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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Nov-8-2011

By Catholic News Service


Chaplains care for soldiers' religious, morale needs, says chief

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- Soldiers "are making life and death decisions" every day in Iraq and Afghanistan, and military chaplains "are out there in the field with them day in and day out," said the Catholic priest who is the new Army chief of chaplains. "We are taking care of people who are most in need at a time they're far away. We've had some soldiers deployed four and five times," said Father Donald Rutherford, a major general and chief of chaplains since July 22. "They are fighting for our freedom" and freedom "for other people to care for themselves," Father Rutherford said in an interview with Catholic News Service in his office at the Pentagon. The 56-year-old priest of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y., was nominated for the top post and a promotion in rank from brigadier general in February after serving as deputy chief since November 2007. Despite the ongoing debate about the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- and what has been one of the longest uninterrupted periods of combat in the nation's history -- surveys show that people rank the military higher than law or medicine as a profession, he noted. Less than 1 percent of the U.S. population is currently serving in uniform. The country really needs "to support those soldiers that are there" and understand combat is only part of the story. "We always hear about the war aspect, not the humanitarian," he said. "When you go into a village in Afghanistan or Iraq ... you can see the good our soldiers are doing." President Barack Obama announced in October that all U.S. troops will be pulled out of Iraq by the end of the year, bringing that war to end. More than 4,400 U.S. service members have died in the Iraq War; about 1,800 in Afghanistan. Father Rutherford's military career began with Army ROTC at Catholic-run Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y. He graduated in 1977 as a commissioned officer, but he put his military commitment on hold to attend the seminary. He was ordained in 1981 and also went into the Army Reserve.

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Redemptorists urge Hanoi Catholics to remain calm after attacks

HANOI, Vietnam (CNS) -- Redemptorists at a Hanoi parish have urged local Catholics to keep calm after a mob led by government officials attacked a convent and church in early November. The Asian church news agency UCA News reported tens of thousands of people attended 10 special Masses celebrated Nov. 5-6 at Thai Ha Church in the capital. Each Mass was attended by an estimated 3,000-5,000 people. During the Masses, priests told parishioners about the attacks and appealed to them to stay calm. On Nov. 3, around 100 people, accompanied by security officials and members of the press, attacked the convent. They damaged a gate and verbally abused and physically assaulted several Redemptorist priests and laypeople. They fled after the church's bell rang out, bringing many people to the scene, UCA News reported. "We strongly condemn this violent, rude and organized attack," Redemptorist Father Joseph Nguyen Van Phuong, parish pastor, told one congregation. He urged them to "forgive them and avoid retaliation." He said the motive behind the attack probably stems from an ongoing dispute with the government over seized church property. "We are determined to fight for church property in a peaceful way and urge the government to punish the rioters," he added.

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Pope says prostitution, pornography threaten human dignity of women

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI called for an end to prostitution and pornography, saying the practices denigrate women and represent "a serious lack of humanity." The pope made the remarks as he welcomed Reinhard Schweppe as Germany's ambassador to the Holy See Nov. 7. The pope's talk focused on the church's role in defending human dignity. "A relationship that does not take into account the fact that a man and a woman have the same dignity represents a serious lack of humanity," the pope said. With the "materialistic and hedonistic tendencies" that seem to be gaining space in the West, there is a growing form of discrimination against women, the pope said. "The moment has come to energetically halt prostitution as well as the widespread distribution of material with an erotic and pornographic content, including through the Internet in particular," he said.

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Vatican partners with company to discuss stem-cell research

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- New biotechnologies raise questions in the fields of medicine, economics, ethics and philosophy, and the Vatican plans to look at all of them during a three-day conference devoted to adult stem-cell research, officials said. The Pontifical Council for Culture partnered with NeoStem, Inc., a U.S. company researching and marketing adult stem-cell therapies, to sponsor the Nov. 9-11 international conference, "Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture." Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, council president, said that in the modern field of research all sorts of potential interests intertwine, including health care and economic interests. In searching for a partner to promote research and discussion about adult stem cells, the Vatican sought a collaborator whose ethical practices fit in with the Vatican's own views, he said. Father Tomasz Trafny, who works with the cardinal on issues of religion and science, said, "We struggled to find the right partner," and while NeoStem is a business, "it is one that has a very clear ethical statement" that it will not destroy human embryos to obtain stem cells. Stem cells have the potential to develop into many different types of cells and are used primarily to regenerate damaged tissue or systems in the body. NeoStem executives said adult stem cells are being used to treat leukemia and other cancers, heart disease and autoimmune disorders.

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Bishop Blaire calls for good stewardship to protect God's gift of air

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CNS) -- The gift of clean air provided by God to humanity deserves to be protected through strong environmental stewardship by making changes in daily life so that fewer pollutants enter the atmosphere, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice Human Development. Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., urged an audience at the interfaith Festival of Faiths conference Nov. 7 that taking steps to live more simply, use natural resources wisely and reduce personal consumption, air pollution and one's carbon footprint to ensure clean air for all and to ease the effects of climate change on the world's poorest people. Citing the creation story in the Book of Genesis and how God placed humanity in dominion over the earth, Bishop Blaire said human beings have the responsibility to "steward what God has given to us for the good of all the human family." Also referencing calls by Pope Benedict XVI for greater concern for the environment, Bishop Blaire pointed in particular to the dangers of mercury and other toxins entering the atmosphere and posing health risks to children. He linked environmental justice to pro-life concerns, noting that air pollution poses dangers to young children and children in the womb equally. In the Stockton Diocese, Bishop Blaire said, the church's pro-life stance has led to the introduction of the Environmental Justice Project with a particular emphasis on reducing air pollution. "People of faith bring a unique and important message: about the care of God's creation, about those most vulnerable to environmental injustice, those on the margins of our societies and those with fewest resources to protect themselves or advocate on their own behalf," he said.


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