Archive of January 24, 2008

Mexican cardinal slams UN for supporting abortion

Guadalajara, Mexico, Jan 24, 2008 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, called on Catholics this week to reject the legalization of abortion and especially its spread across Mexico under pressure from international organizations such as the United Nations.

In his weekly column, the cardinal underscored that “the media reported a few days ago that a high official of the United Nations praised the two states and the Federal District for having legalized abortion.”

“She praised them and at the same time urged all the states of the country to do the same, so that throughout Mexico killing could go unpunished,” the cardinal said.

“It must be said first of all that abortion is a crime; that should be clear.  It goes against the human being and life, which is sacred. God our Lord left us a commandment: ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ and therefore we should respect the lives of others, as well as the lives of the unborn, who are human beings and have the right to life,” he explained.

However, he warned, some people can be convinced by the reasons put forth by abortion supporters. “Therefore, I want to speak about them.”

“Among the reasons they put forth, the most popular one right now is the right of the woman to decide about her own body,” Cardinal Sandoval said.  “The appendix will be there throughout one’s life, unless it is removed; the same thing with the kidneys, the liver, these things are indeed part of the body,” he went on.  “The child in the womb is another human being who also has the right to life and is there only temporarily.  He dwells in the womb of the mother for several months in order to come into the world and fulfill his destiny.  He does not belong to the mother, so she does not have the right to do what she wants with her body,” the cardinal continued.

“Abortion is also justified for reasons of deformation,” he said. “This would be to return to the barbaric times of Sparta where, in order to preserve the purity of the race, those who were born deformed, sick or weak were killed.  Hitler not only tried to kill the Jews, he also tried to ‘purify’ the German race, and he unscrupulously did away with many sick and handicapped people.”

“Those without physical defects are not the only ones who have the right to life; so do those who have a physical deficiency, as they too are human beings.  There are extraordinary examples in this world of people with some kind of handicap who are very productive, who excel in many things, because they have the drive and great talent,” Cardinal Sandoval explained.

“Let us remain, then, with the fundamental idea: abortion is killing, killing is a crime condemned by God’s, by man’s law and by the Constitution of Mexico.

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Church in Germany promoting family and marriage with three year campaign

Berlin, Germany, Jan 24, 2008 (CNA) - The Church in Germany has launched a new campaign to promote the family under the theme, “Living Love Together.”  This campaign will take place over three years and will offer spiritual counseling, formation and access to the sacraments for couples and their families.

The Archbishop of Berlin, Cardinal Georg Sterzinsky, explained that this campaign is intended to address the issue of the decline in religious weddings during the last 18 years.  He said the abandoning of the Catholic faith, the increase in marriages between couples of different faiths and the lack of openness to marriage among young people are to blame for the decline.

The theme for the campaign this year will be “Preparation for Marriage.” In 2009 the theme will be “The Road from Couple to Family,” and in 2010, “Love and Spousal Relationships after the Kids Leave Home.”  

Meanwhile, the German government is re-launching a campaign to get couples to have more children.  The campaign “You are Germany” began in 2005 and this year is aimed at encouraging families through videos and other resources to have more children.

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Anti-virgin bias amongst American Idol judges

Dallas, Texas, Jan 24, 2008 (CNA) - A 19-year-old contestant for the “American Idol” singing competition faced scrutiny from judges and celebrity commentators after revealing he is a virgin who has never kissed a girl, Cybercast News Service reports.

Bruce Dickson, a show contestant from Bostrop, Texas, at the American Idol Dallas auditions was asked to share something interesting about himself.   He told the judges he had never kissed a girl.

"What?" Randy Jackson asked. "On purpose?"

“On purpose," Dickson said. "On my wedding day, that will be my first kiss."
Jackson's advice to Dickson after the judges sent him packing: "Go kiss some girls." Simon Cowell, eyebrows raised, told him: "Avoid Ryan (Seacrest) on the way out." Seacrest himself ended the segment featuring Dickson with these words: "Maybe next year he'll come back less a boy and more a man."

