Archive of September 2, 2010

Recently retired Vatican secretary promises to continue defending immigrant rights

Vatican City, Sep 2, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, the Vatican's former secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People, has promised to continue voicing his opinions on the rights of immigrants, though he recently stepped down from the Vatican post.

Vatican writers have been debating the possibility that Archbishop Marchetto might have been asked to leave his post due to his opinionated nature, rather than having left freely. In an interview with Italian daily La Repubblica released on Thursday, he repeated the fact that he did so on his own and added that his resignation doesn't mean he's backing down from important themes.

Speaking with La Repubblica, the archbishop recalled previous positions he took against Italian government policy regarding immigrant concerns and, more recently, against the expulsion of Roma ethnic peoples from France.

Shortly after Archbishop Marchetto's vocal response against an Italian government policy which aimed to form volunteer watchdog groups to ensure citizens' safety from immigrants, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi issued a statement clarifying the position of the Holy See, which supports civil authorities who have "the right and duty" to provide for the common good.

Asked by La Repubblica if he has ever felt put off for being criticized in public for his vocal perspectives, the archbishop responded, "Only silence in the face of injustice makes (me) feel bad.

"The critiques have never touched me and ... they've never conditioned me," he said, asking instead how it's possible not to speak before injustices against innocent immigrants.

"I've always spoken freely, without censorship and always in defense of the suffering, imitating every time the social doctrine of the Church.

It is another thing, he continued, to speak "in the name of the entire Church. And sometimes the secretary of state has done well to make it known, because only the Holy Father and, through his delegate, the very secretary of state, can speak in the name of the entire Church."

As to whether or not he'll be making open statements in defense of immigrants in retirement, he said, "In the Church there is always freedom of speech," adding in conclusion "if necessary, my voice will never be quiet in the face of injustices."

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Discovery building gunman confronted pro-life demonstrators in 2009, group says

Silver Spring, Md., Sep 2, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - James J. Lee, the alleged gunman who took hostages at the Discovery Communications building, also published demands for an end to programs which encourage the birth of “parasitic human infants.” A pro-life group which believes Lee started an argument at one of their protests said his “utter disdain for human beings” is at the core of the mindset pro-lifers oppose.

On Wednesday the 43-year-old Lee held three men hostage at the Silver Spring, Maryland headquarters of Discovery Communications, which runs cable channels such as the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and TLC.

Lee had a handgun and a live bomb strapped to him. Police shot and killed him after a standoff. No one else was injured.

The Washington Post reports that police have not publicly named Lee, but several local and federal law enforcement sources identified him as the gunman.

In a list of demands published on the internet, Lee said the Discovery Channel must focus on “how people can live WITHOUT giving birth to more filthy human children since those new additions continue pollution and are pollution.” He said the channel should host more forums of leading scientists who agree with “the Malthus-Darwin science and the problem of human overpopulation.”

He said Discovery Health-TLC programs must “stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions.” In the place of “pro-birth programs,” he said, should be “programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility.”

Lee called for programs dedicated to stopping “ALL immigration pollution and the anchor baby filth that follows that,” he said, using a derogatory term for a baby whose birth in the U.S. supposedly helps his or her immigrant parents stay in the country.

Saving the planet, he claimed, means decreasing the human population and “stopping the human race from breeding any more disgusting human babies!”

“It is the responsibility of everyone to preserve the planet they live on by not breeding any more children who will continue their filthy practices. Children represent FUTURE catastrophic pollution whereas their parents are current pollution. NO MORE BABIES!”

Karen Walker, communications director of the American Life League (ALL), told CNA that ALL believes Lee started a conversation at an ALL demonstration called “The Pill Kills Day” in June 2009.

“I looked the guy in the face. It’s the same one. The voices match as well,” she commented, saying she sent videos of the event to authorities.

Videos of the incident, published on the website Creative Minority Report, appear to show Lee at the event.

According to Walker, one video was made by Lee. The video includes a discussion with a demonstrator about religion in which the cameraman says he is an atheist. He adds that he does not tolerate other people’s religion because it is “unsustainable” and characterizes having children as “harmful.”

Walker further reflected on the frightening nature of the encounter.

“The thing that struck us the most was his utter disdain for human beings,” she told CNA. “That’s an attitude we encounter pretty often in the pro-life movement. It’s the mindset and the philosophy that’s really at the core of what we’re fighting against.

