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Archive of July 30, 2007

Cardinal O'Malley appoints first woman as head of Catholic Charities

Boston, Mass., Jul 30, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston made history yesterday by appointing Tiziana Dearing as the first woman to ever lead Catholic Charities in Eastern Massachusetts.

The new appointment comes as Fr. J. Bryan Hehir leaves the position so that he can spend more time working as the Secretary for Social Services for the Archdiocese. For the past three years, Fr. Hehir has served as the head of both Catholic Charities and as the Secretary for Social Services.

Father Hehir said that separating the two positions will strengthen the organization and the executive committee of the board has determined that this is the best way to continue the growth of Catholic Charities.

Father Hehir met Dearing when she was a parishioner and he pastor at St. Paul Parish in Cambridge and has worked with her at CRS and at Harvard. She is a talented leader from a solid Catholic family, he said.

“She brings real management and consulting skills,” he added. “We’ll work together on Charities because there are lots of challenges these days.”

Cardinal O’Malley also spoke highly of Dearing saying, “[she] is an outstanding example of lay persons bringing their skills and talents to the work of the Church for the good of all whom we serve and the wider society,” the cardinal added.

Ms. Dearing arrives at her new post well qualified to lead the non-profit organization that served 200,000 people last year. Prior to being named president of Catholic Charities in Eastern Massachusetts, Dearing was the executive director of the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University.

Working for a non-profit is something that Dearing has always felt called to. "I've been working with nonprofits and made a very conscious choice that that's where I wanted to spend my life," Dearing said. "That was largely due to feeling called to the social mission of the church. I feel a strong sense of calling to take the job, and I think it's because my call to nonprofits in general came from my faith. It came from being influenced by economic justice for all, and it came from a sense that service needs to be a core part of who you are."

Dearing highlighted the issues that she sees as integral to her new job. “To come to the job I’m going to, you have to be passionate about the poor and the issues that affect them, and I anticipate this job will allow me to continue to be passionate about those issues,” Dearing said yesterday. “Catholic Charities is a solid organization, but there is also a growing need for it.”

With 140 programs and a $38 million budget, the agency served 200,000 people of all faiths last year. But its Natick office, for example, has seen an influx of refugees and immigrants. In Brockton, the agency has a waiting list of nearly 2,000 people who want to learn English.

Dearing also spoke about the adoption service that Catholic Charities used to provide up until last year when the Archdiocese closed it down.

Dearing said she has no plans to revive Catholic Charities’ adoption service, which the agency’s board voted to end last year under pressure from the Archdiocese of Boston to refuse to place children with gay couples.

“Catholic Charities’ policy on gay adoptions is set by the church,” she said.

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First female president of India calls for end of selective abortion

New Haven, Conn., Jul 30, 2007 (CNA) - In her inaugural address upon assuming the presidency of India, the country’s first female leader called for an end to abortions based on sex preference.  India is one of the countries with the highest number of abortions of female babies.

President Pratibha Patil, 72, said that for her, "Empowerment of women is particularly important to me as I believe this leads to the empowerment of the nation."

She noted the urgency of banishing “malnutrition, social evils, infant mortality and female feticide."

LifeSite.net denounced that shortly after Patil’s speech, police discovered 30 bags full of dismembered babies outside an abortion clinic in Eastern India. Specialists believe that the remains were of baby girls, killed because of the preference for male children in India. Despite the fact that sonograms and sex-selective abortion are illegal, the law is rarely enforced.

In 2006, researchers found that approximately 500,000 unborn female babies were aborted each year in India. They stated that if this number has remained consistent since the introduction of ultrasound, then an estimated that 10 million female babies have been murdered in the past 20 years.

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Pope calls for end to kidnappings in South Korea

Castelgandolfo, Italy, Jul 30, 2007 (CNA) - At the conclusion of the recitation of yesterday’s Angelus at Castelgandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI made a special appeal for the 22 South Koreans kidnapped by Taliban militants in Afghanistan, calling for an end to such kidnappings.

“The practice by armed groups of manipulating innocent persons for promoting their own goals is becoming widespread,” the Pontiff said.  “These are grave violations of human dignity, which go against every elementary norm of civilization and rights and gravely offend the divine law. I make my plea so that the authors of such criminal acts desist from the evil done and return their victims unharmed,” he added.