Dickson told Cybercast News Service "A real man would rather wait than just do whatever with whoever."

Sarah Preston, a writer and editor for Playboy’s web site, spoke about Dickson’s decision on Thursday on the “Fox Report” television show, asking how he could compete in the contest without “sex appeal.”

"I'm not belittling Bruce's Christian beliefs, but I do think being in tune with one's own sexuality goes a long way in being confident with yourself," Preston said. "Confidence is key, especially for 'American Idol.'”

”These kids become sex objects, thrust into the spotlight," she continued. "And while I know they're all trying to stand out, especially during the audition period, using your Christian beliefs and the fact that you've never kissed a girl is not going to bode well for you while trying out to be America's next big sex object,” Preston said.

Dickson responded to some of the criticisms.  "I respect women and don't think of them as a sexual object, and I'm the freak?" Dickson said to Cybercast News Service.

Dickson, the second eldest of six children, said his parents had challenged their children to practice abstinence.

"It wasn't anything they forced on us," Dickson said. "It was something they talked to us about. Something they taught us the importance of."

Dickson wears a key around his neck, while his father wears a matching heart, which he wears for Dickson’s future wife.  The jewelry signifies Dickson’s promise to remain abstinent until marriage. 

The American Idol contestant won admiration from Jason Burtt, national director of the teen abstinence organization Silver Ring Thing.  The organization promotes events and distributes rings for children to wear to symbolize their commitment to chastity.

"What we are all about is supporting kids like Bruce," Burtt told Cybercast News Service. "Most kids are mentally pushed through the media and pop culture that everyone is doing it.

"Bruce has said he's going to walk the hard walk, and instead of lifting him up and praising him, we're mocking him," Burtt said. "I think that's because when someone is up on a chair, it's easier for people to pull him down than to pull everyone else up off the floor. Maybe they feel bad they couldn't do it themselves.”

Dickson is working on a demo album and could return to audition for the next season of American Idol.

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Archbishop knocks St. Louis U coach for supporting abortion, embryonic research

St. Louis, Mo., Jan 24, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Raymond Burke has criticized a Catholic basketball coach at the Catholic University of St. Louis (SLU) for declaring himself pro-choice and in favor of embryonic stem cell research, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Coach Rick Majerus was at a Hillary Clinton rally on Saturday to show his support of her candidacy.  The basketball coach looked into the television camera and said “I am pro-choice, personally.” 

At the rally he also told KMOV-TV he was in favor of destructive research on human embryos.

Archbishop of St. Louis Raymond Burke, speaking to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper before the March for Life in Washington, D.C. strongly criticized the coach’s statements.

"It's not possible to be a Catholic and hold those positions," Burke said. "When you take a position in a Catholic university, you don't have to embrace everything the Catholic Church teaches. But you can't make statements which call into question the identity and mission of the Catholic Church."

Archbishop Burke said the coach should be disciplined, saying, "I'm confident [the university] will deal with the question of a public representative making declarations that are inconsistent with the Catholic faith," Burke said. "When you take a position in a Catholic university, you don't have to embrace everything the Catholic Church teaches. But you can't make statements which call into question that identity and mission of the Catholic Church."

The archbishop was concerned the coach’s statements would cause scandal, defined in the Catholic catechism as "an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil."

Some St. Louis University faculty members were not happy with the archbishop’s remarks.

"If SLU wants to have a policy of, 'you have to be Catholic and believe the Catholic way,' SLU wouldn't exist," Laura Willingham, research assistant in SLU's School of Medicine, said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Should [Majerus] have said it publicly? There's freedom of speech."

Jeff Fowler, a spokesman for the university, emphasized the coach was speaking in a private capacity.

"Rick's comments were his own personal view," he said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "They were made at an event he did not attend as a university representative. It was his own personal visit to the rally."

