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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Jul-6-2009

By Catholic News Service


NIH rejects comments opposing funding of embryonic stem-cell research

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Although 30,000 of the approximately 49,000 comments on the National Institutes of Health's draft guidelines on human embryonic stem-cell research opposed any federal funding of such research, those responses were "deemed not responsive to the question put forth," according to the acting director of NIH. "We did not ask them whether to fund such funding, but how it should be funded," said Dr. Raynard S. Kington in a telephone briefing with the media July 6. But Richard M. Doerflinger, associate director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said it was "disingenuous (for Kington) to say that comments criticizing the guidelines overall were to be ignored." The 30,000 individuals or organizations that made comments in opposition to federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research were saying, "You're not responding to what the American people want. Start over," Doerflinger added. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and its affiliated organization, the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, directed 9,436 comments to NIH about the draft guidelines before the May 26 close of the public comment period, according to Deirdre A. McQuade, assistant director for policy and communications in the pro-life secretariat. NIH's final guidelines, which take effect July 7, are not significantly different from the draft guidelines published April 23 and open for public comment until May 26.

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Creighton to open first Catholic medical school west of Rockies

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., is opening a second medical school campus some 1,300 miles away in Phoenix, establishing the first Catholic medical school west of the Rocky Mountains. The new medical school campus is being established to allow Creighton to recruit more students, expand its educational opportunities and help resolve a nationwide physician shortage, said Jesuit Father John P. Schlegel, Creighton University's president. The Phoenix campus will be formally known as Creighton University School of Medicine at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, a member of Catholic Healthcare West, said Deborah Daley, a spokeswoman for the Jesuit-run university. Since 2005 Creighton and St. Joseph's have had an agreement that sends Creighton medical students to Phoenix for one-month rotations, she said. Founded in 1895 by the Sisters of Mercy, St. Joseph's was the first hospital in the Phoenix area. Under the new affiliation, Creighton will establish a fully operational campus at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center that will offer two years of clinical training, Daley told Catholic News Service.

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Americans believe in lifelong marriage, but don't live it, speaker says

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) -- Although the majority of Americans want to get married and believe marriage should last a lifetime, the American dream often doesn't match the reality, social scientist Barbara Dafoe Whitehead told an audience of family life ministers in St. Paul. "You might say that Americans are enchanted with the idea of marriage and the aspiration to marriage, but disenchanted with being married, particularly to one person for a lifetime," she said. And Catholics are showing tendencies more like the general population than in previous generations, she said in a June 25 keynote address at the annual conference of the National Association of Catholic Family Life Ministers. Titled "Becoming a Marriage-Building Church: Implementing the U.S. Bishops' Pastoral Initiative on Marriage," the conference offered a range of workshops and featured national speakers on marriage-related issues. It was held June 25-28 at the University of St. Thomas. The U.S. bishops have named marriage a top priority and in 2004 launched the multiyear National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage. They also plan to release a pastoral letter on marriage.

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Poll said to reinforce need to better market Catholic college mission

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Though a national survey released in June found that non-Catholic students with no prior Catholic school experience were the least likely to be interested in attending a Catholic college or university, U.S. Catholic college leaders said they have no trouble attracting non-Catholics. Those leaders, interviewed by Catholic News Service, also said the poll reinforces that they must communicate their schools' unique mission, identity and strengths effectively, clearly and with conviction. The survey concerning the perceptions of Catholic colleges and universities also suggested that potential applicants who were not interested in attending a Catholic institution of higher education believed that non-Catholic schools had stronger academic programs. "This study usefully demonstrates why Catholic institutions need to take control of their own story if they wish to attract larger numbers of non-Catholic students," said Peter Stokes, chief research officer at Boston-based Eduventures, Inc., which conducted the poll of more than 4,300 prospective college students late in 2008. "Many of the misperceptions of Catholic institutions result from a lack of awareness among prospective students about the real experiences of a Catholic education.

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Diocese hails decision to end state probe of church lobbying efforts

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Bridgeport praised the July 1 decision by state ethics officials to stop investigating whether the diocese violated state lobbying laws with its efforts to rally Catholics against legislation that would have given laypeople financial control of their parishes. "This is welcome news, not only for the diocese but for all citizens who cherish the fundamental rights guaranteed by the First Amendment," said Joseph McAleer, diocesan spokesman, in a July 1 statement. The diocese also has since withdrawn a lawsuit seeking a court order to stop the investigation. The decision by the Office of State Ethics came a day after Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal had urged the action. Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport had called the attorney general's opinion "a truly significant announcement that stands not just with our state's Catholics but with all citizens of the state whose fundamental civil liberties were placed in jeopardy" by application of the lobbying laws in this case.

