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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Apr-17-2009

By Catholic News Service


NIH head foresees ethical concerns about draft stem-cell guidelines

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The acting head of the National Institutes of Health said he expects many of the public comments on the agency's new draft guidelines on embryonic stem-cell research will focus on ethical concerns about the research. "I know many comments will have to do with ethical concerns and we will consider them," said Dr. Raynard S. Kington during an April 17 news briefing by telephone. The NIH guidelines, which Kington said reflect "broad support in the public and in the scientific community," would allow the use of federal funds for embryonic stem-cell research only on embryos created for reproductive purposes at in vitro fertilization clinics and no longer needed for that purpose. Specifically banned by the draft guidelines is funding "for research using embryonic stem cells derived from other sources, including somatic cell nuclear transfer, parthenogenesis and/or IVF embryos created for research purposes." Also prohibited is funding of research in which stem cells "are introduced into nonhuman primate blastocysts" or research "involving the breeding of animals where the introduction of human embryonic stem cells or human-induced pluripotent stem cells may have contributed to the germ line."

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New York bishops reiterate opposition to same-sex marriage legislation

ALBANY, N.Y. (CNS) -- Reaffirming an earlier statement outlining their reasons for opposing any change in the legal definition of marriage, the Catholic bishops of New York state called for the defeat of legislation proposed by New York Gov. David A. Paterson to permit same-sex marriages. "The most elementary study of history, sociology, biology or theology points to the certain truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, which the state should not and must not attempt to alter," the bishops said in a June 2008 statement released April 16 to coincide with Paterson's announcement of the legislation. The conference, public policy arm of the state's eight dioceses, "calls on the Legislature to defeat this proposal, for which there is no compelling state interest and which will weaken rather than strengthen the institution of marriage, which is so important to a stable society," said a message published with the 2008 statement. Calling the proposal "landmark civil rights legislation" that would recognize the "fundamental civil right of marriage," Paterson said at a New York press conference, "Marriage equality is about basic civil rights and personal freedom."

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Archdiocese says judge needs to have say before list released

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has disputed recent media reports that it is "unwilling to publicly disclose the names of priests accused of abuse" over the past 50 years. Attorney Jeffrey Anderson wants to make public a list of priests suspected of sexual abuse that was compiled in 2004. Anderson, a St. Paul lawyer who has specialized in child sex abuse suits against Catholic institutions around the country, is representing a man who alleges he was sexually abused by former Catholic priest Thomas Adamson while Adamson was serving at Risen Savior Parish in Burnsville in the early 1980s. The archdiocese says the list should not be made public until a judge considers the matter. The April 8 statement by the archdiocese said the list the court ordered be released to Anderson last December contained 33 names. It said 23 names of priests charged with abuse have already been made public either because of litigation or disclosure by the archdiocese. The remaining 10 have never been charged criminally or civilly with any crime of abuse. The statement released by communications director Dennis McGrath said the archdiocese had moved for a protective order regarding the names of the 10 priests until the Second Judicial District Court has ruled on the admissibility of the information.

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Parish work on environment follows promises of St. Francis covenant

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Parishioners at Presentation Parish in Stockton, Calif., are working hard to reduce their carbon footprint. From recycling and distributing 2,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs to promoting biking and walking to Mass on Sundays and conserving water as much as possible, the parish's environmental justice ministry has made caring for God's creation a priority in parish life. "(We) encourage people to think about the environmental impacts of the actions they do and pray about it," said Deacon Scott Johnson, a member of the parish. Moving beyond the parish, Deacon Johnson told Catholic News Services that parishioners were influential in helping pass a 2006 bill that mandated statewide reductions in greenhouse gases, which accumulate in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. The parish's three-year effort followed in the footsteps of Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, who convened religious, business, education and environmental leaders in 2005 to discuss the community's responsibility to the environment and to act on climate change. Since then a diocesanwide effort has placed Stockton in the forefront of the faith-based environmental justice movement nationwide.

