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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Feb-4-2010

By Catholic News Service


Archbishop says humanity must build a future 'free of nuclear threat'

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The path to the elimination of nuclear weapons will be "long and treacherous," but humanity "must walk this path with both care and courage in order to build a future free of the nuclear threat," Baltimore Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien said. Speaking Feb. 3 to 200 international leaders at the Global Zero Summit in Paris, Archbishop O'Brien cited the Second Vatican Council's condemnation of "total war" and the council fathers' skepticism of "deterrence" as a way to lasting peace. "Every nuclear weapons system and every nuclear weapons policy should be judged by the ultimate goal of protecting human life and dignity," Archbishop O'Brien said, "and the related goal of ridding the world of these weapons in mutually verifiable ways." Archbishop O'Brien, who served for a decade as head of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services before being appointed to the Baltimore Archdiocese in 2007, said the goals of just-war teachings are to "reduce recourse to force and to restrain the damage done by war." He noted that just-war teachings assert that the use of force must be discriminate, with civilians and civilian facilities preserved from direct, intentional attack. The use of force must be proportionate, he said, with the overall destruction not outweighing the good to be achieved. It also must have a probability of success, he said.

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Study: Catholics at Catholic colleges less likely to stray from church

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A new study finds Catholic students at Catholic colleges are less likely than Catholics attending public colleges to move away from the church's teachings on a variety of issues. However, on the issue of same-sex marriage in particular, newly released research from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate found that many Catholic students at Catholic and public colleges disagree with church teaching. CARA, which is based at Georgetown University, presented the results of its "Catholicism on Campus" study Jan. 31, during the annual meeting of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, held in Washington. The CARA report relied on national surveys of the attitudes of 14,527 students at 148 U.S. colleges and universities, conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles. The data was collected from students when they were freshmen in 2004 and again when they were juniors in 2007. CARA classified its research into two groups. The first covered beliefs and attitudes about social and political issues, including abortion, same-sex marriage, the death penalty and reducing suffering around the world. The second focused on religious behavior, such as frequency of attendance at religious services, prayer, reading of religious texts and publications.

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Bishops call charges against USCCB official false, ridiculous

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Bishops who work closely with John Carr, who oversees the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, say new claims against him and the agency are false and "totally ridiculous." Bishops William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., and Roger P. Morin of Biloxi, Miss., spoke with Catholic News Service Feb. 3 about recent allegations of "a systemic pattern of cooperation with evil" by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops because of Carr's past involvement with the Center for Community Change. "I'm concerned about these attacks on John Carr and I know they are false and I think they are even calumnious," said Bishop Murphy, who chairs the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, by telephone to CNS. "I am taking this to be a very sad, sad commentary on the honesty of some people in these pressure groups." "Personally I think (the claims) are totally ridiculous," said Bishop Morin, who chairs the USCCB subcommittee that oversees CCHD, the bishops' domestic anti-poverty initiative, in a separate telephone interview. A report released Feb. 1 by the Reform CCHD Now Coalition, a group that includes the American Life League, Human Life International and Bellarmine Veritas Ministry, said the Washington-based Center for Community Change "has lodged itself into the highest places of power in the USCCB while working to promote abortion and homosexuality." Carr, executive director of the USCCB's Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, said he stepped down as chairman of the center's board in February 2005, and the board never addressed those issues during his tenure. "My experience with CCC was that it focused on poverty, housing and immigration and had no involvement in issues involving abortion and homosexuality," Carr said. "When I served, the board never discussed or acted on any position involving these matters, and if they had, I would have vigorously opposed any advocacy for access to abortion or gay marriage."

