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Archive of May 21, 2004

American Life League responds to 48 Catholic congressmen: "You can't be Catholic and pro-abortion."

Washington D.C., May 21, 2004 (CNA) - Judie Brown, President of American Life League (ALL,) issued a statement yesterday responding to the 48 Catholic members of the U.S. Congress who sent a letter warning Theodore Cardinal McCarrick about the political repercussions of withholding Communion from pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In her statement, ALL's President called the letter  a "thinly veiled threat to the Church hierarchy," and claims that  it "makes it abundantly clear that these House Catholics lack a complete understanding of the very faith they proclaim. They warn that protecting Communion from known sacrilege 'would be counter-productive and would bring great harm to the Church.'"

"There is nothing more harmful to the Church than knowingly allowing the Body and Blood of Christ to be so desecrated and perpetuating the lie that you can be a Catholic in good standing and support abortion," the statement says.

The statement also explains that "the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion are very clear and have been unequivocal for the past 2,000 years: abortion is an 'intrinsic moral evil' that can never be supported. In April of 2003, Pope John Paul II reiterated, in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, that those who display unrepentant 'outward conduct which is...steadfastly contrary to the moral norm,' are not in full communion with the Church and must be denied the Eucharist. So it really does not matter what these members of Congress 'feel.' The Church's stance on the matter is very clear."

"You can't be Catholic and pro-abortion. The bishops have an obligation to uphold this truth," the statement concludes.

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Archdiocese of Newark gets two new Auxiliary Bishops

Vatican City, May 21, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II appointed today two new Auxiliary bishops to the Archdiocese of Newark, headed by Archbishop John Myers.

The new Auxiliaries are  Fr. Thomas A. Donato, spiritual director of the Major Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in South Orange; and Fr. John W. Flesey, director of permanent formation for the clergy of the Archdiocese of Newark.

Thomas A. Donato was born on October 1, 1940 at Jersey City. He studied  at Saint Michael’s High School,  and then at Seton Hall University at South Orange. He finished his theological studies at the Immaculate Conception Seminary  in Darlington.

After being ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Newark on May 29 1965,  he was vicar at Saint John the Baptist Parish  in Hillsdale (1965-1973)  and at Saint Vincent de Paul Parish in  Bayonne (1973-1982); Pastor  of the Assumption Parish in Bayonne (1982-1988),  Saint Paul Parish  in Ramsey (1988-2001)  and  Saint Raphael Parish in  Livingstone (2001-2003).  Since June 2003  he has been the spiritual director of the Immaculate Conception Seminary  in South Orange. He has been a Prelate of Honor since 1996.

Fr. John W. Flesey was born in Jersey City  on August 6, 1942. After finishing school  at Saint Peter’s Preparatory School,  he studied at Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City. He studied philosophy  at the Immaculate Conception Seminary  in South Orange and was sent to the North American College in Rome to study theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.  He also graduated in spiritual theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas  (1983-1986).

Flesey was ordained a priest  on May 31 1969, and since then he has served as: vicar and administrator of Saint Bernard Parish in Plainfield (1969-1977); Director of formation of the Immaculate Conception Seminary  in South Orange (1986-1995); Dean of the Theological Faculty  at  Seton Hall University in South Orange (1995-2001), rector of the Immaculate Conception Seminary  in South Orange (1995-2000)  and spiritual director of the same seminary (2001-2003); Since 2003 he has served as director of permanent  formation for the Clergy.

The new Auxiliaries  will succeed Bishops Charles J. McDonnell and David Arias, O.A.R. whose resignations from the office of auxiliary were accepted upon having reached the age limit.

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Ordination of three men shows universality of the Church in Denver

Denver, Colo., May 21, 2004 (CNA) - Three men from three ethnic backgrounds will be ordained for the Archdiocese of Denver this week. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM. Cap., will lay hands upon Deacons Kevin Augustyn, José Sáenz, and Joseph Tran May 22.

The mass will begin at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Denver. Auxiliary Bishop José Gomez, archdiocesan priests, deacons, religious men and women, brother seminarians, friends, family, and lay faithful will join the three candidates in prayer and celebration.

With diverse backgrounds and distinct stories of vocation to the priesthood, the three candidates together embody the universal nature of the Catholic Church.

Deacon Kevin Augustyn, 27, grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After graduating from Fort Wayne's Bishop Dwenger High School, he studied theology and philosophy at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He recalls first seriously discerning a religious vocation during his sophomore year in college, which led him to Denver in 1999 to study for the priesthood.

Deacon José Sáenz, 42, spent the early part of his life in El Paso, Texas, where he was raised by his parents, Mexican immigrants. He attended college in Santa Fe, where he graduated with a pastoral studies degree in 1998. Deacon Sáenz remembers detecting a vocation to the priesthood first during his senior year of high school. However, he admits putting off the calling until World Youth Day 1993, when he "finally got the courage to answer God's call."

