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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Apr-12-2007

By Catholic News Service

U.S.

Bishops' official laments Senate move to fund human embryo research

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- An official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops criticized the U.S. Senate's "fixation on destructive research" after the Senate passed a bill that would provide federal funding for stem-cell research involving the destruction of human embryos. "Many members of Congress remain dazzled by irresponsibly hyped promises of 'miracle cures' from the destruction of human embryos, although experts in the field increasingly admit that treatments from this avenue may be decades away," said Richard M. Doerflinger, deputy director of the USCCB's Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. Doerflinger made his comments late April 11 following an evening vote in which the Senate approved S. 5, a bill permitting destruction of human embryos in federally funded stem-cell research, by a 63-34 margin. Should S. 5 become law, "millions of taxpayers would be forced to promote attacks on innocent human life in the name of scientific progress," he said. Since President George W. Bush has promised to veto the legislation, however, and its backers do not have enough votes for an override in the House or the Senate, "we expect that this terrible burden will not be placed on the American people now," Doerflinger said. On Jan. 11 the House passed a similar measure, H.R. 3, by a vote of 253-174. The House vote was 32 votes short of a two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.

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Teachers, coaches urged to help young athletes learn right from wrong

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Catholic teachers and coaches have an important role to play in teaching student athletes about moral and ethical lines that must not be crossed, an official of Major League Baseball told participants in the National Catholic Educational Association convention April 12 in Baltimore. "Catholic schools are not afraid to ask a lot of their students," said Joe Garagiola Jr., senior vice president of baseball operations for Major League Baseball. "But when you ask a lot you can get extraordinary results." Garagiola, son of the famous catcher and baseball commentator, admitted that there are pressures on coaches, teachers, parents and the athletes themselves at every level of play -- to win, to keep student athletes eligible to play, to get more playing time for their child and to succeed at any cost. But he suggested that other sports could benefit from a system similar to the minor leagues in baseball, which he called "a pretty humbling experience, where you're not in the nicest hotels and there are lots of 4 a.m. wake-up calls." "Many of the problems in the other sports stem from the sense of entitlement that their athletes bring to the sport," he said. But Garagiola said coaches and teachers must help athletes learn early in their careers that they may have "a special talent or a special gift ... but that does not make them a special person."

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For Africa's future, educate women, Vatican's U.N. nuncio says

UNITED NATIONS (CNS) -- The best and cheapest way to prepare Africa for a better future is to educate all its youths, especially girls and young women, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Vatican nuncio to the United Nations, said April 10. Addressing the 40th session of the U.N. Commission on Population and Development, the archbishop said that according to projections, by 2050 a large portion of Europe's population will be dependent elderly but "Africa is set to have the lowest dependency ratio in the world." "This projection should hand that continent an unprecedented advantage in economic terms, as a young and numerous workforce should be available to it until at least 2050, while the demographic dividend in most other regions will have run out," he said. He said it is important "to assure that Africa will not miss this window of opportunity for economic development," and in the view of the Vatican's U.N. delegation, "the most decisive investment to be made here is in education." Since many of the people who will make up Africa's workforce in the coming decades "are already born and are already of school age," Archbishop Migliore urged immediate efforts to achieve primary education for all African children by the year 2015. He said that according to an estimate by the U.N. Secretariat, meeting that goal "would cost $9 billion estimated in 1998 dollar value." "By any estimate, this can hardly be considered a high price to pay for such a prize," he said.

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WORLD

Pontifical university in Peru caught in dispute over its control

LIMA, Peru (CNS) -- The Pontifical Catholic University of Peru has been caught up in a legal dispute over who controls it. The university, widely accepted as the leading academic institution in Lima, has built a reputation of liberalism and activism for human rights. It is built on property bequeathed by Jose de la Riva Aguero, a historian and intellectual who died in 1944. The head of the Lima Archdiocese, currently Cardinal Juan Cipriani Thorne, has the honorary title of university chancellor, and the Peruvian bishops' conference designates five members of the university's governing assembly. However, Riva left several different wills with different instructions about how his legacy was to be controlled. The current dispute was triggered by the university's sale of land in February to a Catholic high school that had rented the sold plot for about 20 years. Walter Munoz Cho, administrative board representative from the Archdiocese of Lima, sent letters to the university rector objecting to the sale and demanding the right to audit the university's finances. University officials saw Munoz's demands as an effort to control the university, and they went to court to block his efforts.

