Phoenix, Ariz., Oct 7, 2004 (CNA) - Catholics are called to practice their faith in their everyday lives, including in the political sphere, said Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix in his latest column in the diocesan newspaper, the Catholic Sun.
“Lay people have a particular calling to engage in the political process as a means of promoting the common good,” said the bishop, however adding that this should always be done in a manner consistent with the teachings of the Church.
Referring to last year the Vatican document, titled “Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding Participation of Catholics in Political Life,” the bishop said Catholics can never legitimately support any law that attacks human life.
Many Catholics misunderstand the role of conscience in these life issues and they think conscience means “believing in whatever one wants, without regard to objective truth,” said the bishop.
“They fail to recognize the need to form one’s conscience accurately through prayer and a genuine search for what is right and true, on the basis of objective standards beyond oneself,” he explained.
“While abortion, euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide are always evil and never justifiable choices,” the bishop said, other “intrinsically evil attacks on human life” such as cloning and embryonic stem-cell research must not be forgotten.
With regard to same-sex marriage, Bishop Olmsted said: “Government and public officials have an obligation to promote and protect marriage and family life according to the laws of nature and of nature’s Creator.”
“In exercising our political freedoms and responsibilities, let us weigh all the issues, pray for discernment and prepare to vote as loyal American citizens and as faithful followers of Christ,” he concluded.
For Bishop Olmsted’s full text, go to http://www.catholicsun.org/bishopColumn.htm
Vatican City, Oct 7, 2004 (CNA) - On receiving this morning members of the International Theological Commission which is celebrating its annual plenary in the Vatican, Pope John Paul II affirmed the capacity of man to know the truth and to know the objective norms of moral behavior.
Referring to the question of the natural moral law, the Pope said that "It has always been the Church's belief that God gave man, with the light of reason, the capacity to be able to know the fundamental truths on life and its destiny and specifically the norms of moral behavior.”
“Making our peers aware of this possibility,” he added, “is very important for dialogue with men of good will and for coexistence in all levels on a common ethical foundation."
"Christian revelation does not render this search useless, on the contrary, it pushes us to search, lighting up the path with the light of Christ in whom everything is consistent," said the Holy Father.
The Pope also referred to one of the commission's themes of study, the fate of children who die without receiving baptism saying "it is not just simply an isolated theological problem" since there "are many other fundamental themes that are closely related to this one: the universal saving will of God, the unique and universal mediation of Jesus Christ, the role of the Church, the universal sacrament of salvation, the theology of the sacraments, the meaning of the doctrine on original sin."
Vatican City, Oct 7, 2004 (CNA) - On Thursday, Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Klaus Kung of Feldkirch, as the new bishop of the diocese of Sankt Pölten, recently rocked by a sex scandal involving the diocese’s seminary and forced the early resignation of Bishop Kurt Krenn.
The new Bishop, a member of Opus Dei who was appointed Apostolic Visitor to the diocese when the sex scandal sparkd, is well known at the Vatican.
A Medical School graduate, in 1962 he joined Opus Dei and studied theology at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.
He was ordained a priest for the Persoanl Prelature of Opus Dei on August 23 1970, and from 1976 to 1989 served as the Regional Vicar of Opus Dei in Austria.
On January 21, 1989 he was appointed Bishop of Feldkirch.
Bishop Küng is a member of the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy and a Consultant to the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Vatican City, Oct 7, 2004 (CNA) - The Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro Valls revealed Wednesday during the Frankfurt Book Fair the latest title from Pope John Paul II, "Memory and Identity: Conversations Between Millenniums.”
The book, according to Navarro-Valls, is based on the transcribed and translated conversations of the Pontiff with two Polish philosopher friends, Krzysztof Michalski, a political philosopher at the Institute of Human Science in Vienna, Austria; and the late Rev. Jozef Tishner, during the summer of 1993 at his summer residence, Castelgandolfo.
The book's question-and-answer format takes a look at Europe over the last 100 years, seeking to identify the "roots of evil" such as the rise of Communism, Fascism, and Nazism. It also tackles major issues such as the relationship between church and state.
During the book's presentation, which will be published by the Italian Publisher Rizzoli in early 2005, the Vatican spokesman released one of the book's chapters.
In it, the Pope analyzes the ideologies of Nazism and Communism that dominated Europe for years. He also discussed his definitions of freedom and democracy with references to Aristotle and Catholic teachings.
"We were totally swallowed up in a great eruption of evil," the Pope says in the book.
He also says that "the Lord God allowed Nazism 12 years of existence and after 12 years the system collapsed. Evidently this was the limit imposed by Divine Providence upon that sort of folly."
