Archive of November 2, 2005

Alito confirmation would create first ever Catholic dominated Supreme Court

Washington D.C., Nov 2, 2005 (CNA) - The nomination of Judge Samuel Alito for the U.S. Supreme Court shows how Catholics have gone from a mistrusted minority in the 19th century to an integrated part of American society in the 21st, says constitutional and criminal law expert Richard Garnett.

If Alito is confirmed, the high court will have a Catholic majority for the first time in the nation's history. Alito would join Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas to give the nine-member court five Catholics.

A Web site that keeps tracks of statistics on religious affiliation,, says that just 10 of the 108 justices who have served on the Supreme Court have been Catholic.

Garnett, who teaches at Notre Dame Law School, said while the increase in Catholic judges comes at a time when the court is moving in a generally more conservative direction, he predicted that justices on a majority-Catholic court would have "nothing distinctively Catholic about their jurisprudence."

He noted that Alito had applied Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, two landmark cases establishing a woman's right to an abortion, as a federal appeals judge.

"The fact that one is Catholic should probably have some impact on whether one thinks abortion is immoral," Garnett told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, "but it doesn't really have much to do with whether a judge thinks Roe v. Wade is a good interpretation of the U.S. Constitution."

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Bishop launches heating subsidy program for needy families

North Providence, R.I., Nov 2, 2005 (CNA) - The Diocese of Providence is starting a new program to help needy families pay their winter heating bills.

Bishop Thomas Tobin launched the program Monday by delivering a $2,700 check to a North Providence family whose heat had been turned off, reported the Associated Press.

The funds will come from the diocese’s Interfaith Dire Emergency Fund. They will also help supplement others, such as the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program known as LI-HEAP and the Salvation Army's Good Neighbor Energy Fund.

The bishop decided to start the Keep the Heat On Challenge after the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission approved a 17 percent increase in natural gas prices last week.

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Four Catholics to be honored for outstanding leadership

Philadelphia, Pa., Nov 2, 2005 (CNA) - Four Catholic leaders will be recognized with the Outstanding Catholic Leadership Award this week.

The honorees include Pat DeAngelis, president and CEO of Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia; former president of Covenant House, Sr. Mary Rose McGeady, DC; Jim Murray, former general manager of the Philadelphia Eagles and president of Jim Murray Ltd. sports promotion and marketing; and Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.

The Catholic Leadership Institute is conferring the awards Nov. 4 at the Wyndham Franklin Plaza Hotel, Philadelphia. This will be the sixth annual awards banquet.

The award is intended to recognize Catholics, “whose exemplary leadership in the family, the workplace, the community and the Church has been inspired by their Catholic faith," said Timothy Flanagan, founder and chairman of the Catholic Leadership Institute.

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New book chronicles Pope’s memories of John Paul II

San Francisco, Calif., Nov 2, 2005 (CNA) - Even 8 months after his death, the world is still abuzz about the legacy of Pope John Paul II. The man who would take his place, good friend, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now shares his own memories of the late Holy Father in a new volume called, The Legacy of John Paul II: Images and Memories.

The new book, released in October by San Francisco-based Ignatius Press, uses the words and memories of now-Pope Benedict XVI and the stunning images of Vatican photographer, Giancarlo Giuliani, to chronicle the three-decade long papacy of a man already being hailed as “John Paul the Great.”

The book includes an excerpt from then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s funeral homily for the late Pope, in which he recalls that “none of us will be able to forget how in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father…came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessig Urbi et Orbi.”

“We can be sure”, the future pontiff added, “that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees us and blesses us.”

The handsome, red-covered book, being released in English only--a rare act for a book on the Pope--includes photos of the 1981 assassination attempt on his life, as well as meetings with world political, religious leaders and faithful around the globe.

George Weigel, biographer of John Paul II, said that “Pope Benedict’s tribute to his extraordinary predecessor is both testimony and pledge: a testimony to the depth of human brotherhood that friendship with Christ makes possible, and a pledge to continue, extend and deepen the witness of the office of Peter.”

John Paul died on April 2nd of this year quietly in his room at the Vatican. In the days and weeks following, media and faithful flocked to the Eternal City in numbers never before seen. It has been said that more people saw the late Holy Father in person than any other person in history.

The Legacy of John Paul II: Images and Memories can be purchased from Ignatius Press for $19.95 at

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Women’s group commends congress on fetal pain issue

Washington D.C., Nov 2, 2005 (CNA) - The Washington-based group, Concerned Women for America commended the U.S. Congress yesterday for their serious look at a hotly charged issue--when and if an unborn baby feels pain.

An recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that unborn babies--up until the third trimester--do not feel pain.

