Archive of January 29, 2010

Statue of Baby Jesus travels from Holy Land to Padre Pio's monastery

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) - Marking the first time the statue has ever left its sanctuary in Bethlehem, the original wooden sculpture of the "Little Child" Jesus was brought by its guardian, Fr. Jerzy Kraj, to the Sanctuary of St. Giovanni Rotondo on Thursday. During its visit, the statue will be taken to the children's cancer ward of a hospital founded by St. Padre Pio.

"With immense joy," announced the Capuchin Minor Friars among whom Saint Pio lived, "we will live here, in San Giovanni Rotondo, a 'great event of faith.' "

"We’ll live again the profound devotion of Padre Pio," they exclaimed in an official release for the arrival of the baby Jesus figure.

According to friars, "the idea of this initiative was born during a pilgrimage to Bethlehem guided last October by... (the) rector of the sanctuary, in memory of the profound devotion of Padre Pio of Pietralcina for that which he called 'the divine Infant.'"

After clearing the idea with the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, plans were made for the pilgrimage.

The statue arrived by helicopter on Thursday afternoon to be welcomed by the Capuchin superiors and the mayor of San Giovanni Rotondo, later it was taken to Our Lady of Grace Shrine, where a Eucharistic celebration was held.

From Jan. 28 to Feb. 6, the "original and sacred statue of the Little Child of Bethlehem" will be in, and around, the Our Lady of Grace Shrine at San Giovanni Rotondo.

At least six official pilgrimages are planned by area parishes and schools while the sculpture is there.

The statue will also be taken in for a night at the Convent of the cloistered Capuchin Clarisse Sisters on Jan. 31, and on the night of Feb. 3 it will be at the House for the Relief of Suffering, the hospital founded by St. Pio. On its way back from the "House" to Our Lady of Grace the next morning, it will be taken through the pediatric oncology wing of the hospital, which is named after Pope John Paul II.

After a solemn Mass on the evening of Feb. 6, the statue will be take to Rome and then back to Bethlehem the next morning.

The statue was made in Olot, Spain in 1921 for the sanctuary in Bethlehem.

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Haitian Catholic Church is committed to quake aid, Archbishop Tomasi states

Geneva, Switzerland, Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) - The Church in Haiti has been “painfully hit” by the earthquake along with the rest of the country, the Holy See’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva has said. He endorsed a “human rights approach” to respond to the disaster and pledged the Church’s aid to help Haitians to “a life of dignity.”

Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi’s comments came in an address to a special session of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council about recovery efforts in Haiti.

Noting the destruction of the Haitian earthquake, he offered his delegation's condolences for all the victims.

“The images of the collapsed cathedral in the capital, which have gone around the world, symbolize the situation of the Church in this majority Catholic country,” he continued. “The Church also has been hard and painfully hit by the death of many of its members, the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince and many religious, priests and seminarians. Schools, hospitals and clinics run by the Church have been destroyed.”

He added that a great number of social and pastoral workers also died while serving the Haitian people.

The emergency shows the “need and value of respecting human rights,” Archbishop Tomasi continued. The right to life, food, water, health development, and decent work were among the other rights “already largely absent” from the country.

The earthquake calls on the international community to respond to the needs of the Haitian people and to place these human rights at the basis of a reconstruction plan, he stated.

However, Archbishop Tomasi advised, the aid should be distributed with the principle of subsidiarity to give the Haitian people the capacity to rebuild their infrastructure and to assume their political and social responsibilities.

The archbishop noted that Pope Benedict XVI had appealed to the world’s generosity and had asked the international community to show “practical solidarity” and “effective support” for the disaster victims.

“The Catholic Church will not fail to take immediate action through her charitable institutions in order to meet the people's most urgent needs,” Pope Benedict had said.

Speaking to the U.N. in Geneva, Archbishop Tomasi reported that many Catholic non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have launched rebuilding programs. Caritas Internationalis has received $33 million for relief work and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has already delivered $25 million in aid, he reported.

