Archive of December 10, 2009

Fight against abortion funding in Senate health bill is ‘far from over,’ pro-life leader says

Washington D.C., Dec 10, 2009 (CNA) - Responding to the defeat of the Nelson-Hatch Amendment to the Senate health care bill, Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat has voiced gratitude towards supporters of the restrictions on abortion funding. Noting “strong support” in the U.S. House, he said more changes are still possible in the Senate.

“The fight is far from over,” Doerflinger commented in a Dec. 9 message.

Doerflinger, the executive director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, gave a word of gratitude and encouragement to all those who worked to “maintain current protections against abortion funding.”

“We made a very good showing against overwhelming odds, and we continue to have strong support for our position in the House where the legislation must ultimately return.”

Analyzing the Senate’s action, he said that pro-lifers’ opponents probably began with a “bare Senate majority” against the Hyde Amendment. These opponents followed a strategy of “constantly and passionately obfuscating the truth” that the Nelson Amendment is “basically the same as the Hyde Amendment.”

“This gave us the spectacle of one pro-abortion Senator after another saying with a straight face that he or she supports the longstanding restrictions of the Hyde amendment, while voting against that policy in real life.”

“We must step up our efforts to educate the Congress, the media and the general public as to what is really going on in this debate,” Doerflinger urged.

He said that supporters of the language of the Nelson Amendment hoped to get more than 40 votes, to compensate for the opposition of Republican Sens. Collins and Snow.

“We surprised them in a number of ways,” he said, noting support from the Democratic co-sponsors of the Nelson Amendment and from the five unexpected votes which included Sen. Ted Kaufman of Delaware.

Sen. Kaufman, a former top aide to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, had never cast a pro-life vote.

“Our Senate allies were prepared, articulate, committed, and factual, rebutting every false claim our opponents made,” he added.

The 45 votes for the Nelson Amendment mean that if the Senate had followed normal procedure they could never have produced the 60 votes needed for an amendment to remove the House’s Stupak Amendment.

This fact is good preparation for the future, which Doerflinger said may involve a “ping-pong match” between the House and the Senate.

Doerflinger also noted more changes up for consideration in the Senate, including a “manager’s amendment” that may or may not include some provisions to address pro-lifers’ “strong objections” to the current bill.

“We won't give up until we have a reform of health care that truly respects the life of everyone,” his message concluded. “Thank you again for your wonderful efforts!”

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January’s National Vocation Awareness Week intended to make vocations ‘everyone’s business’

Washington D.C., Dec 10, 2009 (CNA) - National Vocation Awareness Week will be celebrated in the U.S. Jan. 10-16 to help make vocations “everyone’s business.”

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, the chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, said the week provides parishes the opportunity to promote vocations through prayer and education.

“It is our responsibility to encourage young people to be generous in their response as they discern the possibility of a call to service in the Church. We must also ask parents, families and our parish communities to assist with this work, vocations are everyone’s business,” the cardinal said in a press release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The Year for Priests, sponsored by the Vatican, continues through June 2010. Dioceses are highlighting the role of priests in diocesan newspapers, on web sites and with other events.

At the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., the “Women & Spirit” exhibit will discuss the contributions of women religious in the U.S.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is co-sponsoring the exhibit.

The U.S. bishops have named the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life as one of their five priorities. They promote vocations through their website at

Fr. David Toups, interim executive director of the USCCB’s Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, said the Church needs to help young people “hear the Lord in prayer so they can recognize Him in their lives.”

“This week reminds us that it is our responsibility to pray for vocations and to invite young people to consider a call to ordained ministry and consecrated life,” he added.

National Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976 and originally began on the 28th Sunday of the year. In 1997, the observance was moved to coincide with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, celebrated on January 10 in 2010.

The Feast marks the initiation of Jesus into public ministry. Its celebration helps the faithful recommit themselves to follow Jesus, the USCCB says. The faithful are initiated through their own baptism to be the Beloved of God, commissioned to proclaim the Good News with their lives.

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Video of misinformation in Planned Parenthood clinics shows ‘abortion-first mentality,’ Lila Rose says

Appleton, Wis., Dec 10, 2009 (CNA) - A new undercover video from Live Action films shows Planned Parenthood staff offering inaccurate and contradictory information about fetal development and the risks of abortion. Lila Rose, the head of the investigation effort, says this is evidence of an “abortion-first mentality” at the organization.

