Archive of June 27, 2010

Sunday morning Delaware cathedral robber turns himself in

Wilmington, Del., Jun 27, 2010 (CNA) - Cash will no longer be kept at the Cathedral of St. Peter, in Wilmington, Delaware, but little else can be done to prevent a robbery like the one that took place before the early Sunday Mass on June 13, the cathedral’s rector said.

“What can you do?” asked Father Joseph Cocucci. “We always welcome whoever comes into the church. We’ve had a number of situations where you could tell they were not coming into church to worship, but you give them the benefit of the doubt.”

Police charged Eric Hubbard, 49, of Wilmington with first degree robbery after Hubbard turned himself in June 17.

The robber fled with $65 in an envelope. Father Cocucci said the money was kept in the cathedral to provide assistance — $10 or $20 — to people who come in with immediate needs. “We’re not going to be able to do that anymore,” he said. “We will no longer keep any money in the church.”

Father Cocucci gave this account of the robbery: The man later identified as Hubbard approached maintenance director William Muzzi as he opened the cathedral at about 7:30 a.m. and asked if there was an 8 a.m. Mass. When Muzzi said yes, the man said he had a gun and demanded Muzzi’s money.

Muzzi had none.

When they saw the light go on in the sacristy as Father Cocucci arrived, the man led Muzzi to the priest. Father Cocucci said he was praying in the sacristy when the robber, again claiming to have a gun, came in and demanded cash.

“It caught me off-guard because you don’t expect a gunman to show up in your sacristy at 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday,” Father Cocucci said. “It was a surreal experience. I was so calm; I chalk it up to God’s grace.”

After receiving the $65, the man asked for Father Cocucci’s cell phone, but the priest refused.

No gun was displayed, but Father Cocucci said he tried to assess how long it might take for the robber to get the gun out of his pocket in case he and Muzzi had to try to defend themselves.

Instead, the man fled on foot.

Mass started on time as two police officers talked to Muzzi at the rear of the church. The congregation of about 25 people was unaware of the robbery until Father Cocucci announced it after Communion. “I didn’t want them to be preoccupied during Mass,” he said.

In his next column in the Cathedral bulletin, Father Cocucci asked parishioners to pray for Hubbard.

Cathedral officials received about $200 in donations in the week following the robbery to replace the stolen money, Father Cocucci said.

The parish assists many people through its Seton Center social outreach program and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Father Cocucci said, resources he would have connected Hubbard to had he asked for help with food, clothing, or paying his rent or utilities. “[But he] thought he could take what he wanted with a gun.”

Printed with permission from the Dialog, newspaper for the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware.

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Church to celebrate feast of Sts. Peter and Paul

CNA STAFF, Jun 27, 2010 (CNA) -

On Tuesday, June 29, the Church will celebrate the feast day of Sts. Peter & Paul. As early as the year 258, there is evidence of an already lengthy tradition of celebrating the solemnities of both Saint Peter and Saint Paul on the same day. Together, the two saints are the founders of the See of Rome, through their preaching, ministry and martyrdom there.

Peter, who was named Simon, was a fisherman of Galilee and was introduced to the Lord Jesus by his brother Andrew, also a fisherman. Jesus gave him the name Cephas (Petrus in Latin), which means ‘Rock,’ because he was to become the rock upon which Christ would build His Church.

Peter was a bold follower of the Lord. He was the first to recognize that Jesus was “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” and eagerly pledged his fidelity until death. In his boldness, he also made many mistakes, however, such as losing faith when walking on water with Christ and betraying the Lord on the night of His passion.

Yet despite his human weaknesses, Peter was chosen to shepherd God's flock. The Acts of the Apostles illustrates his role as head of the Church after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. Peter led the Apostles as the first Pope and ensured that the disciples kept the true faith.

St. Peter spent his last years in Rome, leading the Church through persecution and eventually being martyred in the year 64. He was crucified upside-down at his own request, because he claimed he was not worthy to die as his Lord.

He was buried on Vatican hill, and St. Peter's Basilica is built over his tomb.

St. Paul was the Apostle of the Gentiles. His letters are included in the writings of the New Testament, and through them we learn much about his life and the faith of the early Church.

Before receiving the name Paul, he was Saul, a Jewish pharisee who zealously persecuted Christians in Jerusalem. Scripture records that Saul was present at the martyrdom of St. Stephen.

Saul's conversion took place as he was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christian community there. As he was traveling along the road, he was suddenly surrounded by a great light from heaven. He was blinded and fell off his horse. He then heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He answered: “Who are you, Lord?” Christ said: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

Saul continued to Damascus, where he was baptized and his sight was restored. He took the name Paul and spent the remainder of his life preaching the Gospel tirelessly to the Gentiles of the Mediterranean world.

Paul was imprisoned and taken to Rome, where he was beheaded in the year 67.

He is buried in Rome in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

In a sermon in the year 395, St. Augustine of Hippo said of Sts. Peter and Paul: “Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one; and even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, and Paul followed. And so we celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles' blood. Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching, and their confession of faith.”

