Archive of July 20, 2004

Pope intervenes in seminary sex scandal in Austria

Vatican City, Jul 20, 2004 (CNA) - The Vatican Press Office announced this Tuesday that Pope John Paul II has appointed an apostolic visitator to probe the sex scandal that has rocked the seminary of St Poelten in Austria.

The brief statement said the Pope had named Bishop Klaus Kung of the Austrian city of Feldkirch to look into the problems of the Austrian diocese of St Poelten and “in particular” the seminary.

Austria was shocked after a national magazine revealed that police investigators have found child pornography in the seminary computers. The magazine also ran pictures of priests kissing students.

Austrian prosecutors said on Monday that they found child pornography on the seminary's main computer and on one owned by a 27-year-old seminarian from Poland, who could be jailed for up to two years if convicted.

Vienna Archbishop Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said the Pope had acted quickly and called it an “extraordinary measure.”

The Vienna Archdiocese also said in a statement that the investigator would also look into the “the entire conduct in office of Bishop Krenn, as well as all diocese establishments, on the authority of the Pope.”

Meanwhile, Fr. Wolfgang Rothe, former deputy director of the seminary, vowed Monday to fight for “truth, justice and honor” and clear his name.

Rothe resigned along with the seminary's director after the scandal broke, but he contended he was the victim of an “unimaginable” smear campaign.

“The confidence and encouragement of numerous people who know me have given me the strength after days of deepest despair and darkness to fight for truth, justice and honor,” he said.

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Bishop says homosexual men should not be admitted to priesthood

Boston, Mass., Jul 20, 2004 (CNA) - Homosexuals should be banned from the Catholic priesthood, said Bishop John D'Arcy in an interview published yesterday in the Boston Globe.

The bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne and South Bend, Indiana, was at a mass in Boston, where he grew up.

While there, he agreed to an interview with the Boston Globe. He told the Globe that the Church must improve its screening process for seminarians to keep homosexuals from being ordained.

The bishop said he hopes the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will discuss screening policies when it meets this fall, and will take a firm stance against admitting homosexuals.

The bishop also said putting a homosexual in the mostly male environment of the seminary and priesthood is unfair.

He emphasized that priests must embrace celibacy. He said priests with the right temperament will attract more good men to work for the Church.

Fr. Christopher J. Coyne, spokesperson for the Boston archdiocese, said there has been some discussion among members of the archdiocese and the Vatican about the possibility of banning homosexuals from the priesthood, but no decisions have been made.

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Seattle Archbishop says pro-abortion politicians must refrain from Communion

Seattle, Wash., Jul 20, 2004 (CNA) - Catholic politicians, who defend pro-abortion policies should refrain from receiving Communion, although ministers should not make the decision of denying Communion, said Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett of Seattle in a pastoral letter he issued recently.

“The Eucharist must never become an instrument of division,” the archbishop wrote, explaining the significance of the sacrament.

“Fundamental misunderstandings about the relationship between faith and political responsibility have led to confusion on both sides of the current debate,” he said, referring to the ongoing dispute, which is playing out in the press, about whether pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be denied Communion.

For example, said the bishop, some Catholics suggest that “those who vocally and publicly assume pro-choice positions on abortion should be expelled from the Catholic community and the Eucharist. 

“That would have the result of denying Eucharistic participation without formal, canonical due process,” he said, a process which requires dialogue and an opportunity for the accused to explain why they support a position that is contrary to Church teaching. 

However, those who persist in public opposition should, “in integrity, … voluntarily withdraw from Eucharistic sharing without the need for formal action by the Church,” said the bishop. 

“With that understanding, however, Ministers of the Eucharist should not take it upon themselves to deny Holy Communion to anyone who presents themselves,” the bishop emphasized.

Bishop points to contradictions

The bishop addressed the contradiction of pro-abortion Catholic politicians with great clarity.

“Catholics, including Catholic politicians, cannot on one hand profess to be in communion with the Catholic Church and on the other hand support abortions,” he said. 

“It is one thing to enter into political discussion about abortion issues; it is another to support and campaign for abortion actively,” he continued.  “In such cases, a clear contradiction exists between the active professing and living of one’s faith and one’s political agenda and actions.”

Catholic politicians, said Bishop Burnett, have an obligation to promote the sacredness and dignity of human life and eliminate the perceived need for abortions.

Church has right to voice principles

The U.S. Church recognizes the constitutional separation of church and state and the right of all citizens “to the full and free expression of their views in the public square,” said the bishop.

However, he continued, this right also applies to members of the Catholic Church, who are entitled to express their principles and who expect that their views be heard, without being disregarded or rejected simply because they stem from the Gospel and Church teaching.

Archbishop  Brunett’s full statement is at:

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Cardinal McCarrick urges court to halt executions for crimes committed by juveniles

Washington D.C., Jul 20, 2004 (CNA) - Theodore Cardinal McCarrick has called on the United States Supreme Court to halt the execution of persons for crimes committed as juveniles.

"Just two years ago, the Court concluded that the execution of persons with mental retardation cannot be squared with the constitutional guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment," the archbishop of Washington said. "It is our hope that the Supreme Court will now extend the same moral wisdom and legal reasoning to the use of the death penalty against those who committed capital crimes as juveniles."

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and 29 other religious organizations filed a brief, asking the Federal Supreme Court to affirm a Missouri Supreme Court ruling that the execution of persons for crimes committed as juveniles violates the Constitution.

The case before the Court, Roper v. Simmons, involves a Missouri inmate, Christopher Simmons, who was sentenced to death for a murder committed when he was 17.

Cardinal McCarrick is the chairperson of the USCCB Domestic Policy Committee.