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Speaker says faith groups have role in effort to conserve water

PATERSON, N.J. (CNS) -- Water is the earth's largest resource. Covering 72 percent of the surface of the globe, it is the world's most critical life-sustaining source. At the Islamic Center of Passaic County in Paterson, Christians and Muslims came together to learn about the sacredness of water and what threatens the world's supply of it. "Environmental groups who specialize in water issues believe the faith community has to be involved" in conservation, said Sister Suzanne Golas, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, who spoke to the group at the center in early April. "No matter the faith or the belief, those who have a deeper sense of the presence of the sacred in creation recognize the responsibility to have a right relationship with earth and the community of life," said Sister Golas, founder of the Waterspirit program at the Stella Maris Retreat Center in Elberon. She discussed how faiths of the world perceive water, the scientific and environmentalist view on today's need to take care of water, and how all in the community can take action to safeguard it. The gathering was coordinated by the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and the women of the Islamic Center.

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More than 2,000 see Archbishop Dolan's installation in New York

NEW YORK (CNS) -- St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York overflowed with people, music, incense and good will for the April 15 installation of Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan as the 10th archbishop of New York. More than 2,000 guests in the cathedral listened to two church choirs and a brass ensemble and watched on television monitors as Archbishop Dolan, waiting outside on 50th Street, waved, pointed, grinned and called out to many of the 1,000 robed clergy and laity who moved into place ahead of him in the 45-minute opening procession. His entrance through the main doors of the cathedral on Fifth Avenue was greeted with echoing applause. The Mass of installation was attended by 12 cardinals and more than 115 archbishops and bishops. Some 800 priests in white chasubles participated from a sea of folding chairs arrayed on three sides of the high altar. The Gospel, read by a deacon, was Luke's description of Jesus meeting the disciples on the road to Emmaus. In his homily, Archbishop Dolan said contemporary Christians should turn to Jesus and "recognize him again in his word, in the 'breaking of the bread' and in his church. Let him 'turn us around' as he did those two disciples, turned them around because, simply put, they were going the wrong way."

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Pastoral leadership project gets $1 million Lilly renewal grant

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Project has received a $1 million renewal grant from the Lilly Endowment for a new set of research initiatives focused on parish leadership. Issues to be addressed in the research include diversity, both multicultural and generational; ministry in linked parishes; and lay ecclesial ministry. Over the past five years the Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Project has conducted a series of research symposiums and surveys on such topics as the best practices of pastoral leaders; pastoring multiple parishes; the next generation of pastoral leaders; human resources; and diversity in Catholic parishes. The project is an initiative of the Washington-based National Association for Lay Ministry with the Conference for Pastoral Planning and Council Development in New York City; the National Association of Church Personnel Administrators, based in Cincinnati; the National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Association, with offices in Washington and the Chicago area; and the National Federation of Priests' Councils, which is in Chicago.

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For pope, St. Francis offers conversion lesson for modern times

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- At first glance, the scholarly Pope Benedict XVI -- sometimes dubbed "the pope of reason" -- might seem an unlikely devotee of St. Francis of Assisi, the mystic friar of simple faith. Yet the German pope has found in St. Francis something that goes beyond the saint's popular image as the patron of peace, the environment and animals. For him, St. Francis offers a model of radical conversion to Christ. An earlier pontiff, Pope Innocent III, approved the founding of St. Francis' religious order 800 years ago, and in mid-April Franciscans from all over the world converged on the Italian hill town of Assisi to celebrate the anniversary. Assisi has gained a reputation as a place for spiritual seekers of every stripe, and its interreligious gatherings in recent years have drawn criticism from some conservative quarters of the church. Pope Benedict, however, has lauded the "spirit of Assisi" and its emphasis on dialogue and interfaith bridge-building. At the same time, he has encouraged Franciscans to highlight the fact that St. Francis' spiritual path began with a life-changing encounter with Christ. Today's pilgrims need to understand that connection, he said.

