Archive of May 24, 2005

Christian leaders not happy with filibuster compromise

Washington D.C., May 24, 2005 (CNA) - The Family Research Council is among numerous groups around the country expressing their distaste for a compromise, which will allow only three of President Bush’s filibustered judicial nominees to receive an up or down vote.

“There is no room for compromise in the senate regarding judicial filibusters,” the Family Research Council’s website said today. “The judicial filibuster is unfair, unfounded and unconstitutional. Concession is not an option.”

Under the new deal, nominees, Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor will receive a Senate vote on their potential judicial appointments while there will remain “no commitment” to vote on nominees Henry Saad and William Myers.

Some Senate democrats claim that the nominees’ views on certain issues were too extreme, while supporters argue that opponents were blocking them for their religious and pro-life stances.

Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Coalition, says that he thinks the compromise to end judicial filibusters is a "betrayal of the democratic process and a failure of leadership."

"With this compromise,” he said, “the Senate has shown they are more interested in preserving their traditions and rules than addressing pressing issues such as judicial activism and allowing votes on federal judicial nominees. This deal will satisfy no one but Senate members who will pat themselves on the back for a job well done."

Reverend Rob Schneck, president of the National Clergy Council also expressed grave doubts about the compromise, saying, "We believe that Democrats can't be trusted on this and they can still block the President's nominees, especially for the Supreme Court. We consider this an unacceptable resolution."

Dr. James Dobson, head of  Focus on the Family, went so far as to call the compromise a “complete betrayal.”

"This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats. Only three of President Bush's nominees will be given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote, and it's business as usual for all the rest. The rules that blocked conservative nominees remain in effect, and nothing of significance has changed.”

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Globalization and Christian morality: Vatican to hold summit

Vatican City, May 24, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican announced today that it will hold an international summit aimed at understanding moral factors in globalization from May 27th to 28th

The meeting, called ‘The World System in the 21st Century: Subsidiarity and Cooperation for Development’, is being sponsored by the Centesimus Annus "Pro Pontifice" Foundation, which was instituted by Pope John Paul in June 1993.

The Holy See noted that Alberto Quadrio Curzio, president of the foundation's Scientific Committee and dean of the political science faculty at Milan's Sacred Heart Catholic University, would oversee the May 27 proceedings.

Speakers for Friday include Italian Supreme Court Judge Giovanni Maria Flick who will present a talk on "Human Rights and Globalization: A European Perspective," Moshe Syrquin, professor of economics at the University of Miami, who will speak on "Globalization: Too Much or To Little" and Curzio who will discuss "The European Union as an Institutional Model in a Globalized World."

Saturday’s sessions will be opened by Cardinal Attilio Nicora, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. A round-table discussion on the topic of "Promoting Development in the 21st Century: Values, Actors and Instruments," will be held that morning followed by a debate.

A United Nations representative is slated to speak on "The Way the World Is: Evils and Angels in Development" on Saturday as well.

A May 28th Mass, celebrated by Cardinal Nicora will close the two-day event, and will be held in the Santa Martha Residence in the Vatican.

The Santa Martha was temporary home to cardinals who had gathered in Rome last month for the papal conclave.

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Catholic memorial opens near Ground Zero

, May 24, 2005 (CNA) - A beloved chapel, located just 200 yards from the World Trade Center Site, was finally restored and blessed Sunday by Edward Cardinal Egan.

Saint Joseph's Chapel includes a new memorial to the people who died and suffered in the September 11 attacks. While the chapel was greatly damaged by the attacks, it also became a refuge for exhausted recovery workers.

Hundreds of Catholics gathered in lower Manhattan to join the cardinal in the ceremony.

"These were days of extraordinary courage, self-sacrifice and prayer," recalled Cardinal Egan. He said the memorial affirms the presence of God in a place that has tested the faith of many.

The chapel is open to visitors of all faiths who are seeking a place of quiet reflection at ground zero. It features several bronze statues, including Saint Florian, the patron saint of firefighters, and Saint Joseph, the patron saint of construction workers.

