Archive of March 31, 2005

Pope appoints Tobin as new bishop for Rhode Island

Providence, R.I., Mar 31, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican has announced that the Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio will succeed outgoing Robert E. Mulvee in becoming the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island.

Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States made the announcement at 6am this morning from Washington D.C.

Simultaneously, Pope John Paul II today accepted the resignation of Bishop Mulvee, 75, who has served as bishop of Providence since 1997.

Born in 1948 in Pittsburgh, Bishop Tobin was ordained a priest in Pennsylvania in 1973, and named Auxiliary Bishop of Pittsburgh and Titular Bishop of Novica by Pope John Paul II on November 3, 1992.

He was ordained to the Episcopacy on December 27, of that same year, and installed as the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown, February 2, 1996, in St. Columba Cathedral.

Bishop Tobin received special recognition in 2000 when the Catholic Press Association selected his column, 'Without a Doubt' as best in the nation. Emmaus Road Publishing in Steubenville, Ohio has likewise published a collection of those columns.

Upon his new appointment, Bishop Tobin said, "I am honored and humbled to be named as the new Bishop of Providence, a large and vibrant Catholic diocese, and I am excited to begin this new chapter in my life and ministry."

He added, "While I am fully committed to working hard and doing my best, I also realize that in the end I can do nothing without the help of God's grace. May Mary, Mother of the Church, give me the inspiration and intercession I need to be faithful."

Bishop Tobin will become spiritual shepherd to some 650,000 Catholics throughout Rhode Island.

back to top

Press misrepresents Catholic teaching on end-of-life issues: ethicists

, Mar 31, 2005 (CNA) - Two prominent Catholic ethicists say the media portrayals of Church teaching on end-of-life issues, surrounding the Terri Schiavo case, are often inaccurate and misleading, reported the Culture of Life Foundation in their most recent publication.

The two ethicists underlined that the Church makes a distinction between ordinary care, which is always required, and extraordinary care.

"The Church teaches that we have a moral obligation to support life," said Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"That obligation has limits. People talk about ordinary and extraordinary means. That just means that when the efforts to sustain life start doing more harm than good to the patient the moral obligation ceases to apply. Even then you should never abandon a patient and never deny them the basic care owed to everyone because of their human dignity," he told the Culture of Life Foundation.

In speaking about extraordinary care, Fr. Thomas Williams cited Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical, The Gospel of Life. "For treatment to be considered extraordinary, death must be 'imminent and inevitable' and the treatment would result in 'precarious and burdensome prolongation of life,'" he explained.

The dean of the theology department of Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University offered the example of a cancer victim who, after several rounds of treatment, has found chemotherapy to be ineffective and foregoes the treatment in order to avoid its side effects.

While both ethicists said in some instances it could be extremely difficult to determine the difference between extraordinary and ordinary care and that in such instances people must follow their conscience, both men said the Schiavo case is clear-cut.

However, a recent article in the Washington Post painted the Pope’s March 2004 comment that food and water must always be considered basic care as contrary to Catholic teaching. The Post journalist based his argument on the writings of two 16th-century Spanish theologians, Francisco de Vitoria and Domingo Banez.

Both ethicists pointed out to the Culture of Life Foundation the weaknesses in the Post article. "What they said does not mean that one can refuse to consume food for any length of time or refuse food that would save one's life,” said Fr. Williams. “What they mean is that if you are dying and the food would make you sick to your stomach or you would die anyway, you can refuse the food," he explained.

Doerflinger said the article failed to bring up the many statements calling food and water basic care that preceded the Pope's address, including statements by the U.S. bishops.

back to top

Archbishop Chaput, Catholic groups, urging Colorado governor to veto emergency contraception bill

Denver, Colo., Mar 31, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic groups across Colorado are lobbying Governor Bill Owens to take a stand against a new bill requiring hospitals to provide information on emergency contraception to rape victims.