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Court reinstates lawsuit challenging NIH embryonic stem cell guidelines

Washington D.C., Jun 27, 2010 (CNA) - The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled on Friday that doctors performing adult stem cell research have 'competitive standing' to sue. The court therefore reinstated a federal lawsuit seeking to prohibit and overturn controversial guidelines for public funding of embryonic stem cell research.

The guidelines, released by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in July 2009, listed regulations for embryonic stem cell research including the requirement for informed consent and prohibition of reimbursement for embryo donation.

In March 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order stating an Administration policy to fund ethically "responsible, scientifically worthy human stem cell the extent permitted by law." 

The lawsuit challenging the president's executive order was filed by a former MIT faculty member, a research and development director for AVM Biotechnology, Nightlight Christian Adoptions on its own behalf as well as "next friend for plaintiff embryos" and the Christian Medical Association.

The broad coalition of plaintiffs argues that the NIH guidelines which claim to implement the President's order are both illegal and unethical. “Since 1994,” a statement from the group notes, “Congress has expressly banned NIH from funding research in which human embryos 'are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death'."

The lawsuit states, “These Guidelines authorize public funding of research that depends on and, indeed, requires the destruction of living human embryos. As a result, these Guidelines violate the Federal Funding Ban, and are therefore invalid.”

The plaintiffs also argue that the guidelines were created without following the procedures required by law. They assert that NIH issued its guidelines with “an unalterably closed mind, having prejudged the relevant issues.” Moreover, they assert, NIH did not consider the “ethically and medically superior alternatives” of adult and induced pluripotent stem cell research.

Expert stem cell researcher and plaintiff Dr. James L. Sherley explained that "the great irony of the guidelines is that research involving stem cells safely derived from human adults and other sources presents the same if not greater potential for medical breakthroughs, without any of the troubling legal and ethical issues related to embryonic stem-cell research."

While adult stem cells have successfully been used to treat more than 70 different diseases and conditions, embryonic stem cells have never yielded a single successful treatment.

“No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is worthless,” said Steven H. Aden of the Alliance Defense Fund, also co-counsel for the plaintiffs. 

“Although private-sector funding of embryonic stem cell research has been practically unlimited, it has failed to produce results,” he said. “Furthermore, experimentation on embryonic stem cells isn’t even necessary because adult stem cell research has been enormously successful. In these difficult economic times, why should the federal government use precious taxpayer dollars for this illegal and unethical purpose?”

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Pope reflects on beauty of radical acceptance of God's call

Vatican City, Jun 27, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Before reciting the Angelus prayer from the window of his apartment in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, Pope Benedict XVI spoke today about "radical" responses to divine vocations. Referring to Sunday's readings he took up the theme of Christ's call to us and "its demands."

As the Pope looked out over the crowd gathered to join him for the weekly prayer on Sunday at noon, he saw a smattering of Polish flags waving, especially well represented now that the country's children have just begun their summer vacation and brightly colored parasols were used to shelter many of the pilgrims from the intense Mediterranean sun.

Referring to the day's Gospel reading from Luke in which Jesus asks those on the road to Jerusalem to cut their family ties and follow him, the Holy Father explained that the demands Jesus makes of Christians might seem "too tough."

"But," he went on, "in reality they express the newness and the absolute priority of the Kingdom of God that makes itself present in the very Person of Jesus Christ."

He said that, upon further analysis, "it's about that radicalism that is due to the Love of God, to which Jesus himself is the first to obey.

"He who renounces everything, even himself, to follow Jesus, enters into a new dimension of freedom, which St. Paul defines as 'walking in the Spirit."

Speaking of the experience of the "fortune" of those who know a young person who has left their "family of origin, studies or work to consecrate themselves to God," the Pope said that, effectively, a person who does so is "a living example of the radical response to the divine vocation."

And this, he said, "is one of the most beautiful experiences that takes place within the Church: seeing, touching with the hand the action of the Lord in the life of the people; experiencing that God is not an abstract entity, but a Reality so big and strong so as to overabundantly fill the heart of man, a Person living and near, that loves us and asks to be loved."

As St. Paul wrote to the Galatians, the Pope recalled, Christ has called us to liberty and through it we are called to serve one another. "Liberty and love coincide!" he exclaimed, noting that, "on the contrary, obeying our proper selfishness leads to rivalry and conflict."

In the month of June the Church celebrates devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. With the end of the month quickly approaching, Benedict XVI said, "today, I would like to invite everyone to contemplate the mystery of the human and divine heart of Jesus, to draw from the same source of the Love of God.

"Whoever fixes their gaze on that Heart, pierced and always open to our love, feels the truth of this invocation 'You, Lord, are my only possession,' and is ready to leave everything to follow the Lord."

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Rabbis say Kagan not a ‘kosher’ Supreme Court nominee

Alexandria, Va., Jun 27, 2010 (CNA) - According to the National Rabbinical Alliance and its more than 850 Orthodox Jewish members, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is not “kosher,” or fit to serve, on the court.

