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 February 8, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 3   •   Oakland, CA
News in Brief

Vatican appointment
Flaminia Giovanelli is the new undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace at the Vatican. Her appointment marks the first time in more than 20 years that a woman has served as undersecretary of a pontifical council.

Funeral for Haitian archbishop
A woman stands at the caskets of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot and Msgr. Charles Benoit during their funeral in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 23. Hundreds of people gathered at the ruins of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption to mourn the Port-au-Prince archbishop, the archdiocese’s vicar general and other victims killed in the catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake.

Conviction in murder of Kansas abortion doctor
WICHITA, Kan. (CNS) — A Kansas jury deliberated just under 40 minutes before convicting a man of first-degree murder for killing an abortion provider. The jury found Scott Roeder, 51, guilty of murdering Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas abortion doctor who operated a clinic in Wichita where late-term abortions were performed. Roeder faces life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 25 years; he is to be sentenced March 9.

Roeder had confessed publicly before the trial and admitted again on the witness stand that he shot Tiller in the head in the foyer of Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita where the doctor was serving as an usher. He testified that he believed the lives of unborn children were in “immediate danger” because of Tiller. Roeder also was convicted of aggravated assault for pointing a gun at two ushers at Tiller’s church after the shooting.

Pope John Paul practiced self-mortification

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope John Paul II always took penitence seriously, spending entire nights lying with his arms outstretched on the bare floor, fasting before ordaining priests or bishops and flagellating himself, said the promoter of his sainthood cause.

Msgr. Slawomir Oder, postulator of the late pope’s cause, said Pope John Paul used self-mortification “both to affirm the primacy of God and as an instrument for perfecting himself.” The monsignor spoke to reporters Jan. 26 at the launch of his book, “Why He’s a Saint: The Real John Paul II According to the Postulator of His Beatification Cause.”

Bishops concerned about trafficking at Olympics

OTTAWA (CNS) — Members of the Canadian bishops’ justice and peace commission have called for prayers for victims of human trafficking, noting that they expect it to be a problem at the Feb. 12-28 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. The bishops urged Catholics to become aware of human trafficking, so “we can share in the suffering of the victims and change the behaviors and mentalities that foster institutionalized violence in this new form of slavery.”

Pope calls Irish bishops for talks on sex abuse

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has convened Ireland’s bishops for a two-day meeting, Feb. 15-16, at the Vatican to discuss the ongoing fallout from the priestly sex abuse scandal in the country. According to sources in Ireland, the pope will address the bishops and each bishop will have seven minutes to offer his views on the crisis. The meeting was expected to produce some concrete proposals, with final reflections by the pope.

The Vatican meeting was announced as the pope was preparing a special pastoral letter to Irish Catholics on the sex abuse cases and the damage it has inflicted on the Church.

Last November, a report by an independent Commission of Investigation, headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, looked at the handling of 325 sex abuse claims in the Archdiocese of Dublin in the years 1975-2004. The report concluded that during those years, rather than being concerned about the victims, Catholic leaders were more interested in “the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church and the preservation of its assets.”

Poll: More Americans say abortion wrong

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CNS) — A poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus and released Jan. 21 said that a majority of Americans called abortion “morally wrong.” Americans in all age groups made that judgment in the poll, conducted by Marist College.

The Knights paid the greatest attention in an announcement of the poll results to the “millennial” age group, those ages 18-29, because they were intentionally oversampled in the survey. Of the 2,243 Americans polled, 1,006 of them were millennial. And 58 percent of the millennials called abortion morally wrong.

Notre Dame task force calls for new policies

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A task force appointed in September by Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, has issued a set of preliminary recommendations designed to “broaden and deepen the pro-life culture” at the university. The recommendations include undergraduate “witness to life” research opportunities in various academic disciplines; adoption of a policy statement on the university’s “support for Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death”; and guidelines on how to “avoid formal or immediate material complicity in evils such as abortion and torture” in charitable gifts and investments.

The task force also urged the university to find “strategies to make its current supportive policies toward pregnant students better known”; to create and support conferences, consultations and courses “intended to inform the campus community on issues pertaining to life”; and to encourage its alumni to be involved in pro-life witness at their own parishes.

It was created at the start of the current academic year following what Father Jenkins called “the vigorous discussions surrounding President (Barack) Obama’s visit” to the campus in May. Father Jenkins’ decision to invite Obama to deliver the commencement speech and present him with an honorary law degree set off a firestorm of criticism by at least 70 U.S. bishops.

Employee wages are Vatican’s highest cost

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican said it expects wages and cost-of-living adjustments for Vatican employees to be its biggest expenditures in 2010, and it encouraged increased giving by Catholics to help fund its activities. It said that among expenditures for the Holy See, the most substantial item is the wages of employees, 2,668 people.

New study questions validity of Turin shroud

JERUSALEM (CNS) — Results from studies on the remains of a first-century shroud discovered on the edge of the Old City of Jerusalem prove that the famous Shroud of Turin could not have originated from Jerusalem of Jesus’ time, said a prominent archaeologist.

The first-century shroud was discovered in a tomb in the Hinnom Valley in 2000, but the results of tests run on the shroud and other artifacts found with it were only completed in December 2009. There are two clear differences between the current shroud fragments and the Shroud of Turin, said Shimon Gibson, head of the department of archaeology at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem.

While the Shroud of Turin is formed from one full piece of cloth, studies on the fragments of the shroud discovered in Jerusalem show that two burial cloths were used for the burial — one made of linen, used to wrap the head, and another made of wool, which wrapped the body — in keeping with Jewish tradition of the time, Gibson said.

In addition, Gibson said, unlike the complex twill weave of the Shroud of Turin that, according to archaeological finds, was unknown in this area during Jesus’ time, the discovered shroud fragments have a simple two-way weave.

Pope encourages priests to use digital media

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In a message embracing the evangelizing potential of digital media, Pope Benedict XVI asked priests around the world to use Web sites, videos and blogs as tools of pastoral ministry. He said that while priests should not abandon traditional methods of pastoral interaction, they cannot afford to pass up the opportunities offered by digital media. He said “the recent, explosive growth and greater social impact of these media make them all the more important for a fruitful priestly ministry.”


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