Two female investigators entered an Appleton, Wisconsin Planned Parenthood abortion clinic with a hidden camera and asked a Planned Parenthood counselor if a pregnant woman’s 10-week-old unborn child has a heartbeat.

The counselor claimed that the unborn child has “heart tones” but the heart beat comes “when the fetus is active in the uterus—can survive—which is about seventeen or eighteen weeks.”

However, embryologists agree that the heartbeat begins around three weeks.

“A fetus is what's in the uterus right now. That is not a baby,” the counselor adds.

A press release from Live Action said that Wisconsin law requires that women receive medically accurate information before undergoing an abortion.

In the video Dr. Polhaska, the abortion doctor, said that at 10 weeks the unborn child is “not a baby at this stage or anything like that.”He also told the investigators that having an abortion is “much safer” than having a baby.

“You know, women die having babies,” he said, according to the video published on YouTube.

Live Action noted the recent resignation of Abby Johnson, a clinic director at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas.

In an interview, she said that the organization “really tries to instill in their employees and the women that are coming in for abortions that this is not a baby.”

“They don’t want to talk about when your baby has a heartbeat,” she said, because they don’t want to give the woman information that could give her a “connection” with her baby.

Lila Rose, a 21-year-old UCLA student and president of Live Action Films, charged that medical falsehoods and manipulative counseling are routine at Planned Parenthood.

"They will do or say anything in order to sell more abortions to more women, whether it is covering up sexual abuse or lying to women about medical facts," Rose commented. "Our team has visited dozens of Planned Parenthood clinics undercover. Planned Parenthood, while claiming to support patient self-determination, operates with an 'abortion-first mentality'."

"Planned Parenthood is a billion-dollar organization with nearly $350 million of government funding, and stands to gain hundreds of millions more from national health care," Rose added. "Do we really want to subsidize an organization that gives women in need atrocious misinformation and predatory abortion practices?"

The Wisconsin Planned Parenthood video is the first in Live Action’s “Rosa Acuna Project,” which the organizers describe as a “multi-state undercover audit” that documents Planned Parenthood’s abortion counseling.

Previously, Live Action documented Planned Parenthood employees who were willing to conceal what they believed to be pregnancies conceived by statutory rape between a teen girl and a much older man. Fundraisers for Planned Parenthood also accepted donations purportedly targeting African-Americans for abortion.

The new video is at

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Cardinal calls for rediscovery of value of priesthood

Rome, Italy, Dec 10, 2009 (CNA) - In an upcoming pastoral letter, the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Italy, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, calls on Catholics to rediscover the inestimable value of the priesthood and of the liturgical patrimony guarded by the Church.
The letter is entitled, “This Is Your Spiritual Worship,” and will be released during the next blessing of the families in Genoa. In it,  the cardinal underscores that the Year of Priests is “also an occasion for the entire Christian people to think of the beauty of the  priesthood and priests' ministry as pastors of the community.”

In particular, the cardinal called on the laity to “pray for priests and to be close to them, as well as to help them discreetly and generously.” He also encouraged the laity to “grow in responsible participation in the life of the Church.”
Addressing the correct participation of the faithful at Mass, Cardinal Bagnasco noted that at times there exists a “temptation to believe that active participation consists in doing or saying everything or making the largest number of people involved as frequently as possible.”
Instead of succumbing to this temptation, he explained, “we must go beyond this because in order to enter into the Eucharistic mystery, in order to actively participate and remain transformed, we need a profound desire, a sincere decision to lose ourselves in God, to entrust ourselves to His will in body and in soul, mind and heart.”

The cardinal also emphasized that “the liturgy is one of our patrimonies but not our property: it must be celebrated as the Church indicates.”

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Holy Father hopes for growth of religious freedom in Cuba

Vatican City, Dec 10, 2009 (CNA) -

The newest ambassador to the Holy See, Cuba's Eduardo Delgado Bermudez, renewed nearly 75 years of continuous relations with the Vatican today when he delivered his credentials to Pope Benedict XVI in a private audience.  The Pontiff expressed to the ambassador his hopes for the future of the Cuban  people and for seeing continued “concrete signs” of the acceptance of the exercise of religious freedom.

In his address, Pope Benedict highlighted the importance for governments around the world not to forget about the basic needs of the people, despite the current economic crisis.

"The Catholic Church in Cuba, that in these moments, and as always, feels close to the people, wants to contribute with its modest and effective aid," noted Benedict XVI.

