British religious leaders unite to stop euthanasia
LONDON (CNS) - Catholic and Anglican leaders in Britain have united to condemn a new attempt to legalize euthanasia for the terminally ill. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster and Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, spoke out against euthanasia on the eve of a debate in the House of Lords. The debate focuses on a House of Lords select committee report on the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill, which 73-year-old Lord Joffe plans to reintroduce at the end of October or beginning of November, according to reports in the British press Oct. 10. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, speaking on a British Broadcasting Corp. program Oct. 9, said he hoped politicians would argue against the bill. "If this law is passed, it seems to me that the duty of the law to act on behalf of the people would be broken, because the law is there to protect life, and a right to die can become a duty to die," he said.
Mexican bishops seek to boost voter participation
MEXICO CITY (CNS) - In anticipation of July elections, Mexico's bishops will organize workshops around the country aimed to boost voter participation, civic culture and political consciousness in a country that had little in the way of democracy for most of the 20th century. "Mexico is lacking in democratic culture," said Father Salvador Lopez Mora, who helped design the workshops, scheduled to begin in October. "So the purpose of these workshops isn't just to get people voting; it's to help construct citizen participation. "So many Mexicans are disenchanted and let down by politics, so the church hopes to step in and help foment democratic culture," he said. Mexico only had its first truly democratic presidential elections in 2000, when Vicente Fox, a former Coca-Cola executive and member of the National Action Party, gave the opposition its first victory in more than seven decades of single-party rule. Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa called Mexico the "perfect dictatorship" during the long rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which stayed in power largely through electoral fraud and vote buying. Mexico maintains a series of anti-clerical laws that restrict religious figures' involvement in politics. Some political parties in recent years have sued priests and bishops for urging voters to support candidates whose positions on issues like abortion are in line with those of the Catholic Church.
Hearing finds priest probably killed two men
HUDSON, Wis. (CNS) - Parishioners are still struggling with their emotions after a hearing found probable cause that Father Ryan Erickson, a Superior diocesan priest who was then serving at St. Patrick Parish in Hudson, killed two funeral home employees in 2002. After being questioned by police about the deaths, Father Erickson, 31, hanged himself last December at the parish to which he had been transferred, St. Mary of the Seven Dolors in Hurley. Many parishioners said they were still coming to grips with how a priest could commit such a crime - the murders of funeral home director Dan O'Connell, 39, and intern James Ellingson of Barron, 22 - and then take his own life. "I conclude that Ryan Erickson probably committed the crimes in question," said Judge Eric Lundell. Although acknowledging the evidence was circumstantial, he said it was still very strong. "On a scale of 1 to 10, I would consider it a 10." Hudson police said the investigation is considered closed. In a statement about the Erickson case, Superior Bishop Raphael M. Fliss said Oct. 6: "In my role as bishop I know that ultimate responsibility for much of what has taken place rests on my shoulders."
Senate confirms Rooney as Vatican ambassador
WASHINGTON (CNS) - Francis Rooney, a businessman with ties in Oklahoma and Florida, was confirmed by the Senate Oct. 7 to be U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. In a voice vote, the Senate agreed to confirm Rooney's appointment along with the nominations of dozens of other people to posts ranging from assistant secretaries of various federal agencies to judges for the District of Columbia. Rooney is chief executive officer of Rooney Holdings, which includes insurance and construction companies. He also has been active in Oklahoma and Florida in charitable and community organizations including the Knights of Malta, an Oklahoma Catholic hospital's strategic planning committee, the American Red Cross and the United Way. The post of Vatican ambassador has been vacant since Jim Nicholson became secretary of Veterans Affairs in January.
Bishop decries policy on Cubans entering U.S.
MIAMI (CNS) - Calling it "inhumane, unjust and ineffective," retired Auxiliary Bishop Agustin A. Roman of Miami has called for the abolishment of the so-called "wet foot/dry foot" policy that applies to Cubans trying to enter the United States. According to the policy, Cubans who touch land in the United States can stay, while those caught at sea are sent back to the island. The Cuban Adjustment Act, passed in the early 1960s and revised in 1996, allows Cubans to apply for residency a year and one day after arriving in the United States. The U.S. government has no repatriation agreement with Cuba's communist government. The bishop's comments were prompted by the Sept. 23 interdiction, carried live on local television stations, of 10 Cuban refugees as they neared the shores of Haulover Beach in a homemade boat. Those "painful images," Bishop Roman wrote in a statement issued Sept. 27, "were a living demonstration of how the cold interpretation of the letter of the law threatens to dehumanize us, when that interpretation is placed above the spirit of a nation whose fundamental law recognizes each person's right to 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.'"
Ray H. Siegfried, member of review board, dies
TULSA, Okla. (CNS) - Ray H. Siegfried II, a Catholic philanthropist who was one of the first members of the U.S. bishops' National Review Board on clergy sexual abuse, died in Tulsa Oct. 6 following a four-year struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He was 62. His funeral Mass was celebrated Oct. 10 at Holy Family Cathedral in Tulsa. His body was then flown to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana for a final Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart Oct. 11 and burial in the university's Cedar Grove Cemetery. Siegfried graduated from Notre Dame in 1965 and was one of the university's biggest benefactors. Notre Dame's president, Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, called him "a man whose wisdom, leadership and generosity will be felt on this campus for all time."
Bishop Wycislo dead at 97; attended Vatican II
GREEN BAY, Wis. (CNS) - Retired Bishop Aloysius J. Wycislo of Green Bay, at age 97 the oldest Catholic bishop in the United States, died Oct. 11 of pneumonia. He had been one of a handful of remaining U.S. bishops who attended all sessions of the Second Vatican Council. Bishop Wycislo was a bishop since 1960 and headed the Green Bay Diocese from 1968 until his retirement in 1983. Earlier, as field director of Catholic relief efforts during and after World War II, he directed a staff that resettled hundreds of thousands of displaced persons and established 262 welfare centers in 23 countries in Europe and the Near East.
Canon Law Society elects Massachusetts priest
TAMPA, Fla. (CNS) - A priest of the Diocese of Worcester, Mass., is the new vice president and president-elect of the Canon Law Society of America. Msgr. R. Stephen Pedone, judicial vicar and vicar for canonical affairs in the Diocese of Worcester since 1993, was elected at the national convention held in Tampa Oct. 3-6. He will serve one year as vice president before succeeding Msgr. Daniel Hoye as president at the conclusion of next year's convention.