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Archive of June 5, 2007

Bishop of Rhode Island condemns Giuliani's abortion stance

Providence, R.I., Jun 5, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island received an invitation in the mail recently from none other than Rudy Giuliani. The politician was inviting the bishop come to a fundraising dinner for his presidential campaign, but Bishop Tobin did more than just politely decline.

Instead of sending a non-descript RSVP to inform Giuliani that he would not attend, the prelate wrote him a scathing letter to turn down his offer.

According to the diocesan newspaper, the Rhode Island Catholic, Bishop Tobin was already greatly “distressed” before he received the invitation to the fundraiser and was planning on writing about the matter already. The bishop also explained, “But then I received an invitation to attend a fundraising luncheon for presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, and that absolutely confirmed my decision.”

Tobin went on to explain why he felt the need to write a response. “I have no idea why I received an invitation to Giuliani’s fundraiser. I don’t know the [former] mayor; I’ve never met him. I try to avoid partisan politics. But most of all, I would never support a candidate who supports legalized abortion.”

The bishop said of the politician’s standpoint on abortion, “Rudy’s public proclamations on abortion are pathetic and confusing. Even worse, they’re hypocritical.”

Giuliani previously provided explanations of his position on abortion stating that he had two pillars of belief. “One is, I believe abortion is wrong. I think it is morally wrong . . . The second pillar that guides my thinking . . . where [people of good faith] come to different conclusions about this, about something so very, very personal, I believe you have to respect their viewpoint.”

Reacting to this statement Tobin wrote, “Rudy’s explanation is a classic expression of the position on abortion we’ve heard from weak-kneed politicians so frequently in recent years: “I’m personally opposed to but don’t want to impose my views on other people.”

“The incongruity of that position has been exposed many times now. As I’ve asked previously, would we let any politician get away with the same pathetic cop-out on other issues: “I’m personally opposed to . . . racial discrimination, sexual abuse, prostitution, drug abuse, polygamy, incest . . . but don’t want to impose my beliefs on others?”
 
Bishop Tobin also addressed the issue of how politicians’ decisions in the public sphere affect their relationship with the Church.

“Rudy’s preposterous position is compounded by the fact that he professes to be a Catholic. As Catholics, we are called, indeed required, to be pro-life, to cherish and protect human life as a precious gift of God from the moment of conception until the time of natural death. As a leader, as a public official, Rudy Giuliani has a special obligation in that regard,” said Tobin.

In the invitation for the event, mention was made of having a photo taken with Giuliani for $1,500. Referring to this offer, Bishop Tobin told the organizers, “I won’t be attending the fundraiser for Rudy Giuliani. If Rudy wants to see me, he’ll have to arrange an appointment at my office. We’ll talk about his position on abortion. And if he wants a photo [of me], it will cost him $1,500 as a donation for the pro-life work of the Church.”

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Australian Archdiocese proposes oath of fidelity for Catholic school leaders

Sydney, Australia, Jun 5, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney wants its school leaders to publicly commit to a vow of fidelity by adhering to church teaching on some crucial issues--homosexuality, birth control and women's ordination.

The vow would apply to its 167 principals, its deputy principals and religious education coordinators and would be a first for the Catholic Church in Australia, Fairfax newspapers report.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, is behind the move to extend the oath. He is perhaps drawing his inspiration from the apostolic exhortation issued by Pope John Paul II in 1990, Ex Corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church). In his exhortation, the late Holy Father calls for all those teaching theology in Catholic universities to take an oath of fidelity to the teaching of the Church and those who are not Catholic are asked to respect the Catholic identity of the school.

The Australian requirement is contained in a draft pastoral plan circulated to all parishes of the Sydney archdiocese for comment.

The plan includes marriage preparation classes for senior secondary school students, twice-yearly reviews of its educational bodies, and forums so Catholic politicians can be updated on church teachings.

It also includes formal courses and seminars to teach youth about sexuality and life issues.