Religious leaders around the state think that House Bill 1042, which passed last November, violates the religious freedom of hospitals, particularly Catholic ones, by forcing them to offer information on abortion.

Governor Owens, a Roman Catholic, refused Tuesday to take a side on the issue. His aides told media that he is "carefully considering" it.

Meanwhile, Catholics, including Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, are urging the governor to veto the bill.

In a February 8th column, the Archbishop said that, "HB-1042, as it currently stands, has serious flaws that should cause any thoughtful person to stop and reflect."

He continued: "Catholic hospitals - which provide their services based on moral and religious convictions about the dignity of the human person - should not be obligated to perform or refer for procedures which violate Catholic teaching."

"This doesn't involve "preaching" to anybody," he added. "It involves fidelity to principle and conscience - the same principles and conscience that animate Catholic service to the poor."

The Colorado Catholic Conference has also weighed heavily on the issue, citing that, "During the floor debate, the proponents of HB 1042 resisted reasonable amendments that would permit a Catholic Hospitals to provide emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors in a manner consistent with Catholic teaching regarding the sanctity of life."

"Catholic hospitals", they added, "reaffirmed that emergency contraception is offered to survivors of sexual assault to prevent pregnancy from occurring, but is not provided if fertilization has already occurred."

Added the Archbishop: "Coloradans owe rape victims our compassion and immediate support. In providing that support, methods matter."

A good end, no matter how urgent, cannot justify bad means. The responsibility of adult citizens is to think carefully about complicated issues and choose the right course."

"HB-1042", he said, "is a well-intentioned piece of legislation. What it needs now is the clarity of deeper moral and scientific reflection, and room for people and institutions to remain true to their consciences in responding."

back to top

Vatican Biblical Commission to discuss connection between Bible and Morality

Vatican City, Mar 31, 2005 (CNA) - Next week, members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission will gather in Vatican City to explore the relationship between the Bible and morality.

The annual assembly of the commission will be held from April 4th to the 8th at the Domus Sanctae Marthae (St. Martha residence) in the Vatican.

According to a press release, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, president of the commission, will be heading up the week's proceedings, while Fr. Klemens Stock, S.J., secretary general, will lead the work sessions.

Each member of the commission has been asked to prepare a specific contribution to the assembly on the theme of the relation between the Bible and morality. These contributions will be the center of the week's discussions.

back to top

Significant Vatican painting finds new home on stamp

Vatican City, Mar 31, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican has announced that next week, it will issue a set of four stamps featuring details of one of the most prominent paintings in the recent history of the Holy See. In addition, the Vatican plans to issue a special Euro coin honoring of the 27th year of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

On April 5th, The Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Governorate of Vatican City plans to issue 300,000 sets of the stamps, which will feature details from the painting, "Resurrection of Christ" by Perugino.

120,000 copies of a leaflet featuring the Risen Christ, the central part of the painting, will also be released to accompany the stamps. The full series of four stamps costs 3.02 Euro and the leaflet will be 2.80 Euro.

According to the Vatican, Perugino, also known as Pietro Vannucci, painted the altarpiece of the Resurrection of Christ during a period of only two months in 1499 as a decoration for a noble family's chapel in the Church of San Francesco al Prato in Perugia.

The painting remained in its original position until 1797 when Napoleon moved it to Paris. It stayed there until 1815, when it was finally returned to the then Papal State.

'The Resurrection of Christ' has been exhibited in different locations in the Vatican Picture Gallery, which was founded by Pope Pius VII in 1816. In 1964, Pope Paul VI decided that it should adorn the back wall of the library of the papal apartments.

In its current home in the papal library, "Resurrection of Christ" has served as the solemn and significant backdrop to many audiences of popes. The painting can be spotted in pictures of visiting heads of state or government and new ambassadors presenting their Letters of Credence to the Holy Father. It has thereby become one of the best-known paintings in the extensive and proud artistic history of the Church.

