The Roman Catholic bishop whose diocese includes the University of Notre Dame says he will boycott President Barack Obama’s commencement speech at the Catholic school because Obama’s policies on stem cell research and abortion run counter to church teaching.
Bishop John D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend said in a statement Tuesday that Obama’s recent decision to federally fund embryonic stem cell research “has now placed in public policy … his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life sacred.”
“While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life,” D’Arcy said.
Obama has said the decision was aimed at easing human suffering.
Former evangelical pastor Ted Haggard and his wife are planning another TV appearance, this time to talk about their marriage.
The two are in Los Angeles taping an appearance on the syndicated Twentieth Television show “Divorce Court,” to be broadcast nationally April 1.
The show’s presiding judge, Lynn Toler, is interviewing the couple about how their marriage survived after a male prostitute from Denver alleged a cash-for-sex relationship with Ted Haggard in November 2006, executive producer Mark Koberg said.
The scandal prompted Haggard to resign as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
The Haggards say their marriage and Christian faith are stronger than ever, and they want people to know that divorce is not the answer.
“This is part of Ted’s journey,” Gayle Haggard said. “It’s made him a better man. I see what has happened as a divine rescue.”
She said she was helped through her darkest hours by the biblical principles of forgiveness, compassion and steadfastness, along with her husband’s genuine repentance.
The couple will be paid an undisclosed amount for the interview
“And by the way, I’ve got to wish to you, each and every one, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! I do that, and I have to be honest with you, despite my fervent anti-ethnic holiday position. That’s right! I’m against St. Patrick’s Day. I’m against St. Columbus Day. Saint Joseph’s Day. I’m against all of those things. Is there, by the way, is there a Jewish, a Jewish ethnic holiday? Is there one? No? Okay. The Jews have disappointed me. I mean, is there a St. Mauritius? No? A Belize? I don’t know. We gotta have — there’s gotta be something else going on here! How about an Asian ethnic holiday? Is there one? You know, a Saint Jin Tao Wow? Chinese New Year? All right, we can do that … I mean, what is with all of these ethnic holidays? I mean how about an American Day? How about were all the same kind of day?”
Pope Benedict XVI said on his way to Africa Tuesday that condoms were not the answer in the continent’s fight against HIV, his first explicit statement on an issue that has divided even clergy working with AIDS patients.
Benedict had never directly addressed condom use. He has said that the Roman Catholic Church is in the forefront of the battle against AIDS. The Vatican encourages sexual abstinence to fight the spread of the disease.
“You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms,” the pope told reporters aboard the Alitalia plane headed to Yaounde, Cameroon, where he will begin a seven-day pilgrimage on the continent. “On the contrary, it increases the problem.”
About 22 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV, according to UNAIDS. In 2007, three-quarters of all AIDS deaths worldwide were there, as well as two-thirds of all people living with HIV.
Rebecca Hodes with the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa said if the pope is serious about preventing new HIV infections, he will focus on promoting wide access to condoms and spreading information on how best to use them.
“Instead, his opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans,” said Hodes, director of policy, communication and research for the action campaign.
While she said the pope is correct that condoms are not the sole solution to Africa’s AIDS epidemic, she said they are one of the very few HIV prevention mechanisms proven to work.
Even some priests and nuns working with those living with HIV/AIDS question the church’s opposition to condoms amid the pandemic ravaging Africa.
Plans call for Sci Fi and its companion Web site (scifi.com) to morph into the oddly spelled Syfy — pronounced the same as “Sci Fi” — on July 7. The new name will be accompanied by the slogan “Imagine Greater,” which replaces a logo featuring a stylized version of Saturn.
A channel called Syfy will, presumably, not be confused with SyFi Global, an information technology company; S.Y.F.I., the Summer Youth Forestry Institute; or Syfo seltzer, sold by Universal Beverages.
The tweaking of the Sci Fi name, introduced in 1992, is part of a rebranding campaign that seeks to distinguish the channel and its programming from cable competitors — 75 of which are also measured by the Nielsen ratings service.
One big advantage of the name change, the executives say, is that Sci Fi is vague — so generic, in fact, that it could not be trademarked. Syfy, with its unusual spelling, can be, which is also why diapers are called Luvs, an online video Web site is called Joost and a toothpaste is called Gleem.
“We couldn’t own Sci Fi; it’s a genre,” said Bonnie Hammer, the former president of Sci Fi who became the president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Universal Cable Productions. “But we can own Syfy.”
Another benefit of the new name is that it is not “throwing the baby away with the bath water,” she added, because it is similar enough to the Sci Fi brand to convey continuity to “the fan-boys and -girls who love the genre.”
Ms. Hammer and her successor as Sci Fi president, Dave Howe, said they had sat through many meetings over the years at which a name change was debated.
The principal reason the idea kept coming up, Mr. Howe said, was a belief “the Sci Fi name is limiting.”
“If you ask people their default perceptions of Sci Fi, they list space, aliens and the future,” he added. “That didn’t capture the full landscape of fantasy entertainment: the paranormal, the supernatural, action and adventure, superheroes.”
That became more important as Sci Fi expanded its program offerings into those realms, Mr. Howe said, with series like “Destination Truth” and “Ghost Hunters.”
And a shorter, more memorable name is more readily “attached to new businesses,” he added, like movies, video games, mobile content and additional channels overseas.