Explaining the importance of this mission, the Pontiff quoted from his encycical Caritas in Veritate, "the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is man, the human person in his or her integrity."

Pope Benedict also pointed to the various areas where Cuba is collaborating with other countries, such as health care and literacy, as possible ways that the Caribbean nation might “contribute to fulfilling the call made by my venerated predecessor Pope John Paul II on his historic visit to your island: 'May Cuba, with all its magnificent potential, open itself up to the world, and may the world open itself up to Cuba.'"

Benedict XVI commended Cuba on its recent steps to help its citizens, referencing the "concrete signs of opening to the exercise of religious freedom" in the country, including allowing the celebration of “Holy Mass in some jails, the realization of religious processions, the reparation and return of some churches and the construction of some religious houses, or the possibility of obtaining social security for priests and religious.”

These steps are permitting the Catholic community “to exercise with more freedom its specific pastoral work," which has room to grow, the Pope said.

He invited all people to "rediscover those moral, human and spiritual values ... that make the existence of man more decent."

"In this sense, the principal service that the Church gives to Cubans is the announcement of Jesus Christ and his message of love, forgiveness and reconciliation in the truth.

"A people that walks this path of harmony is a people with hope in a better future."

The Holy Father also alluded to preparations being made for the 400th anniversary celebration of the presence of the "blessed image of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre, Mother and Patron of Cuba," who he called a "luminous symbol of the religiousness of the Cuban people and the Christian roots of its culture."

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French priest killed in South Africa

Paris, France, Dec 10, 2009 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of South Africa and the South African police announced this week that French missionary priest, Father Louis Blondel, was murdered after a break-in at his home in an impoverished region of Johannesburg.

According to police in Pretoria, South Africa, the 70 year-old priest was sleeping when four burglars, three of whom were teens, shot him before they fled with two computers and a cell phone. 

Father Blondel was born in Bethune, a city in northern France. After spending his youth in Tanzania, he moved to South Africa 1987 where he began several social ministries. He was a member of the Missionaries of Africa, and with Father Guido Bourgeois in northern Johannesburg, he built a church for the local residents.

“His presence was greatly appreciated by the people here. He did a lot of social work,” the Bishops’ Conference of South Africa said in a statement.  According to “The Star,” Father Blondel is the fourth priest to be murdered this year in South Africa.

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Office of Chaldean patriarch hit by brutal attacks in Iraq

Rome, Italy, Dec 10, 2009 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad revealed yesterday that the offices of the Chaldean Patriarchate in the Iraqi capital were damaged by the terrorist attacks on Tuesday that left 127 dead and 500 wounded.

According to the SIR news agency, the bishop noted that “fortunately only the buildings were damaged. The sisters and the Patriarch were not present at the time of the explosion. They had left to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

“Doors, windows, window panes were all blown out, and the walls were also damaged,” he added.

Bishop Warduni said Baghdad residents are convinced that those behind the attacks are linked to political groups.  “What is left now is the great desperation, pain and suffering of death that haunts our people,” the prelate concluded.

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New Gabonese leader visits with Pope Benedict

Vatican City, Dec 10, 2009 (CNA) -

Ali Bongo Ondimba, the new president of the South African republic of Gabon, paid a cordial visit to Pope Benedict XVI this morning. 

The new Gabonese president was inaugurated almost two months ago, on October 16, 2009. He is the first new president in Gabon since the 1960's. His father, the recently deceased president, El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba had ruled the country since his creation of a one-party state in 1968. Though the country adopted a multi-party system in the 1990's, the same president was consistently re-elected.

Gabon is divided into five Catholic dioceses, one archdiocese and an Apostolic Prefecture. The see of the metropolitan is in the country's capital of Libreville. 

The country gained its freedom from France in 1960, and all education takes place in French, though many children do not know the language until they begin their education in one of the country's private or public schools. Aside from the state schools, elementary schools are also run by Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims. The country boasts a literacy rate of around 70%.

The Pope's meeting with the Gabonese president touched on the good relations between the Holy See and the south African nation which result from the Framework-Agreement established in 1997. The Pope also emphasize the contribution of Catholics to the Gabonese Republic, and to the “integral progress of the Gabonese people, particularly in the field of education.”

