Archive of April 12, 2013

Cardinal says peace stems from recognition of human dignity

Washington D.C., Apr 12, 2013 (CNA) - Cardinal Peter Turkson marked the 50th anniversary of the papal encyclical “Pacem in Terris,” or “Peace on Earth,” by saying that peace stems from the dignity of the person and is meant for everyone.

“We often hear about peace,” but we often misunderstand what it is, Cardinal Turkson said at an April 11 conference at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

The cardinal, who serves as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and hails from Ghana, noted that peace is not simply “the absence of war and conflict” but a “a gift from God.”

“Peace is an attribute of God himself. God is peace. Creation aspires to peace,” Cardinal Turkson said. “This gift” and expression on earth, he added, “becomes real only when people embrace it.”

Thus peace “begins with the basis of the human person.”

“Pacem in Terris” is a 1963 papal encyclical written by Pope John XXIII. The encyclical, written during the height of the Cold War, emphasized negotiation as a means of conflict resolution, and places a strong emphasis on the inherent human rights “to life, to bodily integrity, and to the means which are suitable for the proper development of life.”

The encyclical addressed interpersonal peace in addition to man’s relationships to the state and the relationships between nations. The document also encourages cooperation between Catholics in promoting peace and its proper understanding among non-Catholics and non-Christians around the globe.

Cardinal Turkson emphasized that “Pacem in Terris” is an encyclical directed at the human persona and at all persons throughout the globe – a fact that is represented in that the encyclical addressed “all men of good will,” not just Catholics. “All men are involved in this endeavor,” the cardinal emphasized.  

“The building block of nations has been a stumbling block for peace,” he added, explaining that “the humanly established order does not inherently promote peace.”  

He said that countries are fundamentally in conflict with one another because they exist to promote their own interests and national agendas. “Here then are the origins of conflict: envy and greed and other base human tendencies are still with us” in many aspects of the structure of states.

This is why “Pacem in Terris” was “addressed to people, not to nations,” Cardinal Turkson said.

He also explained that the mission “Pacem in Terris” did not begin 50 years ago with the writing of the encyclical, but “began with the shepherds and the magi way back at the birth of Christ.”

The cardinal added that the incarnation and the announcement of Christ’s birth was spread not  not just to the Jews but to everyone. In a similar way, the encyclical is for the whole world, not just Christians or Catholics.

The mission of “Pacem in Terris” is also recognized in the reception of peace and the Gospel, Cardinal Turkson added. There is a “need for everyone to be an agent, but also a beneficiary, of peace.”

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Archbishop likens immigrants to 'Les Misérables' hero

Miami, Fla., Apr 12, 2013 (CNA) - Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami made a plea for immigration reform at a rally on Saturday, noting that like the hero of “Les Misérables,” migrants wish to “redeem themselves with honest work.”

“Our immigration laws need to be changed,” the archbishop urged at a march held April 6 in downtown Miami.

Some 2,000 people participated in the rally and 20-block walk, which also drew interfaith leaders including a rabbi, an imam, and pastors of Christian denominations.

During his remarks to the crowd, Archbishop Wenski discussed the Victor Hugo’s 19th century novel “Les Misérables.” The book tells the story of Jean Valjean – a man who was imprisoned for having stolen a loaf of bread to feed his starving relatives – and the “bitterly zealous legalism” of Inspector Javert who pursues him.

“Today,” the archbishop said, “modern day Javerts, on radio and T.V. talk shows, fan flames of resentment against supposed law breakers, equating them with terrorists intent on hurting us.”

“However, these people only ask for the opportunity to become legal – to come out of the shadows where they live in fear of a knock on their door in the dead of night or an immigration raid to their work place.”

Similar marches have taken place recently across the country, culminating in a large march on April 10 in Washington, D.C. The rallies come as a group of eight senators – the “gang of eight” – prepares to introduce immigration reform legislation in the coming weeks.

Archbishop Wenski reminded listeners in Miami that Christ taught that laws serve human persons, and not the other way around. Law, he said, “is meant to benefit, not to enslave mankind.”

He pointed to the Boston tea party participants and Rosa Parks as examples of those who have broken human laws.

“When laws fail to advance the common good, they can and should be changed,” he noted.

The archbishop said that America's immigration laws are “antiquated and inadequate for the promotion and regulation of social and economic relations of 21st century America.”

One participant at the Miami rally held a sign proclaiming that “Migration is a human right.”

