Houston, Texas, May 21, 2013 (CNA) -
A Houston doctor is under investigation on charges that he performed illegal late-term abortions after former employees alleged that several babies were born alive and then killed in gruesome ways.
Deborah Edge, a former assistant to Dr. Douglas Karpen, gave her account of Karpen’s abortion work in a video produced by the pro-life group Life Dynamics.
“When he did an abortion, especially an over 20 week abortion, most of the time the fetus would come completely out before he either cut the spinal cord or he introduced one of the instruments into the soft spot of the fetus in order to kill it ... or actually twisting the head off the neck with his own bare hands,” she said.
Edge emphasized that the babies were still alive, moving and breathing. Another former employee in the video, Gigi Aguliar, said one baby opened its eyes and grabbed the abortionist’s finger before he killed it.
One employee said she did not know what Karpen was doing was illegal.
The allegations concern deaths in 2011 at the Aaron Women’s Clinic in Houston. A third former employee appears in the Life Dynamics video, while another anonymous staffer has filed an affidavit Texas Department of State Health Services, the Daily Mail reports.
The former employees took cell phone pictures of babies with gashes in their necks after they were allegedly killed at the clinic, LifeNews.com says. They allege that Karpen killed babies well after 24 weeks into pregnancy, at a cost between $4,000 and $5,000.
Karpen also runs two other abortion clinics in Texas.
Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he read “with disgust” about the allegations that Dr. Douglas Karpen performed “illegal late-term abortions surrounded by appalling sanitary conditions in his clinic.”
“The Harris County authorities should perform a full-scale investigation and take action against those who broke state law,” he said in a May 15 statement.
Sara Marie Kinney, a spokeswoman for the Harris County District Attorney, said several district attorney employees are looking into the allegations.
Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, told the Houston Chronicle the agency is aware of the allegations and investigating it with “a very high priority.”
Dewhurst invoked the case of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist convicted last week on three charges of first degree murder for killing babies who survived abortions.
The pro-life group Operation Rescue has said it has been investigating Karpen for three years.
“For nearly three years, authorities have ignored our complaints and done nothing while horrific late-term babies continued to be aborted in an apparently illegal and barbaric manner,” group president Troy Newman said May 16.
“Now, thanks to the outpouring of public pressure that has been brought to bear by the pro-life community, the authorities in Texas are finally beginning to act. It’s a big step in the right direction.”
New York City, N.Y., May 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Global Rosary Relay for Priests’ fourth annual event will take place this June 7, providing an opportunity for worldwide prayer to support priests in their ministry.
“It’s unifying the whole world. It really is a very beautiful way for the laity to offer this spiritual bouquet of thanksgiving for our priests,” Marion Mulhall, founder and CEO of the event organizer WorldPriest, told CNA May 20.
“Our Lady has hugely blessed us. It was her inspiration. It is her rosary,” Mulhall said. “It is her priests that we’re praying for on this rosary relay for priests.”
Participants in the relay will say a rosary at a scheduled time for one half hour to thank God for priests and to ask the Virgin Mary’s protection for priests. This means the same continuous rosary will be prayed around the clock.
The day of prayer will begin with the Joyful Mysteries at the Basilica of Our Lady of Victories in Melbourne at 11 a.m. local time June 7. It will then progress westward through Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Europe and Africa before reaching the Americas.
The relay will conclude at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in New Franken, Wis. with a rosary at 7 p.m. local time.
Other participating U.S. churches include the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C, the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., Our Lady Star of The Sea Catholic Church in Staten Island, New York City, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, and the Monastery of Our Lady of the Desert in Blanco, N.M.
The relay has drawn support from Cardinal Raymond Burke and Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam. Mulhall said that in the last four years the event has become “the largest day of prayer in the world.”
Rosary locations and start times are available at the relay’s website www.worldpriestday.com/rosaryrelay.
Portland, Ore., May 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The recent production of stem cells from cloned human embryos has prompted a researcher to consider the need for scientists to take other disciplines into account before engaging their work.
