Archive of August 3, 2004

Islamic-Catholic committee condemns attacks against Iraqi churches

Vatican City, Aug 3, 2004 (CNA) - The Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee released a statement today, condemning Sunday’s terrorist attacks against Iraqi churches and stating that “such acts of blind violence offend the sacred name of God and true religion.”

Prof. Dr. Hamid Bin Ahmad Al-Rifaie, president of International Islamic Forum for Dialogue, and Archbishop Michael L. Fitzgerald president of Pontifical Council For Inter-religious Dialogue, signed the joint statement which was issued in both English and Arabic.

“We condemn in particular the suicide attacks in areas in which are located places of worship, both against Muslims and against Christians gathered for worship,” reads the statement.

“Such acts of blind violence offend the sacred name of God and true religion. They evidence a gross misunderstanding of the history and culture of this sorely tried country,” it continues. “They represent a grave threat to peaceful coexistence and the ordered development of Iraqi society.

The statement concludes: “It is our hope that, with the help of the Almighty and Merciful God, the Iraqi people may finally enjoy the gift of peace, in an atmosphere of mutual respect and genuine collaboration among all its citizens of whatever religious tradition.”

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President Bush to address Knights of Columbus this evening

, Aug 3, 2004 (CNA) - President George W. Bush is scheduled to address the Knights of Columbus at their international convention in Dallas this afternoon. The president will speak at the convention as part of his month-long “Heart and Soul of America” speaking tour.

The Knights did not invite Democratic presidential candidate Senator John F. Kerry to speak, but spokesman Patrick Korten said that is because the organization is nonpartisan.

"We have lots of Democrats who are members as well as Republicans," Korten said. "As a matter of routine, we always invite the president."

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Vatican creates new section ‘Church and Sports’ on the occasion of Olympic games

Vatican City, Aug 3, 2004 (CNA) - The Pontifical Council for the Laity hopes that its new section, Church and Sports, will help promote sport “as a school of virtue” and as an “instrument of peace throughout the nations.”

Intent on showing the solicitude of the Holy See in the world of sports, Pope John Paul II recently created the new section within the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

“The Vatican recognizes the the very important role of sports in the world today,” reads a Vatican statement. “The next Olympics in Athens and the millions of people who will watch them around the world is another sign of how important sports are in the world.”

However, the Vatican also points out that certain tendencies have distanced the world of sports from its original ideals. Therefore, says the Vatican, there is an urgent need to recall the fundamental values in this area.

“The Church, which has always shown particular attention to the varied and important areas of human life, is called to concern itself also of the world of sports, which certainly can be considered one of the central aspects of contemporary culture and one of the frontiers of the New Evangelization,” said the statement.

Church and Sports has been mandated to serve as a reference point for national and international sports organizations. It is also mandated to sensitize local churches of the need to provide pastoral care in sports environments and to encourage collaboration among Catholic sports associations.

Church and Sports will also work to encourage a sports culture that will promote sport as a way to develop as a whole person and as an instrument at the service of peace and brotherhood between nations.

In addition, it will encourage the study of themes related to sport, such as ethics and sport, and organize initiatives that will invite athletes to witness to Christian living in sport.

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Catholics recognize promise of stem-cell research

Washington D.C., Aug 3, 2004 (CNA) - In the ongoing stem-cell debate, a USCCB official says it is possible to have “good morality and good medicine.”

Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of Pro-Life Activities, for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says adult stem-cell research poses no moral problems and shows more medical promise than embryonic stem-cell research.

He points to a recent Congressional testimony in which two accident victims, who suffered paralyzing spinal cord injuries previously thought incurable, told of their remarkable progress after doctors grafted their injury sites with stem cells from their own olfactory systems.

These two cases also provide powerful evidence of the promise of continued research into adult stem cells, says Doerflinger.

“The Catholic Church opposes embryonic stem-cell research because it destroys human embryos, innocent human lives, in the name of medical progress,” he said. “Far more medical promise is emerging at present from adult stem cells and other avenues that pose no moral problem.” In addition, the use of one’s own adult stem cells circumvents the risks of rejection.

“Good morality and good medicine are not in conflict here; they point in the same direction,” he says.

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Authorities confirm murder of priest by Colombian Marxist rebels

, Aug 3, 2004 (CNA) - The Pastoral Vicar of the Diocese of Santa Rosa de Osos in Colombia, Fr. Alberto Perez, said the Church is now certain that Fr. Cesar Dario Peña, who was kidnapped by the Colombian Marxist group FARC four months ago, has been killed while in captivity.

“We are certain that Father was executed by his kidnappers, and we want these people to return to us the remains of Father Cesar,” said Fr. Perez.

According to local reporters, the body of Fr. Cesar, who was kidnapped on March 16, was thrown into the Nechi River, in the Colombian region of Antioquia, near the area where he was kidnapped.

In a statement published July 9, the Bishops Conference of Colombia demanded information on the well-being of the priest, as well as the immediate release of all those kidnapped in the country.  Rebel groups did not respond to the bishops’ plea.

According to official statistics, in recent years at least one archbishop, one bishop and over 50 religious have been assassinated and another 19 have been kidnapped.