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Haiti earthquake suffering resonates with twinned U.S. parishes

WASHINGTON (CNS) --- The pain suffered by Haitian Catholics from the Jan. 12 earthquake resonates with the members of hundreds of U.S. churches that have twinning or sister-parish relationships with Haitian parishes. Parishes that have raised money and donated supplies to their sister communities in Haiti are scrambling to raise more cash and figure out what goods are needed most after the quake. They also mourn the loss of life, estimated Feb. 4 by Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive to have reached 200,000. Beaudain Parish in Port-aux-Pais, Haiti, suffered relatively little in the quake, according to Sister Mary Ellen Gondeck, liaison to the Haitian parish for the St. Ignatius of Antioch Catholic Community in Detroit. Because Port-aux-Pais is in the northwest section of Haiti, it did not suffer physically, according to Sister Mary Ellen, a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph. But that does not mean the parish was untouched. "There were members of the parish who were in Port-au-Prince (the capital, 10 miles from the quake's epicenter) at the time of the earthquake and they're missing," Sister Mary Ellen said. "There was also a seminary in Port-au-Prince with 37 seminarians and two of them were from Beaudain, and they were also missing." "Many of us want to jump on a plane and go right now," said Karen Martens, a registered nurse and leader of the Haiti team for St. Stephen Parish in Old Hickory, Tenn., in the Diocese of Nashville. Martens and her team had planned to leave Nashville for Petit-Goave, Haiti, Jan. 16, but decided that it would be better to postpone the trip for a month or two rather than hop on the first rescheduled flight.

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Catholic Charities in Albany launches needle-exchange program

ALBANY, N.Y. (CNS) -- It will take a few courageous people to get the ball rolling on a new needle-exchange program instituted by Catholic Charities of the Albany Diocese, according to the agency's AIDS Services director. Just one intravenous drug user entered the white, unmarked van parked in an Albany neighborhood on a recent Monday. That person received a sterile needle and information about Project Safe Point's available services, which range from needle disposal to addiction recovery aid. Project Safe Point staff members asked about the type of drugs used, the size of the needle used, where the client had been disposing of needles, the level of drug use, whether the client had ever been treated and when the client would return. Establishing trust with enrollees will be about simply being there, said program director Angela Keller. The van will be parked for 15 hours a week in two Albany neighborhoods. Needle-exchange programs have reduced the number of new drug-related AIDS cases by 43 percent, according to New York State Department of Health studies. Catholic Charities AIDS Services in the Albany Diocese studied such programs for five years and consulted law enforcement, public health officials, substance abuse treatment providers and others before launching Project Safe Point.

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English, Welsh bishops: Avoid too much sedation of dying patients

LONDON (CNS) -- The excessive sedation of dying patients should be avoided because it denies them the opportunity of a "good death," said a draft document issued by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales. The document, "A Practical Guide to the Spiritual Care of the Dying Person," said it is wrong to render patients in the last days of their lives either unconscious or semiconscious if it is not necessary for "effective symptom relief." "This could deprive people of the opportunity to make a good death, setting things right as much as they can, making peace and saying their goodbyes," said the 29-page document designed to guide health care professionals and hospital chaplains. "It will rarely be the case that pain cannot be controlled without deep sedation," it said, adding that "there is a compromise between comfort and lucidity, and different people will want to compromise at different levels." The guidance, published Feb. 2, said it is important that the spiritual dimension of every patient is acknowledged in the care they receive. "Whether we are religious or not we can recognize that the human person is more than the sum of their physical parts," it said. "If we fail to see this and honor it then we not only fail to respect a person, we do that person violence."

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Pope Benedict hopes Winter Olympics will produce more than medals

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said he hopes the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, will bring more than gold to everyone involved in the event. Sports can contribute to "peaceful understanding between peoples and to establishing the new civilization of love," the pope said in a message to Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver. "In this light, may sport always be a valued building block of peace and friendship between peoples and nations," he said in the message released Feb. 4 at the Vatican. The pope offered his best wishes to Archbishop Miller, Bishop David Monroe of the neighboring Diocese of Kamloops, which is hosting some of the Olympic events, and to the athletes, organizers and community volunteers involved in the celebration of the games Feb. 12-28. Pope Benedict also expressed his hopes for the success of the Vancouver edition of the ecumenical initiative "More Than Gold," which brings local churches together during major sporting events to mobilize Christians for service and witness.

