Archive of June 13, 2011

Vatican daily: Embryonic stem cells only create false hope

Vatican City, Jun 13, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Research demonstrates that embryonic stem cells are not an effective resource for treatment and create false hope for a cure, according to a professor from the University of Milan, in Italy.

“This situation helps to nourish the uncritical mentality that demonizes any attempt at regulation as anti-scientific and against progress. Moreover, ‘stem’ has become a sort of magic word that gives added value to everything from cosmetics to the most absurd therapeutic ideas,” said professor Augusto Pessina of the University of Milan.

The professor's remarks were published in a June 14 article in the Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano.

In May of this year, the German government ordered the closure of the XClinic, which provided treatment for cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s and spinal cord conditions, after an 18-month-old baby died in October of 2010 from an injection of embryonic stem cells into the brain.

A few months earlier, a 10-year-old child was left severely disabled after undergoing a similar procedure.

Pessina pointed to these cases in his article titled, “Hope is not nourished by lies.”

“There is a lot of false information and lies in stem cell biomedicine, whether about biological knowledge or clinical applications,” he said.

He noted that one can find hundreds of sites on the internet that make “unrealistic promises” to cure “almost any pathology” with “at best therapies that have not been approved or that in other cases are useless or even dangerous to one’s health.”

The Committee for Advanced Therapies in Europe has already warned that this phenomenon “contributes to the discrediting of proper scientific research carried out in accord with ethical norms,” such as research with umbilical cord stem cells, which have been shown to be effective in various therapies.

Pessina said “correct and honest information” is urgently needed to prevent more unethical cases.
He went on to denounce the media for uncritically applauding procedures that have not been verified, thus causing biomedical information to be poorly received and “generating in patients and family members unfounded hopes and bitter disappointments.”

“Lies must not be used to raise the hopes of the sick,” he warned. 

On the other hand, he pointed to the case of France, where several days ago research with embryonic stem cells was prohibited despite protests that called the decision obscurantist and contrary to freedom of research.

“In biological research today—where the principle that whatever can be technically done is licit seems to rule—the French law represents a courageous move that seeks to defend the dignity of the human person,” Pessina stated.

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Spanish lawmaker takes oath of office before crucifix

Vatican City, Jun 13, 2011 (CNA) - Catholic lawmaker Juan Cotino took his oath of office for parliament in Spain before a crucifix to show that the faith must not be excluded from public life.

Cotino made “an eloquent and courageous public gesture manifesting his own religious convictions, which he did not want to hide upon exercising his new mission as a political representative,” said Father Jose Maria Gil Tamayo, a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

The priest spoke in an article for the June 12 edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

Cotino asked for a small crucifix to be placed next to the Constitution and the Bible before being sworn in on June 9. Since one could not be found, he brought a crucifix from his own office.

Several left-wing lawmakers and organizations in Valencia, as well as the newspapers El Pais and El Plural, criticized Cotino for the act.

Cotino’s gesture, Fr. Gil Tamayo wrote, “disrupts a false tendency being imposed on European public life with regards to the nature of religious acts in general and Catholics in particular, who in practice are granted a certificate of citizenship only in the private sphere, in the limits of conscience, in the sacred space of the temple or in occasional acts of public worship.”

After recalling that Catholicism is the religion of the majority in Europe, the Spanish priest warned that some minority groups want to impose an “unhealthy secularism” that banishes all religious acts, and ultimately God, from public and political life.

Fr. Gil Tamayo, who was director of the Committee for Social Communications of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference for 13 years, also pointed out that perhaps now more than ever, Christians “need to beg for a new Pentecost and to live the faith in public and social life, in their families, with their friends, in the culture, in art, at work and at play, with responsible and joyful consistency both personally and as a community.”

“This is about being a Catholic in public as well, on the streets, with the ‘God be with you’ that we used to say,” the priest wrote.

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Two new auxiliary bishops named for Archdiocese of Chicago

Chicago, Ill., Jun 13, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has appointed two Archdiocese of Chicago priests to become auxiliary bishops for the archdiocese.

“I am grateful to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, for his appointing two priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago as auxiliary bishops here,” Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said June 13. “Both will bring their dedication to the Church and her people to the office of Bishop. They will make visible in their ministry the love of God for his Church.”

