No diocesan-wide events scheduled today
Ceremony of Sacred Vows for Brother Martin Mary, Mt. Carmel Hermitage, Christoval.
Rev. Msgr. Alvin Wilde (1996)
Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service
Cardinal praises Bush for vetoing embryonic stem-cell bill
WASHINGTON (CNS) — President George W. Bush June 20 vetoed a bill to expand federal funding for medical research on human embryonic stem cells, saying it “would compel American taxpayers, for the first time in our history, to support the deliberate destruction of human embryos.” Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, praised the veto. “This bill would not actually enhance stem-cell research, but divert federal funds from legitimate research toward avenues requiring the destruction of innocent human life,” he said. “The cause of science is not enhanced but diminished when it loses its moral compass.” In conjunction with the veto, Bush issued an executive order calling on federal agencies to strengthen the nation’s commitment to research on pluripotent stem cells. Adult stem cells from a variety of sources, including bone marrow, the placenta and umbilical-cord blood, have led to successful treatments for a number of diseases. Adult stem cells are called pluripotent because they have the power to turn into many of the 200-plus types of differentiated cells found in the body. Embryonic stem cells are called omnipotent because they can turn into any of those differentiated cells.
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Lawmakers urge House not to overturn Mexico City funding policy
WASHINGTON (CNS) — As the House was getting ready to vote on an amendment to a State Department funding bill that would overturn the Mexico City policy banning federal aid to groups that promote abortion as a family planning method, four Republican congresswomen urged their colleagues to retain the policy. If the policy is overturned, “we are diminishing other methods of family planning, if not replacing them with abortion,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. The Mexico City policy, according to Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., draws “a bright line between very noncontroversial family planning methods and abortion.” “The U.S. should always be about doing what’s right for the world,” said Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio. “I am disappointed that the bill would overturn the Mexico City policy.” If the policy is voted down, “the results will be tragic,” said first-term Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Okla. The congresswomen, all members of the House Pro-Life Women’s Caucus, spoke at a June 20 press conference to voice their opposition to a proposed amendment to the State Department and foreign operations appropriations bill that would rescind the Mexico City policy, which does not allow federal funds to go to agencies that perform and promote abortion as a family planning method in developing countries.
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Rhode Island struggles with legal, moral aspects of human trafficking
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CNS) — Human trafficking and prostitution are common in Rhode Island, and of growing concern to law enforcement officials and legislators, according to several who spoke about the situation with the Rhode Island Catholic, newspaper of the Providence Diocese. Providence, the capital — and many other cities and towns — are host to dozens of “massage parlors” and “spas.” Many residents are not even aware that while street prostitution is illegal in Rhode Island the selling of sex is legal behind closed doors. And in several of these parlors, women from Asian and Latin American countries are literally enslaved and coerced into performing sexual acts for a fee under the guise of working as masseuses. Some parlors and spas have been raided many times by police. Often, the women found in these filthy brothels littered with mattresses and suitcases were South Korean immigrants. State lawmakers have been at work advancing bills to ban human trafficking. In Washington, the Congressional Caucus on Human Trafficking hosted a June 20 forum on the topic.
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Poll finds broad support for raising tobacco tax to fund health care
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Regardless of their age, gender, race, party affiliation or socioeconomic status, Americans support a 75-cent-per-pack increase in the federal tobacco tax to fund health care coverage for the nation’s uninsured children, according to a new poll. Even 51 percent of those who describe themselves as current or occasional smokers support the increase and use of the funds to help uninsured children, said the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in releasing the results of a nationwide survey. The Catholic Health Association has been a strong supporter of moves to expand health insurance coverage for children and their parents through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, and Medicaid, and backs an increase in the tobacco tax to reach that goal, Michael Rodgers, CHA senior vice president for public policy and advocacy, told Catholic News Service June 21. In addition to being a significant source of revenue for SCHIP expansion, he said, a higher tobacco tax “could have a prohibitive effect” on young people thinking about starting to smoke.
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Religious groups help Portland families divided by immigration raid
PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — Religious groups, especially Catholic parishes, have mobilized to support families divided after federal immigration agents made arrests at a Portland food processing plant. “I ask you to put whatever political leanings you have aside,” Father Dave Gutmann told worshippers at Holy Cross Church June 17. Members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society stood outside the doors of the church taking cash and checks for the families, many of whom are parishioners who have been left without a wage earner. Many of the 167 workers detained after a June 12 raid of a Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. plant consider Holy Cross, Holy Redeemer, St. Andrew and other Catholic parishes on Portland’s north to be their spiritual home. The raid was for use of fraudulent Social Security numbers. Those arrested face possible deportation. The arrests came after a six-month investigation by federal agents, who charge that American Staffing Resources, a North Carolina employment agency, conspired with Fresh Del Monte to hire illegal immigrants.
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Cristo Rey school to open in Detroit in 2008 with work-study program
DETROIT (CNS) — A Cristo Rey high school will be opening in the Detroit Archdiocese in September 2008. It will be the city’s only coeducational Catholic high school and will be part of an expanding network of Cristo Rey schools that integrate academics, community activities and corporate internships to serve low-income students from urban areas. The Detroit school will be run by the Basilian Fathers and the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It will be located in the former Holy Redeemer High School, which closed two years ago. A planning committee that has worked for two years to gauge the feasibility of the new high school announced plans June 14 to open the school with the blessing of Detroit Cardinal Adam J. Maida. Currently there are 12 Cristo Rey schools nationwide; seven more will open in the fall. In 2008, another Cristo Rey high school is scheduled to open in Brooklyn, N.Y.
