Bin Laden killing poses questions for moral debate
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As word got out that Osama bin Laden had been killed by a Navy SEAL strike team in Pakistan, television and the Internet quickly began to feature images of spontaneous celebrations outside the White House and at ground zero in New York. Just as quickly, blogs and social media pages such as Facebook began to rage with debates: about the morality of bin Laden's killing and how it was accomplished and about the appropriateness of the celebratory atmosphere. Others questioned the meaning of the "justice" described by President Barack Obama in announcing bin Laden's death. "We must be clear what we understand when President Obama says 'justice has been done,'" said Gerard Powers, director of Catholic Peacebuilding Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, in an exchange of emails with Catholic News Service. "Justice has been done in that the killing of bin Laden was necessary to defend the common good against terrorism," Powers wrote. "Justice has not been done if we revel in his killing as an act of revenge for 9/11. It is unclear if justice has been done in the sense of holding bin Laden legally accountable for his past crimes against humanity, especially the 9/11 attacks." Also unclear was whether bin Laden could have been captured and brought to trial, Powers said. "If it was possible to capture bin Laden and he was killed anyway, then justice was not done." Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington, Va., whose diocese includes the Pentagon, wrote that bin Laden's death brings back painful memories for many in the community, which requires a note of caution. "It is important that we recognize the distinction between support for this act of justice defending our nation and a misguided sense of revenge," he wrote.
Mothers of Priests group in Minnesota nurtures special connection
MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (CNS) -- When Father John Helmueller was ordained to the priesthood 10 years ago for the Diocese of Sioux Falls, S.D., he was not the only member of his family to assume a new role. His mother Mary, who lives in Maplewood and is a parishioner at St. Jerome, felt so blessed to become the mother of a priest on that day. But at the same time, she wasn't quite sure what that meant for her own life. Helmueller began to think and pray about ways to make connections with other mothers whose sons were priests, whether in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis or elsewhere, so that they could come together to find support and companionship with one another. Five years ago, Mary Helmueller contacted Father Joseph Johnson, rector at the Cathedral of St. Paul, looking for some assistance with her plan. "He agreed to be our spiritual director and selected three other mothers of priests to help me start a group in the archdiocese," Helmueller said. Now, with close to 70 members throughout the archdiocese, the Mothers of Priests group has truly blossomed. Helmueller said there are four pillars on which the organization is based -- prayer, catechesis, service and community. Every mother is asked to attend daily Mass and pray the rosary for priests and vocations each day. If they are able, the mothers are also asked to make a Holy Hour each week. In terms of catechesis, the mothers meet for 8 a.m. Mass on the first Saturday of each month and then gather for a mini-retreat.
Church leaders near bin Laden compound ask for increased security
ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan (CNS) -- Church leaders demanded that the government boost security for their faith communities in the wake of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's death, which they fear will shatter the peace they have enjoyed for 10 years. "There was a not a single bombing here for about a decade of the war on terror," Father Akram Javed Gill, chairman of the interdenominational Association of Churches of Hazara Division, told the Asian church news agency UCA News May 4. "Now we know the reason." The church association, which includes the Catholic Church, met to discuss a future strategy in the area. The priest, who has been in charge of the 150-member St. Peter Canisius Catholic Church in this northern military garrison since 2007, said activities at the parish have been limited after the death of bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks killed by U.S. special forces. "I couldn't conduct pastoral visits to homes yesterday after security increased," Father Javed Gill said May 3. A healing prayer service scheduled today and upcoming church feasts were canceled. Also the four policemen posted guard for the church have been put on high alert. "It is crucial to maintain peace for the scattered minority communities in the area. We alter the venue at the last moment to avoid leaking the information about the gathering in a tense atmosphere," said Father Javed Gill said hours after the U.S. action.