Archbishop Burke has no direct control over St. Louis University.  The Jesuit-founded university itself is nominally Catholic, but a 2007 Supreme Court decision ruled that the school “is not controlled by a religious creed,” making the school’s new arena eligible for $80 million in public funding.  In the Supreme Court brief, the school’s lawyers said the university is not controlled or owned by the Society of Jesus and does not require employees or students "to aspire to Jesuit ideals, to be Catholic or to otherwise have any specific religious affiliation."

The lawyer’s brief also citied the 1998 sale of St. Louis University Hospital to Tenet Healthcare, which the school did "despite the strong and well-publicized objections of the Archbishop of St. Louis."

Less than 35 of the 1,275 St. Louis University faculty and staff are Jesuits, and fewer than half of the students are Catholic.

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Liturgy Commission expects 2008 completion of Roman Missal draft

Mumbai, India, Jan 24, 2008 (CNA) - The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) met in Mumbai last week, planning to complete the revised draft of the Roman Missal by its next meeting in September.

The January 14-18 meeting revised translations from the 2002 edition of the Missale Romanum.  The revisions were made after comments were received from English-speaking bishops’ conferences and from the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship.

The eleven bishops of the commission also concelebrated Mass with Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai during the meeting. 

The ICEL Commission is planning their next meeting in Vancouver, Canada in September 2008, at which it expects the entire revised draft translation of the Roman Missal to be completed.  The draft will then be submitted to bishops’ conferences for “further processing and eventual publication.”

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Knoxville priest appointed bishop of Springfield – Cape Girardeau

Springfield, Ill., Jan 24, 2008 (CNA) - The Holy Father has appointed Msgr. James Vann Johnston of Knoxville, Tennessee as bishop of the Diocese of Springfield - Cape Girardeau in Missouri.

Msgr. Johnston, also a canon lawyer, was born in Knoxville in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1990.  Johnston currently holds the positions of chancellor and moderator of the diocesan curia.

Johnston will succeed Bishop John J. Leibrecht, whose resignation was accepted by Benedict XVI upon having reached the age limit.

In his new position, Msgr. Johnston will serve 64,900 Catholics and 128 priests.

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Clergy bless New York abortion clinic as “sacred ground”

Schenectady, N.Y., Jan 24, 2008 (CNA) - Religious leaders in favor of abortion gathered on Tuesday to bless an abortion clinic in support of the Roe v. Wade ruling, the Supreme Court decision that mandated legalized abortion nationwide. One Catholic leader described the ceremony as “two-faced”.

Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Linda Scharf described the purpose of the event at a new 18,000 square-foot building to the Albany-based Times Union, saying, “It’s a blessing to demonstrate the support of the clergy.”

She said that clergy had long supported Planned Parenthood and the right “to make a personal decision based on their moral beliefs.”

"The clergy were instrumental in getting abortion services legalized in the United States and right here in Schenectady," she added. "I know a member of the clergy who was part of an underground who directed young women to safe abortions before Roe v. Wade."

Governor Eliot Spitzer, Lt. Governor David Paterson, and first lady Silda Wall Spitzer also affirmed their support for Roe v. Wade in a statement.

According to the Albany Times Union, Rev. Larry Phillips of Schenectady's Emmanuel-Friedens Church declared the ground "sacred and holy ... where women's voices and stories are welcomed, valued and affirmed; sacred ground where women are treated with dignity, supported in their role as moral decision-makers ... sacred ground where the violent voices of hatred and oppression are quelled."

Another minister prayed that the clinic be made a place of safety with a sense of sanctuary. A rabbi blew a religious musical instrument called a shofar “as a renewal of commitment” to “reproductive rights.”

All participants laid their hands on the building as another minister declared, “This is sacred ground.”

Kathleen Gallagher of the New York State Catholic Conference, told the Albany Times Union that the blessing was hypocritical.

"My gut reaction is that it's two-faced," Gallagher said. "For many years abortion proponents have been saying this is not a religious issue, you should keep religion out of this, and now all of a sudden they turn around and decide to bless an abortion clinic to gain respect for a procedure everybody knows is not worthy of respect."

