Sunday, June 24, 2007

Alzheimer's Vaccine?

From the Brittish news source, Daily Mail:

A revolutionary drug that stops Alzheimer's disease in its tracks could be available within a few years.

It could prevent people from reaching the devastating final stages of the illness, in which sufferers lose the ability to walk, talk and even swallow, and end up totally dependent on others.

The jab, which is now being tested on patients, could be in widespread use in as little as six years.

The most common cause of dementia, Alzheimer's affects around 500,000 Britons, with about 500 new cases diagnosed every day as people live longer.

Treatment costs the NHS up to £14billion a year - more than it spends on strokes, heart disease and cancer combined.

Existing drugs can delay the progress of the symptoms, but their effect wears off relatively quickly, allowing the disease to take its devastating course. In contrast, the new vaccine may be able to hold the disease at bay indefinitely.

Professor Clive Ballard, of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "A successful vaccine would be a groundbreaking treatment advance for the 25million people with Alzheimer's disease worldwide."

Vaccines are typically used to provide immunity to a disease as a preventive measure before it can develop, but this is an example of a therapeutic vaccine, used to treat a disease which has already developed.

Known as CAD106, it is the brainchild of scientists at Zurich-based biotechnology firm Cytos, which is also developing anti-smoking, obesity and flu vaccines.

Cytos chief executive Dr Wolfgang Renner said: "If it could prevent the progression of Alzheimer's, it would be fantastic."

Early tests showed the vaccine is highly effective at breaking up the sticky protein that clogs the brain in Alzheimer's, destroying vital connections between brain cells.

When the jab was given to mice suffering from a disease similar to Alzheimer's, 80 per cent of the patches of amyloid protein were broken up.

The vaccine is now being tried out on 60 elderly Swedish patients in the early and middle stages of Alzheimer's. Half of the men and women are being given the vaccine while half are being given dummy jabs.

Although the year-long trial is designed to show that the treatment is safe, the researchers will also look at its effect on the patients' symptoms.

While the results are not due until early next year, the initial findings are promising. Dr Renner told a Zurich conference earlier this week: "I am glad to report that the vaccine is very well tolerated."

If the trial is successful, larger-scale trials will follow, in which researchers will work out the best dose to give and how often it should be given. The finished product is six to eight years from the market.

The vaccine uses a tiny section of the amyloid protein attached to an empty virus shell to trick the immune system into attacking and breaking up deposits of protein clogging the brain.

Scientists at Cytos, who have sold the rights to the vaccine to Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, say the vaccine is likely to be given to those in the early stages of Alzheimer's, to stop the disease from progressing.

The development of tests capable of detecting the disease in its earliest stages would allow the jab to be given at the first possible opportunity.

It could also be used to keep the disease at bay in those with a strong family history of the illness, and even for the mass vaccination of people in late middle age.

However, while the jab may stop the disease in its tracks, it is not expected to repair dead tissue, and so will not be a cure. Nevertheless, preventing the disease's progression would have an enormous impact on sufferers' lives.

British Alzheimer's experts welcomed the research.

Professor Ballard of the Alzheimer's Society said a previous development, the Elan jab, which failed due to severe side-effects, "was seen as the most exciting treatment development ever investigated for the treatment of dementia".

He added: "This new vaccine is potentially promising as scientists hope they have found a way to limit adverse reactions."

Rebecca Wood, of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said the vaccine is still many years away from the pharmacy shelf.

But she added: "This is very exciting research and brings us a step closer to finding an answer to this terrible disease.

"With 700,000 people with dementia in the UK - a number forecast to double within a generation - we urgently need to find ways to halt this devastating disease."

Experts forecast that the ageing population will result in a "global epidemic" of Alzheimer's, with one in 85 people being sufferers by 2050.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Since Pushing Those Little Buttons On The Remote Control Is So Hard...

...a company in Japan is developing technology to change the channels with your mind. That's right, I said mind. posted a story today about a couple Japanese companies who are developing technologies to controll electronics with simply thinking:

The "brain-machine interface" developed by Hitachi Inc. analyzes slight changes in the brain's blood flow and translates brain motion into electric signals.

A cap connects by optical fibers to a mapping device, which links, in turn, to a toy train set via a control computer and motor during one recent demonstration at Hitachi's Advanced Research Laboratory in Hatoyama, just outside Tokyo.

"Take a deep breath and relax," said Kei Utsugi, a researcher, while demonstrating the device on Wednesday.

At his prompting, a reporter did simple calculations in her head, and the train sprang forward — apparently indicating activity in the brain's frontal cortex , which handles problem solving.

Activating that region of the brain — by doing sums or singing a song — is what makes the train run, according to Utsugi. When one stops the calculations, the train stops, too.

Underlying Hitachi's brain-machine interface is a technology called optical topography , which sends a small amount of infrared light through the brain's surface to map out changes in blood flow.

Although brain-machine interface technology has traditionally focused on medical uses, makers like Hitachi and Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co. (HMC) have been racing to refine the technology for commercial application.

Hitachi's scientists are set to develop a brain TV remote controller letting users turn a TV on and off or switch channels by only thinking.

Honda, whose interface monitors the brain with an MRI machine like those used in hospitals, is keen to apply the interface to intelligent, next-generation automobiles.

The technology could one day replace remote controls and keyboards and perhaps help disabled people operate electric wheelchairs, beds or artificial limbs.