Describing the Church as an “integral part” of Haitian society, he said the Church will continue to collaborate in rebuilding, in promoting basic human rights, and in advancing the health and education of the Haitian people in their “just aspiration to a life of freedom and dignity.”

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Malaysian ‘Allah dispute' under control despite vandalism

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) - Extremist groups in Malaysia may be exploiting the controversy over a Catholic newspaper’s use of the word “Allah” for God in order to foment “sectarian hatred,” a leading Catholic priest in the region has said. Though groups have vandalized several places of worship, the situation is reportedly “under control.”

Several individuals or groups of provocateurs in the country are attacking and profaning places of worship closest to the heart of believers of several religions to provoke a reaction, the Rome-based Fides news agency reports. The process is similar to past conflicts in Indonesia, Nigeria, India, and other countries.

“There is concern now that extremist individuals or groups are seeking to foment sectarian hatred in Malaysia by using the case of the controversial use of the name Allah for non-Muslims,” said Fr. Augustine Julian, Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Vandals have targeted 11 churches, a Sikh temple, a mosque and two Muslim prayer rooms between Jan. 8 and Jan. 21.

On Wednesday unidentified persons desecrated two mosques in a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, scattering several pig heads at both. The animal is considered unclean by Muslims.

While police investigate the desecrations, Malaysian Domestic Affairs Minister Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has publicly asked that Malaysians, especially Muslims, have patience in the search for the culprits.

“We are very determined. I suspect that the goal is to lead the country into chaos. They want to cause clashes between communities of different ethnicity and religion,” the minister said.

Fr. Julian told Fides that Catholics are “comforted” because public opinion “strongly condemns” the acts and is not responding to the provocations.

“The situation is under control,” he reported.

Commenting on the incidents, the interfaith dialogue organization the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism has declared “all violence against a place of worship is a grave sin.”

“The purpose of these acts is to provoke a clash between the religious communities in the country. But all citizens who love peace and legality must not allow this to happen. Remain united,” the council statement read.

The conflict comes after reaction to the Catholic Herald newspaper’s suit that sought the freedom to use the word “Allah” for God in its Malay edition. The government has shown its willingness to reach a negotiated settlement with the Catholic Church without continuing the legal battle, Fides says.

A meeting is expected between Prime Minister Najib Razak and Archbishop Murphy Pakiam of Kuala Lumpur. The meeting could be a turning point in the situation.

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Coherent strategy needed for Haiti relief, bishop tells U.S. leaders

Washington D.C., Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) - The United States needs a “long-term coherent strategy” for recovery, development, and anti-poverty efforts in Haiti after its devastating earthquake, Bishop of Albany Howard J. Hubbard has said in a letter to U.S. political leaders.

Bishop Hubbard’s comments came in a Jan. 26 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk.

Writing as the chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, he said the USCCB welcomed President Obama’s “leadership and compassion on behalf of the American people.”

He noted the president had appointed Administrator Raj Shah to coordinate the U.S. government’s response and also had invited President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush to lead a bipartisan relief effort.

He added that Catholic Relief Services (CRS) took “immediate” steps to respond to the conference and the USCCB took up a special collection for relief efforts after the disaster.

Bishop Hubbard advised that different government agencies should be coordinated in a “comprehensive approach” that engages other groups with expertise and experience in Haiti. The bishop recommended debt relief, trade preferences, extension of protected status for Haitians living the United States, and sustained development assistance as part of the aid strategy.

“When the international community and Haitians move beyond the most urgent aspects of the emergency, we urge a substantial and sustained commitment by the U.S. Government to provide long-term funding for reconstruction and poverty reduction,” he continued.

“At the same time, our nation should work to support and strengthen the role of the Haitian Government and institutions in the reconstruction and long-term development of their nation.”

The letter closed by thanking the U.S. leaders and pledging the bishops’ assistance.

“Be assured that the Conference of Bishops and Catholic Relief Services are also doing everything possible to act in solidarity with the people and Church in Haiti at this time of terrible loss and suffering.”

