Vatican City, Jan 11, 2005 (CNA) - The Church today mourns the death of Cardinal Jan P. Schotte, C.I.C.M. in Rome yesterday at the age of 76.
The Belgian cardinal was secretary general emeritus of the Synod of Bishops and president of the Central Labor Office of the Holy See.
Cardinal Schotte was an enthusiastic supporter of the Church in the U.S. The cardinal, who was fluid in English, greatly supported Christendom College in Virginia along with many other institutions.
The Holy Father sent the following telegram of condolence to Hubert Schotte.
"It was with great sadness that I learned the news of the sudden demise of the dear Cardinal Jan Pieter Schotte, and I wish to express my deepest sympathy to you and to your relatives, as well as to the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to all those who knew and respected him.”
With a grateful soul I recall his many years of industrious collaboration with the Holy See, and especially his generous service as secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.”
He leaves the example of a life spent for Christ in coherent devotion to his own priestly and religious vocation and ever attentive to social questions in complete faithfulness to the Gospel and the teaching of the Church.”
I raise fervent prayers appealing to the Lord to welcome this dearly beloved brother cardinal in joy and eternal peace, and I send to you and to others mourning his demise a comforting apostolic blessing as a sign of my sincere participation in your pain".
The Holy Father will preside at the cardinal's funeral on Friday January 14 at 11 a.m. at the altar of the Confession in the Vatican Basilica. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, will celebrate Mass along with other cardinals.
, Jan 11, 2005 (CNA) - Mass attendance in the United States has remained stable in the last four years, despite the clergy sex abuse crisis, says a new study released yesterday by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.
The study included 10 separate polls, conducted between September 2000, before the scandal began, and September 2004. In each of the polls about one-third of Catholics said they attend Mass weekly.
Weekly attendance increased to 39 percent in February 2002, one month into the scandal, then hovered between 31 percent and 35 percent over the next two years. The margin of error for each poll ranged from plus or minus 2.2 percentage points to plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Vatican City, Jan 11, 2005 (CNA) - In an interview yesterday on Catholic Italian television, Pio Cardinal Laghi said President George W. Bush was “wrong” in saying that the war in Iraq would be “quick.”
Pope John Paul II had sent Cardinal Laghi to Washington nearly two years ago to relay to Bush the Pope’s position against the war in Iraq and to try to convince the President to opt for dialogue instead.
"When I went to Washington as the Pope's envoy just before the outbreak of the war in Iraq, [Bush] told me: 'Don't worry, your eminence. We'll be quick and do well in Iraq,"' the cardinal said about his meeting with Bush at the White House, held March 5, 2003.
"Unfortunately, the facts have demonstrated afterward that things took a different course - not rapid and not favorable," the cardinal told Telepace. "Bush was wrong."
The cardinal was the Vatican's first envoy to Washington in the 1980s. According to the Associated Press, Cardinal Laghi had established a friendship with Bush's father, former President George Bush.
Vatican City, Jan 11, 2005 (CNA) - “Communion and Proclaiming the Gospel” was the theme of a meeting today in Rome in which Pope John Paul II welcomed 150 participants in the inter-eparchal synod and the Italo-Albanian eparchies in Italy.
They met together with Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
The Pope remarked that this theme is "very current for your two eparchies and for the exarchal monastery of Grottaferrata. Heirs of a common spiritual patrimony, your ecclesial realities are called to witness to the unity of the same faith in diverse social contexts."
He added that the synod "has accented essential themes such as catechesis and mystagogy with a view to an appropriate spiritual growth of the entire People of God.”
You have also looked at theological and ascetical paths for the preparation of clergy and members of institutes of consecrated life. ... It is your intention to prepare a solid formation rooted in the Oriental tradition and aimed at responding in an effective manner to the growing challenges of secularization."
The Holy Father pointed to the beauty of the Byzantine rite, the Eucharistic prayers and celebration of the sacraments, adding that "the entire liturgy and divine worship, so rich in hymns, is a strong vehicle of catechesis for the entire Christian people.”
"I encourage you," he said, "to pursue your contacts, thanks to common liturgical tradition, with the Orthodox Churches, who are also anxious to give glory to the One God and Savior.”
“May the Almighty Lord”, the Pope prayed, “grant all believers in Christ to fully live unity in the same faith. For this I pray and ask the Lord that your synod will contribute to favoring a renewed proclamation of the Gospel in your communities as well as a vigorous ecumenical thrust."