The Pope's last mass circulation book, "Crossing the Threshold of Hope," sold 20 million copies in three dozen languages after it was published in 1994. It was the first papal book to be sold to a mass market, addressing issues from abortion to anti-Semitism.
As with previous titles, all the Pope's royalties from "Memory and Idenity" will go to charity.
Vatican City, Oct 7, 2004 (CNA) - The three-day international theological- pastoral symposium on the Eucharist, focusing on Pope John Paul II’s encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," began yesterday in Guadalajara, Mexico.The symposium precedes the 48th International Eucharistic Congress which will be held from October 10-17.
Yesterday there were presentations on the Sense of Faith in the Eucharist on five continents by Cardinals Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana (Africa); Bernard Law, emeritus of Boston, U.S.A. (America); Carlos Amigo Vallejo, O.F.M., archbishop of Seville, Spain (Europe); George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia (Oceania), and by Archbishop Carmelo D.F. Morelos of Zamboanga, the Philippines (Asia); There was also a general overview and discussion of the papal encyclical.
Scheduled for today are talks on the Eucharist, Mystery of Faith, the Apostolicity of the Eucharist and the Church and Eucharist and Ecclesial Communion. On the program for Friday, October 8 are talks on Decorum of the Eucharistic Celebration and At the School of Mary, Eucharistic Woman. Each day of the symposium starts with a celebration of the Eucharist.
The symposium is presided over by Cardinals Juan Sandoval Iniguez, archbishop of Guadalajara, and Jozef Tomko, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses and the Holy Father's special envoy to the events in Mexico.
Vatican City, Oct 7, 2004 (CNA) - On the eve of the 26th anniversary of his election to the papacy, the Russian Army Choir, orchestra and ballet corps will perform in the Vatican for Pope John Paul II, in homage to his pontificate.
The concert will be performed at 6 p.m. October 15 in the Paul VI Hall and will feature 150 musicians, singers and dancers.
Formed in 1928, the Russian Army orchestra, also known as the Red Army Choir and orchestra, is led by Maestro Viaceslav Korobko and will perform Russian folklore music and accompany the dancers in the first part of the 90-minute program.
The choir will then perform a selection of traditional Russian songs. Pope John Paul is scheduled to speak at the end of the performance, which will be aired live on RAI, the Italian state television.
Washington D.C., Oct 7, 2004 (CNA) - U.S. Catholics have shown great concern and gratitude to their senior religious priests, brothers and sisters by donating $28,016,815 to the Retirement Fund for Religious in 2003.
Donations enabled the National Religious Retirement Office to award almost $20 million in grants to 541 religious institutes with underfunded retirement programs throughout the country. The grants represent 38,903 senior members, age 70 and over, approximately $513.38 per religious.
In addition, $6.4 million was donated in supplemental grants to orders with critical needs, such as entrance into the Social Security system and assistance with health care costs. Many orders cannot afford health insurance, reports the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Between 1993 and 2003 the percentage of women's orders in the U.S., whose retirement plans were 61-100 percent funded, rose from 25 to 51 percent. The percentage of men's communities in the same situation rose from 20 to 64 percent.
Contributions come primarily through a collection in parishes on the second weekend in Advent. The fund also has been enhanced by nearly $1.5 million bequests and gifts received throughout the year.
In its 16-year history, the collection, taken up in parishes every December, has drawn more than $440 million. It has distributed almost $430 million.
The collection has been the most successful annual collection in the history of the Church in the United States. The first collection in 1988 drew $26,304, 299.
Church officials launched the appeal when it became obvious that funds available to U.S. religious orders for retirement were insufficient. Simultaneously, the religious communities began to cut costs and raise additional monies by selling property, converting structures to maintain them more economically and developing inter-community efforts for cost-efficient care of their elderly members.
Signs of the crisis began to show in the early 1970s as health care costs skyrocketed and demographics of religious orders shifted, leaving many older members. The resulting situation precludes wage earners in religious orders today from being able to support all their retired members.
Nationwide, 174 of the country's 195 dioceses participate in the National Retirement Fund for Religious collection.
Los Angeles, Calif., Oct 7, 2004 (CNA) - Church officials of the Diocese of San Diego are pleased with the ruling of a Los Angeles judge, who has rejected claims that the diocese transferred property worth millions of dollars to escape liability in sexual abuse lawsuits, reported the Union-Tribune.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Haley Fromholz ruled Oct. 5 that a lawyer does not have the standing to ask for church assets to be frozen pending the outcome of sexual-abuse cases.
