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Archive of August 10, 2007

City of Gallup seeks ruling on photos of injured Bishop Pelotte

Gallup, N.M., Aug 10, 2007 (CNA) - The city of Gallup is asking a judge to determine whether police photographs of a badly bruised Bishop Donald Pelotte are a matter of public record. The city filed its request in court Aug. 7.

The bishop was admitted to Rehoboth-McKinley Christian Hospital July 23, after sustaining a fall at his home and has subsequently been released. Police took photos of the injured bishop at that time.

The police report states that the bishop was "heavily bruised across the face, along the chest area, both arms, the knuckles, the legs and the feet.”

At least two media outlets have requested access to the police photos.

According to a report by The Associated Press, the city contends the pictures are not part of the public record because they were taken after the police investigation into the incident and because they were shot at a hospital.

Luis Stelzner, an attorney for the diocese, said turning over the photos would be a violation of federal patient privacy rules because Bishop Pelotte was "barely conscious" at the time they were taken and was not able to give his consent, reported the AP.

But Bob Johnson, who heads the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, says Bishop Pelotte is a "figure of great interest to a lot of people," and he believes the records are public. If anyone violated the law, Johnson told the AP, it was the hospital in allowing police to photograph the bishop.

The July 23 incident is not under investigation because of the bishop’s insistence that a fall caused the injuries.

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Why 2008 candidates should meet the human person

Malibu, Calif., Aug 10, 2007 (CNA) - Watching the multitude of 2008 presidential candidates, there is a sense of unease. It's not that the nation's security, immigration reform, health care and education are unimportant; far from it. It is that the proposals of the candidates seem shop-worn, partisan and just plain hollow. That two-thirds of eligible citizens don't bother to even vote suggests something more fundamental needs attention in the American body politic.

With only a secular vocabulary, however, what ails us is hard to articulate. We know that free markets are efficient, but we also see massive disparities in wealth. The middle class, which Aristotle opined was essential to good governance, often seems consciously short-changed. All but the very wealthy are meaningfully priced out --- from the pursuit of public office, affordable housing and even Notre Dame with its $46,730 tuition and fees, for example.

We all value freedom of expression, yet, often what is expressed becomes coarse and immoral. The Internet which binds us in conversation is drenched in venomous "chat" and pornographic exploitation.

We value law, but there seems far too much of it to go around, and its administration is, or is troublingly alleged to be, based on who you know rather than on objective standard.

We yearn for the "good ole days," looking for a candidate who will restore our self-esteem and standing in the global community --- restoring, if you will, the image of a scrappy, open, honest, compassionate and principled America rather than Abu Ghraib, U.S.A.

The conservative and liberal political vocabularies of the 2008 debate platform are inadequate to these tasks. They fail most specifically to account for the foundational idea that is America: men and women created equal and seeking a well-ordered civic society in order to pursue a transcendent end.

Competing conservative and liberal ideas reflect a diminished conception of the person. Without a sense of man's supernatural self, conservatives emphasize individuality and overlook the need for community and human solidarity; liberals turn "right" into assertions of demand, tolerating if not extolling policies --- such as abortion or commitment-free sexual practice --- that are utterly destructive of the family and the basic goods of nature.

Since these conceptions of the person are incomplete or just plain wrong, they leave us yawning when they are rearticulated in partisan fashion by candidate A or B.

Of course, the failure of the United States to address its own malaise does not exempt us from the resentment produced among very poor nations because of U.S. citizens' attachment to materialism and shifting cultural values. To poor nations, Americans are endorsers of cultural decay exported by market practice and depicted in film.

And when materialistic choices (and their related dependency on foreign oil) end up associating Americans with the worst elements of other societies, the error is compounded by indiscriminately backing the wrong team with U.S. economic and military power.

A thoughtful presidential candidate will help voters to re-examine their national conscience, to contemplate what it might mean for them, for the U.S. and the entire world if they understood the human person authentically and completely --- that is, in the Catholic vernacular in terms of the Trinity and the identity of Jesus Christ.

In so doing, Americans might well rediscover a calling to get beyond self; a capacity to understand that exceeds one's own point of view; a willingness to see one's destiny as inseparable from that of others; a grasp of how a true generosity of spirit breaks down barriers of suspicion and creates community and long-lasting friendship.

