Washington D.C., Jul 16, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued on Thursday a statement expressing Catholic disappointment after the Senate failed to invoke closure on the debate over the Federal Marriage Amendment.
“The Bishops of the United States are extremely disappointed that the Senate failed to close off the debate on the Federal Marriage Amendment, thereby preventing a vote on the substance of the amendment,” the statement said.
“Marriage, the union of one man and one woman, has always been recognized as the foundation of human society, but today marriage is sadly in need of protection.”
“It is a shame that the Senate did not have the opportunity to vote on this amendment that is so necessary to the well-being of our nation,” Bishop Gregory concluded.
Bishop Gregory had urged the Senate to vote in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment and to turn back any attempt to prevent its consideration.
The USCCB President also wrote to all Catholic Bishops asking them to urge their Senators to support the amendment and to encourage their local pastors to generate additional support for the amendment throughout the Catholic community.
Vatican City, Jul 16, 2004 (CNA) - The schedule of Pope John Paul II’s trip to Lourdes, August 14-15, to celebrate the feast of the Assumption and to mark the 150th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, was released by the Vatican today.
It will be his 104th foreign apostolic trip and the seventh time he has been to France.
His last visit was in August 1997 for World Youth Day. He was the first Pope ever to visit Lourdes when he went there in 1983 as a pilgrim during the Holy Year of the Redemption.
This August is his second trip to the celebrated shrine where, on March 25, 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared to the young peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous and announced: "I am the Immaculate Conception." Mary first appeared to Bernadette on February 11 of that year.
The Holy Father will arrive at the Tarbes-Ousson Airport at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 14, where President Jacques Chirac of France is scheduled to meet him. Towards 1 p.m. the Pope will go to the Grotto where, in late afternoon, he will be joined by other pilgrims with whom he will pray the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary as the faithful process around the shrine. The fifth mystery will end in the square in front of the basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, following which the Holy Father will address the crowd. At 9 p.m. there will be the traditional torchlit procession on the shrine grounds.
On Sunday, August 15, feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, John Paul II is scheduled to celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. at the shrine. In the afternoon he will spend some private time in prayer at the Grotto. His departure for Rome is set for 6 p.m.
According to the bishops, more than 300,000 people, including 2,000 journalists who have registered for the occasion, are expected in Lourdes for the two-day event. The French bishops, together with the authorities of the Lourdes shrine and the prefecture of Hautes-Pryenees, have created an Internet site, available in French and English, for the visit: www.lourdes2004.com
When he instituted the World Day of the Sick in 1992, Pope John Paul chose February 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, as the date on which this day would be marked each year. The first world day took place in 1993 in Lourdes on the theme "That the sick and disabled will have their rightful place in society and in the Church."
This year the World Day of the Sick was again celebrated in Lourdes, on the theme "The Immaculate Conception and Health in the Christian Roots of Europe."
New Haven, Conn., Jul 16, 2004 (CNA) - The Knights of Columbus issued a statement vowing that they “will fight as long as it takes” to protect institution of marriage.
The U.S. Senate vote July 14 on the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) “shows that the crucial effort to protect the institution of marriage in America will be a long and difficult one,” Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson said.
“But the Knights of Columbus, in solidarity with the Catholic bishops of the United States, will fight for as long as it takes in order to ensure that marriage, defined as the union of a man and a woman, is protected in law.”
Anderson said that “this courtroom battle is another Roe v. Wade in the making. Advocates of same-sex marriage are determined to get the courts to impose same-sex marriage by judicial fiat, and only a federal constitutional amendment can prevent it.”
“Amending the constitution is something that we should never take lightly, and there’s no doubt that if this could be settled at the state level, we’d all prefer it,” he continued.
“But the recent same-sex marriage decision from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has set in motion a process that is all but certain to conclude with a federal court adopting their reasoning and ending traditional marriage forever. As the largest Catholic family organization in the nation, we cannot stand by and allow that to happen.”