“What really scared us that day back in June continues to be even more real, now that he has taken these twisted philosophies to their logical end,” she told CNA.

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Italian doctor condemns culture that fears children

Vatican City, Sep 2, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - According to an Italian neonatal doctor, “pedophobia”—the fear of children—is an obstacle to the realization of the full rights of children today. In an article published in L'Osservatore Romano to mark the 20th anniversary of a U.N. convention for children's rights, he made a case for making children, born and unborn, more accepted in society.

Doctor Carlo Bellieni is a frequent contributor to L'Osservatore Romano on issues of health care, especially bioethics. In a Thursday article to mark the anniversary of the U.N.'s Convention on the Rights of the Child, he addressed a recent report that said children are still "invisible" two decades after its adoption. The 1990 U.N. convention promoted 54 articles outlining special safeguards and care for the children of the world.

Building off of a May 2010 article in the U.K. medical journal "The Lancet" that claimed the child remains "invisible" in today's world, Dr. Bellieni wrote that this is due to a lack of common policies between nations that ensure the protection of children. But above all, he said, it is due to “the fact that we breathe anti-natal propaganda everywhere, we transform the child into a 'right,' we accept it only if it is 'up to measure,' before and after it's born."

Based on today's worldview, Dr. Bellieni extrapolated, the child only has rights if it meets certain set standards, an idea that he called a "terrible premise for universal rights."

The inability of many to accept the child, said the doctor, derives from the fact that adults today have a difficulty acknowledging human dependence. A child, he explained, "obliges us to recognize our personal fragility and dependence - something that deep down scares us."

Emphasizing that it is "a scared and phobic society that rejects the child," he listed several signs the fear of children existing in contemporary culture.

Children, he said, are no long left to "simply play" on their own and "get dirty," for example. It is "a pedophobic society," he pointed out, that only allows a baby to be born after it is submitted to a battery of tests, which sees them as a "parents' right," which sees parents "freeze them as small embryos only to (later) suffocate them with toys to cover their own incapacity to be present."

The "pedophobic culture" also reaches schools, he asserted, pointing to how children are bombarded with information as if they were adults, when the children are just "desperately in search of free social and creative games."

Dr. Bellieni also laid blame for a child-fearing mentality at the feet of the media, which he said promotes the idea that “starting a family is prohibited” and the attitude that only those children who are genetically and culturally homogeneous are acceptable. Given these ideas, the Italian neonatal doctor said it shouldn't be astonishing that parents are “incapable of accepting the child."

Dr. Bellieni added: "the pedophobic society by its nature selects and discriminates; and if it recognizes rights, it ends up recognizing them selectively … "

Commenting on the political arena, he said that politicians must be careful that “pedophobic” tendencies or ideas are not incorporated into their bills or in the ways that urban planning is carried out.

The child, concluded the doctor, "has full human rights and the first right is (that adults) know how to listen to him, and understand his true requests, even when he cannot speak."

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Spanish officials thank Catholic Church for 'important role' in release of Cuban prisoners

Havana, Cuba, Sep 2, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - During a visit to Cuba, two officials from Spain’s Socialist Party expressed gratitude to the Catholic Church for its “important role” in securing the release of several political prisoners.

Leire Pajin and Elena Valenciano from the Socialist Party, praised the release of  political prisoners in Cuba and announced that six more newly-freed dissidents will be arriving in Spain tomorrow.

The six will follow in the footsteps of the 20 political prisoners released earlier this summer who were also immediately sent to Spain. The Cuban government announced last June its intention to free the 52 dissidents arrested in 2003.

The government officials said they are thankful for the “important role” the Church has played in the process after their meeting with Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana.

During their visit, Pajin and Valenciano will also meet with the Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodriguez, and other Cuban officials.

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Marriage is proof of God's love, hope for Italy's future, teaches Italian cardinal

Rome, Italy, Sep 2, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Through the sacrament of marriage, Italy can counteract "a true race towards death," said the head of Italian bishops on Sunday. He explained that a family founded on marriage is proof from God "that the future exists."

The Archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, addressed the theme of the family at a Mass he celebrated Sunday on the Solemnity of the Madonna della Guardia. L'Osservatore Romano published and extensive portion of the homily.

During the homily, the cardinal called for greater protection of the family in Italy, because "(n)eglecting the family ... means the crumbling of society itself." Supporting pro-family policies, he asserted, assures a "balanced social body."

