Tuesday, October 29

Vatican to open archives related to Pacelli's time as apostolic nuncio in Germany

From the start of 2003, the Vatican will open its secret archives on the activities of the apostolic nuncio in Germany, Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII.
Cardinal Jorge María Mejía, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, told a press conference today that the first documents that will be made public are those relating to the nunciature in Germany during Pius XI's pontificate (1922-1939). Gradually, all the documents of that pontificate will be opened. Archbishop Pacelli was appointed nuncio to the new Weimar Republic in 1920, while he continued to be nuncio in Bavaria (an assignment he received in 1917). He left the nunciature in 1929, and the next year was appointed Vatican secretary of state by Pius XI, whom he succeeded in the papacy. Cardinal Mejía also reported that the Vatican Archives has proposed to the State Secretariat the publication of six CD-ROMs, as well as an introductory volume and six books of all the archives of the Office of the State Secretariat. Pius XII established the office in 1940 for the sake of prisoners of war. The office investigated and gave information on requests received by the Vatican State Secretariat from relatives and friends who wished to have information on their loved ones. The office remained in operation until 1946.

Bush administration continues to build up status of human embryos

The Bush administration has revamped the charter of the federal advisory committee that addresses the safety of research volunteers, stating for the first time that embryos in experiments are "human subjects" whose welfare should be considered along with that of fetuses, children and adults.

The addition of human embryos to the committee's charge -- completed at the beginning of October but not yet posted on the federal Web site that lists such committees -- marks the latest effort by the administration to bring the unborn under the umbrella of federal health protections. In September the administration enacted a new policy that extends certain health benefits to fetuses.

The new move does not mandate that embryos used in research be given the same protections as fetuses, children or adults. The committee can only offer recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services, which would then have to initiate rulemaking or encourage legislation if it wanted to put new protections in place.

But the wording marks a political victory for those in favor of increased protections for the unborn, experts inside and outside the government said. And depending on whom the administration selects to sit on the committee, it could be the start of a process that could result in greater restrictions on embryo research at some fertility clinics, universities and research labs, experts said.

Regarding the way this article was written: there's good news and bad news. The good news is that the term "unborn" is used - I suppose because the article refers to both embryos and fetuses and darn it, there's not another dehumanizing word they could use to cover both stages. The bad news is that the experts in opposition to the change are all associated with universities and such - directors of ethics and doctors and so on. Those cited in support are from National Right to Life and the USCC. Not that there's anything wrong with that, and they're doctors and lawyers, too. But the implication is clear: dispassionate researchers (as if) oppose; activists support.

Priest who ran homeless shelter warned FBI about John Muhammed
A reader writes in relation to the Central Catholic incident blogged below:

The Central Catholic incident is topic number one on regular talk and sports talk radio. Central parents are calling the stations to whine about the Diocese decision to pull CC from the WPIAL football playoffs. The complaint is that the whole team is being punished for the actions of two students. The teammates that stonewalled school and diocesan officials were just being loyal to their mates (never mind that the boy hazed was a teammate). Therefore, why should the other 65 players, even though they knew about the incident , be punished?

Students at Central do have an honor code that includes the requirement to report any violations of the honor code. The football team failed to live up to the standards that Central has set for its students. Failure of witnesses (either eyewitnesses or those with second-hand information) to come foward with what they knew (and commit purgery under direct questioning) was dealt with properly by the Diocese of Pittsburgh. At some point, we need to say that wrong and any cover-up of a wrong will be punished. These whiny parents should look in a mirror and recite "I confess to Almighty God . . . all that I have done and all I have failed to do . . ."

An interesting fact coming out about the matter is that Central's administration did not tell parents about what was happening until it hit the newspapers last week. The school interview students without parents present. Of course once the police became involved, parents have to be present when minors are interviewed. If the school involved the parents from day one, the matter would have been resolved by day two.

I heard one parent on the radio claim that the punishment was so severe because of the Church's sex scandal. He claimed that the punishment would not have been as harsh (as if not playing a football game is harsh punishment) if the Church was not facing its own wider sex scandal.

Personally, I think the punishment is appropriate. Secondly, I believe (and it has been rumored on the radio) that the coach should lose his job. I also heard through the diocesan grapevine that the athletic director and principle are under scrutiny from the diocese for attempting to cover up the crime from the diocese.

Lesson to be learned: never attempt a cover up. If this incident was properly addressed in August, Central would be playing in the WPIAL playoffs this weekend.

