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BY John Lilly
Adult Cells, Please
ASSOCIATED PRESS, April 20 — State Rep. Jim Lembke, R-St. Louis, is pushing a measure that would spend
$3 million in Missouri state funds on adult stem-cell research, partly to
contradict the depiction of pro-life advocates as anti-science.
Lembke’s bill is designed to check a
statewide referendum this November that would mandate state spending on
embryonic stem-cell research.
He said Missouri residents need to know that they
don’t need to vote for the proposal in November to advance ethical forms of
stem cell research and provide hope for patients.
Not in Our Africa
NIGERIA DAILY SUN, April 11 — The government of
Nigeria has defied European and American religious and political leaders by
pressing ahead with its proposal to make homosexual “marriage” illegal and to
ban homosexual advocacy organizations.
Justice Minister Bayo Ojo called homosexual unions
“unnatural and un-African.”
“While the proposed law sounds
harsh to American ears, the penalty for homosexual activities in those parts of
Africa under shari’a (Islamic law) is death,”
said U.S. Episcopalian Bishop Robert Duncan.
Bishop Duncan criticized
Westerners “who claim to champion the primacy of local understanding and
culture, demanding that foreign sister churches give up their local
understanding and culture and be judged by an American understanding of
He concluded: “There is a word for
the one-way imposition of values — colonialism.”
‘Real Child’ Recognized
BREAKFAST TELEVISION, April 11 — The local morning
shown on Toronto’s City TV channel has unintentionally provided fodder for the
pro-life position by broadcasting a series of reports featuring the ultrasonic
imaging of a baby in the womb of the show’s host.
“By showing the expecting baby
growing larger every day, we are seeing a ‘humanization’ of the fetus as we
have never seen before,” said one viewer on a blog
Another observed that “public
videos of a living child in the womb sucking its thumb and grabbing its own feet, effectively end the ‘it’s not a real child’ argument.”
Green Mountain Havens
THE BOSTON GLOBE, April 7 — Vermont Gov. James
Douglas is expected to sign a bill permitting new mothers to leave their
newborn babies with health care or emergency workers without facing criminal
The law is designed to enable
distressed new mothers to leave their babies in a safe location rather than
Under the bill, “baby safe havens”
include healthcare facilities, fire stations, police stations and places of
BY Ellen Rossini
NEW YORK — As one of the country's foremost preachers, Father George Rutler knows how to relate to an audience. The author and EWTN program host has, one might say, a bit of the showman in him.
But when it comes time to celebrate Mass, a different instinct takes over.
Father Rutler, whose Good Friday homilies on the seven last words of Christ draw huge crowds in New York, became pastor of Our Saviour Church in Manhattan two years ago. And he's devoted much of his efforts since then to a proper understanding of the Mass.
“There was a proliferation of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, which was completely unnecessary. The song leader intimidated the people with her arms raised. At the end of the high Mass it was expected that the congregation would stand up and applaud the organ and choir. It was all very bourgeois,” he said. “I within weeks eliminated all of that, which was rather traumatic. I realized that the people had a very good spirit, but just were given wrong information.”
“I've tried to show with signs, symbols, words and teachings that this is the worship of God and not entertainment,” he said. “We do a basic, simple Novus Ordo Mass. I don't want to do anything exotic.”
His efforts come at a time when the Church is implementing several changes in the celebration of Mass. The third Latin edition of the Roman Missal, published for the Jubilee Year 2000, was accompanied by an updated set of norms for how Mass is celebrated, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. While the English-speaking world awaits a translation of the Missal, a translation of the new Mass guidelines for use in the United States was approved by the Vatican in March.
As the General Instruction of the Roman missal continues to be implemented around the country, the challenge for pastors is how to introduce changes and restore reverence in church in a way that does not confuse or even drive away parishioners who might have received poor example or instruction in the past.
Much of the focus on the new Mass guidelines has had to do with one's posture for receiving Communion and the question of standing, rather than kneeling, until everyone has received. But some pastors are trying to restore other traditional practices that have fallen by the wayside for Mass and other sacraments — and eliminate innovations that were never formally approved by the Church.
