Philippine bishops call for post-election political killings to stop
Jun 01 2007
MANILA, Philippines – As votes for the May 14 midterm election are tabulated, Philippine bishops have called for the political killings to stop.
Archbishop Paciano Aniceto of San Fernando said May 30 the election,
“perceived as generally peaceful, orderly and credible,” was “shattered by the recent spate of violence and political killings.” UCA News, an Asian church news agency, obtained the appeal called, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper.”
Bishop Wenski testifies on immigration reform
May 25 2007
WASHINGTON – The problem that must be solved by immigration reform “is not the immigrants” but “the broken system,” the former chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Migration told a House subcommittee.
In testimony May 22 before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law, Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Fla., urged lawmakers to produce legislation that would reform the current immigration system and respect the dignity and rights of immigrants and migrant workers.
He spoke on behalf of the U.S. bishops about comprehensive immigration reform, joining representatives of other religious denominations in giving testimony to the subcommittee.
‘Great continental mission’ still elusive for bishops
May 24 2007
APARECIDA, Brazil – More than halfway through a major meeting in which bishops from Latin America and the Caribbean are hammering out pastoral priorities, the “great continental mission” that several bishops predicted would emerge has not been a priority.
“We haven’t discussed it, so we don’t know what it will be like or if it will be done. We haven’t addressed it yet,” said Archbishop Joao Braz de Aviz of Brasilia, Brazil.
Instead, as the bishops met in small groups or subcommissions on different topics May 22 and 23, several issues discussed since the meeting began May 13 were missing from the outline on which their discussions were based.
The outline, which will also serve as a framework for a document that will guide pastoral work in the region for the next 10 to 15 years, contains 16 topics grouped under seven major themes.
Marquette University receives $51 million
May 23 2007
MILWAUKEE – Marquette University is receiving $51 million from an alumni couple to help build a new law school facility.
A university news release described it as “the largest gift ever made by individuals to a Wisconsin college or university” as well as one of the largest gifts ever given to any U.S. law school.
Raymond A. and Kathryn A. Eckstein of Cassville, Wis., and Boca Raton, Fla., said they made the gift as an “expression of gratitude” to the university.
Raymond Eckstein, a retired transportation entrepreneur, is a 1949 graduate of the law school. His wife received her bachelor’s degree in speech from Marquette that year.
Surgeon tells of crucial miracle for Malta’s first saint
May 22 2007
LONDON – A surgeon who testified about the miraculous healing of a baby at a British hospital said he remains mystified by the child’s recovery, the miracle that cleared the way for the canonization of Malta’s first saint.
Dr. Anil Dhawan, professor of pediatric hepatology at King’s College Hospital, London, told Catholic News Service May 22 there was “no scientific explanation” for the full recovery of the Maltese boy who had undergone “devastating” liver failure.
The Catholic Church has concluded that the baby was cured through the intercession of Father George Preca, a 20th-century priest who will be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI June 3. Dhawan, 45, gave evidence to a church tribunal set up in Malta to decide if the healing was a sign from God that Blessed Preca is a saint.
“The child was diagnosed with fulminant liver failure,” he said. “There was a 90 percent-plus chance that he wasn’t going to survive without a liver transplant. But he survived. Furthermore, he improved on his own.
Congressman calls abortion stand ‘outrageous’
May 21 2007
WASHINGTON – Rep. Chris Smith has called Amnesty International’s new position on abortion “outrageous” and said it creates a “major credibility gap” for the widely respected human rights organization.
In a telephone interview with Catholic News Service May 18, the New Jersey Republican said Amnesty’s new position makes it “just another pro-abortion organization.”
Amnesty’s claim that it takes no position on whether abortion should be legalized, when it calls for complete decriminalization of abortion, is “totally contradictory.”
“When you decriminalize, you legalize. ... If there is no sanction, there is no law,” said the Catholic congressman, one of the leading foes of abortion in Congress and also one of Congress’ leading human rights advocates.
Argentine church workers await guidance on indigenous
May 20 2007
El BANANAL, Argentina – Church workers ministering to Argentine indigenous communities have been watching the Latin American and Caribbean bishops’ meeting in Brazil with bated breath, wondering whether Latin American bishops will change their methods in evangelizing the Gospel to native peoples.
“We are waiting and watching with anxiety, given that before Benedict was pope he fought against indigenous theology and liberation theology,” said German Bournissen, coordinator of the Argentine bishops’ National Team for Aboriginal Ministries, know by its Spanish acronym ENDEPA.
“There are lots of rumors that the pope wants to close the space that’s been opened up in the dialogue about indigenous ministry and theology,” Bournissen told Catholic News Service. “But some of our bishops are very clear about this, and there will be a struggle.
