Stem-cell policy change coming

Although the White House will only confirm that there is “a stem-cell-related event” scheduled for Monday, The Washington Post is reporting that President Obama will lift the restrictions on federal funding of stem-cell research involving the destruction of human embryos at an 11 a.m. news conference. The decision is sure to prompt much reaction from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who called embryonic stem-cell research immoral and unnecessary in a document last June, and from scientists who have been finding success in research that doesn’t require destroying embryos. Stay tuned.

Appeal of Conscience Foundation honors British prime minister

In Washington honors are bestowed on someone or some group almost on a daily basis it seems. One such honor this week was an award given by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Rabbi Arthur Schneier, foundation president and founder, and Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington and the foundation’s vice president, honored Brown with the 2009 World Statesman Award March 3 at the British Embassy.

Founded in 1965, the foundation has worked on behalf of religious freedom, human rights and tolerance throughout the world. The interfaith coalition of business and religious leaders promote mutual understanding, peace and interfaith dialogue.

Brown was recognized for “his compassionate leadership in dealing with the challenging issues facing humanity, and for his commitment to freedom, human dignity and the environment, and for the major role he has played in helping to stabilize the world’s financial system.”

“I am privileged to be receiving this award from a foundation that I admire and this is a great honor,” Brown said. “I look forward to working with the Appeal of Conscience Foundation in the future as you defend human rights and freedom in the world.”

Past recipients of the World Statesman Award include French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, other world leaders and leading international business leaders.

Rabbi Schneier praised Brown for his courage “to defend freedom, democracy and human rights, values common to the British and American people” and his “commitment to strengthen the tolerance and coexistence within society.”

“Your keen intellect and compassionate leadership are particularly appreciated in these trying times as economic hardships increase societal divisions and international tensions,” the rabbi said.

Finding faith in cyberspace

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’ve embraced at least some forms of new media for information and networking.

And so goes many segments of the Catholic Church.

From intricate Web sites exploring Catholic teaching from numerous perspectives across the Internet to social networking sites, parishes, Catholic schools, private individuals and, yes, even the Vatican, are embracing new ways to reach people and share their news and views.

The Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington, Va., takes a look at new media and how church institutions are embracing a variety of new means of communication in a recent report. The story offers insight into what’s transpiring in new media circles and even offers hope that despite such efforts, there’s still nothing like an old-fashioned face-to-face conversation.