“Scientists...do not consider bio-ethical issues to be issues at all; they don't see the bio-ethical argument, or any philosophical argument,” Massimo Bionaz, assistant professor of animal sciences at Oregon State University, told CNA May 17.
The May issue of the journal “Cell” included a paper from scientists at Oregon Health and Science University announcing they have produced embryonic stem cells by transferring the DNA of a human skin cell into a human egg to produce an embryo.
After the egg's own nucleus was removed, the nucleus from another person's skin cell was added into the egg, and with electricity and caffeine the researchers were able to induce the normal development of an embryo. The embryos were thus genetic copies – clones – of the persons whose DNA was inserted into the eggs.
The harvesting of the embryonic stem cells necessarily included the destruction of the embryos.
“This,” Bionaz reflected, “is the problem. Those scientists, they went ahead and did the cloning; they thought this was absolutely fine and justified because based on their criteria there was no reason not to do that. So, they jump completely the question of what a human is.”
Bionaz, a member of the Euresis Association as well as the Catholic ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation, said that scientific researchers often see arguments of philosophy or bioethics as “problems to be overcome.”
He warned of “scientism,” which he called the “presumption that science is the only discipline which can say something true about reality.” This, Bionaz emphasized, is “dangerous.”
For scientism, “any argument outside the utilitarian argument” is seen as being “of no use.” Too many, he said, view that “whenever something is possible to do, I ought to do it.”
While the aim of the research was good: to produce stem cells for therapies to treat diseases which will not be rejected by patients' bodies because they will be genetically identical, it required an evil, the destruction of human beings.
“It's the paradox of the short sight of science. They begin in this way, with the justification of providing tissue, maybe even life-saving tissue, but they don't care about destroying” another human being, said Bionaz.
Aside from lacking “a clear bio-ethical judgement,” he said, “those scientists didn't even ask the question.”
Rather than presuming to do any research which is “possible, technically, to do,” researchers should take the time to ask ontological questions, about the nature of the human being.
“It goes to the point of understanding what a person is, of what is a human being.”
While noting that scientists “are trained very well on the technical side,” they “lack completely the way of thinking of the philosopher, or bio-ethicist, or any other discipline,” Bionaz said.
He emphasized the importance of different fields of study working together to paint a complete picture of existence.
“Reality is very complex, and every aspect of reality requires its own discipline. It's against reason to try to study or assess a reality with a discipline that does not conform to the method of that specific reality.”
“Science can study the material phenomenon, what it is possible to reproduce, to measure.” But, Bionaz added, science cannot address “the ontological significance of a human life...because it's not the proper discipline for that area of reality.”
“That pertains to philosophy, to theology, even to bioethics in some way.”
Without the perspectives of these fields, science will regard the human person as “only a mass of cells to which you can do whatever you want,” which is why respect for the human person “now is falling apart.”
The researchers who produced the cloned human embryos “want to provide tissue to help or to save a human being,” but they “didn't consider the significance of what they were doing.”
Bionaz attributed his thought about the importance of considering philosophy and other disciplines when doing scientific research to Blessed John Henry Newman's “The Idea of a University.”
In those lectures, Newman “described exactly” the follies of using the wrong discipline to study a given segment of existence, and that when this happens “reality can get confused, and we misunderstand it.”
“For instance this one of the human being: to understand what is a human person, you need several disciplines,” Bionaz said. “Science is not enough; it allows you to unravel a part of the human being of course, but not the totality of the human being.”
“For this reason, it is so important as scientists to have the humility to understand our limits, and we should actually have deep discussions with people of other disciplines.”
Dialogue with philosophy, he said, will remind researchers that “the human being has a value, and then we scientists will work for the human being, not against it.”
The manufacture and subsequent destruction of a human embryo for the production of embryonic stem cells, is an instance of “destroying the human being and not helping him.”
