Catholic.net News Report: April 27, 2011.
Catholic couple blazes new trails in adult cardiac stem-cell research
LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Dr. Eduardo Marban, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, and his wife Linda Marban, research manager for Cedars-Sinai's Board of Governors Heart Stem Cell Center, are blazing a new trail in adult cardiac stem-cell research. In a first-ever clinical trial, a small sample of a patient's own heart tissue is used to grow specialized heart stem cells. The stem cells are then injected back into the patient's heart in an effort to repair and re-grow healthy muscle in a heart that has been injured by heart attack. The trial could start a new era of treating heart disease, which is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States. If cardiac regeneration is possible, then people who suffer heart attacks might be able to achieve greater post-heart-attack productivity and health and, for the most extreme cases, not require heart transplants. The moral implications of the trial are also profound; no embryo is involved at any stage of the process. "I come from a culture that's deeply Catholic," said Eduardo Marban, who came to the United States from Cuba with his parents when he was 6 years old. "For me, that we could develop a treatment that was not ethically problematic, that was consistent with the Hippocratic Oath and the tenets of Catholicism, was very gratifying. We not only get a unique chance to do good, but we do it without trampling on anyone's ethical principles."
NCEA convention opens with New Orleans flavor, call to conversations
NEW ORLEANS (CNS) -- More than 7,000 Catholic educators kicked off the National Catholic Educational Association's annual convention with a New Orleans flavor April 26. After an opening speech by Boston College theology professor Father Michael Himes and a Mass celebrated by New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, conventioneers were ushered out of the main hall of the New Orleans Convention Center by the rousing sounds of the St. Augustine High School Marching 100, St. Mary's Academy and St. Mary's Dominican High School bands and mini-floats topped with riders throwing beads and trinkets. "We started with a bang," said Lisa Taylor, associate superintendent of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New Orleans and local convention coordinator. "We wanted to get people all excited, and I think we did!" Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, chairman of the NCEA board of directors, said NCEA has been a trusted voice in Catholic education for more than 100 years. "We recognize that our primary task is the communication of the person and the message of Jesus Christ," he said. Archbishop Aymond, a former chairman of the NCEA board, also said educators must be leaders who give direction and service in the name of Christ. He said New Orleans has a strong legacy in Catholic education, dating from the Ursuline nuns who arrived in 1727. He noted that the first NCEA convention was held in New Orleans in 1913 with a much smaller crowd. "Yet in all those years, our mission has been the same -- to teach as Jesus did," he said. "We honor all those past and those here today that carry on that ministry. ... We carry on his mission. We teach as Jesus did.
Prayer breakfast speakers emphasize legacy of Pope John Paul II
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- During the April 27 National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, speakers paid tribute to the soon-to-be-beatified Pope John Paul II and urged Catholic participants to continue his legacy of defending religious liberty and human dignity. Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., urged the audience of about 1,500 people, including politicians and Catholics from around the country, to take the message of Pope John Paul's pontificate to heart and not let it be "a flash of light that fades." In order to continue the pope's insistence on religious liberty, the bishop urged the crowd to remember the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East and ask government leaders to speak out for those "persecuted and killed for proclaiming the name of Christ." Closer to home, he spoke of a "subtle undermining of religious freedom in the United States," referring to health care provisions that "call into question the faith" of taxpayers and health care providers opposed to abortions. He said U.S. Catholic bishops are currently supporting three initiatives that protect the conscience rights of health care providers. Too often, he said, religious freedom is viewed as a "carve-out" or a special grant by the state, instead of being recognized as an inalienable right. He said churches should be guaranteed more than just their right to worship when their role in serving the poor and those in need is so extensive. When the church is inhibited in "its ability to deliver" services, it is "neither just nor reasonable," he said. Bishop Lori, who wrote a pastoral letter last year on religious freedom and has faced state legislative battles on religious freedom issues, stressed that U.S. Catholics have much to learn from Pope John Paul, particularly how he "never compromised truth."
Bishops join drive to protect anti-poverty programs from budget cuts
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Religious leaders, including two prominent Catholic bishops, challenged lawmakers to avoid cutting federal spending on anti-poverty programs that help the poorest and most vulnerable people during the country's mounting budget crisis. The challenge came April 27 as the leaders introduced the Circle of Protection campaign, pointing to biblical values of justice and care for the "least of our brothers and sisters" that Congress and the White House must uphold as the debate over the 2012 federal budget unfolds. "The poor don't have powerful political voices speaking on their behalf so we are speaking on their behalf. We want to be a strong moral voice that speaks for the common good and those who are most poor," said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. "A just (budget) framework cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in service. They require shared sacrifices by everyone," he said during one of three nationwide media teleconferences introducing the campaign. Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif., echoed his California colleague in a separate teleconference for Spanish-language media. Also supporting the effort is Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA.