, May 19, 2005 (CNA) - Baltimore’s Cardinal William Keeler has announced that he will boycott Loyola College of Maryland’s graduation ceremony because former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani—a firm supporter of abortion--will deliver the commencement address.
The Cardinal wrote in a letter to College president David Haddad, that, "there will be no representative of the archdiocese participating in any event honoring Mayor Giuliani."
He also said that he hoped the Catholic school would "understand many of the consequences" of inviting a commencement speaker who disagrees with such a fundamental moral stance of the Church.
The announcement comes following protests by Maryland’s pro-life groups and the Washington-based Cardinal Newman Society, a group who seeks to maintain Catholic identity in institutions of higher learning.
The Cardinal Newman Society says that they are currently protesting 17 different Catholic Colleges and Universities for inviting speakers and honorary degree nominees who stand against fundamental Church teachings.
Vatican City, May 19, 2005 (CNA) - Today, the Vatican released a letter from Pope Benedict XVI, commending the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), which celebrates its 50th anniversary, for “invigorating…the new evangelization” called for by John Paul II.
The letter, addressed to Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, archbishop of Santiago de Chile and president of the council, comes on the occasion of its 30th plenary assembly, being held in Lima, Peru from May 17th to the 20th.
In the letter, made public yesterday, the Pope noted CELAM’s founding 50 years ago by Pope Pius XII "with the aim of supporting the pastoral work of bishops and, at the same time, of responding to some of the grave problems of the Church in Latin America."
Over the last half century, the Holy Father continued, CELAM has helped "to face up to the challenges of the Latin American subcontinent with harmonized efforts and ecclesial spirit, ... and to invigorate what over the years has become known as the 'new evangelization'."
Pope Benedict noted that the council has given particular support to "the promotion of vocations, in order that they be many and holy," and wrote that, looking to the future, CELAM "must continue to make an important contribution and provide strong support in this field, teaching how to discover the signs of the call and to accompany the response."
The Pope called on members of the council to reflect especially on the pastoral care of the family, which, is being “beset by grave challenges represented by the various ideologies and customs that undermine the very foundations of Christian marriage and family.”
“Particular emphasis”, he said, “must be laid on family catechesis and on the promotion of a positive and correct view of marriage and conjugal morality, thus contributing to the formation of truly Christian families that stand out for their practice of Gospel values.”
“A Christian family, a true 'domestic church', will also be the seedbed for numerous holy vocations."
The Holy Father concluded his message with the suggestion that, "in aiming to promote collaboration both among bishops and of bishops with the Holy See, thus encouraging the growth of 'affectus collegialis,' CELAM should foster a spirit of communion, of mutual charity in the internal life of the Church.”
“In the exercise of pastoral care,” he said, “that unity must shine forth in charity between pastors, between them and people consecrated to the religious life, and between people who live their consecration within the particular charism of their community.”
“All this should be done while bearing in mind the model of our Savior, Who came into the world not be served but to serve."
Los Angeles, Calif., May 19, 2005 (CNA) - Diocesan personnel files of 15 priests and teachers indicate that officials of the Diocese of Orange in Southern California moved pedophile priests between parishes for two decades, reported Reuters.
A Los Angeles judge ordered the files released on Tuesday as part of a $100-million settlement, reached in January between the Diocese of Orange and 90 alleged victims of abuse.
Five of the priests are dead. The 10 other priests and teachers raised no objection.
"As a compassionate Church, we did not do right by those who suffered,” said Bishop Tod Brown of Orange. He was appointed bishop in 1998, after most of the alleged abuse had taken place.
“I hope and pray that the release of these documents marks a turning point toward healing and recovery for those who have suffered and for their families," Bishop Brown said in a statement.
Reuters reported that the most damaging files centered on five priests. The files showed how bishops and administrators played down allegations and often minimized concerns of teachers and parents.
In one case, officials reportedly moved a serial molester to Mexico. In another, they offered an abuser several thousand dollars to leave the priesthood quietly.
One bishop wrote to a parishioner describing one priest as "a fine priest, zealous and generous-hearted." The priest, Eleuterio Ramos, died in 2004 after telling police a year earlier he had abused at least 25 boys.
Washington D.C., May 19, 2005 (CNA) - A Christian coalition is urging America’s church leaders and members to pray for an end to judicial activism and for Senators will stop misusing the filibuster rule.