“Even though the purpose is to help someone else, because of course the idea is to help human beings, the problem is if the end justifies the means,” Bionaz concluded.
“It's not an issue that scientists can assess. You need a bio-ethicist together with a philosopher.”
Vatican City, May 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis did not perform an exorcism when he prayed over a young disabled man in St. Peter’s Square on Pentecost Sunday, according to the Vatican’s spokesman.
“The Pope had no intention of doing an exorcism, so it is absolutely false that this has been done. He simply prayed for the sick person,” Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi told CNA May 21.
The idea that Pope Francis performed an exorcism was fueled by a video posted online by channel TV2000, which is overseen by the Italian bishops’ conference.
In the video, which is a preview of the May 24 episode of “Vade Retro” (“Go Back” in Latin), a young man is presented to the Pope by Legionary Father Juan Rivas.
What he said to the pontiff is unknown, but the Pope seemed to become serious and began praying over the young man in a wheelchair, placing both his hands on his head.
As the Pope prayed, what sounds like a growl can be heard coming from the young man as he opened his mouth and recoiled downward in his chair.
The Pope’s security detail can be seen hovering in the background, and one of them comes in to quickly take a letter from the Fr. Rivas, before the Pope passes on the next person.
“As usual, the Pope had many patients and many people in difficulty presented to him, and the Pope always prays intensely for them,” Fr. Lombardi said about the encounter.
Marta Jimenez Ibanez contributed to this report.
Vatican City, May 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis sent special condolences to those parents who lost their children in a tornado that killed around 100 people in Oklahoma.
“I am close to the families of all who died in the Oklahoma tornado, especially those who lost young children,” the Pope said on his Twitter account on May 21.
“Join me in praying for them,” he added. Pope Francis also tweeted the same message in Spanish.
Earlier in the day during his morning Mass in the Vatican, the Pope personally added a prayer intention for the tornado victims and those who are missing, especially the children.
There are 20 children among the 91 who have died, but officials said the death toll is expected to increase since the tornado hit southern Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on May 20.
The tornado, which was two miles wide at its greatest, touched down at 2:56 p.m. and lashed the area for 45 minutes with winds of up to 200 mph.
It destroyed homes, businesses, the local hospital and other buildings, including Plaza Towers Elementary School.
Local hospitals have treated at least 145 people in Oklahoma City.
President Obama declared the area a major disaster and will be sending federal aid.
In May 1999, Moore was hit by a tornado that broke records with a wind speed of 302 mph.
Rome, Italy, May 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
According to an Argentine priest, Pope Francis when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires helped save a young mailman from the abyss of drug addiction and became his spiritual father.
Jesuit priest and Vatican Radio commentator Father Guillermo Ortiz recounted to CNA knowing then-Cardinal Jorge Bergolio when he was still provincial superior of the Jesuits in Argentina, as well as his own personal introduction to the young man.
“When I was living in Buenos Aires,” he recalled, “I met this guy. He listened to me on the radio and since he was a mailman, he knew the address of my office and he began seeking me out to talk about spiritual questions. He was getting out of drugs thanks to prayer, and he always asked for spiritual guidance.”
After a while, however, the young man stopped coming to visit, and Fr. Ortiz began to worry, until one day he ran across him on the street and found that he had completely recovered.
“Do you know who I have been with, Father? Cardinal Bergoglio!” the young man said. “I went by the chancery and I left a note with my name and number saying I wanted to speak with him, and the next Saturday I was in my room resting and my father knocked on the door.”
“I said, 'Don’t knock, this is my day off and I want to sleep a little bit more!' But my father said, 'No, you can’t right now, the cardinal is on the phone,'” he remembered.
“The cardinal himself had called to tell him when he could meet,” Fr. Ortiz said. “Without any calendar, he answered him immediately! These things are wonderful and one can only ask, 'How did he find the time?'”
Fr. Ortiz said the young mailman eventually overcame his addition through prayer and spiritual direction from priests and in this case from Cardinal Bergoglio, who helped him “continue his struggle against drugs.”
