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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Apr-18-2005

By Catholic News Service


Next pope will face bioethical challenges unforeseen 27 years ago

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When Pope John Paul II was elected to the papacy in October 1978, the world's first test-tube baby was not yet 3 months old and a young woman named Karen Ann Quinlan remained in a New Jersey nursing home, breathing on her own two years after her parents won a court battle to remove her respirator. It would take three years for the first test-tube baby to be born in the United States and four more after that before Quinlan, fed through a nasal gastric tube, would died of pneumonia. As complicated as those bioethical issues of life and death seemed at the time, Pope John Paul II's successor will face a vastly more complex series of questions and challenges, according to Catholic bioethical experts interviewed by Catholic News Service.

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Cardinal Mahony hospitalized for leg injury incurred on vacation

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles was hospitalized briefly in a Vatican clinic for treatment of a hematoma on his left leg. After attending the April 8 funeral of Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square, the cardinal went to a Vatican medical clinic April 9 for treatment of an injury he incurred while on vacation in northern California, said Tod Tamberg, director of media relations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. When doctors confirmed there were no fractures or blood clots in the leg, the cardinal was advised to stay in the clinic for the next four days to rest and keep the leg elevated, Tamberg said April 15 in a written statement. The hematoma, which is a localized swelling filled with blood resulting from a break in a blood vessel, came after the cardinal slipped and bumped his leg while he was in the United States. The Rome hospitalization caused the cardinal to miss four days of closed-door meetings of the College of Cardinals before the conclave began April 18.

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Bishops urge protections for the poor in trade agreements

TUCSON, Ariz. (CNS) -- The bishops of the neighboring dioceses of Tucson, in Arizona, and Hermosillo, in the Mexican state of Sonora, called for the church and the governments of their two countries to look at trade policies with an eye toward their effects on individual human beings, not just the demands of the market. "The moral test of trade policy is not simply the enrichment of the few but the betterment of many," said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson in an opening session of the April 14-16 church-sponsored Tucson conference, "Crossing the Borders of Trade," on issues for the church in international trade. About 140 people from parish, diocesan and national Catholic organizations from around the country participated in the conference. In outlining moral principles for trade agreements, Bishop Kicanas said trade policy should not seek only to increase the exchange of goods, capital and revenue, "but create decent jobs, wages and working conditions for all. It should not contribute to the migration of human beings because of the absence of opportunity in their homelands."

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Women send up pink smoke to protest male-only conclave to elect pope

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Before the cardinals locked into the Sistine Chapel had a chance to cast their first ballot April 18, a group protesting the lack of women's voices in the conclave gathered outside Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago to send up billows of bright pink smoke along with prayers for women to be heard. The event featured statements from several organizations supporting the ordination of women that called on the church to open its doors fully to women's participation. "At a time when young women are sold into slavery around the world, when war brings the rape of women, when it is women and children who suffer in poverty on earth and organized religions keep women in bondage celebrating the language of a male God, we know we cannot keep the silence demanded by male leadership in a church that claims to speak out for human rights," said Dominican Sister Donna Quinn, a member of the National Coalition of American Nuns.

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Connecticut House approves same-sex civil unions

HARTFORD, Conn. (CNS) -- The Connecticut Catholic Conference has urged Catholics to tell Gov. M. Jodi Rell to veto legislation sanctioning civil unions for same-sex couples. The conference also planned to hold a rally for marriage April 24 at the state Capitol and asked all Catholic parishes in the state to send a delegation. "Now more then ever those that believe in traditional marriage must stand together to protect it," it said. The actions came after the state's House of Representatives passed a bill April 13 that would sanction civil unions for same-sex couples. A week earlier the Senate, by an overwhelming margin, approved a version of the same bill, but the House measure also included an amendment that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. The Senate was expected to easily approve the amended bill, and Rell, a Republican, said she would sign the measure into law after being assured by the state attorney general that the bill would not legalize same-sex marriage.

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Seminarians told good preaching must be their top priority as priests

ST. MEINRAD, Ind. (CNS) -- Redemptorist Father Tom Forrest told an audience of 150 U.S. seminarians gathered in St. Meinrad that as parish priests they must put effective preaching "at the top" of their list of duties. The job of preaching "stands miles ahead of administration, organizing sports teams, or anything else," he said. Father Forrest is international director of Evangelization 2000, the church's worldwide evangelization effort based in Washington. He made the comments in an address at the 2005 National Catholic Seminarian Conference, held April 14-17 at the Benedictines' St. Meinrad Archabbey. "There's no one more interesting, more worth talking about than Jesus Christ," he said. "He was a poor carpenter from a slum town. ... But he changed the direction of the world. How? By being the greatest orator, the most powerful preacher this world has ever heard."