Archbishop Wenski said that immigration reform take into account “both human dignity and the national interest,” lest the existing bad laws are replaced by “worse ones.”

He voiced support for a future legal guest worker program, an “earned” path to legalization for the 10 million workers already in the country, and reducing the backlogs in processing family reunification visas, which “keep families separated for intolerable lengths of time.”

“Illegal immigration should not be tolerated,” emphasized Archbishop Wenski, but at the same time, “fixing illegal immigration does not require the 'demonization' of the so-called 'illegals.'”

America, he said, should remain a place of opportunity for those willing to work hard.

“We can provide for our national security and secure borders without making America, a nation of immigrants, less a land of promise or opportunity for immigrants.”

“The 'gang of eight' need to move forward – with a comprehensive reform – that includes a path to citizenship to those already in the country and preserves family unification as a bedrock principle of any immigration legislation.”

A nation, he noted “that honors law breakers like the patriots of the Boston Tea Party, a nation that can allow the dignified defiance of Rosa Parks in her act of lawbreaking to touch its conscience, is a nation that also can make room for modern-day Jean Valjeans.”

Archbishop Wenski concluded, saying, “we can be a nation of laws, without becoming a nation of Javerts. As Jesus reminded the embittered zealots of his day, laws are designed for the benefit – not the harm – of humankind.”

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Movie on Catholic abuse scandal feared to be exploitative

Boston, Mass., Apr 12, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - An upcoming movie on the sex abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston has caused one screenwriter to worry that the film could exploit sex abuse for the sake of Hollywood awards.

“I have very big concerns about making the molestation of children the subject of entertainment,” screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi told CNA April 10.

“These are real people’s lives that have gotten ruined. We want to really pray that this movie doesn’t end up victimizing the victims all over again by turning their suffering into spectacle.”

Nicolosi, a former religious sister, is the founder of the Act One training program for Christians seeking careers in the entertainment industry.

She said she believes a movie about the abuse scandal is similar to screenplays about sex trafficking – both of which are not suitable for entertainment. “They're never okay. You always feel that it’s a subject that should have been done in a documentary, not as a narrative.”

DreamWorks Studio and Participant Media announced on April 2 that they have acquired the film rights to the Boston Globe’s reporting on sex abuse cover-ups in the Archdiocese of Boston. The investigation found that Church authorities placed known abusers back in ministry. The coverage led to the 2003 resignation of Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Bernard Law.

Dreamworks president of production Holly Bario said the Boston Globe coverage of the abuse scandal “opened the door to a bigger story that had worldwide ramifications.”

“The story of how this team of editors and reporters came to uncover the truth will make a dramatic and compelling film,” Bario said.

However, Nicolosi was skeptical that journalists would be the focus of the movie.

“As a dramatist, I’m trained to go for the highest stakes. The fact is, that in this story the tragic, awful, terrible thing is that there’s pederasty, young boys being preyed upon by homosexual priests. That’s the real tragedy of this story.”

“People covered it up, it’s icky, it’s awful, but that’s not the real tragedy,” she said.

Tom McCarthy will direct the movie and co-write the script with Josh Singer. McCarthy’s involvement was a point in the project’s favor, Nicolosi said  She praised him as “a great writer” for his work on the movies “The Station Agent,” “The Visitor” and “Up.”

“This guy is a humane writer and he’s very smart,” she said. “I don’t think you could pick a better writer to do this thing. But I don’t think it has to be done and I think they’re choosing the wrong format.”

Nicolosi believes that the subject matter of the film means it is likely already a top contender for prestigious Hollywood awards like the Academy Award and the Golden Globe.

“This is going to be the kind of project that they’re going to relish,” she said of Hollywood leaders, adding that there are some in Hollywood who would want to make the movie into a film “about the wicked, evil Catholic Church.”

“I am hoping the writer is more humane than that. He is more humane,” she said of McCarthy.

She said the movie will very likely lose money. “Nobody wants this story as entertainment. You’re looking at a very small audience already.”

Nonetheless, Nicolosi said Catholics should give the movie “a fair hearing” and try to hope that the movie adds “something new.”

She said there is “no big mystery” why institutions cover up scandal and abuse. Rather, it is abuse that must be explained.

“What possibly could we as a society learn from why these children were victimized?” she asked. “That, to me, is the question. What happened to people, that they prey on children?”

