Vatican City, May 10, 2005 (CNA) - The Holy See joined much of Europe yesterday in celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War II. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations, spoke to the U.N.’s General Assembly in New York yesterday, who marked May 8 and 9 as official days of remembrance for the war’s end.
He told the Assembly that, "There is no doubt [the war] was a terrible conflict, and it is both salutary and sobering to recall that it was the worst of several unnecessary, man-made global catastrophes that made the twentieth century one of the most bitter that humanity has ever known."
He added that, "responsibility in view of these previous catastrophes requires us to develop some considerations."
"First of all," the Archbishop continued, "among the roots of the Second World War was the exaltation of State and race, and the proud self-sufficiency of humanity based upon the manipulation of science, technology and force.”
“The rule of law”, he said, “was no longer a vehicle for the application of justice. ... Secondly, even if we accept that, under some circumstances, a limited and strictly conditioned use of force could be inevitable in order to fulfill the responsibility to protect every State and the international community," no effort should be spared in seeking peaceful solutions.
The Vatican diplomat said that, "Recognition of the tragic and devastating nature of war ... presses us to question not only whether war can be legal and legitimate, but above all, whether it can be avoidable."
"Thirdly," he continued, "the time has now come to focus on and develop a third dimension of the law of war," that is, "how to achieve quickly and effectively the establishment of a just and lasting peace, which is the only admissible goal for the use of force.”
“Thus, the existing international legal instruments covering conduct and activities after war need to be reinforced and extended, ... while also taking into consideration the ethical parameters that the modern conscience and sensitivities have developed, such as reconciliation," he said.
The archbishop closed with his fourth point, saying that, "recently, new emphasis has been placed upon the role of the U.N. as a peace builder. ... The Holy See ... once again expresses full support for the creation of an intergovernmental Peace-building Commission."
Denver, Colo., May 10, 2005 (CNA) - Billed as what was to be one of the summer’s major blockbusters, Ridley Scott’s new big-dollar action film, Kingdom of Heaven, is, at best, drawing mixed reviews from film critics.
Francis X. Maier, a Fellow at the American Film Institute’s Center for Advanced Film Studies and chancellor for the Archdiocese of Denver, likened the movie to “a Monty Python film with big stars, much better production values and no humor.”
He called the film, which follows a young man during the Crusades of the Middle Ages, a “secularist daydream about organized Western religion as the engine of warfare and intolerance, with literally every priest and bishop (except maybe one) a scoundrel, psychotic, thief or coward.”
Maier chided Scott, who directed such films as “Alien”, “Blade Runner” and “Gladiator” for making something that he called “silly and bigoted.”
“This could have been a compelling, even if a false, story,” he said, “but it's mainly just wooden and ridiculous.” He said that Scott fails to understand “history or the factual human dramas behind it, and the shallowness of [his] story telling illustrates that.”
The chancellor cited scholars like Cambridge’s Jonathan Riley-Smith and the University of London’s Jonathan Phillips, who, he said, “have already savaged “Kingdom of Heaven” for its lack of historical accuracy.”
“And while the filmmaker’s bourgeois, agnostic fatigue may appeal to movie critics,” he added, “it would draw blank stares, or worse, from real Muslims and Christians of the period. Orlando Bloom’s baffling speech before the defense of Jerusalem – a kind of postmodern St. Crispin’s Day monologue that never rises above Rodney King’s line, ‘Can’t we all just get along?’ – would have triggered a popular riot.”
Director Scott has defended the film, saying, “when you see the film, you see balance”, claiming that both sides-Christians and Muslims-had been portrayed fairly.
Dallas, Texas, May 10, 2005 (CNA) - A leader in the national homosexual community has admonished homosexuals for their inability to take responsibility for their actions and for the decay of their community structures.
Larry Kramer, playwright and founder of ACT UP, delivered his message in a speech in New York City after the presidential elections in November. Excerpts from his speech were published last week in the Dallas Morning News.
“I hope we all realize that, as of Election Day, gay rights are officially dead,” Kramer had said.
The 69-year-old interpreted the re-election of George W. Bush and the results of the ballot measure on same-sex marriage to mean that “almost 60 million of our so-called ‘fellow’ Americans voted against us.”
“Almost 60 million people whom we live and work with every day think we are immoral,” he said, noting that “moral values” was one of the top reasons voters gave for their choice.
He criticized the lack of structure and organization, and the ongoing decay of the homosexual community. “Whatever structure the gay world had is gone. Our organizations stink. We have no power. The cabal that runs this country disdains us totally,” he wrote.
