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Archive of February 22, 2005

Founder of Communion and Liberation movement dies at 82

Rome, Italy, Feb 22, 2005 (CNA) - The founder of the Communion and Liberation movement, Msgr. Luigi Giussani, died early this morning at the age of 82.  Msgr. Giussani, known for his great love of the Church, passed away in the celebration of the Chair of San Pedro. 

Msgr. Giussani died at his residence in Milan due to severe circulatory problems.

Holy See Press director Joaquin Navarro-Valls, told members of the press today that the funeral will take place Thursday 24 of February, in the Duomo of Milan, and will be celebrated by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on behalf of the Holy Father. 

Catholics worldwide are lamenting the passing of Msgr. Giussani, including politicians, intellectuals and Church leaders.

On behalf of the President, Julian Carrón sent an official notice to the mourning communities of CL worldwide in which he said, “At 3.10 a.m. on February 22nd, Feast of the Chair of St Peter, the Lord called our dear Fr Giussani.”

Sure in the hope of the Resurrection, through intense pain at this separation, in Christ’s embrace we more than ever acknowledge as father him, who now contemplates the Presence, so dear to him, of Jesus Christ, whom he taught to know and love throughout his whole life as the total consistency of all things and of every relationship.”

Entrusting us all to our Lady, “the living fount of hope,” we ask all the communities to celebrate the Eucharist. Thankful for the life of Fr Giussani, let us ask that his faith, hope and charity become more and more our own.”

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Canonization of Jacinta and Francisco Marto likely

Lisbon, Portugal, Feb 22, 2005 (CNA) - The EFE news agency is reporting that the Diocese of Leiria-Fatima has sent the final documents for the canonization of Jacinta and Francisco Marto to the Vatican.

“I can confirm that the so-called ‘Positio,’ the final document for the canonization of the two shepherd children, has been sent,” said Bishop Serafim Ferreira e Silva during a Mass dedicated to the visionaries of Our Lady of Fatima.

He also said the Portuguese bishops are hopeful that “Pope John Paul II can proclaim their canonization and recommend Blesseds Jacinta and Francisco Marto for public veneration by the entire Catholic world.”

Bishop Ferreira e Silva explained that the document sent to the Vatican includes the opinions of doctors, theologians and bishops regarding the second miracle attributed to the intercession of the children.

The miracle

On October 13, 2004, the canonical process was opened for recognizing the miracle that would make their canonization possible.  The case involved the healing of an infant named Felipe Moura Marques, now 5, the son of a Portuguese couple living in Switzerland.

Felipe was born with type 1 diabetes, a disease considered incurable.  His mother and his grandmother, fervent devotees of Francisco and Jacinta, took the child to the Shrine of Fatima and placed him near the tombs of the two Blesseds.

On May 13, 2000, while watching the beatification on television, the mother prayed to Francisco and Jacinta for the health of their child.  Since that time Felipe has not needed to take insulin and has been completely cured of his diabetes.

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Italy grieves over the death of Don Giussani

Rome, Italy, Feb 22, 2005 (CNA) - In the wake of the passing of Msgr. Don Luigi Giussani, President of the Communion and Liberation Movement this morning, numerous members of Italian politics and public life have expressed their condolences.

Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi said of Giussani’s death, in a message to Signora Livia Giussani Sironi, "The news of the death of Don Luigi Giussani has effected me deeply. He was an extraordinary man of faith and culture who dedicated his existence to the education of new generations, working above all in the Communion and Liberation Movement that he founded more than 50 years ago.”

He contributed via his generous action to the promotion of the social and human maturation of many young people who saw him as their spiritual guide. 'Be ever more passionate about the mystery of man': this was his exhortation, his communication of the idea. A lesson of life that needs to continue to inspire the common commitment of the institutions and citizens in facing the challenges of the future. To family members and all those inspired by his noble example I send my condolences.”

Vice-president of the Italian parliament, Gianfranco Fini added, “A thoughtful and discrete man of the church has disappeared. He was a spiritual guide, capable of involve and fascinate the consciousnesses of many young people, by setting up a path of faith and a social responsibility for them to follow and go by.”

"The demise of Don Giussani is a great loss for the Catholic world. He succeeded in adapting the Church to modern times in the 20th century" said TLC Minister Maurizio Gasparri. "He left a deep mark in our country. He was a great man, and modernised the Catholic world. His faith was endless, and was a vehicle for unity. He founded the movement 'Comunione e Liberazione', initially opposed, but which then became a point of reference for millions of youngsters. These youngsters are now the bearers of his message and must follow the path he set".

