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Catholic parishioners fund stem cell research

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Professor Neil Scolding of the University of Bristol Institute of Clinical Neurosciences has just received received a grant of £25,000 from Catholic parishioners to help his work into 'ethical stem cell research'. Scolding is studying the use of adult stem cells in the battle against multiple sclerosis (MS) at Frenchay Hospital.

"We are absolutely delighted with this splendid contribution to our bone marrow stem cell research program relating to MS. Not only is it an extremely substantial help in funding our work, but an inspiring expression of confidence and optimism in what we are doing." says Scolding.

Catholic parishioners throughout the Bristol diocese collected grants and donations on the annual Day for Life on July 25. Bristol Catholic priest, Father Michael McAndrew says his parishioners raised £500,000 worth of grants that have been distributed nationwide

"The grants also benefit pregnancy counseling, mental health projects, and dementia sufferers thanks to the donations of Catholic parishioners in Bristol and throughout our diocese." McAndrew explained saying the Day of Life "celebrates the dignity of life from conception to natural death."

I'm proud that Catholics are on the side of the undocumented

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The decision last week by a federal judge in Arizona declaring most of SB1070 -- the immigration law passed by the Arizona state legislature and signed by Governor Janet Brewer -- to be unconstitutional came as no surprise for me since it is clear that according to constitutional law the federal government is responsible for immigration issues.

Still, the decision came as a relief for those who have expressed alarm about the continued dehumanization of immigrants and in particular undocumented Mexican workers.

CRS in Pakistan

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Press Release from Catholic Relief Services:

Baltimore, MD, August 2, 2010 -- Catholic Relief Services teams are hiking through mudslide areas to reach survivors of massive floods that have killed more than 1,200 people and affected an estimated 1 million people in Pakistan.

"For tens of thousands of people, these floods have been a catastrophe,"says Carolyn Fanelli, Head of Programming and Acting Country Representative for CRS Pakistan. "In some areas, whole villages have been wiped off the map. Others are now cut off from main roads and markets."

Read more about it here: CRS Pakistan Teams Brave Floodwaters to Reach Survivors

Immigration myths; church activism

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U.S. Catholic has an immigration lawyer (and practicing Catholic) "clear[ing] up some common misconception about immigration." Read the full story: Uncertain status: 15 myths about immigration

NPR's Weekend Edition yesterday morning had a story about the faith community's work to repeal Arizona's immigration law. Here is the opening of the transcript, which you read, or you can listen to that portion of the show.

Fight for the soul of the church

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A local Madison, Wis., newspaper has a story about the local Madison, Wis., church. The headline is Taking on Bishop Morlino and the teaser is "Robert Morlino claims to represent the true church of Jesus Christ. Some local Catholics aren't buying it."

And this is what we call "the nut paragraph":

When historians of the Catholic Church look back at the early 21st century, they may identify Madison as an important battleground. The fight here is between laypeople and the church's hierarchy; at stake, arguably, is the soul of the church.

West coast seminary: vocations are up

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Maybe this should be filed in the 'knock on wood' folder.

The San Mateo County Times reports this morning that St. Patrick's Seminary & University in Menlo Park, Calif. has been experiencing a slow, but steady rise in the number of seminarians over the past few years.

"It's a national thing we're experiencing," the Rev. James McKearney, St. Patrick's president, said of the upward trend in those pursuing priesthood.

"There's been a lot of anxiety in light of the fact that the church has been getting a lot of bad press," McKearney said, "but the vast majority of priests are good men. (St. Patrick's seminarians) want to be good priests as opposed to those who haven't lived their vows. They are not dissuaded by the bad press."

In the coming academic year, St. Patrick's is expected to have more than 100 seminarians following a steady rise since 2006 when it served 88 students.

The projected enrollment includes 34 new students, according to the school.

"We haven't seen that in many years," McKearney said. "It's an exciting time."

American appointed to congregation for religious

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The AFP is reporting that a native of Detroit, Joseph William Tobin, has been appointed secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

The prefect of that congregation is Cardinal Franc Rodé.

Tobin was previously named in May as one of a team of bishops and religious charged by the Vatican to conduct an Apostolic Visitation in Ireland. A Redemptorist, Tobin was also superior general of his order from 1997-2009.

Penny for your thoughts

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The Chicago Archdiocesan offices aren't open on Saturdays, but that didn't stop Frank Douglas from stopping by with a box full of 20,000 pennies--one for each of the estimated 20,000 victims of sexual abuse by clergy in the United States.

Douglas is the national director of Send The Bishops a Message, which urges Catholics to withhold financial donations to the church to express their outrage about its handling of the sexual abuse scandals.

"If you feel that the bishops and the pope have done everything humanly possible to protect children from known and credibly accused sexual predators employed by the church, fine, but, if not, we urge you to send church officials a message of disapproval by dropping a penny in the collection plate each time it is passed in front of you," Douglas wrote on his blog.

Douglas was in town for the national conference of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The $200 donation is meant to start a fund for victims, he said.

3 myths about sex abuse

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Accurate information about the church's sex abuse crisis is what the website bishop-accountability.org is all about--which is why one of its co-directors is so concerned about three myths that keep popping up in the news media.

"These myths minimize the devastation of the past and create the perception that the bishops today have reformed their ways," Anne Barrett Doyle told the national conference of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in Chicago Saturday afternoon.

She urged those at the conference to watch for--and correct--these three myths when they see them in the media:

1. The myth of mandatory reporting: Although the bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People specified that church authorities must call the police when an allegation is brought to them, that language was changed in the norms, which are the "real rules," Doyle said. The norms only require "complying with all applicable civil laws."

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