News In Brief

Bishops Head Urges Effort for Marriage Amendment

WASHINGTON — Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged his fellow bishops in a letter to get involved in the effort for a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex “marriage.”

“Today there is a growing sense shared by many people, including a wide range of religious leaders, that a marriage protection amendment is the only federal-level action that ultimately will protect and preserve the institution of marriage,” Bishop Skylstad said in his letter, dated March 27 and made public April 3. “Timely and focused efforts are needed to help the Catholic faithful form their conscience on such an important matter.”

Bishop Skylstad said the Knights of Columbus have started a national postcard campaign to back a federal marriage amendment. The Knights are distributing the postcards through their state, district and local councils through May, and have offered to extend the campaign to each diocese and parish in the country. The Senate is expected to consider a constitutional amendment on marriage in June.

(CNS)

Mexican Bishop’s Generosity Pays Benefits

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When Bishop Jose Andres Corral Arredondo became bishop of the brand-new Diocese of Parral, Mexico, in 1992, he had only 11 priests for a diocese covering nearly 30,000 square miles. He asked for help from other dioceses, but got little response, he said.

Today the diocese in the Mexican state of Chihuahua has 50 diocesan priests and 32 seminarians, Bishop Corral said through a translator during a recent visit to Nashville. Nine of those priests serve in the United States, including three in Nashville.

“I decided I am going to send the priests that I can ... to dioceses that need them,” said Bishop Corral. “It’s one of the main reasons my diocese has been blessed with so many priests.”

Bishop Corral is scheduled to ordain two priests later this year and five more next year. The Mexican bishop sent his first priest to Nashville at the invitation of Salvatorian Father Richard Gagnon, diocesan director of Hispanic ministry and pastor of St. Luke Church in Smyrna.

(CNS)

U.S. Chaplain Sees Progress in Iraq

WASHINGTON — Civil war is not looming over Iraq, Christians are finding their voice, and progress is being made slowly, said a Navy chaplain stationed in Fallujah, Iraq.

“All of the armies are on our side ... one side, the side of the elected government,” and a civil war, which involves two armies fighting against each other, is not occurring in Iraq, said Father Michael Duesterhaus, a lieutenant commander, Headquarters Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Forces.

Enemy fighters, whom Father Duesterhaus refuses to call “insurgents” because “they are not offering another political solution,” continue to stir things up and are responsible for “killing large numbers of innocent civilians,” he said. “We just want them [Iraqi civilians] to step up” and fight for themselves in the new Iraqi army and police force.

Father Duesterhaus described the fighting as similar to the “1885 U.S. Wild West,” with criminals, former Baath Party loyalists and foreigners thinking this is “their own personal jihad.”

(CNS)

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito says of discerning one’s college choice, ‘There has to be something that tugs at you and makes you want to investigate it further. And then the personal encounter comes in the form of a visit or a chat with a student or alumnus who communicates with the same enthusiasm or energy about the place. And then that love of a place can be a seed which germinates in your own heart through prayer.’

Choose a College With a Discerning Mind and Heart

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito, assistant professor of theology at the University of Dallas (UD) and subprior (and former vocations director) of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas, drew from his experience as both a student and now monastic religious to help those discerning understand the parallels between religious and college discernment.