On April 28, the Vatican also plans to release the Euro coins marking the 27th year of the Pontificate of His Holiness John Paul II. A set of 8 coins will cost 23 Euro while the proof version, which includes a medal from the pope's pontificate will cost 125 Euro.

back to top

U.S. bishops back resolution that honors nun murdered in Brazil

Washington D.C., Mar 31, 2005 (CNA) - The chairman of the bishops’ International Policy Committee has commended a congressional resolution honoring the work of American Sr. Dorothy Stang among the poor farmers of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. Sr. Stang was assassinated Feb. 12.

In a letter to U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, of Pensacola-Tallahassee said Sr. Stang was assassinated because of her “advocacy for the poor.”

Bishop Ricard wished Ryan success in gathering a large number of co-sponsors for H.Con.Res. 89. The resolution as introduced March 9; it currently has 24 co-sponsors.

The resolution notes that Sr. Stang “lived her life according to the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame [de Namur]: making known God's goodness and love of the poor through a Gospel way of life, community, and prayer, while continuing a strong educational tradition and taking a stand with the poor people especially women and children, in the most abandoned places, and committing her one and only life to work with others to create justice and peace for all.”

A native of Dayton, Ohio, Sr. Stang entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1948, professing her final vows in 1956. She taught elementary school, spending 13 years at Holy Trinity School in Phoenix, before moving to Brazil in 1966. The 73-year-old sister was gunned down in Brazil after nearly 40 years of ministering to the country’s poor.

back to top

Archdiocese of Detroit defends parish decision to deny membership to openly lesbian couple

Detroit, Mich., Mar 31, 2005 (CNA) - In a statement issued by Communications Director Ned McGrath, the Archdiocese of Detroit, has defended the actions of Fr. Michael Bugarin, pastor of St. Joan of Arc parish in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, who is accused of discriminating against an openly lesbian couple seeking to become members of the parish.

Mary Horon and her civil partner Cheryl Mathers say that they were denied membership in the church because they are “openly gay”, and because they applied for membership in the parish as “a couple.”

On Monday, Horon told Michigan’s ‘Macomb Daily’ that the issue is “blatantly about us being gay and the church condemning homosexuality."

The statement released by the Archdiocese said that, "The Catholic Church is committed to the support of -- and a belief in -- the marriage of one man and one woman, and does not recognize so-called same-sex unions, whether civil or otherwise, period."

It continues: “to register in a parish as 'gay couple,' provides, in fact, a recognition the Church cannot concede. At the same time, any individual who embraces the teachings of the Catholic Church is welcomed in the parishes of the Detroit Archdiocese."

While Horon and Mathers say that their membership denial is “blatant discrimination,” and that, “They teach hate at that church”, some St. Joan of Arc parishioners see it differently.

Linda O'Donnell told the Macomb Daily that the church is "a very open and loving parish."

"Is the Catholic Church the place where you want to express your lifestyle in the first place?" O'Donnell asked. "There are a lot of other religions out there. It seems like they're doing it for publicity."

While the Detroit-based ‘Triangle Foundation’, a gay and lesbian advocacy group, blasted the church’s actions, McGrath called the group’s comments “misinformed and misguided.”

"More importantly,” he said, “it ignores the Church's rejection of unjust discrimination against homosexuals, or to be accepted as individuals with respect, compassion and sensitivity."

back to top

Pro-life group pledges to lobby for legislation to prevent another Terri Schiavo situation

, Mar 31, 2005 (CNA) - Priests of Life is discussing plans with other pro-life groups to lobby for legislation that would prevent another situation, similar to the one being lived currently by Terri Schiavo and her family.

In a mass e-mail issued by the group’s national director, Fr. Frank Pavone said the proposed legislation would protect the vulnerable and limit the power of the courts.

“Please be assured that no matter what happens in the next few days, we as a people of life will stand together and will, in God's strength, turn back this tide of evil and destruction,” he wrote.