Gallagher said that Governor Spitzer had acted “aggressively” to increase the availability of abortion, while “stomping on the rights” of Catholic hospitals and other religious healthcare providers.  She said that the governor’s “Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act” would “raise abortion to the level of a fundamental right,” prohibiting virtually all restrictions and ensuring the availability of late-term abortions.

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Pope proposes the creation of ‘info-ethics’ for the media

Vatican City, Jan 24, 2008 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI issued a call today for ‘info-ethics’ to be developed for the media as part of his annual message for the World Day of Social Communications. The Pope wrote that “it is essential that social communications should assiduously defend the person and fully respect human dignity.”

At the Holy See’s press office this morning, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli and Msgr. Paul Tighe, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, presented the Pope's Message for the 42nd World Day of Social Communications.

Noting how the communications media "can be instruments of our hope", Archbishop Celli stressed that "they can and must also be instruments at the service a more just and united world.”

"It is no coincidence", he added, "that the Pope mentions, though briefly, the 'decisive' role the media have had and continue to have". The Holy Father also recalls those sectors of human life in which the media "are a real resource, a blessing for everyone: literacy, socialization, the development of democracy and dialogue among peoples", he added.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications dwelt on "the Pope's clear awareness and knowledge of the fact that unfortunately the media 'risk being transformed into systems aimed at subjecting humanity to agendas dictated by the dominant interests of the day'. This is the challenge facing the media, the challenge we must all face in our daily lives in order to become men and women who show solidarity to all mankind".

In his message Benedict XVI raises the fact that "the media can be used to 'create' events", Archbishop Celli observed before going on to ask: "If the media, rather than recounting events, 'create' them what happens to mankind?"


With the media being able to, in a sense, shape people’s view of reality, there is a chance that “essential dimensions of the human person and the truth concerning the human person” could be neglected by their reporting.

Given this new phenomenon, Pope Benedict suggests that "many people now think there is a need, in this sphere, for 'info-ethics', just as we have bioethics in the field of medicine and in scientific research linked to life".

These words of the Pope, the archbishop concluded, "make us even more aware of how much the social communications media are profoundly linked to mankind, and invite us to protect human beings jealously in all their environments and in everything that mankind is and is called to be".

Msgr. Tighe in his comments encouraged those who work in the media "to be vigilant in their efforts to make known the truth and to defend it 'against those who tend to deny or destroy it'. Media professionals are invited to defend the ethical underpinnings of their profession and to ensure that the 'centrality and the inviolable dignity of the human person' are always vindicated".

Finally, Msgr. Tighe recalled the numerous journalists throughout the world who "have suffered persecution, imprisonment and even death because of this commitment and because of their unwillingness to be silent in the face of injustice and corruption".

The Pope’s message can be found here

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New poll reveals vast majority of Brazilians reject abortion

, Jan 24, 2008 (CNA) - A new poll carried out by the Datafolha firm in Brazil has revealed that 87% of Brazilians think that having an abortion is “morally wrong.”  A majority of those surveyed also said that they would support a son or daughter dealing with a teen pregnancy rather than opting for abortion.  Eighty two percent said they would prefer their teenage daughter carry the child to term rather than undergo an abortion.

In addition, the poll showed that less than 1% of those surveyed approve of abortion for any reason.  Carlos Alberto de Franco, an advisor and ethics professor, said, “The result of the research is a cold shower for the pro-abortion strategy of Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao and shows a clear tendency that we have seen in recent polls.”  “The government’s pro-abortion campaigns are at odds with the real Brazil,” he added.

According to Di Franco, “The legalization of abortion, regardless of the euphemisms of some and the ambiguity of the country’s president, is a priority of Lula’s government.”  The public continues to be shocked at the government’s articulate campaign to impose on society, “in the name of democracy,” the “elimination of the first fundamental human right: the right to life,” he said.

