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Archive of September 22, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI will talk about John Paul II in first televised interview

Vatican City, Sep 22, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI decided to grant his first televised interview, in which he will talk about his predecessor Pope John Paul II, and his possible trip to Poland in 2006. The Pontiff granted the interview to the Polish public canal TVP and was recorded last Tuesday.

According to the Vatican Radio, the interview was made in the Apostolic Residence of Castelgandolfo, and was lead by Father Andrea Majevski, in charge of the Catholic programms forthe polish broadcasting company.

The final version of theinterview will last 15 minutes, and will be broadcast on October 16, the anniversary of John Paul II’s election as Pope.

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Potential ambassador to the Vatican says US, Rome share values

Washington D.C., Sep 22, 2005 (CNA) - The United States and the Vatican share some fundamental values, investment firm owner Francis Rooney told a Senate Committee Monday.

Rooney appeared before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in an hourlong hearing, testifying to his qualifications and answering questions relevant to his potential role as ambassador to the Vatican, reported the Naples Daily.

The Senate is expected to confirm Rooney as ambassador to the Vatican by November.

"Mr. chairman, the United States and the Holy See share the fundamental values of the inherent dignity and right to freedom of each person," he was quoted as saying.

"Pope Benedict XVI has made clear that he intends to continue the work of Pope John Paul II in defending human rights, promoting human dignity and working to advance dialogue among people of different faiths, races and ethnicities."

His resume includes working with the Red Cross, the United Way and the strategic planning committee for the St. Francis Hospital System, a Catholic health-care provider in Tulsa, Okla.

He has served on the board of the Young Presidents' Organization, whose members include more than 8,500 chief executive officers from 75 countries, and as a member of the Board of Advisors to the Panama Canal Authority.

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Pell warns on curtailing unions

Canberra, Australia, Sep 22, 2005 (CNA) - Cardinal George Pell criticized government policies and draft legislation related to labor, poverty and education.

The archbishop of Sydney, Australia, said the dilution of union power in labor negotiations has "gone a bit too far" and he encourages a "moderate strengthening" of the unions in order to deal with powerful multinational companies, reported The Age.com.

"Some of these trans-national corporations are very, very powerful indeed and I think we need strong and effective and humane and altruistic unions to continue to dialogue with these people," Cardinal Pell said Tuesday in an address to the National Press Club in Canberra.

The cardinal expressed concern at plans to cut a job seeker’s welfare payments to eight weeks if he/she did not turn up for interviews three times in a year. This policy would exempt people with special situations, such as home schoolers and people with a sick or disabled child.

This "pretty tough" policy would place added stress on family, friends and charities to support people during their payment suspension.

The cardinal also criticized Federal Labor's education policy, which proposed redistributing funding away from wealthy private schools to less well-off schools, saying it was unacceptable.

He endorsed the teaching of intelligent design alongside the theory of evolution in schools. He also criticized schools for teaching about films, magazines, advertisements and abandoning the great classics of English literature, denying youth a philosophical foundation for adhering to humanist values, reported The Age.com.

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Bishop asks for prayers for politicians

, Sep 22, 2005 (CNA) - Catholics in Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore have been asked to recite a special prayer for local, state and federal politicians during October, a month traditionally designated as Respect Life Month.

"The sanctity of life is being challenged on so many fronts," said Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington. "Embryonic stem-cell research, abortion, euthanasia and the death penalty are just some of the ways life is threatened in our society.

"I ask people of good will to join in praying, in a true spirit of compassion, for all politicians and especially for those who take public anti-life positions. It is my belief that through prayer we may begin to see some substantial changes in their public positions," he said in his message to the faithful.

A special prayer card will be distributed in the diocese’s 57 parishes and 19 missions Oct. 1-2. The card features a prayer written by the bishop in 2004 and the Litany of St. Thomas More, martyr and patron of politicians and lawyers. It also has a portrait of the saint by Fr. Timothy Nolan.

