Archive of May 26, 2004

Archbishop of Denver: It's a matter of honesty: to receive Communion, we need to be in communion

Denver, Colo., May 26, 2004 (CNA) - The matter of Communion and pro-abortion politicians is not one about giving or not giving the Eucharist, but a matter of honesty on the part of the recipient, said Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver in a column published yesterday in the Denver Catholic Register.

“The current media turmoil over ‘denying Catholic politicians Communion’ is filled with ignorance about the Church and the real meaning of the Eucharist,” said the archbishop. 

“Denying anyone Communion is a very grave matter.  It should be reserved for extraordinary cases of public scandal,” he continued. 

“But the Church always expects Catholics who are living in serious sin or who deny the teachings of the Church – whether they're highly visible officials or anonymous parishioners – to have the integrity to respect both the Eucharist and the faithful, and to refrain from receiving Communion,” he said. 

Like every previous Catholic generations, said the bishop, Catholics today must still take the words of St. Paul very seriously:  "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Cor 11:27). 

The bishop also cited St. Justin, who taught of the significance of Communion, saying: "No one may take part [in the Eucharist] unless he believes that what we teach is true, has received baptism for the forgiveness of sins and new birth, and lives in keeping with what Christ taught."

“If we ignore or deny what the Church teaches, or refuse to follow what she teaches, we are not ‘in communion’ with the Catholic faith. We separate ourselves from the community of believers,” the bishop said. “If we receive Communion anyway, we engage in a lie. 

“Claiming to be Catholic and then rejecting Catholic teaching is an act of dishonesty and a lack of personal integrity,” he said. “Worse, if we then receive Communion, we violate every Catholic who does believe and does strive to live the faith fully and unselfishly. 

The bishop said 50 years ago, many Catholics avoided receiving Communion “out of an excessive fear of our own sins. Today, far too many of us receive Communion unthinkingly, reflexively, with no sense of the urgent need for our own self-examination, humility and conversion.”

The bishop said Catholics need to turn back to the sacrament of penance before they receive Communion, and in order “to regain a basic understanding of grace and sin.”

“If we claim to believe in Jesus Christ and the Catholic faith, then we need to act like it – without caveats, all the way, all the time, with all our heart, including our lives in the public square,” he said.

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Boston to close 65 churches

Boston, Mass., May 26, 2004 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Boston announced yesterday that it will be closing 70 parishes, but creating five new ones. Sixty church buildings will be closed in the reorganization.

Church officials said the archdiocese was forced to make this decision because of a decline in the number of parishioners, priests and funds. The archdiocese’s financial problems are caused, in part, by a lag in the amount of funds given to the Boston Church since the sexual-abuse scandal.

Archbishop Sean O'Malley said 130 pastors are older than 70 and its buildings in the city of Boston need more than $100 million in repairs.

More than one-third of Boston parishes are operating in the red, said the archbishop in a release.

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God condemns evil but rewards faithfulness, Pope says

Vatican City, May 26, 2004 (CNA) - Speaking about the Canticle of the Apocalypse, “The Judgment of God,”  Pope John Paul II said during today’s general audience that God condemns evil and rewards faithfulness.

Speaking to some 15,000 people gathered at St Peter Square, the Pope said that the Canticle is intoned by the “twenty-four elders of the heavenly court, who represent all the just of the Old and the New Alliance.”

“In this prayer,” he continued, “we can hear the hearts of the just beating as they hopefully await the coming of the Lord to bring light to human history, so often immersed in the shadows of sin, of injustice, of deceit and of violence.”

The Pontiff explained that this hymn exalts “the just and resolute judgment that the Lord is about to exercise over human history.” “He is judge but also savior, He condemns evil but rewards faithfulness. He is just, but above all merciful.”

John Paul also explained that the Canticle recounts “the duel between good and evil, between the Church and Satan; suddenly a heavenly voice rings out announcing the defeat of the ‘Accuser’.” The accuser “placed the sincerity of the faith of the just in doubt. Now the satanic dragon has been put to silence and at the roots of his downfall is ‘the blood of the Lamb,’ the passion and death of Christ the Redeemer.”

The Holy Father concluded: “Associated with Christ’s victory is the testimony of the martyrdom of Christians. The faithful, who did not hesitate to ‘love not their lives even unto death,’ participate intimately in the redeeming work of the Lamb. Our thoughts go to Christ’s words: ‘He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.’”

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Pope encourages solidarity with Dominican Republic and Haiti, affected by floods

Vatican City, May 26, 2004 (CNA) - The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, sent a telegram expressing Pope John Paul II’s solidarity with the victims of floods in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Both nations share the same Island—Hispaniola--in the Caribbean.

The telegraph says that His Holiness, “deeply grieved upon learning the painful news of the great floods that have struck an extensive area of the Dominican Republic, causing numerous fatalities and leaving many families without a home, offers his prayers for the eternal repose of the dead, and raises his pleas to the Lord that He may concede His solace to those affected and inspire feelings of Christian solidarity in those able to help to remedy the tragic affects of this natural disaster.”

The Holy Father also expresses his “deeply-felt condolences to the families of the deceased, and express his paternal solicitude and spiritual closeness to the victims. With these feelings he imparts his heartfelt and comforting Apostolic Blessing as a sign of hope in the Risen Lord.”

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Bishop Olmsted responds to paper: Communion can be denied to pro-abortion politicians

Phoenix, Ariz., May 26, 2004 (CNA) - In a letter to the Arizona Republic, Bishop of Phoenix Thomas J. Olmsted said yesterday that an article printed by the newspaper on May 21 under the title “Bishops won’t link politics, Communion” misrepresents his position on the issue.

The Arizona Republic's article authored by Michael Clancy reported that "Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix said that instead of refusing to offer Communion, he will attempt to use persuasion to educate politicians about church teachings."

Clancy also said that "Olmsted's position puts him at odds with several conservative bishops, including Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis and Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, who in a letter earlier this week said any Catholic who votes for a politician who backs abortion rights cannot receive Communion."

In his response to the article, Bishop Olmsted wrote that "abortion is the killing of a completely innocent life and thus bad news for both unborn children and their mothers. It is a horrible wrong. It is intrinsically evil. We have a serious obligation to protect human life, and especially the most innocent and vulnerable."

"Whoever fails to do this, especially when they are able to do so, commits serious sins of omission. They jeopardize their own spiritual well being and they are a source of scandal for others. Should they be Catholics, they should not receive Holy Communion," the Bishop adds.

The Bishop's statement also says that "no one who is conscious of having committed a serious sin should receive Holy Communion. For the Eucharist is the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, our most precious gift in the Church."

Bishop Olmsted calls upon all Catholics, "especially those in public life, to examine their consciences, and to refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they are unambiguously pro-abortion. As a bishop, I shall continue to pray for an end to abortion and other sins against life; I shall stand up for the life and dignity of every human person and I urge all people of good will to do the same."

"Should some Catholic politicians who are presently pro-abortion obstinately persist in this contradiction to our faith, this becomes a source of scandal and measures beyond those of moral persuasion would be needed," the Bishop's letter concludes.

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Arkansas Christian family marks birth of 15th child

Fayetteville, Ark., May 26, 2004 (CNA) - When Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar married almost 20 years ago, they used birth control pills. Four years into their marriage, they had their first child and decided on “giving this area of our life up to God,” said Jim Bob. Fifteen children later, they are glad they did.

Michelle Duggar gave birth to her 15th child Sunday. Both mother and baby are doing well.

At birth, the baby boy, Jackson Levi, weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces and was 20 inches long.

Father and former state legislator Jim Bob, 38, said he leaves the decision of having more children up to Michelle. He said Michelle, while still in hospital, has already expressed a desire to have more.

The real estate businessman said both he and his wife love children. He said they stopped using birth control pills once they learned that the pills could cause a woman to miscarry.