What he most admired about the cardinal was his “closeness to the people. He didn’t have any boundaries. Even as bishop and as cardinal he didn’t have a secretary and he called people himself and met with everyone that he could,” Fr. Ortiz said.
Fr. Ortiz is currently the director of Vatican Radio's Spanish-language broadcast. Since the election of Pope Francis, he has spoken with the pontiff on several occasions.
Newark, N.J., May 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
After violating the terms of an understanding with local prosecutors, a priest who recently resigned from ministry with the Newark archdiocese was arrested May 20.
Father Michael Fugee was accused of sexually abusing a minor in 2001, and in 2007 made an agreement with local prosecutors that allowed him to remain in ministry so long as he was not around children unsupervised and did not engage in youth ministry.
In late April, it emerged that the priest had participated in youth retreats and pilgrimages, though without the knowledge of the Newark chancery.
The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, with whom Fr. Fugee had come to the 2007 agreement, arrested him at Saint Antoninus parish in Newark, where he was living since his resignation from ministry. He was charged with seven count of contempt of a judicial order.
Conviction for the charge can carry a prison term of up to 18 months. Fr. Fugee's bail was set at $25,000.
Fr. Fugee submitted his resignation to Archbishop John J. Myers May 2, who promptly accepted it.
In 2001, Fr. Fugee told police he had twice groped a teenage boy's crotch while they were wrestling in the presence of the boy's family members. One instance took place while he was on vacation with the boy's family in Virginia in 2000, he said, and the other was about a year prior to that.
He was charged with criminal sexual contact and endangering a child's welfare. A jury convicted him of aggravated sexual contact in 2003, but in 2006 an appellate court reversed the conviction, saying the trial court had given inadequate guidance to the jury. During his trial, he had protested that his confession to the police was false and that he had lied.
The priest came to an agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor and the Archdiocese of Newark's vicar general in 2007 requiring him to undergo two years of “sex-offender specific counseling/therapy.”
Fr. Fugee has attended two youth retreats, in 2010 and 2012, and has gone on pilgrimages which included youths.
The retreats were held by St. Mary's in Colts Neck, which is in the Trenton diocese. Fr. Fugee was called to assist at the retreats by the parish's youth ministers, with whom he is good friends.
He has heard the confessions of minors on these retreats, according to The Star-Ledger. The article included Facebook photos of Fr. Fugee with minors taken on the retreats.
Fr. Fugee's agreement with Bergen County prosecutors said he could remain in ministry so long as “he shall not have any unsupervised contact with or any duties that call for the supervision/ministry of any child or children under the age of 18...as long as he is a priest and/or employed/assigned within the Roman Catholic Church.”
“It is agreed and understood that Michael Fugee shall not accept any position...that allows him to have any unsupervised contact with or to supervise or minister to any child/minor under the age of 18 or work in any position in which children are involved,” the agreement adds.
“This includes, but is not limited to, presiding over a parish, involvement with a youth group, religious education/parochial school, CCD, confessions of children, youth choir, youth retreats and day care.”
Vatican City, May 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
While acknowledging that power struggles have existed in the Church since it began, Pope Francis said Jesus’ teaching on power leaves no room for them.
“In the Church the greatest is the one who serves most, the one who is at the service of others,” said Pope Francis on May 21.
“This is the rule, yet from the beginning until now there have been power struggles in the Church, even in our manner of speech,” he said in his homily, which was based on the day’s Gospel reading from Mark 9.
In the reading, Jesus catches the disciples arguing about which of them is the greatest.
“In the Gospel of Jesus, the struggle for power in the Church must not exist because true power, that which the Lord by his example has taught us, is the power of service,” said the Pope.
But the Pope believes the struggle for power in the Church is “nothing new” and that it first appearing when Jesus was forming his disciples.
