Archive of August 5, 2004

ALL greets Southern bishops for denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians

Washington D.C., Aug 5, 2004 (CNA) - The American Life League is “overjoyed” by the decision taken by the bishops of Atlanta, Charlotte and Charleston to refuse Communion to pro-abortion Catholic public figures.

The three bishops issued a joint proclamation, called "Worthy to Receive the Lamb: Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion."

"There are three main concerns with a Catholic public figure's open support for abortion,” said Judie Brown, president of American Life League. “The first is concern for the eternal consequences that exist for the public figure's soul. The second is concern for the scandal that is caused by misleading the faithful into believing it is acceptable for Catholics to support abortion. The third is concern for the sacrilege that occurs when a known pro-abortion Catholic is allowed to receive Holy Communion.”

The bishops’ joint proclamation states that  the recognizes “that there is a manifest lack of a proper disposition for Holy Communion in those whose outward conduct is "seriously, clearly, and steadfastly contrary" to the Church's moral teaching (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 37b). A manifest lack of proper disposition for Holy Communion is found to be present in those who consistently support pro-abortion legislation. Because support for pro-abortion legislation is gravely sinful, such persons should not be admitted to Holy Communion.”

The letter also says: “Because of the influence that Catholics in public life have on the conduct of our daily lives and on the formation of our nation's future, we declare that Catholics serving in public life, espousing positions contrary to the teaching of the Church on the sanctity and inviolability of human life, especially those running for or elected to public office, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in any Catholic church within our jurisdictions: the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Dioceses of Charleston and Charlotte.”

“It is our prayer that the rest of the country's bishops will join these steadfast shepherds of the Church by enforcing Canon 915, which states that persons 'who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to communion',” said Brown.

Read the full document of  Southern bishops at:

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Fargo diocese closes five parishes

, Aug 5, 2004 (CNA) - As the population continues to dwindle, the Diocese of Fargo plans to close five small rural parishes in the coming months. The closures were announced after a yearlong demographic study.

A report by The Associated Press stated that Bishop Samuel Aquila had announced more than a year ago that parishes with 30 or fewer families within 25 miles of a larger parish would be considered for consolidation.

The five parishes being closed are St. Anthony in Bathgate, St. Joseph in Osnabrock, St. Clotilde in Milton, Our Lady of the Lake in Lake Williams, and Sacred Heart in Fried.

Fr. Joseph Goering, chancellor of the diocese, told the AP that more parishes likely will be closed.

The bishop plans to discuss with each parish the future of its church building. If no good use is found, the churches will be torn down, Fr. Goering reportedly said.

According to the AP, St. Anthony's parish has already arranged to have its 1882 wooden church moved to Icelandic State Park.

Meanwhile, Catholic parishes in urban centers in the diocese are growing; a new parish was even opened two years ago in south Fargo.

The number of Catholics registered in the diocese in 2003 was 84,190, a drop from 102,814 in 1990. After the closures, there will be 153 parishes, served by 107 priests.

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Becket Fund to defend Hindu Temple against court activism

, Aug 5, 2004 (CNA) - The Hindu Temple Society of North America, of Flushing, Queens, filed suit in federal court yesterday, claiming that local courts are aiding the hostile takeover of the Temple in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The Temple is represented by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, an international, interfaith, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions.

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn. It asks the federal court to issue an injunction barring the local court from further activity that would jeopardize the rights of the Temple and its devotees.  If successful, the federal suit would prevent the State from enforcing an unprecedented intrusion into the religious affairs of a faith community.

“Would the state courts dare tell the Archdiocese of New York that parishioners must be able to vote Cardinal Egan out of office?” asked Roman Storzer, The Becket Fund’s director of litigation. “Of course not. The public would be outraged. Yet because Hinduism is an unfamiliar, minority religion, the Hindu Temple Society is suffering a similar fate here.”