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Colorado church officials hail veto on emergency contraception bill

DENVER (CNS) -- Catholic officials in Colorado praised Gov. Bill Owens' veto of a bill that would have required all Colorado hospitals, including Catholic facilities, to notify rape victims of the availability of an emergency contraception pill to prevent pregnancy. Sergio Gutierrez, spokesman for the Denver Archdiocese, called the governor's April 5 decision "a victory for religious freedom." In his veto letter, Owens, a Catholic, said: "This bill does not give patients all the information that they deserve, nor does it safeguard basic freedom of conscience." In a speech in March, Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput told an audience at the City Club of Denver the problem with the bill was that it mandated "a form of so-called 'emergency contraception' that could amount to early-term abortion and that is always very gravely wrong." The measure would have forced Catholic hospitals to violate Catholic teaching against abortion, he said.
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Black smoke indicates no pope on first ballot of conclave

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Black smoke poured from the Sistine Chapel chimney on the conclave's opening evening, signaling that the cardinals had failed to elect a pope on their first ballot. Thousands of people who had gathered in St. Peter's Square April 18 went away disappointed, but hardly surprised. Few expected a candidate to immediately obtain the two-thirds majority needed for election. A first wisp of light-colored smoke raised expectations in the crowd, but it was soon followed by thick clouds of dark smoke. The 115 cardinals were to return the next day for four more ballots, and continue -- with occasional pauses for reflection -- until they had chosen the 265th pope.

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Last memorial Mass for pope focuses on devotion to Eucharist, penance

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Dressed in the white and gold vestments of the Easter season, the world's cardinals ended the official nine-day mourning period for Pope John Paul II with an April 16 Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. The liturgy was celebrated by 78-year-old Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, who focused on the late pope's devotion to the Eucharist and the importance he gave to sacramental confession. In addition to his practice of hearing confessions on Good Friday in St. Peter's Basilica, the pope regularly went to confession, the cardinal said. "I remember with admiration when, during a work session in his office, after he had a moment of fleeting impatience, he said to us, 'And, just think, I went to confession this morning,'" Cardinal Medina said.

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Sri Lankan, Australian say new pope should decentralize church

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The next pope should concentrate on changing internal structures instead of emphasizing outreach to the world as Pope John Paul II did, said a Sri Lankan theologian and an Australian writer. At a talk organized by the We Are Church movement to raise issues that the group believes the next pope should address, Oblate Father Tissa Balasuriya and Paul Collins, a former priest and author of several books about the papacy, outlined changes they say are needed in the internal workings of the church. "Never before in history has the church been so centralized," Collins said, comparing the church's decision-making structure to that of a multinational corporation, with bishops as line managers. "The new pope has to move decisively away from that model of papacy." Under Pope John Paul, the Vatican tended to micromanage, Collins said. He called for a return to the traditional model in which the pope was, first and foremost, the bishop of Rome, and local churches had more discretion to make decisions in their own countries.

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Vatican posthumously publishes pope's World Mission Sunday message

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In his last message published to the world, Pope John Paul II called on the faithful to be "generous evangelizers" by fighting injustice and poverty while spreading the Gospel. On April 15 the Vatican released the pope's annual World Mission Sunday message, which was written in six languages, including Chinese. The message was signed by the late pope and dated Feb. 22, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter. "In our day human society appears to be shrouded in dark shadows while it is shaken by tragic events and shattered by catastrophic natural disasters," the late pope wrote. He said the eucharistic celebration is "bread from heaven, which gives eternal life and opens the human heart to a great hope." The Vatican said Pope John Paul wished the message to be made public April 15 so that bishops' conferences around the world had time to prepare for World Mission Sunday, which will be celebrated Oct. 23 in most dioceses.

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U.S. Catholics working in Rome share expectations, hopes for conclave

ROME (CNS) -- With the start of the conclave at hand, three U.S. citizens in Rome were looking expectantly toward the church's future, all from different perspectives. A U.S. government official, a religious order's representative to the Vatican and a lay theologian illustrated the diverse reasons the papal election was so crucial to different communities. "Whoever becomes pope, we believe that individual can have an important impact on an array of policies and goals that the United States is pursuing," Brent Hardt, charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican, told Catholic News Service April 15. "The Holy See is a very important and unique partner because of its focus on human dignity, which is also central to our foreign policy," he said.

