U.S. Bishops Elect Archbishop Dolan New President, Archbishop Kurtz Vice President, Bishop Bransfield Treasurer, Also Vote on Chairs-Elect of Six Committees

November 16, 2010

BALTIMORE (MetroCatholic) — The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) elected Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York as their new president and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky vice president at their annual Fall General Assembly.

Archbishop Dolan, who succeeds Cardinal Francis George of Chicago as president of the USCCB, was elected 128-111 on the third ballot in a run-off with Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona. Archbishop Kurtz was elected 147-91 on the third vice presidential ballot in a run-off with Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., of Denver. Archbishop Dolan and Archbishop Kurtz begin their three-year terms as president and vice president at the conclusion of this week’s meeting.

The bishops elected Bishop Michael Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia to serve as USCCB treasurer-elect of the USCCB in a 123-114 vote over Bishop Paul Bradley of Kalamazoo. As Archbishop Kurtz is vacating the office of treasurer to assume the vice presidency, the bishops affirmed by acclamation that Bishop Bransfield assume the office immediately.

The bishops voted for the chairmen-elect of six committees who will begin their three-year chairmanships in November 2011. The bishops elected:

  • Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for Military Services to chair the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance in a 138-105 vote over Bishop Randolph Calvo of Reno, Nevada.
  • Bishop Joseph McFadden of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to chair the Committee on Catholic Education in a 120-118 vote over Coadjutor Bishop David O’Connell of Trenton, New Jersey.
  • Bishop Denis J. Madden, auxiliary bishop of Baltimore, to chair the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs in a 125-113 vote over Bishop Ronald Gainer of Lexington, Kentucky.
  • Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, to chair the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis in a 137-102 vote over Bishop Paul Coakley of Salina, Kansas.
  • Bishop Daniel Conlon of Steubenville, Ohio, to chair the Committee on Child and Youth Protection, in a 146-92 vote over Bishop Patrick Zurek of Amarillo, Texas.
  • Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore to chair the Committee on International Justice and Peace in a 145-93 vote over Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, New York.

St. Thomas University Expands Minority Students Reach Plus Fellows Leadership Opportunities

November 12, 2010

MIAMI, (MetroCatholic) — Miami’s St. Thomas University was once again selected as a National Partner for the Cristo Rey Network that includes 24 Catholic high schools and 6,500 students. The University Partner Initiative, which includes Georgetown and Boston College, seeks to formalize strategic relationships with colleges and universities committed to supporting Cristo Rey Network students. The partnership is regarded as the platform upon which future programs will be built to ensure post-secondary access and success for Cristo Rey Network students.

“This partnership is an important aspect of St. Thomas University fulfilling its mission of Developing Leaders for Life,” says St. Thomas President, Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale. “Cristo Rey students represent the future of this nation and we are honored to partner in the preparation of the next generation of world leaders.  Cristo Rey Network students will be an important addition to our already diverse and talented student body.”

Expanding the leadership mission, new initiatives have been spearheaded through the NASPA Undergraduate Fellows program (NUFP), which mentors undergraduate students wishing to explore and get immersed in the student affairs field. Two STU students - Diego Sanchez and  David Brown - have been selected for the prestigious National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Undergraduate Fellows Program.  Both juniors and members of STU’s Student Government Association, Sanchez and Brown, will be mentored by Dr. Beatriz Gonzalez Robinson and Issac M. Carter, respectively.  Dr. Gonzalez Robinson is Vice President for Planning & Enrollment at St. Thomas and serves and the NASPA-FL Latino/a Knowledge Community Chair and Mr. Carter, Dean of Students for STU, serves and the Chair for the Men & Masculinities Knowledge Community, NASPA-FL. Students and mentors apply as a pair, and if selected are provided the foundation to establish a semi-structured mentoring relationship at their institution. Fellows are also given the opportunity to attend a national conference, participate in paid internships, and participate in the Summer Leadership Institute. The mission of the NUFP is to increase the number of historically disenfranchised and underrepresented professionals in student affairs and/or higher education.

Cardinal George Urges President Obama to Take Measures to Protect Iraqi Citizens in Wake of Attacks

November 11, 2010

WASHINGTON (MetroCatholic) — Following the October 31 assault on the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad and subsequent violence, Chicago Cardinal Francis George, OMI, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged President Obama to “take additional steps now to help Iraq protect its citizens, especially Christians and others who are victims of organized attacks.”

