Denver, Colo., Nov 6, 2007 (CNA) - After 18 years without a Catholic presence at Loretto Heights Campus in Denver, Colorado, the Augustine Institute has succeeded in bringing Christ to the campus in the form of a Catholic graduate school in response to JPII’s call for a New Evangelization.
Loretto Heights, initially founded as a primary and secondary school by the Sisters of Loretto in 1891, evolved into a nursing college and, after financial difficulties, was sold to the Teikyo Group, a Japanese university system in 1988.
This past summer, the Augustine Institute moved from its rented space at the John Paul II Center for the New Evangelization in Denver to the top floor of the Teikyo Loretto Heights administration building, the highest point in Denver.
The new location, which means new classrooms, a chapel for the school, a student lounge, and the convenience of having the professors’ offices near each other, has been well-received by the current students and administration.
Director of Admissions, Sandra Chamberlin, told CNA, “Our new location at Loretto Heights is a complete blessing from the Lord. When we received permission to have the Blessed Sacrament on campus, I knew the Lord had great things in mind for our time here at Loretto Heights.”
She continued, “we prayed for a new space for the school, and the Lord, in His great goodness, gave us access to an entire campus.”
Having a new “space” has benefited not only the college academically, but current second-year student, Julie Reiff added, “This new location gives both students and faculty the ability to develop the Catholic community that the Augustine Institute has always envisioned.”
For more information about the Augustine Institute, please visit their website at www.augustineinstitute.org.
Vatican City, Nov 6, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI welcomed King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to the Vatican today, marking the first time that a Saudi king has officially held talks with the Pope. During their encounter, the two leaders discussed religious freedom, inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue and the need to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Holy Father received King Abdullah warmly, grasping both his hands and leading him into his library where they spoke in Italian and Arabic for 30 minutes. The meeting was arranged for at the request of the king who is on a tour of Europe.
The conversation dealt with issues “close to the heart of both sides,” according to the Vatican. Among the topics discussed were: “commitment to inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue aimed at peaceful and fruitful coexistence,” and “the importance of collaboration between Christians, Muslims and Jews for the promotion of peace, justice and spiritual and moral values, especially in support of the family.”
The Pope also raised the situation of the approximately 1 million Christians, mostly guest workers, who live in Saudi Arabia. Currently in the kingdom, these Christians are not allowed to practice their faith in public and symbols from religions other than Islam are not allowed across the border. The Holy Father pointed out “the positive and industrious presence of Christians” in Saudi Arabia.
As the meeting came to a close, the two leaders discussed ways to resolve the instability in the Middle East, especially the conflict in the Holy Land between Israel and Palestine.
Before parting ways, AKI reports that “King Abdullah presented Benedict with a traditional Middle Eastern gift — a golden sword studded with jewels — as well as a gold and silver statue of a palm tree and man riding a camel. The pope admired the statue but merely touched the sword.” Pope Benedict gave the king a 16th century engraving of the Vatican in exchange.
Chicago, Ill., Nov 6, 2007 (CNA) - The Reverend Donald MacGuire, SJ, was taken into federal custody in Chicago on charges of molesting two U.S. boys, including one on a trip overseas.
Until 2006 Father MacGuire was affiliated with Mission Fides, a group that organized religious retreats including some to Mother Teresa's communities in India.
The new charges, unsealed by the U.S. Attorney's office on Friday, allege Father MacGuire traveled to Switzerland and Austria in 2000 to engage in sexual misconduct with a minor who is now 21. In a complaint filed against the priest on Thursday, an accuser identified as Victim A claims that Father MacGuire sexually abused him between 1999 to 2003 in 12 states and six countries. Victim A was living with the priest in Evanston, Illinois, where Father MacGuire had reportedly become a spiritual mentor to Victim A's family.
Victim A and another boy, Victim B, alleged a pattern of abuse beginning with discussions of sexual topics which escalated through viewing pornography to oral sex, according to the complaint.
The 77-year-old Jesuit priest, considered a flight risk by prosecutors, is being held without bond. If convicted on federal charges, he could face up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The alleged victims' lawyers released correspondence between families and Jesuit leaders showing that the order had received complaints about Father MacGuire's behavior as far back as 1969. More recent complaints were made in the years 1993, 1994, and 2000 through 2003, the lawyers said.
Federal prosecutors cited documents showing that Father MacGuire's superiors ordered him in 1991 to "not travel on any overnight trip with any person male or female under the age of 21."
Attorneys for Victims A and B have filed suit alleging the Jesuit order and other church officials had received formal, documented complaints about the priest but failed to inform authorities.
