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Archive of May 5, 2010

Catholic community hit by flooding in Nashville

Nashville, Tenn., May 5, 2010 (CNA) - Following devastating floods in central Tennessee and northern Mississippi in the past week that killed at least 19 people, the spokesman for the Diocese of Nashville reported that the Catholic community has “been hit pretty hard.”

Rick Musacchio, director of communications for the Diocese of Nashville, told CNA on Tuesday that although school and parish buildings only had “relatively minor damage” from the floods, “members of the Catholic community here in Nashville have been hit pretty hard.”

“Quite a number of people have lost their houses or have had some level of water damage,” he added.

According to Fox News, thousands of residents in Tennessee saw their homes hit with more than 13 inches of rain falling over the course of two days. Authorities were forced to evacuate the downtown area of Nashville where a leaky levee further threatened local homes and businesses. 

“So far at this point we're still assessing the depth and breadth of the damage,” Musacchio said. “Quite a number of folks are not even able to get back into their houses at this point.”

Though the Nashville diocese is attempting to mobilize relief efforts, “communication has been sporadic at best, particularly in the hardest hit areas of the community,” he noted. Even though there has been difficulty coordinating a diocesan-wide outreach, “parish level and really even smaller groups than that came together in an organic fashion to pitch in and help each other out,” the diocesan spokesman explained.

Parish communities within Nashville, said Musacchio, “are pooling resources, putting some effort into taking care of each other, taking in neighboring families and sheltering people as we move from the downpour and deluge stage of this to really more of the clean up and recovery process.”

Despite the work of individuals, a good deal of the recovery initiative still “relies on the governmental efforts to get roads open again, to get power restored, in the hopes that we don't lose drinking water supply,” he added.

Musacchio explained that it is too early in the recovery process for there to be a relief funding effort on the diocesan level but said that the Nashville Diocese, with around 80,000 parishioners, has a history of being “tremendously generous” in supporting appeals for other communities stricken with natural disasters.

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Noah's Ark discovery could be hoax, critic says

Boston, Mass., May 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Christian Science Monitor published an article last week which cast doubt on the recent alleged discovery of Noah's Ark by a Turkish – Chinese expedition, quoting one critic who warned that the team may be victims of an elaborate “hoax.”

In a press conference in Hong Kong on April 25, members of Noah's Ark Ministries International (NAMI) claimed that they discovered a wooden structure in the Turkish mountains, whose fragments allegedly date back 4,800 years. According to the Bible, after the earth was flooded and the waters receded, Noah's ark ran aground on a mountain, which many believe to be Mt. Ararat – the highest point in the region.

On April 28, however, the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reported that Dr. Randall Price, a former member of the NAMI expedition, said that the recent discovery may not withstand closer observation.

“If the world wants to think this is a wonderful discovery, that’s fine,” Dr. Price said. “My problem is that, in the end, proper analysis may show this to be a hoax and negatively reflect how gullible Christians can be.”

Dr. Price, who currently heads the Center for Judaic Studies at Liberty University, said that he was an archeologist on the team in 2008 when the initial discovery was made. He told the Christian Science Monitor that he had “difficulties with a number of issues related to the evidence at hand” yet refrained from elaborating.

In leaked email from Dr. Price, CSM discovered that he had reason to believe that a group of local Kurdish men hauled the wood to the discovery site, staging a hoax for the NAMI team.

According to the doctor, the Kurdish workers “planted large wood beams taken from an old structure in the Black Sea area (where the photos were originally taken) at the Mt. Ararat site ...”

“During the summer of 2009 more wood was planted inside a cave at the site,” wrote the former team member in his email. “The Chinese team went in the late summer of 2009 (I was there at the time and knew about the hoax) and was shown the cave with the wood and made their film. As I said, I have the photos of the inside of the so-called Ark (that show cobwebs in the corners of rafters – something just not possible in these conditions)...”

Dr. Price, who confirmed that he wrote the email, has himself been a longtime searcher of Noah's Ark and had gone several expeditions to Mt. Ararat.

CSM reported last week that he was not the only one who withdrew from the NAMI team.

Current president for Dallas’ Institute for Creation Research, Dr. John D. Morris, has been a consultant for the team since 2005 but said that he declined to be at the NAMI press conference on April 25.

“I’m a scientist. I need to have good evidence,” he told CSM. “As of right now, there is not.” Although he doubts that Kurdish workers would have been able haul the wood to the site, he said the evidence remains inconclusive.