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Canadian bishops warn of prostitution and trafficking at Winter Olympics

Ottawa, Canada, Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) - As the 2010 Winter Olympics approach, the Canadian bishops have spoken against the “trivialization” of concerns about prostitution during the event. They said the crime is a part of a “new form of slavery” known as human trafficking and called on Catholics to help fight it.

While the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games are much anticipated, the bishops said some see the event as a chance to make money at the cost of human dignity and human rights.

Those in vulnerable situations may believe unscrupulous smugglers or succumb to earning money through “sexual tourism,” the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said in their Pastoral Letter on Human Trafficking.

The pastoral letter was authored by the CCCB’s Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, which is chaired by Archbishop of Kingston Brendan M. O’Brien.

“In Canada, Aboriginal women and young girls disappear from their villages and are never seen again,” the letter lamented. “Increasingly, younger immigrants work the downtown streets or get jobs in strip clubs and massage parlors.”

Immigrants may not be able to speak the language and may have their passport taken from them.

“They are at the mercy of pimps who demand to be reimbursed for the victim’s transportation costs.

“Women and children, usually under the influence of drugs, must then engage in prostitution under the vigilant eye of pimps who pocket the profits. If the victims try to run away or stand up for their rights, the pimps threaten to kill them or members of their families back home.”

The pastoral letter encouraged Canadians to become aware of human trafficking and take action to stop it.

“How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?” the letter continued, quoting the First Letter of John.

The bishops also recognized that demand for prostitution fuels human trafficking.

“In a country that considers equality between women and men to be a fundamental value, a country where a majority of citizens are Christians who promote the dignity of each person created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), how can we tolerate prostitution, which is a form of institutionalized violence that destroys the physical, psychological and spiritual integrity of other human beings?”

The bishops also urged support for organizations that work with victims of human trafficking and to provide “concrete assistance” such as spiritual support, health care, safe housing, decent employment, and substance abuse programs.

“Our prayers will also strengthen the hope of those many people whose liberty and humanity have been taken from them by trafficking and the courage of those groups that assist them,” their letter concluded. “May our faith and outrage spur us to get involved, individually and together, for the transformation of our world!”

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Charity, truth and justice must guide Vatican court, states Pope Benedict

Vatican City, Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) -

The Holy Father addressed members of the Roman Rota, the second highest Vatican court, this morning for the inauguration of the judicial year. In his message, he emphasized the importance of charity, truth and justice in guiding their work, especially as it pertains to upholding the Sacrament of Marriage.

In society today, said the Holy Father, we tend to "contrast justice with charity, almost as if the one excluded the other."

Alluding to a specific example, the Pope explained that "some people maintain that pastoral charity justifies any measures taken towards the declaration of nullity of the marriage bond."

In this case, he maintained, truth "would thus tend to be seen in a functional perspective, adapting itself to the different requirements that arise in each case.”

Pope Benedict XVI told the members of the court that they must uphold the virtue of justice and also be strong, especially "when injustice seems the easiest path to follow, in as much as it involves giving in to the desires and expectations of the parties involved, or to the conditioning of the social environment."

Neither can they neglect charity, he added, because maintaining a "charitable perspective... will help us not to forget that those before us are always people marked by problems and suffering."

And, in the cases of annulment, "whenever there seems to be hope of a successful outcome," said the Pope, they must make every effort to reunite the spouses.

Another important issue regarding justice in annulments, added the Holy Father, involves the avoidance of "pseudo-pastoral demands which place the issue on a merely horizontal plain."

These cases, he said, are typified by the attitude that the importance lies in "satisfying subjective requests in order to achieve a declaration of nullity at any cost, with the aim of overcoming, among other things, the obstacles to receiving the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist."

This, explained Pope Benedict, "would, however, be a false advantage to ease the way towards receiving the Sacraments, at the risk of causing people to live in objective contrast with the truth of their own individual state."

"Both justice and charity require love for truth... (and) without truth, charity slides into sentimentalism. Love becomes an empty shell to be filled arbitrarily. This is the fatal risk of love in a culture without truth."