Nicolosi emphasized the difficulty of the project, saying “you couldn’t have talked me into touching this subject as a writer with at 10-foot pole.”

“It’s going to be a grueling, awful journey into this thing. It’s as far from entertainment as I can imagine.”

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Pope personally thanks State department for overtime

Vatican City, Apr 12, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The last month of papal transition meant that the employees of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State worked long hours, so Pope Francis decided that he would offer his heartfelt thanks by making a personal visit.

“Why am I here today? To thank you, because I know that these days - tomorrow marks one month - you have worked a lot more, many hours more, and that you are not paid for this, because you have worked with your heart and this can only be repaid with a ‘thank you’ but a ‘thank you’ from the heart,” Pope Francis told the 300 employees who gathered in the department’s library.

He emphasized that he wanted to personally convey his gratitude, saying, “Thank you very much, from my heart. Thank you.”

On Saturday, April 13 it will be one month since Pope Francis was elected to succeed Benedict XVI.

So the day before that anniversary, Pope Francis visited the two sections of the Holy See’s state department, General Affairs and Relations with States.

The secretariat is currently headed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who welcomed the Pope to the April 11 assembly by saying that the staff is “very pleased with this exceptional visit to the headquarters of the Secretariat of State.”

Cardinal Bertone described the staff as “the great family of your closest collaborators” and pointed out that it is comprised of priests, religious, and lay men and women. After the short exchange of remarks and a papal blessing, the Holy Father individually greeted the 300 workers.

The 50-minute encounter was significant because the secretariat is the most powerful Vatican department and is part of the Roman Curia that the cardinals spoke about reforming before the conclave that elected Pope Francis.

He is expected to replace Cardinal Bertone as Secretary of State, but that decision is not expected to be made until May, at the earliest because the cardinal is scheduled to ordain new bishops on April 27.

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Vatican honors boy for courage during trachea transplant

Vatican City, Apr 12, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - During the Second International Adult Stem Cell conference at the Vatican, a boy who had his windpipe replaced with one grown using his own stem cells won the “Pontifical Hero Award” for his courage.

Ciaran Finn-Lynch, 14, was the second person to receive the award, and he made the trip from Northern Ireland to the Vatican to receive it.

“Ciaran is a shining example of what this result has shown,” said his father, Paul Finn, in an April 12 interview with CNA.

His mother, Colleen Finn, said “we need to have faith in God to get through all of this.”

“This has made our faith stronger because we need more and more prayers all the time,” she added.

Ciaran was born with long-segment tracheal stenosis, a condition that resulted in a narrow windpipe and made it hard for him to breathe.

He had a major transplant surgery to rebuild his trachea when he was two years-old.

Doctors placed metal stents to hold his windpipe open and he went without any major issues until he was 10 years-old.

One day after school, the stents that had been placed in his windpipe started to cut into his aorta, the main blood vessel coming out of his heart.

He was taken to intensive care at Belfast Hospital and then later transferred to London’s Great Ormond Children’s Hospital.

“He had several operations but he had more bleeding from his stents,” said Doctor Paolo De Coppi, head of the surgery unit at University College London’s Institute of Child Health, during the April 12 morning session of the conference.

“The leader of our team didn’t know what to do next, but an option was to do an operation done before on an adult in Barcelona. But we didn’t have the time to do that,” De Coppi explained.

“But we did something similar and it was a quite difficult operation,” he said.

The operation involved taking a donor trachea and seeding it with stem cells taken from Ciaran’s bone marrow.

The result of the procedure was that after six months, his trachea looked almost normal.

“Ciaran is doing really well and I think he has a chance to become a rock star, since he plays the drums so well,” De Coppi commented after showing a video of Ciaran playing with a band.

Ciaran told CNA that it felt good to receive the award and that he was happy with his life.

His father noted that the stem cells “have been a great contribution to Ciaran’s procedure.”

“What we’ve heard here these last couple of days (at the conference) has been amazing, knowing they’re talking about building other organs,” Paul Finn said.

Ciaran’s mother noted that she was happy that her son is not on any medication, since the operation used his own cells, preventing the need for anti-rejection drugs.

“You just have to keep going on for him, and you can’t show that you’re scared or teary and you just have to put a brave face on,” said Colleen.

