faith and hope of Christians in Africa. I entrust this trip and the inhabitants of this beloved continent to your prayers, especially those who experience insecurity and violence," he said. He prayed that Mary give support to all those working for reconciliation in Africa. During the Nov. 18-20 visit, the pope planned to unveil a document he wrote as a follow-up to the 2009 Synod of Bishops on Africa. The text synthesizes the synod's conclusions and presents pastoral priorities for the church in Africa. The pope said the whole point of the synod was to help make Christians "the salt of the earth and the light of the world." The pope's schedule in Benin included meetings with political authorities and interreligious representatives, an encounter with children, liturgies with Catholics and a Mass to present the post-synodal document.
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Deacon 'Easy Ed' Macauley, Basketball Hall of Famer, dead at 83
ST. LOUIS (CNS) -- Basketball Hall of Famer, former sportscaster and pro-life advocate Deacon Ed Macauley, known as "Easy Ed," died Nov. 8 in St. Louis at age 83. He had Alzheimer's disease. Deacon Macauley was best known as an All-American with St. Louis University and a pro player with the St. Louis Bombers, Boston Celtics and St. Louis Hawks. The St. Louis University High School grad also coached the Hawks for two seasons. He was ordained a permanent deacon of the St. Louis Archdiocese in 1989. He told the St. Louis Review, archdiocesan newspaper, in 1996 that he was grateful for the blessings he enjoyed and wanted to do something for others. He wanted especially to let people know how it makes sense and "how much fun it is" to follow the Christian life. An important element in the diaconate was the support of this wife, Jackie, he said. The deacon kept a full schedule of ministry and speaking engagements until his retirement from active ministry in 2002. He helped start the St. Nicholas Food Pantry in north St. Louis and gave homilies. He also gave homily workshops around the country and co-wrote "Homilies Alive." He later expanded the book to a website with tips, techniques and ideas for preachers. God "can be tough at times, but basically he's a nice guy," Deacon Macauley told Catholic News Service in 1990 after his book was published. "That's one of the reasons I was interested in writing a book. ... How do you take the teachings of Jesus Christ and apply them on Wednesday morning?"
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Retired Archbishop Donoghue of Atlanta dies at 83; emphasized Eucharist
ATLANTA (CNS) -- Retired Archbishop John F. Donoghue of Atlanta died Nov. 11 at the age of 83. The archbishop, who had been in failing health for the past year, headed the Atlanta Archdiocese from 1993 until his retirement in 2004. Before that, he was bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C., from 1984 to 1993. He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington in 1955 and later served there as an archdiocesan official. When he was appointed to Atlanta, Archbishop Donoghue made the Eucharist the center of his pastoral work among Catholics to renew their understanding of and devotion to the Eucharist as the real presence of Christ, which is central to the Catholic faith. Archbishop Donoghue's body was to lie in repose at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Atlanta Nov. 16. His funeral Mass was to be celebrated Nov. 17 at the Cathedral of Christ the King, also in Atlanta, followed by burial at Arlington Memorial Park in Sandy Springs. Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory described Archdiocese Donoghue as "a much beloved figure, a dear friend, a brother bishop."
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Bishop Lori outlines religious liberty issues at fall general assembly
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- After a lengthy report from the chairman of a new Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said he came away from a recent meeting with President Barack Obama encouraged about some aspects of religious rights concerns. Speaking Nov. 14 at the bishops' fall general assembly, Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., committee chairman, outlined a range of actions by government agencies seen as threats to religious rights. He explained the constitutional and natural law concerns the ad hoc committee aims to address. At a news conference following the session, New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, president of the USCCB, said he came away from a Nov. 8 meeting with Obama "a bit more at peace than when I entered" the Oval Office when it comes to religious liberty. He said he found the president to be "very open to the sensitivities" of the U.S. Catholic Church on issues related to religious freedom that the two discussed. He said the meeting touched on a wide range of topics and that by mutual agreement with the White House, details of the meeting would not be made public, Archbishop Dolan said. He said the current issues related to religious liberty might be an area where there is room for compromise "as long as we're not compromising our principles." Archbishop Dolan said it's part of the current culture to try to limit the role of religion in the public square as a philosophical shift, "to push religion back into the sacristy" in a way, or in other words, to keep churches from participating in "the public square." But the church has faced such efforts since the early days of Christianity, he added.