The National Clergy Council and the Christian Defense Coalition want people to pray “that pro-abortion, anti-values forces will not be able to hold the federal courts--and especially the Supreme Court--hostage to their extremist views through pressing Senators to continue the misuse of the filibuster rule.”
“We now understand it was activist courts who ushered in abortion and ordered the removal of prayer from the public schools. It was activist judges who ordered the removal of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube and demanded that ‘One Nation Under God’ be taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance. And, it is activist courts that are attempting to redefine marriage and family,” Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition.
Yesterday, Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, welcomed the Senate debate over circuit court nominee Judge Priscilla Owen.
“Once the debate has concluded, I fully expect that the Senate will fulfill its constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on her nomination. Failure to do so would be a breach of the public trust and will become an election issue,” said Fr. Apvone.
Judge Owen's confirmation has been held up for over four years. For the first time in history, Democrats have denied a judicial nominee with clear majority support.
Sen. Barbara Boxer's comments on the Senate floor yesterday completely miss the point on judicial filibusters, said Fr. Pavone. "She claimed that the president has had 95 percent of his judicial nominees approved. What she failed to mention, however, is that not a single judicial nominee who had enjoyed the support of a majority of Senators was denied a vote before this president's first administration," Pavone said. "The relevant numbers are not 208-10 but 10-0."
Washington D.C., May 19, 2005 (CNA) - Cardinal William H. Keeler has urged Congress to reject a bill, which would allow the use of federal funds to support research that involves the use of new human embryos from fertility clinics.
H.R. 810 would rescind the Bush administration’s policy of funding only research on embryonic stem-cell lines already in existence.
“Government has no business forcing taxpayers to become complicit in the direct destruction of human life at any stage,” Cardinal Keeler said in a May 17 letter to the House of Representatives. Cardinal Keeler is Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The cardinal noted that since 1995 Congress has passed — and presidents of both major parties have signed — annual riders insisting that early human embryos be protected from risk of harm or death in federally funded research projects.
But the argument for funding embryonic stem-cell research is doubly flawed, wrote the cardinal, because adult stem cells and other avenues posing no moral problem have advanced quickly toward human clinical trials to treat juvenile diabetes, corneal damage, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, sickle-cell anemia, cardiac damage and many other conditions.
“The current federal policy of funding research on a limited number of existing embryonic stem-cell lines has achieved its stated goal -- that of exploring which avenues of stem cell research will most quickly and effectively lead to promising treatments,” Cardinal Keeler stated.
“The emerging answer is that embryonic stem-cell research is not one of those avenues,” he concluded. “If there is to be any change in the existing policy, it should be to end this limited funding of embryonic stem-cell research altogether, so taxpayers’ resources can more effectively be marshaled for research now showing itself to be more ethically and medically sound.”
Vatican City, May 19, 2005 (CNA) - Following charges of violating Italian environmental laws, including jail sentences for two Vatican Radio officials, a new study has shown that emissions from Vatican Radio towers are within acceptable limits of Italian regulations.
The Vatican released a joint statement from the bilateral commission between the Holy See and Italy, studying the question of how much electromagnetic smog is actually being emitted by Vatican Radio at its transmitting station outside of Rome at Santa Maria di Galeria.
The commission met on May 16 to seek a solution to the problems of the intensity of the emissions.
The statement said that, "the commission examined the results of the measuring done in recent months by Italian experts of the National Agency for the Protection of the Environment, by the regional agency for Lazio and by the Ministry of Communications, and ascertained that, in all sites observed, the levels of emission were maintained in conformity with the quality control objectives indicated by the DPCM (Decree of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers) of July 8, 2003, and thus the continuation of commitments reciprocally assumed with the Accord of June 8, 2001."
The commission also said that monitoring will continue and new tests will be performed in September and October.
Regarding the specific problems at the Santa Maria installation, the commission noted that plans are underway to adapt or convert several of the radio's medium and short wave transmitters to a terrestrial-based digital network.
Once complete, the new technology will allow Vatican Radio to broadcast its programming not only with lower emissions and efficiency, but also better broadcast quality.
Vatican City, May 19, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier today, Pope Benedict greeted Bartolomej Kajtazi, the Holy See’s new ambassador from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and reaffirmed that country’s commitment to reconciliation and peace.
Receiving the new diplomat’s Letters of Credence, the Pope said that if Macedonia keeps along the path to peace and reconciliation, it “can become an example to others in the Balkan region.”
“Tragically,” he added, “cultural differences have often been a source of misunderstanding between peoples and even the cause of senseless conflicts and wars. In fact, dialogue between cultures is an indispensable building stone of the universal civilization of love for which every man and woman longs."
