New Catholic magazine debuts

At a time when a number of newspapers and magazines of all kinds across the country have stopped publishing, opting for an online presence only, comes word that the Pittsburgh Catholic is debuting a new free quarterly magazine, in addition to everything else it publishes.

A May 28 announcement from Bill Cone, editor of the diocesan newspaper of the Pittsburgh Diocese, said the debut issue, arriving at parishes this weekend, will feature articles focusing on family life. Each issue will have “a definite focus,” Cone said, from teaching children about the Catholic faith to making a happy marriage to dealing with loss.

“The goal of all our products is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth starting with our corner of the world in southwestern Pennsylvania,” Cone said. “Our Catholic faith is the driving force behind what we do.”

Kmiec and George: Best of friends

Professors Robert George, left, and Douglas Kmiec shake hands at the conclusion of a discussion at the National Press Club in Washington May 28. The discussion was moderated by professor Mary Ann Glendon, center, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican . (CNS/Paul Haring)

Professors Robert George, left, and Douglas Kmiec shake hands at the conclusion of a discussion at the National Press Club in Washington May 28. The discussion was moderated by professor Mary Ann Glendon, center, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican . (CNS/Paul Haring)

Don’t let the views exchanged by two high profile Catholic law professors during a May 28 program at the National Press Club deceive you. Douglas Kmiec and Robert George are friends.

Throughout the 80-minute program sponsored by The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, the two constitutional law experts acknowledged each other’s pro-life credentials. They mixed compliments for each other with their arguments for their point of view. They repeatedly referred to each other as “my friend.”

Kmiec, professor of law at Pepperdine University, made no bones about the fact he continues to support President Barack Obama and his stated goal of reducing the incidence of abortion. His measured statements were in stark contrast with the rapidly speaking George, professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University, who seemed to want to make as many points as he could in his 20-minutes on the dais.

During a question-and-answer session that followed the formal presentations, the two well-known law professors continued pressing their main talking points.

George said Obama has not opened himself to reaching agreement on common concerns while listing several steps that the Princeton professor said would lead to fewer deaths of unborn children, such as banning second and third trimester abortions.

Kmiec said it was quite the contrary, that Obama’s proposals to fund programs that support pregnant women cut across a wide swatch of Catholic social teaching and are reason enough to engage him on the issue of abortion.

Mary Ann Glendon, professor of law at Harvard Law School and former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, kept a low profile in moderating the program. While the issue never came up, she gained plenty of publicity for recently refusing to accept the Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame for her contributions to society as one of the country’s leading Catholics. She turned down the honor because Notre Dame gave Obama an honorary degree during commencement.

Labor of love

Parishioners at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in La Follette, Tenn., really love their parish.

The 90 families in the parish love their community so much that they undertook an expansion of parish facilities on their own. Members, ranging in age from 56 to 83,  are handling every aspect of the project, reports The East Tennessee Catholic.

It’s a big project — some $930,000 worth. Imagine how much it would have been if contractors were hired. In the end, the parish will have tripled the church’s size.

New ambassador pick is theology professor

ANAHEIM, Calif. — We just got word that Miguel Diaz, a theology professor at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., is President Obama’s pick as the United States ambassador to the Holy See.

The press release from St. John’s:

Miguel Diaz, Ph.D., who serves on the graduate faculty of the School of TheologySeminary of Saint John’s University and undergraduate faculty of the Department of Theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, has been nominated as the United States Ambassador to the Holy See (Vatican).

President Barack Obama made the announcement on May 27, 2009.

Diaz has served on the SOT, SJU and CSB faculty since 2004. He is chairperson of the SOT’s Multicultural Committee; served as co-chairperson of the CSB/SJU Intercultural Directions Council; and, along with his wife, Marian Diaz, D. Min., established the Changing Faces: Intercultural Ministry and Hospitality series.

“Professor Miguel Diaz is a skilled Trinitarian theologian who is passionate both as a teacher and a scholar,” said Abbot John Klassen, OSB, of Saint John’s Abbey. “He is a strong proponent of the necessity of the Church to become deeply and broadly multi-cultural, to recognize and appreciate the role that culture plays in a living faith. Born in Havana, Cuba, he is a leading Hispanic theologian in United States.”

He earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Thomas University in Miami, Fla., and his master‘s and doctorate in theology from the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind. He taught previously at Barry University, Miami Shores, Fla.; St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, Boynton Beach, Fla.; University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio; and the University of Notre Dame. He also served as the academic dean at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary and is fluent in Italian, Spanish and French.

“The College of Saint Benedict is enormously proud that Miguel has been nominated by President Obama for this important post,” said MaryAnn Baenninger, president of the College of Saint Benedict. “Miguel is a highly-respected theologian and scholar, and an excellent teacher. Most importantly, he has a deep commitment to Catholic social justice and to inclusiveness in the Catholic Church. He truly lives a life of faith. He is the ideal candidate for this post.”

UPDATE: One of our reporters interviewed Diaz on Inauguration Day in Washington. You can read the nominee’s comments in this story by scrolling down to the 27th paragraph.

Faith reflection offered on climate change

reflection_environment_2009_120World Environment Day is June 5 and the Carmelite NGO, or nongovernmental organization, is asking people to pray for the environment and climate change that day.

The purpose, explained Carmelite Father William Harry in a brief press release, is to call attention to “the spiritual challenge of the ecological crisis.”

To help us in prayer, the order has prepared a booklet, “A Day of Prayer — a Faith Reflection on Climate Change,” to be used not just  June 5 but any time.  It’s a free download at www.carmelitengo.org.

Bishop Matthiesen named Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award winner

Bishop Leroy T. Matthiesen, who once urged Catholics in the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, to reconsider their employment at a nuclear weapons factory in his diocese, has been named the Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award winner.