Rev. Falwell’s Moral Majority changed politics and religion
May 20 2007
WASHINGTON – For many activists in the 1980s-era Moral Majority, there’s no doubt that the religiously based, politically conservative organization changed politics and religion for the better.
The election of President Ronald Reagan and a cadre of socially conservative members of Congress in the 1980s changed the direction of politics – particularly by rebuilding the Republican Party – and gave evangelical Christians a voice in elections and in public policy that continues to be strong. It also brought together evangelicals and Catholics in an alliance that raised the pro-life voting public to a position of prominence and power that it had not enjoyed as a primarily Catholic movement.
Latin American bishops stress need to adjust pastoral work
May 19 2007
APARECIDA, Brazil – The changes which have occurred in Latin America in recent years are so profound that they require fundamental changes in the way the church approaches pastoral work, said a cardinal from Honduras.
“We need a pastoral conversion,” Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa said. “If these are difficult times, new disciples are needed – disciples who are able to respond to the difficulty, to resist the cultural storms that we are experiencing.”
After listening to presidents from Latin American and Caribbean bishops’ conferences describe the problems the church is facing in their countries, Cardinal Rodriguez told reporters, “The question is how to respond to the new situations in Latin America.”
Head of National Office for Black Catholics dies
May 18 2007
SEATTLE – A funeral Mass was celebrated May 12 in a chapel at Seattle University for Walter Hubbard Jr., a national African-American Catholic leader who had headed the Seattle-based National Office for Black Catholics since 1970.
Mr. Hubbard, 82, died May 5 in Seattle. No cause of death was given. He had served for two decades on Jesuit-run Seattle University’s board of regents.
Born in New Orleans Oct. 19, 1924, he worked as a skilled cloth-cutter in the garment industry. He later became active in the trade union moment, serving as president of local unions in Seattle that represented garment workers and liquor store clerks, before becoming an insurance company executive.
Arrest made in arson fire at historic Indiana church
May 18 2007
NEW CASTLE, Ind. – Five weeks after fire destroyed historic St. Anne Church in New Castle during the early morning hours of Holy Saturday, Henry County authorities arrested William L. Abbott, 33, of New Castle on felony charges of arson, burglary and theft.
County prosecutor Kit Crane said Abbott was arrested May 10 and charged with three felony counts of arson for endangering the lives of others, setting fire to a house of worship and causing a loss greater than $5,000.
New Castle firefighter Jack Thurman injured his back while battling the April 7 blaze that gutted the 83-year-old brick church and county landmark.
Abbott, a convicted felon with an extensive criminal history, is being held at the Henry County Jail.
Prominent evangelical theologian returns to Catholic Church
May 17 2007
WASHINGTON – The return of a prominent evangelical philosopher and theologian to the Catholic Church, his childhood home, has provoked a storm of controversy in the evangelical community.
Francis J. Beckwith is a tenured associate professor of church-state studies at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, the largest Baptist university in the world. He resigned as president of the Evangelical Theological Society May 5, after entering into full communion with the Catholic Church a week earlier.
Theme of papal book may also be hallmark of his papacy
May 17 2007
WASHINGTON – The emphasis on Jesus’ centrality to the Catholic faith in Pope Benedict XVI’s first book as pope is likely to permeate his papacy, panelists told a Washington audience during a book launch event for “Jesus of Nazareth” May 15.
Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., and Vatican analysts George Weigel and John Allen discussed the book at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington. The event was hosted by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, and Bill Barry, publisher in the Doubleday religious publishing division.
Pope accepts resignation of controversial bishop
May 16 2007
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of the controversial head of Argentina’s military diocese, who submitted his resignation at age 75 in accordance with canon law.
There was no immediate word on who would succeed Bishop Antonio Baseotto, who clashed with the government of President Nestor Kirchner two years ago.
Pope Benedict accepted his resignation May 15. Earlier this year, an Argentine legislator drafted a bill to eliminate his position.
Latin American, Caribbean bishops tackle agenda outlined by pope
May 15 2007
APARECIDA, Brazil – With their agenda broadly outlined by Pope Benedict XVI, the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean began the conference that will lead to pastoral guidelines for the region for the next 10-15 years.
Several bishops who spoke with journalists said the pope raised many of the issues likely to be addressed during the conference, including deeper formation in the faith and church social doctrine, poverty, ministry among indigenous peoples and family life.
Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo, Peru, called the pope’s May 13 speech to the bishops “inspiring” and “encouraging.” Archbishop Baltazar Porras Cardozo of Merida, Venezuela, told journalists that the pope did not “put us in a straitjacket” but “came to present a challenge to the church.”