The Becket Fund claims that Supreme Court Judge Joseph G. Golia and Long Island his appointed referee, lawyer Anthony J. Piacentini are forcibly restructuring the governance of the Temple. The restructuring, says The Becket Fund, is in response to six dissidents who wish to control the Temple but who rarely worship there.

The federal lawsuit states that Judge Golia and Referee Piacentini have used their judicial offices to take control of the Temple, to prohibit it from engaging in certain forms of religious exercise and speech, and to impose a voting membership requirement, including the definition of who is a Hindu. These decisions, The Becket Fund argues, violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. 

“If these orders are allowed to stand, they will have the effect of transferring complete control of the Temple—even who decides which priests will be hired and what gods will be worshipped—to new individuals,” reads a press release, issued by The Becket Fund.

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Liberated bishop says “Colombia deserves peace,” calls for release of all kidnapped

, Aug 5, 2004 (CNA) - Just a few days after being released by Marxist rebels in Colombia, Bishop Misael Vacca of Yopal called for the release of all hostages.  “Colombia deserves peace, we deserve a better country in which we can all work honestly and live as brothers and sisters,” he said.

Participating in the IV New Evangelization Congress, which gathered together 28 bishops, 4 archbishops, 100 priests and 450 lay Catholics, Bishop Vacca expressed his gratitude to Pope John Paul II, to Church leaders throughout the world, and to the Catholic faithful for their prayers for his release.  Bishop Vacca explained that “in such a situation you’re not in charge of your own life and you don’t how or when it will end.  Thanks be to God in my case it was short because by Monday at 8am I knew they were going to release me.  I was very happy, but I was so tired that I didn’t think I would have the physical strength, so that is why I preferred to come back Tuesday morning.”

“To all those who are being held hostage by different groups or people, I offer my prayers above all, and while I was there I promised that if I was returned to my diocese I would celebrate a Mass for all those who have been kidnapped and for their families,” he added.

Likewise the bishop issued a call to work for peace with those who carry out violence.  “Colombia deserves peace, we don’t need more violence, death, kidnapping and displacing of families; we deserve a better country in which we can all work honestly and live as brothers and sisters,” he said.

“Therefore I invite all those who take up arms or believe that violence is the road to peace, to really see that it is the wrong road.  May they learn how to enter into sincere dialogue, so that we can achieve the peace that we so desperately need.  Therefore I also invite families to pray for peace, and we ask the Lord to grant us this gift and that we might be instruments of peace,” the bishop said.
Lastly, the bishop explained that the Church is always ready to be “facilitators” in helping to bring an end to the violence, and that the Church will continue to work so that all hostages will be released.

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Catholic Charities in Spain launch aid programs for troubled region of Darfur

Madrid, Spain, Aug 5, 2004 (CNA) - Catholic Charities in Spain, in conjunction with Churches Together International, is launching a relief effort in the Sudanese region of Darfur in order to provide medical attention and waste disposal for local residents and displaced families, who are without access to basic health services.

According to a press release from the groups, two relief stations were set up last weekend in the Kubum and Um Labassa regions, 100 kilometers west of Nyala.

The Catholic Charities relief stations will only be temporary and are designed to function only during the current crisis.
Next week, the groups will establish a waste disposal program in Zalingi.  According to the press release, workers will dig over 100 latrines each week in order to provide waste disposal services for more than 2,500 people.  The number of displaced people in the area has risen to about 70,000.
The adverse climate is also affecting the living condition of refugees and displaced families, who urgently need some sort of protection from rainfall.

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Catholic intellectual says time has come for reconciliation in Cuba

Havana, Cuba, Aug 5, 2004 (CNA) - The editor-in-chief of the Cuban magazine Vitral, Dagoberto Valdes Hernandez, said this week Cuba is in need more than ever of “a climate of reconciliation, a language of reconciliation, gestures of reconciliation, attitudes of reconciliation and a future of reconciliation.”

In a recent article Valdes explained that at the country’s present juncture—marked by “a climate of tension and uncertainty bordering on the unbearable”—reconciliation is “a word and a reality which is missing from our media, our discourses, from our actions and those of everyone else.”

