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Archive of June 8, 2008

Excommunicated St. Louis parish board member reconciles with Church

St. Louis, Mo., Jun 8, 2008 (CNA) - An excommunicated board member of a breakaway St. Louis Catholic parish has reconciled with the Church after meeting privately with the Archbishop of St. Louis, Raymond L. Burke. Archbishop Burke has said he is “profoundly happy” about the man’s reconciliation.

Edward Florek was excommunicated in December 2005 for his membership on the St. Stanislaus Kostka Corporation board of directors, which opposed Archbishop Burke’s parish restructuring plan and brought in a renegade priest to staff St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.

According to the St. Louis Review, The church was founded by Polish immigrants in 1880. In 1891 the then-archbishop allowed the parish to form a lay trustee board to control parish finances and own the parish property. In 2004 Archbishop Burke continued his predecessor’s efforts to persuade the board to transfer property ownership to the archdiocese, as required by canon law.

The board publicly stated it could not reach an agreement with the archbishop, saying they were concerned about the future of the parish if the property were transferred.

The archbishop excommunicated the six members of the parish board. While Florek left the board last year, his replacement and the replacement of another member were also excommunicated.

Archbishop Burke’s decree of excommunication, which had been appealed to Rome, was recently upheld by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

After Florek initiated a meeting with Archbishop Burke, he reconciled with the Church on June 2. Florek said he prayed the Nicene Creed with the archbishop and then swore an oath of loyalty to the archbishop and the Catholic Church.

Florek told the St. Louis Review that he believed Father Marek Bozek, the priest hired to be the church’s pastor, was leading the parish away from Roman Catholicism. He said he stopped attending St. Stanislaus in March when the priest “refused to enter discussions with the archbishop.”

Florek expressed his regrets over the St. Stanislaus board’s actions.

“I regret that we didn’t envision the harm which we did to the parish and St. Louis.

"We worried not only about the financial angle of the parish but about the spiritual guidance. We protected the financial part of the parish but we lost on the spiritual guidance and direction leading us from the Roman Catholic Church," Florek said to the St. Louis Review.

Archbishop Burke on Friday issued a statement about Florek’s reconciliation,  saying, “He expressed his deep sorrow and regret over the harm which his schismatic activity, as a member of the Board of Directors, has caused, and promised to do everything possible in the future to promote the communion of the Church through obedience to her legitimate authority.

“I am profoundly happy that Mr. Florek has reconciled himself and is now, once again, in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. The purpose of an ecclesiastical censure like excommunication is the return of a member, who has broken communion with the Church, to full communion with the Church. I thank God that Mr. Florek has returned to the Catholic Church and is no longer under any censure from the Church. His return gives hope that other board members will return home to the Catholic Church. I ask the faithful of the Archdiocese to continue to pray for that intention.”

Florek said that the situation at St. Stanislaus is “complicated” and that he has written “open letters” to St. Stanislaus members to encourage reconciliation. At present he is the only excommunicated board member to seek reconciliation with the archbishop.

 

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Alternatives to embryonic stem cells producing success stories

Denver, Colo., Jun 8, 2008 (CNA) - Large strides have been made in the field of stem cell research – while avoiding the use of embryonic stem cells.  One such example occurred in Colorado last Tuesday.  A spinal surgeon completed the first disc surgery in the U.S. using adult (somatic) stem cells to repair a man’s lower back.

The operation, which was completed to alleviate the patient’s extreme lower back pain, took place at the Medical Center of Aurora in Aurora, Colorado by Dr. Jeffrey Kleiner. 

Dr. Kleiner told the Rocky Mountain News that though this is the first one, it is something they’d like to begin doing more of – if it is proven successful.  “Like all scientific processes, we're hopeful for a home run, but we have to take this one step at a time. We're just looking for relatively small gains."

"The stem cells should take on the properties of the cells within the disc and ultimately improve the hydration of the disc - and prevent the progression of degeneration," Kleiner said.

In another story, a young boy, with a fatal genetic skin disease called recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB), was treated by physicians at the University of Minnesota and University of Minnesota Children's Hospital. The doctors used umbilical cord blood and a bone marrow transplant to improve his quality of life, reports the University of Minnesota.

The article goes on to explain, that this procedure was the “first time physicians have approached the treatment of RDEB from a systemic perspective, using marrow-derived stem cells from a healthy donor to correct the underlying genetic defect. With the infusion of stem cells, new cells that produce the missing collagen type VII are generated throughout the body.”

Now, seven months after the surgery, the 25-month boy is showing signs of normal development.

In an effort to create more somatic-cell-success-stories, Colorado governor, Bill Ritter, signed a bill that will create the Adult Stem Cell Cure Fund.  According to a press release from the governor’s office, “this fund will consist of gifts, grants and donations and revenue from a voluntary income tax check-off to support umbilical cord blood collection for public blood banks, public awareness campaigns and administration.”

Colorado Representative Dianne Primavera also noted that, "This legislation, to make adult stem cell donations and treatments available, is among the first of its kind in the nation.”

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Sunday Angelus: 'True religion is to love God and neighbor'

Vatican City, Jun 8, 2008 (CNA) - Thousands of worshippers and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square despite the summer rains to participate in the Sunday Angelus with Pope Benedict XVI today. Meditating on the Gospel for Sunday, the Holy Father noted that "the true religion is to love God and neighbor" because it "gives value to worship and the practice of the precepts."

 

The reflections of Pope Benedict sprung from the encounter of Jesus with Matthew, who was at the time still a tax collector. Benedict XVI recalled that Jesus quoted, "I want love and not sacrifice" from the prophet Hosea, and that these words are a “keyword” that “bring us into the heart of Sacred Scripture.”

 

Referring to the call of the apostle and evangelist Matthew, the Pope stressed that "when Jesus went to the house with his disciples and Matthew sat with other publicans" he responded to the shocked Pharisees that: "It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick… I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

 

The Holy Father also invoked the help of the Virgin Mary asking for her to intercede that we can “always live in the joy of the Christian experience" and he also noted that, "the Virgin arises in us feelings of filial abandonment before God, who is infinite mercy."

 

In his English remarks, the Pope called on people to, “be prepared to turn away from everything that separates us from God, so that we too can respond generously to his call.”

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