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 March 5, 2007VOL. 45, NO. 5Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Modern ‘foundling wheel’
Stefano Lorenzi, a hospital orderly, demonstrates the use of a hatch to a heated crib which was used for the first time recently when an unwanted infant was left at Casilino hospital in Rome. Italy’s Family Affairs Minister Rosy Bindi says she wants every hospital in Italy to have a modern-day version of the medieval “foundling wheel,” where unwanted newborns were left at convents.

Clericus Cup tournament
Jose Modolo from the Pontifical Gregorian University shoots during the first match of the Clericus Cup tournament in Rome Feb. 24. Seminarians from 50 countries studying in Rome were competing in the new soccer tournament.

Pope denounces trend of ‘designer embryos’
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI denounced the high-tech trend that encourages parents to seek the “perfect child” through genetic selection. In a speech Feb. 24 to more than 350 Catholic medical professionals, the pope said so-called “designer embryos” represent one of many contemporary attacks on human life.

The attacks have increased to the point that the Christian conscience has been lulled, and even good people sometimes seem paralyzed in the face of collective social pressure against the right to life, he said.

Lebanese cardinal warns against arms buildup
BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNS) -- The patriarch of Lebanon’s Maronite Catholic Church has warned that Lebanon’s rival political factions are engaged in an arms race that has become like the weapons stockpiling of the country’s 15-year civil war.

Cardinal Nasrallah P. Sfeir’s comments were made Feb. 25 after several explosive devices were found around the country. With tensions running high due to Lebanon’s ongoing political crisis, the discovery sparked fears that an attack was being planned.

Prayer cards promote sainthood for J.P.II
ROME (CNS) -- The Rome diocesan office charged with promoting the sainthood cause of Pope John Paul II continues to distribute the official prayer cards for the cause and the only authorized relics, an office spokeswoman said.

The relic is a small piece of one of the white cassocks worn by Pope John Paul. The free cards and relics can be requested by letter, fax or e-mail. The e-mail address is: Postulazione.GiovanniPaoloII@VicariatusUrbis.org; the fax number is: (39-06) 6888-6240. The mailing address is: Postulazione Giovanni Paolo II, Vicariato di Roma, Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano 6A, 00184 Rome, Italy.

Leaders call war policies ‘morally bankrupt’
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Baltimore Christian leaders have called President George W. Bush’s Iraq war policies immoral and urged Marylanders to take part in an organized anti-war rally in Washington, D.C. The 13 religious leaders from varying Christian faiths -- including Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden of Baltimore -- chose Ash Wednesday to launch their collective anti-war platform, because it’s a penitential season.

Pope supports archbishop with communist links
OXFORD, England (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI expressed support for an archbishop who resigned because of links to communist-era secret police. In a letter to former Warsaw Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus, the pope encouraged him to “renew your activity in Christ’s service in every way possible, so your immense and deep knowledge will bear fruit, as well as your priestly devotion for the good of the beloved church in Poland.”

The pope said he was “fully aware of the exceptional circumstances” in which Archbishop Wielgus had worked “when the Marxist regime used all means to smother the freedom of citizens, and especially priests.”

FBI reps to testify at inquest into priest’s death
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- Three FBI representatives are expected to testify in early March at an inquest into the death of Mill Hill Father John Kaiser, a 67-year-old U.S. missionary who died in Kenya in August 2000. Father Kaiser, who often spoke out against abuses under the government of former Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi, was found dead, with bullet wounds to his head, along a highway southwest of Nairobi.

The first police officers on the scene thought he had been murdered, but in 2001 the FBI ruled his death a suicide, and the Kenyan government agreed. The Kenyan bishops’ conference almost immediately dismissed the FBI results. They said that, based on ballistics reports, suicide was a physical impossibility.

Nuns expelled for refusing to accept new superior
OXFORD, England (CNS) -- A group of Polish nuns has been expelled from their order and laicized after refusing to accept a new superior. Archbishop Jozef Zycinski of Lublin published the Vatican decree expelling the members of the Sisters of the Family of Bethany, a Polish order, for “open violation of monastic vows.”

The president of Poland’s Conference of Female Superiors said she had requested an explanation for the unprecedented action and was satisfied correct procedures had been followed.

Catholic farmers consider cross-border project
SEOUL, South Korea (CNS) -- South Korean Catholic farmers visited North Korea and discussed the possibility of a cross-border farming project. Members of the Korean Catholic Farmers’ Movement met on North Korea’s Mount Kumgang.

Pius Cheong Jae-don, president of the farmers’ movement, said North Korean officials managing Mount Kumgang’s special tourism zone had suggested a project in which the North provides farmland and workers while the farmers’ movement provides technology, equipment and seeds.

House urged to close loophole in genetics bill
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities is urging the House to amend legislation forbidding discrimination on the basis of genetic information to include unborn children, unimplanted embryos and those in the process of being adopted as “family members” under the bill.

Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia said the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, H.R. 493, contained “one very unfortunate and apparently unintentional loophole” by limiting the children identified as family members of an individual to those who are “born to or placed for adoption with the individual.” But the legislation does not address “discrimination against families based on the preimplantation or prenatal genetic testing of their child, or genetic testing performed on an adoptive child before an adoption is completed,” he said.

The House Education and Labor Committee approved the legislation on a voice vote Feb. 14, without the specific amendment supported by the bishops. An amendment offered by the committee’s chairman, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., extended protection to children in the womb, but did not address the preimplantation or adoption gaps.

Irish bishop calls for stop to excessive alcohol use
DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) -- Action is needed to stop excessive alcohol consumption in Ireland, said a bishop during the launch of the Irish bishops’ Lenten pastoral letter on alcoholism. “If we look at international research on alcohol consumption, Irish society’s use of alcohol is nothing short of a national tragedy,” said Auxiliary Bishop Eamonn Walsh of Dublin, vice chair of the Irish bishops’ drugs and alcohol initiative.

Ireland tops two recent international league tables: One measured the level of binge drinking among those under the age of 20, and the other measured alcohol consumption of those ages 15 and older, he said.

The pastoral letter’s publication coincided with events celebrating the life of Capuchin Father Theobald Mathew, who was known as the “apostle of temperance.”

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