Initial uses would be helping people with paralyzing diseases communicate even after they have lost all control of their muscles.

Since 2005, Hitachi has sold a device based on optical topography that monitors brain activity in paralyzed patients so they can answer simple questions — for example, by doing mental calculations to indicate "yes" or thinking of nothing in particular to indicate "no."

"We are thinking of various kinds of applications," project leader Hideaki Koizumi said. "Locked-in patients can speak to other people by using this kind of brain machine interface."

A key advantage to Hitachi's technology is that sensors don't have to physically enter the brain. Earlier technologies developed by U.S. companies like Neural Signals Inc. required implanting a chip under the skull.

Still, major stumbling blocks remain.

Size is one issue, though Hitachi has developed a prototype compact headband and mapping machine that together weigh only about two pounds.

Another would be to tweak the interface to more accurately pick up on the correct signals while ignoring background brain activity.

Any brain-machine interface device for widespread use would be "a little further down the road," Koizumi said.

He added, however, that the technology is entertaining in itself and could easily be applied to toys.

"It's really fun to move a model train just by thinking," he said.
Well, I can't disagree with that, it would be cool, on a certain level and just think of the freedom this could provide people who are physically unable to communicate but cognatively perfectly able to, the possibilities for this are positive. Let's just hope it doesn't give us a reason to be more lazy...

[photo credit]

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Exciting News

Vatican City, Jun 21, 2007 / 09:57 am (CNA).- The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that at 5.30 p.m. on June 28, eve of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Benedict XVI will preside at the celebration of first Vespers in the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls.

During the ceremony, the Pope will proclaim a year especially dedicated to St. Paul, to mark the 2000th anniversary of the birth of the "Apostle of the Gentiles."

According to the Vatican Radio Calendar, the year will run from June 29, 2008, to June 29, 2009. No other details were available about possible events during the year at the time of publication.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pope Meets With Chrysosotomos II
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 19, 2007 ( Benedict XVI met with representatives from the Orthodox Church in Cyprus, a meeting that may pave the way for an encounter between the Pope and Russian Patriarch Alexy II.

In the Vatican on Saturday, Benedict XVI met with Chrysostomos II, archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus, and other representatives of the Orthodox Church in Cyprus.

After this meeting with the Holy Father, Archbishop Chrysostomos II will discuss with Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia the possibility of future collaboration between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, and perhaps a meeting with the Pope.

In an interview with the Italian newspaper L'Expresso, the Orthodox archbishop explained that he and Alexy II are good friends, and that he is doing all he can to foster the meeting.

Joint declaration

Benedict XVI and Archbishop Chrysostomos II also signed a joint agreement promoting collaboration, especially on questions of bioethics.

The document explained: "At a time of growing secularization and relativism, Catholics and Orthodox in Europe are called to offer renewed witness on ethical values, ready to give an explanation of their faith in Jesus Christ, lord and savior.

"There is the risk that certain techniques applied to genetics, conceived intentionally to meet legitimate needs, in fact take away man's dignity, created in the image of God."

The document denounces "tragic daily problems" caused by more than 30 years of the separation of Cyprus caused by Turkish occupation, which began in the summer of 1974, and calls for peace in the Middle East.

Dialogue of truth

In a conversation with journalists, the archbishop said that great strides in reconciliation between Catholics and Orthodox could be made with Benedict XVI, because he is a "wise" theologian who knows Orthodox theology in depth.

"We are convinced that he wants the unity of the Churches. And if one knows the problems in detail, as in his case, it is easier to find solutions," Archbishop Chrysostomos II explained.

The Orthodox archbishop noted that 1,000 years of separation cannot be overcome in a day. But, in the last 40 years, he said, "we have begun a dialogue of charity, and now we move on to theological dialogue, which is that of truth."

"It is not easy to resolve problems. We need time," he said. "But dialogue is an important step forward and now we can move on to respond to Jesus' commandment for unity. Each time we meet, we make one more step forward."

The archbishop stated that during their meeting, the Pope confirmed his desire to visit Cyprus, though no date was set.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II concluded, "For us, it will be a great blessing."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cardinal Keeler Recovers From Brain Surgery

This just in from CNA:
Baltimore, Jun 19, 2007 / 10:24 am (CNA).- Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore underwent brain surgery yesterday to drain excess fluid from his brain, the Baltimore Sun reported. He is said to be in good condition following the 90 minute surgery that occurred without complications.

"The cardinal is awake, a little groggy but in good form," said Bishop W. Francis Malooly at a news conference on Monday.

Keeler needed the surgery, the bishop said, because of an abnormal build up of cerebrospinal fluid on his brain. The excess fluid is thought to have been caused by head trauma that the cardinal suffered in an October car accident while he was vacationing in Terni, Italy. Also traveling with the Cardinal was his good friend, Father Bernard Quinn, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who was killed in the accident.

During the accident, Cardinal Keeler also suffered a broken ankle but has since recovered from the break through physical therapy. According to Bishop Malooly, Keeler was still having trouble walking. This led doctors to notice the build up of fluid and decide to perform surgery.

The operation involved the placement of a shunt, or tube, into the cardinal’s skull that will drain the excess fluid from his brain and into the abdominal cavity, where
the body can safely absorb it.

Keeler's physicians will check in about three weeks to make sure an appropriate amount of fluid is being released through the shunt.