“Brazilians are against abortion.  It’s not just an opinion, it is a fact statistically measured in an opinion poll.  Only because of this does the government move more slowly,” Di Franco continued.
“There are moral issues that go beyond mere statistics; but the legalization of abortion, today and right now, would be a completely anti-democratic act,” he said.

“Despite the emotional marketing that is behind the pro-abortion campaigns, the anti-democratic poison that is at the heart of the pro-abortion slogans is troublesome,” Di Franco stressed, and he called on Brazilians to “remain alert” in order to defend democracy from pro-abortion authoritarianism.

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Ex-priest invited pro-abortionists to participate in “pro-life” video

, Jan 24, 2008 (CNA) - Fr. Luiz Carlos Lodi Da Cruz, president of the Pro-Life Group of Anapolis in Brazil, revealed this week that the Latin American version of “Catholics for a Free Choice”, called Católicas Pelo Direito di Decidir or CDD, participated in a video that was supposed to be pro-life but ended up promoting abortion. Nelsy Tyski, an ex-priest who works for the company that produced the video, was responsible for getting the group involved.

The Conference of Catholic Bishops of Brazil has ordered the video be removed from all Catholic bookstores and that a new edition be produced without the involvement of CDD.  Father Lodi explained that while CDD “could have infiltrated the project in order to be in the video, the story is actually something different. It wasn’t necessary for them to ask to be involved. They were invited.  By who? By Mr. Nelson Tyski, who left the priesthood and now works at Verbo Films (the producer of the video).”

Father Lodi pointed to a discussion group on Yahoo where messages were posted by members of CDD confirming that they were invited to participate in the recording of the video.  Those who were filmed criticized the Church for not accepting contraception and defended public hospitals for supporting abortion in order to preserve ‘the lives of women’.”

The Brazilian pro-life priest warned that pro-abortion forces are at work within the Church in that country, noting that the producer of the video, Verbo Films, was founded in 1979 by the Congregation of the Divine Word.  He said intervention by the Brazilian bishops was “necessary and urgent,” as religious entities are involved in the project: the Congregation of the Divine Word and the Carmelites, who are renting property to CDD.

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Holy Father reminds Slovenia to remain faithful to its Christian foundation

Vatican City, Jan 24, 2008 (CNA) - After the completion of their “ad limina” visit, the prelates from the Slovenian Episcopal Conference were received by Pope Benedict.  The Pontiff encouraged the bishops to respond to the materialist culture that is making inroads in their country through evangelization. 

In his address, the Holy Father highlighted the great changes the country has seen over the last five years, from its 2004 entry into the European Union to its adoption of the euro and its adherence to the Schengen Agreement. These changes "are not of an ecclesiastical nature but they nonetheless concern the Church because they touch people's lives, and in particular the question of values in Europe", he stated.

Calling to mind the pastoral letter written by Slovenian bishops in 2004, the Pope noted that it remains valid because, "if Europe wishes to remain - and ever more to become - a land of peace, maintaining the dignity of the human person as one of its fundamental values, it cannot relinquish the principle spiritual and ethical component of its foundation: Christianity.”

The Holy Father quoted from the bishops' pastoral letter: "'Christianity is the religion of hope: hope in life, in endless happiness, in the attainment of fraternity among all mankind'. This is true for all continents, including Europe where many intellectuals still struggle to accept the fact that 'reason and faith need one another in order to fulfill their true nature and their mission'".

The Pope then focused on the "main challenge" facing the Church in Slovenia: "Western-style secularism, which is different and perhaps more underhanded than Marxist secularism". This leads to "an unbridled pursuit of material goods, a drop in births and the reduction of religious practice with a notable diminution in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life".

"Each generation is called to renew the choice between life and goodness and death and evil. We as pastors have the duty to show Christians the path of life that they in their turn may become the salt and light of society. I encourage the Church in Slovenia, then, to respond to materialist and selfish culture with a coherent evangelizing activity that begins in parishes".

