Strengthened in faith, congress attendees embrace the 'Living Bread'
COLLEGE PARK, Ga. (CNS) -- Carlos Garcia, 46, believes that "everyone who comes with an open heart" to the Archdiocese of Atlanta's annual eucharistic congress "leaves differently." "It's better than going to any sports arena. You feel the love and the presence of the Lord," said Garcia, a computer administrator at Christ the King Cathedral in Atlanta and a resident of Lithia Springs. He just finished his first year of studies to become a deacon. The 13th annual congress drew 20,000 to 30,000 Catholics to the cavernous Georgia International Convention Center in College Park June 20-21. The convention center mirrored the diversity of the 750,000 people who pray regularly in the 100 churches and missions in the 69-county archdiocese. The congress theme was "I Am the Living Bread." Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory reminded people in his homily June 21 that bread is a staple worldwide. "This common substance that exists in many and varied forms throughout the human community was chosen to serve as a symbol of God's bounty and his compassion for his people," he said.
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Bishop sees education as part of effort to craft immigration reform
SALT LAKE CITY (CNS) -- Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City said he doesn't expect any comprehensive immigration reform to occur in the United States until after the 2008 presidential election and not even for some time after that. "It takes time to educate people about the challenges and complicated issues that surround immigration, migration and refugee needs," he told the Intermountain Catholic, his diocese's newspaper. "We need to develop ways ... to help immigrants who are facing life and death situations. And we have to find ways to approach and eliminate the organized criminal aspects that make migration even more dangerous than it is," he said. Bishop Wester made the comments in an interview about his participation in a June 16-18 meeting of bishops from the United States, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. They met in the Mexican border city of Tijuana. The other U.S. bishop who attended was Coadjutor Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif.
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Family looks to resolve stalemate at parish that barred autistic son
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The mother of an autistic boy who has been barred from attending Mass at a rural Minnesota parish said she was shocked by a judge's June 27 decision to uphold the ban and will continue working to overturn what she considers a violation of canon law. Carol Race, whose 13-year-old son Adam was the target of a restraining order sought by St. Joseph Church in Bertha, Minn., in May, said the case should have been based on the laws of the church rather than the parish's concern over legal liability. Race expressed concern about the judge's reasoning for her ruling, saying that any action out of the ordinary by her son was thought to be disruptive. "The fact that he made noise was enough for her to say a restraining order was justified," Race said July 2 in a telephone interview with Catholic News Service. "Asking Adam not to make noises is like asking you or me not to breathe." Speaking on behalf of the parish, Jane Marrin, director of pastoral planning for the St. Cloud Diocese, said the judge's ruling does not end the search for a solution satisfactory to both the parish and the Race family. "The mediation is continuing," she said. "That's what our focus is."
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Items stolen from Minnesota archbishop's residence irreplaceable
ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) -- Father Lee Piche had to break the news to Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who was on his way to Germany from Rome June 30, that his residence had been broken into early June 28 and that a safe with some personal items and some historical items was taken. "My guess is that it was opportunistic, based on the knowledge that he was out of town, but that it was done by professionals," said Father Piche, archdiocesan vicar general and moderator of the curia. "We might have found a source for some pictures of some of the historical items that were taken," he told The Catholic Spirit, the archdiocesan newspaper. Those items include several pectoral crosses and rings of former archbishops of St. Paul. The thief, or thieves, got onto a first-floor roof and broke a second-story window that was 2 to 3 inches thick, which gave them access to the archbishop's bedroom, said Dennis McGrath, archdiocesan communications director. The stolen items are irreplaceable, he said.