On Friday the Chicago Province of Jesuits issued a statement saying they have "cooperated extensively and proactively" with the U.S. Attorney's office in the case and expressed "apologies to anyone who was abused."
Sacramento, Calif., Nov 6, 2007 (CNA) - Two bills regarding the use of umbilical cord blood for medical treatment and research purposes were recently signed into law in California. The companion bills, supported by the California Catholic Conference, would fund the research and collection of blood from umbilical cords that are often discarded after birth.
AB-34 was introduced by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino in honor of his young neighbor who was diagnosed with leukemia several years ago. After an experimental transplant of umbilical cord blood, all traces of her leukemia disappeared.
Umbilical cord blood has been found to fight over 70 blood disorders by providing adaptable stem cells. While bone marrow is often used, it requires more genetic matching to the patient than cord blood.
California Catholic Conference spokeswoman, Carol Hogan told California Catholic Daily, “Only 200-300 cord blood tissue types need to be gathered and stored to match virtually any recipient who would need this type of therapy.” “With umbilical blood you don’t need a one-to-one match.” Hogan said finding an umbilical blood donor is easier than finding a compatible organ donor, because fewer genetic markers are involved.
When Portantino saw that the transplant could save lives, he made two vows: first, if his wife ever gave birth again, he would donate blood from the umbilical cord, and second, if he ever had the authority, he would push to expand cord-blood storage.
The bill will require the creation of the Umbilical Cord Blood Collection Program and will create a special fund for federal money and donations to public cord blood banks.
Portantino's goal is to create a genetically diverse supply of cord blood in California to improve the prospects for thousands of Americans who die each year while waiting for a suitable blood match.
AB-34’s companion bill SB-962, which supports the research of umbilical cord blood research, will also take steps to inform mothers about options for donating cord blood, California Catholic Daily reports.
The new laws have drawn praise from the California Catholic Conference. “The Catholic Conference strongly opposes harvesting stem cells from embryos, but we supported AB-34 and SB-962 because using umbilical cord cells poses no danger to human life,” stated spokeswoman Carol Hogan.
The Conference is in agreement with the idea of cord blood banking because so many have been proven to benefit from it.
In contrast, not a single known human ailment has been successfully treated with stem cells derived from the destruction of human embryos.
Montevideo, Uruguay, Nov 6, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Nicolas Cotugno of Montevideo expressed regret this week at the new efforts by anti-life groups in Uruguay to legalize abortion.
Speaking on the Telenoche 4 TV network, Archbishop Cotugno said he felt “very sad that an issue of such importance depends on the decision of a few legislators.”
In addition, he said he was “perplexed” by the change that could take place in the Senate when pro-abortion lawmakers present a modified version of the “Defense of Sexual and Reproductive Health Act,” which was already rejected last month.
Two weeks ago, the bill died on the floor as a 15-15 vote by Senators failed to ensure its passage.
Two Senators not present at the time are expected to vote in favor of the new measure, thus legalizing abortion up to the twelfth week of pregnancy.
Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 6, 2007 (CNA) - The president of the College of Catholic Lawyers in Mexico, Armando Martinez, warned this week that the archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, is again facing threats to his personal safety as the same protesters who sought to harm him last October are taking advantage of a decrease in the number of security guards that are protecting the Cathedral.
“For the first few days we had ten or fifteen guards at the entrance. Now we have no more than two,” Martinez said, adding, “We continue to rightly fear for the cardinal’s safety.”
He denounced what he called the “complacency” of city officials towards posters attacking the cardinal that have been pasted to the cathedral walls. “The Cathedral is being held hostage again,” Martinez stated.
He blamed secretary of communications of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), Gerardo Fernandez Norona, for the new attacks on the cardinal. “We blame Mr. Fernandez Norona for this new campaign of hate,” he said.
On October 7 a group of protesters attacked the vehicle in which Cardinal Rivera was riding as he was leaving the Cathedral after Sunday Mass. City officials responded by providing increased security for the cardinal.
Pittsburgh, Pa., Nov 6, 2007 (CNA) - Following a widening theological rift with the national Episcopal Church, Episcopalian clergy and laity in Pittsburgh have voted 227 to 82 to "realign" their diocese with a more traditional province in the Anglican Communion.
In 2003, the Episcopal Church ordained as bishop of New Hampshire V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man who had divorced his wife. The event has triggered intense controversy between conservative Episcopalians and more liberal Episcopalians within the church.
Episcopalian Bishop of Pittsburgh Robert W. Duncan defended the decision to split away, saying “What we’re trying to do is state clearly in the United States for the authority of Scripture.” He claimed that more liberal bishops “have hijacked my church, and that’s how most of the people here feel.”