Appealing for policies that are "more adherent and effective" to the reality of families in the nation, he said it is "foolish" not to be concerned about the problem and address it.

Italy's official national statistics institute, ISTAT, reported that in 2009 there was an average of 1.41 children per family, while the CIA's "World Factbook" estimated a total fertility rate of just 1.31, putting the country at 206 of 223 countries in their ranking system.

Cardinal Bagnasco argued that there's a need "to recognize that the demographic balance is not only necessary to the physical survival of a community, which without children has no future, but it is also a condition for that alliance between generations that is essential for a normal democratic dialectic."

For this reason, he added, the Church has pointed out repeatedly that the direction of the demographics of the Western world are representative of "serious cultural catastrophe."

The cardinal said that the region of Liguria, where Genoa is located, is among the areas of Italy leading "a true race towards death."

The lack of children means an "autumnal future" in the country, he said, noting that generational imbalances, educational poverty and the inability of society to think about providing for and organizing around children are already being seen. And, he said, "a society without children and young people, just like a society without elderly people, would be seriously mutilated."

But, according to Cardinal Bagnasco, "as long as a man and a woman unite their lives forever in the bond of marriage," there is still hope. "They form, in the womb of humanity, a new reality that should make the entire universe shake with acknowledgement and emotion.

"The family founded on marriage, and especially in the sacrament, is proof that God continues to love the world, that he trusts in man, that the future exists, that love and hope are stronger than evil."

Concluding, he said that while the "yes" to marriage might be intimidating to some, with the "power of Christ" a human and divine force is inserted into the relationship. This is so, explained the cardinal, "because of the true faithfulness, that of love to the point of sacrificing oneself, is something that borders between human and divine."

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Spanish archbishop prays for Iraq as US combat mission ends

Madrid, Spain, Sep 2, 2010 (CNA) - Spanish archbishop Joan-Enric Vives prayed for the intercession of Our Lady of Nuria this week for Iraq, following the withdraw of U.S. combat troops.

During a celebration at the Shrine of Nuria, the archbishop referred to the end of the seven year combat mission and prayed that Iraq, where the land of Abraham, Ur, is located, will have new beginning.

Archbishop Vives also offered prayers for the victims of the flooding in Pakistan and for all holding public office, in reference to the upcoming elections in the Spanish region of Catalonia.

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Vatican cardinal calls on Melkites to be bridge between East and West

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 2, 2010 (CNA) - The prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, called on Melkite Catholics in Argentina to be a bridge of communion between the East and the West.

Catholic Melkites, he said, “are very rooted in the Eastern world but they are also ‘traditionally’ united to the Petrine See.”

Cardinal Sandri made his comments during a Mass in the city of Cordoba, at which he was joined by the Greco-Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, His Beatitude Gregory III Laham; the Apostolic Exarch Abdo Arbach of the Melkites of Argentina; and Archbishop Carlos Jose Nunez of Cordoba.

Cardinal Sandri said unity always begins with Christ, but “it demands our personal conversion to unity.”

“Conversion to communion is a daily cross that we must bear so that the Church will be the unifying leaven of the whole human race.”

Likewise, he called on Melkite Catholics to remember their spiritual roots. “I think of the spiritual effort needed to help the second and third Melkite generation in America maintain their authentic Eastern identity, especially in the area of the liturgy, without failing to adopt a necessary openness at the same time to the new ecclesial and social context. 

"For this reason the renewal of family, youth and vocational ministries, even at the heart of the Church, is urgent,” he said.

Cardinal Sandri called on the Melkite faithful and all Eastern Catholics to continue defending the family and traditional marriage. 

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Study shows Salvadoran majority supports president's pro-life decision

San Salvador, El Salvador, Sep 2, 2010 (CNA) - A new poll has revealed that 93 percent of Salvadorans oppose the legalization of abortion. In addition, 76 percent support the decision by President Mauricio Funes to reject the “Brasilia Consensus” which promotes the legalization of abortion in Latin American countries.

Conducted by the JBS Public Opinion firm for the newspaper El Diario de Hoy, the poll asked respondents, “Do you agree that the country’s constitution should be changed to allow abortion?”  Ninety-three percent said they disagreed.  Asked to provide the reason for their position, one-third said, “All of us have the right to life,” 20 percent noted that ending a life “is something that should only be decided by God,” 18 percent said abortion is the killing of a defenseless being and 12 percent said abortion “is a crime.”