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US Catholic Latino leaders meet with Vatican officials, discuss ‘Hispanic reality’

Vatican City, May 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - During the week after Easter, members of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL) held a series of meetings at the Vatican with various officials of the Roman Curia. The effort was intended to start a discussion about Hispanic Catholic influence in the United States and in the U.S. Church.

Reporting on the event in a May 1 newsletter, CALL described itself as the only national lay Catholic Hispanic leadership organization in the country. The organization was founded by Archbishop José Gomez, who was recently appointed co-adjutor archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

CALL explained that its “Vatican Forum” involved meetings with seven pontifical councils. Its 24-member delegation met with representatives from the Secretariat of State and from the Pontifical Councils for the Laity, for Justice and Peace, for Immigration and for Communications. They also met with members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, the Bishops' Synod and the Congregation of Bishops.

Mario Paredes, CALL chairman, said the purpose of the meetings was “to bring the Hispanic reality to the table in Rome.”

According to the group, there are an estimated 47 million Hispanics in the U.S. and another 12 million who are undocumented. Thirty-five percent of Catholics in the U.S. are of Latino heritage.

Board members Dr. Christine Johnson and Tom Espinoza served as spokespersons for the delegation. During their meetings Johnson presented statistics and demographic presentations about the growing Latino influence in the U.S., its economy, and the Catholic Church.

Espinoza discussed how the Church should translate that data into a relevant pastoral response including Church leadership appointments.

The delegation also met with the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Dr. Miguel Diaz. He shared his perspectives as a theologian and as a U.S. government representative. After the meeting, CALL hosted a special dinner in honor of the Ambassador, with invited members of the Roman Curia in attendance.

During their visit the delegation stayed at the Cardinals’ House of the Conclave, known as Domus Sanctae Marthae (St. Martha’s House), which is immediately adjacent to St. Peter’s Basilica.

CALL said its message for the meetings included an affirmation of support for the Church and her bishops. The delegation did not meet with Pope Benedict XVI, but it delivered a personal message to him of gratitude and support.

“The visit to the Worldwide Headquarters of the Catholic Church has been a rewarding spiritual experience,” Paredes commented. “With our high level of contact and dialogues, we have been able to learn first-hand the work that the Church is doing around the world, and specifically, in the United States.”

Vatican officials reportedly reacted to the meetings by saying they were encouraged and impressed that a lay group would travel to Rome to deliver their message on behalf of the Catholic Church in the U.S. They complimented the group for “taking ownership” of the life of the Church, in service to the realization that the laity are the Church.

Officials also encouraged members of the CALL delegation to contact their respective bishops to express their support and fidelity.

CALL claimed the meetings were “historic” on several levels, noting that the leadership of important Vatican dicasteries traditionally only meets with bishops.

Archbishop Gomez, who serves as CALL’s episcopal moderator, had planned to join the group at the Vatican, but the event conflicted with the announcement of his appointment to Los Angeles.

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Legal challenge blocks Oklahoma law requiring ultrasound before abortion

Oklahoma City, Okla., May 5, 2010 (CNA) - Oklahoma’s attorney general has temporarily blocked enforcement of a new state law that requires abortionists to give an ultrasound to pregnant women and describe their unborn children before they get an abortion.

Tony Lauinger, state chairman of Oklahomans for Life and vice president of the National Right to Life Committee, said his group was sorry to see the law’s implementation delayed.

"This has been a long process and apparently it will be a little longer," he continued, according to the Associated Press.

He said that a pregnant woman should have all available information before she makes the irrevocable decision to terminate her pregnancy. He was “confident” that the law is constitutional.

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) was prepared to argue for a temporary restraining order Monday. However, attorneys for both sides agreed to accept the order before the court hearing, reported Oklahoma County District Judge Noma Gurich, who signed the order.

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmonson agreed to the order to give his office more time to retain Teresa Collett, a University of St. Thomas Law School professor who represented the state when a similar 2008 law was challenged by the CRR.

Collett is presently the Republican nominee in Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional District election this fall, the Associated Press says.

The law requires doctors to conduct a vaginal ultrasound, which is clearer than a regular ultrasound. Doctors are also to describe the unborn child in detail, including its size, whether its arms, legs and internal organs are visible and whether there is cardiac activity.

The doctors also must turn a screen depicting the ultrasound images towards the woman so that she can see them.

