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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Dec-3-2013

By Catholic News Service


Lawsuit says USCCB health care directives led to woman's negligent care

DETROIT (CNS) -- Lawyers for a woman who claims she suffered a miscarriage because of the way a Michigan Catholic hospital handled her case have filed suit on her behalf against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops over its "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care." The lawsuit was filed Nov. 29 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan/Southern Division by the American Civil Liberties Union. All Catholics hospitals in the United States are required to adhere to the directives, most recently revised by the U.S. bishops in 2001. They guide Catholic health care facilities in addressing a wide range of ethical questions, such as abortion, euthanasia, care for the poor, medical research, treatment of rape victims and other issues. According to the suit, plaintiff Tamesha Means was 18 weeks pregnant in December 2010 when her water broke and she had a friend rush her to a Catholic hospital, Mercy Health Muskegon, as it is now called. It says as a mother of three, Means, then 27, knew something was seriously wrong with her pregnancy and the Catholic hospital was the only such facility close to her home. Means claims that she received negligent care from the hospital, ending in her miscarriage, because it was required to follow the USCCB directives and was prevented from telling her "the fetus she was carrying had virtually no chance of surviving" and informing her the safest option was to "induce labor and terminate the pregnancy." A Mercy Health spokeswoman said Dec. 3 hospital officials were "still reviewing the situation and at this time we have no comment." The USCCB had no comment on the lawsuit.

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With 'ministry of presence,' friars offer holiday shoppers hospitality

CINCINNATI (CNS) -- Some retail outlets began playing Christmas music this year the day after Halloween to remind customers that the shopping days before Christmas were dwindling. Time is running out, they say, to get great last-minute deals on this year's Tickle Me Elmo, ZhuZhu Pet or whatever fad gift the kids just have to have. One store, however, is taking a different approach this Advent season. The Franciscan Friars of the St. John the Baptist Province now occupy a store in the same corridor as Macy's at Cincinnati's Northgate Mall -- and they don't want your money. Calling it a "ministry of presence," the friars are available in the evenings on weekdays and all day on weekends to staff what they hope will be a quiet refuge in the Christmas shopping storm. "This was proposed as sort of an experiment in new evangelization" said Toni Cashnelli, communications director for the friars. "It is sort of a way to share the Gospel just by providing a Franciscan presence. It would be warm and welcoming in the marketplace at a time when we know that people's lives are frantic and they're really, really tired from shopping. "Maybe all they want is a place where they can sit and be quiet and maybe even talk to someone," Cashnelli told The Catholic Telegraph, newspaper of the Cincinnati Archdiocese.

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Pope's words and examples draw analysis and plaudits

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick went to Buenos Aires a few years ago to visit his "classmate," Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, from the same group of bishops who became cardinals in 2001, he was first surprised that the archbishop personally met him at the airport. As Cardinal McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, told it at a program at Georgetown University on Pope Francis and the poor Dec. 2, the future Pope Francis picked up his guest's suitcases and brought them out to the car he'd borrowed for the occasion. Their travels through the city brought them in view of many of the prime tourist points of interest in Buenos Aires. "We passed all the great sites, but did I hear about them? No," said Cardinal McCarrick. "The only thing I heard was 'under this bridge is the worst slum in the city. I try to visit often.'" As they passed another neighborhood, the future pope described it as a hotbed of criminal violence and said there'd recently been some murders there. He had tried to intervene in the simmering unrest, Cardinal Bergoglio explained, but to no avail. In opening the panel discussion about the "Challenges of Pope Francis and Catholic Social Thought for American Poverty," Cardinal McCarrick said Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation, "Evangelii Gaudium" ("The Joy of the Gospel"), published Nov. 26, in short, insists that "the Gospel is good news and we ought to act like it is. Pope Francis is not ashamed to say he wants a church of the poor and for the poor."

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Wall Street vs. Main Street: Pope's words on economy stir controversy

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In enunciating the principles of Catholic social teaching, popes have long stressed the church's special concern for the poor and the need for state intervention to promote economic justice. Pope Benedict XVI, for instance, blamed the "logic of profit" for widespread hunger and pollution, called for a "true world political authority" to ensure peace and environmental protection, and -- when still a cardinal serving as a high Vatican official -- wrote that, "in many respects, democratic socialism was and is close to Catholic social doctrine and has in any case made a remarkable contribution to the formation of a social consciousness." Yet the international response to Pope Francis's apostolic exhortation "Evangelii Gaudium" ("The Joy of the Gospel"), published Nov. 26, has seemed to suggest the current pope wrote something shockingly new. The document has excited ardent praise and criticism from Catholics and non-Catholics alike, especially for its words condemning an "economy of exclusion and inequality" based on the "idolatry of money." An editor of Britain's Guardian newspaper praised the pope for giving "form to the emotion and injustice of post-financial-crisis outrage in a way that has been rare since Occupy Wall Street disbanded," while the radio show host Rush Limbaugh denounced what he called "pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope." Much of the particular impact of Pope Francis' words is doubtless due, on this subject as others, to his characteristically blunt and passionate style of expression.