The personalist tradition of Catholicism, of course, is not intended as a political platform for any particular nation. As the writings of Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI reveal, it is a way to live, informed by revelation and the tradition of the church. Americans knew that once --- and can know it again.

The candidate who discerns how that might be so will deserve trust.

Douglas W. Kmiec is Caruso Chair and Professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University, Malibu.

Published with permission from the author.

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Travelodge Hotels drop porn television

London, England, Aug 10, 2007 (CNA) - One of the largest British budget hotel chains has decided to drop its pay-per-view pornography channels and replace them with family friendly viewing.

Travelodge Hotels announced its decision this month, saying it wants to attract and encourage the growing number of families who stay at its budget hotels. The number of families and children staying at Travelodge hotels has doubled since 2003.

Travelodge, which has 20,000 bedrooms and branches in Spain, Ireland and the United Kingdom, said it would invest £10 million in new digital televisions that will offer 18 free, family-friendly channels.

The hotel chain says about 70 percent of its customers stay for leisure and 30 percent for business. The latter are thought to be the main consumers of hotel pay-per-view pornography.

The U.S.-based Omni Hotel chain also did away with its pornography option in North American hotel rooms seven years ago at the request of its owner, Robert Rowling.

The availability of pornography in hotel chains has shown to cause negative consequences for hotel staff. In 2004, unionized workers at Norwegian hotels filed complaints about the availability of hard-core pornography, saying that it led to increased sexual harassment of female employees.

Northern Irish Assemblyman Dr. Esmond Birnie followed up on this report, condemning the policy of the Belfast Hilton Hotel to allow hard-core pornography in its rooms and warning that it potentially places hotel staff in a dangerous position.

Pornography is known to generate large profits for hotels. In a 2001 PBS report, analyst Dennis McAlpine estimated that approximately 80 percent of in-room profits at hotels that primarily serve businessmen come from adult movie viewing. In major hotel chains, such as Hilton, Marriot, Hyatt, Sheraton and Holiday Inn, where pornography is offered, 50 percent of the hotel guests purchase the material, comprising nearly 70 percent of the hotels' in-room profit.

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First aid saves priest after stabbing attack

Sydney, Australia, Aug 10, 2007 (CNA) - A Sydney priest, who had his throat cut in a vicious stabbing attack at his residence yesterday, was saved thanks to the residence chef who performed first aid.

Fr. Ho Tran, 55, was repeatedly stabbed when he disturbed an intruder near his residence’s dining area at 4:30 am. Fr. Ho is the rector of the Divine Word Mission in Marsfield, which is a residence for current and retired priests of the Divine Word Missionaries.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Fr. Ho had left his room after hearing a strange noise in the early morning. He came upon the intruder in an entrance between his flat and the dining room. The intruder then stabbed the priest, cutting his throat and slashing an artery in his arm before fleeing. The intruder is still at large.

Fr. Ho stumbled outside, along a concrete walkway to the end of his building, and woke the 68-year-old mission chef, Ray Thrift, who tended to the priest's wounds before calling police.

"He rendered first aid at the scene which was critical to [Fr. Ho's] survival,” Inspector Jim Szabo from Eastwood police told the Herald. “His actions at the scene may have saved the father's life.”

Fr. Ho is currently in the hospital recovering from surgery. He is in stable condition.

There are no clues at this time to the intruder's motive

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Priest arrested for jogging nude, placed on administrative leave

Denver, Colo., Aug 10, 2007 (CNA) - Almost two months ago, Fr. Robert Whipkey went for a pre-dawn jog at a high school track followed by a walk through downtown, when he was discovered by a police officer on patrol.

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t have been news, however, Fr. Whipkey was jogging in the nude and arrested by the officer for indecent exposure. In response, the Archdiocese of Denver has placed the pastor on administrative leave indefinitely.

Father Robert Whipkey, 53, faces an indecent exposure charge after a Frederick police officer encountered the naked cleric walking down the street at 4:35 a.m. on June 22.

The pastor said he runs in the nude because his large size makes him "sweat profusely" if he wears jogging clothes, according to a police report. Whipkey said he'd jogged around the high school track in the predawn darkness because he didn't think anyone would see him at that hour.

"I know what I did was wrong," he said, according to police.

The officer said when he shined his flashlight on the man, he covered himself with a piece of clothing he was carrying.