Writing in 1981 in The West Texas Catholic, the diocesan newspaper, Bishop Matthiesen urged people to seek peaceful employment. His call came after President Ronald Reagan announced that Pantex, the factory outside of Amarillo where all of the country’s nuclear weapons were assembled, would begin assembling neutron bombs.

The bishop, who turns 88 June 11 and has been retired since 1997, recalled to Catholic News Service how he was denounced for his stance, especially when jobs were in high need during the deep recession of the early 1980s. But he said he was motivated by his desire for the world to live in peace. 

“I always agreed with Cardinal (Joseph) Bernardin about this consistent ethic of life, that we shouldn’t just focus on the neutron bomb, that we shouldn’t just focus on abortion, that we shouldn’t just focus on the death penalty or the abolition of torture,” he said. “It’s beginning with the right to life at the very beginning, not ending there, but to have that consistent ethic of life.”

At the time his action heartened the Catholic peace movement. Soon, his fellow Texas bishops joined his call. The U.S. bishops also were influenced as they deliberated on and finally adopted their 1983 pastoral letter on the nuclear arms race, “The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response.”

Bishop Matthiesen will receive the award during Pax Christi USA’s annual national conference on peacemaking July 17-19 in Chicago.

Priest raises awareness about his homeland

Father Robert Aliunzi, a priest of the Apostles of Jesus and pastor of St. James Parish in Glendale, Ariz., is more than familiar with the needs of Ugandan youths. The 47-year-old native of Uganda — who became an orphan at age 6 and had to fend for himself and his siblings while on the run from soldiers — is now getting financial help for youths in Uganda who want to go to school but can’t afford it.  Read about his work here in a story by Joyce Coronel of The Catholic Sun, diocesan newspaper of  Phoenix.

A papal prayer for Memorial Day

MONTECASSINO — Pope Benedict XVI yesterday paid a visit to the Polish military cemetery in Montecassino, Italy. The prayer he recited there for all those who have fallen in any war seems appropriate to share today when the United States marks Memorial Day.

Here is the English translation of the pope’s prayer from the Vatican Information Service:

O God, our Father,

endless source of life and peace,

welcome into Your merciful embrace

the fallen of the war that raged here,

the fallen of all wars that have bloodied the earth.

Grant that they may enjoy the light that does not fail,

which, in the reflection of Your splendor,

illumines the consciences of all men and women of good will.

You, Who in Your Son Jesus Christ gave suffering humanity

a glorious witness of Your love for us,

You, Who in our Lord Christ

gave us the sign of a suffering that is never in vain,

but fruitful in Your redeeming power,

grant those who yet suffer

for the blind violence of fratricidal wars

the strength of the hope that does not fade,

the dream of a definitive civilization of life,

the courage of a real and daily activity of peace.

Give us your Paraclete Spirit

so that the men of our time

may understand that the gift of peace

is much more precious than any corruptible treasure,

and that while awaiting the day that does not end

we are all called to be builders of peace for the future of Your children.

Make all Christians more convinced witnesses of life,

the inestimable gift of Your love,

You Who live and reign for ever and ever

Amen.

Exhibit tells Catholic veteran’s story

Edward Haider, a parishioner at St. Rose of Lima in Roseville, Minn.,  is one of many Minnesotans from World War II whose story is included in a new multimedia exhibit at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul called “Minnesota’s Greatest Generation: The Depression, The War, The Boom.”

In a simulated aircraft, museum visitors can get a sense of Haider’s experience as a paratrooper in a C-47 aircraft during the 1943 U.S. invasion of Sicily. Read more here in The Catholic Spirit, archdiocesan newspaper of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Christian exodus from Holy Land is an old story with new urgency

Pope Benedict XVI waves to journalists as he takes in the panoramic view from Mount Nebo In Madaba, Jordan, May 9.  (CNS/Greg Tarczynski)

Pope Benedict XVI waves to journalists as he takes in the panoramic view from Mount Nebo In Madaba, Jordan, May 9. (CNS/Greg Tarczynski)

During Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic trip to the Holy Land earlier this month, the pope time and again encouraged the small communities of Christians living there to remain faithful to their ancient beliefs and to their homeland. Both are serious pleas, but the latter especially so in these times. The flight of Christians from the Middle East has been a serious problem for decades. Christians, who have shared the Levant with Jews, Muslims and Druze for centuries, and were once the majority religious group in Lebanon, are now a dwindling minority in every region of the Middle East. The phenomenon was a considerable part of the CNS coverage of the trip.

The cover story of this month’s National Geographic is on the exodus of Christians from the Holy Land. Don Belt, the senior editor for foreign affairs, teamed up with photojournalist Ed Kashi to tell a bittersweet story in words and images on the “Forgotten Faithful” in the Levant. Their work illustrates the turbulent history of Christianity in these lands and the hope — and sometimes hopelessness — that fill the lives of the Christian families.

35-3-cover-315x450The Catholic Near East Welfare Association is a pontifical agency founded early in the last century to assist the Eastern Catholic churches and their works, especially in the Middle East. In this month’s issue of CNEWA’s One magazine, writer Daoud Kuttab and photographer Nader Daoud take a look at how one community of Christians, St. Pius X parish in Madaba, Jordan, works for peace among all peoples in their country.

Madaba is an ancient town outside of the Jordanian capital of Amman which Jewish and Christian tradition holds as the site where Moses was buried. In his trip Pope Benedict visited the town and blessed the cornerstone of a new Catholic university, the first in Jordan, being built by the Latin Patriarchate with the support of King Abdullah and the Jordanian government.

Even as Christians depart the Middle East in record numbers, the work of the church goes on.

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