Michelle is resting for a few days in hospital before heading back to care for her brood. She home-schools her children and is helping to build the family's new home in Tontitown from the ground up. Her mother-in-law is helping with the other 14 children at this time, which include two sets of twins.

"I knew she was a mother of the year all along,” says Jim Bob about Michelle, “but she really deserves wife of the year."

Their 14 children include: Joshua, 16; Jana and John-David, 14; Jill, 13; Jessa, 11; Jinger, 10; Joseph, 9; Josiah, 7; Joy-Anna, 6; Jeremiah and Jedidiah, 5; Jason, 4; James, 2; and Justin, 1.

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Cuban authorities prohibit distribution of medicine in parish

Havana, Cuba, May 26, 2004 (CNA) - The Cubanet news agency is denouncing the move by Cuban authorities in Santa Clara to prohibit a parish from distributing medicines and eyeglasses free of charge to the local population.

Last week, the priest in charge of the distribution, identified only as Fidencio, had to explain to the large crowd of people that usually come every Tuesday to the Church of Las Pastora that the service will be suspended as of June 1.

The priest received an official letter, which said that Cuba is a “medical power” and that “there is no lack of medicines on the island such that they should be giving away medicines there, which was causing people to conglomerate unnecessarily.”

According to the Spanish priest, a public health official told him that “medicines in Cuba are abundant, and large, disorganized gatherings are prohibited from now on,” and she told the priest he had 30 days to shut down the donations.

The parish usually distributed medicines and eyeglasses donated from Spain and Malta and was one of the channels through which Catholic Charities in Cuba provided assistance to the population.

Each Tuesday dozens of people go to the parish to receive medicines they are unable to find in the Public Health facilities, and church personnel distributes the medicines free of charge to those who have a valid prescription.

According to Cubanet, the Church of La Pastora is known for its outreach to prisoners, the elderly, the infirm and the needy. 

A sign on the parish property reads, “Starting June 1, the donation of medicines will be suspended because the parish is not authorized to provide such a service.”

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Groups seek to legalize “medicinal babies” in Spain

Madrid, Spain, May 26, 2004 (CNA) - The National Committee for Assisted Human Reproduction in Spain took the first step towards legalizing human embryo selection for the purpose of obtaining “medicinal babies,” that is, babies conceived in vitro who would serve as donors for their brothers and sisters who are ill.

The Committee, which advises the Government on matters of assisted reproduction, gave a green light to the genetic selection of embryos but it could not obtain express authorization because current Spanish law says that any procedures performed on the “pre-embryo” must be only to evaluate its viability or to detect hereditary diseases.

The law also prohibits any procedure on an embryo that is not intended for its well-being and development.  Therefore it does not allow the embryo to be made into a “medicinal baby.”

The request for authorization of this type of genetic manipulation for therapeutic purposes came from the Valencian Institute of Infertility, which, after learning of the opinion of the Committee, was optimistic Health officials would grant the request “as soon as possible.”

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Family organization calls for referendum on law allowing homosexuals to adopt

Madrid, Spain, May 26, 2004 (CNA) - The Family Policy Institute of Cataluña, Spain, is calling for a popular referendum, which would demonstrate if it is the will of the people to strike down proposed legislation in the Spanish province that would legalize the adoption of children by homosexual couples.

The President of the Institute, Liberto Senderos, congratulated the Spanish Bishops Conference for taking a stand in defense of the rights of children to have a father and a mother, and he called on “other religious confessions, as well as civil society in general, to publicly manifest their rejection of this edict that would give children to homosexual couples.”

Senderos said he hoped the support for bills opposing the measure—one of which will be sponsored by the Institute—will make the government forget about such and unpopular measure.

“It is unbelievable that those who complain about the government’s lack of sensitivity to a group of persons who are so cruelly treated by fate as are adopted children, are insulted and ridiculed, and worse yet, falsely accused of intolerance and homophobia by small groups that make a lot of noise,” the Institute said in a statement.

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