National News Briefs from CNS
Appeals court stays Texas execution over claim of mental disability
AUSTIN, Texas (CNS) — An execution scheduled for May 13 in Huntsville was stayed by a federal appeals court in New Orleans two hours before Robert James Campbell was set to be put to death. The court said prosecutors in Campbell’s case did not take into account evidence that he had an intellectual disability. The U.S. Supreme Court has banned the execution of anyone with such a disability and has pegged an IQ of 70 or below as evidence of it. Campbell’s first IQ test as a child showed his IQ to be 68. When he first arrived on death row, it was 71. A test conducted in April at the request of his lawyers put Campbell’s IQ at 69. Campbell’s attorneys contended Texas had concealed evidence of Campbell’s low IQ scores during his trial. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in its ruling, said: “It is regrettable that we are now reviewing evidence of intellectual disability at the eleventh hour before Campbell’s scheduled execution. However, from the record before us, it appears that we cannot fault Campbell or his attorneys, present or past, for the delay.” The Austin-based Texas Catholic Conference, public policy arm for the state’s bishops, had written in February to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, asking him to grant a stay of execution.
– – – College graduations work around — even embrace — social media
WASHINGTON (CNS) — College graduation ceremonies are caught between pomp and circumstance. They need to honor their graduates and maintain a sense of decorum, but their celebrations also are primarily for young people — a group that has grown up with social media and isn’t afraid to use it. But taking selfies at graduation ceremonies? Is that crossing a line? At least two colleges thought so. This year Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, and the University of South Florida in Tampa banned selfies on stage to move the ceremonies along more quickly. Some schools didn’t blatantly enforce a no-cellphone-photo-zone on stage, but they did at least encourage students to resist the urge to take these pictures — particularly while receiving diplomas and shaking hands with the college president or dean of students. The suggestion was given not just in the interest of time but as a way to keep the event more dignified. Other colleges, realizing that holding back the selfie tide could be akin to asking students not to write on their graduation caps, urged graduates to take all the photos they want during the ceremony and post them online with the school’s hashtag. The Loyola University New Orleans took this approach even a step further. During the school’s May 10 graduation, students were encouraged to post their Instagram and Twitter pictures using the hashtag #Loyola2014 and these images — moderated of course — were uploaded onto Jumbotron television screens in the arena, smaller screens on stage and also on television screens at the concession stands until they were replaced with live feed of the actual ceremony. – – –
‘Love Is Our Mission’ is theme of 2015 family meeting in Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — The archbishop in charge of the Vatican office sponsoring next year’s World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia paid a visit to the city May 13 in typical tourist fashion: by viewing the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, was joined by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput and the event co-chairmen, Gov. Tom Corbett and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, for the morning review at the Liberty Bell pavilion, then on to a private tour of Independence Hall led by National Park Service guides. Afterward at the Independence Visitors Center, Archbishop Chaput led a news conference at which he unveiled the theme of the Sept. 22-27, 2015, meeting in the city: “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.” He said Pope Francis’ compassion for the needs of people around the world “and his deep care for the institution of the family” were the inspiration for the theme. “It not only reminds each of us that love should be our life’s mission but that also it is the engine of life. Our goal for the 2015 World Meeting of Families is to create a moment of hope and celebration for all of the world’s families – a moment in which we hope Pope Francis will join.”
– – –
‘Black mass’ outcry leads to cancellation, prayers, impromptu event
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (CNS) — A Harvard University student group’s plan to conduct a satanic ritual “black mass” May 12 on campus brought a public outcry, leading to its formal cancellation and an apparently impromptu off-campus version of the event, as well as a well-attended alternative Catholic holy hour. The planned event had drawn wide criticism from religious leaders as well as students, alumni and faculty at Harvard. As the organizers of the black mass scrambled to find an off-campus venue for their event, an estimated 2,000 Catholics and others gathered at the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology before a eucharistic procession down Massachusetts Avenue to join the holy hour at St. Paul’s Catholic Church. Father Michael E. Drea, the senior Catholic chaplain at Harvard, thanked the participants in the holy hour, saying the light of Christ, represented by an Easter candle on the altar, invited believers to joy and peace in union with God. “And that, my friends, is why we are here tonight praying, with trust and worship, in the presence of our risen savior under the appearance of bread,” Father Drea said. A threat to the Eucharist in an act of sacrilege “demands our prayerful and firm response,” he said. Harvard University President Drew Faust had said earlier that she would attend the holy hour “to join others in reaffirming our respect for the Catholic faith at Harvard and to demonstrate that the most powerful response to offensive speech is not censorship, but reasoned discourse and robust dissent.
Read more Catholic news at the CNS website.