New Catholic magazine debuts

At a time when a number of newspapers and magazines of all kinds across the country have stopped publishing, opting for an online presence only, comes word that the Pittsburgh Catholic is debuting a new free quarterly magazine, in addition to everything else it publishes.

A May 28 announcement from Bill Cone, editor of the diocesan newspaper of the Pittsburgh Diocese, said the debut issue, arriving at parishes this weekend, will feature articles focusing on family life. Each issue will have “a definite focus,” Cone said, from teaching children about the Catholic faith to making a happy marriage to dealing with loss.

“The goal of all our products is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth starting with our corner of the world in southwestern Pennsylvania,” Cone said. “Our Catholic faith is the driving force behind what we do.”

Kmiec and George: Best of friends

Professors Robert George, left, and Douglas Kmiec shake hands at the conclusion of a discussion at the National Press Club in Washington May 28. The discussion was moderated by professor Mary Ann Glendon, center, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican . (CNS/Paul Haring)

Professors Robert George, left, and Douglas Kmiec shake hands at the conclusion of a discussion at the National Press Club in Washington May 28. The discussion was moderated by professor Mary Ann Glendon, center, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican . (CNS/Paul Haring)

Don’t let the views exchanged by two high profile Catholic law professors during a May 28 program at the National Press Club deceive you. Douglas Kmiec and Robert George are friends.

Throughout the 80-minute program sponsored by The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, the two constitutional law experts acknowledged each other’s pro-life credentials. They mixed compliments for each other with their arguments for their point of view. They repeatedly referred to each other as “my friend.”

Kmiec, professor of law at Pepperdine University, made no bones about the fact he continues to support President Barack Obama and his stated goal of reducing the incidence of abortion. His measured statements were in stark contrast with the rapidly speaking George, professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University, who seemed to want to make as many points as he could in his 20-minutes on the dais.

During a question-and-answer session that followed the formal presentations, the two well-known law professors continued pressing their main talking points.

George said Obama has not opened himself to reaching agreement on common concerns while listing several steps that the Princeton professor said would lead to fewer deaths of unborn children, such as banning second and third trimester abortions.

Kmiec said it was quite the contrary, that Obama’s proposals to fund programs that support pregnant women cut across a wide swatch of Catholic social teaching and are reason enough to engage him on the issue of abortion.

Mary Ann Glendon, professor of law at Harvard Law School and former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, kept a low profile in moderating the program. While the issue never came up, she gained plenty of publicity for recently refusing to accept the Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame for her contributions to society as one of the country’s leading Catholics. She turned down the honor because Notre Dame gave Obama an honorary degree during commencement.

Labor of love

Parishioners at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in La Follette, Tenn., really love their parish.

The 90 families in the parish love their community so much that they undertook an expansion of parish facilities on their own. Members, ranging in age from 56 to 83,  are handling every aspect of the project, reports The East Tennessee Catholic.

It’s a big project — some $930,000 worth. Imagine how much it would have been if contractors were hired. In the end, the parish will have tripled the church’s size.

New ambassador pick is theology professor

ANAHEIM, Calif. — We just got word that Miguel Diaz, a theology professor at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., is President Obama’s pick as the United States ambassador to the Holy See.

The press release from St. John’s:

Miguel Diaz, Ph.D., who serves on the graduate faculty of the School of TheologySeminary of Saint John’s University and undergraduate faculty of the Department of Theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, has been nominated as the United States Ambassador to the Holy See (Vatican).

President Barack Obama made the announcement on May 27, 2009.

Diaz has served on the SOT, SJU and CSB faculty since 2004. He is chairperson of the SOT’s Multicultural Committee; served as co-chairperson of the CSB/SJU Intercultural Directions Council; and, along with his wife, Marian Diaz, D. Min., established the Changing Faces: Intercultural Ministry and Hospitality series.

“Professor Miguel Diaz is a skilled Trinitarian theologian who is passionate both as a teacher and a scholar,” said Abbot John Klassen, OSB, of Saint John’s Abbey. “He is a strong proponent of the necessity of the Church to become deeply and broadly multi-cultural, to recognize and appreciate the role that culture plays in a living faith. Born in Havana, Cuba, he is a leading Hispanic theologian in United States.”

He earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Thomas University in Miami, Fla., and his master‘s and doctorate in theology from the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind. He taught previously at Barry University, Miami Shores, Fla.; St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, Boynton Beach, Fla.; University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio; and the University of Notre Dame. He also served as the academic dean at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary and is fluent in Italian, Spanish and French.

“The College of Saint Benedict is enormously proud that Miguel has been nominated by President Obama for this important post,” said MaryAnn Baenninger, president of the College of Saint Benedict. “Miguel is a highly-respected theologian and scholar, and an excellent teacher. Most importantly, he has a deep commitment to Catholic social justice and to inclusiveness in the Catholic Church. He truly lives a life of faith. He is the ideal candidate for this post.”

UPDATE: One of our reporters interviewed Diaz on Inauguration Day in Washington. You can read the nominee’s comments in this story by scrolling down to the 27th paragraph.

Faith reflection offered on climate change

reflection_environment_2009_120World Environment Day is June 5 and the Carmelite NGO, or nongovernmental organization, is asking people to pray for the environment and climate change that day.

The purpose, explained Carmelite Father William Harry in a brief press release, is to call attention to “the spiritual challenge of the ecological crisis.”

To help us in prayer, the order has prepared a booklet, “A Day of Prayer — a Faith Reflection on Climate Change,” to be used not just  June 5 but any time.  It’s a free download at

Bishop Matthiesen named Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award winner

Bishop Leroy T. Matthiesen, who once urged Catholics in the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, to reconsider their employment at a nuclear weapons factory in his diocese, has been named the Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award winner.

Writing in 1981 in The West Texas Catholic, the diocesan newspaper, Bishop Matthiesen urged people to seek peaceful employment. His call came after President Ronald Reagan announced that Pantex, the factory outside of Amarillo where all of the country’s nuclear weapons were assembled, would begin assembling neutron bombs.

The bishop, who turns 88 June 11 and has been retired since 1997, recalled to Catholic News Service how he was denounced for his stance, especially when jobs were in high need during the deep recession of the early 1980s. But he said he was motivated by his desire for the world to live in peace. 

“I always agreed with Cardinal (Joseph) Bernardin about this consistent ethic of life, that we shouldn’t just focus on the neutron bomb, that we shouldn’t just focus on abortion, that we shouldn’t just focus on the death penalty or the abolition of torture,” he said. “It’s beginning with the right to life at the very beginning, not ending there, but to have that consistent ethic of life.”

At the time his action heartened the Catholic peace movement. Soon, his fellow Texas bishops joined his call. The U.S. bishops also were influenced as they deliberated on and finally adopted their 1983 pastoral letter on the nuclear arms race, “The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response.”

Bishop Matthiesen will receive the award during Pax Christi USA’s annual national conference on peacemaking July 17-19 in Chicago.

Priest raises awareness about his homeland

Father Robert Aliunzi, a priest of the Apostles of Jesus and pastor of St. James Parish in Glendale, Ariz., is more than familiar with the needs of Ugandan youths. The 47-year-old native of Uganda — who became an orphan at age 6 and had to fend for himself and his siblings while on the run from soldiers — is now getting financial help for youths in Uganda who want to go to school but can’t afford it.  Read about his work here in a story by Joyce Coronel of The Catholic Sun, diocesan newspaper of  Phoenix.