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Vatican deplores Belgian parliament's criticism of pope on condoms

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican has deplored a Belgian parliamentary resolution that criticized Pope Benedict XVI for his remarks about condoms and AIDS prevention. In an April 17 statement, the Vatican's Secretariat of State said it "deplores the fact that a parliamentary assembly should have thought it appropriate to criticize the Holy Father on the basis of an isolated extract from an interview, separated from its context and used by some groups with a clear intent to intimidate." The statement said it appeared that those groups were hoping "to dissuade the pope from expressing himself on certain themes of obvious moral relevance and from teaching the church's doctrine." The Belgian parliament voted overwhelmingly April 2 to have the government relay to the Vatican the parliamentarians' disapproval of Pope Benedict's statement March 17 that distributing condoms was not the key to preventing AIDS. The Belgian ambassador to the Holy See, Frank E. de Coninck, met April 15 at the Vatican with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states, to formally inform the Vatican of the resolution.

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Canada's First Nations leader hopes meeting with pope is turning point

OTTAWA (CNS) -- When Canada's aboriginal leaders meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican April 29, they hope to turn the page on the tragic legacy of Indian residential schools. "This meeting has the potential to be a historic and momentous occasion for First Nations, (abuse) survivors, Canadian Catholics and indeed all Canadians," said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine at an April 15 news conference. "I am both honored and excited to have this opportunity to meet with the pope to discuss this important matter and to move forward to work toward real reconciliation." "The pope is a bridge-builder," said Archbishop V. James Weisgerber of Winnipeg, Manitoba, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. "For that reason, he has invited us to visit him in Rome, in a gesture of reconciliation and healing." Archbishop Weisgerber and leaders of the religious communities that ran schools also will meet privately with the pope after the regular weekly general audience. The archbishop told the news conference about the "close association" between the Catholic Church and Canada's indigenous peoples that goes back 500 years to the earliest Catholic settlements.

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Priest not surprised by Scottish woman's performance on British TV

LONDON (CNS) -- The audience snickered and the judges of "Britain's Got Talent" either rolled their eyes or allowed their blank expressions to betray their bemused skepticism as the awkward-looking middle-aged woman told them she wanted to be as famous as the popular British actress and singer Elaine Paige. Then Susan Boyle began to sing, and they were spellbound and shocked by the beauty of her voice and rose to their feet in applause. But Father Basil Clark, who watched the show on television at his home in Broxburn, Scotland, was not surprised. He has seen the situation unfold many times before, having regularly accompanied Boyle, 47, on the annual Legion of Mary pilgrimage to the Marian shrine in Knock, Ireland. "When I watched the judges' faces it reminded me of what I was like when I first saw Susan singing -- absolutely blown away by the quality of the singing and by that fantastic voice," said Father Clark, dean of West Lothian, the district that covers Boyle's home village of Blackburn. "Anyone who sees her for the first time behaves the same way. I have never heard her sing badly, though she might lose the words if the stress gets too much," he told Catholic News Service in an April 16 telephone interview.

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Young celebrities continue mission, vision of famed 'rosary priest'

NORTH EASTON, Mass. (CNS) -- It's a page right from Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton's playbook -- or rather his prayer book. Family Theater Productions in Hollywood, Calif., affiliated with Holy Cross Family Ministries in North Easton, recently released a DVD, "Rosary Stars Praying the Gospel." The project aims to spread the Gospel message by making the rosary come alive, particularly for a younger generation of Catholics. It features 21 young athletes, actors, directors, TV hosts, recording stars, authors and lecturers sharing a Scripture reading, their own personal reflection and a decade of the rosary, encompassing the four sets of mysteries of the rosary: joyful, sorrowful, glorious and luminous. It includes a meditation from Father Peyton, known as the "rosary priest." J. Omar Castro, one of the celebrities recruited to help with the DVD, told The Anchor, newspaper of the Diocese of Fall River, that he was "flattered to be asked to take part in this DVD." He has appeared in the television hit shows "Without a Trace" and "CSI," as well as in films with Nicolas Cage and Cuba Gooding Jr. "I saw this as a great opportunity to show others the power and relevance of the rosary as a prayer tool and maybe to demystify what the rosary is," he said.


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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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