Fr. Pavone also invited people to write personal messages to Schiavo’s parents and siblings and to e-mail them to: [email protected]. The priest said he would hand-deliver each greeting to the Schindlers.

back to top

Bishops ask survivors of clergy sexual abuse to help develop prevention program

Washington D.C., Mar 31, 2005 (CNA) - The U.S. bishops have launched a new survey in an effort to reach out to survivors of clergy sexual abuse and to develop “prevention programs to assure as much as is humanly possible that this crime never occurs again,” said Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse.

The project has three goals: to provide victims/survivors of child sexual abuse a voice in helping others, to assist dioceses and eparchies in developing appropriate responses to victims/survivors of child sexual abuse, and to identify preventative measures of child sexual abuse.

Mary A. Lentz, an Ohio-based child abuse prevention consultant, was commissioned by the USCCB and its Office of Child and Youth Protection to conduct survey. It will be available from March 30 to May 4 at

The survey is anonymous, as it does not ask participants to identify themselves, their abuser, or the abuser’s diocese or eparchy or religious community. The survey also insists that “Reports of abuse are to be made to law enforcement officials and officials of the diocese/eparchy where the abuse occurred.”

The survey results will be available at or on the USCCB Web site,

Lentz is an attorney who practices public law and school law as well as not-for-profit corporation law. She holds a juris doctor degree from Cleveland Marshall College of Law of Cleveland State University, a master’s degree from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree from Ursuline College in Cleveland.

back to top

Dissidents organize to promote “civil society” in Cuba

Havana, Cuba, Mar 31, 2005 (CNA) - In an effort to “unite all of the forces that desire change in Cuba,” dissident groups in the Communist country have organized the first “Assembly For Promoting Civil Society in Cuba” to take place on May 20.

Sources from the organization reported that the event will be presided over by Martha Beatriz Roque, Rene Gomez Manzano and Felix Bonne Carcasses, all renowned for their peaceful opposition to the Castro regime.  Despite restrictions on free speech, the dissident leaders expressed their desire to begin an initiative that does not belong “to any one political party.”

Organizers of the event have begun coordinating with dissidents in Cuba and with Cuban exiles in other countries, in order to obtain their material and moral support.

The Assembly For Promoting Civil Society in Cuba is the concerted effort of 365 independent organizations whose requests for official recognition have been rejected by the government because, as organizers point out, in Cuba, “dissent is not allowed, not even by the country’s own Constitution.”

Organizers said the Assembly is meant to educate Cubans on the reestablishing of a civil society “with a view towards the installation of democracy in our country.”

More information can be found at:

back to top

Pope suffering from high fever, receives Annointing of the Sick

Rome, Italy, Mar 31, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican confirmed this afternon that Pope John Paul II has developed a high fever as a result of a urinary tract infection.

According to a statement by the Holy See, the fever—which is not related to his throat problems—is being treated at the Vatican “with appropriate antibiotic therapy.”

According to Italian medical sources, a urinary tract infection is a common problem among people of limited mobility.  It is also normal for blood pressure to fall because of such infections.

Vatican sources also revealed that the Pope received the Annointing of the Sick.

back to top

Terri dies in Florida, “family’s faith remains strong” Fr. Pavone says

Pinellas Park, Fla., Mar 31, 2005 (CNA) - Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman that became the center of a bitter right to life battle, died Thursday morning, 13 days after a court halted her tube feeding, a spokesman for her parents informed today.

She died hours after her parents endured their last legal setback when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene.

The Supreme Court’s ruling Wednesday night came as Terri Schiavo, 41, began her 13th day without food and water. Earlier in the day, a federal appeals court also refused to intervene in the case.

Few minutes before Terri was pronounced dead, her brother, Bobby Schindler, described her saying that "It's not a pretty sight, I can tell you that." 

Rev. Frank Pavone, President of Priests for Life, who accompanied him, said Terri Schiavo's face was shrunken and her eyes were oscillating from side to side.