The study unleashed a firestorm of controversy from pro-life groups and even one Ohio Congressman, Steve Chabot, who was led to ask, if a premature baby born before the 28th week can feel pain, why would an unborn fetus of the same age not feel it?

Wendy Wright, Executive Vice President for CWA said yesterday that, "Not only do unborn children feel pain, the evidence suggests they feel pain more acutely than at any other stage of life." 

"The Constitution”, she added, “forbids cruel and unusual punishment for the guilty; we should not have a lesser standard for the innocent.

A bill, currently before the U.S. House, called the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, could require doctors performing abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy to inform the mother of the possibility of pain and offer anesthetics for the child.

Chabot, quoted in the Cincinnati Enquirer Monday, said that “There is a growing consensus that at least by the 20th week, which is halfway through the pregnancy, the unborn baby feels pain…A mother that is considering abortion should have that information before her."
Added Wright: "Each woman considering an abortion has the right to know the excruciating pain her innocent unborn baby will experience. In order to make an informed decision on whether to undergo an abortion, mothers should be aware that the 20-week-or-older baby they are carrying will feel agonizing pain.

"We applaud Congress”, she said, “for seeking information on an issue that the timid or abortion enthusiasts would rather sweep under the rug.”

“Ignoring evidence does not make it untrue, it only makes us accomplices."

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Follow a morally unexceptionable life, says Pope in Angelus, as Church remembers deceased

Vatican City, Nov 2, 2005 (CNA) - “After yesterday’s celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints, today’s Liturgy invites us to pray for our dear ones who have left us. As we face the mystery of death, Sacred Scripture strengthens our hope by assuring us that all who live in accordance with the Word of God are reborn into the fullness of life.”

On the Day the Church remembers the deceased, Pope Benedict invited the faithful “to follow a morally unexceptionable life, against any illusory alternative of success obtained via injustice and immorality."

The Holy Father exhorted the faithful in St Peters to accept "the constant call of the prophets to side with the marginalized, supporting them with abundant aid." He explained that for Christians, "loyalty to the divine word consists in fundamental choice, which is charity towards the poor and needy: respecting the biblical call to be generous towards the poor and to brothers in need, without self-interest or the usury that destroys the lives of the poor.”

“As we face the mystery of death, Sacred Scripture strengthens our hope by assuring us that all who live in accordance with the Word of God are reborn into the fullness of life. These are the just, the happy ones, of whom Psalm 111 speaks.

The pontiff gave as an example of Clement of Alexandria, who  “invites  Christians to share generously with their neighbours by giving "without regret, without distinction or pain".

The Pope greeted the English-speaking visitors gathered on Saint Peters Square, saying  “I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s audience. I extend particular greetings to the groups from England, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Malta, Canada and the United States of America. May your pilgrimage strengthen your faith and renew your love for the Lord, the Giver of Life, and may God bless you all!”

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Archbishop: Pope will ‘prune’ institutions with weak Catholic identity

Atlanta, Ga., Nov 2, 2005 (CNA) - The Church, under the papacy of Benedict XVI, will likely refuse to support and maintain ties with institutions that have weakened or lost their Catholic identity, says Archbishop Michael Miller, secretary of the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education.

The archbishop made this speculation during his speech Monday at the 2005 Terrence Keeley Vatican Lecture at Notre Dame University, reported the Notre Dame University Observer.

The lecture reportedly drew some of Notre Dame's most prominent leaders, including the university’s president emeritus, Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, and the dean of arts and letters, Mark Roche.

Archbishop Miller based his prediction on the writings of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. He said the writings indicate that the new Pope believes it is a mistake to uphold institutions that lack a solid Catholic identity.

"[The Pope] argued that it might be better for the Church not to expend its resources trying to preserve institutions if their Catholic identity has been seriously compromised," the archbishop was quoted as saying. "His writings show that a time of purification lies ahead, and this undoubtedly will have some ramifications for Catholic institutions."

Archbishop Miller said the Pope believes the “measure of an institution can be judged by its Catholic integrity."
"Benedict and others may believe that if a Catholic institution is no longer motivated by a Catholic identity, it is better to let it go," he reportedly said.

The archbishop suggested that the Church could take two approaches to such institutions: the Pope's "evangelical pruning" or a method of hopeful patience that the institution will eventually come around, the archbishop said.

He said the Pope “appears to be more inclined to avoid scandal and lead a path of evangelical pruning, but we don't know. We await."

The Catholic university is called to give collective witness to the faith, carry out the Church's evangelizing mission and provide service to the world, said the archbishop. One significant way to provide service is by developing partnerships with “emerging countries,” he suggested.

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