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Armed men kidnap eight Christian students in northern Iraq
ROME (CNS) — Armed men kidnapped eight Christians on their way home from university exams in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Seven students and one professor were taken at gunpoint June 20 after a group of men forced the bus in which the students were traveling to come to a halt, an informed source told Catholic News Service June 21. Some 50 students and professors were riding the bus heading home from exams in Mosul when “a caravan of cars” surrounded and stopped the vehicle, according to a June 20 AsiaNews report. Both AsiaNews and the unnamed source said only the Christians were targeted and taken away after the kidnappers looked at the passengers’ identification cards. Iraqi identification cards specify a person’s religious affiliation, the source said, and “just by reading someone’s name you can know they are Christian, Shiite, or Sunni.”
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Pope says Iraqi Christians experience ‘authentic martyrdom’
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Christians of Iraq are experiencing an “authentic martyrdom” and must be supported materially and spiritually by the entire Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI said. “Peace, so long implored and awaited, unfortunately is still largely being offended,” the pope said in a June 21 speech to representatives of the Catholic communities in the Middle East and to Catholic aid agencies that assist them. In “vast areas” of the Middle East, including Iraq, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories, “interpersonal and communal relationships” are being compromised by tension, unrest and all-out war, he told participants in a Vatican meeting of church funding agencies for Eastern churches, known by its Italian acronym, ROACO. “Ancient and new injustices” are being perpetuated in the region, the pope said, leading to new violence and more war.
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Pope tells Assyrian patriarch Christians in Iraq must work together
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The small Christian communities heroically remaining in Iraq must work together, and assist and support each other, Pope Benedict XVI told the patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East. “The Assyrian Church of the East is rooted in ancient lands whose names are associated with the history of God’s saving plan for all mankind,” the pope told Catholicos Dinkha IV, patriarch of the church whose oldest communities are in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Lebanon. “Today, tragically, Christians in the region are suffering both materially and spiritually,” the pope said. “Particularly in Iraq, the homeland of so many of the Assyrian faithful, Christian families and communities are feeling increasing pressure from insecurity, aggression and a sense of abandonment,” he said. “Many of them see no other possibility than to leave the country and to seek a new future abroad.” Those who remain in Iraq, “often at the price of heroic sacrifices,” have a right to the support and assistance of all Christian communities, Pope Benedict said.
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Iraqi church leaders in London deplore attacks on Iraqi Christians
LONDON (CNS) — Five London-based Iraqi church leaders have denounced the “reprehensible failure” of the Iraqi government to protect Christians from persecution. “Iraqi Christians have been targeted by a wave of attacks on their persons, churches, monasteries, homes and businesses,” said a letter sent to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth II. The letter said Iraqi Christians expected their government to ensure their “safety, security and justice.” It said that since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, there had been “thousands of attacks” on the country’s Christian minority. It also said Christians in Baghdad were being made to choose between converting to Islam, paying high taxes or leaving their homes. “Terrors are being incited by a number of imams in the mosques and other fanatics against the ‘Christian infidels,'” the letter said.
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World Youth Day cross taken to gun massacre site in New Zealand
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (CNS) — The World Youth Day cross, on a two-year pilgrimage across Africa and Oceania, was taken to the site of New Zealand’s worst gun massacre. Its first stop during a three-week tour of New Zealand was Aramoana, a small settlement in southern New Zealand where 14 people lost their lives in November 1990. Father Gerard Aynsley, a priest of Dunedin, New Zealand’s southernmost diocese, said the cross was taken to Aramoana in mid-June as a sign of Christ standing in the midst of people’s suffering and pain. During its three days in the Dunedin Diocese, the cross also was taken into Foveaux Strait, off New Zealand’s southern coast, where six people lost their lives in 2006 when their boat sank. On Nov. 13, 1990, following an argument with a neighbor in Aramoana, David Gray began his shooting spree by killing his neighbor and members of his family.
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Canadian Jesuit says G-8 nations not meeting obligations to Africa
TORONTO (CNS) — Canada and other Group of Eight industrialized nations are not living up to their obligations to Africa when it comes to fighting AIDS or alleviating poverty, said the Canadian director of the African Jesuit AIDS Network. “Aid should be increased. How far is Canada from the 0.7 percent? Considering how much money the G-8 make on Africa and the other poorest countries of the world, anything less than 0.7 percent is scandalous and shameful,” Jesuit Father Michael Czerny wrote in an e-mail to The Catholic Register in Toronto. The U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals — set by the leaders of 189 countries in 2000 to cut poverty in half by 2015 — asked the world’s richest countries to increase their development aid to 0.7 percent of their gross national income. Canada’s overseas development assistance budget comes to 0.3 percent of the country’s gross national income, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
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Iowa priest says each song on his album ‘contains a piece of wisdom’
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) — When Father David Hemann was just 4 years old, he already knew he wanted to become a priest. His love of music also became apparent when he was very young. On June 15 Father Hemann, 47, a priest of the Sioux City Diocese, released his fifth music album, “Gathered Wisdom: Songs to Live By.” “Each one of the songs contains a piece of wisdom, like ‘Climbing Down to Greatness’ talks about humility and ‘Walk on Water’ is about having faith,” he told The Globe, Sioux City diocesan newspaper. “These are songs of how the Lord has helped me to live my life better — with more joy and more peace.” The new CD is his first album since “Holy Warriors” in 2000. “The whole album was a seven-year process — slow cooking,” said Father Hemann, pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Ida Grove and Our Lady of Good Counsel in Holstein. “As a priest, I’m so busy it’s hard for me to take a lot of time for my music, but by slowing down the process, it turned out to be a better loaf of bread — a better meal.”