Thursday, 03 May 2012 08:53
Opponents hope states will resist moves to assisted suicide
BOSTON (CNS) — Opponents of legislation that would legalize physician-assisted suicide in Massachusetts hope the commonwealth will follow Vermont’s lead and kill the measure.
By an 18-11 vote April 12, Vermont senators defeated a proposal to legalize assisted suicide in the state.
“We’re obviously elated that the Senate in Vermont did the right thing, not only to defeat this onerous bill but also to defeat the political shenanigans that were going on to try to get this bill passed. The whole thing was politics at its worst,” said Kristian Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute.
First introduced in 2011, Vermont’s Patient Choice and Control at End of Life legislation failed to make it out of committee by the 2012 legislative deadline. In what Mineau described as a “last-ditch, desperate effort,” the Health and Welfare Committee attached the bill to an anti-tanning bill. That bill was defeated after two hours of debate about doctor-prescribed death.
Mineau warned that the battle in Massachusetts will be tougher than the one in Vermont since the measure will almost certainly appear on the November ballot in Massachusetts. Polls have shown slight support of the bill.
Dinner raises $1 million for CUA scholarships
CHICAGO (CNS) -- Six U.S. cardinals were in Chicago April 27 to celebrate a national institution that is 125 years old – The Catholic University of America.
Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago hosted Cardinals Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Timothy M. Dolan of New York, Donald W. Wuerl of Washington and Roger M. Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, at the annual American Cardinals Dinner, held at the Hilton Chicago.
More than 400 people attended the black-tie dinner, which raised $1 million for student scholarships. Also in attendance was Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
CFCA reaches $1 billion mark in support for thousands of needy people
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- What started as a simple plan to connect average people in the United States with needy children and elderly people in some of the world's poorest communities has reached the $1 billion mark.
The Christian Foundation for Children and Aging reports that after more than 30 years, it has surpassed the financial milestone thanks to the sustained contributions of hundreds of thousands of sponsors responding to the Gospel call of compassion for others. Through monthly contributions ranging from $15 to $30 from about 250,000 sponsors, the organization is able to support 300,000 children and senior citizens with basic needs such as food, medical care, clothing and school tuition, said Martin Kraus, director of finance.
Historic Baltimore school to pilot boarding program for homeless boys
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- When Deacon Curtis Turner, the principal at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, tells people that his school will begin to house and educate seven male students who are homeless starting in the fall, they look at him with skepticism. “Someone said this is an insane thing to do,” Deacon Turner said.
“I said, ’So is teaching African-American children to read in 1828.’ Mother (Mary) Lange, when she started the school, didn’t make any sense. ... We always ask what would Mother Lange do and this is something she would definitely do.”
The Baltimore school was notified April 20 that it will receive a $157,400 grant from the Abell Foundation to pilot the boarding program for homeless male students.
The Baltimore-based organization works to help find solutions to urban poverty and has a history of working with black men.
Abell picked St. Frances because of its successful track record of placing students in colleges. The school will work with the Abell Foundation during the next few months to identify homeless young men who could join the program and attend the school.
St. Frances hopes the program can accommodate up to 20-25 young men in the future.
Church in Gulf states safe despite threats in Kuwait, bishop says
OXFORD, England (CNS) — The bishop overseeing the church in southern Arabia predicted Catholic life will remain safe in most Gulf states despite threatened new restrictions in Kuwait.
Bishop Paul Hinder, who heads the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, said that although the church lacks resources, its most important priority is to “keep what it has.
Things are far from ideal in some countries, but we can live and avoid major problems if we don’t put at risk the relatively good understandings we enjoy,” Bishop Hinder said.
The apostolic vicariate was established by the Vatican in 2011.
The Swiss-born Capuchin Franciscan prelate spoke after legislators in Kuwait acted to curb Christian religious rights by voting to make blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed a capital offense.
Bishop Hinder told Catholic News Service April 26 that religious rights long had been ambiguous in Kuwait, which was liberated from Iraqi occupation by the United States and its allies in the 1991 Gulf War.
However, he added, the position of Christians was unlikely to “change essentially” in neighboring United Arab Emirates and Oman despite disruptions in church life in Yemen because of recent political turmoil.
