Religion News in Brief

Posted April 20, 2007

The Associated Press
Thursday, April 19, 2007

WASHINGTON - Efforts to remove religion's influence from the public square will fail, in large part because faith plays such a major role in most Americans' lives, the recently appointed Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington said.

Archbishop Donald Wuerl's comments came at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on April 13. President Bush was the headline speaker.

Wuerl said the church's moral theology has helped frame debates over the Iraq war, abortion, embryonic stem cell research, physician-assisted suicide and immigration. Religious faith, Wuerl said, continues to play a significant role in both promoting social justice issues as well as "defending all innocent human life."

In his address, Wuerl echoed Pope Benedict XVI's frequent warnings about the threat of secularism.


Catholics United Pushes Back at Republican Prayer Breakfast

Posted April 17, 2007

At the National Catholic Prayer breakfast last Friday, President Bush preached to the choir on issues of life and dignity. A number of conservative powerbrokers were on hand, including several cabinet members and former Sen. Fred Thompson, a possible Republican presidential candidate. According to Joe Cella, the breakfast's founder, the breakfast is a forum for Catholics to "gather together in prayer and fellowship."

But some Catholics say the annual event is more about Republican politics than the church. "Let's be honest, this event would be more accurately labled the 'Republican Catholic Strategy Breakfast,'" said Chris Korzen of Catholics United for the Common Good. "Its organizers have a clear track-record of putting partisanship above church teaching. My concern is that the general public is looking at this and thinking that its affiliated the Catholic Church," he said. "It's not."

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Bush Calls for 'Culture of Life'

Posted April 17, 2007

By Daniel Burke
Religion News Service
April 13, 2007

WASHINGTON — President Bush preached to the choir at the National Catholic Prayer breakfast Friday, promoting the "dignity of life," and stressing his opposition to easing restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research — a reference to a bill he's threatened to veto.

"In our day there is a temptation to manipulate life in ways that do not respect the humanity of the person," Bush said Friday. "When that happens, the most vulnerable among us can be valued for their utility to others instead of their own inherent worth."

The Senate on Wednesday voted 63-34 to pass the measure that it hopes will lead to new medical treatments. The vote, however, fell short of a veto-proof margin needed to enact the law over Bush's objections. The House, which passed similar legislation earlier in the year, is expected to adopt the Senate's version in the weeks ahead.

"We must continue to work for a culture of life where the strong protect the weak and where we recognize in every human life the image of our creator," Bush said.


Catholics United Questions Partisanship of National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

Posted April 11, 2007

Catholics United for the Common Good is expressing grave concerns today over the partisan nature of the annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, to be held in Washington, D.C. on Friday, April 13.

The Prayer Breakfast’s entire board of directors has ties to Republican candidates, party apparatus, and affiliated organizations, and its partisan agenda is underscored by President George W. Bush's perennial appearance at the event.

Catholics United is also asking keynote speaker Archbishop Donald Wuerl to use his remarks to dispel any attempt by political operatives to suggest his participation indicates a close alliance between the Church and the Republican Party.

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Catholics United Questions Partisanship of National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

Posted April 11, 2007

For Immediate Release
Contact:

Chris Korzen
202-903-0856
ckorzen@catholics-united.org

Catholics United Questions Partisanship of
National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

Urges D.C. Archbishop Wuerl to use Keynote Speech to Draw Clear Lines Between
the Catholic Church and the GOP

Washington D.C. - Catholics United expressed grave concerns today over the partisan nature of the annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, to be held in Washington, D.C. on Friday, April 13. The Prayer Breakfast’s entire board of directors has ties to Republican candidates, party apparatus, and affiliated organizations, and its partisan agenda is underscored by President George W. Bush's perennial appearance at the event. Catholics United is also asking keynote speaker Archbishop Donald Wuerl to use his remarks to dispel any attempt by political operatives to suggest his participation indicates a close alliance between the Church and the Republican Party.