The bishops-elect are Fr. Andrew P. Wypych, pastor of St. Francis Borgia Parish, and Fr. Alberto Rojas, pastor of Good Shepherd Parish.

Cardinal George said that the Pope’s pastoral concern for the clergy, vowed religious and laity of the archdiocese is “clearly evident” in the appointments.

Bishop-elect Wypych was born in Kazimierza, Poland in 1954 and ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of Krakow in 1979. He came to Chicago in 1983 and served as dean of Mundelein Seminary.

Bishop-elect Rojas was born in El Zapote de la Labor, Mexico in 1965. He studied for the priesthood in his native city of Aguascalientes, Mexico and in the Archdiocese of Chicago. He was ordained a priest for the archdiocese in 1997. He was a member of the seminary formation faculty at the Chicago archdiocese’s Mundelein Seminary.

Bishop-elect Wypych will serve as liaison to Polish Catholics and as vicar for Vicariate V of the archdiocese. Bishop-elect Rojas will serve as liaison to Hispanic Catholics and vicar for the archdiocese’s Vicariate III.

There are about 2.4 million Catholics and almost 1,700 priests in the Archdiocese of Chicago, as well as 643 permanent deacons and 3,128 vowed religious.

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Massive 'Christ of the Pacific' statue to be unveiled in Peru

Lima, Peru, Jun 13, 2011 (CNA) - The 121-foot-tall “Christ of the Pacific” statue will be unveiled on a hilltop overlooking the city of Lima, Peru on June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.
The inauguration of the massive statue was announced on June 10 by President Alan Garcia of Peru, who said it was his dream to raise a statue on the Pacific coast similar to the one atop Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. “I have dubbed it the Christ of the Pacific … and on June 29, the day of the Pope and of Sts. Peter and Paul, we will inaugurate this statue.”
The inauguration will also coincide with the 60th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s ordination to the priesthood. The Pope was ordained together with his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, at the Cathedral of Freising in Germany on June 29, 1951.
According to the Andina news agency, President Garcia said the statue was not built using tax-payer dollars but instead through donations from individuals and companies. Garcia himself donated $36,000 of his own money for the project.
“I want it to be a statue that blesses Peru and protects Lima,” Garcia told RPP News.
The large statue shows Christ standing with his arms extended. It was built in Brazil and then brought to Peru in several pieces. The statue will sit on a 49-foot concrete base and will be illuminated by a 26-color lighting system. It will be visible from every point in the Peruvian capital.

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Vatican explains teaching on illicit ordinations

Vatican City, Jun 13, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican issued a statement June 6 explaining the Church’s teachings on bishops ordained without the Pope's approval.

The statement points out that illicit ordinations cause “scandal and confusion, which must not be underestimated and that require—on the part of the bishops involved—the need to recover their authority through signs of communion and penance that can be observed by all.”

The statement was published by the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano.

The statement does not refer to any specific country, but offers an overview of possible extenuating circumstances that relate to episcopal ordinations carried out in China without the authorization of the Holy See and under the pressure of government authorities.

The most recent illicit ordination in China took place in November 2010. The government, which directs the Chinese Patriotic Association, had also scheduled an ordination for June 9, but was postponed at the last minute due to resistance from both Catholics and the priest selected to be ordained bishop.

The pontifical council’s statement refers to the correct application of canon 1382, which states that “a bishop who consecrates someone a bishop without a pontifical mandate and the person who receives the consecration from him incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.”

The statement considers “grave fear, unjust provocation, ignorance of canon law,” and others causes, “to be extenuating circumstances that preclude a latae sententiae penalty” in the case of an ordination without the Pope’s permission.

It also recognizes that each participant in such an ordination “knows the degree of his personal involvement in his heart, and an upright conscience will indicate to each person whether or not he incurs a latae sententiae penalty.”

It also reiterates that anyone who incurs excommunication may not take part in the celebration of the Eucharist or any other public ceremony, celebrate or receive the sacraments, or exercise any office of ecclesial governance.  To do so would be to “commit a morally illicit act and therefore a sacrilege.”

In some cases, the statement notes, the Holy See will be responsible for declaring automatic excommunication, if it exists, or for imposing “other sanctions or penances, if necessary to repair the scandal, to clear up confusion among the faithful and, in general, to safeguard ecclesiastical discipline.”

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