Pope Francis noted, “when a person is given a job, one that in the eyes of the world is a superior role, they say ‘ah, this woman has been promoted to president of that association, or this man was promoted.’”
“This verb, to promote, yes, it is a nice verb and one we must use in the Church,” he said.
“Yes, he was promoted to the Cross, he was promoted to humiliation,” the Pope remarked.
“True promotion,” he underscored, “is that which makes us seem more like Jesus.”
“If we do not learn this Christian rule, we will never, ever be able to understand Jesus’ true message on power,” said Pope Francis.
“Real power is service as he did, he who came not to be served but to serve, and his service was the service of the Cross,” he said.
The pontiff explained that Jesus “humbled himself unto death, even death on a cross for us, to serve us, to save us and there is no other way in the Church to move forward.”
Pope Francis also drove home his point by recalling that Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of his religious order the Jesuits, asked Jesus for the grace of humiliation.
“This is the true power of the service of the Church, this is the true path of Jesus, true and not worldly advancement,” said the pontiff.
“The path of the Lord is being in his service as he carried out his service, we must follow him, on the path of service, that is the real power in the Church,” he stated.
The congregation included the president and vice-president of the Focolare Movement, Maria Voce and Giancarlo Faletti, as well as the director of the magazine Civiltà Cattolica, Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro.
Staff from Vatican Radio and the Office of the Vatican City State Governatorate also attended.
During the prayers of the faithful, Pope Francis prayed for the victims of the tornado that hit the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on the afternoon of May 20. The twister claimed the lives of at least 91 people, including 20 children.
Oklahoma City, Okla., May 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City traveled to Moore today to give his support and concern to those devastated by the tornado that swept through the town yesterday, May 20.
“I feel, as the archbishop, as a shepherd, I need to be there,” Archbishop Coakley told CNA while on his way to the suburb of Oklahoma City on May 21.
“I'm not sure…there's anything very practical I can do when I arrive, other than to show my pastoral concern and support, and give the assurance of my prayers to those who are indeed suffering.”
He added that “people are in such shock right now, we just want to accompany them in their suffering at this point.”
The tornado, which was two miles wide at its greatest, touched down mid-afternoon yesterday, and lashed the area for 45 minutes with winds of up to 200 mph. It destroyed homes, businesses, the local hospital and other buildings, including Plaza Towers Elementary School.
Officials have reported 24 dead, including nine children. Earlier reports of as many as 91 deaths were attributed to the double-reporting of some corpses.
The archbishop said that he and Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City will be assessing the needs of the situation. “We're organizing to provide immediate relief as well as long-term assistance in terms of people beginning to rebuild their lives, their homes.”
“We want to be available to provide ordinary pastoral care under the extraordinary situations.” He reported that the city's parish was undamaged, “so as soon as they have power and water restored in the parish, they can continue providing pastoral care to those who are in the area.”
He called the situation in Moore “hectic” and “chaotic,” and said that “at this point we're still in the process of assessing needs, is probably the most honest thing I could say.”
The archdiocesan Catholic Charities will focus on long-term response to the tornado, offering case management and counseling, he said.
William Banowsky, the agency's development director, told CNA that they are setting up a plan, coordinating with state, federal and local agencies “to work together on a cohesive plan.”
He said Catholic Charities “works with those affected long-term, so we're there for their immediate needs, finding shelter and clothing and things like that, but we work with them for up to three, four years, however long it takes for them to get back on their feet.”
Archbishop Coakley said, “what I'm suggesting to people who are wanting to do something immediately, is to go to the Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City website (http://catholiccharitiesok.org/), and they can donate online for the tornado disaster relief, and that will go completely to assist the victims.”
“And pray, please…we urge them to pray, to be mindful of the suffering individuals and families, and community of central Oklahoma.”
Archbishop Coakley said he's been “overwhelmed” by the support and prayers of those from across the country and the world, and that Oklahomans are “mindful and very grateful for that.”
