Archive of November 25, 2003

Pope appoints new bishop of Phoenix

Vatican City, Nov 25, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II appointed Thomas James Olmsted of Wichita, Kansas as the new bishop of Phoenix. Bishop Olmsted will head one of the fastest growing cities in the US, with a catholic population of 500,000.

He replaces Michael J. Sheehan, who was appointed Apostolic Administrator  of Santa Fe after a legal scandal caused the resignation of  bishop Thomas J. O'Brien.

Thomas James Olmsted was born on January 21, 1947 in Oketo, Kansas and finished his theological studies at Saint Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado. He was sent to Rome in 1969 and graduated in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, from where he also received a degree in Cannon Law in 1981.

Bishop Olmstead was ordained a priest for the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, on July 2, 1973 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

His first appointment was as vicar of Christ the King Cathedral (1973-1976); then he was moved to Rome as the Vatican’s Secretary of State and Spiritual Director at the North American College (1979-1988).

He was appointed honorary Chaplain of His Holiness in 1984 and Prelate of Honor in 1988.

He was then pastor of St. Vincent in Seward and member of the diocese’s tribunal (1989-1993). 

In 1993, he accepted the position of Dean of the Pontifical College “Josephinum” in Columbus (Ohio) and, in April 1996, he was appointed its president and rector. He was elected coadjutor of the diocese ofWichita in February 18, 1999 and Bishop of Wichita in October 2001.

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Pope announces new changes in the Roman Curia, appoints a North American

Vatican City, Nov 25, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II appointed Fr. Michael Miller, C.S.B., President of St. Thomas University in Houston, U.S.A., as the new Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

Fr. Miller, who will be consecrated Archbishop, will replace Archbishop Giuseppe Pittau, a Jesuit and former Rector of the Gregorian University, whose resignation was presented upon having reached the age limit.

The Archbishop-elect was born in Ottawa, Canada on July 9, 1946.  He was ordained a priest on June 29, 1975 after graduating in Theology at St. Michael’s College in Toronto.

In 1976 he obtained a licentiate summa cum laude in Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian in Rome and in 1979, he completed his doctorate also summa cum laude.

He has been professor of Dogmatic Theology at St. Thomas Aquinas University in Houston (Texas) (1979-1987); Vice-President of the Academy at the same University (1987-1992); official at the Vatican’s Secretary of State  (1992-1997); and since 1997 was President of the St. Thomas Aquinas University.

He is a member of the Congregation of St. Basil, whose main charisma is the education of the youth.

Among other writings, he has published: “The Shepherd and the Rock,”  “Development and Mission of the Papacy,”  “The Encyclicals of John Paul II,”  “The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortations of John Paul II,” “Life’s Greatest Grace,” “What we believe about the Saints,” “Marian apparitions and the Church.”

Early this year, on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, he delivered a highly commented pro-life homily at League City in Texas.

The Archbishop-elect speaks French, Italian and Spanish. He also reads Latin and German.

Council for the Laity

The Pope also appointed Fr. Josef Clemens, undersecretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as the new Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Laity, elevating him to the dignity of bishop.

The Bishop-elect was born in 1947 in Siegen (Germany) and was ordained a priest in 1975 for the German diocese of Paderborn.

He has been personal Secretary of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Bishop-elect Clemens replaces Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, who was recently appointed President of the same Dicastery.

Finally, the Pope also appointed Archbishop Erwin Josef Ender, Apostolic nuncio in the Czech Republic, as apostolic nuncio in Germany.

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Same-sex ruling undermines democracy: Cardinal George

, Nov 25, 2003 (CNA) - According to the Archbishop of Chicago, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's recent decision to allow same-sex marriage could cause people to lose their faith in government and in the democratic process, reported the Journal Star.

Francis Cardinal George received the Spalding Medal at the Catholic Diocese of Peoria's annual Honors Mass on Nov. 22 at the Peoria Civic Center. The award, named after Peoria's first bishop, John Lancaster Spalding, recognizes extraordinary service on a national level.

"If this is a democracy, then it is legislatures that make the laws. ... If people don't like the laws, they can recall their legislators," the archbishop of Chicago is quoted to have said. "But we can't touch judges, so it's a dictatorship of judges.

"If that continues, then I think people will lose faith in our own system of government, because it's clearly not democratic."

In its 4-3 decision, the court gave the state Legislature six months to rewrite the state's marriage laws in favor of same-sex marriage – a decision, which Archbishop George called terrible.

The Archbishop also delicately addressed the recent ordination of a gay bishop in the Episcopal Church.