"The problem arises when the essence itself of marriage becomes more or less obscured," stated the Holy Father, adding that the "examination of the conjugal bond in existential, personalist and relational terms must never be undertaken at the expense of indissolubility, an essential property which in Christian marriage has, with unity, a special firmness by virtue of the Sacrament."

"Marriage enjoys the favor of the law," concluded Benedict XVI, "Therefore, whenever there is doubt, a marriage must be held to be valid until the contrary is proven, otherwise we run the serious risk of remaining without an objective point of reference for pronouncements of nullity, transforming all conjugal difficulties into a symptom of a failed union whose essential nucleus of justice - the indissoluble bond - is thus effectively denied."

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Secret Archives from Pius XII's time to be organized by 2015

Rome, Italy, Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) - Documents regarding the activities of the Holy See during the pontificate of Pope Pius XII will be organized in the Vatican archives within five years. The head of the Secret Archives says that only "technical" issues are keeping them from being made available for study.

In an interview with the Italian-language Il Messaggero newspaper, the Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, Bishop Sergio Pagano, said that work is underway to catalogue and organize the 16 million pages produced by the Holy See from 1939 - 1958.

Bishop Pagano explained that there is a complete absence of "political" motives for the lack of access to the documents, and that the files are currently unavailable for "technical" reasons. The problems derive from the difficulty involved in creating an inventory of "a very extensive mass of paper, originating from 19 years of pontificate."

Bishop Pagano estimated that the "technical preparation" would be completed for documents proceeding from the pontificate of Pius XII by 2014-15, "then," he added, "it will be the Holy Father who makes a decision regarding the opening."

Pope Benedict XVI, he said, "is kept constantly informed" of their progress.

There has been great interest in seeing the documents since they span the years of World War II and will shed light on the internal Vatican activities during that time. In particular, Jewish leaders and other researchers are interested in discovering the extent of Pope Pius XII's involvement in helping shelter Jews from the Nazi persecution.

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Mexico's attorney general praised for challenging same-sex 'marriage'

Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) - Pro-family and pro-life leaders in Mexico are praising the decision by the country’s attorney general to challenge the Mexico City law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. The attorney general will appeal the law to the Supreme Court, arguing that it violates Mexico's constitution.

Pro-life leaders say the law, approved by the Mexico City Legislative Assembly, represents “a serious threat to the country,” is unconstitutional, and ignores the beliefs of 75 percent of Mexico City residents who oppose such a measure.

Previously the attorney general asserted that the new law violates Mexico’s constitution by stripping protections from the family and making the rights of children subject to the interests of same-sex couples. He argued that children have a right to the traditional family model outlined in the 1974 reform of the constitution.

The government official also rejected the Legislative Assembly’s argument that it approved homosexual “marriage” because no legal protection for same-sex couples to exercise their rights and to start a family existed. “That is not accurate, because since 2006, civil unions have been allowed in Mexico City, which practically grant the same rights as marriage, except in the areas related to procreation and children,” the attorney general stated.

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Pontifical council encourages fight against leprosy

Vatican City, Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) - The message for the World Day for Leprosy was released today from president of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Ministry, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski. The archbishop explained in the message that "it's not only a day of reflection on this devastating disease but, most of all, it's a day of solidarity with the brothers and sisters than are affected by it."

Quoting a statistic from the World Health Organization of 210,000 new cases of the disease in 2009, Archbishop Zimowski, said that to this number we can add the "innumerable" additional people "that have been infected but not counted and still lack access to a cure."

In the message, released for the observance of the "World Day" on Jan. 31, the archbishop explains that the disease remains "invisible to the eyes of others, of society (and) of public opinion," despite its significant presence in Asia, South America and Africa.

"In the most economically-advanced countries it seems like this disease has been forgotten, as have also the people affected by it," he noted.

Many, said the archbishop, including St. Damian and "so many other saints and men of good will have helped to overcome the negative attitudes towards leprosy," and there is an effective cure for the disease, but it persists in the world due mainly to collective and individual poverty. The plight of those infected is not helped by an accompanying fear of the disease, he added.

Archbishop Zimowski also took the opportunity of the World Day for Leprosy to make a call "to the international community and to the authorities of each individual State, inviting them to develop and reinforce the strategies to fight leprosy, making them more effective and far-reaching especially in places where the number of new cases remains high.”