Hammond, La., Jul 16, 2004 (CNA) - Two years after being accused of sexual abuse, Fr. Chris Eggleton, OP, has been declared innocent of all charges by a Miami court. The allegation was part of a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Miami.
His former parish community of Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Hammond has organized a mass and reception July 25 to celebrate, reported the Daily Star. The announcement at the parish brought a standing ovation at the 9:30 mass Sunday.
The case draws attention to the widely ignored situations of false allegations, which rarely get press. Fr. Eggleton had strongly denied the allegations when he was first accused, and his parishioners supported his innocence as well.
Fr. Eggleton has also been cleared according with the guidelines of the bishops and those of the Conference of the Major Superiors of Men, enabling him to continue his work in the priesthood. He will begin as the prior of a Dominican House in Raleigh, N.C., this week.
, Jul 16, 2004 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Portland has asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for permission to pay its 112 employees, reported The Oregonian.
The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection July 6 in the face of numerous sexual abuse cases. Decisions in these court cases could require the archdiocese to pay millions of dollars in compensation, which it just does not have.
The Archdiocese of Portland is only one of several dioceses which have considered filing for bankruptcy as a means to protect their pastoral works and ministry from the courts.
Though the Archdiocese of Portland’s revenues are up to about $15.7 million this year, compared with $9.9 million last year, the archdiocese, having filed for Chapter 11 protection, cannot distribute these funds as usual.
Under bankruptcy law, the archdiocese would be required to transfer all the money in its current accounts into new general, payroll and tax accounts. The new accounts would require signature cards, indicating that the archdiocese can continue to operate itself.
However, the archdiocese is asking the court to excuse it from that requirement. Switching to new accounts, it said, would disrupt operations and create expenses for new checks and other business forms.
The archdiocese's chief financial officer, Leonard Vuylsteke, said in a filing that the archdiocese will have to issue paychecks to a total of about $382,000 to its 90 full-time and 22 part-time employees by July 31. In addition, the archdiocese spends more than $100,000 a month to provide numerous employee benefits. Medical and prescription insurance alone costs $75,000 a month.
Philadelphia, Pa., Jul 16, 2004 (CNA) - A group of pro-life youth, walking through the Eastern United States in the American Life League's Summer Crusade for Life, will arrive in Philadelphia this week, but the archdiocese has forbade them from speaking at masses in local parishes.
In a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article, archdiocesan spokesperson Catherine Rossi said it would be "inappropriate" for the students to speak at masses.
The young college students decided to trek across the Eastern United States this summer to raise awareness about pro-life issues and demonstrate against abortion.
While in Philadelphia, however, the young people plan to pray at local abortion clinics, meet with Catholic public figures and speak to Catholics in their homes and other venues.
The Summer Crusade for Life is part of American Life League's Crusade for the Defense of Our Catholic Church, an effort launched in January 2003.
American Life League is calling on all bishops in the United States to enforce Church law and forbid all known pro-abortion "Catholic" public figures from receiving Communion.
Toronto, Canada, Jul 16, 2004 (CNA) - Canada’s Catholic television network is asking the country’s 12.8 million Catholics to take action and to help make Catholic programming available across the country by calling a national digital cable provider.
Salt + Light Television, a digital television network, broadcasts 100 percent Catholic programming, commercial-free. It began after World Youth Day 2002, which was held in Toronto, where the network is based. Fr. Thomas Rosica, former director of the international youth event, is the network’s CEO.
Currently, it is available to select communities in Ontario through ROGERS and in Quebec, through Vidéotron, Illico. While this growth is positive, the network points out that there are still millions of Canadian Catholics, who cannot receive Salt + Light programming.
However, Bell ExpressVu, a national digital cable provider, is in the process of deciding whether to make Salt + Light available to their customers. A decision is expected before the end of July.
“This is why it is important for Canadian Catholics to take action now,” said Jasmin Lemieux-Lefevre, marketing co-ordinator.
“We are certain that a large volume of calls and e-mails from Catholics, who are Bell ExpressVu subscribers, will convince Bell ExpressVu that they should add our Catholic network to their list of channels,” he said.