According to the Archdiocesean spokeswoman, Jeanette De Melo, Father Whipkey is on administrative leave from his three parish assignments for an undetermined period of time. This leave was granted and was made effective August 8.

"The archdiocese has been handling this situation and evaluating it from the very first day we got the information," De Melo said.

Asked if the archdiocese had received complaints about Whipkey, she said: "I know that there have been no allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.”

"Obviously, that is something that we are very, very attentive to and act on immediately whenever we have an allegation of sexual abuse," she added.

However, a little more than eight years ago, while Father Whipkey was pastor of St. Anthony's Parish in Sterling, the Archdiocese did respond to concerns of inappropriate personal behavior by Father Whipkey. 
 
When the Archdiocese first learned of this matter eight years ago, the Archdiocese promptly brought the issue to the attention of the local authorities.  No charges of any kind were made by.  In addition, the Archdiocese of Denver convened its Conduct Response Team, which traveled to Sterling to investigate the matter and to visit with those who had raised concerns about Father Whipkey. 
 
Details about the type of misconduct were not provided by the Archdiocese but they did say that, “Father Whipkey's conduct eight years ago did not involve any physical or sexual contact with another individual.  Father Whipkey immediately entered therapy regarding his personal issues and his therapy lasted several years.”

“As part of that treatment, independent medical health professionals evaluated Fr. Whipkey; these health care professionals did not conclude he was a danger to others or should be removed from ministry, which was central in the Archdiocese's decision at that time.”

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Knights of Columbus close their 2007 convention

Nashville, Tenn., Aug 10, 2007 (CNA) - The four day Convention of the Knights of Columbus came to a close yesterday.  The conference, which was highlighted by the presence of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s second-in-command, who honored the organization’s founder, applauded the organization’s service efforts, and presented a letter from the Holy Father.

In his message, the pope encouraged the Knights to respond to Christ with a courageous “yes,” as did their founder, Fr. McGivney.  He also praised the members saying, “they will be the first front of the new humanity redeemed and saved by Jesus Christ.” 

Along with delivering the Pope message to the Knights, the Cardinal addressed the Church in the US, the situation of the Church in China, faith and politics and also the sexual abuse scandals.  He also commended the Knights for their strength, vigor, and service to the Church saying, “They are Catholic and they are with the Church.”

In the past year, the Knights of Columbus gave $143 million to charities (an increase of 4 million from the previous year), the logging of 68.2 million volunteer hours and reached a record-setting membership of 1.7 million men.

As for the Knights Life Insurance Company, a sister group that provides for the widowed and orphaned, their assets doubled since 2006 and they saw an increase of $6.5 billion in growth.

The Cardinal mentioned that he would give “an excellent report” of his first trip to the United States as Cardinal Secretary of State to Pope Benedict XVI.
 
The Knights also announced that the conference for 2009 will be in Phoenix, Arizona and will include a Marian Congress of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the first of its kind.

 

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Egypt arrests Christian human rights activists

Washington D.C., Aug 10, 2007 (CNA) - On August 8, members of the State Security Investigations (SSI) arrested and detained two Egyptian Christian human rights activists in Cairo, Adel Fawzy Faltas and Peter Ezzat Mounir. Computers and documents were confiscated from their homes at the time of the arrests.

According to Christian Solidarity International, although no formal charges have been announced, security officials claim the two men insulted Islam, preached Christianity, incited Christian-Muslim confrontation, and maintained an unlawful association with a foreign organization. The two Christian prisoners are being held incommunicado at the Lazoghly Square, headquarters of the SSI.

SSI officials routinely torture political prisoners within the first three days of incarceration.

Adel Fawzy Faltas heads the Egyptian branch of the Canadian-based Middle East Christian Association (MECA) - a religious liberty organization. Peter Ezzat Mounir is believed to be a MECA associate. The organization's corporate identity statement calls for secularism, equality, and full citizenship for Christians living in Egypt and the broader Middle East.

The arrests follow increased MECA activity in Egypt, including the submission of a lawsuit against Egypt's President and other members of the Egyptian government on behalf of victims of the anti-Christian al-Kosheh riots in 2000, the distribution of a book documenting the persecution of Egyptian Christians, and the highly publicized advocacy of the rights of a Christian convert.
Writing today to U.S. President George Bush, CSI-USA's Chairman Dr. John Eibner stated:

"The arrests of Messrs. Fawzy Faltas and Ezzat Mounir take place against a background of increasing state-sponsored persecution of Christians in Egypt and growing intolerance of Christians and other religious minorities throughout the Middle East. If present trends of violence, intimidation and discrimination continue, the tragic fate of oriental Jewry could soon befall Middle Eastern Christians."

