Links on alleged sterilizations at Catholic hospitals

We ran a story today on Our Sunday Visitor’s report alleging that thousands of sterilizations may have taken place in Catholic hospitals in Texas from 2000 to 2003.

For additional details, here is a link to the newspaper’s main story. The paper also has a sidebar on the moral issues involved in sterilizations at Catholic facilities, a second sidebar on Catholic health care systems operating in Texas, an interview on the findings with the president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, an editorial calling on bishops to review their relationships with Catholic health care agencies, and a column by OSV editor (and CNS alum) John Norton summarizing the entire package.

Celebrities attract attention, can also cause distractions

High-profile speakers attract the kind of crowds and media attention organizers of events hope for. But, they also attract people with agendas who are eager — and sometimes overzealous — to gain support for their cause.

Such was the case at a recent lecture I covered at The Catholic University of America in Washington.

NBC “Nightly News” anchor and managing editor Brian Williams was the featured speaker for a Catholic Common Ground Initiative event, which was in part a tribute to the late “Meet the Press” moderator Tim Russert, who died June 13, and how Russert’s Catholic roots helped propel him to become one of the most respected political journalists on U.S. television. (Russert originally was scheduled to deliver the address that evening.)

In an effort to engage the audience in the dialogue, organizers allowed the audience to ask Williams and the other speakers questions. However, most of the four audience members who took control of the microphone ended up asking rhetorical questions that had little to do with the subject of common ground, but rather the specific causes they hoped to push.

The most notable came from a gentleman who wanted to know why NBC wasn’t airing news stories about a woman in Emmitsburg, Md., who has claimed to see regular apparitions of Mary since the late 1980s and has been directed to deliver heavenly messages.

Though Williams said he didn’t know about the story, he politely told the gentleman that his network receives thousands of news tips every year and they can’t possibly investigate them all.

What Williams didn’t know is that this woman’s claims have been dismissed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Vatican.

The NBC news anchor made it clear to the audience that under normal circumstances he would stay after the lecture and spend more time with members but that he had to rush out that evening and drive to New Jersey.

But the Emmitsburg “visionary” advocate followed the newsman into the hallway to plead his case for news coverage and caused a scene, which required security to escort him out of the building, delaying Williams’ exit.

Though he was gracious and understanding about the drama that unfolded, Williams was the victim of his own celebrity and prominent position as a pipeline for information to a national audience.

A papal three-wheeler

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI was presented yesterday with two brand-new customized Piaggio three-wheeled vehicles. The funky, light weight transport vehicles are called “ape” in Italian, which means “bee” — probably for the loud buzzing noise the tiny engine makes as it putters along.

Piaggio’s CEO and the head of its Indian subsidiary presented the pope with the two white Ape-Calessino models that were made in India.  The gift was made to mark the 60th anniversary of the first Piaggio ape to come off the assembly line.

Vatican newspaper now in Malayalam

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, will now be available to some 6 million Catholics in the Indian state of Kerala starting today — the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle .

While the daily paper comes out six days a week in Italian, the paper also publishes weekly editions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and a monthly paper in Polish. The Malayalam edition is a translation of the English-language weekly edition and will be the newspaper’s first publication in a language that does not use the Roman alphabet. 

In a message sent June 25, Pope Benedict XVI called the new publication “a highly significant event in the life of the church in India” since it will keep so many Catholics fully informed about the ministry of the pope and the Vatican and strengthen the bonds of Kerala’s Catholic community to the See of Peter.