, May 26, 2005 (CNA) - Shareholders in the media giant, Viacom, will be greeted by many unhappy faces as they enter a meeting at New York’s Marriot Marquis Hotel this afternoon.
William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, an organization for religious and civil rights, is leading a charge, railing against the company, and their subsidiary, Showtime, for airing a program which they call “a full frontal assault” on the late Mother Teresa and the Catholic Church.
The program, “Holier than thou”, starring magician entertainers Penn and Teller, paints Mother Theresa and her Sisters of Charity as “cruel, exploitative, self-serving nun[s] who ripped off the poor,” according to Donohue.
“In the 12 years that I have been president of the Catholic League,” he wrote yesterday, “I have never witnessed a more vicious attack on Catholicism than what appeared this week on the Showtime program, ‘Penn and Teller.’ The episode, ‘Holier Than Thou,’ was a frontal assault on Mother Teresa and her order of nuns, Missionaries of Charity (as well as Gandhi and the Dali Lama).”
In the episode, says Donohue, “We are told that Mother Teresa intentionally let the poor suffer, providing neither beds nor bathroom facilities. ‘She had the f—king coin and pissed it away on nunneries,’ says Penn. As for the nuns who worked with Mother Teresa, they are referred to as ‘f—king c—ts.’”
The Catholic League announced yesterday that it would hold a press conference outside of the Manhattan hotel at 1:30 today and that copies of Donohue’s statement regarding the show would be handed out to shareholders as they enter.
Likewise, they said that additional copies would be mailed to bishops and other interested parties throughout the nation.
Donohue continued: “It does not bother me when they call me ‘Catholic Boy’ on the show (though the term ‘Jew Boy’ would never cross their lips), nor does it concern me when they talk about ‘f—kers like Bill Donohue [who] only see good in her.’ But when they mock the Catholic Church’s teaching on the meaning of suffering, and when they say of the poor that ‘They had to suffer so that Mother F—king Teresa could be enlightened,’ then they are behaving like monsters.”
Washington D.C., May 26, 2005 (CNA) - On a 56-43 vote, the Senate has confirmed Pricilla Owens, a Texas Sunday school teacher, to a spot on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Owens, who has been widely backed by pro-life groups, is the first of President Bush’s pro-life judicial picks to be confirmed.
On Monday, the Senate narrowly avoided a threat of Democrat filibustering of all of Bush’s judicial nominees, barring them from receiving an up or down vote. A deal however, was reached, which allowed three of the five nominees to receive a vote.
The Senate now looks to vote on William Pryor for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and Janice Rogers Brown for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Both, like Owens, are seen as strong pro-life advocates.
In addition, they will vote on the nominations of three Michigan judges.
While many pro-choice advocates, as well as the abortion industry, are upset by Owen’s confirmation, others are elated.
Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader praised the vote saying Owen "withstood an orchestrated partisan attack on her record."
Others, including Texas Senator John Cornyn, called her a “supremely qualified nominee [who] received the up-or-down vote she deserved."
Planned Parenthood however, the nation’s largest abortion provider, told supporters in a last minute alert that they “strongly oppose” the nomination.
Had Monday’s filibuster deal not taken place, Owen’s 56-43 vote win may have fallen short of the 60 votes Republicans would have needed to stop the Democrat filibuster of the nominees.
Washington D.C., May 26, 2005 (CNA) - The Washington-based Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions announced recently that they have declared July 14th as an official day of prayer for the canonization of Blessed Keteri Tekakwitha, the first Native American proposed for Saintood.
Blessed Kateri, who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980, has long been seen as a potential and perhaps unspoken patron saint for Native American peoples.
The Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions worries that the would-be Saint, known as the ‘Lily of the Mohawks’ is not well enough known in the U.S. and last November, began urging Bishops and parishes to spread her story.
Blessed Kateri first learned of Christ as a young woman from a group of French Jesuits in 1667, and almost immediately begged to be baptized.
Shunned by her family and community for her devout faith, Kateri was forced to flee through 200 miles of wilderness to a Christian, Native American enclave, where she took a vow of chastity and amazed even the resident French missionaries with her austere and fervent love of God.
The feast day for Blessed Kateri, who died in 1680, is celebrated on July 14th.
New Haven, Conn., May 26, 2005 (CNA) - President George W. Bush's decision to veto embryonic stem-cell research legislation being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives is "a principled stand in defense of human life,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.