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Franciscan friars, sisters hold peace vigils to promote nonviolence
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (CNS) -- For the past few years the Franciscan friars and sisters in Syracuse have been conducting peace vigils to remind people in the community there is an alternative to violence. "As Franciscans, part of the whole thing is peace and reconciliation," Franciscan Sister Dolores Bush, one of the organizers, told the Catholic Sun, newspaper of the Syracuse Diocese. "And this is a way to create awareness about violence in our city." A recent peace vigil was held in front of the property where 17-year-old Anthony Williams was shot. Any time there is a murder in Syracuse, the friars send out a mass e-mail to subscribers who request them. Participants in the peace vigil meet at the friary and then carpool to the scene of the murder. According to Sister Dolores, a vigil might have as many as 25 to 30 participants or as few as five or six. Franciscan Sister James Peter Ridgeo recalled a poignant vigil in front of an apartment complex where a shooting had taken place and residents joined in the prayers. "They were very touched that we had come to pray for their loved one," she said.
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Pope says St. Paul represents sublime figure for today's Christians
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To learn about Christ and how to live the right way, today's Christians should look to St. Paul, Pope Benedict XVI said at his last weekly general audience before his summer break. St. Paul the Apostle represents a "sublime and almost inimitable figure" who serves as an example because of his "total dedication to the Lord and his church, as well as his great openness to humanity and its cultures," the pope said July 2. In his first audience after the June 28 opening of the Pauline year, the pope said the catechesis would be the first of a series dedicated to learning more about this "stimulating figure." The jubilee year will run until June 29, 2009, in commemoration of the 2,000th anniversary of the apostle's birth. Pope Benedict told the 8,000 pilgrims in the Paul VI hall that it was necessary to learn more about the cultural and historical context in which St. Paul lived in order to understand better his life and work.
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Jesuit priest reacts to deadly attack in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (CNS) -- Violent acts focus priests back on the need to pray for peace, a Jesuit priest said following an apparent terrorist attack in Jerusalem. "It is times like this when we are driven back to our roles as intercessors to God asking for peace," said Jesuit Father David Neuhas, general secretary of the Hebrew Catholic Vicariate, the Hebrew-speaking Catholic community of Israel. "We turn to God with our pain and fear," he said, adding that there don't "seem to be enough people able to take that role." At least three people were killed and at least 45 wounded July 2 when the driver of a bulldozer used his vehicle to plow through a row of cars and buses in early afternoon traffic. According to reports, a policeman climbed aboard the bulldozer and shot the Palestinian man from East Jerusalem dead at point-blank range. Reports also described dozens of people fleeing the scene in horror. The Associated Press reported that three Palestinian militant groups took responsibility for the attack. None of the claims has been verified.
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WYD chief denies church seeks to expand police powers, limit protests
SYDNEY, Australia (CNS) -- The chief organizer of World Youth Day in Sydney has denied media reports that the church had asked the New South Wales government to expand police powers in order to limit protesters during World Youth Day. "The church has not intervened," Danny Casey, chief operating officer of World Youth Day 2008, told a media briefing at St. Benedict Church in Sydney July 2. Casey refuted the claim of one newspaper that recently adopted police regulations came at the insistence of Cardinal George Pell of Sydney and were aimed at muzzling protesters. "The church believes in free speech," Casey said. "The church did not ask for any special powers to be given to police. Our concern has always been the efficient running of this event; these are normal powers and people are free to protest." Casey said the legislation, which allows police to arrest people for "causing annoyance and inconvenience," covers streets, train stations and public areas used as World Youth Day venues July 15-20. This type of legislation "has been used on many, many occasions," he said.
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Pope calls for end to violence in video message to Colombia's bishops
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI joined Colombia's bishops in their call for an end to the violence, kidnappings and extortion plaguing the country. "I fervently pray to God that these situations which have caused so much suffering end as soon as possible and that a stable and just peace may reign in Colombia in an atmosphere of hope and well-being," he said in a video message to Colombia's bishops. The video message, played July 1, was sent to the bishops attending the 85th plenary assembly of the Colombian bishops' conference in Bogota, Colombia. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which began four decades ago by defending landless peasants but has become notorious for kidnapping and drug trafficking, has been fighting to overthrow Colombia's elected governments.