SAN ANGELO -- During the month of September 2011, the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo completed an audit of its Safe Environment Programs with auditors from Stonebridge Business Partners of Rochester, New York , an independent firm commissioned by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB), to insure compliance with the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The Charter, originally adopted by the USCCB in November 2002, sets forth specific requirements which enable dioceses across the country to establish safe environment programs to protect children and youth from sexual and other kinds of abuse. During this audit, Diocesan Safe Environment Policies; Safe Environment Programs for church personnel, parents, and children; as well as procedures for assisting victims of sexual abuse were examined.
“As bishop, I am happy to report that Stonebridge has informed the Diocese that, based on the analysis of the audit, the Diocese will continue it’s status of being in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” Bishop Pfeifer said late Friday. “Since implementation of the Charter, the Diocese has undergone seven previous annual audits in which we were found to be in full compliance with all articles of the Charter. I am pleased with the results of this audit and grateful for the hard work of so many people throughout our diocese; pastors, deacons, religious, and lay leaders; to provide a safe environment for all of our children and youth in the many programs through which we minister to them. Once again, this audit has given us a great opportunity to step back and see what we have accomplished and explore areas where we can make adjustments or improvements.”
Since 2002 the Diocese of San Angelo has conducted background checks and Safe Environment Training for over 9,000 individuals who work with children and youth throughout the Diocese. In addition, over 13,500 parents and other interested parties have attended seminars that the Diocese has presented on Preventing Child Sexual Abuse. We will continue to move forward, continuing our efforts, not only to provide a safe environment for our children and youth in our church programs, but to raise the awareness of child sexual abuse, and steps that everyone can take to help protect our children. In accord with the Charter, Bishop Pfeifer and the Bishops of USA invite all Churches and all agencies of society to join hands and efforts to overcome sexual abuse, especially of children, which sadly is rampant in all areas of society.
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Read the full-length manual on the diocese's Polices on Ethics and Integrity in Ministry here.
By the Most Rev. Michael D. Pfeifer, OMI
Bishop of San Angelo
My sisters and brothers in Christ, I share with you here some of the reflections I shared with all at the 50th anniversary mass of our diocese. But first, let me thank each and every one of you for being members of the Body of Christ of the Diocese of San Angelo—each and every one of you is special. And a thousand thank yous to so many dedicated and generous people who gave their presence, their time and their talent to prepare and celebrate out our beautiful 50th anniversary celebration, especially the very joyful and inspiring mass at the coliseum. Special appreciation to those who shared in the ministries of our Golden Anniversary Mass, and a big thank you to the children’s choir and the diocesan choir for their very joyful and inspiring music and hymns. Let us not lose the spirit of this joyful celebration, let each and everyone of us strive to renew ourselves in God’s love, to love each other in a new way, to forgive one another, and to reach out and support one another—especially the poor and the needy. I encourage all, especially our pastors with the people of each community, to take some time, perhaps after mass, to let people share their reflections about this joyful celebration. This is a grace-filled moment from our loving God who wants us to reflect on and share in God’s goodness to us during the past 50 years and to celebrate this in a joyful way in each of our communities and throughout the diocese. All of this we owe to our Heavenly Father to our Good Shepherd, Jesus, and His wonderful mother—our Mother, Mary.
We thank our heavenly father with his Son, Jesus Christ, for the many blessings received as we celebrate this joyful occasion of our 50th anniversary of being a diocese. We ask for the guidance and light of the Holy Spirit to help us be the people of God, that our heavenly father wants us to be today as we are led by Jesus, our kind, loving shepherd, and protected by our Blessed Mother. [Le damos las gracias a nuestro Padre celestial con su hijo, Jesucristo, por las muchas bendiciones recibidas al celebrar esta ocasión tan gozosa de nuestro quincuagésimo aniversario de ser una diócesis. Pedimos por la guía y la luz del Espíritu Santo para ayudarnos a ser el pueblo de Dios, que nuestro Padre celestial quiere que seamos hoy al ser guiados por Jesús, nuestro Gran Pastor, y protegidos por nuestra Madre Santísima.]
In preparation for our 50th anniversary, we have selected as our number one ministry Family Life and Marriage. Under this number one ministry is the number one priority of a new respect of human life at all states, especially for the unborn. As we launch into a future full of hope we will stress and give new life to this number one ministry which is fundamental and life-giving for the entire body of Christ and for all of society. I ask all of you who are present to help us make this number one ministry of Family Life and Marriage come alive in all of our communities.
