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NEWS BRIEFS Nov-26-2008

By Catholic News Service


Bishop says Texas Catholic hospitals performed direct sterilizations

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The bishop of Tyler, Texas, has concluded that Catholic hospitals in his diocese have violated ethical directives by performing sterilizations. "As a bishop, I am deeply saddened and upset by this news," said Bishop Alvaro Corrada, in a Nov. 21 statement published in the Catholic East Texas, newspaper of the Diocese of Tyler. "As bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, I have to admit my failure to provide adequate oversight of the Catholic hospitals as regards their protection of the sacred dignity of each human person." Bishop Corrada's statement follows an investigation by his diocese after a national Catholic newspaper reported claims last July that thousands of sterilizations, and possibly some abortions, took place in 23 Texas Catholic hospitals from 2000 to 2003. Initially, officials from Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler and Christus St. Michael's Health System in Texarkana told the diocese they were in compliance with the U.S. Catholic Church's "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services," he said in the statement. "Sadly, subsequent investigation reveals that there had been a serious misinterpretation of the ERDs and that in fact many direct sterilizations had been done and continued to be done at the time of the article," Bishop Corrada said.

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New Orleans religious communities receive grant to restore ministries

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic Charities USA has awarded more than $2 million to congregations of women religious based in the New Orleans area to help them restore ministries to the poor that were destroyed or severely diminished by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The grant was approved by the Disaster Response Office of Catholic Charities USA, which is based in Alexandria, Va., and it will be administered by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in Silver Spring, Md. The money is part of a larger fundraising effort under way for the last two years that is co-sponsored by LCWR and Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, or FADICA, a consortium of private grant-making agencies. The Catholic Charities grant was announced recently in Washington by FADICA. LCWR and FADICA began their New Orleans Recovery Project in 2006 after leaders of the two organizations visited the city to see firsthand how the hurricane damaged convents, schools and ministries to the poor.

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Vatican document on bioethics expected in December

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican plans to issue a new document on bioethics that addresses human cloning, stem-cell research and other issues, informed sources said. The Vatican instruction, prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was scheduled to be published Dec. 12, the sources said. A Vatican press conference is planned for its release. The document was designed to examine ethical issues in biological research and health care that have emerged in recent years. When members of the doctrinal congregation met in a plenary session last January, U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, the congregation prefect, said much of their discussion focused on the field of bioethics. At that time, the cardinal hinted that a document was in the works. He said it might examine new therapeutic options and some ethical problems that were not explicitly considered by two previous church documents: the doctrinal congregation's instruction "Donum Vitae" ("The Gift of Life") in 1987 and Pope John Paul II's encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life") in 1995.

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Iraqi bishop says Christians shocked by their neighbors' violence

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Christians of Iraq were shocked when Muslims started trying to drive the Christians of Mosul out of their homes in early October, an Iraqi bishop told Vatican Radio after meeting Pope Benedict XVI. Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop Shlemon Warduni of Baghdad met the pope Nov. 26 at the end of the pope's weekly general audience. The pope told the bishop, "Iraq is in our hearts. We constantly remember the Christians, praying for them and for peace in the country." Bishop Warduni told Vatican Radio that between 700 and 800 of the 2,500 Christian families who had left Mosul in October had returned after the Iraqi government sent troops to the city to protect Christians. "This whole thing made us very sad because we have lived together in peace for centuries," the bishop said. "During all the wars, our churches and our homes were open to Muslims and to all others." Referring to the violence that claimed the lives of 13 Christians in October and led to the destruction of many homes, the bishop said, "It was a shock that Christians were attacked in such a diabolical way."

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Vatican wins award for creating rooftop solar-power generator

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican won the 2008 Euro Solar Prize for turning the football field-sized roof of its Paul VI audience hall into a giant solar-power generator. A European association promoting renewable energy presented the award to Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the commission governing Vatican territory, during the inauguration of the new roof Nov. 26. Cardinal Lajolo said he would make sure the award, a small silver and glass globe, would go to Pope Benedict XVI, who repeatedly has called on humanity to show greater care for creation. The association's president, Hermann Scheer, said he hoped more governments, businesses and individuals would be inspired by the Vatican's efforts and thereby promote and support renewable energy, too. A German company, SolarWorld, donated and installed 2,400 solar panels on the top of the Vatican's audience hall after Vatican officials had made public their plans to convert the rooftop into a solar-power generator. The gift is estimated to be worth about $1.55 million dollars. Scheer said the only way to inspire more people to tap into solar power was for a well-respected, "worldwide institution, indeed, the Catholic Church with its global importance," to set the stage and show it could be done. He said he hopes the Vatican's new solar-panel roof, which will produce some 300,000 kilowatt-hours of power each year, will help "overcome the mental block many people have toward new sources of energy."