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Women peasants reject new “sexual and reproductive rights” law in Bolivia

La Paz, Bolivia, Aug 3, 2004 (CNA) - In the wake of the recent approval of a new Sexual and Reproductive Rights law by the Bolivian Congress, several women’s groups have expressed their rejection of the measure and their fear of how it will affect their children.

Flora Guilla, leader of the Association of Women Peasants of Cochabamba, explained that, in coordination with the Catholic Church, the group is calling for a more detailed explanation of the new law and its consequences.

The group which represents peasant women—who according to feminists would be “the first” to benefit from the program—said, “We fear for our children, who may become rebellious, for our daughters who may get pregnant at a young age and tell us we have to just accept it.”

“They have told us that if people are homosexual we have to just accept it.  For this reason we are opposing this new law,” Guilla added.

Among other things, the new law protects the “right of confidentiality,” which would allow young people to hide their sexual activity from their parents. 

Although the law was passed by the Bolivian House of Representatives and Senate, President Carlos Mesa sent the law back to Congress for revision after receiving a letter from the Bishops Conference of Bolivia expressing alarm at the new measure.

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Catholic Radio to honor founder of rapidly expanding order of nuns

Dearborn, Mich., Aug 3, 2004 (CNA) - Michigan Catholic Radio will honor the cofounder and superior of an order of nuns that is growing by leaps and bounds with its Pillar of the Church Award this month.

The honor will be conferred to Mother Assumpta Long, cofounder and superior of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, at Michigan Catholic Radio’s 6th anniversary celebration Aug. 19 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn.

At a time when most convents across the United States are being torn down, sold off or turned into assisted-living facilities, Mother Long’s convent, located on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, is bursting at the seams with nuns in full habit.

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist began in 1997 when Mother Assumpta and three other Dominican nuns asked New York's John Cardinal O'Connor to assist them in founding a new order. Seven years later, there are 44 members in the community.

Michigan Catholic Radio president John F. X. Browne says the young order is growing because of its fidelity to the Church.

Shortly after its canonical establishment, the Sisters of Mary accepted an invitation from Bishop Carl F. Mengeling to teach in the Diocese of Lansing. The sisters administer and staff Spiritus Sanctus Academy with two schools – one in Ann Arbor, the other in Plymouth, Mich.

The event, which gets underway in the Ford's Dome Room at 5:30 p.m., will feature Raymond Arroyo as master of ceremonies, news director and lead anchor for EWTN.

Previous Pillar of the Church recipients include Mother Angelica, founder of the Eternal Word Television Network; Scott and Kimberley Hahn; Fr. John Hardon, SJ, and Adam Cardinal Maida.

Michigan Catholic Radio was founded in 1998 under the spiritual direction of the late Fr. John Hardon, SJ. It operates WCAR 1090 AM (Livonia-Detroit) and WOAP 1080 AM (mid-Michigan).

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Satanic group defaces Cathedral of Linares in Chile

Santiago, Chile, Aug 3, 2004 (CNA) - A group of Satanists vandalized the Cathedral of Linares in Chile this weekend, drawing satanic symbols on the walls and pouring red paint over the main altar, according to police in this city located 170 miles south of Santiago.

The unknown group painted inverted crosses and wrote the number six in three different areas of the Cathedral walls.

The vandalism took place eight days after the murder of an Italian priest, Father Faustino Gazziero, who was decapitated by a follower of satanic cults at the conclusion of Mass in the Cathedral of Santiago.

The priest’s killer, Rodrigo Orias, attempted to kill himself but later recovered from his self-inflicted injuries.  During his arraignment he confessed to having satanic inclinations, according to police and church reports.

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Democrats’ religion advisor wants ‘under God’ out of the pledge, CL claims

Boston, Mass., Aug 3, 2004 (CNA) - The Catholic League is claiming that the ordained minister, newly appointed by the Democratic National Committee as the senior advisor of religious outreach, supports the removal of the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe announced the appointment of Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson, ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), as the Senior Advisor for Religious Outreach July 23.

McAuliffe said Rev. Peterson’s appointment “reflects the DNC’s commitment to reaching all people of faith.” Her role will include acting as a “liaison to religious organizations.” 

In a press release issued yesterday, Catholic League president William Donohue said the League learned that Rev. Peterson is one of 32 clergy members, who filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Michael Newdow’s attempt to excise the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. 

“The brief shows infinitely more concern for the sensibilities of atheists like Newdow than it does for the 90 percent of Americans who believe in God,” said Donohue. “And this is the person the Democrats want to dispatch to meet with the heads of religious organizations?” 

This is the second time the DNC has failed in matters of religion and faith, said Donohue. He pointed out that the Kerry campaign first appointed Mara Vanderslice as the director of religious outreach, but when the Catholic League exposed her as a radical leftist who associates with anti-Catholics, the Kerry staff silenced her.

“The selections of Vanderslice and Peterson suggest that either no one bothers to vet candidates for religious outreach, or the elites making the choices are anti-religious,” said Donohue. “If the former is true, then this shows that the Democrats place no priority on appealing to people of faith.  If the latter is true, then Kerry needs to bring in a big broom and clean house.”

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