Justice in Iraq Now

Posted April 09, 2007

Sign this Petition to End the War

Nearly 3,300 U.S. troops dead and counting, untold tens of thousands of civilian casualties, some 2 million refugees fleeing for their lives. In his annual Easter message, Pope Benedict XVI had the courage to say something that's been on many Catholics' minds these days: that "nothing positive comes from Iraq," a country "torn apart by continual slaughter." It's time for American Catholics to stand and be counted. Do we allow our leaders to keep escalating a worsening situation, or do we accept the fact that our nation's military might has now done all it can?

By Catholic standards, the conflict in Iraq is quickly becoming a moral failure, marked by continuing violence and the emergence of a serious refugee and humanitarian crisis. And most now agree that deteriorating security in the region is only made worse by an ongoing U.S. military presence. This week President Bush followed through on his threat to keep our fighting forces in Iraq indefinitely by vetoing a war spending bill that includes a timetable for U.S. troopdrawal. For Catholics and Americans who seek an end to the conflict, the president's move represents a step in the wrong direction. Our Catholic community can send a strong message if we join together and call on the president to work Congress and do the right thing for our troops and for the people of Iraq. Click the link below to add your voice to the Justice in Iraq Now petition.

www.catholics-united.org/iraq


Pope Benedict: Rich Nations Have 'Plundered' the Third World

Posted April 05, 2007

In his new book, Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict condemns the effects colonialism has had on Third-World countries, and especially throughout Africa. For the illusory benefits of power and profit, the pope writes, the world's rich nations have "plundered and sacked" Africa and other poor regions, equating the current situation to the parable of the Good Samaritan.

According to Reuters, the pope is calling wealthy nations to task for the current disparity between rich and poor, and says that they must work to rectify the situation and promote the justice and equality of all.


The 2007 Farm Bill: Tell Congress to Help Small Farmers

Posted March 28, 2007

Sign this petition and join Catholics United and Oxfam in urging Congress to help the world's small and struggling farmers. This year, Congress will debate a new Farm Bill, which for the next five years will either set policies that could either help small farmers at home and abroad - or keep them struggling.

Currently, the Farm Bill represents a broken promise to America's farmers and rural communities. It falls well short of meeting its obligations to families that depend on food stamps and conservation programs that protect rivers and streams. And to make matters worse, the current Farm Bill actually hurts poor farmers in developing countries. As Catholics, we are called to work towards the common good, one that makes sure everyone benefits from the increasingly global agricultural market - not just the multi-nationals and corporate conglomerate farmers.


Sisters of Mercy President Arrested at Iraq Protest

Posted March 22, 2007

SILVER SPRING, MD - Sister Mary Waskowiak, president of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, was arrested early Saturday morning when she joined more than 200 persons in an act of civil disobedience at the White House as part of a Christian Peace Witness against the War in Iraq. Sister Mary was fined $100 and released after six hours.

The Sisters of Mercy worked interdenominational groups to plan the public prayer service and march from the National Cathedral to the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 16. More than 3,000 persons attended, Sister Mary representing the Sisters of Mercy during the prayer service and approximately 25 Sisters of Mercy and Mercy Associates participating.


Christian Peace Witness for Iraq

Posted March 19, 2007

Catholics United's own James Salt - one of the organization's founding members - was on hand last Friday night to bear witness at the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq protest in Washington, D.C. Here, he shares us what it was like to be in the middle of the protest:

"On Friday evening, March 16, more than 3,000 people of faith from across the country fought blustery winds and sleet in Washington, D.C. to gather in prayer for an end to the war in Iraq."

"Organized by faith-based groups including Sojourners/Call to Renewal, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, the Mennonite Church USA, and the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq was an ecumenical prayer service that brought together various Christian traditions in a single voice of opposition."

"The protest began a service at Washington's National Cathedral, the "overflow" crowd watching via video feed from the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church down the street. During the service, Celeste Zappala gave a moving testimony on losing her son, Sherwood Baker, a Pennsylvania National Guardsman, to the war."