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Illinois launches stem-cell research institute without public approval

Chicago, Ill., Sep 22, 2005 (CNA) - Pro-life leaders in Illinois are outraged that Gov. Rod Blagojevich "thwarted the democratic process" and authorized the creation of a medical institute that would conduct embryonic stem-cell research.

This action makes Illinois the fourth state in the nation-after California, Connecticut and New Jersey-to establish a stem-cell research facility, but it’s the first to do so without input from the public, reported the Catholic Explorer.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich superseded the General Assembly July 12 by initiating an executive order to create the Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute, which would conduct research involving all forms of stem cells, including from adults, umbilical cord blood and embryos. The institute is expected to open by December.

Taxpayers were told at a Chicago press conference that $10 million of public funds would be invested as a start-up cost for the institute. Details about ongoing funding, fiscal accountability and research methodology have not yet been disclosed.

Blagojevich reportedly justified his actions, saying: "Since the federal government has chosen to stall the medical advancements that will come with stem cell research, it is up to the states to take action."

"We feel in many ways that [the governor] betrayed his office" by superseding the process of the General Assembly, Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, told the Catholic Explorer.

The governor’s executive order has "signaled his disregard for the deeply-held beliefs of millions of Illinois citizens" and "thwarted the democratic process," said Gilligan.

Gilligan believes it would have been more fiscally prudent to invest money into adult stem-cell research, which has a proven record of success unlike embryonic stem-cell research.

Michelene Bajaklan, attorney for the Respect Life Office for the Archdiocese of Chicago, said the archdiocese is working with Catholic Conference of Illinois to see if there are legal grounds to challenge the order.

She pointed out that the issue of establishing an institute was debated in the spring, but it never came up for a vote.

In April, the Catholic bishops of Illinois issued a joint letter to lawmakers, indicating their disagreement with a proposal to establish a research facility that would include embryonic stem-cell research.

Fr. Tadeusz Pacholoczyk, director of education for the national Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, has frequently addressed the issue from the Catholic point of view, noting that Church teaching prohibits research that makes use of embryonic stem cells. The process of harvesting of these cells kills the embryo.

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Death of two seminarians sparks nationwide seminary discussion about drinking

Chicago, Ill., Sep 22, 2005 (CNA) - The death of two Chicago seminarians last week--both of whom were passengers in a car accident in which the driver’s blood alcohol level was double the legal limit--has raised new concerns about formation programs for potential priests and issues surrounding alcohol use.

Matthew Molnar and Jared Cheek, both seminarians for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, died last week when the car they were riding in crashed on the grounds of Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary, University of St. Mary of the Lake, going a reported 70 mph.

CNA has learned that Mundelein has sent a letter to Catholic seminaries around the country urging discussion about drinking in the nation‘s seminaries and what sort of character they ought to be looking for in priestly candidates.

The local sheriff’s office said that Robert Spaulding, 27, the driver of the car, faces a special class 2 aggravated DUI, punishable by 6-28 years in prison.

Both Spaulding, and the car’s registered owner, 36-year old Mark Rowlands, who was also in the car, have been suspended from the seminary. They were studying for dioceses in Wyoming and Ohio, respectively.

According to reports, Rowlands, a former Ohio police officer, was also arrested for carrying a gun, bullets and sheriff’s badges in the glove box of the car. Police are charging him with impersonating a police officer.

Archbishop Joseph Nauman of Kansas City commented after the accident that, Molnar and Cheek’s deaths "are a great loss for the archdiocese, and they will be deeply felt by the entire archdiocesan family…They were both wonderful and exuberant missionaries of Christ’s love, and representative of the high quality of young men we have studying for the priesthood of the archdiocese."

Molnar’s mother told the Chicago Tribune that he had gone to nearby Emil’s Pizza and Sports bar earlier in the evening but had lent his car to two friends who wanted to leave earlier in the evening.

He and Cheek, who he had known from Kansas, ended up in the ill-fated back seat of Rowland’s car.

"I feel sorry for the driver because he has to live with this all of his life," Pam Molnar told the Tribune. "Everybody makes choices. Sometimes their choices aren't the right choices."