"This is not a partisan issue,” said Anderson. “The bill is sponsored by a member of the president's own party, and unfortunately many members of both parties do not appreciate the grave moral issues that are at stake.”
In a letter to House leaders, outlining administration policy, the White House declares that the bill, H.R. 810, "would require federal taxpayer dollars to be used to encourage the ongoing destruction of nascent human life. The bill would compel all American taxpayers to pay for research that relies on the intentional destruction of human embryos for the derivation of stem cells.”
"The president's strong stand on behalf of society's most vulnerable members is heartening for everyone in the pro-life movement," Anderson concluded.
The Knights of Columbus have 1.7 million members.
Lima, Peru, May 26, 2005 (CNA) - The Council of Latin American Bishops’ Conference (CELAM) wrapped up its 30th Plenary Assembly by declaring to continent to be in “a state of mission” and calling on Catholics of Latin America and the Caribbean to meet the challenge of evangelizing other continents.
In the final message of the Assembly entitled, “So That Our Peoples May Have Life,” the bishops state, “With our communities we place ourselves in a ‘state of mission’ in hopes that, during this year of the Eucharist, the Lord Jesus Christ might remain with us and make us capable of communicating Him to our brethren.”
“In the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, home to the majority of Catholics in the world, there must awaken a desire to bring the Gospel to other countries and continents, to those the proclamation of Jesus Christ has not yet reached,” the bishops wrote.
They also explained that at the dawn of the new millennium, “Latin America and the Caribbean are strongly challenged by the religious, ethical and cultural changes that signify the birth pains of a new era.”
The bishops noted the importance of pastoral work aimed at bring people to conversion amidst the confusion of the modern world and the seductive messages conveyed by the media.
“We shall set out into the deep, frequently sailing against the tide, but with sympathy for each person, created and recreated in the image and likeness of God,” they added.
The bishops lamented the continued problem of poverty in Latin America and that certain governments do not work for the common good. They also chided Catholics who are incoherent in their faith and do not help build up society as disciples of the Lord. “The marginalization of Native Indians, who have not been given the place they deserve, causes us sorrow,” the bishops also noted.
In this context the bishops highlighted the importance of the culture of life, which is manifested “in the respect for life, in the joy of transmitting life, in the raising of Christian families that become sanctuaries of life, in the creation of social and legislative conditions that make it possible for everyone, especially the poor and marginalized, to live a live worthy of their human and Christian vocation.”
During the last day of the Assembly, the bishops approved an economic report as well as a budget for the V General Conference of the Latin American Bishops.
Manila, Philippines, May 26, 2005 (CNA) - Gunmen in the Philippines released 13 hostages yesterday, including a Catholic bishop, after having kidnapped them the day before in the southern region of the country.
Bishop Emmanuel Treveno Cabajar of Pagadian was among the 13 hostages released unharmed. He had been serving as mediator between the government and the captors.
The three gunmen hijacked a bus on Tuesday as it approached a police checkpoint in southern Misamis Occidental province. Police later agreed to let the gunmen escape if they agreed to free the passengers.
As part of the agreement, the gunmen demanded they be given a pick-up truck and that Bishop Cabajar join them as a human shield, in return pledging to release all of the hostages once they reached safety, police and officials said. Cabajar agreed, even though top police officials had advised against the move.
The gunmen departed in the pick-up truck with Bishop Cabajar inside and the hostages piled in back, and later released all the captives, officials said.
The gunmen abandoned the bishop in the remote town of Lakewood south of Pagadian where the bishop offered a Mass of thanksgiving.
Santiago, Chile, May 26, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Juan Barros of the Military Diocese of Chile and Bishop Miguel Caviedes of Los Angeles, Chile, traveled to southern Chile to meet with family members of the soldiers who died or went missing during a snow storm in the Andes near Antuco.
Nearly 40 soldiers most of them under 20 years of age, died or disappeared last weekend when they were overcome by a snow storm during a march in the Andes Mountains, 300 miles south of Santiago. The accident was the worst peacetime tragedy in the history of the Chilean military.
Priests from the local diocese have also reached out to family members, offering Masses and prayers for the victims and their families.
Madrid, Spain, May 26, 2005 (CNA) - Last Wednesday during the children’s program “Los Lunnis,” the Spanish Television network (TVE) broadcast a segment entitled “Different Weddings,” in which children were told about different ways to get married, including homosexual “marriage.”