“Having invaded Iraq, our nation has a moral obligation not to abandon those Iraqis who cannot defend themselves,” Cardinal George wrote in a November 9 letter. At a minimum, he said the U.S. must work with Iraqis and the international community to:  “enable the Iraqi government to function for the common good of all Iraqis; build the capacity of Iraq’s military and police to provide security for all citizens, including minorities; improve the judicial system and rule of law; promote reconciliation and the protection of human rights, especially religious freedom; rebuild Iraq’s shattered economy so that Iraqis can support their families; and assist refugees and internally displaced Iraqis.”

Full text of the letter follows:

 

Dear Mr. President:

The October 31 attack on the Syrian Catholic cathedral in Baghdad that killed 58 and wounded 75, together with the recent wave of bombings in Iraq’s capital, are grim evidence of the savage violence and lack of security that has plagued the Iraqi people, especially Christians and other minorities, for over seven years. Some reports even indicate that the October 31 attack may have been more extensive and the failures of security more egregious than originally thought. Enclosed you will find a press release by the Most Reverend Yousif Habash, Bishop of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance of Newark for Syrian Catholics.

In the recent Synod of Bishops on the Middle East in Rome, the bishops from Iraq spoke of the terrifying situation facing Christians and other minorities in that country. They recalled murders, kidnappings, bombings, and naked threats that have forced many Christians from their homes and businesses. Ironically, just two weeks before the October 31 attack, Archbishop Athanase Matti Shaba Matoka of the Syrian Catholic Church in Iraq, whose cathedral was the site of the October 31 attack, addressed the Synod: “The invasion of Iraq by America and its allies brought to Iraq in general, and especially to its Christians, destruction and ruin on all levels. … Seven years have passed and Christianity is still bleeding. Where is the world conscience? All the world remains a spectator before what is happening in Iraq, especially with regards to Christians.”

Archbishop Matoka’s strong words remind us of the moral responsibility that the United States bears for working effectively with the Iraqi government to stem the violence. Prior to the war, our Conference of Bishops raised grave moral questions regarding the possibility of U.S. military intervention in Iraq and warned of “unpredictable consequences.” The decimation of the Christian community in Iraq and the continuing violence that threatens all Iraqis are among those tragic consequences.

Our troops have served with bravery and distinction, and we welcome the end of U.S.-led combat in Iraq; however, the United States has so far failed in helping Iraqis to develop the political will needed to deploy effective strategies to protect the lives of all citizens, especially Christians and other vulnerable minorities. More must be done to help ensure that refugees and displaced persons are able to return to their homes safely. Having invaded Iraq, our nation has a moral obligation not to abandon those Iraqis who cannot defend themselves.

The murderous attack on innocent Christians gathered for worship witnesses to the need for the United States to redouble its efforts to assist Iraq as our engagement enters a new phase. At a minimum, our country must strengthen its work with Iraqis and the international community to: enable the Iraqi government to function for the common good of all Iraqis; build the capacity of Iraq’s military and police to provide security for all citizens, including minorities; improve the judicial system and rule of law; promote reconciliation and the protection of human rights, especially religious freedom; rebuild Iraq’s shattered economy so that Iraqis can support their families; and assist refugees and internally displaced Iraqis.

To meet its moral obligations to the Iraqi people, it is critically important that the United States take additional steps now to help Iraq protect its citizens, especially Christians and others who are victims of organized attacks. Thank you for your kind consideration of this urgent request.

Sincerely yours,

Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Chicago
President

Bishops to Elect Conference President, Vice President at November Meeting

November 1, 2010

WASHINGTON (MetroCatholic) — The U.S. bishops will elect their president and vice president at their annual Fall General Assembly, November 15-18, in Baltimore.

The new president will succeed Cardinal Francis George, OMI, of Chicago, who completes his three-year term at the meeting. His successor assumes the presidency at the end of the meeting. Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona completes his term as vice president at the November meeting.

The slate of candidates for president and vice president follows:

Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans
Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap., of Denver
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky
Bishop George Murry, SJ, of Youngstown, Ohio
Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore
Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit
Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City

Conference by-laws provide that the election of the president will take place first from among the list of 10 candidates. Following the election of the president with at least 50 percent of the vote, the vice president is elected from the remaining nine candidates. In either election, if a candidate fails to win over 50 percent of the vote, a second vote is taken. If a third vote is necessary, only two names appear on the ballot.

