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1 Pope Benedict to visit U.S.

The pope is visiting from April 15-21.

2 Lent is a time for silence
Benedict XVI proposed that Lent be a time to fast from words and images, and to create a space for silence.

3 Stolen again
For the second time, the incorrupt heart of Servant of God Bishop Mamerto Esquiú has been stolen from the church where it’s kept.

4 Good Friday prayer changes
Benedict XVI modified the prayer for the Jewish people prayed in the Good Friday liturgy according to the 1962 Roman Missal.

5 Poor as priority number one
The U.S. bishops have asked President Bush and Congress to make the needs of the poor their number-one priority as they debate and pass an economic stimulus package.

6 Message to the media
May 4 marks the 42nd World Day of Social Communications. Benedict XVI’s message for the day is a reminder that media professionals are called to defend the human person and his dignity.

7 Promoting dignity despite obstacles
The Colombian bishops’ conference wants to promote the dignity of the woman. The obstacles they see are the “feminization of poverty” and the promotion of abortion.

8 Vietnam’s religious freedom
Although religious freedom in Vietnam is moving in the right direction, overall the situation remains poor, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

9 Ministry without boundaries
A Catholic priest was sentenced by the tribunal of Oran, a city in northwestern Algeria, to a year in prison for having “directed a religious ceremony in a place which has not been recognized by the government.”

10 NAFTA hurts Mexican farmers
Martínez Zepeda said too little has been done to prepare farmers within his country for the latest NAFTA treaty causing a risk of greater impoverishment and the forcing of many peasants to abandon the countryside and to emigrate to cities, which are unprepared to receive them.

Educational crisis in Catholic schools

In the midst of what Pope Benedict XVI calls an “educational crisis,” it is important for Catholic schools to maintain their identities.

The pope affirmed this when he received in audience participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

The ecclesiastical disciplines,” the Holy Father said, “especially theology, are today subjected to new interrogations in a world tempted, on the one hand, by a rationalism which follows a false idea of freedom unfettered by any religious references and, on the other, by various forms of fundamentalism which, with their incitement to violence and fanaticism, falsify the true essence of religion.”

Faced with the educational crisis, Pope Benedict XVI continued, “schools must ask themselves about the mission they are called to undertake in the modern social environment.”

Catholic schools, he said, “though open to everyone and respecting the identity of each, cannot but present their own educational, human and Christian perspective.”

The pope contended that schools face a new challenge, that of “the coming together of religions and cultures in the joint search for truth.” This means, he said, on the one hand, “not excluding anyone in the name of their cultural or religious background,” and on the other “not stopping at the mere recognition” of this cultural or religious difference.

The pope concluded by highlighting the need for “adequate formation in the spiritual life so as to make Christian communities, particularly in parishes, ever more aware of their vocation, and capable of providing adequate responses to questions of spirituality, especially as posed by the young. For this to happen, the church must not lack qualified and responsible apostles and evangelizers.”

- Zenit