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First annual Archbishop Gomez Amistad Awards honor Hispanic Catholic leaders in Denver

Denver, Colo., Sep 22, 2005 (CNA) - Last evening, at the city’s Centro San Juan Diego center, two members of Denver’s Hispanic Catholic community were honored for their lives of service and self-sacrifice at the First Annual Archbishop Jose Gomez Amistad Awards.

Proceeds from the evening are going to support the groundbreaking Cantro San Juan Diego mission, a ministry founded in part by Archbishop Jose Gomez--now Archbishop of San Antonio--when he was in Denver, to provide the area’s Catholic Hispanic community with spiritual, educational and social services.

Centro San Juan Diego has received national recognition and is being talked about as a model for other centers of its kind around the country.

Last night’s awards went to Jim Garcia, a local man who founded the La Clinica Tepeyac--a medical clinic which serves the uninsured working poor in inner city Denver, and to Socorro Garcia (no relation), who organizes Hispanic activities and ministries for the growing immigrant community at St. Augustine’s parish in nearby Brighton.

Jim, who grew up in a family of 12 in Albuquerque, New Mexico told the Denver Catholic Register, that, "my pastor told me there was this incredible need in the Hispanic community for affordable healthcare.

"It was something they were dealing with in the office every single day," he said. "These were hard working people who simply did not have access to health care."

Jim, who is married with two children and works as an admissions director for nearby Arrupe Jesuit High School decided to act.

"A contractor told me it would cost a minimum of $150,000 to renovate the house to the point that it would be suitable as a medical facility," he said. "We had $10,000 to work with, so we were short $140,000."

The following weekend, Jim explained his vision and implored his fellow parishioners at all the Masses asking for volunteer carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers and electricians.

"The next weekend", he said, "we had more than 100 people show up to start the renovation…The entire renovation was done with volunteers and donated materials."

Socorro, who moved to Denver in 1992 with her family from Chihuahua, Mexico, humbly says that it is her joy to do a small part to help bring people closer to Jesus and help her fellow Hispanics find comfort in a foreign land they may not understand.

"The culture here is hard for a lot of Hispanics," Socorro told the Register. "People are always looking at the clock and running around in a hurry. In Mexico, people spend more time with each other and their families. It’s hard to adjust, so I try to make the community a family that’s centered around Jesus."

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Franciscan University conference to tackle difficult Catholic social teaching

Steubenville, Ohio, Sep 22, 2005 (CNA) -

In light of a continued national debate on the role of faith in political life, as well as scientific advances which the Catholic Church asks faithful to take pause at, Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio has announced an upcoming conference in which experts will tackle many of these key social and ethical issues head on.

The thirteenth annual National Conference of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists (SCSS) is slated to be held on the university’s campus from October 28th through 29th.

Dr. Stephen Krason, professor of political science and legal studies at the university and the president and co-founder of the SCSS, said that, "Within the Church in the US a lot of people involved in social questions as Catholics are actually more informed by secular thought than the genuine social teaching of the Church."

"Sometimes", he said, "it takes a concerted effort, even in a small way, to bring the truth to the fore."

The Society, which was founded in 1992 in an effort to apply authentic Catholic social teaching to some of society’s most pressing ethical questions, consists of over 300 Catholic teachers, scholars and social scientists.

The University said that over 60 presentations will be given throughout the weekend ranging in topic from euthanasia and life issues, legal practices and Catholic family life and cultural questions.

More information can be found at: www.catholicsocialscientists.org.

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Church will not accept illicit donations, Mexican bishops say

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 22, 2005 (CNA) - In an official statement, the general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference Mexico, Bishop Carlos Aguiar of Texcoco, rejected claims that the Church accepts donations of illicit money.

In response to confusion surrounding alleged comments by Bishop Ramon Godinez of Aguascalientes regarding the supposed acceptance of contributions by drug traffickers, the statement notes that "the Catholic Church systematically rejects any public conduct that is unethical. This rejection is especially vigorous when it comes to a crime as serious as drug trafficking, which causes serious harm to so many families and to the social and economic fabric of our country and of the whole world."