The pro-abortion CRR is challenging the law on behalf of Nova Health Systems, the operator of Reproductive Services of Tulsa, and Dr. Larry Burns, reportedly an abortion doctor in Norman.

Officials at Reproductive Services have said that the implementing the law had drawn emotional responses from patients. Some left the ultrasound room in tears because of what they heard.

In a statement last week, CRR argued that the requirement for an ultrasound “profoundly intrudes” on a patient’s privacy and forces a woman to hear information “that she may not want to hear.”

It has also characterized the law as an intrusion on the doctor-patient relationship.

Collett, a native of Norman, Oklahoma, said the Oklahoma statute is consistent with standard medical practice.

"It would be remarkable if a woman would undergo a medical procedure and a doctor would not have an obligation to describe the procedure and the results of that procedure to the patient," she commented, according to the Associated Press.

She said the lawmakers required abortionists to describe the ultrasound images because of some doctors’ “unusual failure” to give this information to pregnant women.

Last week, Lauinger of Oklahomans for Life spoke with CNA in an interview.

He contended that the law will help “empower” women.

“Many women suffer severe psychological and emotional trauma as a result of having had abortions,” he explained, saying the state has a right to ensure that women receive sufficient information for them to give fully informed consent.

He characterized abortion clinics as engaging in “an assembly-line, mass-production type of process” that is “extremely impersonal” and has “virtually no interchange between the abortionist and the woman.”

If the doctor is the staffer who explains the images of the ultrasound screen, he noted, the law will actually increase the amount of contact between the doctors and the patient.

In his view, the law was a “commonsense” measure.

“We don’t do pregnant women any favors when we hide the truth from them,” Lauinger said.

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Priests make God’s saving work present on earth, teaches Pope

Vatican City, May 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

“As ministers of Christ, priests bring us into life-giving contact with the mystery of God’s holiness,” the Pope said during the general audience on Wednesday. It is through their celebration of the sacraments, he taught, that they make Christ’s sanctifying work “present and effective” in the world.

Pope Benedict XVI appeared to be in good spirits as he addressed the approximately 15,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square on an overcast morning, punctuated periodically by drops of rain.

After speaking briefly of the Holy Shroud, which he said "can nourish and feed the faith and reinvigorate Christian piety," the Pope returned to the figure of the priest for the third time in his Easter season series of catecheses. This time, he spoke on the numerous tasks of the priest, especially his ministry of sanctification.

“Holiness, as we know, is proper to God, who is himself absolute truth, goodness, love and beauty,” he said, noting that it is priests, as ministers of Christ, who “bring us into life-giving contact with the mystery of God’s holiness.”

By proclaiming the Gospel and celebrating the sacraments, the priest provides us with the possibility to “approach God and to be transformed gradually in the divine image.” Particularly through the Eucharist and Confession, the Holy Father taught, priests make Christ’s sanctifying work “present and effective” in the world.

Moreover, it is through the sacraments that they “sanctify the faithful and are themselves sanctified and configured ever more closely to Christ,” he underlined.

Speaking directly to priests, Benedict XVI said that just as it is important to teach and help the faithful to understand the sacraments' value, it is also necessary that they be "willing, generous and attentive in giving the faithful the treasures of grace that God has placed in our hands, treasures of which we are not masters but custodians and administrators."

The Holy Father concluded his catechesis by asking for prayers for priests and their “ministry of sanctification,” that they be “true shepherds according to God’s heart.” He also exhorted the faithful to realize the great gift that they are for the Church and the world.

This year, by decree of the Pope, the Church celebrates the Year for Priests, inaugurated on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus June 19, 2009 and to close on June 11, 2010. The stated purpose of the Year is to “deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a stronger and more incisive witness to the Gospel in today’s world.”

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Pope encourages work towards elimination of nuclear weapons

Vatican City, May 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father encouraged efforts towards the “complete elimination” of nuclear weapons on Wednesday as reports from the first days of U.N. non-proliferation meetings showed positive developments in favor of that end. The Pope exhorted all participating delegations to make an effort to "weave a political and economic web of peace."

The Pope’s message came on the second day of 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) being held at the U.N. Headquarters in New York until May 28.

The call from Pope Benedict came at the end of Wednesday's general audience.

He acknowledged in his remarks that there is a close connection between “the process for a concerted and certain nuclear disarmament” and “the full and prompt fulfilment of the relative international commitments.”