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Argentina could be first country in Latin America to legalize abortion on demand

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 20, 2004 (CNA) - Argentina is in danger of becoming the first country in Latin America—with the exception of Cuba—to legalize abortion “on demand and unrestricted” if a bill reforming the Penal Code passes in the Buenos Aires State Legislature.

According to the NOTIVIDA news agency, a bill addressing “pregnancies incompatible with life” consists of “a plan to legalize abortion” in the Buenos Aires province, the most populous in the country.

According to the source, “with the excuse of regulating the performing of non-punishable abortions, now they want to expand in an abusive and unconstitutional fashion the list of situations in which the Penal Code permits abortion.”

The bill stipulates, “When a doctor or psychologist concludes that the pregnancy is affecting a woman’s health—physical or psychiatric—they shall be obliged to notify her and, simultaneously, offer her the possibility of ‘terminating the pregnancy.’ If the woman agrees, the abortion shall take place within a span of 6 days.  The heath care professional that refuses to perform the abortion—because of conscientious objection—shall be replaced or substituted immediately.”

The pregnancy could be terminated at any stage of development.

According to NOTIVIDA, the bill constitutes a manipulation of the Penal Code by allowing abortion for reasons of the “psychiatric health” of the mother, no longer requiring doctors and psychologists to prove that such “danger” cannot be resolved by other means.  By creating an exception for the “psychiatric health” of the mother, proponents are opening the door for abortion for any reason.  The bill would guarantee abortion in cases of rape, claiming that pregnancies that result from sexual assault cause “psychiatric unbalance.”

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4-D images spark debate on abortion in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Jul 20, 2004 (CNA) - The publishing of 4-dimensional pictures of the unborn, which show the fetus smiling, blinking her eyes and crying several weeks before birth, is leading to new calls in Spain for a review of the country’s abortion policy.

The surprising images were first published in Great Britain where abortion is permitted up to the 22nd week.  The images, taken between the 12th and 26th week of pregnancy, show the baby perfectly formed, moving all four limbs, sucking her thumb and yawning.

The impact has been such that two young mothers decided not to go through with an abortion and in the British Parliament some lawmakers are calling for tighter restrictions on when abortions can be performed.

In Spain, in an article published by the newspaper “La Razon,” journalist Cristina Lopez Schlichting said that it is time for there to be a debate on the resources that are provided for pregnant mothers in difficult circumstances and, in addition, on the lack of serious oversight of private clinics.

“I am not asking any party to take up the anti-abortion cause, because I’m not naïve, but it is time to have a debate, first of all, on the resources provided to pregnant mothers in difficult circumstances, and second, on the need for serious oversight of private clinics, where any desire for abortion is portrayed to be a serious health risk,” writes Schlichting.

“How is it possible that the reports on abortion in Spain are signed by doctors who are paid by these clinics, which benefit from this gigantic business?” she asks.

According to Schlichting, social workers and pro-life associations should be more realistic because “it is useless to mount a frontal attack on abortion in a society that has is numb.”

“While we teach that fertilization is the origin of life, because it creates an embryo with a complete and unique genetic code, and thus we are sowing the seeds of a cultural change, we should tactfully propose a more modest first step for reforming the law.  We should begin by making 12 weeks the limit for having an abortion.  And if anyone has doubts, they should see the new images and the precious movements of the unborn,” she underscored.

Abortion 24 hours before birth

In her article, Schlichting recalled that in Spain “it is possible to have an abortion even the day before birth, because there is no time limit in cases of ‘risk to the physical or psychiatric health of the mother,’ which is the reason for 96.8% of 77,000 woman who abort each year.”

“Nobody can give life back to children that have been aborted, but now that many prejudices associated with similar struggles have been overcome (equality between men and women, the entering of women into the workforce, shame over single motherhood), it is now time to begin thinking about whether what is happening is fair.  Because law has to do with justice,” Schlichting said.

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Cuban bishops receive delegation from Mexican Bishops Conference

Havana, Cuba, Jul 20, 2004 (CNA) - According to a report by the Bishops Conference of Cuba, a delegation from the Bishops Conference of Mexico, headed up by Conference president Bishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago, arrived this week in Havana to meet with clergy and to celebrate a Mass in honor of Blessed Rafael Guizar y Valencia.

The Mexican prelates will first meet with the Cuban bishops and later with a group of Mexican priests and religious who are stationed in Cuba.  Lastly they will be meet with Caridad Diego, the Communist government’s liaison for Religious Affairs.

The Mexican bishops will also celebrate Mass in Havana, where they will unveil a portrait in memory of Blessed Rafael Guizar y Valencia (1878-1938), Bishop of Veracruz, who spent a number of years in Cuba.  He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995.

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Catholic leaders and Sandinistas pray together after 25 years in Nicaragua

Managua, Nicaragua, Jul 20, 2004 (CNA) - Nicaragua's former Marxist President Daniel Ortega and Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo prayed together for reconciliation on Monday evening, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Sandinista revolution.

Cardinal Obando, once the fiercest critic of the Sandinista government, celebrated a mass for “reconciliation and peace,” as well as “ for the eternal rest” of the some 30,000 Nicaraguans that lost their lives  during the revolution and  the ensuing uprising of the U.S.-backed “Contra” rebels.

“It takes courage to ask for forgiveness,” said Cardinal Obando at the Mass celebrated at Managua’s new Cathedral, in reference to Ortega’s  recent request to Catholic leaders to forgive his government’s errors and “mistakes against the Church.”

During the homily, Cardinal Obando also prayed that “this episode of violence may never happen again in our nation.”

Ortega, who lost power in the 1990 elections and has failed to be elected president three consecutive times, attended the Mass with his family and did one of the readings. “This has been one of the most beautiful, profound messages we have heard,” he said later of Obando's homily.

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