Archive of September 7, 2004

Pro-abortion politicians who receive Communion ‘offend’ other Catholics, says bishop

Greensburg, Pa., Sep 7, 2004 (CNA) - Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should not receive Communion, but that decision should be left to the politician to make, not to the bishop or priest, said Bishop Lawrence Brandt of Greensburg in a pastoral letter this week.

The recently appointed bishop of this small Pennsylvania diocese wrote the letter, he said, “in an effort to clarify the Catholic Church's teaching as it relates to certain issues which have emerged as a result of this year's election campaigns.”

In the letter, titled “Integrity and the Political Arena,” the bishop wrote that a Catholic politician who has “an established pattern of voting in favor of abortion legislation and an established pattern of public rejection of a core teaching of the Church” is “engaged in public cooperation with a grave moral evil.”

“A pattern of public cooperation in grave evil inevitably calls into extreme question one's worthiness to receive Holy Communion,” he said. “A pattern of public rejection of a core doctrinal holding of the Catholic Church separates one in a fundamental way from the communion of faith, which is the Catholic Church.

“What sense then does receiving the effective sign of that oneness in a communion of faith, which is the Eucharist, have in such a situation? None, because it is a contradiction in terms,” the bishop said frankly.

“The Eucharist is aptly called Holy Communion because, of its nature, it reflects a communion or unity of belief on the part of those receiving it,” he continued.

Bishop Brandt said pro-abortion politicians who receive Communion bear “false witness to the Catholic faith” and offend other “informed Catholics” who know that their actions in support of abortion legislation are contrary to the Church’s 2,000-year-old teaching on the sanctity of human life.

“To receive Holy Communion under these circumstances is not only offensive to committed Catholics, but it is also offensive to pro-life Catholic public officials who often risk their public careers to fight for the pro-life cause,” he said. “It is also offensive to those Catholic public officials who voluntarily refrain from receiving the Eucharist because of their recognition of their compromised status.”

However, the bishop said the decision about whether a pro-abortion politician can receive Communion should be left up to the politician to make, based on his or her conscience.

“I think the decision about the reception of Holy Communion should be put where it belongs – on the person contemplating receiving Holy Communion. It should not be imposed on the bishop, on the priest, on the deacon, nor on the Eucharistic minister. That is ‘passing the buck!’” he stated.

While the decision is ultimately up to the individual, the bishop urged that pro-abortion Catholic politicians who continue to receive Communion “should be challenged to take ownership of the consequences of a lack of integrity by publicly acknowledging that what they do contradicts who they say they are,” he said.

The bishop also spoke in favor of the U.S. bishops’ June decision that discourages Catholic organizations and institutions from honoring those Catholics whose public actions are in defiance of the fundamental tenets of Catholic faith by giving them awards or honors.

The bishop added that these public officials should also refrain from presenting themselves as candidates for lector, extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, as godparents at baptism or sponsors at confirmation.

Read the full Pastoral Letter at:

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New Catalan blessed is example for doctors, Pope says

Vatican City, Sep 7, 2004 (CNA) - This morning at Castel Gandolfo, Pope John Paul II said to pilgrims from the archdiocese of Barcelona that Blessed Pere Tarres i Claret, whom he beatified on Sunday, “continues to be an example for doctors.”

"The life of the new blessed," said the Holy Father in Catalan to the 600 pilgrims headed by Cardinal Ricardo Maria Carles, "full of deep devotion to the Mother of God, was centered on Jesus, to Whom he gave himself completely as an apostle of youth, especially in the Federation of Young Christians of Catalonia and in Catholic Action."

The Pope said that "Pere Tarres continues to be an example for doctors because he loved his patients as people, helping them to get well or to bear the pain. In addition, as a man with an undivided heart and a tireless commitment to the faithful and to the different apostolates  entrusted to him, he is also a role model for priests today."