San Diego lawyer Andrea Leavitt, who is representing people who claim they have been abused by priests, asked the judge last month to bar the church from transferring any assets it held in October 2002, when the lawsuits began.
The assets in this case include the 16.7-acre campus of University of San Diego High School and the 49-acre future grounds of Cathedral Catholic High School.
San Diego High School is scheduled to close next spring, and its staff and students are moving to Cathedral Catholic High. As such, Church officials transferred the property to an educational nonprofit they control, Catholic Secondary Education – Diocese of San Diego Inc.
"The diocese has been vindicated in this action," Chancellor Rodrigo Valdivia told the Union-Tribune. "The transactions which the diocese has effected have been proven to be lawful and appropriate."
Chicago, Ill., Oct 7, 2004 (CNA) - A small Catholic girls school, serving a low-income population, got a huge boost recently when an anonymous donor, with no personal connection to the school, left it $2.25 million. This is the largest single donation to a Catholic girls school in the Chicago area, school officials reported Tuesday.
The Josephinum Academy donor, who died recently, was part of a family that donated to the school for several years. The woman was an immigrant with a passion for education, who supported several Catholic institutions, school officials said.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, this donor is just one of a large group of donors who give to Catholic schools although they have no personal ties to the institutions.
"People really believe there is a mission for educating the poor and educating poor minority women," said school principal Joni Thompson. "A lot of people are into the idea of women's education and it's a dying breed."
Josephinum has 180 girls; 86 percent are low-income. To keep tuition affordable, the school has to fund-raise 80 percent of the education costs. The school will use the donation toward its endowment, capital improvements and salaries over the next few years.
Ottawa, Canada, Oct 7, 2004 (CNA) - The Supreme Court of Canada began its three-day hearings on same-sex marriage today. The court is expected to hear 28 briefs from both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage.
Opponents of the Liberal government’s same-sex marriage legislation include the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Focus on the Family, REAL Women and the Attorney General of Alberta.
The Attorney General of Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the United Church of Canada sit on the pro side. Supporters are confident going in that the Supreme Court will side with them and support a number of lower court rulings in five provinces and one territory that found Canada’s current definition of marriage – as the union of one man and one woman – unconstitutional.
Their confidence was buoyed two days ago, when Justices Rosalie Abella and Louise Charron were sworn in on the Supreme Court. Both Abella and Charron have a track record of decisions in favor of homosexual rights.
In their brief, the Canadian bishops said the government does not have the authority to change the definition of marriage. “Because it pre-exists the state and because it is fundamental to society, the institution of marriage cannot be modified, whether by the Charter of Rights, the state or a court of law,” they said.
“Enlarging, and thereby altering, the definition of marriage in order to include same-sex partners discriminates against marriage and the family, deprives them of social and legal recognition as the fundamental and irreplaceable basis of society,” they continued.
Similar arguments are presented in a new book in support of the traditional definition of marriage, called “Divorcing Marriage: Unveiling the Dangers in Canada’s New Social Experiment.” The book was edited by Daniel Cere and Douglas Farrow of McGill University. It was launched Sept. 21 in an effort to present last-minute academic, ethical and anthropological arguments, which can be considered in the public debate.
The final decision by the court is only expected in several months to a year. The legislation is then expected to be put to a free vote in the House of Commons.
Miami, Fla., Oct 7, 2004 (CNA) - The organizations Musicians to the Rescue, which brings together dozens of Catholic musicians, will hold a benefit concert on November 5 in order to raise funds to help the victims of Hurricane Jeanne in Haiti.
In a press release, the organization announced the November 5 concert, the fourth such event sponsored by Musicians to the Rescue, would feature performances by singers and musicians from southern Florida in “an evening of prayer and solidarity for those in Haiti affected by the recent storm which later on became Hurricane Jeanne.”
All of the funds raised will be sent to Haiti via the Archdiocese of Miami’s “Love in Action” ministry.
Among those performing will be Cristy Arias, Jorge Enrique del Rivero, Julio Torres, Nana Angarita, Amanecer Hispano, Carlos La Salvia, Carmen de Jesus Escandon, Claribel Mercier, Creation, Aquarela, Orlando Ponce, Mary Veira, Siervos de Cristo Vivo and Yeshica Yanes, among others.
The concerts organized by Musicians to the Rescue take place on short notice in order to provide spiritual and economic support to those most in need. The first such concert took place in March, 2001, for the victims of the earthquakes in El Salvador.
The concert on November 5 will take place at St. Michael’s Church in Miami. More information can be found at http://www.musicosalrescate.com
Rome, Italy, Oct 7, 2004 (CNA) - On Wednesday the Anglican Church in Australia officially apologized to the hundreds who during childhood were victims of sexual abuse and negligence by members of the church.