Dr. Michael A. Williams, neurology director for the adult hydrocephalus program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, said that if too much fluid is released through the shunt, the brain itself might get smaller, creating space between it and the inside of the skull. Consequently, doctors may be adjusting the flow of the fluid through the shunt.

Keeler is still hoping to attend the ordinations of four new priests for the Archdiocese Of Baltimore on Saturday, if his condition permits, though Bishop Malooly will perform the ordinations. "He does bounce back quickly, though - that's his track record," Malooly said.

At 76, Keeler is the average age for diagnosis for normal pressure hydrocephalus, according to medical experts. The cardinal has served as the Archbishop of Baltimore since 1989 and was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1994.

When Keeler turned 75 last year, he submitted a letter of resignation to the Vatican as required by canon law. But Pope Benedict XVI has not accepted Keeler's retirement or indicated when a replacement might be named.

Let us all pray for the Cardinal's health...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pope Benedict in Assisi for 800th Anniversary of the Conversion of St. Francis

Pope Benedict was in Assisi this past weekend to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the conversion of St. Francis. Among so many other things he did while he was there, he spoke to a crowd of about 25,000 young people. Here is the unofficial, translation:
My dear young people,

Thank you for your warm welcome! Thank you for your kind words and for the interesting questions which your two representatives have put to me. I greet all of you young people from this diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, together with your Bishop, Msgr. Domenico Sorrentino. I greet you, young people of Umbria gathered here today with your pastors. I greet you, young people from other Italian regions, accompanied by your Franciscan guides. I also warmly greet Cardinal Attilio Nicora, my Legate to Assisi’s’ papal Basilicas, and to the General Ministers of the various Franciscan Orders.

We are welcomed here, together with Francis, by the heart of the Mother, the “Virgin made Church”, as he loved to invoke her (Prayer Praising Mary the Mother of God, 1: FF 259). Francis had a special affection for the small chapel of the Porziuncola, custodied by this Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. It was one of the Churches in which he sought shelter during the firs years of his conversion and where he listened to and meditated on the Gospel of his mission (1 Cel I,9,22: FF 356). Following the first steps taken in Rivotorto, it was here that he based the first “general quarters” of the Order, where his friars could gather, almost as if in the maternal womb, to regenerate themselves and go for the full of apostolic zeal. Here he obtained for all a fountain of mercy in the experience of the “Assisi Pardon”. Finally it was here, that he met with “sister death”. My dear young people, you all know that my motive for being here was my desire to relive the interior journey of Francis, on the occasion of the VIII centenary of his conversion. This moment of my pilgrimage has a significant importance. I think of it almost, as the culmination of the day’s events. Saint Francis speaks to all men and women, but I know that he has a special attraction for young people. Your presence here in great numbers confirms this as do the questions you have put before me. His conversion took place at the prime of his life, of his experiences, of his dreams. He had spent twenty five years without ever having come to understand the meaning of life. A few months before his death, he will remember that period as a time when he was “in sin” (cfr. 2 Test 1: FF 110).

“Aimless wandering”, ambition and truth

What was Francis thinking of when he spoke of sins? According to biographies, each with its own line, it is not easy to determine. A useful account of his way of life is found in the Legend of the Three Companions, where it reads: “Francis was expansive and highly strung, addicted to gaming and song, he wandered aimlessly throughout the city of Assisi by day and by night with friends of his cast, so generous in his spending on luncheons and other delights all that he could have or earn” (3 Comp 1,2: FF 1396). How many young people of today could be described in a similar way? Now there is also the possibility to go beyond our own cities in search of enjoyment. Each weekend recreational events gather the youth in great numbers. Now we can also “wander” virtually “surfing” the net, in search of all kinds of information and contacts. Unfortunately there is no small number – actually there are far too many! - young men and women who search for fatuous and destructive surroundings in the artificial paradise of drugs. How can we deny that there are many young people, and some not so young, who are tempted to follow the lifestyle of the youthful Francis, before his conversion? Deep down, in that way of life there was the desire for happiness which inhabits each heart. But could that life give true joy? Francis certainly did not find it to be so. You, my dear young people can test this from your own experience. The truth is that finite things give the weak impression of joy; only the Infinite can fill the heart. This was said by another great convert Saint Augustine: "for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee" (Confess. 1,1).

The same biographical text tells us that Francis was quite vain. He liked to have sumptuous clothes tailored for him and sought to be original. (Comp 1, 2: FF 1396). In vanity, in the search for originality, there is something which touches us all directly. Today there is much talk about “taking care of one’s image” or “keeping up with appearances”. In order to have the slightest chance of success, we have to strike others with something new, original. In a certain way, this may be expressed in an innocent desire for acceptance. But all too often it is penetrated by a subtle pride, an excessive search for ourselves, egoism and the desire to outdo others. In real terms, a life which revolves around oneself is a death trap: we can only be ourselves if we open up to love, by loving God and others.

Another aspect which left a marked impression on Francis’ contemporaries was his ambition, his thirst for glory and adventure. This was what drew him onto the battle field, and led to him becoming a prisoner for a year in Perugia. This same thirst for glory also brought him to Puglia, in a new military campaign, but it was at this point, in Spoleto, that the Lord made himself known to Francis’ heart, inducing him to retrace his steps and listen seriously to his Word. It’s interesting to note how the Lord took up this trait in Francis, his desire to succeed, to indicate the road to saintly success, stretching out into infinity: “Who can be of more use: the Lord or the servant?” (3 Comp 2,6: FF 1401), this was the question that he heard echo in his heart. As if to say: why content yourself to be dependent on other men, when there is a God ready to welcome you to his home, to his royal service?