Fr. Pavone and Bobby where allowed until 10 minutes before she died, but were ordered out of the room by the legal guardian, Michael Schiavo.

Regarding Terri's family, Fr. Pavone stated that "their faith in God remains consistent and strong, they are absolutely convinced that God loves Terri more than they do." 

Fr. Pavone also said "all the prayers of the Church were offered for her. She felt the solidarity of all of you, all those prayers, all that sacrifice were conveyed to her by caresses to her ears."

He strongly criticized Michael's "heartless cruelty," for not allowing her immediate family to spend the last minutes with her.

"What we grieve here is not a dead, this is a killing, we grieve that our nation has allowed such an atrocity," Fr. Pavone concluded.

back to top

Cardinal Martino, pro-lifers on Terri’s death

Washington D.C., Mar 31, 2005 (CNA) - The President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino, said Thursday shortly before learning of the death of Terri Schiavo that to do nothing “during Terri’s last hours is to be an accomplice in her death.”

Speaking on Vatican Radio, Cardinal Martino explained that Terri’s was a case of someone being “condemned to die,” and given the doubts about her condition, “it is a murder which one cannot take part in without become an accomplice.”

“The anguish and agony of Terri Schiavo, beyond the possibility that she has become a political instrument, requires that mankind take action to prevent this imminent tragedy from taking place,” he said.

Cardinal Martino said the withdrawal of food and water is “an unjust condemnation to death of an innocent person by one the most inhumane and cruel forms that exist, that of of starvation.”

Similar reaction followed to Terri’s death from the pro-life front.

“The Schiavo case brought to the surface many questions that should long ago have been addressed,“, said William Donohue, president of the Catholic League. 

“In this regard, the teachings of the Catholic Church on end-of-life issues is a model of clarity compared to that of all the other religions.  It’s time that all world religions more forthrightly tackled these issues before it’s too late.  And by that I mean before the secular bioethicists rule the day, for many of them don’t know the difference between a hamster and a human,” he added.

"The court has washed its hands of the responsibility for this innocent woman's life. It is undeniable that we are quickly slipping into a culture of death. Terri Schiavo was very much fighting for her life and today, we are deeply saddened at that loss," said Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council.

"This is a tragic and unfortunate event that should awaken Americans to the problems in our court system. As many in the nation mourn the passing of Terri Schiavo, we should remember that her death is a symptom of a greater problem: that the courts no longer respect human life," he added.

"Let us long remember Terri as a brave soldier who fought valiantly in her personal battle for life and has become a tragic causality in our modern day culture war. But her death is not in vain. Her death has purchased the beginnings of a social, moral awakening on the issue of the Sanctity of Life. March 31, 2005 must go down in history and our battle cry must be REMEMBER TERRI SCHAIVO!" wrote Troy Newman , President of Operation Rescue.

back to top

National Right to Life on Terri's death: 'a sad day in our history'

Pinellas Park, Fla., Mar 31, 2005 (CNA) - Terri Schiavo's death is marks "a sad day in our history", said  National Right to Life in a statement commenting the sorrowful end of  a tumultuous decade-long battle.

Burke Balch, J.D., Director of the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics at the National Right to Life Committee, said this morning that the group is "deeply saddened by Terri's death and extend our heartfelt sympathy to the Schindler family."

"Terri Schiavo's death", he said, "is a gross injustice and it marks a sad day in our history when our society allows Terri and others like her who have severe disabilities to be discarded in such a cruel and inhumane manner."

After nearly two weeks without food and water since the court-ordered removal of her feeding tube, and numerous court attempts, including six appeals to the Supreme Court to keep the 41-year old woman alive, an exhausted family said farewell to their daughter and sister this morning.

David Gibbs, an attorney for Bob and Mary Schindler, Terri's parents said that they "can know they have done everything possible under the law in letting government know that they wanted to fight for the life of their daughter."

Countless worldwide are expressing their grief at today's news.

back to top

Follow us:

Recent activity: