Our mission is to Educate, Motivate and Activate the Catholic faithful of the Oakland, California diocese. Called to be supportive instruments of social communication as defined in Canon law 823, Para 1, we will review articles on social and moral trends reported in the official diocesan publication, "The Catholic Voice." Our goal is to provide local Catholics with a fuller perspective on issues affecting their temporal and spiritual lives, empowering them to act in defense of their faith.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Vatican speaks out against new way of making stem cells

VATICAN CITY — A Vatican official criticized a new method of making stem cells that does not require the destruction of embryos, calling it a "manipulation" that did not address the church's ethical concerns.

Monsignor Elio Sgreccia, the Vatican's top official on bioethical questions, said in an interview with Vatican Radio on Saturday that the method of making stem cells devised by scientists at Advanced Cell Technology Inc. in Alameda, Calif., remains an in-vitro form of reproduction, which the church opposes.

"That, from a point of view that is not only Catholic, but from a point of view of bioethic reasons, is a negative factor," said Sgreccia, who heads the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Church teaching holds that in-vitro fertilization is morally wrong because it replaces the conjugal union between husband and wife and often results in the destruction of embryos. Artificial insemination for married couples is allowable if it "facilitates" the sex act but does not replace it. The church condemns all forms of experimentation on human embryos.

Advanced Cell's method "doesn't solve the ethical problems," Sgreccia said.

The new method — described online Wednesday in the British journal Nature — works by taking an embryo at a very early stage of development and removing a single cell, which could then spawn an embryonic-stem-cell line. With only one cell removed, the rest of the embryo retains its full potential for development.

But Sgreccia said the new method does not address what he said was the fact that even the single cell removed in the new approach could theoretically grow into a full-fledged human.

Embryos' right to life
The current method of creating stem cells involves the destruction of embryos after about five days of development, when they consist of about 100 cells. Stem cells are important because of their potential to transform into any type of human tissue, perhaps leading to new treatments for a series of illnesses. The church says the embryos deserve the same right to life as fetuses, children and adults.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


We have received a response to our April 26, 2006, article on “Carondelet Students Tackle Consumerism.” Our correspondent, Maureen O’Leary Wanket, was mentioned in that article as having been prominent in establishing a series of seminars on campus entitled the Fontbonne Forum.

It appears that she believes our article has done her an injustice. However, through her position as a “devout Catholic and educator” she appears willing to forgive us our trespasses while praying for our enlightenment. (See her letter at the end of this response).

Ms Wanket states that while she had nothing to do with the particular Fontbonne Forum topic on Consumerism, she was one of the founders of the Forum and is still in touch with those currently directing the Forum. So, one might say that she still has some influence and input into the ongoing agenda.

I might suggest that before reading any further one might want to go back and read the latest posted article on this web site about the secular as versus the Catholic media. I do believe much of what Archbishop Amato states in regard to the duties of the Catholic media also apply to the teaching profession within the contest of Catholic education.

If I may be permitted to very briefly generalize subject: he chided the Catholic media for, often times, providing open ended reports, rather than instructing in the Catholic faith, which could lead one to believe that they could accept whatever conclusion they wanted. He spoke, further, about the impropriety of providing pro and con debates on some very basic subjects as though everything was merely a difference of opinion and that every opinion was a “good” as long as one acted on the information.

That is what I see as so pernicious to Catholic education in general these days and to the Fontbonne Forum type of “whole child” development . Ms Wanket and by extension, Carondelet, apparently believes as do the public school educators, that it is the responsibility of the school to address and improve the physical, mental and social development of the child. Wonder where the parents and the church come in?

Ms Wanket says that she gave a talk about the importance of avoiding war in 2003, but was this just her own political special interests? Was this talk of hers based on the Catholic teaching of the “Just War” Theory? Was there anyone at the school, her department head, the Principal, someone, who could preview what she said to insure that it reflected Catholic teaching?

Was there anyone at that 2003 forum who could speak to the Just War Theory? Is Ms Wanket not only a superbly educated teacher, but a scholarly student of war as well? What were her credentials to address young, impressionable students with a one sided presentation on war? Was she given special insight into the ramifications of war by the President, the Speaker of the House, the head of the War Department?

I wanted to learn a little more about Ms Wanket and what her philosophy of teaching might be. I googled her name and found it associated with an education organization entitled Association for the Supervision of Curriculum and Development - ASCD. . I recommend doing an in-depth reading of this site to better understand what influences are affecting educational instruction these days.

For someone who sees herself as an “educated and observant Catholic” she appears to be more persuaded by the secular fads in education rather than the wisdom of the Bible and the encyclicals on social issues.

Ms Wanket may well have adopted as her own, the Mission Statement of this ASCD organization which is:

“Schools can not achieve their primary mission of education if students and staff are not healthy and fit physically, mentally and socially.”

The ASCD is funded, at least in part, by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, so prominent in using the schools to develop health clinics and global and international models of education to create the internationally aware student trained to accept his/her place in the global world of the future.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation promotes a project entitled First Amendment Schools Project. It states that “The purpose of education is that the students become productive and valuable citizens of a democratic society." Sorry, Ms Wanket, but those are usually the code words for socialism. Pure democracy leads to socialism.

Projects like the Fontbonne Forum give youth the belief that they are as proficient in and capable of addressing the world’s economic and social agendas as those who are elected to office, In some cases perhaps they see themselves as more capable because they have been trained to be more compassionate than others.

Wanket and others like the current director of the Fontbonne Forum seem to delight in ripping away the veil of innocence protecting our youth before they have had a thorough grounding in adult understanding and training in moral values and basic human principles.