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Schedule announced for Pope’s visit to Portugal

Vatican City, Dec 10, 2009 (CNA) - This week, Auxiliary Bishop Carlos Azevedo of Lisbon announced the official schedule for Pope Benedict's trip to Portugal May 11-14, 2010. The “official and pastoral visit” by the Pope to the cities of Lisbon, Fatima and Porto will be organized in conjunction with the Portuguese government, the bishop said.

The bishop expressed his own joy and “the great hope with which the Church in Portugal awaits this event.” The visit will “coincide with the 10th anniversary of the beatification of the shepherd children Francisco and Jacinta, and the fifth anniversary of the death of Sister Lucia, all who were Fatima visionaries.

The Pope’s schedule will be as follows:


May 11

11:00 a.m. Arrival at Lisbon airport

12:45 p.m. Welcoming ceremony at the Monasterio dos Jerónimos

1:30 p.m. Visit with the President of Portugal, Anibal Cavaco Silva, at the presidential palace of Belen

6:45 p.m. Mass at the Plaza do Comercio.

May 12

10:00 a.m. Meeting with representatives from the world of culture, science and art at the Cultural Center of Belen

12:00 p.m. Meeting with the Prime Minister of Portugal, José Sócrates, at the Apostolic Nunciature

4:40 p.m. Departure by helicopter to Fatima

6:00 p.m. Meeting and recitation of the Rosary at Fatima with religious, priests, deacons and seminarians at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity

9:30 p.m. Candlelight Procession, led by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

May 13:

10:00 a.m. Mass for the anniversary of the international pilgrimage and private visit to the tombs of the three Fatima seers

5:00 p.m. Meeting with all Catholic and non-Catholic organizations involved in social ministry

6:45 p.m. Meeting with the bishops of Portugal

May 14:

9:00 a.m. Arrival in Porto

10:15 a.m. Mass at the Avenida dos Aliados.

1:30 p.m. Departure ceremony at the Francisco Sá Carneiro airport

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New book comprised of Pope's 2008 homilies presented to the Holy Father

Vatican City, Dec 10, 2009 (CNA) - After this week's Wednesday General Audience, the Holy Father was presented with the book, “Homilies. The Liturgical Year Narrated by Joseph Ratzinger, Pope,” edited by Italian Vatican analyst Sandro Magister.  The new book is a collection of Benedict XVI's homilies spanning the First Sunday of Advent 2008 to November of this year. 

Each homily is followed by the daily readings from that day as well as  by commentary from the Holy Father.

Magister presented the book to the Holy Father, along with Emma Marcegaglia, president of Confindustria; Giancarlo Ceruitt, president of “Il Sole 24 ore,” and the director of L’Osservatore Romano, Giovanni Maria Vian.

The group also informed the Pope of two other works in progress:  four volumes relating to the Sistine Chapel, as well as a historic photo of the chapel during the restoration of 1904.

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Archbishop Chaput encourages new bishop to be defined by fatherly love

Pueblo, Colo., Dec 10, 2009 (CNA) - This afternoon in southern Colorado, Fr. Fernando Isern was ordained Bishop of the Diocese of Pueblo. In his homily at the ordination, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver used the example of St. Augustine to emphasize that a bishop should love his people as a father loves his children.

The ordination, which took place in the Massari Arena at Colorado State University's Pueblo campus, was presided over by Denver's Archbishop Charles Chaput, who was also the principal consecrater. The co-consecrating bishops were Archbishop John C. Favalora, Archbishop of Miami and Arthur N. Tafoya, Bishop of Pueblo. Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles was also in attendance.

Seats were set aside for members of the Ute Indian Tribe, whose reservation makes up a part of the Diocese of Pueblo.

The homily for the ordination Mass was preached by Archbishop Chaput, who began by acknowledging the presence of the Pope's delegate to the U.S., the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi. The nuncio's presence is a reminder of the universality of the Church, said Archbishop Chaput.

Despite the frigid December weather, Archbishop Chaput observed that the second week of Advent is a great time to be ordained a bishop, since there are so many saints whose feasts are celebrated this week,  including St. Ambrose -the mentor of St. Augustine, Pope St. Damasus, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and St. Juan Diego. “I know that Bishop Isern already treasures these last two feasts in a special way, trusting in Mary who is always our mother, and seeking to be holy and simple in his service to the Gospel, as Juan Diego was,” he said.