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Prayer is legal at graduation ceremonies, says Christian association

Pasadena, Calif., May 24, 2005 (CNA) - Banning prayer from graduation ceremonies is in violation of the law, said Finn Laursen, executive director of Christian Educators Association International, a trade organization of Christian educators serving in public schools.

Educators who tell students and staff that prayer is out of bounds at graduation ceremonies have most likely misunderstood past court rulings on prayer in schools.

"U.S. courts have held that school leaders may not require prayers or religious content from speakers, nor invite religious personnel to lead such activities. However, while maintaining religious neutrality, under the First Amendment school officials cannot rescind students' freedom of speech," explained Laursen.

The Christian Educators Association said it will refer parents, students, teachers, or schools that come under attack for exercising their constitutional rights to Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit public interest law firm, for assistance.

Parents, students and educators can also refer to Liberty Counsel president Mathew Staver’s, new book, “Eternal Vigilance: Knowing and Protecting Your Religious Freedom” at

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Opponents ‘hiding from debate’ on judicial nominees, says legal expert

Philadelphia, Pa., May 24, 2005 (CNA) - Democratic senators refuse to vote on President George Bush’s judicial nominees, claiming they are “extreme.” But Wendy Long, former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, says their opponents are really “hiding from a debate, and hiding from a vote, precisely because these highly qualified judges are the mainstream.”

Long was referring in particular to judicial nominees Justice Priscilla Owen of Texas and Justice Janice Rogers Brown of California.

In an opinion piece published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Long described the two judges as “intellectual stars on the courts where they now sit.”

The two judges “have the overwhelming bipartisan support of the citizens of their states, the American Bar Association, the bench and bar, and newspapers across the political spectrum,” wrote the legal counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network.

Long emphasized that these two justices’ most important qualities are their demonstrated tendency to judicial restraint.

“They merely apply the rules that we, the people, make. They don't make the rules themselves,” Long continued. “That's a job for Congress and the president, who must respond to the will of the citizens who elected them.

“Judges who practice judicial restraint understand that policy decisions — such as whether to take under God out of the Pledge of Allegiance, whether to allow child pornography, whether to redefine marriage to include groups other than one man and one woman — are not matters for judges to decide, but for elected representatives of the people to decide,” she wrote.

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Ground broken for new Oakland cathedral

Oakland, Calif., May 24, 2005 (CNA) - The ground was broken Saturday for one of the only cathedrals to be constructed in California in the last 200 years.

The Cathedral of Christ the Light in the Diocese of Oakland, California, will be built on Lake Merritt. The cathedral will replace the St. Frances de Sales Cathedral, which was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and demolished four years later.

The cost of the new cathedral is estimated at $131-million cathedral. The diocese has already raised $100 million from private sources, said Bishop Allen Vigneron. He expressed his confidence that the diocese will be able to raise the rest.

The new cathedral will seat 1,500 and be built on an elevated public plaza, which will include an olive garden with benches, a library, a cafe and a bookstore. Below the plaza are street-level entrances to a conference center, offices and the parish hall.

The newly named rector of the cathedral parish is Fr. Quang Dong, who fled Vietnam in 1980, and arrived in the United States 20 years ago.

"This is a multicultural cathedral," Bishop Vigneron said. "It's very much Pacific Rim, not European."

Architect Craig Hartman of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, LLP, designed the luminous cathedral based on what was expressed at the Second Vatican Council, that "Christ is the Light of all Peoples."

The Diocese of Oakland serves more than 500,000 Catholics from 89 parishes.

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Church teaching is clear, consistent on embryonic stem cell research, expert says

Washington D.C., May 24, 2005 (CNA) - In the latest edition of the on-line magazine, ‘The Window’, editor Deal Hudson challenges the thinking of many Catholic politicians who support issues like abortion and embryonic stem cell research, showing readers how to tackle these debates themselves.

Hudson says that the crux of the problem lay in semantics. He cites Massachusetts State Representative Dan Bosley, a Catholic, who recently affirmed that while he believes that life begins at conception, he thinks that, “Conception begins the fourteenth day after fertilization. It also cannot begin until implantation."