The Brasilia Consensus was signed at the conclusion of the 11th Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean, which took place in Brazil. The countries that signed the document pledged to review their laws on abortion.

In the case of El Salvador, it was signed by Julia Evelyn Martinez, director of the Salvadoran Institute for the Development of Women.

El Salvador’s president, Mauricio Funes, said the statement signed by Martinez “has no force of law” and that as the leader of the country, “I have not given any order or any instructions to proceed with a revision of the laws on abortion.” 

The Salvadoran Constitution protects human life from the moment of conception. 

The poll also showed that 76 percent support the president’s decision to rejected the Brasilia Consensus. 

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Pope and Israeli president hope for peace in Holy Land

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 2, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - As the Palestinian and Israeli governments seek an agreement in Washington D.C., the Israeli president and Pope Benedict XVI hoped for "lasting peace" on Thursday. The Pope was recognized by the Nobel Prize-winning Israeli leader Shimon Peres during a meeting between the two as the "Shepherd" leading to the "the fields of peace."

President Shimon Peres was accompanied by five others for the visit to the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo, including the director of his office, Ms. Yona Bartal. They spent the morning visiting on-site gardens and met with leaders of the Vatican secretariat of state before the 11 a.m. audience with Pope Benedict.

According to a statement released by the Holy See following the 40-minute encounter, the resumption of direct talks between Israel and Palestine was primary among the themes of discussion in the private meeting.

On Thursday in Washington D.C., through U.S. government mediation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are returning to the negotiation table after a nearly two-year absence of talks.

According to a Reuters report, President Barack Obama hopes that the two sides can reach an agreement that, within a year, would establish the parameters of the Palestinian state and ensure security for Israel.

President Obama said on Wednesday, "This moment of opportunity may not soon come again. They cannot afford to let it slip away."

For their part, President Peres and the Holy Father hoped that the return to speaking terms might "assist in reaching an agreement that is respectful of the legitimate aspirations of the two peoples and capable of bringing lasting peace to the Holy Land and to the entire region."

Peres received the Nobel Prize in Peace 1994, jointly with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, for his work towards the creation of peace in the Middle East.

Among other subjects of discussion during their meeting was the contribution of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, the state of inter-religious dialogue in the world and the possibility of a "rapid conclusion" to Holy See-Israel Joint Working Commission negotiations. The joint talks have been working to establish the legal and economic status of the Catholic Church, its properties and representatives in the Holy Land since 1993.

At the conclusion of the audience, President Peres gave the Holy Father a one-foot tall silver Menorah on which is inscribed: "To his holiness Pope Benedict XVI, the Shepherd who seeks to lead us to the fields of blessings and the fields of peace."

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Cardinal Danneels’ lawyer: Media coverage of abuse victim meeting was character assassination

Brussels, Belgium, Sep 2, 2010 (CNA) - In a new development concerning claims that Cardinal Godfried Danneels asked a sexual abuse victim to cover up a bishop’s abuse, the cardinal’s lawyer has accused a newspaper of committing “character assassination” on the prelate using selective highlighting and “extremely biased commentary.”

The lawyer said the cardinal actually caused the abusive bishop for the first time to admit his guilt, to apologize and beg forgiveness “in front of his entire family.”

“Whoever considers this a meaningless or unimportant event is wrong,” commented Fernand Keuleneer in a statement provided to CNA.

“Not once during the meeting does the cardinal exert any form of pressure on the abuse victim. At multiple instances the cardinal asks what the victim wants to be done,” the lawyer said.

The former Bishop of Bruges Roger Vangheluwe’s 42-year-old nephew, who accused his uncle of sexually abusing him, made a recording of his April 8 meeting with the cardinal. Transcripts of the recording were published in two Belgian newspapers on Saturday.

According to Reuters’ summary of the press accounts, the tapes feature the former head of the Belgian Catholic Church urging the alleged victim to accept a private apology or to wait a year until Bishop Vangheluwe’s retirement before making his accusations public.

Cardinal Danneels’ lawyer said the prelate was suggesting these several alternatives “at the explicit and repeated request of the victim.” The lawyer claimed that the victim and his family wanted to avoid a public family scandal, noting they had been aware of the abuse for 24 years and “never attempted to contact either the press or the police.”