"Moreover," Bishop Aguiar recalled, "the Catholic Church is one of the institutions that does the most to help drug addicts recover and to create the conditions for social justice so that drugs do not drag young people down. Therefore, any collaboration between the Church and ‘the business of drugs’ not only completely lacks any basis, it also contradicts her enormous work of social assistance."

Regarding financial contributions to the Church, Bishop Aguiar noted that those who make small donations at parishes are not required to identify themselves, but "when it comes to large sums, the Church’s normal practice is to require that the donor identify himself; and when the Church discovers that the money is of illicit origin, she rejects it in order to avoid any complicity in the crime."

The bishop also reiterated that the "those who are publicly known to be drug traffickers are forbidden to be sponsors for Baptism or Marriage and from exercising any position or responsibility in the Church."

"The Church has traditionally recommended following the gospel example of Zacchaeus who, having gotten rich illegitimately, later met Jesus and was convicted of his sin and gave most of his riches to the poor. I hope many of our own delinquents would act the same," he said.

Bishop Ramon Godinez maintained that the press misinterpreted his words. "I have been quoted as saying that money unlawfully obtained can be ‘purified’ in the Church or that the Church accepts money from drug traffickers. These quotes are not accurate nor did I say them," he stated in a press release.

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Archbishop calls for peaceful resolution to conflict between farmers and government

La Paz, Bolivia, Sep 22, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, Cardinal Julio Terrazas Sandoval, called on the government and farmers, who have occupied four ranches, to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in order to avoid further violence.

Last weekend a group of 200 farmers began occupying lands located in Santa Rosa de Sara. During the confrontations, at least six people were wounded.

"This has been a problem for some time and it must be resolved. Violence never achieves anything, I hope that dialogue will bring us what we need soon," the cardinal said.

The farmers claim that the owners of the lands took possession of them illegally.

According to the latest information, the government’s Public Ministry is to decide whether or not to use force to remove the farmers from the lands. This has some local leaders concerned that such a move could lead to an outbreak of violence. The director of Bolivia’s National Institute for Agrarian Reform, Roberto Torrez, called on the farmers to use legal means to resolve the problem, because "that is what the law is for."

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Argentine bishop says tourism must be respectful of human dignity

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 22, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Ruben Frassia of Avellaneda-Lanus, Argentina, called on politicians and businessmen this week to remember that "in all tourist activity, the ultimate end must always be respect for human dignity."

"Everyone who works in the tourism industry is called to build structures that make it healthy, popular and economically sustainable, always keeping in mind that the context of all tourism activity should always be the search for the common good," he added.

Noting the upcoming celebration of World Tourism Day, the bishop called on those who work in that industry in Argentina to take concrete steps to guarantee the security of tourists and their peaceful visits to local areas.

Tourism workers should remember that their industry should be marked by "responsibility, honesty and culture," he added.

Bishop Frassia will mark World Tourism Day on Friday with a special Mass at the Parish of San Ildefonso.

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Spanish bishops to support protest of controversial education law

Madrid, Spain, Sep 22, 2005 (CNA) - Several Spanish bishops have expressed their support for a protest scheduled for November in Madrid against a controversial law on education that is set to be debated in Congress.

Bishop Jose Omella of Logroño told the Spanish daily La Razon that parents have every right to protest because the opinions of parents, teachers and students regarding the proposed law are not being taken into account.

Similarly, Bishop Josep Angel Saiz of Terrasa said that the "right to religious instruction is not a concession but a right belonging to children, young people and parents." "The State cannot move against the majority opinion of the people, and therefore I support the call for protest, which I will support with all my strength," he added.

Speaking from Jerusalem, Bishop Jesus Sanz of Huesca said that "in the coming days the date of the protest will be confirmed, and I will actively participate, and I encourage everybody to do so."

Other bishops have expressed their support, including the Archbishop of Toledo, and the Bishops of Pamplona and Jaen.

The proposed law on education would remove religion as part of the standard curriculum in public schools.

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