, Oct 24, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore is up and about, though using a walker and wearing a protective boot on his right foot. The 75-year-old cardinal broke his ankle Oct.7 in a car crash in Italy that took the life of his longtime friend Fr. Bernard Quinn, 78.
The two men and Msgr. Thomas Smith, 75, were driving back to their hotel in Terni, north of Rome, after visits to the tombs of St. Valentine and St. Rita, when another car struck them. Smith broke several ribs but was well enough to preside at Fr. Quinn's funeral on Saturday.
The cardinal told a press conference Monday that he does not remember many details about the accident because it happened so suddenly. He remembers feeling disoriented after the impact and springing into action after realizing what had happened.
He and Msgr. Smith immediately gave absolution to Fr. Quinn and to each other. "The instinctive reaction of the priest is to make sure that the sacraments of the Church are available to someone who is dying or in danger of death," Cardinal Keeler reportedly told the press conference.
Cardinal Keeler told journalists he believes Fr. Quinn had anticipated his death that day. He recalls being surprised that the priest had mentioned at least four times throughout the day that he was prepared for death.
The cardinal also announced that reopening of the Basilica of the Assumption, scheduled for Nov. 4, will continue as planned.
Cardinal Keeler also said he is waiting to hear about whether Pope Benedict XVI will accept his resignation, which he submitted, according to canon law, when he turned 75.
Vatican City, Oct 24, 2006 (CNA) - Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said today that the history of the Holy See’s journal, L’Osservatore Romano, “has shown that, in order to spread the evangelical message, the Church…needs the work, inventiveness, and charisma of the laity.”
At the inauguration of a new exhibit on the 145th anniversary of the Vatican paper, this morning, the cardinal noted how what was, “created to defend the Catholic religion and the Roman Pontiff... later became the unofficial organ of the Apostolic See." This made it an ideal instrument for "spreading the teaching of Peter's Successor and information concerning Church affairs," he said.
"We cannot fail to highlight," he added, "that it is thanks to certain lay faithful... that the first steps were made.”
The cardinal then went on to observe how the exhibition "familiarizes us with the pastoral work of 11 Popes: Blessed Pius IX who gave his consent to the foundation of the Osservatore Romano; ... the profound social changes of the pontificate of Leo XIII; ... St. Pius X, the Pope of the great reforms within the Church; Benedict XV ... who on the pages of the newspaper published his heartfelt 'Appeal to the Leaders of the Warring Nations;' ... Pius XI who condemned political totalitarianism of all kinds, as did his successor, Pius XII; ... the springtime of the Church under Blessed John XXIII; ... the wise and providential activities of Paul VI; ... the brief pontificate of John Paul I; and ... the renewed dialogue of the Holy See with the world that characterized the pontificate of John Paul II," up to "our own times in which the Church progresses under the prudent guidance of Benedict XVI."
Participating in the exhibit’s opening, which is titled, "L'Osservatore Romano: From Rome to the world, 145 years of history through the pages of the Pope's newspaper," was Enrico Gasbarra, president of the Province of Rome, accompanied by members of the provincial council, as well as various civil and religious authorities.
The cardinal concluded his talk by expressing the hope that, "through the glorious memory of the past," this initiative "may re-launch, with a prophetic spirit, an effective and convincing means of communication of the Church."
Canberra, Australia, Oct 24, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Anthony Fisher, auxiliary bishop of the of Sydney, told a Senate committee on Friday that Catholic hospitals would not treat patients with cures derived from embryonic stem-cell research, a process that destroys human life. Neither will they take part in the controversial research that necessitates the destruction of the embryo.
The Australian Senate is hearing submissions on a private members’ bill that would allow the creation of cloned human embryos for research.
The bishop said that his brief underlined that the Catholic Church “embraces stem-cell research as long as it is conducted in ethical ways,” such as adult and cord blood stem-cell research.
The proposed legislation propose that ethical considerations, such as the foundational principle of medical research ethics, primum non nocere, first do no harm, be cast aside in pursuit of experimental goals and commercial opportunity, he said.
“Cloning the human being is ethically abhorrent … and a denial of universal human dignity,” he said.
“Therapeutic” cloning is “much more unethical” than “reproductive” cloning, he added, because “not only does it create human life in an immoral way, but it does so with the object of killing that human being for parts.”
“We have never before proposed the creation of two classes of human beings: those intended for life and those marked for death. We implore our leaders not to cross this line.”
The bishop noted that some people have tried to exclude Catholic voices from the debate. However, he reminded listeners that the Catholic Church “is the oldest and largest healthcare provider in the world” and its worldwide network of universities, medical schools, teaching hospitals, hospices and nursing homes “provides the best that contemporary medical science and nursing art have to offer.”
“The Church is not anti-science,” the bishop said. “But we do ask that science be carried out in ethical ways and this concern is no monopoly of Catholics.”