Before focusing his homily on the example of St. Augustine, Archbishop Chaput touched on the day's Scripture readings, which he said  tell us three things: “They tell us who we are.  They tell us who God is.  And they tell us what we need to do with the life we've been given.”

Giving the example of a married man, who “never fully knows who he is, until he's loved by a wife and children,” the archbishop broadened the analogy to include every human person. “Every person needs to love and be loved. In loving another person, we prove that the other person is worth loving.   And likewise, those who love us show us the good in ourselves that we can't see, and so often don't believe.”  

But we aren't just defined by human love, Chaput said. We are defined by the love of God. “It's his love that made us.  It’s his love that sustains us...  and with the tenderness of a father, He selects each one of us to be uniquely his own.” This radical love also defines who God is, Chaput continued. “God invites us to love as radically and unselfishly as He does, and through that love, to help him remake the world.” He noted, “the irony is that in giving ourselves to God, we find ourselves in him.”

This fatherly love takes on a special meaning in the role of the bishop as exhibited in the case of St. Augustine. A 1,600 year old example of the 'prodigal son' story, St. Augustine converted from paganism with his son, who died in his teens.

St. Augustine was “a brilliant scholar, and a tireless writer, preacher and defender of the Catholic faith against its enemies.  But he became one of the greatest bishops in Christian history because he lived first and foremost as a father, moved by a father's love,” Chaput preached.

“In his ministry as a bishop, Augustine never forgot the lessons of a father's love,” he added. “He never forgot that his first task was not to be a brilliant intellect, or a marvelous preacher, or a great administrator, or a good fund-raiser – although each of these things has a proper place in the life of a bishop.  His first task was to love God as a son, and to love the people of God in his care as a father, with a father's heart.”

This kind of love, said the archbishop, “is tireless. It's all-consuming. And without the grace of God in a man's life, it's overwhelming.  Only when a man puts himself entirely in the arms of God; only when he abandons himself and his pride completely to God – only then, but truly then, the ministry of bishop is a joy and a liberation.”

Archbishop Chaput told those at the Mass that “the purpose of a bishop is to be a father to his people, a brother to his priests and deacons, and a witness of Jesus Christ to world.” He also encouraged the faithful of the Diocese of Pueblo to pray for and support their new bishop because “there is no greater joy in the life of any bishop than to love and be loved by God's people.”

Turning his attention to then Bishop-elect Isern, Archbishop Chaput advised, “have confidence in the God who calls you to this altar, because He will give you the serenity and strength to do his will.” Bishop Isern has taken “ Caritas Christi urget nos” (The love of Christ compels us) as his motto. He replaces Bishop Arthur Tafoya, who was bishop of Pueblo for 30 years. 

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Supreme Knight releases 'Civilization of Love' in Vatican City

Vatican City, Dec 10, 2009 (CNA) - Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, has had a busy couple of days here at the Vatican.  He took advantage of the occasion presented by the Italian language release of his book, “A Civilization of Love,” to also attend a private audience with the Holy Father at the Vatican this morning.

“Una Civilta dell'Amore,” the Italian title of Anderson's book, was officially released at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon at the Vatican Radio headquarters.  The book is being published for Italian readers by the Vatican publishing house, Editrice Vaticano. 

Anderson was inspired to write the book after repeated calls from Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI for us “to build a civilization of life.” The volume is directed principally to youth, but it is also a call to all people to build a culture of life and “to transform the world” by leading Christ-centered lives of love and selfless giving. 

Speaking at the press conference on Wednesday, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko said of the book, “in a world that appears exactly the contrary, it's a provocative title.” 

The book, Rylko continued, “makes us rediscover the commitment to building a Civilization of Love as something constitutional to our very own identities as people and especially as Christians.  Not by chance the author starts off directly with the questions, ‘Who are we?’  and ‘What are we becoming?’  A Civilization of Love is not just a utopia but a reality to be built, a concrete project of personal and social life that touches all of the dimensions of existence.”

During Anderson's visit with the Pope this morning, he was accompanied by Bishop William E. Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport, who is the chaplain of the Connecticut-based Knights of Columbus.

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Bishop installed with 'joy and enthusiasm' in Wyoming

Cheyenne, Wyo., Dec 10, 2009 (CNA) - On Wednesday, Dec. 9, Bishop Paul D. Etienne (pronounced a-ten) was ordained a bishop and installed as the eighth bishop of of the Diocese of Cheyenne, filling a seat that had been left vacant since July of 2008.