Hudson points out that this confusion of terminology is in fact, in conflict with Catholic Church teaching.

“The United States Conference of Bishops”, he writes, “has warned us about the ‘manipulation of terms.’”

“In debate over the ‘morning-after pill’, the bishops pointed out that medical groups such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) had supported pro-abortion groups in changing the definition of conception. ‘Instead of equating conception with fertilization, and seeing a woman as pregnant if her body contains a living, developing embryo, they equate ‘conception’ and ‘pregnancy’ with the implantation of the embryo in the uterus 6 to 10 days later.’”

Some critics, including Bosley, charge the Church with flip-flopping in its definition of conception, thus sparking much of the confusion.

Hudson however, illustrates that the Church has remained firm in its definition, citing a number of references from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which he calls “the doctrinal standard for every Catholic.”

He cites Catechism paragraph 1711, which says, "Endowed with a spiritual soul, with intellect and with free will, the human person is from his very conception ordered to God and destined for eternal beatitude. He pursues his perfection in 'seeking and loving what is true and good,’” and paragraph 2274, which says, "Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being."

“Bosley”, Hudson says, “either does not know or he rejects these teachings. He adds to his defense of embryonic research by saying, ‘Yes, we all came from embryos, but not all embryos become life.’

Hudson points out that, “This is like saying that since some children never reach adolescence we can use their body parts for medical research.”

He continues, criticizing Bosley’s stance on embryonic stem cell research and cloning, likening them to Nazi mentalities, which suggested that the ultimate utility of a person should reign supreme. “If good can come from it,” he says, “why can't we experiment on live human beings?”

Hudson notes that many Catholic politicians, who support these “affronts on life”, as pro-life advocates see them, think that the Church is misleading them. He stresses however, that they are indeed being misled—but not by the Church.

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‘The Godfather’ filmmaker releases film on John Paul II

West Palm Beach, Fla., May 24, 2005 (CNA) - Legendary filmmaker Robert Evans has released a new film on the life of Pope John Paul II. Evans’ most well known films include “The Godfather” and “Chinatown.”

The director says his film about Pope John Paul II — “The Power of Faith” — is one of his greatest works.

The film captures exclusive never-before-seen footage of the Vatican, rare family photos and footage of Pope John Paul's private visit with Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who tried to murder the Pope in 1981.

Prelude Worldwide Ministries is distributing the film internationally.

The 60-minute film is available in English and Spanish, in VHS and DVD formats, for $16.95.

For more information, go to

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Brazilian postal service to issue stamp in honor of John Paul II

Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 24, 2005 (CNA) - The Brazilian postal service announced it will issue a commemorative stamp in honor of John Paul II during a special ceremony on May 24.

The stamp shows a picture of a smiling John Paul, wearing his miter and holding his staff which bears the image of the Crucified Christ.

This will be the fourth commemorative stamp featuring the image of the late Pontiff.  The first three were issued during his visits to Brazil in 1980, 1991 and 1997.

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5000 children confirmed in Australia

Sydney, Australia, May 24, 2005 (CNA) - Over 40,000 parents, teachers and friends packed Sydney’s Superdome on Saturday to witness the Confirmation of some 5,000 young people who received the gift of the Holy Spirit unto strength.

80 priests performed the rite, which was split into two sessions, overseen by Cardinal George Pell and six of his brother bishops.

Bishop Anthony Fisher said that he hoped the massive ceremony would show the young people that “the Church is bigger than just their church."

"They have seen the wider church on television with the death of Pope John Paul and the election of his successor,” he noted, “but this really allows them to be part of a wider community.”

"Hopefully, this will give them a chance to think about what being a Catholic means to their lives, and how the church fits into the world."

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New primate of Nicaragua: The Gospel needs more witnesses of faith

Managua, Nicaragua, May 24, 2005 (CNA) - During his installation Mass as Archbishop of Managua, Nicaragua, Archbishop Leopoldo Brenes told those in attendance that “what the Gospel needs most is personal witnesses of the faith,” and he exhorted the faithful to be “a missionary and pilgrim Church” because Catholics “can and should be evangelizers.”