They are finding most parishioners appreciate their “cleaning up.” In some cases, they say, the changes are leading to spiritual renewal.
“We've done very well,” said Father Daniel Deutsch of Holy Cross Parish in Batavia, Ill. “We've had people say we're going back [to the old liturgy], but I tell them, ‘No, the Church has always done this. We've never lost these things, but we're rediscovering what was always there.'”
Ways to Teach
The key to implementing changes is to explain the reasons behind them, said Father Denzil Vithanage of Marshall, Texas. Since being named administrator of St. Joseph Church one year ago, Father Vithanage has moved the tabernacle to the center and placed a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the side altar and moved the presider's chair from the center to the side of the sanctuary.
“My idea is that all my activities should be Christocentric,” he said.
Additionally, he restored the traditional confessionals, which had been put away and used to store books.
“Before I did any changes, I educated the parish,” explained Father Vithanage, who is from Sri Lanka. “I … proposed these things and displayed things in the church before I did anything. I approached it with much prayer and reflection, much discretion. I had seminars, and I invited the liturgist from the [Tyler] diocese to give a talk. I had an open forum.”
He's encouraged by the response: People are regularly coming to the church, which is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., he said. They come to daily Mass, confession on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the hour of adoration before each Mass, a First Friday healing service and Saturday prayer meetings in Spanish.
“I felt there was a spiritual thirst in the life of the people here,” he said. “[Now] there's so much joy” in the 560-family parish. “People say, ‘Father, it is so uplifting to come to Mass here.'”
Msgr. Ferdinando Berardi, who is marking one year as pastor at Holy Family Church in New Rochelle, N.Y., has changed a few practices he said might have been well intentioned but were poorly informed. For example, he no longer gives young children a blessing when they come forward with their parents for holy Communion.
“Habits are very difficult to change, especially anything dealing with children - you have to be so sensitive to that,” he said. “It sounds good — you're blessing the child. But it does confuse people … The Eucharist is so important that we wouldn't want people to confuse a blessing with what is given to them in the holy Eucharist.”
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal makes no mention of the blessing of those who cannot receive Communion. But Denver's Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote in a recent column in the Denver Catholic Register that the Communion procession is not the time for such a blessing; the celebrant will bless everyone at the end of Mass.
Instead, he said, parents should teach their children how to make a spiritual Communion.
“Children will soon begin to desire to receive holy Communion,” the archbishop wrote. “This earnest desire to receive Our Lord sacra-mentally is traditionally called a ‘spiritual communion.'”
Archbishop Chaput explained that such a person — child or adult - should come forward with his arms crossed and bow before the Eucharist. The priest says to the person, “Receive the Lord Jesus in your heart.”
Msgr. Berardi said he uses the bulletin to explain the parts of the Mass and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal as the basis for what is being done.
“I point out to people that I want to celebrate the Eucharist and all of the sacraments in the way that the Church celebrates them,” he said. “I want them to be comfortable that they're worshiping according to the Roman rite.”
Since Father Rutler became pastor at Our Saviour, a Park Avenue church he described as beautiful but rather lethargic, he has made steady changes, including improved vestments, the introduction of Gregorian chant, serious catechetical preaching and the abolition of joking and chat-ting-up by the celebrant during the Mass.
But what has most transformed the piety of the parish, he said, is the prominence of the new tabernacle, purchased with funds raised by the parish and placed in the center of the high altar. He also removed the throne for the pastor that had been in the middle of the sanctuary.
“I feel I have a lot to answer for on the Day of the Judgment without having to explain to God why I replaced him with myself,” he quipped.
Many pastors, wanting to keep the focus on the Eucharistic sacrifice taking place on the altar rather than on the reserved Blessed Sacrament, have moved the tabernacle to a side altar or chapel.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says the Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a tabernacle “in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent, readily visible, beautifully decorated and suitable for prayer.” But it is not to be placed on the same altar on which Mass is celebrated.
The new Mass guidelines also state that the chair of the priest celebrant “must signify his office of presiding over the gathering and of directing the prayer.”
