Archive of August 12, 2004

Vatican opposes British cloning research

Vatican City, Aug 12, 2004 (CNA) - The Vatican reiterated its firm opposition yesterday to human cloning after the British government gave a research team permission to use human cloning for medical research purposes, reported AFP.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told AFP that Pope John Paul II has “always unequivocally condemned all forms of human cloning” in speeches and Vatican documents 

Navarro-Valls said the Vatican would make a detailed assessment on the British research once more details emerge of the research team's plans.

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Papal emissary shuts down Austrian seminary

Vienna, Austria, Aug 12, 2004 (CNA) - The Austrian seminary that has been embroiled in a child pornography scandal was shut down this morning by Bishop Klaus Küng, the papal emissary sent to investigate the scandal.

In remarks broadcast on TV, Bishop Küng said that his investigation into the seminary in the Austrian diocese of St. Poelten revealed that those responsible “paid too little attention to selection procedures,” and therefore had admitted too many inadequate candidates.

He expressed his regrets that the seminary had lost track of it’s mission to train young men to serve the Catholic Church.

“A new beginning is necessary,” he said. “I am closing the seminary right away.”

Bishop Küng, who was appointed by the Holy Father to investigate the discovery on the seminary’s computers of 40,000 photographs of child pornography and photos of seminary students and instructors engaged in sexual activity.

He had promised a quick and decisive investigation into the scandal that has caused an uproar in Austria.

Küng is the bishop of the diocese of Feldkirsch , in the southwestern Austrian province of Voralberg.

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Bishop Gracida says presidential questionnaire is not useful

Washington D.C., Aug 12, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Rene Henry Gracida, the bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, published a statement Aug. 10 in which he questions the usefulness of a questionnaire, issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to President George W. Bush and Senator John F. Kerry. He said he hopes both presidential candidates refuse to answer it.

The questionnaire was intended to help the bishops determine if the two presidential candidates’ positions on certain policy issues are in line with Catholic teaching.

However, several U.S. Catholic scholars and leaders earlier this week criticized the document as having a slant toward Democratic Party positions. It was also criticized for not making clear moral distinctions between important life issues, such as abortion, euthanasia, cloning, and embryonic stem-cell research, and a number of other social or economic policy issues. Critics have stated that the latter just do not bear the same moral weight and faithful Catholics are free to disagree on them.

In the same vein, Bishop Gracida commented Tuesday that the questionnaire does not make a distinction between imperative life issues and debatable social policy issues.

“I am disappointed that the questionnaire is so broad and covers so many issues that are before the American public today that its value in helping to show the differences between the positions of the two candidates on the really important issues will be minimal,” wrote Bishop Gracida in his statement.

“While certainly there could be and should be a ‘Catholic’ position on most, if not all, of the issues covered by the questionnaire, from the perspective of the Church's teaching some issues far outweigh others in importance,” he continued.

“The questionnaire should have been much shorter and should have been limited to questions on those issues on which there is a clear unequivocal teaching of the Church,” he added.

“There is no clear unequivocal position of the Church on such issues as the minimum wage, immigration, farm subsidies, etc.,” he said. “The inclusion of questions in the questionnaire can only result in confusion in the minds of Catholic voters who do not understand that there is no moral equivalence between these two groups of issues.

“I can only hope that both presidential candidates will refuse to reply to the questionnaire,” he wrote. He added that if the candidates do reply he hopes the USCCB will publish their replies with a clear teaching on the greater importance which should be attached to their responses to marriage, family and life issues.

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Pope names new bishop for Buffalo diocese

Vatican City, Aug 12, 2004 (CNA) - The Diocese of Buffalo, located in New York State, will have a new bishop. Pope John Paul has appointed Bishop Edward U. Kmiec to the post. Until now, Bishop Kmiec was serving as the bishop of Nashville.

Bishop Kmiec is succeeding Bishop Henry Mansell was appointed archbishop of Hartford, Connecticut, in December. The see has been vacant since then.

The 68-year-old Kmiec has been serving in Nashville since December 1992. No bishop has yet been named as his immediate successor in Nashville.

Bishop Kmiec, son of Polish immigrants and a native of Trenton, New Jersey, was ordained a priest in 1961 and served as auxiliary bishop of his home town, Trenton, from 1982 until 1992 when he was appointed bishop of Nashville.

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Pope sends wishes to Olympic Games

Vatican City, Aug 12, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II issued a telegram today to Constantinos Stephanopoulos, president of Greece, on the occasion of the 28th summer Olympic Games, which will open in Athens this week.