The bishops will also vote for a new treasurer-elect and the chairmen-elect of six committees at the November meeting, as well as a new general secretary, the priest who oversees the day-to-day operations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
For more information about the election of the treasurer-elect and chairmen-elect, visit www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2010/10-160.shtml. For more information about the election of the general secretary, visit www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2010/10-167.shtml.

Coverage of the Fall General Assembly of the USCCB is open to credentialed media. The meeting is at the Baltimore Waterfront Marriott. Sessions open to the media will be Monday, November 15, and Tuesday, November 16. Media conferences will follow all open sessions. Reporters seeking to cover the meeting can download a credential application form at www.usccb.org/comm/credentialform.pdf and submit it by November 5, by fax (202-541-3173) or mail to:

November Meeting Credentials
Office of Media Relations
3211 4th St. NE
Washington, DC 20017-1194

Catholic Charities USA Presents Centennial Medal to America’s Promise Alliance

October 6, 2010

WASHINGTON (MetroCatholic) — Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), the 100-year-old social service network working to reduce poverty in America, yesterday presented its Centennial Medal to the America’s Promise Alliance recognizing the organization for its work protecting the common good and ensuring investment in our nation’s young people. The award was presented by Candy Hill, Catholic Charities USA’s Sr. Vice President for Social Policy and Government Affairs, at the America’s Promise Alliance Trustees meeting in Washington, DC.  CCUSA is presenting 100 specially-commissioned Centennial Medals in honor of its 100th anniversary, marking a century of human services for the least among us.

“Since your inception in 1997, you have served as a beacon for children in this country.  We value your leadership, your partnership and your vision for America’s future-our young people,” said Candy Hill. “You have been a significant partner in our work to serve and advocate on behalf of the poor. I thank you for your commitment to this endeavor, and most importantly for your willingness to stand with the poor and disenfranchised as we advocate for services and solutions that reflect dignity and respect for all people.”

CCUSA was founded in 1910 “to bring about a sense of solidarity” among those in charitable ministries. Since 1910, CCUSA has encouraged professional social work practice, provided opportunities for training and networking, and served as a national voice and expert on poverty issues.

During Centennial recognition and celebration ceremonies last week, CCUSA-with sponsorship from Sen. Robert Casey (D. Pennsylvania) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D. Massachusetts)-introduced S. 3845/H.R. 6222 to address the issue of poverty nationwide and institute new ways of reducing and eliminating poverty.

For more information about Catholic Charities USA visit http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/.

Catholic Charities USA’s members provide help and create hope for more than 9 million people a year regardless of religious, social, or economic backgrounds. For almost 300 years, Catholic Charities agencies have worked to reduce poverty by providing a myriad of vital services in their communities, ranging from health care and job training to food and housing. In 2010, Catholic Charities USA celebrates its centennial anniversary.

Thomas More Society Charges Forward in ND88 Case, Winning the Right to Take a Deposition of Former Notre Dame Official

September 22, 2010

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (MetroCatholic) — Late Monday, a St. Joseph County Circuit Court Judge ruled that attorneys from the Thomas More Society may depose a former official recently fired by the University of Notre Dame — a key ruling for the defense in the case of the “ND88,” the 88 pro-life demonstrators arrested at the University for protesting President Obama’s receiving honors at the commencement ceremonies in 2009.

Chief Judge Michael Scopelitis ruled that William Kirk, former associate vice president for residential life at the University, may be deposed by the Thomas More Society’s special counsel, Tom Dixon, about the decision to arrest and prosecute the pro-lifers. A motion by the prosecution to quash the deposition was overruled, and Chief Judge Scopelitis will pass on any objections arising during the deposition, as he stipulated that it must take place at the St. Joseph County Courthouse.

“This represents a major victory for the defense, and perhaps even a decisive turning point in this case,” said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society.

At a hearing late last week, Dixon argued that the deposition should not be quashed, as Kirk’s testimony would likely shed new light on why Notre Dame had treated the pro-life protesters differently than others. As recently as January 2010, gay rights activists had demonstrated on campus without an allegedly requisite written permit. In sharp contrast, the 88 pro-life demonstrators have been arrested, jailed, charged with trespass and prosecuted. The Thomas More Society has argued that the ND88 were not criminal trespassers but victims of “viewpoint discrimination,” a violation of the First Amendment, which applied to Notre Dame security police as they exercised statutory arrest powers vested in them under Indiana state law.