The Belgian newspaper De Standaard committed “character assassination” on the cardinal, both in its commentary and its method of putting certain paragraphs in red, he contended. The paper did not publish the entirety of the conversation, which reportedly turned into “a painful family dispute” at several times.

The cardinal left the meeting with the understanding that another meeting would follow, but that meeting never took place because Bishop Vangheluwe resigned.  The cardinal reputedly played the role of “a mediator in a confidential discussion.” Thus it was not his role to alert anyone else and no legal remedies were still available under church law or civil law.

“Almost everyone agrees that legally, the cardinal did nothing wrong,” Keuleneer stated. “We moreover consider the cardinal has acted in a morally irreproachable way.”

Cardinal Danneels' Explanation

According to the lawyer’s summary of events, at the beginning of April 2010 the cardinal received a short phone call from then-Bishop of Bruges Roger Vangheluwe, who admitted he had been sexually abusing his nephew from 1973 to 1986.

“As anybody in a similar situation would be, the cardinal is shocked and can barely respond,” Keuleneer said.

Days later on April 8, Bishop Vangheluwe approached the cardinal at a Catholic senior citizen’s association meeting, which was honouring Cardinal Danneels. The bishop asked him to attend and facilitate a meeting between himself and his family.

The cardinal was “reluctant” and preferred another date, but the bishop said his family was already on the way.

“If the cardinal has been naïve, it is at this point, when accepting the request to mediate,” the cardinal’s lawyer argued. “But it would be a very cynical position to hold against Cardinal Danneels the fact that he opted to attempt a reconciliation in a family tragedy, and in doing so, exposed himself to potential negative press coverage, rather than choosing the easy way out by shifting the problem to the papal nuncio.”

The cardinal was “unprepared.” He assumed his role was to mediate in a case which had been kept a family secret and assumed that some family members wished to achieve reconciliation and some reparation “without a public scandal.”

However, according to Keuleneer’s account, the bishop’s nephew expected he would have the opportunity to address his uncle’s “employer,” somebody in a position to dismiss the bishop. The nephew also expected the new Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, André-Mutien Léonard, to be attending.

The cardinal reportedly asked the victim what he wanted to be done several times and whether he wanted it to be publicized. The victim replied that he left the case up to “you,” using the plural form.

Asked whether the bishop should resign, the victim replied that Bishop Vangheluwe should decide what to do. The victim said that he desired the bishop to confess openly in front of the family.

Media reports also focused on the cardinal’s proposal that the victim forgive his abuser. The lawyer explained this as “the Catholic and moreover correct answer towards a repenting sinner.

“An abuse victim who is able to forgive – after penance and repair by the offender whatever that still can be repaired  – is a happier individual in comparison to a victim who merely scored in court or who only received financial compensation,” he continued.  “Forgiveness and reconciliation are there not only for those who receive forgiveness but also for those who grant forgiveness.”

Cardinal Danneels’ lawyer also responded to claims that the victim published a part of the conversations because he had been accused of blackmail. He said it was not the cardinal who spread such a rumor.

“(I)t remains completely unclear how destroying one reputation can repair the tarnishing of another one,” commented Keuleneer in the statement provided to CNA.

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Chance to win $500k for Catholic school creates national buzz

Lincoln, Neb., Sep 2, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The opportunity for a Catholic high school in Nebraska to win $500,000 to help build a new kitchen is creating excitement and drawing voters from around the diocese, the city and Catholics of all ages across the nation.

Lincoln Pius X High School is battling with schools around the nation for a chance at $500,000.  The Kohl's Cares online voting contest began in July and ends on Friday, September 3.  Participants can vote up to five times for their school through Facebook, with the top 20 schools each receiving $500,000.

Currently Pius X is in sixth place and is one of only two Catholic schools in the top 20.

If they are among the winning schools, Pius X plans to put the prize money toward building a kitchen for the school's lunch program. Currently lunches are prepared in a building adjacent to the school.

Pius X Director of Guidance Jan Frayser explained to CNA that the school decided to enter the contest because, “the opportunity to win $500,000 must be taken.” 

While at first, the school's administration estimated that Pius X could end up in the top 20 with 40,000 votes, as more and more schools began to participate, they soon realized that a much larger number of supporters would be needed. The school currently holding the number 20 position has over 95,000 votes.

However, Frayser continued, the Nebraska school has received “incredible support from parishes, alumni, families, the Diocese of Lincoln and the city of Lincoln. We knew that if we could generate excitement that the many people who love and care about Pius would get on board and help.”