Each day during the program, the two main characters present a segment styled after popular news programs in an attempt to help children understand the adult world.
One of the reports, entitled “Different Weddings,” showed a Sudanese man marrying a Spanish woman, a Catalonian couple getting married according to an ancient rite, and two men getting married before a justice of the peace.
A spokesman for TVE said the decision to air the program was made because it described “a situation that sooner or later they will see because the law [on homosexual unions] is going to pass.” He called the segment “light,” with “no aggressive promotion of homosexuality,” adding that the subject was mentioned only “in passing” and had “no negative connotation.”
The program, which is aimed at children 3 to 7 years old, ended with a moral to the story. “You don’t have to get married to love somebody, but many couples prefer to do so. You all have seen three different weddings with the same purpose.”
Although a law making homosexual unions equal to marriage has not yet passed, TVE has begun campaigning for the change and exposing children to the idea of homosexual unions.
Vatican City, May 26, 2005 (CNA) - During the celebration of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which took place in the square facing the Basilica of St. John Lateran’s, Pope Benedict XVI highlighted the necessity for Christians to encounter Christ in order to be able to proclaim Him to all nations.
The Holy Father spoke of the relationship between Corpus Christi and Holy Thursday saying, “In this celebration the Church relives the mystery of Holy Thursday in light of the Resurrection.” “During the Holy Thursday procession,” he went on, “the Church accompanies Jesus to the Mount of Olives. It is the desire of the praying Church to watch with Jesus, to not leave Him alone on the night of his betrayal, of the indifference of so many. During today’s feast, we take up this procession again in the joy of the Resurrection.”
The Pope underscored that “the Lord has risen and goes before us” in two directions: “The first is towards Galilee,” inviting all to evangelize and spread the Gospel to all peoples; the second is “towards the Father,” as Jesus “ascends to the heights of God and invites us to follow Him.”
These two directions “together point to the way of following Christ. The true goal is communion with Christ. We can live with Christ on the streets of Galilee, bringing the Gospel to all nations, bringing the gift of his love to the men and women of all times.”
Referring specifically to the procession that would take place immediately after Mass, the Pope explained it as a “symbolic response to the command of the Lord in Galilee to bring the Gospel to the world.”
“The power of the sacrament of the Eucharist goes beyond the walls of our Churches, the Lord is always on the way towards the world. We carry Christ present in the form of bread through the streets of our city,” the Pope added.
“May our streets belong to Jesus, may our homes belong to Him and be for Him! With this gesture we place under his eyes the suffering of the infirm, our temptations, our fears, our entire lives.”
“To eat this bread is to communicate, to enter into communion with the person of the living Lord. This act of eating is really the encounter of two persons and letting oneself be penetrated by the life of the One who is Lord, who is my Creator and Redeemer. This communion implies following Christ,” the Pope said.
“Our procession ends in front of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in the encounter with the Virgin called the Eucharistic Woman.” “Let us pray to her that she may help us be open to the presence of Christ, to follow him day after day throughout our lives,” he concluded.
Washington D.C., May 26, 2005 (CNA) - President George W. Bush has promised to veto a bill, which would allow government funding for embryonic stem-cell research. Bush made his intention know after the House approved H.R. 810 on Tuesday.
The House also approved H.R. 2520, which supports research that uses stem cells from umbilical cord blood. The bill also establishes a nationwide public bank for umbilical cord blood stem cells.
While embryonic stem-cell research requires the destruction of the embryo, that is, human life at its initial stages, stem-cell research using umbilical cord blood does not compromise or destroy human life.
Officials of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are pleased with the vote on research based on umbilical cord blood, but they had come out strongly against embryonic stem-cell research
An official with the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities noted that the pro-life movement was up against the Hollywood celebrities, researchers and scientists and the wealthy biotechnology industry in the debate on embryonic stem-cell research.
Richard Doerflinger said the “floor debate showed an appalling degree of ignorance and confusion on the issue.” For example, some said that “embryonic stem cells have a proven ability to cure patients and that adult stem cells do not, whereas exactly the opposite is true,” Doerflinger said.
According to a poll conducted this month, 52 percent of Americans oppose federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research. When given a choice between funding all stem-cell research, or only research which does not require destroying human embryos, respondents favored the latter by 60 to 22 percent.
“Society must focus its efforts on promoting medical research that all Americans can live with,” said Doerflinger.