Dear young people, you have reminded me of some of the pressing issues for youth today, of your difficulties in building a future for yourselves and above all of your strained efforts to discover the truth. In the account of Christ’s passion we find Pilates question: “What is the truth?” (Jn 18,38). It is a question which resounds widely throughout modern day culture. The Gospel indicates Christ as the truth: God’s truth and man’s truth. We risk spending our entire lives deafened by the chaos of empty voices, we risk losing his voice among the din, the only voice which counts because it is the only voice which saves. We content ourselves with fragments of the truth, we allow ourselves to be seduced by truths that are only such in appearance. Is it really a wonder, then, that we find ourselves surrounded by a world of contradictions, which, despite the many marvellous things, so often deludes us with its banal expressions, its injustices, and its violence? Without God, the world looses its basis and its direction. Do not be afraid my dear friends, to imitate Francis above all in the ability to turn to yourselves. He knew how to make room for silence within himself, to listen to God’s Word. Step by step he allowed himself to be taken by the hand and guided by God towards a full encounter with Christ, to the point of making it the precious treasure and light of his life.

Jesus, the Church, priesthood

His choosing to be with the suffering, placing himself at their service, was also and encounter with Christ. This morning, passing by the Rivotorto, I paused to gaze at the place in which, traditionally, the lepers were gathered: the last, the marginalized, those for whom Francis felt only repulsion. Touched by grace he opened his heart to them. And he did so not only by a pitiful act of charity, but by kissing them and serving them. He himself tells that while before they had provoked only bitterness in him, they became for him “sweetness of body and soul” (2 Test 3: FF 110).

Grace was thus formed in Francis. He became ever more capable of fixing his gaze on Christ’s face and hearing his voice. It was at that point that the Crucifix of Saint Damian spoke to him calling g him to an arduous mission: “Go, Francis and rebuild my Church, for it lies in ruins ". (2 Cel I, 6, 10: FF 593). Pausing this morning in Saint Damien’s, and then in the basilica of St. Clare, where the original cross which spoke to Francis is conserved, I too fixed my gaze on those of Christ. It is the image of the Risen Christ, life of the Church, which continues to speak to us, just as two thousand years ago to its apostles and eight hundred years ago to Francis. The Church continues to live this encounter.

Yes, my dear young people: let us meet Christ! Let us trust in Him, listen to His Word. He is not just a fascinating human being. Indeed, He is fully human and similar to us, except in sin ( Eb 4, 15). But He is also so much more: He is God made man. Therefore He is the only Saviour, as he same name tells us: Jesus that is “God saves”. We come to Assisi to learn from Saint Francis the secret to recognising Christ and to experience Him. This is what Francis felt for Jesus, as his first biography narrates: “Jesus always in his heart. Jesus on his lips, Jesus in his ears, Jesus in his eyes, Jesus in his hands, Jesus in all his other members…..Actually, finding himself often on travels, by meditating and singing to Jesus, he forgot that he was travelling and stopped to invites all creatures to praise Jesus (1 Cel II, 9, 115: FF 115).

Francis in short was truly in love with Christ. He met him in the Word of God, in his fellow man, in nature, but above all in the Eucharist. On this he wrote in his testament: "I see nothing corporally in this age of the Most High Son of God Himself, except His Most Holy Body and Most Holy Blood" (2 Test 10: FF 113). The nativity scene in Greccio expresses his need to contemplate him in the tender humanity of a child (1 Cel I, 30, 85-86: FF 469-470). The experience of Verna, where he received the stigmata, shows the degree of intimacy with which he was arrived in his relationship with Christ crucified. He can say together with Paul: “For me living is Christ " (Fil 1,21). If one strips oneself of everything and chooses poverty, the reason for this is Christ, and only Christ. Jesus is his everything: and He suffices him!

Because he is Christ’s, Francis is also a man of the Church, He had received the call from St Damien’s cross to rebuild Christ’s house, which is of course the Church. Between Christ and the Church there is an intimate and imperishable relationship. Being called to rebuild it certainly implies an original and personal nature to Francis mission. At the same time, that duty is no different to the responsibility which Christ attributes to each and every baptised. The Church grows and rebuilds itself according to the measure with which each one of us converts and sanctifies ourselves. It is edified through the many and different vocations, lay and familial, consecrated life and priestly life.

At this point, I would like to say a few words regarding this last vocation. Francis, who was a deacon, not a priest (1 Cel I,30,86: FF 470), nurtured a deep veneration for priests. Although he knew that there was great poverty and fragility in among God’s ministers, he saw them as the ministers of the Body of Christ, and that was sufficient to provoke a sense of love, reverence and obedience in him ( 2 Test 6-10: FF 112-113). His love for priests is an invitation to rediscover the beauty of this vocation. It is vital for God’s people. Dear young people, surround your priests with love and gratitude. If the Lord should call some of you to this great ministry, as to some form of consecrated life, do not hesitate to say yes. It is a wonderful thing to be the Lord’s minister; it is a beautiful thing to spend one’s life for Him!