"Blessed Tarres never lost his love of sacrifice," he concluded, "and, as a result, was a shining example for all those who consecrate their life, even in the midst of many difficulties, to the cause of the Kingdom of God through generous service to their brothers and sisters in need."

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Effective use of media essential for evangelization, Vatican official tells bishops

Vatican City, Sep 7, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said during a seminar for bishops today that "the effective use of the media is essential for evangelization and for the episcopal ministry in today's world."

Archbishop Foley’s speech entitled "Bishops and the use of the media," was given to bishops who have been ordained less than five years and speak French, Spanish or Portuguese.

"Listening to the Good News of Jesus Christ is the most important type of communication that human beings can receive,” said the Archbishop, “therefore, our first responsibility is precisely to communicate this news in the most effective way possible.”

“How can we communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ?” he asked, “Obviously with good example, through the preaching and teaching of the basic truths of faith, knowledge of the Bible and by helping people to pray, through the positive work that the Church does in His name…and through the media.

Archbishop Foley said that the 1992 document "Aetatis novae" on communication "suggests that a pastoral plan for communication develop in each diocese and that communication be part of  pastoral plans."

He concluded by stressing the importance of high quality media products, in film, TV, radio or print: "That mark of high quality  must come from our authenticity, our credibility as representatives of the Gospel of Christ."

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Pro-abortion Giuliani honored by Catholic hospital group, gets trauma center named after him

, Sep 7, 2004 (CNA) - The Catholic hospital foundation that has named its new $25-million trauma center after former New York mayor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said it was honoring a man whose leadership was heroic after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. But that honor, bestowed on a pro-abortion Catholic Republican, has got pro-life groups riled.

The honor smacks in the face of the U.S. bishops’ June document, which states that Catholic politicians who support abortion legislation should be denied honors from a Catholic institution.

"If you would name a center after somebody, certainly that would qualify as an honor," said Fr. Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, calling the naming "troublesome." 

The priest and EWTN personality lives in Staten Island.

Pro-life New York activist Christopher Slattery told the New York Times that the naming of the trauma center was "outrageous."

"I think it's a scandal that a Roman Catholic institution is prominently honoring a man who has a serious, at least one serious moral flaw, if not many," he was quoted as saying.

A spokesman for the bishops conference, David Early, declined to comment on whether the naming of the center violated the bishops' June policy, but he said the bishops were aiming mainly at Catholic universities and the number of chairmanships and honorary degrees conferred.

The hospital is a branch of St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers, which includes eight hospitals, four nursing homes and a large home-health care agency. The Diocese of Brooklyn and the Sisters of Charity oversee it; however, ultimate authority over the organization is in the hands of Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and Sr. Dorothy Metz, congregational leader of the Sisters of Charity.

According to the New York Times report, Bishop DiMarzio was not aware that the trauma center was being named for Giuliani until he read about it in the newspaper last week. His spokesman, Frank DeRosa, said the decision was made a year before the bishop even arrived in the diocese in October 2003.

"While he recognized what Rudy Giuliani did for the trauma unit," DeRosa was quoted as saying in the paper, "he clearly disagrees with and is disappointed with Giuliani's pro-choice position."

Giuliani is honorary executive chairman of the hospital foundation's $100-million capital campaign, which has raised about $30 million to date, including $8.5 million for the trauma center. His wife, Judith, is executive director of the campaign.

Ground for the center was broken last week.

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Former IRA bomber enters Dublin seminary

Dublin, Ireland, Sep 7, 2004 (CNA) - Convicted IRA bombmaker Shane Paul O'Doherty began his formation for the Catholic priesthood at a Dublin seminary two weeks ago, reported the Belfast Telegraph.

O'Doherty had received 30 life sentences in the 1970s for his part as the chief bombmaker in Derry for an IRA letter-bombing campaign in Northern Ireland and Great Britain. He had once targeted Bishop Gerard Tickle with a letter-bomb hidden inside a Bible. However, that bomb failed to explode.