Tucson, Ariz., Jan 11, 2005 (CNA) - A recent audit of the Diocese of Tucson found that its sex-abuse prevention policies and practices are in compliance with the norms established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Bishop Gerald Kicanas made the announcement in a memo to parishioners last month.
The audit examined programs for victim outreach, the process for reporting allegations of abuse and the creation of safe environments for children.
In the face of 22 sex-abuse lawsuits, the diocese filed for federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September.
St. Louis, Mo., Jan 11, 2005 (CNA) - A popular and well-respected investigative television journalist put aside his camera and mic to take on the role of chief spokesman and executive director of communications for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Jamie Allman was named to the position Dec. 21, but began only yesterday. He resigned from his job as an investigative reporter for KMOV Channel 4, which he held for 15 years, Dec. 31.
"This presents a fantastic opportunity to serve both my faith and my community, which makes it the ideal assignment," the 41-year-old told the Oakville-Mehlville Journal.
The Richmond Heights resident, who converted to Catholicism from Protestantism six years ago, told the newspaper that he is “proud to be Catholic.” His mother was a Protestant and his father was a Catholic.
Allman commented he feels the church received unfair criticism in the media with certain issues, such as the sex abuse scandal.
Allman thinks very highly of Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, calling him “a great, warm and holy man.” In his new role, he will be reporting directly to the archbishop.
, Jan 11, 2005 (CNA) - The same-sex marriage debate has caused a rift in the ecumenical movement in southwestern Ontario.
The Catholic Diocese of Hamilton pulled out of the annual ecumenical service with Anglicans and Lutherans, after the Anglican Diocese of Niagara approved blessings for same-sex couples by a vote of 213-106 at a November synod, reported RNS.
Niagara’s Anglican Bishop Ralph Spence declined to endorse the vote, saying the diocese needed to discuss the issue further.
Hamilton’s Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans have gathered for the past four years during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in January to renew and reaffirm recognition of one another’s baptismal vows.
However, Catholic Bishop Anthony Tonnos withdrew from this year’s service at a meeting with his Anglican and Lutheran colleagues Dec. 3. The renewal of baptismal vows will go ahead between the Anglicans and the Lutherans.
Niagara is the second Canadian Anglican diocese to approve blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples. The first was the Diocese of New Westminster in British Columbia in 2002. Last month, Canada’s largest Anglican diocese, Toronto, decided to defer a decision on the issue.
Upland, Calif., Jan 11, 2005 (CNA) - Mike Grothem had been in many bands before, but never one like this.
“As I continued to grow closer to Christ, I wanted to find Catholic music”, he says, but hours turned into days, weeks, and months, still I had not found a single band that I really liked,” Grothem recalls while retelling the story which led he, his wife Angie and friend Dan Angius to start the band Seven Sorrows, named in honor of the seven sorrows of Mary.
“Our lyrics are very straight forward and deal with topics like abortion, contraception, dying to self, confession, adoration, and more” Grothem says referring to their music which he says “ranges from rock, to punk, to hardcore, to emo, to acoustic
songs for adoration, to chants in Latin.”
“We are pretty much the only Catholic band in the world that sounds the way we do,” said Grothem referring to the bands unique style.
A major aspect that sets this band apart is what Grothem calls a “calling to give everything away for free.”
The group decided that giving away their music for free would allow them to share their message and be heard by countless more young people than if they charged.
Some have criticized the group for the odd move but Grothem responded, “true Catholic
teaching is so anti-world/anti-U.S. culture, so alot of what God calls us to do makes no since in men's eyes.”
We are trying to bring youth closer to God and his beautiful Church. So what would be the best way...by us making money, or by reaching as many as we can?”
It’s hard to argue with the band, who have played venues around the country like the Steubenville Youth Conferences and especially love going to churches who otherwise couldn’t afford the cost of most speakers or bands.
“With over 2000 cds, 200 shirts, countless prayer cards, rosaries, brochures, stickers, pins, and the costs of recording....we are still about $150 ahead”, Grothem proudly stated.
The group also offers talks and catechesis at their concerts. More information about Seven Sorrows can be found at www.sevensorrows.com
Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 11, 2005 (CNA) - As the diocesan fundraising campaign began this week, Bishop José Guadalupe Martín Rabago of León, Mexico, called on the faithful to be generous and reminded them that, “all of us are responsible for the life of the Church.”
With the phrase, “Share what God has given you,” the diocese began its donation drive distributing more than five thousand envelopes during the Sunday Masses, which explained how funds will be used this year.