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Vatican used nighttime mission to gather relics from St. Paul's tomb

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Vatican technicians entered the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in the dead of night, drilled a small hole in the tomb under the main altar and extracted fragments of what was inside. The results were a closely held secret for more than two years until Pope Benedict XVI announced June 28 that carbon-14 tests demonstrate that bone fragments from the tomb could be the remains of the Apostle Paul. Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, who served as archpriest of the basilica, told a press conference July 3 that the tests "evidently agree with the tradition that the tomb is of St. Paul." But Ulderico Santamaria, director of the diagnostic laboratory for conservation and restoration at the Vatican Museums, was a bit more cautious, saying the bones could be those of the saint "because the analyses do not contradict it. ... but as a person of science, I stop at the objective data, which only give indications."

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Pope urges G-8 leaders to listen to poor, continue development aid

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI asked leaders of the world's wealthiest countries to "listen to the voice of Africa" and poor countries during their summit in Italy. The global economic crisis threatens not only to derail efforts to end extreme poverty in the world, but also could plunge other countries into ruin as well, the pope said in a July 4 letter to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, host of the Group of Eight summit. The only way to find solutions that will match the global dimensions of the crisis and have long-term positive effects for all peoples is to "listen to the voice of Africa and the countries least-developed economically," the pope said in his letter. The G-8 summit July 8-10 in L'Aquila, Italy, was to bring together the heads of governments of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Pope urges world to continue aid for Haiti after disasters

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI urged the international community to continue to help Haiti recover from recent natural disasters by offering concrete aid and support. Hurricanes swept through Haiti last year, killing hundreds of people, devastating agricultural production, crippling the nation's infrastructure and displacing about 9 percent of the population. The pope said he hoped the solidarity that has been shown by the international community would continue. "It is necessary that, in this particularly delicate period in the life of the nation, the international community offers concrete gestures of support to people in need," he said in a July 6 audience with Haiti's new ambassador to the Vatican, Carl-Henry Guiteau, who presented his credentials. Haiti's vulnerability to natural disasters has led to more awareness about the need to safeguard creation, the pope added.

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Pope to visit Infant of Prague, honor St. Wenceslas during Czech trip

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- On his first trip to the Czech Republic, Pope Benedict XVI will visit the Infant of Prague and celebrate the feast of St. Wenceslas in the town where the 10th-century prince was murdered. The Sept. 26-28 trip will take the pope to the Czech capital, Prague, where he will meet President Vaclav Klaus and other government leaders, celebrate vespers with religious and lay groups, and hold separate meetings with the country's bishops, ecumenical representatives and scholars. He will celebrate Masses in Brno, the republic's second-largest city, and in Stara Boleslav, where St. Wenceslas was killed in 935 by his brother. During the saint's feast day events Sept. 28, the pope will have a special message for young people. The pope will celebrate vespers with priests, religious and lay Catholics in Prague's historic cathedral of St. Vitus, which, despite a long legal battle by the church, the country's courts determined belongs to the state.

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Art in private chapel is a meditation on following Christ, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The private Pauline Chapel in the Apostolic Palace is a place for the pope and his closest aides to contemplate their call to follow the crucified and risen Christ and to lead believers in hope, Pope Benedict XVI said. The pope inaugurated the newly restored chapel -- decorated with Michelangelo's murals of the conversion of St. Paul and the crucifixion of St. Peter -- during an evening prayer service July 4. The prayer service was attended by members of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums from the United States, England and Ireland. They donated the $4.6 million needed to restore the private papal chapel. "Solemn celebrations with the people are not celebrated here. This is where the successor of Peter and his collaborators meditate in silence and adore the living Christ, present especially in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist," the pope said in his homily.

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Pope deplores bomb blast near Philippine church, violence in world

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI deplored a bomb blast that killed five and injured dozens near a cathedral in the southern Philippines. He called the July 5 attack "an ignoble gesture" and condemned "the recourse to violence which is never an appropriate way to solve existing problems." At the end of his July 5 Angelus address to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, the pope condemned the Philippine attack and continued violence in the world. "Human blood continues to flow as a result of violence, injustice and hatred," he said. "When will people learn that life is sacred and belongs to God alone? When will people understand that we are all brothers and sisters?" The Philippine bomb went off at about 8:30 a.m. July 5 inside a vendor stall, sending shrapnel toward the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Cotabato City and injuring at least 43 people, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

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Council of cardinals blames Vatican budget deficit on economic crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The global economic crisis, along with some extraordinary maintenance work, had a big impact on the budget of Vatican City State, which usually ends the year with several millions of dollars in surplus. The budget, which includes the Vatican Museums and the care of Vatican buildings, ended 2008 with a deficit of more than $21 million, the Vatican reported July 4. The separate budget of the Holy See, which includes the offices of the Roman Curia, finished 2008 in better shape than a year earlier, but still registered a deficit of more than $1.26 million. The figures were released after the early July meeting of a council of cardinals charged with reviewing the Vatican budgets. According to a press statement from the council, the figures were drawn up using "provisions adopted as an exceptional measure by international accounting organizations" to ensure a realistic evaluation despite the huge fluctuations in currency and stock values caused by the current economic crisis.