"This must be done without overlooking educational and awareness-raising campaigns capable of helping those affected, and their families, to emerge from isolation and obtain the necessary treatment," the archbishop advised.

At the end of his message, the president of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Ministry expressed his thanks to the WHO, and to religious, missionaries, non-governmental associations and organisations, and many volunteers for their commitment "to eradicate this and other 'forgotten' diseases."

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Salesians to celebrate founder's feast by providing assistance to Haiti

Madrid, Spain, Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) - The Salesians will celebrate the feast of their founder, St. John Bosco, on January 31 with a series of initiatives to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Several of the congregation's facilities in the country were destroyed or significantly damaged due to the January 12 disaster.

The Salesians have been present in Haiti for 80 years, opening new facilities in Port-au-Prince and other regions of the country. However, after the earthquake, nearly 500 students were buried beneath the rubble of a Salesian school, areas of the congregation's formation house were destroyed, and three Salesian religious were killed.

Currently, 3,500 people are taking refuge at the Salesian center in Carrefour Thorland.

According to recent statistics, the Salesians number 15,952 in 130 countries worldwide.

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Pro-life group clarifies why it does not support referendum on abortion in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) - The pro-life association “Provida Valencia” issued a statement this week explaining that although it respects the decision of some pro-life groups to call for a referendum on abortion during  country's demonstrations set for March 7, it has decided not to support the initiative. 

In its statement, Provida Valencia laid out several reasons for its decision. “The right to life is not subject to vote. We do not defend it because the majority supports it or not.  The right exists, we do not grant it,” the organization said. 

A second reason the organization stated was: “If we allow the government to hold a referendum, it could establish whatever terms it deems most expedient, and the questions could be manipulated or ambiguous, such as, ‘Shall women who have an abortion go to jail or shall there be a law instead that provides them legal protection’?”

“Experts we have consulted say a referendum in these circumstances is not advisable,” the group stated.

The organization said it is following the conclusions of the 4th World Pro-Life Congress which was held two months ago in Zaragoza, by reaching out to representatives and senators on pro-life issues.

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Pro-choice group promises to help teens obtain abortions in Mexico City

Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) - This week Mexican pro-life organizations warned that leaders of the Convergence Party have threatened to “help” Mexican teenage girls travel to the country's capital to obtain legal abortions.

The National Union of Parents and the Federation of Private Schools of Southern Tamaulipas denounced party leaders for endangering the lives of the teens who decide to abort their babies without the knowledge of their parents.

Convergence Party officials have said they intend to promote the idea to students at the universities and high schools in Tampico and help them “get around” local laws by paying for their transportation to Mexico City to undergo abortions.

The pro-life organizations said that parents, students and school officials must be warned of the plan in order to “prevent contact with these promoters of death.”

“We do not want students to be misinformed by people who only have political interests at heart and ignore the terrible consequences that this could have on our children,” the organizations said.

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Atheist group urges boycott of Mother Teresa stamp

New York City, N.Y., Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) - Following the U.S. Postal Service announcement that they are featuring the late Mother Teresa on an upcoming stamp, the atheist group Freedom from Religion  has urged its supporters to boycott the stamp on the grounds that it violates postal regulations.

The stamp is scheduled for release on Aug. 26, which would have been Mother Teresa's 100th birthday, and is intended to honor the Nobel Peace Prize recipient for her humanitarian work.  A press release from the U.S. Postal Service issued last month praised Mother Teresa for her 50 years of service to “the sick and destitute of India and the world,” as well as her “humility and compassion” and “respect for the innate worth and dignity of humankind.”

However, Annie Gaylor, spokeswoman for Freedom from Religion, told Fox News on Thursday that the stamp goes against a postal stipulation that prevents the Postal Service from honoring “individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings.”

“Mother Teresa is principally known as a religious figure who ran a religious institution,” Gaylor argued. “You can't really separate her being a nun and being a Roman Catholic from everything she did.”