Chief Judge Scopelitis will set a date for the deposition in the coming weeks. For more information and to follow all developments in the ND88 case, please visit thomasmoresociety.org.

About the Thomas More Society
Founded in 1997, the Thomas More Society is a national public interest law firm that exists to restore respect for life in law. Based in Chicago, the Thomas More Society defends the sanctity of human life, the family and religious liberty in courtrooms across the country. The Society is a nonprofit organization wholly supported by private donations. For more information or to support the work of Thomas More Society, please visit www.thomasmoresociety.org.

Colorado’s Personhood Amendment 62 Organizers Answer Critics, Invite Scrutiny of Petition Signatures

September 13, 2010

McKinney (MetroCatholic) — Colorado Statesman reporters brought a recent meeting of the Secretary of State’s “Best Practices & Vision Commission” to the attention of Amendment 62 sponsors today. According to The Statesman, commission members discussed an unnamed recent initiative and the “possibility” that signatures may have been illegally duplicated to qualify for the ballot during the 15 day curing period. It was decided that a bill will be introduced to eliminate the curing period altogether.

“It is obvious that they are talking about Amendment 62, as we are the only initiative to take advantage of the curing period in over 7 years,” explained Leslie Hanks, co-sponsor of Amendment 62 and Vice President of Colorado Right to Life. “Our volunteers worked so hard that we are certain we can stand behind the signatures they collected. We maintain that a higher than average percentage of our signatures are legitimate, and invite our opposition to check every one of the over 126,000 signatures. They are welcome to check the 5,000 signature sample against the other signatures as well, which would require very little time or effort and would absolutely prove that we got the job done with no ‘gaming’ of the system. We stand behind our volunteers and behind our signatures.”

“We are not surprised by veiled comments that attack our success,” added Keith Mason, manager of the Amendment 62 campaign. “One of the commission members is Kevin Paul, an attorney for abortion industry giant Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood’s lobby boasts a plaque recognizing Kevin Paul, and publicly acknowledges Kevin Paul for ‘Anticipating and advising on legal matters including regulatory challenges’. Is it really a surprise that a representative of abortion profiteer Planned Parenthood would like to disallow future pro-life grassroots efforts of the people?”

Amendment 62 is not affected by the Commission, as it is guaranteed its place on the 2010 ballot. However, future ballot initiatives could be at risk. “It would be far better to simply check for duplicate signatures than to eliminate the curing period altogether,” observed Amendment sponsor Gualberto Garcia-Jones of Personhood Colorado. “The commission is unwittingly acknowledging the remarkable power of an energized and mobilized church body. We look forward to the Secretary of State’s disbelief when churches around the state unite to pass Amendment 62.”

www.coloradostatesman.com/content/992118-cure-be-cured

www.personhoodcolorado.com

Divided Illinois Supreme Court Rejects Thomas More Society’s Request for Immediate Transfer of Parental Notice Challenge

September 3, 2010

CHICAGO (MetroCatholic) — Tuesday, August 31st, a divided Illinois Supreme Court denied a request by the Thomas More Society to transfer the legal case pending against the Illinois Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995 from the Appellate Court to the Supreme Court. Justices Robert R. Thomas and Thomas L. Kilbride dissented from the order denying the transfer.

“We’re obviously disappointed with this ruling, but we remain committed to doing everything we possibly can to bring these appeals to a speedy and positive conclusion,” said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society. “The latest constitutional attack on this law by the American Civil Liberties Union was deemed legally meritless and tossed out of court by both a federal appeals court and a Cook County trial court, and yet the Attorney General agreed — inexplicably and without any legal basis — that the enforcement of parental notice should still be stayed, that is, suspended pending the outcome of the ACLU’s appeal.”

With the transfer motion denied, the proceedings will continue in the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, where Thomas More Society attorneys are due to file their opening appeal brief on Friday.