“In the spirit of truce, linked to the Olympic Games,” said the Pope, “I wish that these games are an occasion for fraternity among peoples and cultures, because sport is a universal language, which develops a spirit of family and which allows us to go beyond the violence that marks our current world.

 “I invoke upon you divine benedictions, as well as upon the Greek nation,… the organizers, the athletes, the spectators present and on those who will watch or listen to the various sporting events through different means of communications,” he wrote. “To all, I give my fervent greetings.” 

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Rock for Life calls for boycott of musicians touring to promote abortion on demand

Washington D.C., Aug 12, 2004 (CNA) - A pro-life group is challenging a grassroots group that has launched a concert tour in an effort to defeat President George W. Bush in the upcoming election.

The American Life League's Rock for Life is calling for a boycott of artists like Bruce Springsteen, the Dixie Chicks, Pearl Jam and the Dave Matthews band, who are taking part in's "Vote for Change" concert tour.

Erik Whittington, director of American Life League’s Rock for Life, said musicians on the "Vote for Change" tour say they are promoting change, but they actually, "pride themselves on being counter-cultural, [and] are working to maintain the status quo: abortion on demand," reported Cybercast News Service.

Whittington said: "Real change will only come when all Americans – celebrities and average citizens alike – are willing to stand up to protect preborn babies from violence of abortion."

Rock for Life is organizing youth activists to protest the "Vote for Change" tour and to raise awareness about the truth of abortion. They are also urging young people to stop supporting these artists by not buying their CDs or concert tickets "until they stop advocating the destruction of our generation."

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Bishop reiterates call to vote “according to conscience” in Venezuelan referendum

Caracas, Venezuela, Aug 12, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Mario Moronta of San Cristobal, Venezuela, reiterated this week his call to Venezuelans to fulfill their duty to vote in the historic referendum this Sunday which will decide the fate of President Hugo Chavez.

During a thanksgiving Mass in the city of San Antonio, Bishop Moronta called for everyone “to participate in their civic duty as citizens, and above all, in conscience.  Nobody should be afraid, everyone should attend.”

“The Church is supporting the efforts of the diverse groups that are participating and supports the opinion of everyone, but we should go, and very early, to fulfill this fundamental duty,” the bishop added.

“We cannot think,” he said, “that the world is going to end on August 15.  August 15 is an important moment, when with the decision of our vote, we are going to give our support to democracy, no matter which choice wins, and what has to win is democracy, and above all, the will of a people that wants to always move forward.”

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Italian Health Minister says abortion is murder

Rome, Italy, Aug 12, 2004 (CNA) - In the midst of a heated debate in Italy concerning the reduction of federal funding for women who have a second abortion, the country’s Health Minister, Girolamo Sirchia, said abortion “is homicide and the law should steer clear of it.”

“Abortion is a grave act that does not take into account the rights of the unborn and of society.  Before resorting to a violent and cruel act that takes a life, that is, homicide, other options can be utilized.  I would only accept it if the life of the mother was seriously in danger,” he said.

The initiative of Senator Antonio Gentile of the Forza Italia party to modify the 1978 abortion law, which regulates the legalization of abortion in various cases and anticipates funding from Social Security, has been criticized by the opposition and by some members of the same Forza party.

Despite opposition, Sirchia said he was willing to discuss Gentile’s proposal to reduce federal funding by 50% for second abortions and all funding for the third.

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Spanish Priest launches protest against top-less public swimming pools

Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Aug 12, 2004 (CNA) - The pastor of the Church of San Fernando in Santiago, Spain, Fr. Manuel Cacheda, has launched a campaign to gather signatures to prohibit allowing women to go “top-less” at public swimming facilities, in order to protect children.

The campaign, which has been very well received by parishioners, demands that swimming facilities set up areas for children and their families, “where they don’t have to deal with things they’d rather not see, in the same way that there are beaches specifically for nudists.”

In a controversial move, the mayor of Santiago de Compostela, Nestor Rego, criticized the campaign and linked it to the Church’s efforts “to oppose issues such as homosexual marriage and the separation of Church and State.”

Parishioners said the initiative “was of a purely moral nature and for the protection of childhood,” and that the signatures that are gathered will be delivered to the mayor.

The campaign is similar to efforts in other areas of Spain aimed at getting local government officials in areas visited by tourists to designate beaches and public swimming pools for use by families, with proper respect for decorum and the protection of children.

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