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National figures demand media attention to Gosnell trial

Philadelphia, Pa., Apr 12, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The murder trial of Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell has produced graphic testimony of “beheadings” of infants who survive abortions, but the lack of national news coverage has drawn protests and criticism from pro-life leaders, congressmen and professional journalists.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) took to the House floor on Thursday, decrying what he called a “national media cover-up” of the trial of Gosnell, who is charged with the first-degree murders of seven infants born alive after a failed abortion.

“To this day, the national news media remains uninterested, indifferent – AWOL. Why the censorship? Gosnell’s 'house of horrors' trial fails to attract any serious and meaningful national news reporting,” Smith said April 11.

He described how the Gosnell trial is rife with “shocking testimony of beheadings, unfathomable abuse, death, and body parts in jars.”

Gosnell is charged with seven counts of first degree murder for the deaths of infants who allegedly were killed after surviving abortions at his Philadelphia clinic, the Women’s Medical Society.

The abortionist also faces a third-degree murder charge for the 2009 death of a Virginia woman who died after his untrained clinic employees administered an overdose of a drug.

An FBI raid – which helped uncover the gruesome practices at Gosnell’s clinic – was conducted in February 2010 and sought evidence of illegal distribution of prescription painkillers.

Nine employees have faced state and federal charges for their actions at the clinic. Some have confessed to third-degree murder and using Gosnell’s prescription pads for drugs to be sold on the streets.

Gosnell’s trial began March 19 and he could face the death penalty if convicted.

Former employee Stephen Massof in courtroom testimony in early April said that he saw about 100 babies born alive. He said clinic workers then “snipped” the back of their neck to ensure their “demise.”

Massof, an unlicensed graduate of a Grenada medical school, told jurors the procedure was “literally a beheading,” NBC 10 Philadelphia reports.

“It is separating the brain from the body,” he said, adding that women were sometimes given medicine to speed up their deliveries. “It would rain fetuses,” he said. “Fetuses and blood all over the place.”

Massof is in prison after he pled guilty to third-degree murder in the deaths of two newborns.

Sherry West, a former employee of Gosnell, testified that she heard a child “screaming” after it was delivered alive at Gosnell’s Philadelphia clinic.

“I can’t describe it. It sounded like a little alien,” she said of the baby, who was about 18 to 24 inches long.

Gosnell kept severed feet of unborn babies preserved in specimen jars, allegedly for future identification or DNA samples. One expert testified at the trial that he had never heard of this practice, the Philadelphia Inquirer says.

Gosnell’s attorney has said that the movements of the infants were death throes induced by abortion drugs and that the babies had been delivered dead.

Local news in Pennsylvania and Delaware, where Gosnell also operated a clinic, has covered the trial. However, national coverage has been scarce.

Opinion columns and editorials  about the Gosnell trial and its lack of national media coverage have appeared in USA Today and the Investor’s Business Daily.

In The Atlantic, writer Conor Friedersdorf's essay “Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell's Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story” characterized the trial as “insanely newsworthy” but “undercovered” by the news media.

Friedersdorf, who had not heard of the case until April 11, said the Gosnell trial involves even more than the “horrific” allegations that the clinic severed the heads of live babies.

He said the trial involves testimony to the Pennsylvania grand jury that women were sent to give birth into toilets, that a doctor spread sexually transmitted infections to women through poor sanitary standards, that a 15-year-old administered anesthesia to patients, and that white women received the attention of a doctor while black women were “pawned off on clueless untrained staffers.”

“Any single one of those things would itself make for a blockbuster news story,” Friedersdorf wrote. “Is it even conceivable that an optometrist who attended to his white patients in a clean office while an intern took care of the black patients in a filthy room wouldn't make national headlines?”

Friedersdorf said the Gosnell trial deserves coverage because it informs the abortion debate and has “numerous plausible implications for abortion policy” including clinic regulation and oversight and restrictions on late-term abortions.

“Multiple local and state agencies are implicated in an oversight failure that is epic in proportions!”
Friedersdorf said.

In a January 2011 Grand Jury report, District Attorney R. Seth Williams found that the Pennsylvania Department of Health had contact with Gosnell’s clinic in 1979, when it first approved it. The department did not conduct another site review until 1989, finding “numerous violations.” Two site reviews found more violations in 1992 and 1993, but failed to make corrections.

The report said this “pro forma effort” ended in 1993 when the state health department decided “for political reasons” to “stop inspecting abortion clinics at all.”

The report blamed the change of administration from Gov. Bob Casey, Sr., a pro-life Democrat, to Gov. Tom Ridge, a pro-abortion rights Republican.

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