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Pope, cardinals' council begin work on reorganizing Roman Curia

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis and the eight members of his international Council of Cardinals have begun their discussions on specific ways to reorganize the Roman Curia, looking first at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, the Vatican spokesman said. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the spokesman, told reporters Dec. 3, "They have to start somewhere," but declined to provide more information about why the congregation responsible for liturgy was the first to be examined. Spanish media have reported that Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, congregation prefect, will conclude his five-year appointment Dec. 9 and could be named the next archbishop of Madrid. Pope Francis and the Council of Cardinals, named in April, held their first full meeting in October and looked primarily at the role of the Vatican secretary of state -- since Archbishop Pietro Parolin was about to take over from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone -- and revisions to the Synod of Bishops, since the synod office needed to release a preparatory document and questionnaire for the October 2014 gathering. Father Lombardi, who spoke with council members during their morning break on the first day of the Dec. 3-5 meeting, said they emphasized that they were looking "in depth" at the curia and ways of restructuring it, not at "small touch ups."

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Pope Francis will help launch worldwide 'wave of prayer' against hunger

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will help launch a global campaign of prayer and action against world hunger. Organized by Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based federation of Catholic charities, the global "wave of prayer" will begin at noon Dec. 10 on the South Pacific island of Samoa and head west across the world's time zones. Pope Francis will offer his blessing and support for the "One Human Family, Food For All" campaign in a five-minute video message being released on the eve of the global launch. Caritas Internationalis invited its 164 member organizations and local churches to pray for an end to hunger and malnutrition as well as to act on a local, national or global level against food waste and promote food access and security worldwide. Nearly 1 billion people -- or about one in eight people -- experienced chronic hunger or undernourishment during 2010-2012, according to the Caritas website. "One of the worst sounds a parent can hear is their child crying at night tormented by hunger. Many parents living in poverty hear this cry and yet they have no food to give them," Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, president of Caritas Internationalis, said in a video message. Caritas is urging Catholics to take a few moments at noon Dec. 10 to join the world in praying against hunger as well as engage in long-term action through raising awareness, advocacy, charitable work or other efforts supporting food security.

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Syrian bishop says nuns' kidnapping shocks, frightens Christians

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The kidnapping of five Orthodox nuns from a Christian village near Damascus has shocked Syria's Christian community and filled many Christians with fear, said Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, Syria. Speaking to Vatican Radio Dec. 3, Bishop Audo said the latest information is that the superior and four of the nuns belonging to the Orthodox Monastery of Santa Tecla in Maaloula were kidnapped during the night Dec. 1 and taken to Yabrud, a city nearby. "We have no more information," he said. Most media reports on the kidnapping, including by the government's Sana news agency, speculated the kidnapping was the work of the Al Nusra Front, which the U.S. State Department defines as a terrorist organization linked to al-Qaida. Early reports said 12 nuns were kidnapped. Bishop Audo told Vatican Radio, "Maaloula is an important symbol not only for Christians, but also for Muslims in Syria and throughout the Middle East, because it is known that people there still speak the Aramaic dialect, the language of Christ. That is one of the reason people are so struck" by the kidnapping of the sisters and the rebels' capturing the town in early December. As for the motive of the kidnapping, Bishop Audo said, "the first reason is the war."

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Church must proclaim salvation with joy, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Jesus' joy of being united with God and doing God's work on earth is the same joy that the church should have as it awaits Jesus' final coming, Pope Francis said. Celebrating Mass Dec. 3 in the chapel of his residence, Pope Francis spoke about the vision of peace presented in Isaiah 11:1-10 and the joy and peace of Jesus described in Luke 10:21-24. Christians are used to imagining Jesus preaching, healing, walking the roads of the Holy Land or seated with his disciples at the Last Supper, he said in remarks reported by Vatican Radio. "But we aren't so used to thinking of Jesus smiling, joyful." He said "Jesus was full of joy." The day's reading from Luke's Gospel begins: "Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, 'I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.'" The passage, the pope said, "lets us see a bit into Jesus' soul and heart. His is a joyful heart." Just as Jesus gave his life out of love, he gives his joyful heart and soul as well, Pope Francis said. "And this joy is true peace. It's not a static, quiet, tranquil peace. Christian peace is a joyful peace because our Lord is joyful."

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Mary's 'way of loving, believing' an example for all, says actress

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CNS) -- Preparing for the title role in "Mary of Nazareth" helped German actress Alissa Jung to realize that Mary was not only the mother of God but a real person. "Before doing this film, Mary was always the mother of Jesus, but I didn't think of her as an interesting person," Jung said. "I was really taken by her. Her way of loving, giving and believing is a big example, and she's a wonderful person. I think I changed my perspective." The European-made film is shot largely in Tunisia and is being distributed by Ignatius Press in the United States. Jung has been acting in television shows and movies since she was 16 years old and currently resides in Berlin. As an actress, portraying Mary presented a challenge because Jung had to simultaneously convey both the joy of Mary's motherhood and her sorrow in knowing Jesus would die. "That was really interesting to me as an actress, to have the possibility of having this huge conflict -- to believe in something and lose your son for this," she said.


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