Deacon Joseph Tran, 34, is a native of Vietnam, where he lived for 16 years before his family emigrated in 1985. Deacon Tran says he discovered his vocation at age 10. As a boy, he memorized the mass and would “celebrate” it, using bath towels for vestments and enlisting his sister, nieces, and nephews for altar servers, lectors, a choir, and the congregation. He received a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the Dominican order before taking four years off to further discern his vocation. He determined the priesthood was his true calling and began studying anew for the Archdiocese of Denver.

The three ordinands are alumni of Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver.

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Pope encourages New Zealand to promote dialogue within “the human family”

Vatican City, May 21, 2004 (CNA) - “New Zealanders have always cherished the fundamental value of freedom, justice and peace. Indeed, in the face of aggression or threat, they have generously sought to defend and promote such rights in the Pacific and beyond,” said the Holy Father this morning on receiving Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand.

“Today,” he added, “in our world so troubled by the scourge of racial divisions and conflict, I encourage you and your fellow citizens to foster dialogue. In acknowledging the fundamental God-given dignity of every person, dialogue leads to a recognition of diversity while opening the mind to the mutual acceptance and genuine collaboration demanded by the human family’s basic vocation to unity.”

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Vatican’s Council for Justice and Peace opens discussion on future of Africa

Vatican City, May 21, 2004 (CNA) - The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, headed by Cardinal Renato Martino,  opened today a study session on the social and economic development of Africa in the era of globalization.

Participants in this meeting include cardinals from Africa, ambassadors from African countries accredited to the Holy See, experts on the above-mentioned topics and leaders from international organizations, including the United Nations, Catholic Relief Services, the Sant’Egidio Community and the Earth Institute of Columbia University. The morning session was presided by Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States, who spoke on Pope John Paul’s solicitude for Africa.

Other speakers addressed the problem of conflicts in Africa and reconciliation. The afternoon session focused on the chronic problems of the continent, including pandemic illnesses, poverty and foreign debt.

The Council will publish both conferences and conclusions of the event in the near future.

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Catholic-Jewish Committee expresses concerns over aftermaths of ‘Passion’

Washington D.C., May 21, 2004 (CNA) - The Catholic-Jewish Consultation Committee met in New York April 20 to discuss their respective views of “The Passion of the Christ” as well as Catholic-Jewish relations in the aftermath of the film.

After the meeting, the U.S. bishops and the National Council of Synagogues issued a joint statement May 19. In it, they recognized that Mel Gibson’s cinematic portrayal of Christ’s Passion represents a work of artistic beauty for many Christians.

However, they also recognized that for other Christians and most Jews, the film “recalls the Passion Plays of the past”, which often incited violence against Jews.

The committee agreed that “the film's depiction of the Temple leaders and its essentially ahistorical use of the Gospels could be twisted in an anti-Semitic way.”

Though no major anti-Semitic acts were reported in the U.S., the committee said they received reports of a few incidents where Jews have been called "Christ killers," and where those who criticized the film have received anti-Semitic mail.

They also expressed their concern that the film is being used in some Arab countries to evoke anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish feelings.

However, the report does not mention the numerous conversions reported by both Catholics and Evangelicals around the world.

The statement repeated the Catholic Church’s teaching that “all humanity was responsible for killing Jesus, not just one group or people” as well as the Church’s condemnation of anti-Semitism and rejection of the charge that all Jews, past and present, are responsible for the death of Jesus.

The statement also makes reference to several “helpful resources” created by the U.S. bishops, such as  “The Bible, the Jews and the Death of Jesus” and “Criteria for the Evaluation of Dramatizations of the Passion.”

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Using ‘The Passion’ in classrooms and study groups

Washington D.C., May 21, 2004 (CNA) - According to the Committee’s statement, Catholic schools and religious education groups should use these documents if they plan on the film in order to “guide students so they will be familiar with the deep theological significance and complex historical context of the Passion narratives that no single film could fully convey,” says the statement.

The statement also advises “caution” when using the film in the classroom because of its graphic nature. It says it would not be appropriate for elementary or middle school students.

The committee also expressed its joint concern over the persistence of anti-Catholic attitudes in the U.S. in the secular media and in certain intellectual circles; it also addresses the plight of Christians in the Holy Land and the difficulties experienced by Catholic clergy and religious in getting visas to re-enter Israel.

The Catholic-Jewish Consultation Committee is composed of representatives of the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Council of Synagogues. Rabbi Joel Zaiman, rabbi emeritus of Chizuk Amuno Congregation in Baltimore, and William Cardinal Keeler, episcopal moderator for Catholic-Jewish Relations of the USCCB, co-chaired the meeting.

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Australian bishops ready to tackle secularism, urge Sunday observance

Sydney, Australia, May 21, 2004 (CNA) - Australia's bishops have taken up Pope John Paul's call to tackle secularism in Australian society and to encourage the observance of the Sunday mass. The bishops made this commitment at their plenary meeting, which focused on broad renewal and education with regard to the Eucharist.

In an interview with Vatican Radio at the close of the May plenary session, Australian bishops’ conference president Archbishop Francis Carroll said the meeting had been infused with the spirit of the bishops' recent Ad Limina visit to Rome.