The object is to make the student dissatisfied with life in America under a Democracy within a Republic by taking them out of their familiar surroundings, filling their heads with mindless drivel about the unfortunate and immoral way in which capitalism and those who head up the political and business communities mistreat and prey on less fortunate people. They end up by turning these students toward the government as the sole provider of protection and justice for the oppressed demoralizing their Catholic faith and turning them into unbelievers.

Educators are not alone in this work of undermining our youth. Our Catholic Voice Newspaper is constantly filled with articles about the work done by groups such as the Contra Costa Interfaith Sponsoring Committee - CCISCO - and its parent organization PICO - Pacific Institute for Community Organizing. These groups take the children of low income or immigrant families, feed their disenchantment and bitterness, train them to believe that the government bureaucrat is their best hope for a bright future and turn them into community activists ready and willing to force more government interventions down our throats.

PS: It should be noted that the hosts of this web site have a background in Catholic education, in the fields of Teaching and Social Work with special emphasis on Counseling and Political Science.


Here is Ms Wanket's letter in full:

Hello there! You got your facts wrong, I'm afraid. My name is Maureen O'Leary Wanket and you mention my name in connection with the consumerism Fontbonne Forum at Carondelet High School. The truth is that I am currently a teacher at Loretto High School at Sacramento. I haven't taught at Carondelet since 2005, and I had nothing to do with the consumerism Fontbonne. I was one of the founders of the original Fontbonne Forum three years ago, though. I gave a talk about the importance of avoiding war in 2003. You might be interested in knowing that during that forum we gave equal time to opposing viewpoints who thought going to war against Iraq was a fine idea. I did not attend the latest Fontbonne Forum regarding consumerism, so I don't have any authority to speak on it. I do know the organizers of that activity personally, however, and I can assure you that they are not now, nor have ever been Communist. They (and I) do tend to rally in defense of the poor, and on behalf of peace, however, but what can you expect from a group of observant and educated Catholics? Also, thanks for reading my article in Teacher magazine. I like to make an effort to reach disaffected youth as well as those who are already as enthusiastic as I am about reading. As a devout Catholic and educator, I look to the Gospel of Christ for guidance on helping everyone, not just those who are already saved.

Thanks for calling me into the discussion. I'm adding you to my prayer list.

In Christ, Maureen O'Leary Wanket


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Catholic media should seek and transmit the truth

Catholic media needs to be different from secular news

Archbishop Angelo Amato, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) said in an interview, published this week, that the Catholic media needs to be different from secular news and should seek and transmit the truth of the faith.

In an interview with Polish Catholic weekly “Niedziela”, the Archbishop said that the secular media often chooses to transmit manipulations of the Church’s teaching rather than what it is truly saying. “The media do not publish the whole texts of the Magisterium. The problem is that as a rule they choose (certain) points, often secondary, that can cause polemics or scandals,” the Archbishop said. “One should admit that we very often have the impression that we are living in some artificial virtual reality that is created by media workers and various opinion-forming people.”

However, the Archbishop said, “The Gospel is not a creation of human mind but God's message concerning the reality of man and the universe.” Therefore, Catholic media has a duty to report the whole of the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church, in order to express the truth revealed through it.

Amato said a good example of the partial reporting of the secular media was the coverage of the 2003 CDF document, Dominus Iesus. Rather than focusing on the main theme of the document, which was “the salvific universality of Christ and the Church,” Amato said, “they stressed the ecumenical statements and arguments in order to polemicize against it. Instead of presenting the whole document, the headlines and first articles in international press showed it in alarming tones, stressing that it meant the end of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue and using the stereotyped statements 'closing up', 'return of pre-conciliar theology' or 'anti-ecumenism'.”

“In a word, the presentation of a church document should not be treated as a media event accompanied by sensational and scandalous elements, but as an important event in the Church, an occasion to form, evangelize and catechize people.” And it is the job of the Catholic media to strike the balance.

“We can make a conclusion that on the one hand contemporary media are characterized by certain superficiality and on the other hand they can exert powerful influence. And it is true that the more superficial the media are the more powerful their influence is,” the archbishop said.

While Catholic media should focus on current news items, Amato said, “information about the Church should be reliable, immediate, correct, convincing and positive…Catholic media should be characterized by the attitude of seeking and transmitting the truth and thus being differentiated from secular media, which give news in a polemical way, often resorting to the form of dialogue, which actually serves to make news a relative topic.”

Furthermore, the archbishop said, “Catholic press should not uncritically discuss the subjects of secular media, investigating artificially created 'religious events'.”

Catholic media should remain true to their name and report stories so as to create doubts in the minds of believers, as regards Magisterial teachings. By leaving arguments open-ended in the same way that the secular media does, “there is an impression that the commands of the Magisterium are only opinions which one can agree with or not,” Amato reasoned

In answer to the question of how the Catholic media can, “contribute to continuous formation of the faithful,” Archbishop Amato said they must rely upon the richness of the Catholic tradition as well as the documents themselves to give arguments that will aid Catholics in refuting negative and groundless judgments of the Church. “In order to contribute to the formation of the faithful, Catholic media must be creative, on a highly cultured level, and above all, sensitive to education in faith. The Christian tradition is two thousand years old, so we have at our disposal a large number of works (the Fathers of the Church, great theologians of each epoch, saints, works of various schools of spirituality and liturgical traditions, art), which should be proposed to readers.”

“The Christian civilization is not a museum to visit and admire but a continuous vivid reality, which inspires and supports and which has to be appreciated today,” Amato concluded.

source: ACI