“Peace, in fact, rests on trust and on respect for promises made, not only on the balance of power," he noted. "In this spirit I encourage the initiatives that seek progressive disarmament and areas free of nuclear weapons, with a view to their complete elimination from the planet."

He concluded his call by exhorting participants in the U.N. conference to “overcome historical conditioning and patiently to weave a political and economic web of peace in order to help integral human development and peoples' authentic aspirations.”

The World Council of Churches (WCC), which has been vocal in its hope for a positive outcome from the current conference, called it “the most important disarmament agreement of all,” after praising last month's treaty between the U.S. and Russia which will reduce the number of nuclear warheads in the countries.

According to the U.N., some of the key issues being considered in talks are the treaty's universality, specific practical measures of nuclear disarmament, promoting and reinforcing safeguards for nuclear non-proliferation and the advancement of the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

WCC said Tuesday that the discussions in New York have started positively, with a promise from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to disclose the current number of U.S. nuclear warheads and offer legal protection against the nuclear attack in Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones including the South Pacific and Africa.

The WCC also noted that the majority of participating delegations to the conference are in favor a new convention which would work to completely ban nuclear weapons.

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Archbishop denounces war between 'modern man' and 'man as created by God'

Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 5, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Emeritus Carmelo Juan Giaquinta of Resistencia, Argentina said the world today is witnessing a “war between the modern man and man as created by God.” He added that Christians must “come to the defense of the dignity and distinction of the sexes, marriage and the family.”

During his homily on Sunday, the archbishop noted that “with the fall of Communism, many thought there would be a resurgence of the Christian faith and an era of peace and of true religious freedom.” The West “offered the countries of the East and the entire world the same fundamental human realities assumed and defended by Christianity. That is: the distinction between the sexes ... marriage and the family.”

“Today a true war has been unleashed between modern man and man as created by God, in order to recreate him, not according to the divine image, but according to his image,” the archbishop said. “This is the motive behind efforts to idolatrize the word ‘discrimination,’ and then use it against the natural distinction of the sexes, against marriage between man and woman and against the family composed of a father, mother and children.”

“Christians must root out all violence,” he continued, “lest they be overcome by the evil they wish to combat. Verbal violence and all types of physical violence are weapons unworthy of a Christian,” the archbishop said.

“Christians must do good, as members of the Church and as citizens of this world,” he continued. “As members of the Church, they must offer heartfelt prayers for all those who contradict the Gospel or defame the Church. As citizens of this world, they have the grave duty to actively participate in the defense and promotion of the common good and for this reason they must come to the defense of the dignity and distinction of the sexes, marriage and the family.”

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Pope Benedict to deliver 'intense' message during Fatima visit

Vatican City, May 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

"Fatima is a particularly significant place for this Pope," said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi on Tuesday, noting that it was also a destination for two former Popes. The Holy Father has a thorough knowledge of the history of the Marian sanctuary, he added.

Fr. Lombardi held a press conference at the Vatican to prepare the media for the Pope's next trip out of the Vatican. He will be visiting Portugal from May 11-14.

The spokesman referred to the Pope's stop in Fatima on May 13 as the highlight and "heart" of the upcoming four-day trip to Portugal, according to Vatican Radio. But, he pointed out, Benedict XVI will not be the first Pope to visit the Marian shrine.

Two other Pontiffs have been to Fatima. In 1967, the sanctuary hosted Paul VI, and John Paul II visited in 1982, 1991 and 2000, at which time the visionaries Jacinta and Francesco were beatified.

The Portuguese shrine is not unfamiliar to Pope Benedict, since as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger extensively studied the message of Fatima. Fr. Lombardi said on Tuesday that the Pope has been involved with history of the Marian sanctuary in a "very deep, personal way."

It was him, for example, who was called upon to give a theological perspective when the third secret of Fatima was made public in 2000.

The Vatican spokesman said that the Holy Father will also deliver an intense message during his Fatima visit. Upon his arrival at the sanctuary on May 12, he will remember John Paul II and the 29th anniversary of the assassination attempt that nearly took his life on May 13, 1981.

This visit marks the Holy Father's 15th Apostolic Journey abroad in his five years and is his first to Portugal as Pope.

During today's general audience, the Holy Father greeted the people of Portugal in their language, telling them that he will be there this coming weekend at the invitation of the president of the nation and the episcopal conference.