The young Francis had a filial love for his Bishop, and it was in his hands that he, stripping himself of everything, made his profession of a life totally consecrated to the Lord (cfr 1 Cel I, 6, 15: FF 344). He felt in a special way the mission of Christ’s Vicar, to whom he presented his Rule and entrusted his Order. If the Popes have shown so much affection for Assisi, down through the centuries, in a certain sense it is in recognition of the affection which Francis had for the Pope. I am happy, my dear young people, to be here, in the footsteps of my Predecessors, and in particular John Paul II.

Peace and Joy

Just like concentric circles, Francis’s love for Christ expands not only throughout the Church but in all things, seen in Christ and for Christ. Here his Canticle for Creation was born, in which ones eye rests on the splendour of creation: from brother son to sister moon, from sister water to brother fire. His interior gaze has become so pure and penetrating that it recognises the beauty of the Creator in the beauty of creation. The Canticle of Brother son, is not just an example of the highest quality in poetry, it is first and foremost an invitation to respect creation, a prayer, a lode to the Lord.

The prayer also highlights Francis’s commitment to peace. This aspect of his life is of great relevance today, in a world deeply in need of peace but unable to find the right path. Francis was a man of peace and a worker for peace. He displayed this in the meekness with which he posed himself to men of other faiths, without ever silencing his own faith, as we see in his encounter with the Sultan (cfr 1 Cel I, 20, 57: FF 422). If today, specially in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, inter –religious dialogue has become the common patrimony of Christian sensibility and one that cannot be renounced, then Francis can help us dialogue authentically, without ever giving way to indifferent behaviour regarding truth or in our announcing of the Christian message. His nature as a man of peace, tolerance, dialogue is born of his experience of God-Love. His greeting of peace, not by chance, is a prayer: “God grant you peace” (2 Test 23: FF 121).

My dear youth, your presence here today in great numbers is a sign of how much the figure of Francis speaks to your heart. I willingly give you once again, his message, but above all his life and his testament. The time has come for young people, like Francis, to commit themselves and learn how to enter into a personal relationship with Christ. The time has come for us to look upon the history of this third millennium which has just begun a history that needs more than ever to be lifted by the Good News of the Gospel.

I once again make my own and invitation my Predecessor, John Paul II’s loved to give the young: “Open you hearts to Christ”. Open them as Francis did, without fear, without calculation, without limits. You, my dear young people, are my joy, as you were for John Paul II- At this Basilica dedicated to Saint Mary of the Angels I give you all an appointment at the Holy House of Loreto, at the beginning of September for the great gathering of young Italians.

I bless you all.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

NCAA Female Athletes Get Abortions To Retain Scholarships

I saw this on

On the road that leads to Clemson, S.C., billboards sponsored by an anti-abortion group dot the highway with the phrase "Pregnant & Scared?" plastered in large letters. They are an ominous backdrop for Clemson University, where at least seven current or recently graduated student-athletes terminated their pregnancies, primarily because they were afraid of losing their athletic scholarships.

"I have a couple teammates that have had abortions due to the fact that they knew they weren't going to get their scholarship back," said a female student-athlete at Clemson, who asked not to be identified. "But like an actual teammate having a child, and coming back and earning a scholarship, that's a situation that hasn't happened."

In the fall of 2006, that same athlete discovered she was pregnant for the second time. She said her first thoughts were for her future.

"How could this happen?" she said, shaking her head in disbelief. "My career was going to end. I'm not going to go to the Olympics or get to finish my four years. I was just like, 'This is a dead-end road. You're not going anywhere else.'"

Searching for answers, she said she turned to a Clemson administrator.

"She was just like, 'You know that's going to be hard? Everything that you got … gone,'" the athlete said, recounting her conversation. "And she was like, 'Just think about your options. You know Coach isn't going to give you back your scholarship just like that. If she finds out and if you decide to keep it, that's gone.'"

The student-athlete said she was asked to sign a team document prior to the 2005 season that stated: "Pregnancy resulting in the inability to compete and positively contribute to the program's success will result in the modification of your grant-in-aid money."

"There was actually a policy about loss of scholarship, loss of privileges due to pregnancy," she said.

Remembering the administrator's counsel and the previous year's team policy, the athlete said the fear of losing her scholarship played a large role in her decision to have a second abortion.

"On a scale from 1 to 10, it was like a 9," she said. "It had a big, big part in my decision, because that's the first thing I thought about, I'm losing my scholarship."
The story goes on to talk about discrimination against female athletes for getting pregnant and while I'm not sure if I'm qualified to decide whether or not this is a case of discrimination, I do see a problem here and the need for a solution.

This is a multifaceted and complicated problem because the girl clearly has not exercised responsibility to her team. I think this is an important point, one not to be over looked. Becoming pregnant makes one unavailable to the team and in effect a non-member for at least a period of time. These girls are receiving this scholarship money so that they can get an education with the understanding that they will maintain certain health conditions to participate on the team. Why should the team provide the scholarship money to a player who cannot perform? This isn't like the case of a player becoming injured in the course of their athletic activity, this girl made a conscious choice to have sex. (Especially a second time!!!)

I have known a few college athletes and they all have been very careful about how they treat their bodies, everything from what they eat, to how they exercise, to excusing themselves from simple games like capture the flag with friends because they could risk injury. This is practicing a healthy responsibility to themselves and their team. Why do these young women think that they are exceptions?