Bishop Duncan is also moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, an alliance of conservative dioceses and parishes.
A few days before the vote, the head of the Episcopalian Church, USA, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori wrote to Bishop Duncan warning him he would face canonical discipline and civil lawsuits if he "committed canonical offenses" including overseeing the approval of the resolution to separate.
Reverend George Warner, president of the House of Deputies for the national church until last year, explained the likely consequences of this decision. “Katharine Schori is extremely clear,” Reverend Werner said. “If a diocese like this chooses to claim $30 million in trust funds and 70 churches, she’d be negligent in her duty to let them leave. She can’t back down.”
Custody of the diocese’s church properties and financial resources could be intensely disputed by both the national church and the Diocese of Pittsburgh in the event of separation.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh joins the Diocese of San Joaquin in California in making a preliminary vote to separate from the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is also considering a similar vote.
Rome, Italy, Nov 6, 2007 (CNA) - The Holy See’s Permanent Observer at the UN, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, said this week the upcoming Olympic games in Beijing are an important opportunity to promote dialogue and diplomacy to help overcome difficulties between countries.
During a speech at the UN General Assembly, the archbishop said the dialogue and encounter that come from sports are “instruments bringing people together for a common objective” and “represent great opportunities in the building of peace and the prevention of conflicts.”
“Rules and fairness (which are proper to sports) remain the basis of peace processes,” Archbishop Migliore said, adding that for this reason the Holy See hopes the 2008 Olympic Games will be an opportunity to promote respect for human rights and peace.
He said they would be a chance to show that “what is most important in life is not winning, but striving.” In recent days Olympic organizers in China published a list of objects banned from Olympic village, including the Bible.
Washington D.C., Nov 6, 2007 (CNA) - Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, a Republican candidate for the presidential nomination, said on Sunday he does not fully support the pro-life plank of the Republican Party.
In an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Senator Thompson told the show's host Tim Russert that he favors overturning the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that compelled legalized abortion nationally. However, the senator said he himself does not favor criminalizing abortion at the state level.
"People ask me hypothetically, you know, OK, it goes back to the states," said Thompson. "Somebody comes up with a bill, and they say we're going to outlaw this, that, or the other. And my response was, I do not think it is a wise thing to criminalize young girls and perhaps their parents as ‘aiders and abettors’ or perhaps their family physician. And that's what you're talking about. It's not a sense of the Senate. You're talking about potential criminal law."
The Republican Party platform has for decades included pro-life language and support for a human life amendment providing legal protection for the unborn. Senator Thompson declared he could not support a human life amendment, according to Cybercast News Service.
Senator Thompson tried to explain his position, saying "Before Roe v. Wade, states made those decisions. I think people ought to be free at state and local levels to make decisions that even Fred Thompson disagrees with. That's what freedom is all about. And I think the diversity we have among the states, the system of federalism we have where power is divided between the state and the federal government is, is …serves us very, very well. I think that's true of abortion. I think Roe v. Wade hopefully one day will be overturned, and we can go back to the pre-Roe v. Wade days."
Senator Thompson did declare his belief that life begins at conception. He also cited his past support for pro-life policies, such as his votes against human cloning, partial birth abortion, and federal funding for abortion.
"I would have done the same policies as president that I did when I was in the United States Senate, which is one hundred percent pro-life," he claimed.
Washington D.C., Nov 6, 2007 (CNA) - The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is preparing to vote on guidelines for Catholic political participation, the Associated Press reports.
The bishops will decide this month upon the content of the guide, titled "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship." Though the guide will emphasize pro-life concerns and bioethical issues, it will also explain Catholic teaching on torture and conduct in war.
Spokane Bishop William Skylstad, president of the conference, spoke highly of the document. "Given the complexities of our political situation, this is a very good teaching document for the bishops and we're really very committed to it," he said.
Though past guides were finalized in committee meetings, this year the full body of around 300 bishops will publicly debate and vote on the guide.
A draft of the document calls abortion and euthanasia intrinsic evils, "pre-eminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others." Torture, human cloning, racism, and the targeting of noncombatants in war are also condemned as acts that can never be justified.
"The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life is always wrong and is not just one issue among many," the draft says. At the same time, it states "a consistent ethic of life neither treats all issues as morally equivalent nor reduces Catholic teaching to one or two issues."
The draft also rejects Catholics voting for candidates because of their pro-choice stands, in which case the voter would be "guilty of formal cooperation in evil." Voting for a pro-abortion candidate is "remote material cooperation" with evil, which can only be justified if there are "proportionate reasons."
Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who has been a vocal advocate of Catholic participation in the public square, has written in an e-mail that the draft document is not ideal, though it is "better and clearer than any version in the recent past." The archbishop also wrote that "all bricks in a building are important, but the ones in the foundation support everything else. The latter aren't just important; they're indispensable." He has stated that he plans to offer some suggestions for the document at the bishops' meeting.
Sydney, Australia, Nov 6, 2007 (CNA) - Two major symbols of World Youth Day, the World Youth Day Cross and and the Sacred Icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, have continued to travel across Australia in preparation for the worldwide gathering of youth in Sydney next year.
Having come to Australia in July by way of Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, the two items arrived Saturday in Wilcannia, a small aboriginal community in the New South Wales province. The local bishop Chris Toohey and members of the Journey of the Cross and the Icon national team accompanied the symbols.
In 1994 Pope John Paul II gave the cross to the 250,000 youths at the World Youth Day in Denver to take it to the whole world. The cross has since traveled to more than one hundred countries and all the continents except Antarctica. In 2003, Pope John Paul II gave pilgrims the Sacred Icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary to accompany the cross.
In Wilcannia a procession brought the symbols to a city park for a ceremony. Residents of various religious affiliations gathered. Some people touched or kissed the cross and the sacred icon after passing through a smothering fire and smoke, the aboriginal rite of welcome and protection against evil spirits.
Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 6, 2007 (CNA) - The Mexican bishops’ Committee on Social Ministry and the Caritas National Federation of Mexico have called for solidarity in Mexico and abroad for the nearly one million people affected by flooding in the state of Tabasco, especially in the city of Villahermosa.
The Bishops’ Conference of Mexico, they recalled, recently issued a “national call to solidarity,” asking for a collection to be taken up and prayers to be offered for those affected by the disaster.
“The best way to help is through financial donations which allow us to work with our sister Diocese of Tabasco to get assistance to those most in need,” officials said.
Relief assistance is being channeled through Caritas Mexico, which is evaluating the consequences of the disaster and providing support.
, Nov 6, 2007 (CNA) - The 40 days may have ended Nov. 4, but the 40 Days for Life North Dakota prayer vigil outside North Dakota’s only abortion facility is continuing.
At an evening gathering of 40 Days for Life participants Nov. 4 and later, at a midnight Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo, Colleen Samson, committee chairperson, announced that the prayer effort would continue 24 hours a day for an additional 10 days. Upon completion of the 10 days, the prayer schedule will be reviewed again, she said.
The decision was made as a result of prayer and input from participants, Samson said. “God has been speaking in the hearts of countless people that North Dakota will be the first state in our nation to be free of the evil of abortion-on-demand,” Samson said in a written statement. “We are waiting upon his word, his will in our continued perseverance of prayer, fasting and vigilance before the abortion facility to bring an end to the killing of our unborn children.”
At a November 5th midnight Mass, Bishop Aquila encouraged participants to continue in prayers. “We can never, ever, if we are truly of Jesus Christ, forget to pray for those who do not know the truth.” Our Lord has told us clearly in the Gospel ‘Pray for those who persecute you and utter all kinds of false slander against you.’ He tells us to love our enemies. Hard words at times to hear and yet he himself practiced that from the cross, when he prayed ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’.”
The bishop continued, “We must keep and place ourselves before the Lord, begging for his mercy, begging for his forgiveness, begging that he act upon the hearts and minds of those who are pro-abortion. We must pray especially for Catholic politicians who have sold out to the Father of Lies and are guided by Satan and not by Christ, that they may come to have their eyes opened to see what they are supporting, because any Catholic politician who supports the so-called right to abortion is putting the salvation of his or her soul in jeopardy. Whether they believe it or not, they are doing it, especially in this day and age when the Catholic teaching is so clearly proclaimed.”
Bishop Aquila recognized those who persevered in prayer during the 40 days, and spoke of the future. “It is important for us to continue to work for life. Just because these 40 days are complete, it does not mean that we give up our fight for life and turn back to the way that we were living. We must be ever more ardent and zealous in our prayer.”
40 Days for Life is an ecumenical effort of prayer, fasting, community outreach and 24-hours-a-day prayer vigils outside abortion facilities across the nation. The North Dakota effort began Sept. 26 and was scheduled to end on Nov. 4.
However, Monday, as people continue to brave the cold November temperatures in North Dakota, the ending date is yet to be determined. “We believe it is God’s desire to continue saving babies, helping mothers and fathers and spreading the truth about the holocaust of abortion,” Samson said.
For more information about 40 Days for Life North Dakota, visit www.40daysforlifend.com or call (701) 284-6601 in Park River or (701) 356-7979 in Fargo.