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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Dec-9-2013

By Catholic News Service


Ethicist sees 'informed consent' at issue in ACLU suit, not directives

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- What's clear in the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit over the U.S. bishops' ethical and religious directives for Catholic health care is the lawyers' "selective reading" of those directives, according to John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. The ACLU and its Michigan affiliate filed suit in U.S. District Court Nov. 29 on behalf of Tamesha Means, claiming she received negligent care at a Michigan Catholic hospital when her pregnancy was in crisis at 18 weeks. The suit claims the directives kept the doctors from giving her adequate care. In a Dec. 4 interview with Catholic News Service, Haas said it was a "frivolous suit" with no basis and will "go absolutely nowhere." He said the real issue is whether the plaintiff was informed properly about her condition, and he said the directives require informed consent, but the suit does not cite that provision. Haas told CNS the ACLU lawyers' claim is "clearly a selective reading of the directives to advance their own cause, which isn't even to obtain redress (for Means)."

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Same call by Francis to help poor seen in St. Ambrose's words, deeds

DAVENPORT, Iowa (CNS) -- More than 16 centuries ago, St. Ambrose of Milan preached about and practiced philanthropy in a way that should seem familiar to admirers of Pope Francis. St. Ambrose believed Christians ought to give from their first fruits to people in desperate need. Whether the recipients were Christian, citizen or foreigner, didn't matter. "Ambrose wants us to give everything we can to help these people, not just a little bit of what we have. ... We have to give as much as we can," said St. Ambrose University senior Tom Prior. He shared this and other observations during his talk Dec. 1 at the St. Ambrose of Milan Colloquium. The event preceded a Mass to celebrate the feast day of St. Ambrose, which is actually Dec. 7, and the first Sunday of Advent. Prior, who also is as editor of the student newspaper, The Buzz, provided students and others in the audience with an insightful look at St. Ambrose's scripturally based principles on sharing wealth -- that of the church and of individuals. "Let the Christian give money as if he were not to receive it again," Prior quoted the saint as saying. "Give without expecting anything in return."

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U.S. Syro-Malabar diocese has Android app developed for its members

CHICAGO (CNS) -- The Chicago-based Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of St. Thomas has unveiled a bilingual app for its members. The Syro-Malabar Church is one of two Eastern Catholic churches that have their origins in India. The new app, for use on Android devices, features text in both English and Malayalam, one of India's official languages. "We couldn't have asked for a more fitting gift" for the Syro-Malabar faithful worldwide, said a Nov. 24 press release announcing the app's debut. The free app is available in the Google Play Store. The content was jointly developed by the Diocese of St. Thomas and Jesus Youth International, which has been working on the app over the past year with data provided by the Syro-Malabar Internet Mission based in India. EthicCoders did the technical work on the app. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington and the Pastoral Orientation Center of the Catholic Bishops' Council of Kerala, India, provided scriptural excerpts.

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Measure on background checks for guns said to balance 'liberty, safety'

SEATTLE (CNS) -- The Catholic bishops of Washington state support a legislative measure to place some limits on gun sales, calling it "a prudent balance between concerns for personal liberty and public safety." Under state and federal laws, gun dealers must have licenses and gun buyers undergo background checks in most cases. The Washington measure, called Initiative 594, would require background checks on the sale or transfer of all firearms and adds background checks for online sales and sales at gun shows. "Tragic mass shootings have become all too prevalent in our day and reflect a devaluing of human life in our nation," the bishops said in a statement released Dec. 2 by the Washington State Catholic Conference. "As people of faith, we, the Catholic bishops of Washington state, are deeply committed to the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of liberty and recognize legitimate recourse to self-defense. However, we cannot ignore the threat to public safety that arises when guns are too easily accessible," they said. Initiative 594 lays out "modest conditions" for the legal purchase of firearms, the bishops said. In addition, they also urged public and elected officials to support "policy initiatives to improve access to mental health care for those who may be prone to violence. Such steps would prove both effective and humane, and would receive broad public support as a means of reducing violent crime."