On July 19, a group of 23 South Korean missionaries were kidnapped by Taliban rebels south of the Kabul.  On July 25 one of the missionaries, 42 year-old protestant pastor Bae Hyung-kyu, was shot. His body was later found with ten gunshot wounds. While they are referred to as missionaries, their church insists that they were only doing medical work and teaching English.

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U.S. lawyers help launch bioethics project in Seoul

Washington D.C., Jul 30, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic Church in South Korea is bracing for a legal battle to protect life.

Prompted by the recent plans of the South Korean government to back cloning efforts by disgraced scientist Dr. Woo-Suk Hwang (who in 2005 fraudulently claimed to have cloned human embryos), Cardinal Nicholas Cheong has announced that the Catholic Church will be actively supporting lay efforts in the fall session of the National Assembly in defense of human rights and the dignity of the human person. 

The cardinal also emphasized that contrary to what the detractors of the Church say, the Church is pro-cures and has awarded $10 million in grants to adult stem cell researchers.

Lawyers of the U.S.-based Bioethics Defense Fund, Nikolas Nikas and Dorinda Bordlee, will be assisting in the Catholic lay movement in South Korea against cloning. They will be in Seoul this week on a legal, media and educational mission. 

“BDF is honored to respond to the call of Cardinal Cheong to provide legal assistance to members of the National Assembly, to the Catholic and secular press, and to the newly formed Seoul pro-life bioethics legal team headed by attorneys James and Gloria Kim,” reads a press release.

Nikas has asked for prayers for their mission to a country that has great influence on worldwide bioethics policy.

The group will make available the BDF Bioethics Blueprints, which provides the text of life-affirming bioethics legislation that has been enacted in the U.S., as well as in Canada, Germany, Italy and France.

For more information, visit: www.BDFund.org

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Teen leads Colorado pro-life group

Denver, Colo., Jul 30, 2007 (CNA) - She’s 19, home-schooled and the leader of a new movement to make abortion illegal in Colorado.

Kristine Burton has wanted to do something to stop abortion since she was 13 years old, she told the Denver Post in a recent interview. Burton is leading Colorado for Equal Rights, a group pushing a ballot initiative to amend the Colorado Constitution in 2008 to make abortion illegal.

A faithful Baptist from rural Peyton, Burton says she has a passion to be involved with the pro-life movement. Currently, she is enrolled in the online law school for home-schoolers, Oak Brook College of Law in Fresno, Calif.

She has teamed up with 32-year-old attorney Mark Meuser, an Oak Brook graduate whom she met at a legal conference, to push for the recognition of the humanity of the unborn. Meuser, who is licensed to practice law in California, recently moved to the Denver area to pursue the initiative full time.

Meuser said he has strategized with attorneys at the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., a nonprofit public interest firm dedicated to religious freedom. The center has indicated that it is willing to give Meuser legal assistance in any subsequent litigation.

Meuser and Burton are working to define when personhood begins since the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade stated that "when the personhood is established, ... the fetus' right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the (14th) Amendment."

The team met with the state title board Wednesday to set the ballot title. Any of the reproductive-rights groups opposing the effort have until Wednesday to challenge the ballot wording.

After final ballot approval by the board, Meuser will submit the wording of their petition to the secretary of state's office, which has two days to review it. Then, Burton and Meuser have six months to collect the signatures of more than 76,000 registered voters.

Burton and Meuser spent Thursday visiting church groups and other organizations to drum up support. 

Colorado for Equal Rights registered as an issue committee with the secretary of state on June 15, and lists Burton’s mother, Debra, as secretary. Its only donations so far have come from Burton's father, Michael, who has given $188.

Those interested can visit the organization at http://www.coloradoequalrights.com/

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Pope's aide warns of 'threat by Islam'

Vatican City, Jul 30, 2007 (CNA) - The Pope's private secretary warned against the Islamization of Europe and stressed the need for the continent's Christian roots not to be ignored, reported The Daily Telegraph.

"Attempts to Islamise the West cannot be denied," Msgr. Georg Gaenswein was quoted as saying in an advance copy of the weekly Sueddeutsche Magazin to be published today.

"The danger for the identity of Europe that is connected with it [Islam] should not be ignored out of a wrongly understood respectfulness," the magazine quoted him as saying.

He also defended the Pope’s Regensburg address, in which he had linked Islam and violence, saying it had been an attempt by the pontiff to "act against a certain naivety".