"An active homosexual lifestyle is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ,” the Journal Star quoted him as saying. “So when a church creates a man a bishop who is dedicated to that, it creates enormous problems in that church, and the rest of us look on with some consternation and with prayers that it will be able to resolve itself."

The diocese also honored 98 people with the Pere Marquette Medal for their contributions in Catholic education, health care and social services to the poor.

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Catholic college asks pro-pornography board member to step down

, Nov 25, 2003 (CNA) - A commercial that features Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, surrounded by beautiful women, led to the resignation of a Thomas Aquinas College board member yesterday.

The president of the Catholic college, Thomas Dillon, announced that Andrew Puzder, president and CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc., resigned from the college's board of governors.

CKE Restaurants recently launched an ad campaign for its Carl's Jr. restaurants those features Hefner “surrounded by beautiful women, philosophizing about how men require variety just before he bites into a bacon-cheeseburger. He adds that he loves bacon cheeseburgers, but wouldn't have them for dinner every night, touting the array of choices at Carl's Jr,” reported the Associated Press.

"Thomas Aquinas College stands for principles that are in direct conflict with those of Hefner and Playboy,” said college president Thomas Dillon in a press release. “I spoke with Mr. Puzder … about this issue, and it was agreed that he would resign from the college's board, effective immediately."

"It's common knowledge that Hugh Hefner and Playboy stand for hedonism and unbridled pleasure-seeking, and that is impossible to reconcile with what we stand for," Ann Forsyth, a spokeswoman for the college, told the AP.

Puzder declined to comment

Thomas Aquinas College is a highly ranked Catholic college located in Ventura County, California. It offers a four-year program of Catholic liberal education, devoted to the study of the Great Books, using only the Socratic method of dialogue in all of its classes. There are no textbooks, no lectures and no electives. Instead, the college offers an entirely integrated curriculum using only the original texts of the greatest thinkers who have helped shape Western Civilization. These authors include St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, Aristotle, Plato, Shakespeare, Euclid, Dante, Galileo, Descartes, the American Founding Fathers, Adam Smith, Copernicus, Kepler and Newton.

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Watchdog organization accuses CBS's 60 Minutes of promoting hardcore pornography

, Nov 25, 2003 (CNA) - CBS TV's 60 Minutes, like most of the U.S. secular media, seems to have placed “its money and hopes on the hardcore pornographers.” That’s what Robert Peters, president of the watchdog organization Morality in Media, said in a press release following a segment on the documentary news program on the hardcore pornography industry, which aired Nov. 23.

The segment, entitled “Porn in the U.S.A.”,  “provided those who defend the hardcore pornography industry with yet another largely unchallenged opportunity to tell America how profitable, 'mainstream' and 'acceptable' their business has become, and how difficult if not impossible it now is to enforce obscenity laws based on 'community standards,'” said Peters.

In the first half of the segment, 60 Minutes presented the hardcore porn industry and a sympathetic author, who wrote a book about the increase in obscenity, with no one offering a counter argument or opinion. Most of the second segment was also largely devoted to those who promote or defend the industry, said the press release.  

The program also emphasized how mainstream corporations like Cablevision, Time Warner, DirecTV, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Sheraton now profit from the distribution of hardcore pornography, “as if this makes it acceptable,” said Peters.  

MIM describes the secular media as being “in large measure, a business without a moral compass.”

Peters said one of the segment’s positive elements is that it included a report that the U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh has initiated the first major federal obscenity case in more than a decade and that many other federal obscenity investigations are reportedly under way. 

Morality in Media is a nonprofit interfaith organization, based in New York City, working to curb obscenity and to uphold standards of decency in the mainstream media.  It also operates the Web site, where citizens can report possible violations of federal Internet obscenity laws.

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Prime Minister of St. Lucy cancels debate on abortion

Castries, St. Lucia, Nov 25, 2003 (CNA) - The Prime Minister of the Caribbean island of St. Lucy, Kenny Anthony, has cancelled a debate in the country’s parliament on a plan to partially legalize abortion on the island after receiving a petition signed by over 9,000 Catholics to reject the proposal.

Last September, the Catholic population of the island, which represents about 90% of the total number of inhabitants, became deeply troubled when the government introduced a bill to legalize abortion in cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother, without any significant public support for the initiative.

Public pressure forced the government to include in the bill’s final version a “cooling down” period which stipulated that women wait 48 hours after requesting an abortion in order to receive counseling.

The bill was postponed several weeks ago after a cabinet minister who was pregnant lead a Catholic protest against the measure.

In this latest attempt to pass the bill, Anthony canceled the debate alter fierce public opposition but he is threatening to bring the measure back when parliament returns from recess.

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