He said he was "happy to be able to visit the 'land of Holy Mary'" on the 10th anniversary of the beatification of the shepherd children.

According to Portuguese press reports, local police are planning for a cumulative total of 450,000 people at the celebrations in Lisbon, Fatima and Portugal during the four-day visit.

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Media’s attempts to stir up scandal pleases demons, says Spanish bishop

Cordoba, Spain, May 5, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Demetrio Fernandez Gonzalez of Cordoba, Spain said the scandal and opportunism of the media in response accusations of sex abuse by some members of the Catholic clergy brings pleasure to demons.

Speaking of the media response to the instance of sex abuse within the Church, Bishop Fernandez remarked that the “enemies of the Church have found a gold mine for discrediting her, and each day they strategically dispense a few drops of this elixir which brings pleasure to demons.”

“Some have even been so bold as to attack Pope Benedict XVI, accusing him of a cover-up,” in an attempt to discredit the entire Catholic Church, he added.

The news in all of this is that some clergy members are also criminals, Archbishop Fernandez said. “That’s the news. Nothing else matters,” he said, such as the fact that “the Church is using every means to purge from her ranks those who do not deserve to be trusted with boys and girls. He added that children “need to be helped in their development, not destroyed in their childhood.”

“Certainly one abused child is one too many, but let us not forget the thousands of good people” in the priesthood. “They deserve all of our trust today more than ever, because” Pope Benedict and Vatican officials have taken several steps demonstrating that this behavior will not be tolerated within the Church, he added.

“Those who have committed such abuse are called to ask for God’s forgiveness, who they have gravely offended, and to submit themselves to the justice of the courts,” Bishop Fernandez concluded.

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Soldiers call for the respect of religious traditions in Spain

Madrid, Spain, May 5, 2010 (CNA) - The Association of Spanish Soldiers called on military officials this week to respect and preserve religious traditions in the country. The statements came in response to a recent directive by the military to exclude Mass from official military ceremonies.

According to the Spanish daily, La Razon, the president of the association, Leopoldo Munoz, has challenged “the defense department to carry out a democratic survey on whether or not Mass should be included in military ceremonies.”

However, the United Association of Spanish Soldiers said religious freedom in the armed forces should be regulated, that all religions should be respected and that none should be “established as obligatorily” present in military acts.

On the other hand, the spokeswoman for the Congressional Defense Committee, Beatriz Rodriguez-Salmones, said the government should address these issues with sensitivity. “The traditions of the Armed Forces must be respected,” she said.

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Marriage is instrument of salvation for society, declares Benedict XVI

Vatican City, May 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Welcoming future participants in the Congress on the Family, which will take place in Jonkoping, Sweden from May 14-16, the Holy Father taught on love and marriage on Wednesday. Through the love present in marriage, he said, we are given an idea of the love that awaits us in Heaven.

The Pope’s words on marriage came during his English-language greeting of the general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

The message of the congress to the world is one of joy, said the Holy Father, “because God’s gift to us of marriage and family life enables us to experience something of the infinite love that unites the three divine persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

Noting that “human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, are made for love,” he proposed that through the love between spouses, parents and children and siblings “we are offered a foretaste of the boundless love that awaits us in the life to come.

“Marriage is truly an instrument of salvation, not only for married people but for the whole of society,” he underscored.

He went on to explain that “like any worthwhile goal,” it is demanding, challenging and calls us to sacrifice for the good of another while also inviting us to “nurture and protect the gift of new life.”

The stable family, the Holy Father added, is the “first and most fundamental school for virtuous living and the qualities of good citizenship.”

The Diocese of Sweden’s congress aims to shed light on “Love and Life” through the three days of prayer, discussion and addresses. The talks will focus on God’s plan for men and women in marriage, the rights of children and social changes and challenges for Christian families today. Programs for children and youth have also been organized for the congress.

Pope Benedict concluded his message to participants by encouraging all people to “promote a proper understanding and appreciation of the inestimable good that marriage and family life offer to human society.”

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'Financialized' approach to world makes economy unstable, Social Sciences Academy states

Vatican City, May 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, presented the highlights of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences' annual full assembly on Wednesday at a press conference in the Vatican. She highlighted academy's the observation that a strictly "financialized approach" to the world “not only narrows the vision of the human person, but creates instability in the economy.”