Archbishop Brenes expressed his trust in God for the grace and strength necessary to be a pastor, father and friend to those under his care.

“I ask for these prayers from the bottom of my heart, that you offer them daily for this humble servant of the Lord’s vineyard,” he added.

He also expressed his thanks to the late Pope John Paul II for his appointment as well as to the outgoing archbishop, Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, whom he considers a father.

National dialogue

Speaking later to reporters, Archbishop Brenes expressed support for calls by his predecessor for a restarting of the national dialogue in order to find solutions to the problems facing Nicaragua.

“I think we need to carry out a sincere dialogue, and I think that the Cardinal was a great teacher in this area, and I will also contribute to this in whatever way I can,” he said.

The new archbishop said he would be willing to act as a go-between in the national dialogue as long as the parties involved requested it and his schedule would permit.

“I think that however we can cooperate with our observations, we will do so in the best way possible, with the idea that as a Nicaraguan, I want what’s best for my country,” the archbishop said.

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Benedict XVI will captivate young people, says Spanish cardinal

Madrid, Spain, May 24, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, said this week he is convinced young people will flock to Cologne in the same way they have for previous World Youth Days convened by Pope John Paul II and that Benedict XVI will captivate young people in the same way as his predecessor.

“The person of the new Pope will motivate in young people an equally new attraction and will mobilize new groups anxious to meet him that previously were not planning on attending.  He will captivate them in different way, but he will captivate them,” the cardinal said in an interview with the Spanish daily La Razón.”

Cardinal Rouco said Benedict XVI will be persuasive in his exhorting the young people to “live fully the experience of encounter with Christ: to live the ‘We have come to adore him’ theme of the XX World Youth Day in Cologne with new freshness.”

During the interview, the cardinal recalled his days as a student of Ratzinger when he was professor of theology in Ratisbona, Germany, noting that already by then the future Archbishop of Munich and Cardinal of the Church had much rapport with young students.

“His deep personality of a professor who not only set forth theories but also conveyed a profound experience of Christ attracted others.  He maintained a personal relationship with students, almost like a spiritual director.  He was known for his concern for even the smallest problems affecting students…But he knew how to address them quietly without letting others know.”

Likewise, after being named Archbishop of Munich, “His sensibility for appreciating the evangelizing work of the new movements that were springing forth in the Church became known,” Cardinal Rouco said.  “He always opened doors and enlightened the way for the extraordinary action of the Spirit in the Church: Opus Dei, Focolare, etc, know this well,” he emphasized.

Regarding his image in the press as someone cold, inflexible and distant, Cardinal Rouco said, “Benedict XVI is nothing, nothing at all, like those stereotypes.”

“The first impression students had of him was always positive: he was intellectually, humanly and spiritually attractive.  Besides Romano Guardini, he has been perhaps one of the theology professors of the 20th century who has known most how to connect with the deepest concerns of his students,” he stated.

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Case of abuse sparks rapid response from Argentinean diocese

Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 24, 2005 (CNA) - The Diocese of San Isidro, Argentina, revealed this week the immediate measures taken in response to a possible case of clergy abuse.

Diocesan officials said they were the first to know of the case and therefore the Diocese acted quickly in order to “protect the rights of the children allegedly affected and to accompany the family members in the desire and actions to clarify the facts on the basis of truth and justice.”

In addition to removing the priest from his duties and from all contact with individuals, contact was made with the family and help provided for the young people in question.

Diocesan officials also assisted the mothers of the children in filing the appropriate charges with the local DA, saying that “support for the family and the children continues to be provided as well as our willingness to collaborate with all the requirements which justice shall determine.”

“If the truthfulness of the charges is confirmed, we will be dealing with serious sins that cause grave harm.  Therefore with the mere possibility that these acts may have taken place, we invite everyone to place us under the protection of the Lord and Mary Most Holy, imploring the mercy of the Lord and the light and strength to work according to the will of God,” read a statement from the Diocese.

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