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Conversion breaks bonds of selfishness, pope says in Lenten message

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Conversion to Christ gives people the strength to break the bonds of selfishness and work for justice in the world, Pope Benedict XVI said in his message for Lent 2010. "The Christian is moved to contribute to creating just societies where all receive what is necessary to live according to the dignity proper to the human person and where justice is enlivened by love," the pope said in the message released Feb. 4 at the Vatican. Latin-rite Catholics begin Lent Feb. 17 while most Eastern-rite Catholics begin the penitential season Feb. 15. The theme of the pope's message was, "The Justice of God Has Been Manifested through Faith in Jesus Christ." The common understanding of "justice," he said, is to give each person his or her due. But because people are created in God's image, they not only need food, water, shelter and jobs; they need God and they need love, he said. The greatest sign of God's love is the gift of salvation in Christ. When people accept that gift, the pope said, they recognize that they are dependent on God.

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Vatican official says religious orders are in modern 'crisis'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A top Vatican official said religious orders today are in a "crisis" caused in part by the adoption of a secularist mentality and the abandonment of traditional practices. Cardinal Franc Rode, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said the problems go deeper than the drastic drop in the numbers of religious men and women. "The crisis experienced by certain religious communities, especially in Western Europe and North America, reflects the more profound crisis of European and American society. All this has dried up the sources that for centuries have nourished consecrated and missionary life in the church," Cardinal Rode said in a talk delivered Feb. 3 in Naples, Italy. "The secularized culture has penetrated into the minds and hearts of some consecrated persons and some communities, where it is seen as an opening to modernity and a way of approaching the contemporary world," he said. Cardinal Rode said the decline in the numbers of men and women religious became precipitous after the Second Vatican Council, which he described as a period "rich in experimentation but poor in robust and convincing mission." Faced with an aging membership and fewer vocations, many religious orders have turned to "foreign vocations" in places like Africa, India and the Philippines, the cardinal said. He said the orders need to remember that quality of vocations is more important than quantity.

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Bishop urges parents to give young people good counsel based on Gospel

SAN JUAN, Texas (CNS) -- Parents, grandparents and other relatives must spend time with young people, "giving them the good counsel that comes from a life of familiarity with the Gospel," the new bishop of Brownsville told the congregation at his Feb. 2 installation Mass. "Parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts, teach the next generation by how they speak and how they act," said Bishop Daniel E. Flores in his homily. "What we seek to hand on is the true meaning of the word love. In the Gospel of Christ, love is a gift and an offering," he said. Bishop Flores was installed as the sixth bishop of Brownsville at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine. He is one of 27 active Hispanic Catholic bishops in the U.S. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston presided over the Mass, and A native of Palacios, in the Victoria Diocese, Bishop Flores was ordained a priest for Corpus Christi. In Brownsville, Bishop Flores will lead a flock of more than 900,000 Catholics, most of whom are Hispanic. The diocese encompasses 69 parishes and 43 mission churches in four south Texas counties. He succeeds Bishop Raymundo J. Pena, who is 75, the age at which canon law requires bishops to turn in their resignations.

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Austrian cardinal offers lessons from ancient times for today's church

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Like the early church, Christians today must be marked by a simultaneous "commitment to the life to come and to the here and now," Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, Austria, told a Washington audience Feb. 3. "The early Christians were conscious that they were a minority and that they had no political means to change the society," the Austrian cardinal said in a lecture at The Catholic University of America. But by living within society and choosing not to do certain things that were common in Roman times -- like abortion or polygamy -- they were able to "show the difference (of their beliefs) and change the society little by little," he added. Cardinal Schonborn's talk on "Christianity -- Alien Presence or Foundation of the West?" was sponsored by Catholic University's three ecclesiastical schools of theology and religious studies, canon law and philosophy. A theologian and catechetical expert who is president of the Austrian bishops' conference, the cardinal said both Europe and the United States have forgotten their Christian roots, with Europe now "the least religious continent in the world." He focused his talk primarily on Europe, noting that members of the European Union voted to keep any mention of God out of the organization's constitution. "Christianity is evidently Europe's roots, but these roots are more and more forgotten and in an alarming way," he said.


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