"We had very much in mind the Holy Father's speaking particularly to the observance of the Lord's Day and so, generally speaking, it was against that background, I suppose, of trying to combat the secularism in Australian society that many of our discussions were held," Archbishop Carroll said.

The bishops have decided to issue a pastoral letter on the Eucharist. A date for its release has not been mentioned.

The bishops had also discussed the Vatican's recent Instruction on the Observance of the Eucharist.

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Catholics not well-liked in film industry, says director

Madrid, Spain, May 21, 2004 (CNA) - The renowned Polish film director Krzysztof Zanussi says there is a terrible polarization between the communications media and faith, and that the label Catholic “is not well-liked by anyone in our society.”

Zanussi, who received the prize for Best Director at Cannes, made his comments during the First International Symposium on Cinema at the Catholic University of Valencia, Spain.

The 64 year-old director explained that “in the industry of today it is very difficult because in the last few years I have been more connected with the Catholic Church [Zanussi is an adviser to with the Pontifical Council for Culture], which is hated in the media and in European countries, although less so in America.  It is difficult for me to attend the international film festivals and to find distributors, because the label of Catholic is not well-liked by anyone in our society.”

Asked about the possibilities for Catholic directors, Zanussi said, “The possibilities are very few in this world for a Catholic because any relationship with the Church is seen as very negative.  I tell my students to not identify themselves too soon as Catholics, but rather to make movies that show their convictions.”

“Even Catholic movie-goers do not know how to help Catholic filmmakers.  They look for directors who have achieved success without the support of the Church.  Today we are thrilled at the success of Mel Gibson, but when he tried to find support to produce his film, he didn’t find any,” added the director.

Zanussi said the polarization between the media and Christians is because “Catholics don’t love the media and the media do not love Catholics.  This has led the religious public to expect little from art and this is terrible.”

“The Church contributed greatly to the film industry in the ‘50s in Italy and Spain, with parish theaters and spiritual direction for film makers.  But today, when I talk to priests, they say they are tired.  As far as young committed Catholics are concerned, they have decided to take more interest in the mass media,” he added.

On the other hand, the director recalled, “All of Europe needs a new vision of the world, because it is in a moment of crisis.  Consumerism has lost its fascination.  Today’s slogans no longer interest young people.  I sense the beginning of a new wave of optimism which will take the place of post-modern cynicism.”

“The new generations are more enthusiastic, more idealistic and they have more faith, not in man, which is always a weak faith, but rather in God.  The experience of totalitarianism in the 20th century has confirmed that we are weak and capable of doing terrible things if we do not rely upon God,” Zanussi said.

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Religion is fundamental for the intellectual development of children, says chancellor

Madrid, Spain, May 21, 2004 (CNA) - The chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, said this week in Valencia, Spain, that religion is important for the intellectual development of children.

Speaking with reporters, Archbishop Sanchez said that eliminating religion from the life of a child is “like taking away his bread, his nourishment.”

“Throughout the history of mankind,” he said, “the profound questions raised by religion are what have provided the greatest incentive for the development of the sciences, philosophy and knowledge.”  Therefore, he said religion is a “fundamental necessity.”

Archbishop Sanchez said he was in favor of treating religion the same as other subjects in school curricula.  “If you do not require certain things from young people, they don’t study,” he said.

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Catholic University of Argentina convenes International Congress on 10th anniversary of Veritatis Splendor

Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 21, 2004 (CNA) - In order to mark the 10th anniversary of the papal encyclical Veritatis Splendor, the Pontifical Universtity of Argentina is organizing an international theological congress in September, bringing together Catholic intellectuals from around the world.

The congress will begin on September 23 with conferences by Arcbishop Angelo Amato, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Jose Rovai, President of the Bishops Committee on Faith and Culture, Professor Livio Melina of the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University in Rome, and Professor Real Tremblay of the Alfonsian Academy of Rome.

Friday, September 24, will begin with a video conference led by Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice.  A roundtable discussion will follow between Auxiliary Bishop of La Plata Antonio Marino, Professor Jean Laffitte of the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University in Rome, Professor Juan Jose Perez Soba of the St. Damasus Theology Department of Madrid, and Professor Francisco Leocata of the Pontifical University of Argentina.

Friday afternoon will feature a video conference with Cardinal Georges Cottier, Theologian of the Pontifical Household, with a roundtable discussion to follow between Bishop Eduardo Miras, President of the Argentinean Bishops Conference, Professor Angel Rodriguez Luño of the Pontifical Univeristy of Santa Cruz in Rome, and Professor Juan de Dios Larru of the St. Damasus Theology Department of Madrid

Saturday’s panelists include Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, with a roundtable discussion between Archbishop Estanislao Karlic, Archbishop emeritus of Parana, Professor Jaroslav Merecki of the Univeristy of Lublin, Poland, Fr. Domingo Basso, Rector emeritus of the Ponficial University of Argentina, and Professor Fernando Ortega of the Ponficial University of Argentina.

The closing address of the congress will be given by the Gran Chancellor of the Ponficial University of Argentina, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

Tickets as well as further information can be obtained by writing: [email protected]

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