Fr. Thompson, of Bishop Dailey's diocese, gets five year's probation

A priest who pleaded guilty to stealing more than $95,000 from his Queens parish to pay for vacations, credit card bills and a car lease was sentenced Tuesday to five years of probation. The Rev. John Thompson also made an initial payment of $10,000 toward his restitution to St. Elizabeth's Roman Catholic Church under a plea deal that spared him jail time, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. Thompson, 50, pleaded guilty in September to grand larceny charges and admitted stealing $95,940 between August 1998 and April. He acknowledged using the money on personal expenses, including leasing an Infiniti, renting a vacation home in Mexico, paying for trips to Florida and paying off credit card debt.

In case you don't remember, this is the same Fr. Thompson who was accused by his parish school principal of sexual harrassment, for frequent references to gay bars, etc.


Christmas isn't too far off. I sure






There are bone chips in the ossuary

The bone fragments lie in the dirt at the bottom of the box like the dots and dashes of some infuriating code. They were there, says the owner, when he bought it. Whoever sold it to his dealer would have removed anything larger, since Israeli collectors and looters alike know that the rabbinical authorities are sensitive about human remains. What is left is these off-white bits. The largest is half an inch wide and three inches long, its inner surface an intricate honeycomb. A reporter holds it gently — who knows whose DNA it might contain?

Hewlitt-Packard selected to provide more online access to Vatican Library

As part of its philanthropy programme, HP will provide its infrastructure technology to assist the Vatican with adding Apostolic Library access to its existing Web site, as well as building faster access to the Vatican Library site and facilitating navigation of the bibliographic database.The Apostolic Vatican Library, founded by Pope Nicholas V (1447-1455), houses 1.6 million antique and modern printed volumes specialising in the fields of paleography, history, art history, classical literature and philology. The library also contains 8,300 incunabula (books printed before 1501, of which 65 are printed on vellum), 150,000 manuscript and records volumes, 300,000 coins and medals, and more than 100,000 prints.As part of the partnership, HP will also supply high-resolution imaging and printing devices to the library for the purposes of reproducing manuscripts and publications.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, an article on David Lodge
Diocese of Pittsburgh withdraws Pittsburgh Central Catholic HS from postseason play because of assault charges against players.
Phelps to picket Lexington Cathedral.

For what - baptizing the quads because their father and his partner are gay, or baptizing them because they're babies? If he's a consistent Baptist, seems like the latter would be as much a sin as the former.

Some have wondered why I've not commented on this yet. I posted it over at HMS, and I try not to duplicate, but my view is pretty simple, and in conflict with some. Of coure the babies should have been baptized. We fought about this at HMS several weeks ago, and no one has convinced me otherwise. I do believe, however, that the baptism should have been private, not publicized, and the men shouldn't have been blessed. No matter what the priest says, blessing them as a couple implies...blessing their coupledom. I'd be interested in what David has to say about this, but he hasn't posted on his blog in a while. Everything okay, David?

And before you post a comment, remember this - the subject of the baptism is the child. There is, of course, a communal dimension, but in our last discussion on this, I was really struck by something Charles Collins, whose worked in a tribunal and who is now with Vatican Radio said in response to those who wouldn't want the babies baptized - Okay. You want to minister to the kids. You want to bring them closer to Christ. But you can't even start to do that properly until they're in the Church. Baptism does not imply approval of family situations, although in this day and age in which sacraments have become mostly social occasions to celebrate the greatness of the individual and his or her family, one might get that impression. Baptism is the first step in the lifelong journey towards the fullness of life with Christ. But I do think in a situation like this, the baptism should be private, with only the "parents" and godparents, and in the context of a parish that can differentiate between the sins of the fathers and the innocence of the children.

CNN Europe looks at the Conscience of Hong Kong: Bishop Joseph Zen

In the often stale and staid political scene in the former British colony, Bishop Zen well and truly stands out. "This is more than a breath of fresh air," says legislator Martin Lee. "To have somebody speaking out so clearly in defense of human freedom, I think we are very fortunate to have a bishop like him." Hong Kong is in its fifth year as a Special Administrative Region of China and topping Zen's concerns is a government move, supported by Beijing, to introduce a law against subversion known as Article 23. Zen believes it will jeopardize the freedoms, including religious freedom, that China promised to preserve in the territory. "This Article 23 is really terrible, really terrible. I see danger everywhere in that document. I think that's the worst thing that can happen to Hong Kong after the handover," Zen says. "[There is danger] even for the church in general, for the press, for those who dissent from the government, from Beijing." The Chinese government, which does not recognize the Vatican and maintains tight controls over the church on the mainland has branded Zen a "Vatican agent" and barred him from visiting. "They are afraid of everything they cannot control. They are punishing bishops who do not collaborate, punishing seminaries -- very harsh, very harsh," Zen says.


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