Tina Dzurisin, archdiocesan communications director, said that the prayers and warm wishes the community has received from the world-wide Church have been “really encouraging and uplifting, even in a time of tragedy.”
The archbishop also expressed gratitude to the first responders in Moore, many of whom have been there for 24 hours now, “who are really to be admired and appreciated. They are giving their all, and we want to remember them in our prayers, because they're dealing with some very difficult situations on the ground, there's terrible human suffering they're having to deal with, and they're doing it beautifully.”
Carson Krittenbrink, a seminarian of the Oklahoma City archdiocese who has been to Moore to assist those in need, said there are “police, firemen, and ambulance workers everywhere” in the city, and the National Guard is present.
He told CNA that there are injured people all over Moore. At least 200 were injured in the tornado.
Krittenbrink has family in Moore, and their home has “a big hole in the roof” and “it ripped brick off the side of house, broke every window in the house.”
That damage, however, was a “glancing blow” from the tornado. “The houses just across the street are clean to the foundation, nothing left.”
While going with his parents to help their relatives, Krittenbrink said, “we were running over powerlines, we were having to skirt chunks of roof in the road.”
A long-time resident of Oklahoma, Krittenbrink said this is “the worst tornado damage I've ever seen.”
The storm did damage proper to the strongest category of tornado, EF-5, and may be the areas worst tornado seen in some 30 years.
Washington D.C., May 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following a devastating tornado in Oklahoma on May 20, Church leaders and national figures from the offered their prayers and condolences for those affected by the disaster.
“The experience of loss of family members, homes, neighborhoods, and even the local hospital, shows a devastation that impels us to stand with you and all the good people of Moore both in prayer for comfort and in efforts for disaster relief to ease the suffering of those whose lives have been affected by this dreadful disaster,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York said to Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City in a May 21 letter.
“May the words of Jesus, 'Behold I am with you always,' and who calmed the storms, bring hope and comfort at this sensitive moment in the history of your diocese,” said the cardinal, who serves as president of the U.S. bishops' conference.
“May all those affected by such pain feel the strength God offers them and the compassion of all who stand with them, be it in their hometown or miles away.”
On the afternoon of May 20, a EF-5 tornado traveled through central Oklahoma. As of Tuesday afternoon, 24 individuals were confirmed to be dead, including nine children, and over 230 people have reported injuries.
The majority of the damage occurred in Moore, Okla., in the northwest suburbs of Oklahoma City. This is the fifth significant tornado to strike the town since 1998.
President Barack Obama also offered his condolences and prayers, and vowed that the American people would “back up those prayers with deeds for as long as it takes.”
“For all those who’ve been affected, we recognize that you face a long road ahead,” Mr. Obama said. “In some cases, there will be enormous grief that has to be absorbed. But you will not travel that path alone. Your country will travel it with you, fueled by our faith in the almighty and our faith in one another,” the president said.
Obama has also approved a Major Disaster Declaration, authorizing emergency funds for the state, and has sent the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, W. Craig Fugate, to personally supervise the disaster response.
Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R- Ohio) also offered prayers for those affected by the tornado. “Our hearts and our prayers go out to those in Oklahoma who were victimized by this storm, especially our colleague Tom Cole,” said Boehner in a press conference. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) is from Moore, and is currently in his home state.
Boehner also ordered that flags be flown at half- mast “in honor of those who have suffered through terrible storm.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took the floor to express her sympathy and condolences to those in Oklahoma, and offered prayers and words of support as well.
“We’ve seen natural disasters come and go,” she said, adding that in the face of disasters, “it’s very hard to see how people can be made whole, but we are always hopeful that they will be.” She noted that people can “have hope in the charity of others, that we can work together to come through this.”
The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, promised that all donations collected would go towards relief efforts in Oklahoma.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and the damage caused by the tornadoes in Oklahoma,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson in a May 21 statement.
“We will work with our state and local councils to help the people of Oklahoma recover from this disaster, and we ask all members of the Knights of Columbus to keep those affected in their prayers.”