Japan's evacuees face uncertainty, anxiety about living conditions
ISHINOMAKI, Japan (CNS) -- Earthquake and tsunami evacuees, many of them old people, are living with the anxiety of not knowing where they will live and the more pressing and simple needs of finding hot water to bathe. Most people who lost their homes to the March 11 disaster in northern Japan remain in evacuation centers in schools, gymnasiums and town halls, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News. Kiyoko Inomata, 85, lost her family and home in Ishinomaki. She lives in a school gym with other evacuees, but officials have announced that the schools must be cleared out by the middle of May so that normal student life can resume. "The kids have a hard time with us using their school, but they pitch in and help with the cleaning," said Inomata. Temporary housing is being put up around town, but there may not be enough ready by the deadline and, even if people get into the housing, they are expected to move out of it within two years. "I doubt they'll throw us out," said Inomata. "We old folks, though, are in no shape to go hunting for a place to stay. Where can I go? I want to stay in the area."
Pro-life official says he has sometimes faced 'ultimate evil'
NOTRE DAME, Ind. (CNS) -- Looking back at 30 years of pro-life work for the Catholic Church, Richard M. Doerflinger said he sometimes felt he had come into "contact with something very close to ultimate evil. I have to remind myself not to think of myself as fighting against evil people," said the associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities as he received the inaugural Evangelium Vitae Medal and its accompanying $10,000 prize at an April 28 banquet at the University of Notre Dame. The medal honored Doerflinger for his "remarkable contributions" to the pro-life cause. "In an age when the sanctity of life from its earliest to its final days is assaulted, you have courageously, tirelessly and quietly worked to build and sustain the 'unconditional respect for the right to life of every innocent person,' 'one of the pillars on which every civil society stands,'" the citation read. Quotations in the citation were taken from Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" (The Gospel of Life), for which the medal was named. In his remarks after the medal was bestowed on him, Doerflinger quoted Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who said, "The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being."
Canadian bishop pleads guilty to possessing child pornography
OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) -- The former bishop of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, has pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography. Bishop Raymond Lahey pleaded to the charge of possession "for the purposes of importation child pornography in the form of graphic computer images." However, he told the judge he was not guilty of possession with the intent to distribute. His May 4 plea was in response to his arrest at the Ottawa airport Sept. 15, 2009. Court documents had stated that the bishop's evasive behavior, coupled with a passport stamped with exotic locations known for child pornography, prompted a Canadian Border Services agent to examine the contents of his laptop. The bishop resigned his post in Antigonish later that month and has been living at a priests' residence in Ottawa. Bishop Lahey waived bail and was taken into custody. Media reported his lawyer said the bishop wanted to begin serving his time, even though his sentencing hearing had not been set. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement after the court hearing condemning "all forms of sexual exploitation, especially involving minors." It said the conference would "continue to work to prevent such behavior and to bring healing to the victims and their families."
Retired Auxiliary Bishop Mestice of New York dies at 87
NEW YORK (CNS) -- A Mass of Christian burial was scheduled for May 5 at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York for retired Auxiliary Bishop Anthony F. Mestice, who died April 29 at Mary Manning Walsh Home in Manhattan. Bishop Mestice, 87, was pastor emeritus of Resurrection Parish in Rye and the first U.S.-born Italian-American priest to become a bishop of the New York Archdiocese. He also had been pastor of Holy Trinity and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Poughkeepsie and St. Dominic's in the Bronx. He continually promoted vocations and served for many years as archdiocesan vicar for vocations. "I have always been a parish priest," he once told Catholic New York, archdiocesan newspaper. "I never wanted to do anything else." Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan was to celebrate the May 5 funeral Mass, with Father Joseph P. LaMorte, pastor of St. Gregory Barbarigo parish in Garnerville, as homilist. Cardinal Edward M. Egan, retired archbishop of New York, was to be the celebrant for a May 4 evening Mass in the bishop's honor at Resurrection Church in Rye, with Father Richard A. LaMorte, chaplain and campus minister at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, as homilist. The homilists, who are cousins, grew up in the parish where Bishop Mestice was assigned -- and spent 20 years -- following his priestly ordination in 1949: St. Anthony's in the Bronx. Both served him as altar boys and as parochial vicars when he was a pastor.
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