The archdiocese says the oath is not an attempt at control but has symbolic value as a public commitment to the moral teachings and identity of the church.

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Spokane Diocese emerges out of bankruptcy

Seattle, Wash., Jun 5, 2007 (CNA) - The Diocese of Spokane is expected to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, thanks to donations that are coming in from a variety of sources.

Shaun Cross, the attorney representing the diocese, says he filed the final paperwork in court late Thursday afternoon in order to emerge successfully from bankruptcy.

Funds totaling $20 million are coming from Seattle — most of it from insurance settlements. Other sources of funding are coming from the sale of the diocesan headquarters, recently sold at auction, and donations from around the country. These donations have been collected in accounts set up to help the archdiocese emerge from bankruptcy.

Spokane parishes are reportedly are doing well in meeting their $10-million contribution toward the settlement. Recently, they sent letters to parishioners asking them to donate as much as $1,000 per family.

Cross estimates the $48-million settlement could be paid by October.

The diocese had filed for Chapter 11 protection in December 2004 when faced with numerous lawsuits filed by alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests.

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Pray for Iraqi Christians before the faith is gone

Konigstein, Germany, Jun 5, 2007 (CNA) - The international president of Aid to the Church in Need, Hans-Peter Rothlin, is calling for prayers for the Church in Iraq, as “the persecution of Christians has reached a point that the future of the Church is in danger.”

In recent statements, Rothlin said, “We are sleep walking towards the death of a Christian population whose ancestors accepted the Gospel before everyone else in the first century.”

“In past ages,” he explained, “the Christians of Iraq had little or no voice, but now the situation is much worse.  They are suffocating in silence.  We have the duty to help Iraqi Christians because we share the same faith.”   “Will it be too late when we do something?” he asked.

“Imagine if this were happening to us, imagine if they we kicking us out of our homes, imagine if we were receiving death threats, imagine also how we would feel if our sisters and daughters were forced to marry so-called Jihad warriors,” Rothlin stated.

“What would we do if somebody knocked on our door and demanded payment of at least $100,000 simply for being a non-Muslim in an Islamic country?” he asked.  Despite all of this, their will is not weakened and they do not give in to the pressure to convert to Islam, he continued.  “The example of faith and bravery of the Iraqi Christians is what we need to hear,” he suggested.

Rothlin issued an urgent appeal to “all leaders of the world, benefactors, friends and in fact the entire world to pray for the Christians of Iraq,” as “they need to be protected and helped, so that they can be at peace in their own country.”

“We pray the world will wake up and that the affronts against the suffering Christians of Iraq will cease.  We pray the God of mercy and compassion will come to their aid,” he said, adding, “We should never underestimate the power of prayer.”

He concluded citing a favorite saying of the founder of Aid to the Church in Need, Father Werenfried van Straaten: “They are being tried in the faith, we in love.”

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California firm launches national campaign to preserve umbilical cord blood

San Bruno, Calif., Jun 5, 2007 (CNA) - The Cord Blood Registry, a blood bank in San Bruno, has launched a nationwide campaign to increase public awareness of cord-blood preservation.

The blood bank is proposing the collection and storage of umbilical-cord blood for future use. Collecting cord blood takes only a few minutes, and is painless and risk-free to the baby and the mother.

“The goal of this campaign is to help expectant parents better understand the significance of banking cord-blood stem cells,” said Stephen Grant, executive vice president and co-founder of Cord Blood Registry, in a press release.

For example, a two-year-old boy recently received a transplant of his own cord blood stem cells to treat his type 1 diabetes.

Prior to the baby's delivery, parents currently can opt to preserve cord blood stem cells with a family bank or donate them to a public bank.

Treatment with cord-blood stem cells is more ethical than treatments derived from embryonic stem cells, which requires embryos to be killed in the process. Furthermore, no treatments have come as yet from embryonic stem cell research.

According to the National Marrow Donor Program, the number of transplants using cord blood as a source of stem cells to treat serious diseases, such as leukemia and aplastic anemia, will surpass those using bone marrow later this year.

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Cardinal Pell decries the slippery slope cloning will lead to

Sydney, Australia, Jun 5, 2007 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, has spoken out strongly against the proposed legislation legalizing cloning in New South Wales, Australia. The cardinal spoke on behalf of the 10 dioceses he represents to the parliament of New South Wales this afternoon.  

The Premier of the Parliament, Morris Iemma, who is Catholic, has already indicated he will support the bill. Mr. Iemma, introduced the bill himself just this last week, calling it “therapeutic” cloning—a label that the Cardinal labels as deceptive.

Cardinal Pell has called on all Catholic, Christian and pro-life MPs to oppose the bill. "No Catholic politician - indeed, no Christian or person with respect for human life - who has properly informed his conscience about the facts and ethics in this area should vote in favour of this immoral legislation.”

"Catholic politicians who vote for this legislation must realize that their voting has consequences for their place in the life of the church."

The prelate says that he is not threatening to excommunicate members who support the bill, but they must consider the consequences.

"If this bill is passed, the enemies of human life will soon be back with further proposals, disguised with sweet words and promises of cures, to roll back the few remaining barriers to the regular destruction of early human life."

The bill would allow the creation of four different types of embryos. The first type of cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer) creates embryos with only one genetic parent. The second kind of cloning would mix “the genetic material of more than two persons - which makes a human embryo with three or more genetic parents.” The third procedure to be legalized would involve “Fertilizing immature eggs taken from aborted girls with adult male sperm - which makes a human embryo with an aborted baby girl as its genetic 'mother'." The final type of cloning would create, “human-animal hybrids as a test for sperm quality - which makes an embryo with a human and an animal genetic parent.”
 
In response to the bill, Cardinal Pell said, "This Bill would result in there being two classes of human embryos: those created to live and those manufactured to be eliminated in research. To produce a human embryo with the express purpose of destroying it for research - as if it were a lab rat - is a perverse new direction for human experimentation.”

Cardinal Pell says he has not spoken to the Premier about the issue, but the legislation is taking the state even further down the slippery slope it started down when it allowed experimentation on embryos left over from IVF treatments in 2002.

New South Wales MPs will start debating the bill this afternoon.

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Catholic University of Argentina: “right to abortion” non-existent

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jun 5, 2007 (CNA) - In response to proposals that would liberalize abortion laws in Buenos Aires and in other Argentinean provinces, the dean of the School of Law at the Catholic University of Argentina, Gabriel Limodio, warned this week, “The right to cause the death of one’s own children does not exist.”

“The Constitution and the laws of the nation protect the right to life from the moment of conception and no law that establishes the right to abortion exists.  Thus any legislation that puts the life of the innocent unborn at risk is unconstitutional,” Limodio said in a statement.

He noted that the law in Argentina does not allow any provincial government or legislature to pass laws in violation of the country’s Constitution.  Nor can Argentina’s national Congress “alter the content of the National Constitution inasmuch as it protects the human person from the moment of conception,” he added.

“No matter what his state of development or what his psychiatric or physical defects are, the human person cannot be considered ‘a thing or a product’,” Limodio stressed.  “This way of describing the human being is clearly discriminatory and fosters a new form of slavery that allows one determined group of individuals to decide about the lives of others.”

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“The Family, Sanctuary of Life” to be theme of 18th Marian Day of the Family in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Jun 5, 2007 (CNA) - Organizers have announced that the XVIII Marian Day of the Family in Spain will be held on September 8 and will focus on the theme, “The Family, Sanctuary of Life.”

The encounter will take place at the Shrine of Torreciudad and will begin at midday with an offering to the Blessed Mother by several families, after which Mass will be celebrated.  After the Mass, a music festival will take place for the families while they have lunch.  A message to be sent by Pope Benedict XVI will also be read.  The event will conclude with a procession and the recitation of the rosary.