Postal Service spokesman Roy Betts responded to Gaylor by saying that there is a long history of individuals with religious backgrounds like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. who have been honored on stamps.  “This has nothing to do with faith,” he stated in a reply to Fox News.

Gaylor claimed, however, that Dr. King “just happened to be a minister” and that “Malcolm X was not principally known for being a religious figure.”

“And he's not called Father Malcolm X like Mother Teresa,” Gaylor continued. “I mean, even her name is a Catholic honorific.”

Catholic League president Bill Donahue also reacted to Gaylor's arguments on Thursday, issuing a statement which said that Gaylor “sounds like a white racist when she dresses down Rev. Martin Luther King.”

Responding to Gaylor's claim that Martin Luther King, Jr. “just happened to be a minister,” Donahue said, “Really? We'd like to hear her explain that to African Americans at a Sunday service. Perhaps she can get the NAACP to recast King as a secular orator, and not as a black clergyman, during Black History Month, which starts on Monday.”

Gaylor also told Fox News that she opposed Mother Teresa's “anti-abortion rant” during her Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1979 and claimed that her humanitarian work was fraught with controversy.
“There was criticism by the end of her life that she turned what was a tiny charity into an extremely wealthy charity that had the means to provide better care than it did,” Gaylor argued.

Donahue countered Gaylor's claim, asserting, “What's really driving Gaylor's hatred of Mother Teresa, besides her virulent anti-Catholicism, is the saintly nun’s opposition to abortion.”

“She accuses the Albanian nun of making an 'anti-abortion rant' during her Nobel Prize acceptance speech. As a matter of fact, the 'rant' amounted to her saying that 'abortion was the greatest destroyer of peace in the world,'” Donahue stated.

“To understand why abortion hits a nerve with Gaylor, consider this,” he added. “Her mother, Annie Nicol Gaylor, founded the Freedom from Religion Foundation in 1978. And just two years after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion-on-demand, she released a book titled, 'Abortion Is a Blessing.' This is not the kind of book that someone who is reluctantly pro-choice writes: it could only be written by someone who sees abortion as a positive good.”

Postal Service spokesman Roy Betts reiterated on Thursday that “Mother Teresa is not being honored because of her religion, she's being honored for her work with the poor and her acts of humanitarian relief.”

“Her contribution to the world as a humanitarian speaks for itself and is unprecedented.”

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Scott Roeder conviction draws renewed condemnation of Tiller murder

Wichita, Kan., Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) - On Friday, a Wichita jury found Scott Roeder guilty of first degree murder for shooting abortionist George Tiller in his church last year. After news of Roeder's conviction, Kansas pro-life leader Troy Newman of Operation Rescue is reiterating the fact that Roeder's actions fell “outside the realm of Christianity and the pro-life ethos.”

Roeder, 51, was also convicted of two counts of aggravated assault for threatening two witnesses in the church with a gun on the May 31 shooting, moments after Tiller had been killed. Though parole is possible under Kansas law, a murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Roeder will be sentenced in March.

“Our reaction is the same as it was the day, the moment that we found out that Mr. Tiller was brutally murdered in his church,” Troy Newman president of the pro-life group Operation Rescue told CNA on Friday.

Newman also insisted that the murder of Dr. Tiller “does not comport in any way shape or form with the pro-life movement commitment in extending life and liberty to every individual nor does it comport with the age-old, 2,000 year old Christian ethic of laying down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

“This really falls outside the realm of Christianity and the pro life ethos,” he stressed.

In 2002, Operation Rescue moved their offices to Wichita, Kansas, “which, up until the time of Tiller's demise was the abortion capital of the world,” said Newman.

The Operation Rescue president also claimed that his organization had “demonstrable evidence to show it that Mr. Tiller was ready to forfeit his medical license based on an 11 count indictment” and that “it was a matter of a couple more months until the late term abortion clinic was going to close.” According to Newman, Dr. Tiller's business was down over 54 percent in the eight years that Operation Rescue worked in Wichita.

“This end is a terrible tragedy not only for Mr. Tiller but for the pro-life movement,” as Mr. Tiller was already preparing to close his clinic, said Newman.

