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 June 8, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 11   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Nominated as ambassador
Miguel Diaz, a Catholic theologian and professor of theology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, both in Collegeville, Minn., has been nominated by President Barack Obama to become ambassador to the Vatican. The Cuban-born Diaz, 45, is a board member of the Catholic Theological Society of America and former president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States.

Pro-life leaders condemn murder of abortion doctor
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Pro-life advocates universally condemned the May 31 murder of a Kansas abortion doctor, with officials from several U.S. right-to-life groups saying such extreme acts only hurt the pro-life cause.
Dr. George Tiller, 67, of Wichita, Kan., was fatally shot while serving as an usher at the city’s Formation Lutheran Church during morning services. A suspect in the shooting, identified as Scott Roeder, 51, was being held without bail on one count of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault. Tiller’s clinic is one of just a few in the nation where abortions are performed after the 21st week of pregnancy.

Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, expressed profound regret upon learning of Tiller’s shooting death. “Our bishops’ conference and all its members have repeatedly and publicly denounced all forms of violence in our society, including abortion as well as the misguided resort to violence by anyone opposed to abortion,” Cardinal Rigali said in a June 1 statement.

Pope John Paul II’s beatification delayed

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The beatification of Pope John Paul II may be delayed as the Vatican seeks more documentation regarding his almost 27 years as pope, Italian newspapers reported in late May.

According to the newspaper La Stampa, the chief holdup regards hundreds of letters he wrote before and after his election to Wanda Poltawska, a longtime friend and adviser to the pope.

Meanwhile, the newspaper Il Giornale, reported that a commission of theologians meeting in mid-May decided the information contained in the official “positio,” or position paper, was not complete enough. In particular, the newspaper cited the fact that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state under Pope John Paul, and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, his deputy at the time, had not given testimony in the case.

La Stampa published an interview with Poltawska June 1 in which she said she met Father Karol Wojtyla, the future pope, in 1950 when she was looking for a confessor and spiritual director to guide her in the long process of recovering from her internment as a political prisoner in the Nazis’ Ravensbruck concentration camp, where medical experiments were performed on prisoners.

Stem-cell campaign runs beyond comment period

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Although the 30-day period for public comment on the National Institutes of Health’s draft guidelines for funding of embryonic stem-cell research has ended, the U.S. bishops are continuing their campaign urging members of Congress not to permit such funding.

Through its website, the bishops’ conference and its affiliated organization, the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, directed 9,436 comments to NIH about the draft guidelines before the May 26 close of the public comment period. An NIH official said more than 48,000 comments were received in all on the draft guidelines during the comment period.

The draft guidelines would allow the use of federal funds for embryonic stem-cell research only on embryos created for reproductive purposes at in vitro fertilization clinics and no longer needed for that purpose.

Catholic schools closed after suicide bombing

LAHORE, Pakistan (CNS) — Several Catholic-run schools have been closed indefinitely after a suicide bomb attack near Sacred Heart Cathedral, May 27. The blast killed 35 people, injured around 250 others, and damaged buildings in the nearby cathedral compound. No students were injured.

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, saying in messages on Turkish Web sites that the attack was in retaliation against Pakistani forces fighting Taliban militants in the Swat Valley. The claim could not be verified.

Court orders release of sealed abuse documents

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (CNS) — Bridgeport diocesan officials said they were reviewing their options after a May 22 ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court to make public sealed documents from settled sexual abuse lawsuits filed against priests in the Bridgeport Diocese. The 4-1 ruling involves the release of documents from 23 lawsuits against six priests settled in 2001.

In 2006, a Superior Court ruled that the files should be released but the diocese appealed the decision. The Supreme Court’s decision to release the files would not take effect until it was published in the Connecticut Law Journal June 2.

Irish religious orders talk about abuse victim support

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) — Representatives of the 18 religious orders implicated in the physical and sexual abuse of children in their care were scheduled to meet Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen June 3 to discuss ways to provide additional support and assistance to abuse survivors. The same day, Cowen also will meet with groups representing victims who attended the government residential institutions between 1940 and the late 1970s.

The meetings follow recent public statements that the orders would not renegotiate a controversial 2002 deal in which they received indemnity from being sued by victims who attended the church-run institutions in exchange for contributing to a victims compensation fund.

Already, several of the religious orders have said that they plan to devote additional resources to compensating abuse victims. But none has expressed willingness to revisit the 2002 agreement under which the orders promised to donate 128 million euros ($179 million) to a 1.18 billion euro government compensation fund for survivors.

On May 27 the Dail, the lower house of the Irish Parliament, unanimously passed a motion calling on the 18 religious congregations to make additional financial contributions to abuse victims.

Vatican condemns North Korean nuke test

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican has condemned the latest round of nuclear testing and missile launching by North Korea, warning that these acts of aggression threaten “the very survival” of the country’s own people by exacerbating its isolation.

North Korea drew swift and angry international condemnation after announcing May 25 that it had successfully performed a nuclear experiment. Seismic equipment registered a small blast in the eastern portion of the country. Three short-range missiles were then launched into the Sea of Japan. The following day, May 26, two more missiles were launched off the country’s eastern coast.

Vatican Radio begins to accept advertising

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — For the first time in its nearly 80-year history, Vatican Radio is opening up to advertising in the hopes of easing the strain on its budget. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of Vatican Radio, said the use of satellites and the Internet will allow the radio to overcome obstacles that had previously made advertising impossible. Now many smaller, local Catholic-oriented stations are able to pick up and re-transmit Vatican Radio programs, making advertising more feasible and attractive to potential advertisers.

Kidnapping, extortion plague migrants in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — A report released by the Mexican Diocese of Saltillo says that abuses such as kidnapping and extortion by organized crime groups have become the most serious problem for undocumented Central Americans traveling through the country. The report also says that government organizations, police officers and guards working for private security companies continue violating the human rights of migrants and continue ignoring complaints that highlight allegations of improper and possibly illegal conduct.


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