Now, with over 108,000 votes, Frayser notes, “That has definitely happened.”

Superintendent of Pius X Fr. James Meysenburg added that being a Catholic school has helped Pius X appeal to the “greater Catholic community.”

“The pastors of the parishes throughout the Lincoln diocese have made appeals to all their parishioners and friends, not only to vote, but to pass along the word to everyone they have met.”  The superintendent added that Pius X has also received “tremendous support” from the Newman Center at the University of Nebraska, as well as from students attending several local colleges.

Fr. Meyesenburg also shared that he received an e-mail from his aunt, Sr. Agnes, a religious sister in Milwaukee who told him that her order “put out an e-mail blast asking for votes for their Milwaukee schools, but also for Pius X, because Sister Agnes’ nephew needs our help.”

“The last several months, I have had some poignant reminders that catholic does mean 'universal' – this has been another opportunity,” he said.

The students from the school are also working hard to spread the word. Emma Morin, a senior, told CNA that groups of students have gone to “all the Catholic Churches in Lincoln,” to hand out fliers, encouraging the faithful to vote and even attended a town hall meeting to rally support for their cause. “I could go on and on with all the ways we have tried to promote this,” Morin added.

In addition to the expected, younger Facebook-savvy crowd, administrators have been amazed by the number of parents and grandparents who joined Facebook in order to vote. Fr. Meysenburg told CNA that several elderly from the local parishes have either called the school or dropped by, asking how they can vote.

As the contest deadline approaches, head guidance counselor Frayser said, “the Catholic community in Lincoln is excited and talking about the leader board,” in addition to “hoping and praying. Everywhere I go, I hear people talking about it. It has brought so much excitement to Pius and to the Catholic community and the entire city of Lincoln.”

Amidst the great excitement, the school is keeping its greater priorities in mind. Frayser explained that while the school “would like to end with one of the half million dollar (prizes) ... For us, it’s about faith. If we don’t finish in the top 20, we know that it is ok and God will provide for our needs.” 

“You know,” Fr. Meysenburg added, “I really hope we win $500,000 to help us build our kitchen. But even if we don’t the tremendous amount of excitement for Catholic Education and Pius X High School has really been edifying.”  He continued, “we ask for prayers  and support for Pius X, most importantly that we stay the course of being a Catholic School that really helps our students, staff and family on their journey of this life.”

The current list of schools in the top 20 is:

1.Hebrew Academy – Huntington Beach, California
2.Cheder Menachem – Los Angeles, California
3.Bais Chaya Mushka School (Girls) - Los Angeles, California
4.Silverstein Hebrew Academy – Great Neck, New York
5.Lucas Christian Academy - Lucas, Texas
6.Pius X High School – Lincoln, Nebraska
7.Darby Avenue Elementary – Northridge, California
8.Chadbad Hebrew Academy – San Diego, California
9.Jewish School of the Arts – North Palm Beach Florida, Florida
10.Jets Jewish Educational Trading School – Granada Hills, California
11.Good Shepherd Christian Academy – Fairfax, Virginia
12.Hebrew Academy Community School - Margate, Florida
13.St. Clement Coptic Orthodox Christian Academy – Nashville, Tennessee
14.Yeshiva Achei Tmimim Academy - Worcester, Massachusetts
15.Mout Ellis Academy – Bozeman, Montana
16.Our Lady of the Presentation – Lee's Summit, Missouri
17.Netan Eli Hebrew Academy – Reseda, California
18.Lake High School – Milbury, Ohio
19.United Lubavitcher Yeshiva Crown Street – Brooklyn, New York
20.Charlotte Jewish Day School – Charlotte, North Carolina

For more information, visit:

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Judge dismisses ‘with prejudice’ sex abuse charges against Catholic priest

Charleston, W.Va., Sep 2, 2010 (CNA) - A judge in West Virginia has dismissed all charges against a Catholic priest from Cincinnati who was accused of molesting a 10-year-old boy in 1991. Attorneys for the priest, who was suspended for over a year because of the allegations, said the ruling found that the accuser had manipulated and falsified evidence.

In January a Roane County grand jury indicted Fr. Robet F. Poandl, 68, on charges of molesting the alleged victim at the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Spencer, West Virginia, the Charleston Gazette reports.

The charges were dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning he cannot be prosecuted on the same charges in the future.