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Polish bishop calls Holocaust article 'complete misunderstanding'

Krakow, Poland, Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Tadeusz Pieronek of Sosnoviec, Poland, has roundly denied having referred to the Holocaust as “a Jewish invention.” Regarding what he called “a complete misunderstanding,” he explained that the Italian website “Pontifex,” which quoted him for an article this week, clearly failed to capture his meaning.

“I was referring to the fact that the Jews have created the term ‘Shoah’ to define the tragedy that didn’t have a precedent in history,” specified Bishop Pieronek to ANSA news agency.  “The journalist interpreted my words as if I had been saying that the Jews had invented the Shoah.”

The bishop asked increduously, “How could I have said something so absurd?”

“Everyone who knows me knows my position on the crimes of the Nazis and on the horror of what happened,” added the 75-year-old former spokesman of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, who has previously publicly condemned anti-Semitism.

The original article posted on Pontifex last Monday, reported under the title of “The Shoah, an invention of the Jews,” that Bishop Pieronek had made other incendiary statements, including, “undoubtedly, the majority of those who died in the concentration camps were Jews, but also on the list were Poles, Gypsies, Italians and Catholics. So do not steal this tragedy in the name of propaganda.” The article has since been pulled from Pontifex.

The article also quoted him as saying that “they, the Jews, have a good press, because the powerful have the financial resources - extremely powerful with the unconditional support of the United States. And this promotes a kind of arrogance, which I consider to be unbearable.”

Upon finding out about the questionable content of the Pontifex article the bishop criticized the site for “the manipulation of (his) words in an unauthorized interview.”

Following the Polish bishop’s reaction and the disappearance of the article from their website, Pontifex rebutted by posting a message on Thursday calling for Bishop Pieronek to publicly recognize the alleged comments as true within 10 days or face “legal action for defamation.”

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Beloved Professor Ralph McInerny passes away

South Bend, Ind., Jan 29, 2010 (CNA) - The well-loved Notre Dame professor and scholar Ralph McInerny passed away Friday morning at 7:45 a.m. at the age of 80. First Things editor Joseph Bottum reported McInerny's death in an article on the magazine's website on Friday afternoon.

In his article, Bottum reprinted a letter sent to him on Friday by Associate Professor Christopher Kaczor at Loyola Marymount who was one of McInerny's students. Prof. Kaczor describes the late academic's life accomplishments as well as his personal relationship with him.

Ralph McInerny had retired from the philosophy department at the University of Notre Dame as the Michael P. Grace Professor of Medieval Studies after serving in that position since 1955, said Prof. Kaczor.

“He wrote wrote more than 40 books in philosophy and other disciplines (including poetry), authored thousands of scholarly and general audience articles, edited three national magazines, authored more than 80 mystery novels (including the Father Dowling Mysteries), and I’m confident directed more dissertations than anyone in the history of Notre Dame,” wrote Prof. Kaczor.

The Fr. Dowling books eventually became a successful TV series.

McInerny was also credited with co-founding Crisis Magazine in 1982.  The monthly lay publication was recognized for its orthodoxy in Catholic opinion.

“One might think such a person would neglect his students, au contraire (a McInerny habit was to end sentences in lectures in Latin or French),” Prof. Kaczor quipped. “He was my dissertation advisor and at the time he had around 7 other students as well. He was available for us virtually every afternoon in his 7th floor office of Hesburgh Library.”

“If we gave him a dissertation chapter, he’d have it back to us like a serve in tennis. He gave us laptops. He arranged for extra funding (many of us had two or three kids, and none of us made more than $10,000 a year). He took us out to lunch (The Great Wall of China and the University Club were favorites). He’d give us copies of his scholarly books and novels. He helped get us jobs.”

“When I think about how I hope to live the rest of my life,” reflected Prof. Kaczor, “he is the model : Scholar, teacher, writer, family man, person of faith. No doubt he is enjoying his reward, meeting his Maker and, as an incidental benefit, his own model of the intellectual life, Thomas Aquinas.”

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