Pope Benedict also affirmed Macedonia’s "goal of social integration" which brings it "closer to the rest of Europe. ... As my beloved predecessor said on a number of occasions: Europe needs the Balkan nations, and they need Europe!”
He said that, “Entry into the European Community should not, however, be understood merely as a panacea to overcome economic adversity. ... The process of the European Union's expansion ... 'will lack substance if it is reduced to merely geographic and economic dimensions'.”
“Rather,” he said, “the union must 'consist above all in an agreement about values which ... finds expression in its law and in its life'. This rightly demands of each state a proper ordering of society that creatively reclaims the soul of Europe, acquired through the decisive contribution of Christianity, affirming the transcendent dignity of the human person and the values of reason, freedom, democracy and the constitutional state."
The Pope also spoke on authentic development, which, he said, "requires a coordinated national plan of progress which honors the legitimate aspirations of all sectors of society and to which political and civic leaders can be held accountable."
Programs, he said, "must be based on the protection of human rights including those of ethnic and religious minorities, the practice of responsible and transparent governance, and the maintenance of law and order by an impartial judiciary system and an honorable police force."
The Holy Father also stressed the importance of presenting young generations with "a vision of confidence and optimism" and hope for the future through "the creation of educational opportunities," especially schools "staffed by people of personal integrity. ... Integral to such formation is religious instruction."
In conclusion, the Pope told Ambassador Kajtazi that, "the Catholic Church in your nation, though numerically small, desires to reach out in co-operation with other religious communities to all members of Macedonian society without distinction. ... I am confident that the Church is willing to contribute even more extensively to the country's human development programs, promoting the values of peace, justice, solidarity and freedom."
Princeton, N.J., May 19, 2005 (CNA) - Princeton University has granted official recognition to an evangelical Christian student group after two months of debate.
The school's dean of religious life, Thomas Breidenthal, had withheld official status from Princeton Faith and Action, but the university administration recently reversed the decision after an advocacy group intervened on the students’ behalf, reported AgapePress.
Princeton Faith and Action is associated with Christian Union, an off-campus ministry whose request to have a full-time chaplain on campus last year was denied by Breidenthal.
Princeton Faith and Action was only formed in March 2005, after the Christian Union was blocked once again, this time from reserving campus space.
Princeton Faith and Action approached student government to apply for official recognition, but was told that it needed the dean’s approval due to its religious nature.
The dean reportedly refused the new group the opportunity to apply for recognition due to its association to Christian Union. According to students, he also refused to explain why he disapproved of Christian Union.
The president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, David French, wrote a letter to Princeton president Shirley Tilghman on behalf of the students. He argued against Breidenthal’s seemingly arbitrary refusal and in favor of religious rights on campuses. As a result, the group was granted official status.
According to French, this kind of discrimination based on religion is not uncommon on U.S. campuses.
Vatican City, May 19, 2005 (CNA) - A seminar begins today in the Vatican, which will explore cultural and pastoral factors which link liturgical life more closely with social and political strides for peace.
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is organizing the two-day seminar in collaboration with St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum.
The Vatican noted that the aim of, "Peace and Liturgy: A Research Program," is to study more deeply the pastoral and cultural instruments and methods to make liturgical life more closely linked to the social and political commitment for peace.
Today’s event follows a one-day seminar held yesterday at pontifical council’s headquarters regarding the social doctrine of the Church as an indispensable basis for the formation and commitment of the lay Christian.
Washington D.C., May 19, 2005 (CNA) - This morning at the nation’s capital, four physician members of congress will give a presentation on medical strides being made with cord blood and adult stem cells, which they say, make “pale the ‘promise’ surrounding controversial embryo stem cell research.”
Representatives Dave Weldon, M.D. (FL), Michael Burgess, M.D. (TX), Phil Gingrey, M.D. (GA) and Charles Boustany, M.D. (LA), will present ‘The Clinical Evidence is Clear: Cord Blood and Adult Stem Cells are Treating Patients TODAY’ at 11:30 this morning.
The group plans to outline some 70 plus medical advances being achieved through what they call ‘ethical stem cell research.’ These advances, they say, are already treating patients today.
The controversy raging over embryonic stem cell research surrounds the conception and destruction of a human embryo required to harvest the cells many scientists want to use to treat illness and maladies.
Cord blood and adult stem cells, many pro-life supporters argue, can be harvested without the destruction of a human life.