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US deacon's healing clears way for Cardinal Newman's beatification

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI signed the decree recognizing as miraculous the healing of a U.S. deacon, which clears the way for the beatification of British Cardinal John Henry Newman. While the Vatican announced July 3 that the decree had been signed, it did not provide information about when Cardinal Newman would be beatified or where the ceremony would be held. The decree recognized as a miracle the healing in 2001 of Deacon John Sullivan of Marshfield, Mass. , who had a debilitating back injury. Deacon Sullivan had prayed for the intercession of Cardinal Newman, who founded the Oxford movement within the Church of England before becoming a Roman Catholic in 1845. He is the founder of the Oratories of St. Philip Neri. A press statement from the England's Birmingham Oratory, founded by the cardinal, quoted Deacon Sullivan as saying, "Upon hearing of the recent developments in Rome regarding Cardinal Newman's cause for beatification, I was left with an intense sense of gratitude and thanksgiving."

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Honduran cardinal urged ousted president not to return

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (CNS) -- Disregarding the counsel of the country's top Catholic leader, deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya tried to return home, but was prevented from landing by soldiers who blocked the runway at Tegucigalpa's airport. A day earlier, in a July 4 nationwide address that the government ordered all television and radio stations to broadcast, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa had urged Zelaya not to return to Honduras. "We think that a return to the country at this time could unleash a bloodbath in the country," Cardinal Rodriguez said. "To this day, no Honduran has died. Please think, because afterward it will be too late." Honduras' new government has charged Zelaya with 18 criminal acts, including treason and failing to implement more than 80 laws approved by Congress since he took office in 2006. Zelaya was ousted in the early hours of June 28 when Honduran soldiers -- acting on orders of the National Congress -- shot up his house and took the pajama-clad president to the airport, where he was flown on a military plane to Costa Rica.

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Late actor Karl Malden remembered for famous portrayal of priest

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Oscar-winning actor Karl Malden, who famously portrayed Father Pete Barry, a mob-combating Catholic priest in 1954's "On the Waterfront," died July 1 in Los Angeles of natural causes. He was 97. A Catholic, Malden portrayed a priest four times on television and in film, including a 2000 appearance on NBC's "The West Wing," the final role of his career. For the part, Malden used the same stole and breviary he had used nearly 50 years earlier to play Father Barry. Malden's portrayal of Father Barry was largely based on the true story of Father John Corridan, a Jesuit priest who fought corruption in New York City longshoremen labor unions during the post-World War II era. Malden's performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor.

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Education program in El Salvador began with founder's college trip

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When Victoria Cavanaugh first went to El Salvador as a junior at Boston College, she had no idea that her semester abroad would turn into project to support young university students. Today, at 23, Cavanaugh helps run Nuestro Ahora, a nonprofit organization she founded in 2007 that provides scholarships, housing and college preparation classes to high school and university students in El Salvador. The program has its roots in a 2005 service-learning program when Cavanaugh arrived in the Central American country and saw how extreme poverty and neighborhood violence force many parents to put their children in orphanages, where three meals a day and safety are usually assured. After graduating from college Cavanaugh moved to El Salvador and built an education program she would call Nuestro Ahora (Our Time). The program supports both university and high school students. "(The program is) about the students doing something meaningful, taking control of their lives, helping those around them now. It's about them taking ownership, not about being victims of a developing country," she explained.

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Retreat, Mass in sign language reach out to deaf Catholics

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CNS) -- Father Michael Depcik, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, knows full well the challenges of catechizing and tending to the spiritual needs of deaf Catholics. He is one of only six "culturally deaf" priests in the United States. Culturally deaf people are those who are born deaf or who become deaf early in life. They rely primarily on sign language to communicate. In late June Father Depcik visited the Diocese of Harrisburg to lead a prayer day for deaf Catholics and celebrate Mass in American Sign Language at St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg. "Deaf people grow up not really understanding their faith, not really understanding their relationship with God," said Father Depcik said. Father Depcik, 39, who ministers to deaf Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago and is a member of the National Catholic Office for the Deaf and the International Catholic Deaf Association. Since being ordained in 2000, Father Depcik was concerned not about the challenges of being a deaf priest, but about the attitudinal barriers that people often place on those who are deaf.


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