Archive of August 6, 2004

Canon Law infraction leads Archbishop to deprive congregation of priestly ministry

St. Louis, Mo., Aug 6, 2004 (CNA) - In an effort to enforce Canon Law and educate the faithful about the role of the pastor and his parish board, Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis has temporarily removed two priests from a local parish.

In a letter to the parishioners of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church Tuesday, the Archbishop explained that regular Sunday masses will not be celebrated in the church "until a reconciliation has taken place" between the archdiocese and St. Stanislaus' board of directors.

He also said he would not assign another priest to the parish until the board "conforms to Church discipline."

The archdiocese states that St. Stanislaus' structure as a nonprofit group, run by a lay board is contrary to Church canon law, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Some parishioners see the bishop’s actions as a way for the archdiocese to take control of the parish's $9 million in assets and retain title to its property. But the archdiocese says it has nothing to do with money or control and everything to do with Church law.

The St. Louis parish has taken on a structure similar to that in Protestant congregations, which gives authority of the church to a lay committee and effectively turns the pastor into an employee.

However, according to canon law and Catholic doctrine, Catholic parishes cannot be organized in this way, since ordained priests do not recive their authority from the community, but rather from the bishops –the successors of the Apostles.

Bill Bialczak, chairman of the parish's board, wrote last week to St. Stanislaus' parochial administrator, Fr. Philip J. Bene, that the board "had reclaimed its authority over all funds and expenditures of the Parish." The letter included instructions on how Fr. Bene should proceed in processing bills, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In response, Archbishop Burke wrote to members of St. Stanislaus: "The orders which Mr. Bialczak gives to Fr. Bene are in direct violation of universal Church discipline and show a profound lack of respect for legitimate Church authority, neither of which may be permitted to continue.”

"I cannot permit your parish priests to be treated in a manner which is an affront not only to the dignity of the pastoral office in the Church but to common decency," wrote the bishop.

Beginning Tuesday at noon "and until the civil corporation of Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish conforms to Church law," Fr. Bene and Fr. Adam Hurbanczuk will be in residence at St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, about a mile away.

The Polish Sunday mass, normally held at St. Stanislaus, will he held at St. John the Apostle and Evangelist.

Previously scheduled weddings and funeral masses will be allowed to continue at St. Stanislaus, but no priest may celebrate Mass in the church without the bishop’s consent.

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In a private mass, Pope recalls 26th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s death

, Aug 6, 2004 (CNA) - This morning, on the feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, Pope John Paul II presided over a mass in memory of his predecessor, Servant of God Paul VI, on the 26th anniversary of his death in Castel Gandolfo.

“This day, on which we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, evokes for us the dear memory of Servant of God, Pope Paul VI,” said the Pope in the private chapel in the Pontifical Palace in Castel Gandolfo.

“On the evening of Aug. 6, 1978, right in this house, he concluded his days on earth,” he continued. “Faithful follower of his Lord, he held in his heart the light of Tabor, and with that light he walked until the end, carrying his cross with an evangelical joy.”

The Pope pointed out that Aug. 6 is not just the anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s death, but also of his first encyclical, la Ecclesiam suam, which also bears the date of this feast day.

“We give thanks to God for having given the Church this unforgettable pastor,” said the Pope. “Entrusting ourselves to the intercession of the Most Holy Mary, we ask the Lord that the Church of today and of tomorrow will always know how to treasure his examples and his teachings.”

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Vatican publishes book commemorating key Encyclical of Paul VI on nature of the Church

Vatican City, Aug 6, 2004 (CNA) - The official Vatican publisher, “Liberia Editrice Vaticana,” has published a new work commemorating the 40th anniversary of the historic first encyclical of Paul VI, “Ecclesiam Suam,” which was issued in August 6, 1964, and emphasized faithfulness to Christ over dissent from Church teaching.

In the Encyclical, which was issued on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Pope Paul VI recalled that the Church is “His,” (Ecclesiam Suam) that is, belonging to Jesus and not to men, and that therefore her mission in the world should be according to God’s plans and not human plans.

The author of the book entitled, “Paul VI, Spiritual Master,” originally published in French, is Patrice Mahieu, a monk from the Abby of Solesmes and curator of the collection by the publisher Sarment-Fayard, entitled “What the Pope Says.”

“The teaching of Paul VI is brought back through an extensive and unique excursion into his letters, meditations, discourses and homilies, from which the human, in addition to the pastoral quality, if a spiritual master powerfully emerge,” says the press release of the Vatican publisher.

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Democratic committee’s religion advisor quits after being exposed by Catholic watchdog

Boston, Mass., Aug 6, 2004 (CNA) - The Democratic National Committee’s senior religion advisor resigned yesterday after the Catholic League released a report, which revealed her support to remove the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson told the Washington Post that she made her decision “after the New York-based Catholic League issued three blistering news releases attacking her positions.”

She also told Religion News Service, “It was no longer possible for me to do my job effectively.”

“Why are Kerry and the DNC imploding on religion?  Because too many of the elites running the show are devout secularists, who put a premium on freedom from religion,” said Catholic League president William Donohue.

“Kerry and the DNC now have two strikes against them in their religious outreach efforts,” he said. “Whether they strike out is up to them. We’re certainly not dropping out of the game, and we’re certainly monitoring Bush and the Republican National Committee on this subject just as closely.”

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EWTN celebrates network’s 23rd anniversary and founder’s 60 years of religious life

, Aug 6, 2004 (CNA) - EWTN Global Catholic Network will mark Mother Angelica's 60th anniversary of religious life Aug. 15, the Feast of the Assumption, and its 23rd anniversary with special pre-recorded and live programming.