The Australian Senate launched an investigation into the treatment of minors at various facilities, some of them Anglican, discovering that many children were abused during the last century.
Archbishop Peter Carnley, Primate of the Australian Anglican Church, read the apology after a meeting of the Anglican General Synod in Perth.
"The church deeply regrets that its institutions and personnel did not always provide environments in which these children were protected and nurtured," the apology read.
The Anglican Church in Australia is facing a lawsuit filed by abuse victims who are demanding millions of dollars in compensation.
Caracas, Venezuela, Oct 7, 2004 (CNA) - During opening ceremonies of the Continental Meeting “New Challenges for Human Rights,” Bishop Roberto Luckert Leon of Coro, Venezuela, and President of Caritas in that country, stated that the defense of human rights by the Church is unique from that of other organizations because the efforts of Catholics are based on the social teachings of the Church.
During opening remarks for the gathering, the bishop underscored that “in its long and arduous task, Caritas of Venezuela has found a close partner for the problems it addresses and in the area of human rights.”
The bishop explained that “the concept of human rights has expanded the notion of citizenship, evolving from a strictly judicial or normative sphere to include rights of a social and environmental character, which have to do with access to prosperity and sustained development.”
Bishop Luckert warned, however, that “poor and vulnerable families and communities lack human, social and political capital. Therefore they have no voice. This lack of a means to make known their concerns, to be heard, and to participate in decision-making limits their access to the national democratic life and therefore, their capacity to exercise their political, social, economic, civil and cultural rights.”
Poor families such as these, explained the bishop, “cannot mobilize or organize themselves in order to demand changes that will benefit them. They have no way of participating in the formulation of public policies that will affect them. Their priorities are often ignored in the planning of public programs.”
“Considering poverty and isolation from the perspective of human rights,” he continued, “it is necessary to keep in mind the importance of advancing conditions that will allow all persons to overcome those obstacles which lead to discrimination and hinder access to basic services.” For this reason, the work of Caritas and other organizations of the Church “should be understood as an effort to restore in them their capacity to exercise their fundamental human rights,” and not as “a free gift from our institutions.”Human Rights and the Church
Bishop Luckert explained that “an important challenge for us in this area has been to try to make a clear distinction between the work which as the Church we carry out in the area of human rights and the work which other non-Christian groups are carrying out in this sense.”
“Our work in this area is based on the social teaching of the Church, which is our guide, and on the Gospel vision which inspires us. Therefore, our work in the field of human rights should be above any political motivation, which has for so many years limited the impact of the impartial, independent and humanitarian work which constitutes the true objective of all those who strive for the promotion of human rights.”
“We will continue in the struggle to restore civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights to those who have had them stripped away. We will continue providing a means of including those who have been excluded, and we will forge ahead in search of solutions that guarantee the life of dignity which all human beings deserve, because of their primary and intrinsic nature as children of God,” he concluded.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 7, 2004 (CNA) - The European Commission has published a report stating that in the year 2010, the member states of the European Union will see their populations begin to rapidly age, signifying not only a lack of positive growth, but actually negative growth in population.
According to the Spanish newspaper ABC, the study underscores that “financial pressures are more threatening than ever, since there will be less people in the workforce and more retired people above age 65.”
Until 2010, Europe will enjoy a “brief and moderate period of rejuvenation thanks to the large hordes of young people in the ten new member states of the EU,” reports ABC. “Nevertheless, those countries have also seen a dramatic reduction in their birth rates in the last 15 years (seven of them in fact are below the European average of 1.4 children per woman).”
Likewise the study indicates that the life expectancy of these new member states “continues to be much lower than the EU average: in Central and Eastern Europe, 67 years for men and 77 years for women, versus 75 and 81 respectively for the original 15 EU states. Therefore, experts predict EU growth will accelerate the aging of the populace, leading to a rapid growth in the dependency rate of the elderly.”
On the other hand, “experts are warning of the health risks late pregnancies, which are on the rise in Europe, pose for mothers and their babies.”
“In the 15-member EU, women had their first child on average at age 29, and in the new member states at age 26. This practice has led to a large increase in the use of fertility treatments, and many pregnancies that were postponed cannot be achieved successfully later on,” ABC reports.
Lastly, the European Commission reports that “until now the original 15-member EU has saved itself from an increase in negative population growth thanks to immigration, including from countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, these countries are changing their tendencies and thanks to improved economic and quality of life conditions, they will soon be nations open to welcoming immigrants.”