“Thus the best place for the chair is in a position facing the people at the head of the sanctuary, unless the design of the building or other circumstances impede this: for example, if the great distance would interfere with communication between the priest and the gathered assembly or if the tabernacle is in the center behind the altar,” the document says. “Any appearance of a throne, however, is to be avoided.”
After two years, younger parishioners are attracted to the more authentic liturgy and are attending in larger numbers, Father Rutler observed. That has also been the experience of Msgr. William Blacet of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Kansas City, Mo. An 81-year-old priest who was sent to close the aging, debt-ridden midtown parish 11 years ago, Msgr. Blacet instead has transformed it into a thriving community that includes many home-schooling families who drive as much as 50 minutes to attend.
“He gives the Mass with no fluff. It's the true Mass,” said parishioner Vallaire Bruns, a home-schooling mother of three. “He loves the Blessed Sacrament, and I guess that is evident in the way he says his Mass. It's what I want for my family, to know and love the true presence of the Blessed Sacrament.”
Msgr. Blacet said he and another older priest came to the parish and simply began celebrating the Mass the way they had been taught, “according to the magisterium.”
“The people come. We have reverence in church. We come to church to give God worship; it's not a social affair,” he said. “We don't believe in what I call the ‘happy clappers.’ I gave a sermon a while back, and people started to clap after the sermon; I put up my hand. I don't do this for applause.”
Ellen Rossini is based in Richardson, Texas.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Rightful Life in Kentucky
LIFENEWS.COM, Aug. 22 — The Kentucky Supreme Court has overturned two “wrongful life” lawsuits filed by parents who claim doctors did not properly diagnose physical disabilities in their children before birth and provide them with an opportunity to have abortions.
The court said the loss of an “opportunity” to have an abortion did not constitute a “legal injury,” a necessary element of negligence lawsuits.
Two Kentucky Supreme Court justices went so far as to say the idea evoked the Nazi era under Adolf Hitler because the thought of “wrongful life” lawsuits reeks of eugenics and discrimination against those with physical disabilities.
FOCUS ON THE FAMILY — Pro-life causes and laws are gaining a new foothold across the country, according to Family News in Focus, a Web site of the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based ministry headed by Dr. James Dobson. The story cites a new report filed by the public interest law and education group Americans United for Life.
From more money flowing to pregnancy-resource centers to legislation banning late-term abortions, 2003 has been gratifying for those who oppose abortion, says the report. The report points to a number of legislative victories that have brought abortion clinics under stricter standards.
Ohio Funds Diverted
THE ATHENS NEWS, Aug. 25 — In a two-year budget bill passed earlier this summer, Ohio's pro-life legislators have diver ted funding from family-planning organizations to county health departments.
If the county health departments cannot provide the services, they can award the money to local agencies that apply for it, which could make funding available to groups that operate crisis-pregnancy centers.
Saved by Daughter?
THE BILLINGS GAZETTE, Aug. 27 — Melissa Blackwolf, who was diagnosed with leukemia in July 2002, was responding well to chemotherapy treatments when she discovered she was pregnant last December.
Doctors told Blackwolf to abort her baby or quit the treatment. Heroically, Blackwolf quit the chemotherapy and carried her daughter, Kyleleah Hope, to full term. Now Kyleleah's umbilical-cord blood could be a key to Melissa's leukemia treatment.
Blackwolf is a member of the Lame Deer tribe and finding a bone marrow match for a transplant would prove extremely diffi-cult. But she has a 50% chance that stem cells from Kyleleah's cord blood will be a perfect match.
“She may give me a second chance at life,” she said.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Priests Go ‘NGO'
LIFENEWS, Aug. 11 — Pro-life advocates who lobby at the United Nations have reason to rejoice: Priests for Life has applied for — and received — special status as a nongovernmental organization, officially recognized by the United Nations.
With the new status, Priests for Life can designate official representatives to the United Nations at both its New York headquarters and its satellite offices in Geneva and Vienna.
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said the organization plans to have a strong presence at U.N. conferences, speak at U.N. subsidiary meetings and vigorously propose items to be considered for the agenda of the Economic and Social Council.