European Union Polcies Minister Rocco Buttiglione added his condolences as well saying, "Everyone who met him was impressed with his Christian testimony. He said that faith could change your life, and was convinced it was true.”

“He used to tell the youngsters: 'I can understand you when you say you don't care about eternal life, because you don't know what it means; but Jesus Christ promises it will be 100 times better', and that's when they started following him, not in Italy, but throughout the world". "He taught his friends how to love earthly life, and hope in eternal one. That's why today is somehow a joyful day, because he reaches the goal he chased all his life, fulfilling his task".  

"I am close in this moment of pain to the friends of Communion and Liberation, who have lost their founder and father", declared president Silvio Berlusconi, in a note released by the Palazzo Chigi press office.

He continued saying that, "The loss of Monsignor Luigi Giussani is a loss for all of us. His faith in a strong civil potential touched many young people, who during years of domineering ideology, managed to defend liberty and carry out plans for the sharing of the needs of man. At this precise moment of history, I think that his figure and his message should be a model for the positive attitudes of all the good-willed Italians out there".

Msgr. Giussani died this morning in Milan at the age of 82.

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Priests question pro-abortion theology classes

Washington D.C., Feb 22, 2005 (CNA) - The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights' recent move to begin "Theology and Reproductive Rights" classes in Protestant seminaries is not only “offensive to most Christians but to most Americans,” says a national pro-life priests group.

"The reproductive theology of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights has been exposed in a study as inconsistent with the positions of the denominations it claims to represent," said Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.

"The book 'Holy Abortion?' shows that while many denominations consider abortion a 'necessary evil,' (the coalition) presents it as a positive good, even a holy act,” said Fr. Pavone, who is also president of the National Pro-Life Religious Council, which commissioned the study.

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Anglican archbishop fights to save Anglican Communion from schism

South Armagh, Feb 22, 2005 (CNA) - Anglican primates gathered yesterday to grapple with the issues of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, which have divided the church, and save the Anglican Communion from a schism, reported Christian Today.

A huge rift developed between conservatives and liberals after the US Episcopal Church decided in 2003 to appoint an openly homosexual bishop to the New Hampshire diocese, in defiance of the procedures of the Anglican Church.

Church leaders are warning that this current crisis is the most serious to the Communion in modern times and that a resolution is next to impossible.

At odds are the conservative evangelicals and their understanding of the authority of Biblical truth and tradition and the liberal view that suggests the church has failed to minister sensitively to the small homosexual community.

Last week, at the Church of England’s General Synod in London, the Church gave its full backing to the Windsor Report’s recommendations that the US Episcopal Church express its regret for consecrating of Gene Robinson, and provide a theological explanation.

However, the US Episcopal Church has merely said that it regrets the effect its actions have had.

Many commentators are suggesting that a suspension of the North American Church may be the only way to avoid a full-scale schism. Others have suggested a "cooling-off" period before any final decision is made.

The Anglican Communion is the third-largest denomination worldwide with 78 million members in 164 countries.

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New bishop for West Virginia hopes to unify regions

Wheeling, W.V., Feb 22, 2005 (CNA) - West Virginia's 76,000 Catholics will have a new bishop today. Bishop-elect Michael J. Bransfield succeeds retiring Bishop Bernard W. Schmitt.

The new bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston will be ordained today at the Cathedral of St. Joseph at 2 p.m. before a crowd of 400 invited guests.

The bishop-elect expressed his admiration for West Virginia’s new Catholic and pro-life Democratic governor, Joe Manchin.

The Philadelphia native was ordained to the priesthood in 1971 and holds master's degree in philosophy from The Catholic University of America. Prior to being named a bishop, he had served as the rector of the basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

In an Associated Press interview yesterday, the bishop-elect said that he has yet to define his vision for the diocese and that he would take some time to get to know the people first.

He told the AP that he expects to travel regularly across the state and live part time at a pastoral center in Charleston, which he hopes could help unify the diocese. He also expressed his admiration for West Virginia’s new Catholic and pro-life Democratic governor, Joe Manchin.

The 61-year-old bishop-elect told the AP that he admired his predecessor’s actions during last year’s presidential campaign, condemning abortion and urging citizens to vote for a pro-life candidate. He said he would have done something similar had he been bishop then.

However, he added that he generally hopes to avoid politics. "I don't see it as my job to jump in unless there is some great cause or scandal," he was quoted as saying.