Vanderbilt Catholic student organization readies for unofficial status after making national news
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) — As the fight over Vanderbilt University’s nondiscrimination policy continues to make national news, members of Vanderbilt Catholic are hoping their “15 minutes of fame” are almost over.
“We’re very much moving on. We’re excited about moving forward,” according to PJ Jedlovec, president of Vanderbilt Catholic, the university’s Catholic campus ministry.
For most of the school year, Vanderbilt Catholic and other on-campus Christian organizations have been at odds with the school’s newly enforced nondiscrimination policy, which requires leadership positions in all registered student organizations to be open to everyone, regardless of their beliefs.
In March, the student board of Vanderbilt Catholic decided they could not comply with the policy and did not re-register as an official student organization for next semester. The student leaders are still not sure what all the ramifications will be of operating as an “unofficial” student organization. They do know that the unofficial Vanderbilt Catholic student group will still be able to have Mass at Benton Chapel, and will be able to book rooms for on-campus events.
However, they will not be able to have their name listed with religious organizations on the Vanderbilt website. They may also lose their slot at the student activities fair, which has been a great way to gain exposure and new members, especially freshmen, according to Jedlovec, a rising senior with a double major in math and economics.
Additionally, the group has been informed it will have to cease using the name Vanderbilt Catholic, and members are currently brainstorming new name ideas.
“It really isn’t that big of a price to pay for keeping our integrity,” Jedlovec said. “We’ll use different means of spreading the Catholic faith on campus,” he said. “Really our mission is not contingent on us being an official university organization.”
Even though the group will be changing its name, it will maintain its most essential identity, Jedlovec said, which is “Catholic.”
The dispute over the nondiscrimination policy began last year after a Vanderbilt student complained to university officials that he was dismissed from a Christian fraternity because of his sexual orientation.
Some conservative news outlets have accused Vanderbilt administrators of being “anti-Christian” and “hating religious freedom,” but Vanderbilt Catholic leaders like Jedlovec would like to tone down that rhetoric.
“I think the administration was well-intentioned with the policy,” he said. But when the policy went so far as to disallow Vanderbilt Catholic from requiring that its leaders must be Catholic, that was where they could find no compromise.
“We are an open and welcoming community that people of all faiths can join, but we require our leaders to share this Catholic faith and practice,” the Vanderbilt Catholic student board wrote in The Hustler student newspaper on March 30.
Abp. Chaput releases book on religious freedom
DENVER (CNS) — At the heart of defeating attacks on the country's religious liberty is the need for faithful to rebuild a Christian culture that serves as the essence of a democracy, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput wrote recently.
In his new e-book titled “A Heart on Fire: Catholic Witness and the Next America,” the former Denver archbishop discusses the ties between religious freedom and a good society.
The American experience of personal freedom, he said, is in fact inconceivable without a Christian grounding.
“Modern ideas about human dignity, rights, obligations and freedom are the child of Western culture, and Western culture is a child of Christianity,” Archbishop Chaput told the Denver Catholic Register, archdiocesan newspaper.
Although American culture today is nothing like the Founding Fathers’ society in early America, Christianity remains the moral framework of the Western world, he said.
Lutheran congregations join with Catholics to defend religious liberty
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CNS) — Church leaders, students and members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregations in Fort Wayne expressed their solidarity with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and Catholics of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend to “stand together for religious liberty.”
Gathering April 17 at St. Paul Lutheran Church, just a few blocks from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Fort Wayne, the Lutherans held a procession to the cathedral and on the plaza in front of it, they gathered in prayer and song with Catholics and Bishop Rhoades.
They also presented letters of support and encouragement “as we stand together with (the bishop) on this issue of religious liberty,” noted the Rev. Charles Gieschen, academic dean of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, one of two Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod seminaries in the U.S.
The synod, which has its headquarters in St. Louis, has more than 2.3 million baptized members in 6,200 congregations. It has more than 9,000 pastors.
Besides sharing the letters and signatures, Rev. Gieschen said, he wanted to assure “our brothers and sisters in Christ” of the synod’s encouragement and “our prayers in light of the recent U.S. Department Health and Human Services mandate.”
He was referring to the HHS mandate that most health plans cover the cost of contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can induce abortion.
The mandate includes a religious exemption, but leaders of various Catholic and other faith-based organizations say it is too narrow and they will still be forced to provide coverage they oppose on moral grounds.