July 15, 2015

News Briefs

By Catholic News Service


Video of Planned Parenthood doctor prompts calls for investigation

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) -- A video released July 14 appears to show a top Planned Parenthood official discussing the sale of parts of aborted babies for research, including discussing ways the abortion procedure can be altered to preserve specifically requested body parts. The nearly nine-minute edited video -- filmed undercover and produced by the Center for Medical Progress -- quickly went viral and Planned Parenthood denied making a profit on the sale of aborted baby parts. "Planned Parenthood's criminal conspiracy to make money off of aborted baby parts reaches to the very highest levels of their organization," said David Daleiden, who led the undercover investigation. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal launched an investigation in his state, where the abortion provider is getting ready to open a $4 million clinic in New Orleans. "Today's video of a Planned Parenthood official discussing the systematic harvesting and trafficking of human body parts is shocking and gruesome," said Jindal, who is a Republican presidential candidate. In the video released July 14, a woman identified as Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Medical Services Department, says: "We've been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I'm not gonna crush that part, I'm gonna basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact."

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Court rules against Little Sisters plea to avoid way to bypass mandate

DENVER (CNS) -- The Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious entities are not substantially burdened by procedures set out by the federal government by which they can avoid a requirement to provide contraceptive coverage in health insurance, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled July 14. In a lengthy opinion that considered arguments raised by the organizations under First Amendment religious rights protections and under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the court said the groups are not substantially burdened by filing out a form or notifying Health and Human Services via email or a letter that because of their religious-based objections to the mandated coverage, they will not provide it. The ruling is the latest in a string of circuit court decisions finding that nonprofit religious institutions may not be protected from complying with the procedures set out by HHS for being excused from what is known as a mandate to provide coverage for a variety of types of contraceptives in employee health insurance. "The departments have made opting out of the mandate at least as easy as obtaining a parade permit, filing a simple tax form, or registering to vote -- in other words, a routine, brief administrative task," wrote Judge Scott M. Matheson Jr. He was joined by two other judges in parts of the ruling. However, Judge Bobby Baldock in a partial dissent from the majority's decision, said he would rule that the religious exercise rights of self-insured employers are more substantially burdened than are those that have outside insurers. "Moreover, less restrictive means exist to achieve the government's contraceptive coverage goals here," he wrote. Under the Affordable Care Act, all health insurance plans are required to provide coverage for birth control drugs and procedures. If providing such coverage is morally objectionable according to their faith, churches themselves and other institutions that primarily employ and serve members of the churches are exempt.

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Sydney archbishop: People can't be forced to change views of marriage

SYDNEY (CNS) -- Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney has decried efforts to "bully" people into accepting the deconstruction of marriage, saying a "homogenizing 'equality'" was marginalizing questions about "what marriage is and is for." Archbishop Fisher made the comments in his homily at the annual Marriage Mass and renewal of vows July 12 at St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney. "There are voices in our culture that no longer think marriage need be for life, or be open to children, or be exclusive, or be between man and wife," Archbishop Fisher told the standing-room-only congregation, including 30 couples celebrating anniversaries of 50-65 years. Christian couples found themselves in "an uncomfortable position," the archbishop said, "for some politically, culturally and commercially powerful forces are determined to silence any alternative to the politically correct position in this matter; to bully us all into accepting the deconstruction and redefinition of a fundamental institution; and to relegate questions of what marriage is and is for as secondary to an homogenizing 'equality.' They write off as benighted and bigoted those who stand by marriage as traditionally understood." Archbishop Fisher said that in the context of culture which had forgotten about its purpose and meaning, true marriage was "a form of preaching and therapy."

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Bishop: Vatican is free to work with everyone, UN is not the 'devil'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The United Nations is not "the devil," so a papal think tank is free to collaborate with the international body as well as people of any political persuasion, said Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The church will continue to collaborate with the United Nations on any joint project that "does not go against the doctrine of the church," he said at a news conference July 15. The Vatican academy is sponsoring a one-day symposium July 22 with the United Nations' global initiative, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, headed by U.S. economist Jeffrey Sachs. The academy is also sponsoring a related daylong workshop July 21, bringing together 60 mayors and top-level representatives of major cities around the world to take concrete steps against modern-day forms of slavery in their communities. Many mayors also will attend the next day's Vatican event in the hopes of adding their voice and support to sustainable development goals that will be up for approval at the United Nations in September. The meeting is the second the pontifical academy has organized this year with key leaders and advisers from the United Nations. While some have objected to the Vatican cooperating with organizations and individuals who promote population control in ways that clearly violate church teaching, Bishop Sanchez said the church works with everyone in order to join forces on common concerns.