Catholic Health Australia chief Francis Sullivan said in a separate statement that a decision to overturn the cloning ban is likely to set a dangerous precedent that human life is “expendable” and undermine the principle of protecting innocent human life. Catholic Health Australia was scheduled to present a separate brief before the Senate.
Prime Minister John Howard has granted Parliament a conscience vote on the issue and the House voted to retain the ban in August.
Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott said Australia must not pursue human cloning and embryonic stem-cell research, but the Lockhart report review of stem-cell research recommended overturning the ban on therapeutic cloning.
Washington D.C., Oct 24, 2006 (CNA) - Georgetown University Law Center has named a human rights chair for a controversial priest who has been actively supportive of abortion during and after his time as a U.S. Congressman.
Dean T. Alexander Aleinikoff announced the establishment of the Robert F. Drinan, SJ, Chair in Human Rights at a formal ceremony Oct. 23; Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh gave the keynote address.
"Few have accomplished as much as Fr. Drinan, and fewer still have done so much to make the world a better place," Aleinikoff reportedly said. "This new Chair honors Fr. Drinan's lifelong commitment to public service and will allow us to bring distinguished human rights scholars and advocates to Georgetown Law.”
Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, has called the naming of the new Chair “deeply disturbing” and “hypocritical.” The university has established a human rights chair “in the name of a heretical priest who has spent much of his lifetime advocating for the most heinous of human rights violations: abortion,” he said in a statement.
Fr. Drinan has been a strong supporter of abortion rights, during his time in public office and afterwards as well, stating that while he was personally opposed to abortion, its legality was a separate issue from its morality.
Fr. Drinan joined the Jesuit Order in 1942 and was ordained in 1953. He was admitted to the bar in 1956 and served as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts for five terms (1971-1981). Fr. Drinan left his congressional seat in 1981, when Pope John Paul II declared that no priest should hold an elected political seat. Fr. Euteneuer said Drinan was, “ordered by Pope John Paul II to relinquish his seat in the U.S. Congress because of the unrepentant aid and comfort he consistently gave to the purveyors of the culture of death.” Since 1981, Drinan has been a professor at Georgetown Law.
He is one of the founders of the Lawyers’ Alliance for Nuclear Arms Control and the National Interreligious Task Force on Soviet Jewry. He is also the vice-chair of the National Advisory Council of the ACLU and a member of the Helsinki Watch Committee.
However, many say the priest’s human rights work is all for not, due to his work against the fundamental right to life. Euteneuer cited Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Christifideles Laici, in which he says: “The common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights—for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture—is false and illusory, if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition of all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.” (n.38).
Euteneuer said he prays that Georgetown will reflect upon John Paul’s words “and come to the obvious conclusion that they must rescind this award and fully embrace their Catholic heritage by defending the most vulnerable members of our society, the unborn.”
, Oct 24, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Edward Egan has issued a letter to all pastors of the Archdiocese of New York, confronting, head-on, rumors of priests who have been accused of sexual abuse and who “claim that they have been the victim of unjust treatment, deception and lack of understanding” on the part of the cardinal.
The cardinal’s letter follows an anonymous and scathing letter which was sent by an anonymous group of clergy, and which casts the cardinal in a bad light and calls for his resignation.
“At the core of the letter, and the declaration in support of it by Msgr. Howard Calkins, are stories that are being told by priests who have been found guilty of sexually abusing minors after thorough treatment of their cases, according to well-established archdiocesan procedures,” the cardinal wrote.
“The archdiocese has always been careful to respect their privacy,” he wrote. However, he added, “this situation cannot be allowed to continue.”
The cardinal went on to outline new procedures that will be undertaken in cases where priests have been found guilty of abusing a minor but “reported to be speaking untruthfully about the matter.”
“He will be called in to see me and invited to write a letter correcting his statements and offering his apology. His letter will then be made public,” the cardinal wrote. “If he refuses to write the letter, he will be asked to appear before a panel of six priests -- three members of the Presbyteral Council and three vicars -- to make his case. Thereafter, officials of the archdiocese will make our case. The panel will study the matter and issue a report to the Presbyteral Council.”
The cardinal said the faithful will be informed so as to protect the archdiocese from the dissemination of future falsehoods regarding the sexual abuse of minors.
The cardinal asked that the priests discuss the matter at their vicariate meetings in November and add to the agenda of the Presbyteral Council in December.
The cardinal said he intends to visit the 19 vicariates during their regular meetings in the new year and will review the new process he has adopted.
Konigstein, Germany, Oct 24, 2006 (CNA) - During a visit to the headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need, Auxiliary Bishop Yaroslav Pryriz of Sambir-Drohobycz in Ukraine thanked the benefactors of the organization for bringing about “an explosion” in Catholic education.