The Marian Day of the Family is part of a series of events promoted by the Shrine of Torreciudad, including events for rural families, Latin American and Eastern European immigrants, homemakers, athletes and all those “who have a sense of responsibility for guarding and passing on the light of the Holy Family,” said Javier Mora-Figeroa, rector of the Shrine.

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Documentary on miracle of Pacocha submarine debuts in Peru

Lima, Peru, Jun 5, 2007 (CNA) - The documentary “Miracle on the Pacocha,” which recounts the miraculous rescue of the crew of the submarine BAP Pacocha that sunk off the coast of Peru and which occurred thanks to the intercession of the Croatian nun Mother Maria of Jesus Crucified Petkovic was recently debuted during a private screening.

 

On August 26, 1988, the Pacocha submarine collided with the Japanese fishing boat Kiowa Maru.  After the captain of the sub died, Lieutenant Roger Cotrina realized that it would be humanly impossible to avoid a tragedy, as the pressure from the water prevented the crew from closing an internal compartment that would have kept them alive.

 

“I couldn’t breathe and so I began to think as hard as I could about Sister Maria Petkovic (foundress of the Congregation of the Daughters of Mercy).  I closed my eyes and I prayed.  I repeated the prayer that I had heard, I thought of her and suddenly I saw a brilliant light,” he said.  At that moment a supernatural force helped him close the door. A military commission later determined that what Cotrina did was humanly impossible.

 

Eight crew members died during the incident, but the twenty-two survivors said it was thanks to the intercession of Mother Maria de Jesus that they were alive and that she helped them to avoid a greater disaster.  The Croatian nun was beatified on June 6, 2003, by Pope John Paul II, thanks to the miracle that saved the Peruvian sailors.  Cotrina and his wife participated in the ceremony. 

 

The private screening of the documentary was attended by survivors of the accident and their families, as well as members of Mother Maria’s congregation, the Vice President of Peru, Luis Giampietri, and top Navy officials.

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Assisted suicide clinics in Switzerland killing those suffering only from depression

London, England, Jun 5, 2007 (CNA) - Officials have uncovered evidence that two clinics in Switzerland are helping clients to die who are simply depressed rather than suffering from incurable pain.

According to the Sunday Telegraph, the clinics have been accused of failing to carry out proper investigations into whether patients meet the requirements of Switzerland's right-to-die laws.

Andreas Brunner, the senior prosecutor of the Zurich canton, told The Sunday Telegraph, "We are not trying to ban the so-called death tourism, but the outsourcing of suicide must be put under stricter control.  Prosecutors look into every suicide, assisted or not, and there are many cases where it is not clear whether the assisted person has chosen death in full possession of their decision-making capacity. But investigations are difficult due to lack of evidence after the suicide.  We, therefore, demand that the federal government amend the legislation to enable closer and lengthier monitoring of suicide patients before their deaths."

Swiss laws allow doctors to provide "passive suicide assistance" to people who are terminally ill or in great suffering, with patients given a cocktail of drugs that they must administer themselves.  Dignitas and Exit International are two clinics that offer the drugs and are where most of the 300 “assisted suicides” that occur in the country each year take place.

Questions over the practice first surfaced when it emerged that a 67-year-old German woman who committed suicide with help from Dignitas had presented the clinic with faked papers saying that she was dying of cirrhosis of the liver. It turned out that she had been suffering from alcoholism and depression.

Dr. Daniel Hell, of the Swiss National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics, a government regulatory body, said: "We suspect there could have been cases where people who suffered from a temporary depression have been helped to their deaths."

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Jesuit priest yearns to return to Buddhist homeland

Darjeeling, India, Jun 5, 2007 (CNA) - The first Buddhist convert to Catholicism from the country of Bhutan, Fr. Kinley Tshering, is hoping to return to his Buddhist homeland once his term as rector of St. Joseph’s School in Darjeeling, India is up.

