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Catholic Voice

 August 10, 2009   •   VOL. 47, NO. 14   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Violence against Christians
A Christian couple sits amidst their destroyed house Aug. 2, the day after Muslim attacks in Gojra, a town in Pakistan’s Punjab province, killed several Christians and destroyed numerous homes. The violence came following unsubstantiated allegations that local Christians had desecrated the Quran.

An icon of democracy
Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales of Manila blesses the body of former Philippine President Corazon Aquino at the Manila cathedral Aug. 3. Aquino became a global icon of democracy after toppling one of the 20th century’s most corrupt dictators, Ferdinand Marcos, in 1986. She died Aug. 1 at age 76 after a battle with colon cancer. Thousands gathered in the main street of Manila’s financial district as a truck carrying her casket passed on its way to the cathedral.

Turkish government denies church in Tarsus
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Despite a personal request from Pope Benedict XVI and repeated requests by Christian leaders in Turkey, the Turkish government has decided that the only church in Tarsus, the city of St. Paul’s birth, will remain a government museum. The Church of St. Paul, built as a Catholic church in the 1800s and confiscated by the government in 1943, was used throughout the 2008-2009 year of St. Paul for prayer services by Christian pilgrims.

After the end of the yearlong celebration commemorating the 2,000th anniversary of St. Paul’s birth, the Turkish government decided to return to the practice of allowing Christians to pray in the church as long as they made reservations three days in advance and bought an admission ticket.

Nigerian state asked to pay for burned churches

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) — A Catholic official in northeastern Nigeria has asked the Borno state government to pay for 11 Christian churches burned by Islamic extremists. The violence began July 26 in the city of Bauchi, when Boko Haram members staged attacks after the arrest of some of its members. Red Cross and military officials said that more than 700 people were killed in the uprising by Boko Haram, an extremist Islamic group that opposes Western education and insists on the imposition of Shariah, or Islamic law.

Archbishop seeks end to nuclear stockpiles

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Drawing from the Church’s long-held teaching on the morality of war, a member of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace called upon attendees at a nuclear deterrence symposium to work to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore told an audience of 500 people gathered for the military-sponsored symposium in Omaha, July 29, that the abolishment of nuclear weapons was an issue of “fundamental moral values that should unite people across national and ideological boundaries.”

Mexican migration to U.S. declines by 40 percent

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Mexican immigration to the U.S. has continued to dwindle this year after being down at least 40 percent from 2005 to 2008, according to a July analysis released by the Pew Hispanic Center. The study also showed no increase in the flow of immigrants returning to Mexico.

Pope’s home becomes solar-power generator

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI’s home in Bavaria will become a solar-power generator after workmen from the area donated some 580 square feet of photovoltaic solar panels for the house’s rooftop. The panels should generate about 5,800 kilowatt hours of energy a year, which corresponds to saving 11 barrels of petroleum.

The project will produce income, which may amount to $3,500 a year, by providing the German electricity grid with energy. The money will go to an association that offers skills and job training to disadvantaged youths.

Ireland cracks down on Mass-card abuses

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) — The Irish government is clamping down on the sale of pre-signed Mass cards at newsstands and by other vendors. Under new measures announced July 29 , the cards can be sold only where there is an arrangement in place with a local bishop or with the provincial of a religious order. The new provision will allow the public to immediately determine if the vendor has an agreement with the Church to sell such cards.

Indian priest found murdered in Kerala

MANGALORE, India (CNS) — A Catholic priest was found murdered July 30 in a remote area near Mangalore in southern India. The naked body of Father James Mukalel, 39, was discovered on a roadside in the morning by passers-by. Father Thomas Kannankal, a diocesan social work director, said the deceased priest was returning to his parish after attending the funeral of a former parishioner.

Stem-cell advance shows no need to kill embryos

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The work of two teams of Chinese scientists who created live mice from induced pluripotent stem cells is “another demonstration that researchers don’t need to destroy embryos” to achieve stem-cell advances, according to Richard M. Doerflinger, associate director of pro-life activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The immediate finding is that induced pluripotent stem cells, created without harming any embryos, really are as versatile as embryonic stem cells,” he said. But he also warned that this latest breakthrough in stem-cell research shows that iPS cells are “so powerful” that researchers “might be able to put them in a human embryo and change the genetic makeup of that child and all the future generations” related to the child.

Vatican laicizes Medjugorje priest

LONDON (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has laicized a Franciscan priest who served as the spiritual adviser to the Marian visionaries in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina. The pontiff returned Father Tomislav Vlasic to the lay state and dispensed him from his religious vows as a member of the Order of Friars Minor. Vlasic was confined to a Franciscan monastery in L’Aquila, Italy, in February 2008 after he refused to cooperate in a Vatican investigation of his activities for suspected heresy and schism.

He also was being investigated for “the diffusion of dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspected mysticism, disobedience towards legitimately issued orders and charges contra sextum (against the Sixth Commandment not to commit adultery).” According to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, all the charges against Vlasic were “in the context of the Medjugorje phenomenon.”

Priest to run for Philippine presidency

MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — A Catholic priest who serves as governor of the Philippine province of Pampanga has declared he is running for president of the country in the May 2010 election.

The priest-turned-politician, who is currently on leave from his religious ministry, also announced his plan to apply for a dispensation from the priesthood before filing his certificate of candidacy prior to the Nov. 30 deadline. Once dispensed, Father Panlilio would no longer be allowed to celebrate Mass or administer the sacraments.

Hospital agreements help fund health care reform

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Catholic Health Association and other U.S. hospital groups have agreed to reduced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and other system reforms that will free up $155 billion over 10 years for health care reform. Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is CHA president and CEO, joined with other hospital association executives in a July 8 ceremony at which the agreement with Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and the White House was announced.

Vice President Joe Biden said the agreement with CHA, the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals “produces real savings in federal health care spending — savings that will be applied toward the president’s firm goal of enacting health care reform that is deficit-neutral.”

Church won’t allow Mass against Madonna concert

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — The Archdiocese of Warsaw rejected a request by Catholic protesters to hold an open-air Mass as part of a “public prayer crusade” against a Madonna concert Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Father Henryk Malecki, spokesman for the archdiocese, said the request was rejected because “Mass can’t be treated as a form of protest.”

Obama was 12th U.S. president to visit Vatican

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When President Barack Obama stepped into the pope’s private library in the Vatican July 10, he became only the 12th U.S. president to do so. And while the Vatican has a protocol handbook governing visits by heads of state — a handbook that covers everything, including the number of Swiss Guards and papal gentlemen in tails present — the way each visit unfolds is determined by the schedules of the pope and his guest.

The fact that Obama came to the Vatican directly from the Group of Eight meeting in L’Aquila, Italy, and left immediately afterward to fly to Ghana meant timing was tight. The time constraints meant the Vatican and the White House made no plans for an exchange of formal speeches — an optional part of papal receptions of presidents.


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