Human Cloning Condemned
MAYO CLINIC PROCEEDINGS, Aug. 12 — One of the leading authorities in American medicine, the Mayo Clinic, has published an article in its journal Proceedings that argues for medicine to support a comprehensive ban on human cloning — both for reproductive and “therapeutic” purposes.
The article, “Why Medicine Should Reject Human Cloning,” was signed by a long list of distinguished clinicians and researchers, some affiliated with the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, as well as former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.
Baltimore Abstinence Ads
WASHINGTON TIMES, Aug. 10 — A nonprofit abstinence-education group based in Baltimore, Campaign for Our Children, has begun a $3 million public education program that targets boys and girls separately, according to the Kaiser Network's daily Reproductive Health Report.
The ad aimed at boys is titled “Wait” and features 200 teen-age boys saying, “We will wait. … We will be smart. We will be strong. We will respect ourselves.”
The commercial for girls is titled “Pink” and includes teen-age girls performing a rap song with the lyrics, “My hour, my power to wait / This is the vow I take to bring about my fate. / No time to waste / Only dreams to chase / Virginity can't be replaced.”
The ads can be viewed online at http://www.cfoc.org.
Abortion Business Rejected
LIFENEWS, Aug. 19 — The Board of Supervisors in Upper Merion, Pa., has rejected a settlement with abortion practitioner Stephen Brigham that would have allowed him to reopen an abortion facility there.
A county court forced Brigham to close his abortion facility in March because he had violated the city's zoning laws.
Had the board approved the settlement, Brigham, who has had his medical license revoked in other states because of botched abortions, would have had eight months to find a suitable space to open shop.
BY Jim Cosgrove
‘Family-Planning’ Funds Cut
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, May 9 — Missouri's pro-life legislators have cut $3.6 million from the state budget that would have gone to Planned Parenthood and other so-called “family-planning” organizations.
Victorious pro-lifers pointed out that, while none of the $3.6 million allocation has directly paid for abortions, the “family-planning” funds are intermingled and have helped subsidize abortion businesses in the past.
The budget cut was one of many reductions made in the state budget due to a financial shortfall, reported the St. Louis daily newspaper. Unfortunately, a $700,000 allotment to an “abortion-alternatives” program was also eliminated.
British Docs Say No to Death
BBC NEWS, May 13 — If physician-assisted suicide is ever legalized in the United Kingdom, the vast majority of U.K. physicians will refuse to help patients kill themselves.
That's according to an Internet poll of 986 doctors, reported by the British Broadcasting Corp., in which 74% stated their opposition to the practice.
More than half said they have been asked for help to die by a patient, yet 56% also said they considered it impossible to set safe bounds to guard against the misuse of euthanasia. The survey was conducted by Doctors.net.co.uk and commissioned by the pro-life campaign group Right to Life.
Adult Stem Cells for Liver Damage
WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, May 14 — Stem cells from bone marrow or umbilical-cord blood may be useful for treating people with liver damage due to cirrhosis, viral infection, trauma, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. That's according to research performed at, and reported by, the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
“There is a huge demand for liver transplants but there are never enough organs, and the procedure is not always successful,” said study leader Jan Nolta, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine at the school. “We're hoping that, in the future, we can use stem cells from … matched donors to help treat liver disease and reduce the need for liver transplants.”
The study, done in immune-deficient mice, showed that human stem cells that normally produce blood cells also can form liver-like cells in a damaged liver. The researchers published their findings in the May 15 issue of the medical journal Blood.
Abstinence vs. Contraception?
AMERICAN LIFE LEAGUE, May 5 — Research published in the April 2003 Journal of Adolescent and Family Health shows that abstinence, not contraception, is the main reason why teen birth and pregnancy rates are declining.
The report explains that researchers have studied teen birth and pregnancy rates from 1991 and 1994 — and concluded that, among unmarried girls, abstinence accounted for the entire decline in births and 67% of the drop in pregnancies.
According to data collected by the Planned Parenthood-affiliated Alan Guttmacher Institute, there were 85.6 pregnancies for every 1,000 girls ages 15 to 19 in 1999, 27% lower than the record high of 116.9 pregnancies per 1,000 teens in 1990.