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Russian Orthodox patriarch hopes next pope will improve ties

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The head of Russia's Orthodox Church said he hopes Catholic-Orthodox ties will improve after the election of a new pope for the Catholic Church. Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow said Pope John Paul II worked hard at improving the relationship between the two churches, but the Catholic Church's policies in Russia hindered unity. "Even when afflicted by a grave illness, John Paul II never stopped caring for believers till his last days of earthly life -- such devotion to his church, strong faith in God and solicitude for his faithful deserve the utmost respect," said Patriarch Alexy. "Yet the problems and conflicts which have hurt and still harm our Christian relations have deeper roots. I believe the Catholic side should show a readiness to take on the difficult job of radically changing its policies in Russia," the patriarch said.

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Portuguese cardinal has two passions: saints and soccer

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While the rest of the world's cardinals were keeping quiet before the April 18 conclave, Portuguese Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins could not help but be drawn into a short conversation with a reporter about one of his passions: soccer. As his name started popping up on lists of possible papal candidates, the stalwart supporter of Rome's Lazio soccer club took questions about his team. While the media reported on his pleasure that Lazio had taken a turn for the better, they did not speculate what it would mean if he were elected pope -- and bishop of Rome -- and cheered unabashedly for Lazio and not Roma in a city of seriously divided soccer loyalties. The only thing the 73-year-old cardinal likes talking about more than soccer is saints. Pope John Paul II appointed him head of the Congregation for Saints' Causes in May 1998. A member of the Claretian order, Cardinal Saraiva Martins has a sister who is a nun and a missionary in Angola.

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Brazil's Cardinal Agnelo has curial, pastoral experience

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With both curial and pastoral experience, Brazilian Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo is seen as a leader who can bridge the universal and local church. Cardinal Agnelo, 71, spent nearly eight years as secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments before his 1999 assignment as head of Brazil's oldest diocese, Sao Salvador da Bahia. A member of the College of Cardinals since 2001, he has popped up on lists of papal contenders given his leadership skills in the world's largest Catholic country. Cardinal Agnelo served as one of two vice presidents of the Latin American bishops' council from 1999-2003 and in 2003 was elected president of the Brazilian bishops' conference, the largest in Latin America, with more than 400 bishops.

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Indonesian cardinal has been proponent of dialogue, tolerance

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Amid political and religious strife in his native Indonesia, Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja of Jakarta has been a voice of moderation, calling for tolerance and dialogue. During civil unrest in 1998, when President Suharto resigned, he issued a joint statement with a Muslim leader, calling on the government and the military to end the violence. He also urged that mosques destroyed in the rioting be rebuilt. When more than a dozen people were killed and almost 100 injured in bomb blasts near churches on Christmas Eve 2000, he called on Catholics not to jump to conclusions. "Do not retaliate. We must respond to this situation in a rational manner. The meaning of Christmas must urge us to reconcile with everyone," the cardinal said in his Christmas Day homily at Jakarta's cathedral.

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Chilean cardinal was force for national reconciliation

SANTIAGO, Chile (CNS) -- Cardinal Francisco Errazuriz Ossa of Santiago has stressed national reconciliation in efforts to address human rights violations. The cardinal, 71, a member of the Schonstatt Fathers, was one of several Latin Americans mentioned as a possible candidate for the papacy. In early 2000, he convinced the nation's bishops to allow Chilean priests to become available to listen to anyone having information regarding the fate of people who disappeared during the 1973-90 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Because of this initiative, many people provided key information that led to the discovery of at least three clandestine cemeteries.

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Canadian cardinal creeps quietly onto lists of 'papabili'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While pundits and cardinals themselves discounted any chance of a U.S. cardinal emerging as the 265th pontiff, a Canadian cardinal crept quietly onto the lists of "papabili." Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet, a polyglot academic who briefly served as secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, started showing up on Italian newspapers' top-12 list three days before the April 18 conclave. The newspaper Il Messaggero first referred to the 60-year-old as "the wild card" in the cardinals' deck, but the day the conclave opened it highlighted the Canadian's language skills, theological background and "fervent" Marian devotion.


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