The network also encourages all Catholics, who subscribe to digital cable, to call their television service providers and to express their interest in having Salt + Light.
For more information, go to www.saltandlighttv.org
Madrid, Spain, Jul 16, 2004 (CNA) - The director of the Institute for the Study of Conflicts and Humanitarian Action in Spain, Jesus Nuñez Diaz, criticized Spanish authorities this week for “closing their eyes” to the increasing Islamic extremism that is being fostered at several Mosques in the country.
According to Nuñez Diaz, one such mosque in Madrid, which is financed by Saudi Arabia and is the second largest in the Europe, teaches Wahabism, a radical Muslim philosophy adhered to by one of the authors of the March 11 attacks in Madrid.
Likewise, Nuñez Diaz denounced the “permissiveness” in Spain prior to 9-11 with respect to radical Muslims because of the fact they did not attack the country, although it was known that they used Spain as a base for attacks in countries.
In his documented presentation, Nuñez Diaz warned that Islamic international terrorism “is a real threat.”
He emphasized that “all countries, whether or not they have troops in Iraq,” are on Al Qaeda’s list. In this sense, he pointed out that “even though we are no longer in Iraq, we are still on that list.”
He said terrorists chose Spain because it was an “easy” target and he recalled that one of the strategies of the Bin Laden network is to launch attacks coinciding with elections.
Nuñez Diaz said he agreed with sociologist Manuel Castells Olivan that the answer to international terrorism “should not be a military one,” but instead a tighter grip on financial sources in order to dry up the economic channels used by Al Qaeda.
Castells believes it would be a “serious mistake” for the government to censor the preaching of Muslim clerics, since that “would be an invitation to radicalization rather than a solution.” In his judgment, the Muslim community should be responsible for reigning in radical clerics.
Lastly, Castells warned that “March 11 will not be last attack on Spain by Al Qaeda.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 16, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Odilo Pedro Sherer, secretary general of the Bishops Conference of Brazil, explained during a televised debate this week the Church’s and the Pro-life community’s opposition to the decision by a Federal Court to allow abortion in cases of anencephaly.
During the debate which was broadcast on Brazilian national television, Bishop Sherer said that “despite the malformation, we are talking about a human being.”
“We realize the fetus that suffers from anencephaly cannot survive outside the mother’s womb, but we are talking about a living human being, and life should be respected because it is life and not because of the possibilities of survival,” he added.
“The question of life and death,” he explained, “should take its natural course. To say that life begins after birth seems impossible to me in the scientific context in which we are living.”
The debate on the decision by the Federal Court to allow abortion in cases of anencephaly—when a baby develops without a brain—also included the participation of Paulo Leao, President of the Union of Catholic Jurists, who pointed out that “as in other cases which involve abortion, a human life must be respected, without considering the possibility of a longer or shorter life span.”
La Paz, Bolivia, Jul 16, 2004 (CNA) - The secretary general of the Bolivian Bishops Conference, Bishop Jesus Juarez, called on Bolivians this week to participate in a referendum to be held this Sunday that will determine how the country’s vast supply of natural gas will be used.
Bishop Juarez recalled that “if we live in a democracy we must respect the mechanisms of a democracy and say enough to what could be a dictatorship, which we don’t even want to talk about.”
“As we approach the historic democratic event which will take place this Sunday, July 18, the General Secretariat of the Bishops Conference desires to accompany the Bolivian people with a message of hope and unity,” he said.
The bishops called for reflection on “the responsibility that each person has as he or she casts a vote, making a decision that involves the future of the one of the principal natural resources of the nation.”
“This moment of decision making is an opportunity for all of us to come together. Let us leave behind intolerant attitudes that will only lead to unnecessary confrontations, the consequences of which will be felt primarily by the poorest and most vulnerable of our country,” he added.
In this sense, Bishop Juarez pointed out that the bishops are calling on all leaders to “seek the good of the country, setting aside attitudes of confrontation and polarization.”