Now, for the other side of the spectrum. These are young women who obviously have made mistakes and need forgiveness and help. They must not be cast out because of a lapse in judgement and a solution must be found to help them carry their pregnancy to term and then care for the child while they finish school. One way this can be done is through some kind of financial aid, either through a separate scholarship for student mothers or another means. I am all for this. However, I do not understand why the athletic department should provide monies to a person who may never contribute to the team again. Alternative options must be provided these women so that abortion is not considered an option for them. We have to find a way to save child and mother.
In addition, these schools should not be afraid to educate these women about premarital sex and promote chastity on campus. I know what you are thinking, "The day that happens, hell will freeze over," but if we claim to have these women's best interest in mind, these are the things that should be promoted.

In closing, I would just like to point out how this is yet again an example of a woman choosing to have an abortion, not because she feels the need for choice but because she feels she has no choice.

Friday, June 15, 2007

City Hall Takes Back Its Decision

Go ahead and celebrate Rocky, someone over at city hall finally came to their senses.

As reported earlier, the city council members over in Philadelphia decided they would official be considered a "Pro-choice" city, now, it seems, they've backed off that decision. CNA:

Philadelphia, Jun 15, 2007 / 10:09 am (CNA).- The City Council reversed its previous declaration today by a vote of 13-4. The declaration passed last week stated the city’s support for "women's reproductive rights and freedom" and defended "the right to choose a legal and safe abortion as a final but critical option for women."

The original resolution passed by a 9-8 vote, surprising sponsor Blondell Reynolds Brown who had not expected the declaration to be controversial. As previously reported by CNA, the resolution was swiftly condemned by Cardinal Justin Rigali. Other sources reported that complaints flooded into some council members' offices.

The resolution rescinding last week's proclamation was sponsored by Councilman Frank Rizzo, who said the entire episode had been an embarrassment.

"I think that we should stay away from issues like this that cause division in our city," Rizzo said.

Another council member Marian Tasco seemed confused as to how such issues should be handled calling it both a personal and a legal issue. "The issue of pro-choice or pro-life is personal. The issue of choice is something we do not deal with in city council. It's a legal issue dealt with by other forms of city government."

Councilman Tim Kenney also expressed his internal conflict saying that he personally was pro-choice, but had decided upon reflection that it was an inappropriate issue for council to wade into.

In an attempt to make peace Councilwoman Reynolds Brown said, "I've learned, as an enlightened pro-choice advocate, that there may have been other ways to make my position known," said Reynolds Brown.

Switching sides from last week were council members, Jim Kenney, Frank DiCicco, Donna Reed Miller, Daniel Savage and Wilson Goode Jr.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Schism In The Anglican Communion???

According to this CNA article it will be happening sooner rather than later.

London, Jun 14, 2007 / 10:30 am (CNA).- A powerful coalition of conservative Anglican leaders is preparing to create a parallel church for conservatives in the United States, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph.

The parallel church would be in defiance of appeals made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, to his fellow primates to refrain from provocative actions. If this parallel Church is pursued, it would provoke the biggest schism in the history of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

According to sources obtained by The Daily Telegraph, at least six primates are planning the consecration of a prominent U.S. cleric as a bishop to minister to members of the Episcopalian Church, who have rejected their liberal bishops over the issue of homosexuality.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Eucharistic Congress

I have been avoiding this post. Not because I didn't want to write it, but because I have no clue how I will encapsulate the entire weekend into a few short words. You can't box God and his grace in and so I had to write this in my heart before I ever attempted to write it here. My poor words will do little to relate the grace and joy that accompanied this weekend, but I pray that the Spirit can use them to reveal to you the love God poured out on all those present.

The Congress began on Friday at the Cathedral in Saginaw. I was not able to attend because I was ending my 8 day retreat. However, in reports from many sources one word continued to pop up: "prayerful." From all accounts the ordinations of Fr. Andy and Fr. Jose were extremely prayerful and joyful events for everyone who attended. I also heard how Archbishop Dolan's evening address brought the house down. He spoke about the different aspects of the Eucharist and I would comment more but seeing how I wasn't there to hear it, it would be unfair to the Archbishop to do so.

Saturday began bright and beautiful. Over at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Midland, five men were ordained to the Order of the Deaconate. It was a moving ceremony as the fruits of Bishop Carlson's (oh yeah, and the Holy Spirit's) work to revive the vocations in Saginaw were ripening. One of the Deacons, Denis Heames, was blessed to have his father present who himself is a deacon. It was beautiful to see father and son, now both deacons, embrace during the kiss of peace. The new deacons were filled with joy in their new identity as they literally floated from place to place all day. They were a witness to all who saw them about the joy of their vocation and an encouragement to those around them.

After the ordinations, on the other side of town at St. Brigid of Kildare, the day was just beginning. ABLAZE! 2007, fresh off a successful outing last year, inspired the youth of the diocese to come out in numbers reaching in the mid 300's. It was a day full of fun, worship of Christ in the Eucharist, various presentations on different aspects of the faith, and friendship with young people from all over the diocese.

Later in the afternoon we had the outdoor family mass and BBQ where almost 1500 people took part as families and others arrived joining the youth already present. Bishop Paprocki gave a great homily and sang contemporary songs the kids knew from their radios to teach them about their relationship with Christ. In the evening Catholic singer Steve Angrisano gave a wonderful concert which was full of messages of love and encouragement for all those present. For more on the concert click here.