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Hanoi Catholics upset that court scheduled trial on ordination date

HANOI, Vietnam (CNS) -- Hanoi Catholics are upset at government authorities for scheduling the trial of eight lay Catholics involved in local church-government land disputes the same day as the ordination of a new auxiliary bishop. Hanoi's Dong Da District Court "informed us that eight Catholics will go on trial Dec. 5 at the headquarters of the People's Committee ... one kilometer away from our church," Redemptorist Father Pierre Nguyen Van Khai told the Asian church news agency UCA News Nov. 24. Father Khai said the government might want to cause difficulties for the local church, knowing many Catholics want to attend the ordination of Bishop-designate Laurence Chu Van Minh, but authorities also might be afraid many Catholics would attend the trial. He said Redemptorist-run Thai Ha parish is asking lawyers for the accused to work with court officials to reschedule the trial. In August hundreds of Catholics from Thai Ha parish occupied a former plot of church land near their church. They put crosses and Marian statues at the plot, which the government confiscated in the early 1960s. The court will try one woman for causing a social disturbance and three women and four men for damaging public property and causing social disturbances.

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Real faith shows itself as love for others, pope says at audience

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If Christian faith is not translated into love and concrete help for the poor, it is not real faith, Pope Benedict XVI said. "Real faith becomes love and expresses itself in charity. A faith without charity, without this fruit, would not be true faith. It would be a dead faith," the pope said Nov. 26 at his weekly general audience. The gathering was held in the Vatican audience hall on the first day solar panels installed on the roof began generating energy for the Vatican's power grid. The audience began with Pope Benedict entering the hall side by side with Armenian Orthodox Catholicos Aram of Cilicia. The pope told an estimated 9,000 people at the audience that the visit of the Lebanon-based patriarch "is a significant occasion for strengthening the bonds of unity already existing between us as we journey toward that full communion which is both the goal set before all Christ's followers and a gift to be implored daily from the Lord." Catholicos Aram told the pope that all Christian churches must work together to fight "the decay of moral values" and to minister to a world "in dire need of spiritual transformation."

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Vatican official says Galileo was a man of faith

ROME (CNS) -- Fourteen years after Pope John Paul II said the Catholic Church erred when it condemned the 17th-century astronomer Galileo Galilei, the Vatican secretary of state said the astronomer was "a man of faith" who recognized God as creator of the cosmos. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state, spoke briefly Nov. 26 at the opening of a Rome conference titled, "Science 400 years after Galileo Galilei," designed to bring scientists, ethicists and other experts together to discuss the role of ethics in scientific research. The cardinal said recent studies and the Vatican's own review of the Inquisition trial of Galileo "have shed light on the shortcomings of churchmen tied to the mentality of their age," but also gave people a more accurate understanding of Galileo's beliefs. "Galileo, a man of science, also cultivated with love his faith and his deep religious convictions," Cardinal Bertone said, repeating Pope Benedict XVI's statement that "Galileo Galilei was a man of faith who saw nature as a book written by God." In 1992, Pope John Paul said the church had erred in condemning Galileo for asserting that the Earth revolved around the sun.

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Superior general, other Maryknoll council officials take office

MARYKNOLL, N.Y. (CNS) -- Maryknoll Father Edward M. Dougherty of Philadelphia took office Nov. 25 as superior general of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. Father Dougherty, 59, and three other Maryknoll priests form a new general council that will lead the society for the next six years. They were elected during the society's recent 12th general chapter. The other members of the four-man council and their posts are: Father Jose A. Aramburu, 61, of Utuado, Puerto Rico, vicar general; Father Paul R. Masson, 64, of Oil City, Pa., assistant general; and Father Edward J. McGovern, 53, of New York City, assistant general. They will be responsible for leading about 450 priests and brothers serving in 27 countries worldwide. General chapters convene every six years to hold elections and to set goals and policy for the society. In a statement Father Dougherty said: "Our council will focus on the goals set by the recent general chapter that include an emphasis on protecting the integrity of creation, and on strengthening our partnerships with other like-minded groups, while looking forward to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Maryknoll's founding in 2011."


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