About the Thomas More Society
Founded in 1997, the Thomas More Society is a national public interest law firm that exists to restore respect for life in law. Based in Chicago, the Thomas More Society defends the sanctity of human life, the family and religious liberty in courtrooms across the country. The Society is a nonprofit organization wholly supported by private donations. For more information or to support the work of Thomas More Society, please visit www.thomasmoresociety.org.

Catholic College Keeps Pro-Abortion Links Up Despite 15,000 Complaints

August 30, 2010

McKinney, TX  (MetroCatholic) — Well over 15,000 students and parents have politely requested that Alverno College, a Catholic college founded by the School Sisters of St. Francis, delete several web site links that channel students to abortion advocacy groups. However, despite the large number of complaints the links remain up and running.

Pro-abortion groups listed include the Center for Reproductive Health, National Organization for Women (NOW), EMILY’s List, and many more.

“You can’t be a true Catholic and at the same time favor abortion,” said TFP Student Action director John Ritchie. “It betrays the very mission of a Catholic institution. So, we’ve decided to intensify our prayers and protest until all the pro-abortion links are gone.”

One of the groups linked to Alverno College’s web site is called Radical Women. This organization bills itself as “a trailblazing socialist feminist organization,” and its web site not only promotes communist ideology and homosexual vice, but also the brutal abortion procedure known as partial birth abortion.

After TFP Student Action started its peaceful protest in June, Alverno College merely removed a few links and posted a disclaimer stating: “The views expressed in these weblinks do not necessarily reflect the views of the Alverno College Research Center for Women and Girls.”

However, according to TFP spokesman John Ritchie, “the disclaimer is just window dressing.”

Two Catholic institutions, Rosemont College and the University of Detroit Mercy, recently took down links to pro-abortion groups that were listed on their web sites. Yet Alverno College has not done so thus far.

TFP Student Action is asking its members to “speak out against this scandal” and sign an online protest addressed to Dr. Mary Meehan, president of Alverno College. The petition is available at: www.tfpstudentaction.org.

Louisiana Ultrasound Law Challenged in Federal Court

August 10, 2010

By Peter J. Smith

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pro-abortion advocates have filed suit in federal court against the state of Louisiana over the “Ultrasound before Abortion Act” signed last month into law by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The law requires abortionists to perform an ultrasound on a woman at least two hours before she undergoes the induced abortion of her child, and before she is put under any kind of anesthesia. Abortion facility employees must also follow a detailed script prescribed by law, offering pregnant mothers the opportunity to see the ultrasound image, hear a description of the image, and receive a printout of the ultrasound image. To guarantee compliance, legislators added a provision stating that abortionists failing to adhere to the law could expect to find themselves sued in civil court by their clients.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, representing six abortion facilities and an abortionist in Louisiana, filed suit with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. According to the Associated Press, the pro-abortion legal group argues the ultrasound law is “unconstitutionally vague,” saying it is not clear whether employees should try to pressure a woman into accepting an ultrasound printout. They also contend that delivery of the printout could expose a woman’s right to confidentiality to third parties.

The CRR’s arguments, however, were rejected by pro-life advocates responsible for crafting the bill as unfounded.

“The Louisiana abortion industry’s lawsuit is a baseless attempt to tie-up this life-saving law in federal court,” said Benjamin Clapper, Director of Louisiana Right to Life Federation, and Dorinda Bordlee, Senior Counsel of the Bioethics Defense Fund, in a joint statement. Both pro-life groups gave substantial assistance to Senator Sharon Weston Broome (D-15), the Senate’s President Pro Tempore, in crafting the bill and getting the legislature’s approval.

“The Louisiana ‘Ultrasound Before Abortion Act’ promotes informed decisions, and respects the woman’s right to have full access to medical information about her pregnancy and to the images of her unborn child,” they explained. “The Louisiana law mandates that an ultrasound be performed to determine viability and health issues, but it is strictly optional whether the woman chooses to view the ultrasound, to hear an explanation or to receive a print.”

The CRR also is challenging the constitutionality of another law, which exempts abortionists from state or private malpractice coverage when they conduct an abortion on a “uncomplicated and viable pregnancy” that poses no risk to the life of the mother. They contest the law would deter doctors from performing abortions, and therefore would place an unconstitutional burden on women’s right to an abortion.

The law was proposed by Democratic Rep. Robert Johnson of Marksville, and passed in the legislature by overwhelming bipartisan margins before being signed into law by Gov. Jindal on July 7.

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