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Cardinal Ouellet to launch immigrant aid program during Eucharistic Congress

, Jan 24, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec announced this week an immigrant assistance program will be launched during the upcoming 49th International Eucharistic Congress which will be held in the Canadian city June 15-22.

During the months leading up to the Congress, special collections will be taken up to provide assistance to immigrants and refugees, the cardinal explained in an interview with L’Osservatore Romano.  At the conclusion of the Congress, the funds will be given to a foundation dedicated to helping immigrants

He called the initiative “a testimony to the liberating force” that comes from the Eucharist and allows Christians “to live in the world with eyes enlightened by hope and compassion.”

Asked about other initiatives that will be part of the Eucharistic Congress, the Archbishop of Quebec pointed to other programs aimed at reaching out to immigrants, with special emphasis in themes related to the family.  “We foresee that during the final days of the Congress we will have a program dedicated to the family, its problems and its potentialities for the mission of the Church in the world,” he said.

“In addition, following the example of the World Youth Day Cross, a symbol called the Ark of the New Covenant is currently touring the country in order to encourage people to pray and study about the Eucharist in their Christian communities.  Its pilgrimage will end in the city of Quebec on the Feast of Corpus Christi,” the cardinal said.

He also revealed that the archdiocese is planning for extensive media coverage of the Congress and has invited other Christian confessions to send “delegations to the congress in order to highlight its ecumenical dimension.”  “This will be particularly evident at the religious symposium that will precede the congress June 11-13, thanks to the presence of Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and other Protestant theologians.”

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“Dogs have more rights than people,” Chilean bishop complains

Punta Arenas, Jan 24, 2008 (CNA) - Bishop Bernardo Bastres of Punta Arenas, Chile complained this week that dogs have more legal protection than the rights of human beings.

His statements came as the city of Punta Arenas is dealing with a plague of street dogs that have become a potential health problem. City officials have been hesitant to address the problem, worried that their actions might be considered “insensitive” to animals.

“Right now a dog has more rights than a person,” Bishop Bastres said.  He criticized the government for legalizing the morning-after pill and for taking other anti-life measures while refusing to do something to address the plague of street dogs.

“This is inconsistent, since issues that are related to the lives of people deserve to be supported and discussed in Congress, because they have to do with the regulation of births in the country, and not with the rights of animals,” he added.

The bishop recalled that when the Chilean bishops opposed the government’s norm forcing the distribution of the abortion pill, the Ministry of Health called the measure “a norm for the common good.”

“However, with the problem that we have with the excess of dogs, no norm is issued. Rather we are told we have to wait for a new law,” the bishop added.  “That is, in practice what they are telling us is that a dog is more important than protecting the life of a human being,” he stated.

“Things are definitely changing,” the bishop went on, “when we dictate norms for human beings and laws for dogs.”

He stressed that the Ministry of Health has the duty to take action to protect the public health from the problem of too many dogs.  “Dogs without owners must be sacrificed,” the bishop said, adding that “ten years will go by before there is a law on dogs.”

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Rancor over ESPN anchor’s comments dies down

, Jan 24, 2008 (CNA) - Controversy over anchorwoman Dana Jacobson’s derogatory remarks about Jesus and Notre Dame University is beginning to die down as ESPN assures that it was an isolated incident.

The errant remarks by ESPN anchorwoman Dana Jacobson came when she was roasting colleague Mike Golic of the “Mike & Mike in the Morning” show.

According to the Press of Atlantic City, "...Jacobson made an absolute fool of herself, swilling vodka from a Belvedere bottle, mumbling along and cursing like a sailor as Mike & Mike rested their heads in their hands in embarrassment."

Jacobson, an alumna of Notre Dame football rival University of Michigan, used numerous expletives.  “F*** Notre Dame” she is reported to have said.  Some reports claim that she used the expletive in front of “Jesus” and “Touchdown Jesus,” a large mosaic of Christ on the Notre Dame campus whose outstretched arms resemble a football referee’s touchdown signal.