The academy's meetings were focused on Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” (Charity in Truth) and its insights on the economy. In this document, explained Glendon, "Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the moral and juridical framework" of the economy.

The academy sought to examine this encyclical and also deliberate on elements of the Holy Father's address to them last week.

Speaking to the academy members of the reasons for the economic crisis, Pope Benedict XVI said that the experience has "shown the error of the assumption that the market is capable of regulating itself, apart from public intervention and the support of internalized moral standards."

Glendon said of the meetings, "Our deliberations were largely occupied with what that 'public intervention' and those 'internalized moral standards' might be."

The former ambassador explained that three dominant themes emerged from the plenary sessions.

First, she alluded to the "Financialization of the Economy and of Common Life," noting that the crisis is rooted in the financial sector, and that "the fragility of the economic system was partly a consequence of an over-reliance on speculative financial activities separated from productive activity in the real economy."

Some participants spoke of the same effect in human relations, warning of the danger of the family or business firms being reduced "to a merely commercial dimension," viewing people as a commodity.

"Such a 'financialized' approach to the social order not only narrows the vision of the human person, but creates instability in the economy," said Glendon.

The second topic of reflection that emerged from the meetings was "The Consequences of the Crisis on the Poor," even though the crisis originated in wealthy countries. Talks were given during the sessions that focused on the suffering of the most vulnerable, with one speaker claiming there will soon be one billion malnourished people in the world.

Glendon remarked that one cannot help but conclude that "this crisis has distracted greatly from urgent questions of development." She went on to say, "A focus on financial instrument reform should not distract from basic development policy and investment in rudimentary human capital – nutrition, health and basic education."

The third fruit of discussion that she raised was the "Governance of Economic Activity."

Glendon said that "The principles laid out in 'Caritas in Veritate' about the need for stronger regulation of international finance were discussed with various concrete measures suggested in order to ensure greater transparency in financial instruments and to avoid the moral hazards arising from bailouts."

She noted for interested students of Catholic social doctrine that the deliberations of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences are traditionally published.

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Philadelphia Catholics donate $1.8 million to Haitian quake relief efforts

Philadelphia, Pa., May 5, 2010 (CNA) - Cardinal Justin Rigali presented a check for over $1.8 million to the president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) on Wednesday for aid efforts for earthquake victims in Haiti. He declared the gift an expression of “very beautiful and profound love.”

The Archbishop of Philadelphia presented the check to CRS president Ken Hackett at Incarnation of Our Lord Parish in the Olney section of Philadelphia.

The parish has a large number of parishioners personally affected by the devastating January earthquake. Attendees, who included some of the approximately 2,300 Haitian Catholics in the archdiocese, sang hymns in Haitian Creole.

The money was raised through special collections at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s 267 parishes, a CRS press release says.

Cardinal Rigali said the contribution provides an opportunity to express “very close solidarity” with the people of Haiti.

“And so our gathering today for the presentation of this check is a living expression of something even more important. Namely it is the love that goes out from heart to heart and embraces the community,” he explained.

“At this time it is my great joy to be able to give a tangible expression of the very beautiful and profound love of the people of this Archdiocese of Philadelphia,” he continued.

The cardinal said that even amid the “tremendous” tragedy, it is “wonderful” that it could generate “so much love.”

Hackett expressed gratitude to the people of the archdiocese, saying that CRS takes its stewardship role “very seriously.”

He explained that CRS has a “very large” program in Haiti, with over 500 staff.

“We are engaged in making sure that we respond to the maximum extent we can in the best way we can in the needs of people who are suffering both in Port-Au-Prince and now in other parts of the country,” he explained.

“So we thank you for your generosity, we thank you for your compassion, your concern of and for the people in Haiti who are suffering today.”

Hackett also reported that the situation in Haiti will continue to be difficult as hurricane season approaches.

In addition to charitable efforts, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is asking Congress to extend and improve trade preferences for Haiti.

Bishop of Albany Howard J. Hubbard, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, has called on the U.S. House and Senate to move swiftly to approve the Haiti Economic Lift Program Act of 2010.

Extension and improvement of trade preference levels was “critically important,” the bishop said in a May 4 letter to bill sponsors Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

He said the bill will give investors and retailers “a clear signal that the United States has a strong commitment to help Haiti recover and rebuild, especially the Haitian economy, in the long-term.”

Bishop Hubbard and Hackett, a co-signer of the letter, also thanked the Senators for their leadership in proposing the legislation.

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