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Bishops hope to “Keep Christ in Christmas” in Cuba

Konigstein, Germany, Feb 22, 2005 (CNA) - The bishops of Cuba have requested one million statues of the child Jesus for a mission this year that will give new meaning to the phrase, “Keeping Christ in Christmas.”

Nativity scenes have not been seen on the island for years because of Castro’s prohibition against them.  But seven years after the Communist dictator lifted the ban on Christmas celebrations—as a result of the visit by Pope John Paul II to Cuba—the growing number of practicing Catholics in Cuba are preparing for a triumphant return of the Baby Jesus.

This month, the Bishops Conference of Cuba declared a “Year of the Mission”, which will culminate in Advent with the distribution of statues of the Baby Jesus in homes all over the island.

The plan was revealed in a report sent to Aid to the Church in Need.  The director for Latin America of Aid to the Church in Need, Xavier Legorreta, said he was sure the idea would be widely supported.  “It is one of the simplest plans, and I am certain that it will bring meaning back to one of the most important Christian celebrations that has long been ignored and rejected in Cuba.”

“For years the Nativity scene has been absent from Christmas celebrations in Cuba.  All we had were Christmas trees,” he said.

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Archbishop of Valencia laments lack of information in Spain on referendum

Valencia, Fla., Feb 22, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Agustin Garcia-Gasco of Valencia, Spain, said this week information about the implications of approving the European Constitution through referendum were “very poor and insufficient.”

Speaking to the Avan news agency, the archbishop said that while the referendum itself was of little real impact, it was important to participate and “to exercise the right and duty proper to a democratic society.”

Archbishop Garcia-Gasco, who made his comments after casting his own vote, warned against assigning useless meaning to the referendum and getting distracted by secondary problems, “when there are more urgent and important” problems that need to be faced and clarified.

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Catholic playwright’s new play about possible clergy sex abuse to hit Broadway

, Feb 22, 2005 (CNA) - A new play about a nun, who has suspicions that a priest could be molesting a boy, will hit Broadway next month. According to a review by Sentinel Television Critic Hal Boedeker, playwright John Patrick Shanley says his latest work, Doubt, is dedicated “to the many nuns who have served others.”

The 54-year-old said he drew on his Catholic upbringing in writing the characters.

Shanley told the critic that he was hoping, through his play, to bring nuns “back to a place of respect and the place of three-dimensional people." Religious sisters, he said, have been depicted in mostly comedic roles for the last 25 years and he wanted to change that.

"I spent eight years with these nuns when I was a boy," Shanley told the critic. "They had a big effect on me, and not a bad effect."

The play, which is set in 1964, has been performed before packed theatre at the Manhattan Theatre Club since the fall. The main character, Sr. Aloysius (Cherry Jones) suspects that popular Fr. Flynn (Brian O'Byrne) could be molesting a boy.

Shanley’s credits include the script for the 1987 film Moonstruck. Discussions about a movie version of Doubt are planned.

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Argentinean archbishop calls Lenten fast antidote to consumerism

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Feb 22, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata, Argentina, said this week the Lenten fast understood in its spiritual sense is an effective combatant against consumerism, which values having over being.

In his program “Keys to a Better World,” the archbishop explained that the material things we do not need are superfluous and could be used for the common good and to help those in need.

He said the spirit of Lent does not consist of meaningless practices, but rather of actions that transform the heart towards service to others, “especially to those most in need.”

Archbishop Aguer said consumption was part of the economic process, but consumerism is “a pathological behavior” that creates “a fictional need to have certain things.” He added that a person with such a problem is usually unaware of it, “and this then begins to become a way of life.”

Such impulses, he went on, “can lead one to fall into debt, and this happens at all levels of society.”  The fault for this problem does not lie with the public in general, but often the problem is taken advantage of “by the pushing of certain products.”

In his weekly message, the archbishop explained that one can understand that those with much money “have the luxury of owning exquisite things or of spending superfluously,” but he warned that consumerism affects even the poorest among us, who desire for things that are not “of common use in society” and are not consistent “with human dignity.”

Archbishop Aguer said that this “consumerist pathology,” which exists at the individual and societal level, unleashes “a host of feelings,” such as selfishness, envy, the desire for power, with no regard for “that dreadful contrast” between those who have much and those who are immersed in poverty.

Therefore he proposed “the Lenten practice of fasting” in its spiritual sense, as not only a way to deny oneself of food but also of whatever is “superfluous.”  In this way, he said, fasting “can be an effective remedy” against consumerism

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