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Nepal's new constitution in making should be 'secular,' church urges

KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNS) -- As Nepal hurries to promulgate a new constitution, the Catholic Church has urged that the document should be "secular" amid calls by Hindu nationalists that it should establish a "Hindu nation." The Apostolic Vicariate of Nepal sent a memorandum July 12 to the major parties in the country's ruling coalition urging that that the word 'secular' be inserted in the constitution's preamble to ensure full religious freedom. It also demanded Christianity be recognized as a religion. "Christianity is not recognized as a religion here (in Nepal) unlike Hinduism, Buddhism or Islam," Father Silas Bogati, vicar general, told Catholic News Service. "Hence, churches cannot be registered as a legal body, and we cannot buy property. We are severely handicapped by this," Father Bogati said. Though the draft constitution has an article on freedom of religion, Father Bogati said that "reiterating the secular character in the constitution is crucial to upholding complete religious freedom."

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Jordan bank of river where Jesus baptized declared UNESCO heritage site

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- UNESCO declared Bethany Beyond the Jordan, on the eastern side of the Jordan River, as a World Heritage site and the location of Jesus' baptism. "The decision is logical. The Eastern side is where all the Byzantine antiquities and churches are located," said Franciscan Father Eugenio Alliata, professor of Christian archaeology at Jerusalem's Studium Biblicum Franciscanum. He said pilgrimages to the Western side began only about 600 years ago. "But for us it is the Jordan River, the middle, which is the most holy place." For years, Israel and Jordan have been at odds as to which side of the Jordan River is the actual site of Jesus' baptism, as both sides vie for the title to increase tourism. Israel upgraded its shoreline with changing rooms and a wooden deck access to the murky waters. But three popes have visited Jordan's eastern shore as a sign of the Catholic Church's official recognition of the site known as Bethany Beyond the Jordan. The Gospel of John (1:28 and 10:40) records this place as where John the Baptist carried out his baptisms, including that of Jesus. Pope John Paul II made the first visit to the site on his millennial pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2000, followed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 and Pope Francis last year. The remains of more than 20 Christian sites over six centuries and dating to Roman and Byzantine periods have been discovered near the site. They include several churches, a prayer hall, baptismal pools and a sophisticated water reticulation system.

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Speaker highlights major breakthroughs in adult stem-cell therapies

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- In 2013, the University of Kansas took a lead role in adult stem-cell research by establishing the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center. David Prentice, a member of the center's advisory board, gave an overview of several breakthroughs in the use of adult stems cells to an audience at the National Right to Life Convention in New Orleans. He provided almost a dozen examples in his July 10 presentation on "Adult Stem Cells: Saving Lives Now" and included photos of some of those who have benefited from such protocols. Prentice is vice president and research director for the Washington-based Charlotte Lozier Institute -- the education and research arm of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. Here are some of the cases he highlighted in his address: a woman grew an entirely new bladder made from her own adult stem cells; a woman initially told by her doctors that she would have to have her leg amputated kept the leg after her own bone marrow was enlisted to grow new blood vessels in the diseased limb; a man who lost part of his jaw to cancer regrew his jawbone, has no lingering signs of disfigurement and was able to eat his first solid meal in nine years.

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'May we always serve the Lord with gladness,' says new Greensburg bishop

GREENSBURG, Pa. (CNS) -- Drawing on his episcopal motto, the new bishop of Greensburg told the congregation: "May we always serve the Lord with gladness." Bishop Edward C. Malesic made the remarks after he was ordained and installed as Greensburg's fifth bishop July 13 at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg. Bishop Malesic thanked the many people who were part of his ordination celebration, starting with God "who created me, who redeemed me in Christ and who called me to be a disciple and now a bishop of his church. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever," he said. "Let us go forth knowing that we follow him and keep our eyes firmly fixed on the prize of our faith -- our salvation." Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput was the principal ordaining bishop. The co-ordaining bishops were retired Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt of Greensburg, and Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Harrisburg, where Bishop Malesic was serving as judicial vicar and pastor of Holy Infant Parish in York Haven, when Pope Francis appointed him to Greensburg April 24.


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