On Sunday the Congress moved to St. Stanislaus Parish in Bay City to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi. The highlight of the day, besides obviously the Mass itself, was the beautiful procession through the streets of Bay City as hundreds accompanied the Bishop and the five new deacons with the monstrance in their hands. At five different stops the Eucharist was sang to and adored in silence. Then the Bishop blessed all present with the Holy Body of our Lord. As the procession moved through the streets, bystanders peered around corners and out their front doors wondering what was going on.

The weekend did have some mishaps as the devil did all he could to prevent a prayerful spirit. Electronics were mysteriously breaking, like Bishop Carlson's mic literally blowing up just as he was pronouncing the words of consecration at the outdoor mass on Saturday and the censor breaking off it's chain as the Bishop was incensing the host during the stop at the second station during the procession on Sunday. However hard he tried though, God would not let him spoil the prayerful spirit that pervaded the whole atmosphere. So many people made comments to me that their faith was strengthened and their love of God deepened by the events of the weekend.

It will be three days that live on for decades to come, I'm sure, as we all move toward a deeper sense that God has us all in the palm of his hand and will bring his work to abundant fruit.

Whew! I Made 100% Catholic!

You scored as Roman Catholic, You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

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Philadelphia Declares Itself A "Pro-Choice" City

What does this even mean?

City of “Brotherly Love” Declared Officially "Pro-Choice” by City Council

By Elizabeth O’Brien

PHILADELPHIA, June 11, 2007 ( – A motion narrowly passed by Philadelphia’s City Council has given the city the new official title of “pro-choice”.

During and after the contentious vote, a storm of controversy raged in the council and divided city leaders about whether “pro-choice” is a name that truly represents the city. The Philadelphia Enquirer explains that the title supports, “women's reproductive rights and freedom” as well as “the right to choose a legal and safe abortion as a final but critical option for women.”

After much debate the resolution only squeezed by with a 9 to 8 majority.

Archbishop Justin Rigali, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, officially and indignantly rejected the title as being “inconsistent with reality”.

Rigali based his objections on both moral and logical grounds: “In a city where so many people vigorously defend life at every stage, proclaiming Philadelphia ‘pro-choice’ is inconsistent with reality. It unfairly saddles those who support life at all stages with this shameful label.”

He asked “people of good will” to join him in “rejecting the divisive and erroneous label that Philadelphia City Council has forced upon the citizens of Philadelphia today.” He continued, “I reject the resolution because so many heroic efforts are made continually to safeguard unborn children from the evil of abortion, to protect vulnerable children and families and to defend all women and men in crisis.”

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced the new resolution at the request of Planned Parenthood, which organization helped her draft the proposal.

“We wanted to make it clear this city cares about pro-choice,” said Brown. “They asked me to do it. I agreed with their views and I agreed to introduce the resolution. At the end of the day, we have to decide what we want the city to look like and be about.”

Councilman Brian J. O'Neill, on the other hand, rejected the resolution on the grounds of true democracy and justice. “There are people we represent on both sides of this issue. This is a pro-choice and a pro-life city,” said O’Neill, according to The Bulletin. “Both sides represent the entire city of Philadelphia, not just one side. This resolution is disrespectful to taxpayers who are pro-life.”

Earlier this year Archbishop Rigali, speaking to a congregation of approximately 10,000 who attended the Vigil Mass for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, pointed out that America is becoming increasingly pro-life. On the eve of Roe vs. Wade he stated, “More and more citizens are coming to question abortion and to recognize—as a starting point for deeper conversion—that there is something radically wrong with abortion and the support given it by our laws. There is a growing realization that human life and human dignity cannot be suppressed without immense damage to the entire fabric of our nation and numerous consequences.”

So, let me get this straight. Planned Parenthood walks in and says, "Hey, give this city the title: Pro-Choice" and so we say, "Oh, yes, thank you, what ever you say your Majesties!"

I mean, what kind of power do you have with politicians when any request is just simply granted without any regard for the thousands upon thousands who live in the city and find such a title repulsive and insulting?

And it isn't like this is based on some small political issue. It is no secret that the abortion debate has been getting more and more heated in these past years. It has become one of the most divisive political issues around. This move by the Philadelphia City Council is not only insulting to people defending life but it is just a stupid political move. Look at how close the vote was - 9-8. Do you think those 9 are going to get re-elected? Very few will, I'm sure.

This move both shocks and scares me. It shocks me because I'm sure Philadelphia has more important things to be talking about and why they would pull such an odd move, do they really want to divide this city more? It scares me because it almost seems as if Planned Parenthood wanted to flex their muscles to show how really powerful they are and guess what...they succeeded.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Guy tries to jump into the pope mobile -- June 6, 2007 --

I'm sure most of you heard about this but it happened while I was on retreat. It's kinda scarry and funny at the same time...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Steve Angrisano Leaves ABLAZE! Participants "Blown Away"

On Saturday evening the ABLAZE! youth and families, priests, religious, seminarians, and some newly ordained deacons, enjoyed the abundant talents of Mr. Steve Angrisano. Steve Angrisano is known world wide as a Catholic singer/songwriter, story teller, and evangelist. He has performed internationally at events such as World Youth Day, the March for Life in Washington D.C., and the National Catholic Youth Conference. His musical styles range from calming ballads to rip-roaring dance songs all in praise and worship of his Lord. (His newest CD can be found here)

From the moment the concert began, which was enjoyed by folks all over the tri-cities courtesy of Ave Maria Radio: 1440 AM WMAX, people were captivated by this gifted performer. As he excited the young people with his many "crowd participation" songs, he also used the chance to encourage them to live their faith boldly in the face of a world which wants to ignore God and his free gift of love.

