Bishops Support Halt to RU-486 Approval

WASHINGTON — Saying the abortion pill RU-486 not only ends the lives of the unborn but is also harmful to women, the U.S. bishops’ pro-life spokeswoman praised legislation that aims to suspend the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug.

Deirdre McQuade, director of planning and information for the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, spoke at a Washington press conference Feb. 1 sponsored by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., and other congressional supporters of the legislation known as “Holly’s Law.”

“Holly’s Law is a very modest bill,” said McQuade, noting that it only calls for temporary suspension of the FDA’s approval of RU-486 so the U.S. comptroller general can review the FDA’s adherence to statutory mandates in its process for approving the drug. Since its approval by the FDA in September 2000, RU-486 has been marketed in the United States under the names Mifeprex and Early Option by Danco Laboratories. Known generically as mifepristone, it induces an abortion in the first seven weeks of pregnancy when used in conjunction with another drug, a prostaglandin.


Man Becomes Catholic on the Way to His Execution

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana death-row inmate Marvin Bieghler joined the Catholic Church and received the sacraments at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Ind., Jan. 26, about eight hours before he was executed for the 1981 murders of Tommy and Kimberly Miller at their mobile home near Russiaville.

Bieghler was put to death early on Jan. 27 about 90 minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a stay of execution by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed him to appeal his capital sentence by challenging the legality of lethal injection. Also Jan. 26, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels denied Bieghler’s clemency petition requesting life in prison without parole. Bieghler admitted that he was a drug dealer but denied killing the Millers in rural Howard County.

Holy Cross Father Thomas McNally of South Bend, who has been a volunteer Catholic chaplain at the state penitentiary for three years, said Bieghler asked to be received into the Catholic Church.


Pope Names Florida Church Minor Basilica

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Orlando Bishop Thomas Wenski celebrated a special Mass Jan. 25 after receiving the history-making news that Pope Benedict XVI designated St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Daytona Beach a minor basilica.

“It is a great honor for the parish community and the diocese. The fact that a church is designated as a minor basilica is a great example not only of architecture, but a great example of what the liturgical and spiritual life of any parish community should be,” Father Robert Webster, pastor, told The Florida Catholic, Orlando’s diocesan newspaper.

Basilica, based on the Greek words for royal and king, is a title bestowed by the pope on a church of historical and spiritual importance. The papal honor makes St. Paul’s the 60th church in the United States to be designated a minor basilica. It is the second church in Florida to receive the honor, after the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine, designated in 1976. It is also the first basilica designated by Pope Benedict.