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights responded to the reports.  “We know that Jacobson said ‘F*** Notre Dame’ at the January 11 celebrity roast for radio personalities Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic. We also know that ESPN has suspended her for a week as a result. What we don’t know is whether, as reported on some websites, she also said ‘F*** Jesus’ at the event. If she did, then that changes everything.”

“It is one thing to use an obscenity to rip a Catholic university, quite another to use the vilest of terms about Jesus,” Donohue said.  He called on ESPN to make public the video of the event.

ESPN suspended Jacobson for a week because of the comments.  Meanwhile, the Christian Defense Coalition planned a demonstration and prayer vigil outside of ESPN’s Bristol, Connecticut headquarters for January 25.  Some critics have called for Jacobson to be fired.

The Detroit Free Press reports that Jacobson issued an apology in a Tuesday statement.  "I am sorry. My remarks about Notre Dame were foolish and insensitive. I respect all religions and did not mean anything derogatory by my poorly chosen words,” she said.  "My actions at the roast were inappropriate and in no way represent who I am. I won't make excuses for my behavior, but I do hope I can be forgiven for such a poor lack of judgment."

The University of Notre Dame also reacted to Jacobson’s comments pertaining to the school. “While we in no way condone Ms. Jacobson’s comments, we’re aware of the circumstances in which they occurred,” Notre Dame spokesperson Dennis Brown said to the South Bend Tribune, continuing, “and, in the interest of forgiveness, trust that she and ESPN have addressed the matter in an appropriate way.”

In the latest development, Bill Donahue has expressed his satisfaction that ESPN has handled the situation adequately. “On January 22, I said in a news release that ‘there is no evidence that ESPN is taking this matter seriously.’ I am happy to say that after speaking to two ESPN officials today, and having learned more about exactly what happened, that they are in fact taking this matter seriously. Indeed, I am convinced that what occurred at the roast will not happen again.”

“To be sure, Jacobson’s remarks were patently offensive; no one involved in this incident, including her, is maintaining otherwise. But it is also true that there is no evidence that what we are dealing with is a bigot—lots of people who have made bigoted comments are not inveterate bigots. No, what we are dealing with is a person who went off the rails while drunk at a raucous event.”

“The ESPN officials whom I spoke to answered the questions I had to my satisfaction. Therefore, as far as the Catholic League is concerned, this matter is over.”

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Bishop apologizes for spending mission funds on vestments

Belleville, Ill., Jan 24, 2008 (CNA) - Edward Braxton, Bishop of Belleville, has issued a public apology for spending restricted mission funds on liturgical vestments, altar linens, and office furniture.  Bishop Braxton said he had mistakenly believed he had discretionary power over the money he used.

Over $18,000 was spent, some of which came from a restricted account for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith whose funds are normally sent to Rome. 

The Belleville News-Democrat reported that the diocesan financial council had written the U.S. papal nuncio concerning the use of the money.

Father Jerry Wirth, head of the diocesan Presbyteral Council, told the Belleville News-Democrat on Monday that Bishop Braxton would have to take action.  “In the light of what is going on, he is going to have to do something to regain the trust of a lot of people,” Father Wirth said.

Bishop Braxton issued a statement on Tuesday explaining his view of the matter, saying, “it was my judgment that these were funds over which I had some discretionary power. At the time of this decision I stated, in writing, that if it was determined that my judgment was incorrect in this matter, I would replenish both funds with revenues obtained from an outside benefactor.”

Bishop Braxton said the diocese’s Chief Financial Officer and the Diocesan Finance Council had judged the use of the funds was legally beyond the bishop’s authority. 

The bishop said he had secured a gift from a benefactor to replenish the disputed funds, but he noted that the controversy has caused confusion, mistrust, and a loss of confidence.

“I regret this very much, and I apologize for anything I may have done, even unwittingly, to contribute to this situation.”

Bishop Braxton said the February Finance Council meeting would decide how to proceed in the future.  He also renewed his commitment to doing nothing in violation of civil, canon, or moral law

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