Home for children touched many lives in Erie

A cute story “of selflessness and commitment, of courage and, most especially, of love” appears in the current edition of Faith magazine in the Diocese of Erie, Pa., about St. Joseph’s Home for Children, which touched many lives and is still fondly recalled today even though the home was closed in 1971.

Another story that won’t die

As the Christmas season of giving approaches, some e-mail scammers are using the name of the Catholic Church to try to give themselves some credibility.

The “lucky” recipients of these e-mails are told they’ve won $2.5 million or some other extravagant sum from Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Rome. If they’ll just contact the “cash grant program coordinator secretary” and provide some personal information, the money will be on its way.


As Catholic Charities USA warned in a news release last week, Catholic Charities agencies “do not and will not distribute unsolicited e-mail requesting this type of information. Please be advised that Catholic Charities USA is in no way associated with or responsible for these messages.”

Here at Catholic News Service, we’ve been alerting readers about this scam since late summer, first with an advisory at the end of August to our client editors and then with a story from Cape Town, South Africa, about the international reach of the bogus story.

For those of us who’ve been around a while, the scam’s staying power brings back memories of another story that wouldn’t die — a report that the Federal Communications Commission was considering a petition brought by atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair to ban religious programming from the airwaves. In truth, the FCC turned down a similar petition in 1975 but that didn’t keep the story from continuing to circulate long after O’Hair’s 1995 death and into the 21st century.

Intriguing editorial about Thanksgiving

The lead sentence in this editorial in The Catholic Sun of Phoenix will draw you into an excellent discussion about the meaning of this week’s Thanksgiving holiday. “Is it really so hard to say thanks that we need a special day devoted to it?” the editorial asks. Click here to read more.

This week in Origins

Here’s the rundown for the latest edition of Origins: CNS Documentary Service dated Nov. 22:

  • Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., outgoing president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, reflects on the leadership and authority of bishops. (Subscribers: Click here)
  • The situation in Iraq “remains unacceptable and unsustainable” says a statement approved by the U.S. bishops, who warn that the political and partisan stalemate in Washington over the war mirrors the dangerous political stalemate blocking national reconciliation in Iraq. (Subscribers: Click here)
  • Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Fla., examines the moral questions involved in achieving a “responsible transition” in Iraq. (Subscribers: Click here)
  • A new statement by the official Roman Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue commission says both churches recognize the primacy of the bishop of Rome but have different understandings of how his primacy is to be exercised, differences that must be studied in greater depth if the churches are to be reconciled. (Subscribers: Click here)

Coming to Rome … holy hoopsters!

A basketball game is played in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in the presence of Pope Pius XII in 1955. (CNS photo/Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Laity)Priests and seminarians studying at Rome’s pontifical universities and institutions are warming up for season two of the Clericus Cup, which kicks off in a couple days. The immensely popular soccer series was established late last year by the Catholic Italian Sports Center and was based on a brainstorm idea by the Vatican’s “numero uno” soccer fan, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

But first some new news: seminarians are also going to get a chance to fine tune their shooting skills — swishing nets, that is. A new basketball tournament is going to be unveiled soon (though it won’t be played in St. Peter’s Square like the game shown here in 1955). An Italian Sports Center representative recently confirmed a rumor I had heard that the seminarians were expanding their priestly sports series to include hoops. He said the new basketball tournament was expected to be announced in February. So heads up: priests can jump!

Photo courtesy of the Italian Sports Center

Now, rebound back to soccer: An all-new lineup is in store featuring 16 teams with players from 50 different nations. The new season will open on Tuesday as players from the Legionaries of Christ’s Mater Ecclesiae go head to head against players from Rome’s major seminary.

The North American College team (check out this video on YouTube), which showed surprisingly strong performances during the first season, is due to vie again for the coveted Clericus Cup. The 2007 trophy was nabbed by undefeated champions Redemtoris Mater — the Neocatechumenal Way’s Rome seminary.

A few of the technical differences between Clericus Cup games and regular league soccer? Aside from players and fans having lots more spirit, Clericus Cup soccer games run 30-minute halves instead of 45-minute halves. Referees also have another penalty option. In addition to the yellow warning card and the red expulsion card, they can flash a blue card, which requires an overly aggressive player to leave the field for five minutes … presumably to pray for more patience.

Kentucky student honored at U.S. bishops’ meeting

Early this week a 22-year-old student from Kentucky was honored at the U.S. bishops’ fall general meeting in Baltimore. Here’s a more detailed look at David Golemboski from The Record, Louisville archdiocesan newspaper.

Preparing for the release of “The Golden Compass”

Preparing readers for next month’s release of the theatrical movie “The Golden Compass,” the National Catholic Register this week offers a story on the controversy surrounding the film. Since part of the controversy is about the atheism of the author on whose book the film is based, the paper also lists what it calls six common myths of atheism.