- - -

French cardinal urges Catholics to follow Christianity in election

LYON, France (CNS) -- A French cardinal has urged Catholics to follow Christian principles in the April 22 presidential election. "I'd like Christians to be Christians and speak out more," said Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon. He said that meant "defending what, in the view of Christians, is right for everyone." Twelve candidates are vying to succeed French President Jacques Chirac. In an April 9 TV interview, Cardinal Barbarin said he saw the emergence of a "new, exceptionally dynamic generation" of French Catholics whose faith had developed outside "previous frameworks and structures." "The terms right and left don't fit Christians, whose actions should be guided by the love Christ shows for people and for life," Cardinal Barbarin said. "We should remember democracy is only a means of action. It's the best we have, but it isn't God and it can sometimes lose its head," he added. In a statement in his diocese's Eglise de Lyon magazine, Cardinal Barbarin said Christian politicians were "called to show a coherence between their faith and engagement, the Gospel spirit and service to the current society," adding that Catholics should oppose "a capitalism which becomes purely financial." Although a record 44.5 million French citizens registered to vote, 42 percent said in an April 8 poll that they were still undecided.

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Russian Orthodox leader says U.S. follows Western ideology on rights

MOSCOW (CNS) -- A Russian Orthodox leader said U.S. government attitudes toward religious freedom follow a Western "ideology of human rights." "U.S. experts are superficial and biased when judging the Orthodox Church's approach to understanding human rights and the problems of church-state relations," said Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations. "As a political mechanism, democracy makes it possible for various value systems to coexist. It isn't identical to the ideology developed in the West, without other civilizations and cultures being taken into account," he said. The Orthodox official told the state-owned Rossijskaya Gazeta weekly April 6 that he had sent a late-March letter to the U.S. ambassador to Russia in response to claims in a U.S. State Department report that religious minorities face discrimination in Russia. Metropolitan Kirill said he had informed William Burns, the U.S. ambassador, that the Orthodox Church was concerned about a "radical-liberal interpretation of human rights" and would condemn human rights notions that "humiliate human dignity and undermine conventional ethical principles." "Support for same-sex marriages, drug addiction, prostitution and death by lethal injection in the West shouldn't be made the criterion of democracy in society," Metropolitan Kirill added. "Nor should they make everyone think they're useful, right and ethically acceptable."

- - -

PEOPLE

Bishop says World Youth Day will be 'an enormous grace' for Australia

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, Australia, said he feels hosting World Youth Day 2008 will be "an enormous grace" for his country and added that the event is the biggest "single thing you can do to encourage our youth." The bishop, who is chief organizer of the July 15-20 international event, made the comments April 10 to a group of about 50 people at the National Catholic Educational Association convention at the Baltimore Convention Center. At the final Mass at World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, Germany, Pope Benedict XVI announced to the crowd that the 2008 gathering would take place in Sydney. Since then the country has been planning for the big event. Bishop Fisher said he has "really been praying about" the theme: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses." "Jesus calls us to go to the ends of the earth as witnesses of our faith and many young people think Australia is like the end of the earth," said Bishop Fisher jokingly. He said the goals of World Youth Day 2008 will be to enable youths to be witnesses of God, experience the power of the Holy Spirit, and have a moving and sanctifying pilgrimage in faith.

- - -

NCEA honors president of Minneapolis Catholic high school

MINNEAPOLIS (CNS) -- Brother Michael Collins, president of DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, received the National Catholic Educational Association's 2007 Catherine T. McNamee, CSJ, Award for his leadership in promoting diversity in Catholic education. The award was presented April 11 during the NCEA convention in Baltimore. DeLaSalle is the most culturally diverse private high school in Minnesota, according to Brother Michael, who is a Brother of the Christian Schools. More than 35 percent of the student body is made up of students of color; 25 percent of the students come from faith traditions other than Catholic; and more than 50 percent receive financial aid. Brother Michael, a 1955 alumnus of DeLaSalle, has been president of the school for 16 years. The award is named for Sister McNamee, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, who was NCEA president from 1986 to 1996. She also was president of the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul. Diversity is "a natural connection" for DeLaSalle because it is a city school and the city itself is diverse, Brother Michael told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese. But "the real challenge is what happens when students get there," he said, adding that diversity needs to be coupled with recruitment and retention.

- - -

Cardinal among honorees of Arab American Institute Foundation

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, will be honored April 25 by the Arab American Institute Foundation at its ninth annual Kahlil Gibran "Spirit of Humanity" Awards gala in Washington. Other honorees will be Search for Common Ground, a Washington-based organization that conducts conflict resolution programs in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the United States, and Global Impact, a not-for-profit organization based in Alexandria, Va., dedicated to helping the world's poor through disaster relief, education, health training and economic programs. According to a foundation news release, the cardinal and the two agencies are being recognized "for their efforts to promote understanding and co-existence and to raise awareness about regions plagued by war and poverty." Cardinal McCarrick is being honored for individual achievement, Search for Common Ground for institutional achievement, and Global Impact for international achievement, said the institute's Web site. The foundation was launched in 1999 by the Arab American Institute, a Washington-based organization that promotes the policy and community interests of Arab-Americans. The Gibran awards are named for the Lebanese-born poet and author of the inspirational book "The Prophet."

END


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