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Pope asks that no one be indifferent to elderly, children, sick, poor

ROME (CNS) -- Pope Francis prayed that people would never be indifferent to the cries of the poor, the suffering of the sick, the loneliness of the elderly and the fragility of children. "May every human life always be loved and venerated by all of us," he prayed on the feast of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 8. Pope Francis marked the feast day with a traditional afternoon visit to a statue of Mary erected near the Spanish Steps. He traveled between the Vatican and the heart of Rome's tourist and shopping district riding in the passenger front seat of a four-door Ford Focus sedan. The visit was to pay homage to Mary by praying before the statue, which commemorates Pope Pius IX's proclamation in 1854 that Mary, by special divine favor, was without sin from the moment she was conceived. The pope offered a large basket of white roses trimmed with a white- and yellow-striped ribbon decorated with the pope's coat-of-arms. The basket was set among scores of other floral arrangements at the foot of the column topped by the statue. While he did not give a speech or make any formal remarks to the crowds gathered for the event, he spoke from a prepared prayer asking that Mary would renew in everyone the desire to be holy, charitable, pure and chaste and to speak words that "glow with the splendor of truth."

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Pope, with Egyptian Catholic leader, prays for Middle East Christians

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Concelebrating Mass with the leader of Egypt's Coptic Catholics, Pope Francis prayed for the safety and religious liberty of Christians in the Middle East. "Let real guarantees of religious liberty be given to all, together with the rights of Christians to live peacefully in the places where they were born, in the native country they love as citizens of more than 2,000 years, in order that they might contribute as always to the good of all," the pope said Dec. 9 during morning Mass in the Vatican guesthouse, where he lives. Pope Francis concelebrated the Mass with Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak of Alexandria, Egypt, who had come to make his traditional gesture of "ecclesiastical communion" with the Holy See, following his appointment in January by Pope Benedict XVI. The patriarch told Pope Francis that the Coptic Catholic Church, "in this delicate historical moment, needs the support of your paternal embrace," and prayed that the "light of the holy Nativity might be the star that reveals the path of love, of unity, of reconciliation, and of peace, gifts of which my land has such great need."

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Pope advances sainthood causes, including Puerto Rican schools pioneer

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis advanced the sainthood causes of 13 candidates, including the "father of Puerto Rican public education" and the Canadian founder of a religious order dedicated to helping unwed mothers. During a meeting Dec. 9 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, the pope signed decrees recognizing that Rafael Cordero Molino and Mother Rosalie Cadron-Jette lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way and are venerable. Cordero, who was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1790, and died there in 1868, founded and operated a free school for poor children of all races. Mother Cadron-Jette, who was born in Lavaltrie, Quebec, in 1794, and died in Montreal in 1864, was a midwife who founded the Sisters of Misericorde. The pope also recognized eight other people as venerable, including Sister Orsola Mezzini, an Italian who died in 1919 and served as the first superior general of the Sisters of the Little Mission for the Deaf; and Trappist Father Romano Bottegal, an Italian who died as a hermit in Lebanon in 1978.

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Pope calls for action against scandal of hunger in a world of plenty

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People must stand united against the scandal of hunger while avoiding food waste and irresponsible use of the world's resources, Pope Francis said. People should "stop thinking that our daily actions do not have an impact on the lives of those who suffer from hunger firsthand," he said in a video message Dec. 9, launching a global campaign of prayer and action against hunger. Organized by Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based federation of Catholic charities, a global "wave of prayer" was to begin at noon Dec. 10 on the South Pacific island of Samoa and head west across the world's time zones. Pope Francis offered his blessing and support for the "One Human Family, Food For All" campaign in a video message released on the eve of the global launch. With about 1 billion people still suffering from hunger today, "we cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist," he said in the message. There is enough food in the world to feed everyone, he said, but only "if there is the will" to respect the "God-given rights of everyone to have access to adequate food."

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Focolare president requests opening of founder's sainthood cause

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The head of the Focolare movement formally requested the opening of a diocesan inquiry into the life and holiness of the movement's founder, Chiara Lubich. Maria Voce, president of Focolare, presented the request to Bishop Raffaello Martinelli of Frascati, on Dec. 7 -- the anniversary of the movement's founding in 1943. A sainthood process normally can be initiated only five years after the death of the potential candidate. Lubich died in March 14, 2008, at age 88. The Congregation for Saints' Causes would have to authorize the opening of the diocesan inquiry, which would study Lubich's writings and interview people who knew her. The collected information would be the basis for deciding whether Lubich lived the Christian virtues in a heroic way and deserved to be declared venerable. If so, the attribution of a miracle to her intercession would then be required for beatification, and another miracle for canonization.


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