He turned his back on terrorism after being released in 1989, and he is now studying theology at St Patrick's College in Maynooth. If all goes well, he could be ordained within six years.

Fr. Enda Cunningham, a spokesman for St Patrick's, said they were aware of O'Doherty's terrorist background, but all of the proper procedures had been followed. According to Canon Law, murderers and those who attempt murder against the life of a priest or a bishop are not eligible candidates for the priesthood, unless proper dispensations are issued.

"The college's policy is to receive any student who has been recommended by his bishop," he told the Belfast Telegraph. "This has taken place in Shane's case and he arrived here two weeks ago with 20 other students to begin their training."

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Religion, politics and love make for top prize at Montreal film fest

Montreal, Canada, Sep 7, 2004 (CNA) - A love story, wrought with the tensions of politics, religion and cultural difference, won four prizes at this year’s Montreal World Films Festival, including the top prize and the Ecumenical Prize.

The Syrian Bride (Hacala Hasurit) by Israeli director Eran Riklis is the story of Mona, a Druze Palestinian, who crosses into Syria from Israel to marry a television star and who is forbidden from returning to her village.

Set in the Golan Heights, the film treats justice issues and shows the courageous choices that people must choose to make to overcome the barriers that separate families and peoples.

The co-production between Israel, France and Germany was awarded the festival’s top prize, the Grand Prix of the Americas, and the Fipresci Prize. Moviegoers were also smitten by The Syrian Bride, which took in the Air Canada People's Choice Award as the most popular film according to public ballot.

The 28th annual film festival wrapped up Sept. 6.

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Harrisburg diocese investigates miracle attributed to wartime priest

Harrisburg, Pa., Sep 7, 2004 (CNA) - The Diocese of Harrisburg is investigating its first miracle to determine whether the intercession of a priest, who died in a Nazi concentration camp, could be credited with healing a World War II veteran of cancer.

If confirmed by the Vatican, the miracle would be the first of three that are required to declare Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig a saint. The Vatican has already declared Fr. Unzeitig a Servant of God.

Fr. Unzeitig, a priest of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill, had died of typhoid in a concentration camp in 1945 but was known for his heroism in helping to care for fellow prisoners, who were sick with typhoid.

In 1997, after being diagnosed with cancer, a Perry County man invoked Fr. Unzeitig's name in prayers for healing. The man's doctors later said he was healed and there were no traces of cancer to be found.

The tribunal started its work last month and expects to wrap up by late October. A physician and two oncologists will help the tribunal in its examination. From there, the case will proceed to the Vatican.

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Citizens, Jesuits to challenge Wal-Mart's plans in Canada under freedom of religion provision

Guelph, Ont., Sep 7, 2004 (CNA) - A nine-year David-and-Goliath battle, involving Wal-Mart and some Canadian Jesuits, has now become a challenge under the freedom of religion provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, says a news release, issued by the Ignatius Jesuit Center of Guelph.

On one side is the world's biggest corporation; on the other side are the Canadian Jesuits and a citizens group, called Residents for Sustainable Development in Guelph.

For the last nine years, Wal-Mart has wanted to build a 135,000-square-foot store in the small but flourishing Ontario town. However, some citizens are not supportive of these plans since the discount department store would be built adjacent to the renowned Ignatius Jesuit Center of Guelph and three historic cemeteries.

The Jesuit Center, established in 1913, is located north of the proposed Wal-Mart, on 600 acres of farmland, wetland, woodland, gardens, naturalized landscapes, and walking trails.

The site also houses a community-shared agriculture program,   an aboriginal sweat lodge complex, several hermitages, and Loyola House, a world-renowned Ignatian retreat house.

The Jesuits and the citizens group argue that the U.S.-based department store, with all of the traffic and noise it would bring with it, would destroy the peacefulness of the area.