Dr. Eibner also urged President Bush to "request from Egypt's head of state, Pres. Hosni Mubarak, the immediate release of the three Christian prisoners, and to impress upon him the need for Egypt to respect the internationally confirmed human rights of religious and secular minorities."

Note: Yesterday, CSI stated that a third Egyptian Christian, Adeel Ramses Kosman, had also been arrested. This report has not been confirmed.

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Giuliani’s Catholic chameleon campaign

Washington D.C., Aug 10, 2007 (CNA) - Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani seems to want to have it both ways when it comes to being Catholic. As he campaigns for president, the Republican frontrunner brings up his Catholic background occasionally but refuses to say whether or not he is a practicing Catholic.

When a voter asked this week if he is a ''traditional, practicing Roman Catholic,'' Giuliani insisted his faith should be private, according to the AP.

''My religious affiliation, my religious practices and the degree to which I am a good or
not-so-good Catholic, I prefer to leave to the priests,'' the former New York mayor responded in Davenport, Iowa.

It would be difficult for him to answer yes. Someone who, like Giuliani, divorces and remarries without getting an annulment from the church cannot receive communion or other church sacraments.

Nevertheless, AP-Ipsos surveys in June and July found that about 25 percent of Catholics support Giuliani, with 22 percent remaining undecided.

While Democrats are talking more about faith in the 2008 campaign, Republicans, at least Romney and Giuliani, are not. Yet Giuliani brings up his Catholic upbringing when it suits him.

''My first class without prayers was my first day of law school,'' he said last month in Le Mars, Iowa, drawing chuckles from voters at a family restaurant, the AP reported.

''I believe in God,'' Giuliani said. ''I pray and ask him for help. I pray like a lawyer. I try to make a deal -- get me out of this jam, and I'll start going back to church.''

As a boy Giuliani was a devout Catholic. In fact, after graduating from Brooklyn's Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in 1961, he decided to enter the seminary. However, a couple of months later he changed his mind, deciding he was more interested in girls, he wrote in his 2002 book ''Leadership.''

What is most problematic for the former New York mayor is his marital history. The most controversial relationship was his marriage to Donna Hanover. The relationship was abruptly cut off when Hanover discovered Giuliani’s intention to divorce her from an announcement he made at a press conference. 

There is some debate as to whether Giuliani’s marital life should be part of the campaign debate, but Stephen Dillard, a conservative blogger, responds, ''The way he treated his wife gives us insight into how he views the role of family, how he views marriage, how he views the church's teaching on adultery and divorce.”

Religious scholars say that Giuliani's willingness to talk about some, but not all, aspects of his faith is inconsistent.

''If you identify yourself that way in a public forum and then try to shut down any questions, that's not going to work,'' said the Rev. James Heft, religion professor and president of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California.

Giuliani also finds himself at odds with his sometimes advantageous faith on the issue of abortion. Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, RI made news in June when he criticized Giuliani's position, calling it pathetic, confusing and hypocritical.

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Cardinal Sandoval sheds light on the murder of Mexican Cardinal

Nashville, Tenn., Aug 10, 2007 (CNA) - In an exclusive interview with CNA, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez of Guadalajara revealed that the Church is aware of who murdered his predecessor, Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo 13 years ago.

“Yes. We already know who… and why,” the Cardinal told CNA.  “We have many private confessions of the people and private investigations. There are two lawyers working with me since the murder of the Cardinal 13 years ago.”

The prelate continued, “The politicians who were involved in drug trafficking, ordered the killings, that is the reason why.”

When asked if the Vatican is kept informed of this case, Sandoval answered affirmatively.  “The Vatican is very well informed. I have two lawyers who tell the Secretary of State what is going on. Cardinal Bertone, at the Holy See in Rome, is very interested and I understand that he will try to ask the government of Mexico to come out into the light.”

Cardinal Posadas Ocampo was murdered in 1993 at the Guadalajara Airport when gunmen, armed with automatic weapons, attacked him in his car.  The case has been reopened several times, however no one has been imprisoned.

 

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