Judge David W. Nibert had ordered the accuser to disclose certain records, but the accuser never made a complete disclosure.

Anita H. Ashley, one of the priest’s two defense attorneys, said the judge decided that missing medical records “may well have been exculpatory.” In her view, the judge “basically said that the accuser had manipulated the evidence, basically that he could not trust him based on his history. He had no trust in his ability to make a fair and honest disclosure."

"From the beginning it was clear to me that this man was innocent," Ashley continued. "I commend the judge for making this ruling, which is clearly the right ruling."

In a letter Fr. Poandl said he knew the accuser was “not trustworthy” and that “I had not hurt him in any way, let alone committed that terrible crime against him.”

He said that “lying” makes it harder for true crime victims to come forward and that his own honesty was strongly questioned because of “some very sad history” in the Catholic Church.

Judy Jones, Midwest associate director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said her organization hoped the case would be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

“(I)t's important that suspected child predators not walk free because of legal technicalities,” she said in a Monday statement, according to the Charleston Gazette.

Jones said that the victim and his family are “very credible and caring.” She also called on Catholic bishops in dioceses where Poandl has served to investigate accusations against him.

Glenmary Home Missioners issued a statement on Friday saying that the priest has “never” had any other allegation against him in his 40 years as a missionary priest.

Fr. Dan Dorsey, president of Glenmary, said that the accused priest maintained his innocence since the accusation was made.

“From the outset, I and the entire Glenmary community have prayed for a just resolution. After reading Judge Nibert’s decision to dismiss, I believe a just resolution has been rendered.”

Fr. Poandl has been on administrative leave since June 9, 2009, when the initial allegation was first brought to Fr. Dorsey’s attention. He has not functioned publicly as a Catholic priest since that date.

The Glenmary Review Board will now review all the information gathered ruing the past 14 months of investigation and report to the Glenmary Executive Council. The council will then determine Fr. Poandl’s future.

“This has been a long, painful experience for everyone involved,” Father Dorsey said. “I pray that God’s love and compassion will help heal the wounds of all those who have been affected by this situation over the last 14 months.”

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Adequate flood protection denied to religious minorities in Pakistan, Catholic source claims

Lahore, Pakistan, Sep 2, 2010 (CNA) - A Catholic Church figure in Pakistan has charged that local authorities decided with “deliberate intention” not to provide adequate flood protection to regions with high numbers of minority religious groups, including Christians and Hindus.

The international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) claimed that “a key church figure” who “cannot be named” described a deliberate failure to reinforce key sections of the Indus River overlooking areas in the Sindh province which have a high density of tribal communities.

ACN’s source said that local Sindh government figures conspired with prominent land owners to reinforce the river bank on their property and other areas deemed important at the expense of other vulnerable regions.

He also alleged that gravel and other minerals were taken from poor areas to shore up the river bank in prioritized areas.

“It was not just incompetence on the part of the authorities to protect the poorest of the poor from potential floods, it was their deliberate intention that they should suffer if floods were to take place,” said ACN’s source, described as “a long-time key figure in the Sindh region.”

The source described his shock to find the river “unbelievably full” even though big canals nearby were “relatively empty.” This caused him to suspect that the flood waters were diverted to areas deemed to be of low importance.

According to the ACN source, a high concentration of minority groups is the one common factor in many of the regions worst affected by the floods, including areas around Jacobabad, Sibi, Sukkur, Larkana, Shikarpur, Thatta and Ranipur.

While Pakistan is 95 percent Muslim, the Sindh province has a disproportionate number of minority groups. Unlike in other provinces, in Sindh, the tribal communities of Christians, Hindus and Sikhs are able to practice their faith more freely.

ACN’s source warned that the crisis will deepen after Sept. 10 when the Islamic holiday season of Ramadan comes to an end. This means that Muslims will be less likely to give alms and other aid to those in need.

He reported that charities have to increase their efforts to help the disadvantaged, saying, “They have been ignored for far too long.”

ACN said that so far it has given $70,000 in aid to Pakistan flood victims. On Tuesday it announced a $51,000 aid package split between Multan, in the south of Punjab province, and Quetta, in western Baluchistan province, where thousands of flood victims have been sent.

The Sindh source told ACN that there is urgent need for clean water, food and shelter as well as mosquito nets.

“The suffering of the poor is increasing every day. We Christians should be helping, we should be playing our part,” he commented.

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