“The spirit during the celebration was one of excitement and joy,” said Fr. Gary Ruzicka, Master of Ceremonies, who told CNA that he estimated close to 1,200 people attended the installation, despite severe snowstorms and road blockages.

The installation took place at Cheyenne's Civic Center and was attended by the Most Reverend Pietro Sambi, the representative of Pope Benedict XVI in the U.S. Also in attendance were Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Archbishop Daniel Buechlein of Indianapolis and Bishop David Ricken of Green Bay.

“We haven't had a bishop for 15 months now and as a result, the anticipation has been increasing  month by month in the hopes that eventually we would have a bishop,” Fr. Ruzicka said. When the Holy Father appointed him back in October, he recalled, “we were really excited.”

Fr. Ruzicka told CNA that the new bishop is “a young man” full of “zeal” who has an “enthusiasm” about him and shares the many interests of the people of Wyoming such as the outdoors, nature, hunting, fishing and hiking. Bishop Etienne may be “a perfect fit,” remarked Fr. Ruzicka.

Attendants of the ceremony were able to meet Bishop Etienne at a reception following his installation yesterday and “were very, very pleased at the choice of the Holy Father,” said Fr. Ruzicka. “He is easy-going, approachable and easy to talk to.”

Bishop Etienne, 50, grew up as one of six children to parents who have been married over 50 years. Two of his brothers are priests and his sister is a religious.

He graduated from the University of St. Thomas / St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. with a degree in Business Administration before studying at the North American College in Rome and receiving a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University.

Following his priestly ordination in 1992 for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Bishop Etienne worked as an associate pastor and assistant vocation director before traveling to Rome to receive his License in Spiritual Theology.

The Dec. 9 installation of Bishop Etienne held “a spirit of joy, excitement” and “a lot of enthusiasm for the new bishop,” Fr. Ruzicka revealed.

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Doctors top list of trusted professions, politicians scrape bottom, poll shows

Princeton, N.J., Dec 10, 2009 (CNA) - According to a Gallup poll published on Dec. 9, members of Congress are among the least trusted professionals in the U.S., while health care workers are listed as the most trusted. The results have an ironic ring to them as lawmakers prepare to overhaul the health care system.

According to analyst Lydia Saad, for the first time in its history, Gallup's annual Honesty and Ethics of Professions poll, found that 55 percent of Americans rate the honesty and ethical standards of Members of Congress as “low” or “very low.” Saad pointed out that the low ranking is distributed among all politicians, regardless of party affiliation.

“Congress has long ranked among the worst-rated professions on Gallup's annual Honesty and Ethics of Profession Pole,” said Saad in her analysis. However, the latest results show that politicians have “earned the unwelcome distinction of having a majority of Americans rate its integrity as low or very low,” she noted.

The results are based on telephone interviews with 1,017 national adults, aged 18 and up, and were conducted in November of this year. Participants were asked to rate the ethical standards of a list of professions as “very high” all the way down to “very low” or “no opinion.”

In contrast to politicians, health care workers were listed as the most trusted profession in the U.S. with nurses being given a “high” or “very high” rating by 83 percent of those interviewed.

Clergy members were also given a relatively high ranking as a trusted profession. Among the 22 professions listed by the Gallop poll that were given high rankings by participants, clergy were listed as number eight with 50 percent rating the profession “high” or “very high.” 

Gallup analysts were not immediately available for further comment.

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Prayer vigil for disabled and sick to be held in Madrid to prepare for WYD

Madrid, Spain, Dec 10, 2009 (CNA) - A prayer vigil with young disabled people, the sick and volunteers will be held in Madrid on Dec. 20 as part of the preparations for World Youth Day 2011.

The vigil will take place in the parish church of the Patronage of St. Joseph.

The organizers said they will “reassert faith in Christ’s love” at the meeting, SIR News reports.

“We would also like to draw the attention of the Church and society so as to remove barriers, as much architectural as mental, to the full social inclusion of young people with different needs and conditions. Also, we would like to celebrate the values of youth, which are not limited to agility, physical strength, beauty, fame or social skills. Such values include devotion, solidarity, the ability to love, commitment and above all the deeply-rooted dignity of all people as God’s Sons, made in His resemblance.”

To promote the meeting, diocesan delegations of the Ministry of Health, Childhood and Youth are cooperating with organizations and movements of disabled people and Christian volunteers in health care

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