Kramer also addressed the homosexual community’s increasing problem with methadone addiction and the ongoing problem of engaging in unprotected sex.
He cited the staggering statistics that in 1990 46 percent of homosexuals in San Francisco were having sex without condoms; 60 percent of the current syphilis in America are homosexuals and HIV infections are up by 40 percent.
“Grow up,” he challenged members of the homosexual community. “Behave responsibly. Fight for your rights. Take care of yourself and each other. These are the answers.”
He said the homosexual community brought the current plague of AIDS upon itself.
“From the very first moment we were told in 1981 that the suspected cause was a virus, gay men have refused to accept our responsibility for choosing not to listen, and, starting in 1984, when we were told it definitely was a virus, this behavior turned murderous,” he said.
In his speech, Kramer claimed responsibility for having “murdered” some men by having unprotected sex with them.
“We've been so concerned about showing the world a united front. We feel the need to say that everything gay people do is good, and it simply isn't so,” he said bluntly, calling the homosexual community to reorganize and reflect. “We must have an honest discussion among ourselves about what's good and what isn’t.”
Kramer’s original speech was published under the title "The Tragedy of Today's Gays" (Tarcher/Penguin).
, May 10, 2005 (CNA) - Last weekend, the web site of the New York-based, Catholic League was hacked and uploaded with a message insulting U.S. President George Bush, Israeli President Ariel Sharon, and which made reference to Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden and the Palestinian state.
The League, a Catholic civil rights organization, thinks that the attack came in response to comments made Saturday by organization president William Donahue in the New York Post regarding the new film, Kingdom of Heaven.
Donahue said in a statement that, in the Post article, “I was quoted as saying, ‘It is a matter of historical record that Muslim violence—in the form of a jihad—was responsible for Christians striking back, hence the Crusades. Yet in the film, it is the Christians who are the bad guys. This is on the order of doing a movie on the Warsaw Ghetto and blaming the Jews for all the violence.’”
“The next day,” he said, “my cell phone was ringing off the hook alerting me to what happened to our website.”
The Catholic League has contacted the police and FBI who are looking into the incident.
Donahue also chided the hackers for their poor grammar use in the hacked message.
Rome, Italy, May 10, 2005 (CNA) - Jewish leaders have expressed their confidence in Pope Benedict XVI, saying that the first two weeks of his papacy show “good signs” that he will continue the work of Pope John Paul II regarding Jewish-Christian relations.
“Clearly, Benedict has gone out of his way to demonstrate that his commitment to Catholic-Jewish relations is as strong, if not stronger, than his predecessor,” Rabbi David Rosen, director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee, told Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a May 5 article.
Leaders noted that Pope Benedict first expressed his commitment the day after he was elected. He wrote to Rome’s Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, and other Jewish leaders, inviting them to his papal inauguration and pledging to further Jewish-Catholic relations.
Four days later, during his homily at the inaugural mass, Pope Benedict singled out the Jews for recognition.
When Pope Benedict served as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he had expressed his view that the Church’s relationship with Judaism is different from relationships with other religions, Rosen told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
“He sees Judaism as the authentic foundation of the Church,” he said.
Rosen noted that the writings of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger address the responsibility of Christians — “if not the responsibility of the Church itself” — for anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.
David Kertzer of Brown University agreed that Pope Benedict’s communication with Jewish leaders early in his papacy was “a good sign.”
The report said Jewish leaders would watch for signs about the future of Jewish-Catholic relations this fall, with celebrations of the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the Vatican II document that rejected all forms of anti-Semitism and the charge that God punishes the Jewish people for Jesus’ death.
Manassas, Va., May 10, 2005 (CNA) - A national organization has blown the whistle on 13 Catholic colleges and universities, which have disregarded a directive of the U.S. bishops and invited commencement speakers and honorees who publicly oppose Catholic teaching.
Last year, the Cardinal Newman Society protested against 25 inappropriate speakers and honorees. This year’s list includes: California Secretary for Education Richard Riordan at the Dominican University (CA); former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani at Loyola College (MD); U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitchell Landrieu at Loyola University of New Orleans; and former U.S. Rep. Amory Houghton at St. Bonaventure University (NY).
In late April, officials of the Archdiocese of New York declared Marymount Manhattan College to be nonsectarian, after years of formally recognizing the historically Catholic college in The Official Catholic Directory. The college had scheduled pro-abortion Senator Hillary Clinton as its commencement speaker.
"If the bishops are able to enforce their policy where it is violated, then we may witness the beginning of a new renaissance in faithful Catholic higher education," said the society’s president, Patrick Reilly.
The Cardinal Newman Society is dedicated to the renewal of Catholic identity at America's 219 Catholic colleges and universities.
