A pastoral letter on joy

Bishop J. Terry Steib of Memphis, Tenn., has issued a pastoral letter on joy, titled “Living Our Catholicism … That Our Joy Might Be Complete.” 

In it, he says he sees how people may find it tough to be “outrageously happy,” as Linus Van Pelt once said in a “Peanuts” comic strip. He also acknowledges how some Catholics see their church as an institution with “more rules than the U.S. tax code.”

He adds, “While regulations, prohibitions, obligations and expectations are part of the Catholic way of life, our way of life is certainly not reducible to those expectations.”

But, Bishop Steib reminds his faithful,  Jesus prayed for his diciples before his passion, asking God to “allow that his joy might be in them, and that their joy might be complete.”

The West Tennessee Catholic, Memphis’ diocesan newspaper has the full text of Bishop Steib’s pastoral on its Web site, or go straight to the pastoral here.

U.S. Catholic hospitals dominate Top 100 list

Last week Thompson Reuters released its annual list of the 100 Top Hospitals in the U.S. The health care information organization has a tough list of benchmarks that hospitals must meet in order to be considered for ranking. The rankings are divided into five categories: major teaching hospitals, teaching hospitals, and large, medium and small community hospitals.

In the No. 1 spot is St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, a hospital of Catholic Healthcare West. Catholic health care centers ranked in 28 additional spots across all the categories. Nine of the hospitals were given the Top 100 Hospitals Everest Award for benchmark performance with the highest rates of improvement.

The hospitals represent health ministries that originated with communities of religious sisters throughout the history of health care in America. Among them: Sisters of St. Francis, Bon Secours, Sisters of Mercy, Daughters of Charity, Sisters of Charity, Sisters of Providence, Sisters of St. Joseph and others.

Since one in six Americans receives health care in a Catholic health institution each year, according to the Catholic Health Association, the high rankings are good news for health care consumers in the United States.

Al Jazeera correspondent to fly with pope to Holy Land

ajilogoVATICAN CITY — For the first time, the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television network will have a correspondent on a papal flight.

Barbara Serra, an Italian-born, London-based presenter for Al Jazeera’s English-language channel, will fly with Pope Benedict XVI to Jordan and Israel May 8-15.

The list of 70 journalists admitted to the papal flight was posted at the Vatican Saturday. CNS Rome bureau chief John Thavis also is accredited for the flight.