Bishop Martin Rabago recalled that in 2004 the diocese received about $160,000, “which not even amounts to a penny per inhabitant,” and he explained that tithing is now called “diocesan cooperation” not only because of a name change but “because of a change in meaning, because tithing means to give 10% of one’s earnings, and when we speak of diocesan cooperation, we are talking about a contribution that is much less.”
“We appeal to your generosity, and we are not complaining nor threatening; we are simply expressing what it is we are asking for and we are trusting in your generosity,” the bishop said.
Bishop Martín Rabago, who is also President of the Mexican Bishops Conference, added, “We will live with what we have. We are sure we won’t be dying from hunger, because our people won’t allow that, they have always been close to us, and out of their poverty they contribute to covering our needs.” Lastly, the bishops explained that what is received will be used for medical attention for elderly priests, who do not have any health insurance, for the construction of churches in poor areas, and to support diocesan committees.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 11, 2005 (CNA) - In response to a plan to install condom dispensing machines in the regions of San Luis de Potosí, Mexico, Bishop Roberto Octavio Balmori of the Diocese of Ciudad Valles said this week, “The use of condom machines is just escapism. What is needed is education.”
The Catholic Church pointed out that although it rejects the plan, the Church is open to dialoguing about real solutions to the problem of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, which should be brought about through the formation and education of young people.
“As a Church we are in favor of human promotion, education and formation in values, which have proven to be authentically effective,” said Bishop Balmori.
While the numbers of diseases and of pregnancies have dramatically increased, Bishop Balmori said authorities should not let desperation lead them to promoting the use of condoms as an answer to an urgent situation.
“Installing the machines, more than promoting protection, will promote relations between young people,” he warned.
According to Bishop Balmori, “Authorities, schools, families and the Church should keep in mind that the use of condoms is a short-term escape, which encourages an act that is not right,” and he went on to say that, “the problems of disease and unwanted pregnancies should not be considered only from the point of view of public health, but also as situations that can be resolved through values.”
“Sexuality is very beautiful, it was created by God for procreation, but it should be exercised in a correct fashion; we teach young people that God gave us, but that it should be used in love, which in the Church is made manifest through one of the sacraments: Marriage,” he concluded.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jan 11, 2005 (CNA) - While the year-long debate on legalizing embryonic stem cell research continues in the Brazilian Congress, the President of the National Bishops Conference of Brazil, Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, denounced some scientists who “sell hopes to a whole list of seriously ill people, as if, once the law is approved, effective therapies will at once be able to take place.”
“The discovery of so-called stem cells was an advancement for science, but there are scientists who, out of commercial interests, are selling hopes about future treatments,” warned the cardinal.
Cardinal Agnelo approved of research using adult stem cells, which according to the latest studies are more effective in treating and curing diseases, and he called the creation of embryos through in vitro fertilization for therapeutic reasons “horrific.” “It is one of the horrors produced in this environment of technological sophistication, which requires large amounts of resources and reaps enormous economic profits,” he added.
Santiago, Chile, Jan 11, 2005 (CNA) - Referring to the recent Supreme Court decision, which declared the Catholic Church was not responsible for sexual abuse committed by an ex-priest, Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago, Cristián Contreras, said this week the “Church does not hide crimes nor provide impunity.”
Bishop Contreras explained that the Archdiocese reacted “with serenity” upon learning of the ruling, and he said, “We are dealing with painful human situations about which we cannot be indifferent, let alone apathetic.”
“The Supreme Court decision is based on civil legislation and it also recognizes the truth that in the Church the relationship between bishop and priest is purely spiritual and pastoral.”
“All adults must responsibly accept the consequences of their personal acts, because no baptized person, let alone a priest, is sent to carry out acts which are at odds with morality and are an attack on the dignity of the human person,” he added.
As someone who closely followed the case of ex-priest Jose Andres Aguirre, Bishop Contreras recalled that, “The Archdiocese, every since it became formally aware in a responsible way of this lamentable situation, suspended him from his ministry, urged him to turn himself in, and sent all the necessary information to Rome, and he was expelled from the clerical state. That’s how it happened, plain and simple, and quick.”
“The Church does not shield crimes nor provide impunity. Which does not mean we should not reach out to the person who commits crimes. We believe in conversion. The Church learns from the vicissitudes of history as well,” Bishop Contreras added.
Finally, Bishop Contreras explained, “At the Bishops Conference we have established very rigorous procedures for assisting possible victims of abuse committed by priests or religious. We desire transparency and responsibility and that nobody invested as minister of the Church breaks the trust which the ecclesial community has placed in him.”