A Thursday press release on the part of the alliance said that “Elena Kagan is not kosher. She is not fit to sit on this Court -- or any court." The group also called on the Senate Judiciary Committee to refuse to confirm Kagan as replacement of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

Referencing Kagan's past pro-abortion and pro-homosexual record, the alliance asserted that the nominee would hasten “society's already steep decline into Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Spokesman for the Rabbinical Alliance, Rabbi Yehuda Levin, told Cybercast News Service that most groups are happy when “one of their own” is nominated to such a prestigious position. “A great deal has been made about the fact that she would be the second Jewish woman on the court,” Levin noted. “We want to signal to people across the country that we take no pride in this.”

"We feel that Elena Kagan turns traditional Judaism on its head – from a concept of a nation of priests and holy people, she is turning it into, ‘Let’s homosexualize every segment of society. And by the way, partial-birth babies have no right to be delivered’," he declared.

Levin also expressed his bewilderment as to why Obama would have appointed Kagan. He said that “eventually, down the road, someone -- or some group -- is going to ‘take the hit’ for the crazy decisions that Kagan is bound to make,” he declared. “So we would have much preferred if President Obama had given this ‘distinction’ to another minority group, instead of singling out the Jews.”

The Rabbinical Alliance is hopeful that someone in the Senate will filibuster Kagan’s appointment.

Hearings for her confirmation begin on Monday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Benedict XVI looking forward to Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, pallium conferral

Vatican City, Jun 27, 2010 (CNA) - After Sunday's Angelus prayer, besides recalling the beatification of Lebanese Maronite brother Estephan Nehme, the Holy Father called attention to the observance of the Day of Charity for the Pope and this week's celebration of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

During his English-language greeting, the Holy Father said he hopes that through the pilgrims prayers, Tuesday's celebration of "Rome's feast-day" will be an occasion for "all who come on pilgrimage to Rome (to) be renewed and strengthened in faith, hope and love."

He will begin the celebration of the feast on Monday evening when he presides over First Vespers at the Roman Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, where St. Paul's tomb lies. On the actual feast day, Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass at St. Peter's for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, at which time he will also confer the pallium on the Catholic Church's 38 new metropolitan archbishops.

In his first homily as Pope on April 24, 2005, Pope Benedict described the woven band of pure lamb's wool which is placed on the archbishops' shoulders as a symbol of the lost, sick or weak sheep the shepherd takes on his back. It is a symbol of his mission, he explained on that occasion.

Among those receiving the honor are the new Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski, Archbishop of Milwaukee Jerome Listecki and Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati. Among many others from across the globe, Belgian Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Andre-Joseph Leonard, will also be in Rome for the June 29 ceremony.

After the Angelus, the Pope also noted the Day of the Pope's Charity, which is celebrated in Italy and other countries on Sunday. He offered his gratitude to all who with prayer and offerings “support the apostolic and charitable activity of the Successor of Peter in favor of the Universal Church and so many brothers and sisters, near and far."

On Saturday, he met with and thanked members of the Circle of St. Peter for their charitable donations to the poor of the world and asked them to look to St. Jean Vianney as a model for their works.

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Maronite Catholic brother beatified in Lebanon

Vatican City, Jun 27, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Previously "venerable" Maronite brother Estephan Nehme was beatified on Sunday morning in Lebanon. The Holy Father remembered Blessed Estephan after the Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square, entrusting the people of Lebanon to his protection.

Brother Estephan, whose body was discovered uncorrupted in the tomb of the monastery of Kfifane over a decade after his death in 1938, is remembered as a humble, loving and devout monk. The Maronite Voice, a Glen Allen, Virginia-based publication, described him in its most recent edition as "distinguished for his simple and evangelical life," living in service to the Lord and men, loving all without discrimination.

The postulator general of his cause for canonization, Fr. Paolo Azzi, said of him in an interview with L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) that he left "everywhere a witness of loyalty to God's call, ascetic commitment and of continuous prayer. His characteristic was to do everything in the presence of God."

Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said in his letter for the beatification of the Lebanese monk that he was an "angel with a human face."

His beatification ceremony, which took place on Sunday morning at the Monastery of Sts. Cyprien and Justine in Kfifane, Lebanon, was presided over by Archbishop Amato. The Mass which followed was led by His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, and concelebrated by patriarchs, archbishops, bishops and other Maronite clergy.

Maronites follow in the footsteps of the spirituality of St. Maron, a 4th century monk who chose to become a hermit in modern-day Syria. Fr. Azzi told LOR that the Maronite Church's "originality" is that is the only Eastern Church that has always been faithful to the Holy See.

The Church celebrates 1,600 years since St. Maron's death this year.

After Sunday's Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict XVI joyfully recalled Brother Estephan's beatification, entrusting the "Lebanese brothers and sisters" to the protection of the blessed Maronite monk.

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