The 49-year-old Jesuit does not know what he would do in his native Bhutan since Buddhism is the state religion and the government, as a policy, does not tolerate other religions. Christians remain social outsiders.

But he told UCA News that he would like to simply be present there and discern God’s will in terms of how to proceed. The priest, who is related to Bhutan's royal family, says he hopes Bhutan will become a democratic nation soon. The new constitution guarantees freedom of conscience, but churches are still not allowed.

However, religious tolerance exists in Thimpu, the capital city, and the priest says the anti-Christian phobia seems to have relented a little in recent years. Furthermore, the royal family “is very tolerant toward Christianity. The present king and all the queens studied in our schools," the priest told UCA News.

Nevertheless, Christ is present in Bhutan. The priest owns a house in Thimpu, where he keeps the Blessed Sacrament. About 60 Catholics, mostly Indians, pray there on Sundays. Besides Fr. Tshering, priests from India visit the country occasionally to attend to these Catholics' pastoral needs. No Catholic priest from outside Bhutan is permitted to stay in Bhutan permanently.

Fr. Tshering said he learned about Christianity at a Jesuit-run school. He wanted to become a Catholic, but the Jesuits had refused.

A Salesian priest, however, baptized him in 1974 when he was in the ninth grade. He recalled that his father was "very upset" about his conversion. While no one in his community persecuted him because of his high caste, no one approved of him either.

After becoming the first Bhutanese to earn an MBA, he worked in some prestigious Indian firms for three years. He wanted to become a Catholic priest, but some missioners dissuaded him. All this changed in 1985 after a chance meeting with Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who convinced him that he had a religious vocation.

He joined the Jesuits when he was 26 and was ordained a priest in 1995. He said his faith has never wavered though he is concerned about the “many dissenting voices in the Catholic Church.”

Jesuit priest yearns to return to Buddhist homeland

DARJEELING, India — The first Buddhist convert to Catholicism from the country of Bhutan, Fr. Kinley Tshering, is hoping to return to his Buddhist homeland once his term as rector of St. Joseph’s School in Darjeeling, India is up.

The 49-year-old Jesuit does not know what he would do in his native Bhutan since Buddhism is the state religion and the government, as a policy, does not tolerate other religions. Christians remain social outsiders.

But he told UCA News that he would like to simply be present there and discern God’s will in terms of how to proceed. The priest, who is related to Bhutan's royal family, says he hopes Bhutan will become a democratic nation soon. The new constitution guarantees freedom of conscience, but churches are still not allowed.

However, religious tolerance exists in Thimpu, the capital city, and the priest says the anti-Christian phobia seems to have relented a little in recent years. Furthermore, the royal family “is very tolerant toward Christianity. The present king and all the queens studied in our schools," the priest told UCA News.

Nevertheless, Christ is present in Bhutan. The priest owns a house in Thimpu, where he keeps the Blessed Sacrament. About 60 Catholics, mostly Indians, pray there on Sundays. Besides Fr. Tshering, priests from India visit the country occasionally to attend to these Catholics' pastoral needs. No Catholic priest from outside Bhutan is permitted to stay in Bhutan permanently.

Fr. Tshering said he learned about Christianity at a Jesuit-run school. He wanted to become a Catholic, but the Jesuits had refused.

A Salesian priest, however, baptized him in 1974 when he was in the ninth grade. He recalled that his father was "very upset" about his conversion. While no one in his community persecuted him because of his high caste, no one approved of him either.

After becoming the first Bhutanese to earn an MBA, he worked in some prestigious Indian firms for three years. He wanted to become a Catholic priest, but some missioners dissuaded him. All this changed in 1985 after a chance meeting with Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who convinced him that he had a religious vocation.

He joined the Jesuits when he was 26 and was ordained a priest in 1995. He said his faith has never wavered though he is concerned about the “many dissenting voices in the Catholic Church.”

 

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