“Cuba suffers, but the people struggle, and no one knows until when:  those who are the most honest and gifted figure out a way to survive, without doing anything illegal or falling into despair; the needy get tired, but they persevere; the wealthy flee the country, no matter where; those most in despair fall prey to alcohol and crime; and those who are unable to fight anymore, those who can’t even live their own lives anymore, commit suicide,” he said. 

According to Valdes, “this word (reconciliation) is not well-liked, it is not understood very well here because it is equated with weakness or embarrassing concessions.  It is also not understood by Cubans in exile, for the same reasons but from the opposite perspective:  Be reconciled with who?—some say.  Be reconciled for what?—say others.”

Vitral says “the atmosphere of confrontation is not helpful at all,” and foreign intrusion into the affairs of the country demand that Cubans “concentrate on solving our own problems from within, among ourselves.”

“Can’t Cuba set aside the battles of hatred to begin building peace?  Yes, that’s right, peace, peace.  Not only peace from the absence of wars, but also the peace of understanding, the peace of dialogue, the peace of unity, the peace of consciences that can live in the truth, the peace of liberty of the soul that can express itself and create without barriers or embargos.  In a word, can’t Cuba enter into an honest process of reconciliation?” asked Valdes.

Valdes sees reconciliation as the fruit a long journey that must be born out of unity and the search for truth and justice, “accompanied by forgiveness and magnanimity.”

“The path of reconciliation is crowned by the search for unity and consensus at the social, political, economic and cultural levels.  This unity should not hide our differences but focus instead on where we agree and come together.  This consensus should serve to create new projects and open new doors to development and peace,” he said.

According to Valdes, reconciliation is “a beautiful and exciting path for Cuba,” a country that needs “real hope, without guile, without running away to somewhere else.  The only authentically fruitful hope is that which is born out of truth, justice, magnanimity and reconciliation.”

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Green party and feminists seek end to concordat between Spain and Holy See

Madrid, Spain, Aug 5, 2004 (CNA) - Spokesmen for Green party leftists and for prominent feminist groups announced this week their intentions to push the Spanish socialist government to “review” the financial aspects of the Concordat between Spain and the Holy See.

Leftists congresswoman Joan Herrera said her party will present a proposal to modify the relationship between Church and State regarding government funding, because “the ecclesiastical hierarchy is way out of bounds.”

The proposal would call for the revision of the 1979 Concordat because it is “pre-constitutional” and gives the Church “privileged funding.”  It would also call for the reversal of a 1980 religious freedom law which socialists say favors the Church.

Herrera says the bill is justified because of the “excessive reaction” to proposals to legalize homosexual marriage and the adoption of children by homosexuals.

Herrera denounced the latest document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the role of men and women.  “The State must react because if not, it will end up acting completely hypocritically.”  “We are scandalized by young Muslim women who wear veils at school, but we are not scandalized by those who promote a doctrine that women should stay at home,” she said.

The State cannot provide funding to those who make “statements that jeopardize equality” instead of “playing a neutral role,” she added.

Herrera said groups that are opposed to the Church’s statements should “follow their criticism through with actions.”  “There is a solid majority in Congress in favor of reviewing these accords,” she stated.

At the same time, Angeles Alvarez, spokeswoman for the Network of Feminist Organizations Against Gender Violence, announced the group has launched a campaign to collect signatures calling for the government to suspend the Concordat with the Holy See, which since 1979 has determined the amount of funding the Catholic Church receives from the State.

Alvarez justified the initiative by claiming the Church “defends sexism by defending the stereotypical role of women and by attacking the principles of equality.”  “Spaniards need to reflect on the fact that the State cannot continue to maintain a privileged relationship with an organization that attacks the rights of half of the population,” she said.

Alvarez criticized local governments for providing funds for prevention and assistance programs for victims of abuse by organizations tied to the Church, when the Church “defends inequality,” she said.

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