As we launch out into the ecclesial sea of the future with faith, hope and trust in Christ, we pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us to be the prudent, wise and well-trained gospel disciples and servants of the Lord who know how to realize and appreciate the value of the past tradition, but at the same time, knowing how to recognize the necessity to move on into a future full of faith. It is not an either/or choice. Wise direction for the future is often found in the tradition of the past. Christianity is always moving forward and cannot simply live in the past, or it will die out. Christianity cannot ignore its past tradition, or it will self-destruct. The wise servant of the Lord clearly recognizes the necessity of having both the new and the old in our plans as we follow the Holy Spirit. We need one foot firmly rooted in the goodness and love of God in the past, and the other foot launching out into the deep water of the future with faith and confidence in the Master who tells us: “Do not be afraid.” [Necesitamos un pie firme y arraigado en la bondad y amor de Dios en el pasado, y otro pie lanzando mar adentro con fe y confianza en le Maestro quien nos dice: “No tengan miedo.”]
By Jimmy Patterson
SAN ANGELO — Opening with salutations of “Viva!” by both Bishop Michael D. Pfeifer, OMI, and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, a packed San Angelo Coliseum of nearly 6,000 faithful celebrated the anniversary of the the Diocese of San Angelo on October 16, 2011, 50 years to the day that Pope John XXIII officially established the presence of the Church in San Angelo and West Texas.
“As we launch out into the future with faith, hope and trust in Jesus Christ, we need prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide us in prudent and wise ways as servants of the Lord,” said Bishop Pfeifer. “We must know how to the value of our past traditions while at the same time know how to recognize the necessity of moving into the future with hope. Our future is most often found in the traditions of the past.”
Christianity, Bishop Pfeifer added, cannot ignore its past tradition or else it faces self-destruction.”
The 50th anniversary Mass at the San Angelo Coliseum featured two dozen visiting bishops from as far away as India and Honduras. India provides many international priests to the Diocese of San Angelo while Honduras has been a sister diocese to San Angelo since a covenant establishing the partnership was signed on Sept. 11, 2001. The partnership was formed following the devastation of Hurricane Mitch that destroyed much of the Central American country.
Cardinal DiNardo provided the homily, while providing moments of humor and more elongated moments devoted to congratulating the diocese for its service to God and the Church over the last half century.
“You have been blessed by the Lord throughout these years and you have responded to his grace and collaborated with him with your bishops, priests, deacons and religious to become a great sister local Church with other sister local Churches in the state of Texas, some 14 others at present,” Cardinal Dinardo said. “Since 1961, other dioceses have been set up in Texas — Beaumont, Fort Worth, Brownsville, Victoria, Tyler and Laredo. San Antonio remains your metropolitan archdiocese, the very first one in Texas.
“Many bishops from Texas are here today — more bishops than are normally at our meetings of Texas bishops. It’s a wonderful site, the power the San Angelo Diocese has on bishops," DiNardo joked.
Cardinal Dinardo pointed out the strength of leadership provided by Bishop Pfeifer, who has served the diocese for 26 years, longer than his three predecessors combined.
“I would indeed be remiss if I did not salute your shepherd of 26 yearrs,” DiNardo said. “He came to you after years of priestly service and leadership in the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Bishop Pfeifer’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, his devotion to the poor and the under-served in the kingdom is a noteworthy aspect of this ministry.
“As your bishop he has made it his shepherd's gracious duty and service to visit and support you, to teach the faith, to remind you of your communion with your larger Church and, with the Bishop of Rome, to manifest and lead in social justice, and especially to champion the family and maintain respect for all human life. His special patroness, the Mother of God, our Blessed Virgin Mary, has been a prayerful refuge for him as he gently but courageously makes Christ known."
DiNardo said Bishop Pfeifer’s celebration of the anniversary Mass stands as a hallmark for his love of the liturgy and for his sanctification and holiness for all.
As he did in the press conference the day before the Mass, Bishop Pfeifer again stressed that family life remains the No. 1 ministry, with Pro-life issues being the No. 1 priority for the diocese, a thread that ran throughout the weekend.
The choices we make for life and family will, Bishop Pfeifer said, "live on far into the future. “The goodness of our loving God of the past and the launching out into deep waters of the future with faith, confidence and trust in the master who always tells us not be afraid” is the way to move forward.
The Mass featured women religious, deacons from parishes throughout the diocese as well as banners constructed by the 73 missions and parishes. Gifts offered at the altar also represented the different cultures found in the diocese.
Pictured: A seminarian processes in with the Cross. Photos by Alan P. Torre/aptorre.com.
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