In one of these moments, Steve told the story of a girl he knew from the Columbine High School tragedy. When faced with a gun in her face and asked if she believed in God, this young woman boldly declared that she did. When the gunman asked her why she simply said that that was what her parents taught her to believe and that is what she has come to believe herself. (Later she thought that that was a bad answer but, as Steve explained, it was a perfect answer: faith was handed on to her from the Church and she had made it her own.) After giving this testimony of her real faith in God, the gunman threw back his head, laughed at her and then shot her 12 times; she miraculously lived to tell the tale. As the silent audience wiped away tears from their eyes, Steve exhorted them all to live a faith that real and that bold. It was a message few will forget very soon.

Later, after spending over an hour and a half in praise and worship of Jesus Christ, many of the young people and parents described their experience as simply being "blown away" and I am left simply to pray that God will bless the ministry of Steve Angrisano especially the priceless work he performed yesterday. I hope that you may someday have the opportunity to witness this true messenger of God.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Fainting Goats

My friends over at posted this video. Obviously I couldn't resist...

First Priestly Ordinations In Six Years

From the Diocesan Website:

SAGINAW – Bishop Robert J. Carlson today ordained two men to the priesthood at St. Mary Cathedral, 615 Hoyt Ave. in Saginaw.

The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw's new priests are:

Father Andrew Booms, 29, of Harbor Beach, studied theology at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill., and the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He also earned a bachelor’s degree for psychology with a minor in philosophy from Saginaw Valley State University in 1999. He has been appointed to serve as associate pastor at St. James Parish in Bay City and as a religion teacher at All Saints Central High School in Bay City following his ordination.

Father José Maria Cabrera, 26, of Lampayeque, Peru, studied theology at the Mundelein Seminary in Mundelien, Ill., and the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. He also studied philosophy at John XXIII Theological Institute in Lima, Peru. Before coming to the Diocese of Saginaw, Cabrera served as a missionary in the Diocese of Tyler, Texas. Cabrera has been appointed to serve as associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Midland following his ordination.

"This is a time of great celebration for the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw," said Carlson, the fifth Bishop of Saginaw. "Anytime you have priests being ordained, it's exciting because it"s a sign of a growing church.

"We also are excited about the ordination of five transitional deacons tomorrow– that means we will have five new priests within the next year, God-willing – and that we will have 20 men studying for the priesthood this fall. Add to that, all of our commissioned lay ministers, dedicated religious and deacons and it becomes clear that we have many wonderful disciples serving each parish across the diocese. This all is a sign that our local church is alive and growing with wonderful energy and vigor."

Fathers Booms and Cabrera are the first priests ordained by Bishop Carlson for the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw since his appointment in February 2005.

Bishop Carlson also is set to ordain five transitional deacons at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 9, at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, 3516 E. Monroe Rd. in Midland. Those who will become transitional deacons include:

Nicholas Coffaro, 26, of Garfield Heights, Ohio. He is enrolled at SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake.

Christopher Coman, 33, of Saginaw. He is enrolled at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit.

Denis Heames, 34, of Chula Vista, Calif. He is enrolled at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit.

Daniel Roa, 28, of Venezuela. He is enrolled at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelien, Ill.

William Spencer, 74, of Ann Arbor. He is enrolled at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit.

Transitional deacons include those who are in their final stages of seminary formation who will most likely be ordained to the priesthood in the next year.

Since 2000, the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw has celebrated two priestly ordinations and a total of four priestly ordinations in the last decade, since 1997. The last time two priests were ordained here within the same year was 1995 and the last year more than two were ordained was 1982.

With Fathers Booms and Cabrera, the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw currently has a total of 59 active priests serving within its 106 parishes. Many of the diocese’s 36 senior (retired) priests, 15 priests from other dioceses or religious orders, also serve to celebrate the sacraments for the people of the 11-county Catholic Diocese of Saginaw.

The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw was established in 1938 and includes an estimated 132,000 faithful living in Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Huron, Isabella, Midland, Saginaw, Sanilac and Tuscola counties.

I wasn't able to attend yesterday because I was in the midst of travel. I will however be attending the ordinations and the ABLAZE! youth rally today. Hope to see you there!

Friday, June 08, 2007

I'm Back...

I'm Back! The retreat was amazing! Thanks so much for all your prayers, I really appreciate them! It looks like there has been a ton going on since last Friday. It feels like I've been gone 8 years rather than 8 days. I can't wait to blog about it all. Right now, though, I'm headed off to the Eucharistic Congress! Hope to see you there!!!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Going on Retreat...

I start an eight day retreat today so there will be no posting on Seminarians for the next week. I'll be sure to report on the Eucharistic Congress and all the good things God will do next weekend. Please keep me in prayer during this time and I will ask God to bless all the readers of Saginaw Seminarians.

God bless and see you next week!