Bishop Pryriz, who is a Redemptorist, focused on the recognition of theology as an academic discipline by the state. He said advances in theological training had made such progress possible. “This massive explosion of theological formation is like a baby being nurtured by the benefactors of Aid to the Church in Need,” he stated.
The Bishop went on to explain that Christian ethics are now allowed to be taught in schools and universities and that much of the efforts of the Church are being focused on this task, particularly through the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. “Other universities are now much more open to cooperation with the Catholic University since theology has been recognized as a subject, so there is a lot of interchange going on,” he said.
Bishop Pryriz noted that the Greek Catholic Church was already cooperating with the Kyivan Patriarchate Orthodox Church in Christian ethics educational programs and had a crucial role in developing ecumenical relations. “The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church can serve as a model by which Orthodox Churches in Ukraine can remain eastern and yet have full communion with Rome,” he said.
Lima, Peru, Oct 24, 2006 (CNA) - A renowned Peruvian doctor who has published a book on the ethical and moral problems of assisted reproduction said this week, “Although many parents think the have a right to have a child no matter how, morally speaking this right is non-existent.”
Dr. Luis Raez, oncologist and professor of medicine at the University of Miami, was in Lima to present his new book, “Risks and Problems of In-Vitro Fertilization: From Cloning to the Destruction of Human Embryos.”
In an interview with the Peruvian daily “El Comercio,” Raez said that with the false premise that the ends justify the means, “many parents assert that since they want to have a child, it doesn’t matter if it comes through a neighbor, a donor, or from rent-a-womb.”
“In-vitro fertilization breaks natural law: there are no more rules because you are manipulating the process according to your own whims and you are eliminating the natural relationships of motherhood and fatherhood, of parents and children, because the principle that is held up is that of everything goes. The child, on the other hand, does have a right to a father and a mother,” he added.
Raez also noted that in-vitro fertilization is far from technically perfect, since a number of embryos are killed during the process of implantation in the woman’s uterus. “Since people can’t see them, perhaps they don’t consider it a problem. But embryos are human beings. What happens if two or three embryos are implanted at the same time? The woman would have a high-risk pregnancy, but if she only wants one, then the left over embryos would have to be killed,” he added.
Referring to the role of legislation in such matters, Raez said laws should protect and guarantee the security of the human being rather than politically endorsing what suits a particular group. “Scientific advances have to be at the service of man because the problems occur when scientists begin to play God, kill embryos and make the life of the human being relative in accord with their economic interests.”
Raez, who has authored several books on euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, abortion and AIDS, said that while one million people have been born through various assisted reproductions techniques, many people continue to be unaware of their terrible ethical implications, such as eugenics in the selection of the race or sex of the embryo.
San José, Costa Rica, Oct 24, 2006 (CNA) - The Bishops of Costa Rica called on those involved in protests yesterday and today against the signing of the Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Central America and the Dominican Republic to carry out their protests peacefully.
“We are issuing a call, both to authorities and to protestors, to avoid all outbreaks of violence and, in absolute respect of the public order, to make every effort to carry out these demonstrations through peaceful means,” the bishops said in a statement.
They called on Costa Ricans to be an example before the world by “banishing the possibility of all violent confrontation and favoring the overcoming of differences by preserving peace.” Peace in society, they added, demands “calm analysis” carried out with respect for all interested parties.
While the bishops acknowledged that everyone has the right to publicly protest and that the State should guarantee the free exercise of civil and political rights, “the healthy exercise of our rights and freedoms as citizens obliges us to consider that limits do exist, that is, my freedoms do not extend beyond the point of infringing upon the rights of others,” the bishops emphasized.
“We believe the resolution of conflicts through confrontation is not characteristic of Costa Ricans,” they added.
Union leaders recently announced they would organize protests this week against the signing of the Free Trade Agreement. While they pledged protests would be non-violent, they did not rule out the possibility of blocking traffic. Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez responded saying he would not allow the flow of transit to be interrupted.
Bogotá, Colombia, Oct 24, 2006 (CNA) - The secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Bishop Fabian Marulanda, called on Colombians this week to show understanding in response to a surprising message from President Alvaro Uribe Velez that he will call off attempts to reach an humanitarian agreement with the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) to seek out the release of the kidnapped through military operations.
Bishop Marulanda acknowledged that the president’s message caught the country off guard, but he said Colombians should understand that Uribe “softened his rhetoric and created an atmosphere favorable to a humanitarian accord,” but he was discouraged by “a terrorist attack.”
Last Thursday, the FARC set off a car bomb in one of the parking lots of a military university in Bogota. The blast left more than 20 injured and caused severe damage to the building.
Bishop Marulanda decried the ongoing violence of recent years, with country “taking one step forward today, and one step backwards tomorrow.” The current situation, he said, constitutes “a grave challenge for the Army” should convince the FARC of the need to return to talks and work for a humanitarian accord.