While Wal-Mart has been negotiating with these parties and has been ready to start operating in Guelph for years, their plans have been stalled again in a hearing before the Ontario Municipal Board.

More than 65 citizens had shown up to speak to the Ontario Municipal board Aug. 3 and 5 about the Wal-Mart project; the majority voiced their objection.

The board was expected to hear final arguments Aug. 11 and make a decision on the matter. Instead, the board announced that the parties had agreed to adjourn until Sept. 1-2 to allow lawyers to prepare arguments for an unnamed legal issue.

But when Sept. 1 rolled around, Robert Boxma, chair of the municipal board, announced that no arguments would be heard. Instead, the citizens group had decided to challenge the issue based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The citizens, said Boxma, intend to argue that the board "must have regard for the right of freedom of religion that is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

Charter arguments were not disclosed and will only be heard by the board Oct. 19-21.

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Cardinal Rivera says best answer for migrants is not to have to migrate

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 7, 2004 (CNA) - In commemoration of Migrant Day this week in Mexico, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Archbishop of Mexico City, said the best way to help migrants is to ensure that they do not have to leave their countries of origin.

Addressing President Vicente Fox, the Missionaries of Charity—who are commemorating the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa—and hundreds of faithful, the Cardinal said that “there can be no real peace without justice and without respect for human rights.”

“Creating concrete conditions of peace, with regards to immigrants and refugees, means to be seriously committed to defending above all the right not to emigrate, that is, to live in peace and dignity in one’s own country,” the Cardinal said.

In this sense, the pointed out that “thanks to an attentive local and national administration, to more equitable commerce and to international cooperation, each country should be able to assure for its own inhabitants not only freedom of expression and movement, but also the possibility of obtaining fundamental necessities, such as food, health care, work, housing, education, the lack of which leaves many people with no choice but to emigrate.”

Referring to the right to emigrate, the Cardinal acknowledged that “it is the government’s responsibility to control the flow of immigrants, respecting completely the dignity of the person and the needs of families, keeping in mind the requirements of the societies that welcome immigrants.”

“International agreements defending emigrants already exist, as well as those who seek refuge or political asylum in other countries. These agreements can always be improved,” he added.

Speaking with reporters, Cardinal Rivera underscored his hope that “among us Mexicans there might be a greater awareness of how we should treat migrants.  Here in the capital, there are many migrants. Many brothers and sisters from Central America visit us, either of their own will or because they must find a place to survive, and we should be conscientious of our duty towards them.”

“Come to Mass more often”

Cardinal Rivera also surprised reporters when he responded to a question about the mistreatment of immigrants with an unusual request:  “Come to Mass more often, because I have been asked this question several times already.  I have addressed it many times, but you all show up only when the President comes.”

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Spanish Bishops express solidarity with victims of Beslan, plea for end of terrorism

Madrid, Spain, Sep 7, 2004 (CNA) - In a telegram addressed to Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Moscow, the President of the Bishops Conference of Spain, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, made a plea in the name of all the Spanish bishops for the end of terrorist violence in Russia, and he offered prayers for the victims of the attack on the Russian school in Beslan.

“In the wake of the murderous violence unleashed in the city of Beslan, which has taken the lives of so many innocent victims, especially children, I send you, Archbishop, the sentiments of solidarity of the Spanish bishops and my own as President of the Spanish Bishops Conference,” the telegram said.

The Archbishop of Madrid also said that the Spanish bishops “unite our prayers for the eternal repose of those who have died, the recovery of those wounded, and the comforting of their family members.”

“We also raise our prayers to the Lord for an end of the terrible scourge of terrorism, whose tremendous consequences have affected the Spanish people for some time.  As Spanish Catholics we feel particularly close at this time to our brother Christians and to all the people of the Russian Federation,” the message continued.

In conclusion, the Cardinal prayed for “the intercession of the Mary, Queen of Peace,” so that “the Lord might grant the precious gift of peace to Europe and the whole world.”

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