Special programming Aug. 15 includes “EWTN Yesterday and Today” – a short biography of Mother Angelica and a tour of the network – at 3 a.m. and at 10 a.m.

EWTN will also air the Pope's visit to Lourdes live that same day, including the Solemn Mass and Angelus with the Holy Father at 3:30 a.m. It will be rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

At 6:30 p.m., the network will air a classic episode from one of Mother Angelica's first series. Throughout the day, “Mother's Memories” will feature short spots in which Mother Angelica reflects on the network’s various events and milestones.

EWTN news director Raymond Arroyo will also host a special program, dedicated to Mother Angelica, on “The World Over Live” Aug. 13 at 8 p.m.; it will be rebroadcast Aug. 15 at 5 p.m.

Mother Angelica began EWTN in 1981 as a four-hours-per-day cable TV network in Irondale, Alabama, with no funding other than donations from her viewers. Today, EWTN is the world’s largest Catholic media.

EWTN president Michael Warsaw said the network has recently expanded to 104 million homes in 110 countries.

"This major milestone is significant as we celebrate 23 years in Catholic media, and, at the same time, we congratulate Mother Angelica for her 60 extraordinary years in religious life,” said Warsaw. “We are here only because of her willingness to follow God's prompting, and we look forward to seeing the continued growth of our network well into the future.”

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Idaho to vote over public display of the Ten Commandments

, Aug 6, 2004 (CNA) - The nation's first voter initiative on the public display of the Ten Commandments  is to be held in Boise, Idaho this fall, thrusting the debate concerning the public expression of religious symbols in the public square “back in the hands of the American people where it belongs.”

Religious rights and freedom advocates call the Boise initiative an exciting and innovative approach to confronting the loss of religious speech and expression in the public square.

Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Washington, DC-based Christian Defense Coalition, said that “the citizens of Boise are giving hope to millions of Americans who have become discouraged by the public loss of religious expression and the tyranny of activist judges.”

“It is my hope that scores of communities across America will follow the example of Boise and hold similar voter initiatives on the Ten Commandments,” he added.

“We are now taking the debate concerning the public display of the Ten Commandments out of the hands of judges, the courts and politicians and placing it back in the hands of the American people where it belongs,” said Brandi Swindell, Co-director of the Keep the Commandments Coalition in Boise.

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“Superheroes Anonymous” campaign in Chile encourages heroic service to neighbor

Santiago, Chile, Aug 6, 2004 (CNA) - The international organization Aid to the Church in Need, through its office in Chile, announced the launching of a campaign it’s calling “Superheroes Anonymous,” which will highlight the testimonies of people who make their daily lives an “heroic adventure” in service of others.

Among the testimonies is that of “Pedro, a young man who has built three chapels and is not an engineer.  Tomás, a priest who travels thousands of kilometers on foot in order to minister to the faithful.  Carmen, a cloistered nun, and Juan, a lay Catholic, who risk their freedom distributing thousands of Bibles in Cuba.”

According to Aid to the Church in Need, it is important to point out “these ‘superheroes’ who don’t make the front pages, but who are real people whose names have been changed to respect their anonymity.  They are people who give of themselves completely to those threatened by drug use, delinquency, persecution or the loss of values.”

The organization is calling “on all people to get to know and to imitate the lives of these exemplary individuals, and to join in these adventures of heroism.  In a world in which entertainment celebrities have become the primary role models, we need to highlight the examples of thousands of anonymous superheroes who not only give of their financial resources, but also give of themselves completely.”

Aid to the Church in Need is an international apostolate founded 52 years ago in Holland by Fr. Werenfried van Straaten, who worked primarily in places such as China, the Sudan, Cuba and Latin America.

On of its works in Latin America is “Chapels for Chile,” which aims to build chapels in areas where there is a Catholic community.  Up to now, six chapels have been built with donations collected throughout the country.

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Spanish bishop denounces growth of secular and Islamic fundamentalism

Madrid, Spain, Aug 6, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Manuel Ureña of Cartagena, Spain, denounced this week in an interview the growth and spread of secular fundamentalism in the West, as well as the presence of Islamic fundamentalism.

Asked about the secular tendencies inspired by the French model and which seek to exclude religion from society, Bishop Ureña said they were “simply an attempt to deny us our freedom of expression.”

“I have spoken on a few occasions about what we might call religious and secular fundamentalism.  Today in the West we are seeing the emergence of a secular fundamentalism.  We know that fundamentalism consists of establishing an absolute truth.  It’s about making a conviction, whether held by an individual or a group, into an absolute, and thereby imposing it on others,” he said. 

Bishop Ureña said such imposition “can be done in a brutal way, as has happened in the past, or by cultivating and promoting it in a more civilized way, with white gloves, but with mechanisms that are equally perverse, even though they are hidden, and which seek to imprint this conviction in the consciences of everyone.”

Although he clarified that Islam itself should not be identified with fundamentalism, the 59 year-old bishop pointed out that “it is very difficult not to blame that fundamentalism on the Koran.”

Nevertheless, Bishop Ureña said he was more concerned about secular fundamentalism, “which does not respect democracy at all, because it attempts to control society and instigate a secularist stereotype.”

According to the bishop, this is manifested, for example, in attempts by the media, by lawmakers and through advertising to make Christians believe that their vision of world is outdated and that they should be isolated into a corner of society.

“In this sense, both in Spain and in the entire West, the Catholic Church is under pressure from a secular fundamentalism,” he said.

Bishop Ureña also pointed to the omission of a reference to Christianity in the European Union Constitution.  “Western Europe was born of a totally Christian identity.  The Greek and Roman heritage…are less of a factor in the birth of the West than Christianity.  Nevertheless, there are those who seem to be embarrassed at presenting Christianity as a factor in the emergence of the West,” he said.

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