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Pope calls for atomic energy to be used for peaceful ends

Castelgandolfo, Italy, Jul 30, 2007 (CNA) - Upon concluding the recitation of the Angelus this Sunday with a group of pilgrims at the papal summer residence of Castelgandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI said that atomic energy should be used for peaceful ends.

The Pope began his remarks emphasizing the theme of world peace, noting that Sunday was “the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which was instituted with the mandate to ‘seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health, and prosperity throughout the world’.”

The epochal changes of the last 50 years are evidence of how, in the difficult crossroads at which humanity finds itself, the commitment to encourage the nonproliferation of nuclear arms, to promote a progressive and agreed-upon nuclear disarmament, and to favor the peaceful and safe use of nuclear technology for authentic development -- respectful of the environment and always attentive to the most disadvantaged populations -- is always relevant and urgent,” the Pontiff said.

Likewise he stressed that in place of the arms race “there must be substituted a common effort to mobilize resources toward objectives of moral, cultural and economic development, 'redefining the priorities and hierarchies of values.'"

We again entrust to the intercession of Mary Most Holy our prayer for peace, in particular that scientific and technological knowledge be used with a sense of responsibility and for the common good, in complete respect for international law. Let us pray that men live in peace and all feel as brothers, sons of one Father: God,” the Pope said in conclusion.

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Chinese officials arrest four underground priests

Stamford, Conn., Jul 30, 2007 (CNA) - Chinese officials arrested four priests, belonging to the underground Catholic Church in China, this past month.

According to the Cardinal Kung Foundation, a nonprofit group that monitors freedom of religion for Christians in China, eight civilian-clothed policemen apprehended three priests July 24 at the home of a Catholic believer in the Ximeng region of Inner Mongolia. 

They were arrested because they are loyal to Pope Benedict XVI and refused to join the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the foundation stated.

The three priests, originally of Hebei, were hiding in Inner Mongolia in order to avoid the arrests, but they were finally hunted down by the Security Police.

The priests are: Frs. Liang Aijun, 35; Wang Zhong, 41, and; Gao Jinbao, 34.

During the initial phase of the arrest, the priests were locked up in an iron cage. They were not allowed to talk to anyone. Water brought to them was refused by the police. They have now all been transferred to an undisclosed location.

The fourth priest, Fr. Cui Tai, 50, of Zhuolu County, was in a minor motorcycle accident in early July. After the accident was resolved, the authorities transferred him to the public security and religious bureau. He has been detained in the Zhuolu County detention cell ever since. Fr. Cui has also refused to register with the Patriotic Association. He belongs to the diocese of Xuanhua, Hebei.

Joseph Kung, president of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, underlined that there are still five bishops in jail and many others under house arrests and close surveillance. In addition, about 15 priests and some Catholic lay people are also in jail.

“While we need to 'love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us,' as Pope Benedict told us in his China letter, we also need to awaken the world to the ongoing persecution of the Roman Catholic Church in China,” said Kung.

“The freedom-loving and powerful countries of the world should take into greater consideration - consistently, and persistently, and not haphazardly - all human rights violations in China when forming and implementing their political and commercial decisions in relation to China,” he stated.

"In the meantime, we urge the Chinese government to take steps immediately to stop all persecution throughout China and release all Roman Catholic bishops and clergy together with those faithful of other faiths from prisons," he said in a statement.

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Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood elect new superior

Rome, Italy, Jul 30, 2007 (CNA) - The Congregation of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood have elected Father Francesco Bartoloni as their new superior general for the next six years. 

The election took place during the 19th General Assembly at the Most Precious Blood School in Rome July 16-27.

The assembly’s task included electing new leadership for the period of 2007-2013, in addition to considering some revisions of the congregation’s constitutions.

The gathering concluded with a vote on a final message and decree and the celebration of the Mass. On Saturday, July 28, members were able to meet with their new superior.

The Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood is a society of Apostolic Life founded by St. Gaspar at the Abbey of San Felix in Italy on August 15, 1815.  Its spirituality is characterized by community life, perfection in charity, with special emphasis on the apostolate and the missions.

The new superior, Father Bartoloni, was born in Giano dell’Umbria-Perugia. He entered the congregation in 1973 and was ordained a priest in 1974.  He spent a number of years working in the country of Tanzania.

More information can be found at: www.mission-preciousblood.org 

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