The Cardinal Newman Society is encouraging people to write congratulatory letters to 12 Catholic colleges and universities that have invited faithful Catholic leaders as speakers and honorees.
For the full list, go to: www.cardinalnewmansociety.org
Ottawa, Canada, May 10, 2005 (CNA) - Thousands of Canadians are expected to call on government to defend all human life at the national March for Life May 12. Marchers will walk through Ottawa and gather on Parliament Hill.
The march is only one event in a series of pro-life events that have been scheduled, from May 11 to 13. Campaign Life organized the three-day annual affair, with the co-operation of other pro-life organizations.
The first event May 11 is an evening mass at St. Theresa’s Parish, followed by a candlelight procession to the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights monument. St. Patrick’s Basilica will hold perpetual adoration overnight, from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Archbishop Marcel Gervais is expected to celebrate mass May 12 at St. Patrick’s Basilica at 10 a.m., followed by a march on Parliament Hill, where about 20 pro-life Parliamentarians will greet marchers. Some women will witness to the negative impact abortion has had on their lives.
The annual Rose Dinner that evening will feature guest speakers Marc Cardinal Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec, and Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.
A pro-life youth conference will be held Friday; about 300 young people are expected.
Mexico City, Mexico, May 10, 2005 (CNA) - Members of the Legion of Christ are confident that “a full and fair examination of the facts” will clear their founder of allegations of sexual abuse, reported the Globe.
Eight former seminarians with the Legion of Christ allege that the order’s now 85-year-old Mexican founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, sexually assaulted them in the 1950s.
Fr. Maciel denied the allegations in an open letter posted on the order’s Web site in 2002. He stepped down as the Legion's leader in January, due to advancing age.
The priestly order, founded in 1941, has welcomed the investigation launched by the Vatican last December by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The investigation had been shelved previously in 1999.
In April, Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, promoter of justice with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, traveled to the United States and Mexico to collect testimony from dozens of former Legionaries, including Alejandro Espinosa, who wrote about the alleged abuse he experienced in a book, called “The Legion.” The former seminarians alleging abuse are now in their 60s and 70s.
If Church officials determine there is strong evidence against Fr. Maciel, the case will go before the Vatican's Apostolic Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Since the claims include an alleged breach of the sacrament of reconciliation, Fr. Maciel could face excommunication if found guilty.
The Legion of Christ is one of the fastest growing priestly orders, with more than 650 priests and 2,500 seminarians in 20 countries. It also operates dozens of universities and elite secondary schools.
St. John's, Canada, May 10, 2005 (CNA) - The Diocese of St. George’s, Newfoundland, plans to sell all of its churches and missions to settle sexual-abuse claims.
Bishop Douglas Crosby announced that the diocese would sell about 150 properties to raise more than $10 million dollars to pay the settlements awarded to victims of Fr. Kevin Bennett.
The bishop is asking parishioners to buy back core properties when they go on sale in the coming months
Bennett was convicted in 1990 of hundreds of sexual assaults over three decades as a priest.
Mexico City, Mexico, May 10, 2005 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops Committee on Human Mobility, Bishop Renato Ascencio León of Ciudad Juarez, said this week bishops from his country and the US will meet in El Paso, Texas, on June 23 to discuss the problem of border patrols by vigilante groups such as the Minutemen, whose activities might spread to other parts of the US/Mexican border.
The bishop said the Mexican Bishops Conference is aware of the Minutemen group, an organization that is independently patrolling the border in Arizona and picking up illegal immigrants and that may begin patrolling the border in Texas and California.
Bishop Ascencio stated that these groups “have all of our repudiation” and he noted that immigrants “are not guerillas, terrorists or evildoers,” but rather persons “who want to be given an opportunity to improve their lives.” He added that pastoral workers from both countries will attend the meeting.
“We ought to address this case in particular,” Bishop Ascencio explained. “I know that the US bishops have made some statements on this matter and have approached authorities to request that this be stopped.”
“I hope our words as pastors will reach these people and make them realize they cannot have xenophobic attitudes against people who are seeking to improve their way of life,” the bishop stated.
He recalled that immigrants “are our brothers and sisters regardless of race, religion, or nationality,” and that this “is the message that the Lord Jesus left us as an inheritance.”
Madrid, Spain, May 10, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Antonio Canizares Llovera of Toledo and Vice President of the Bishops Conference of Spain said this week a law that would legalize homosexual unions is not “a true law” because it contradicts natural law.
The archbishop exhorted Catholics to reject the law and warned that “with this permissiveness, democracy is heading towards destruction.”
“If every group in power passes these laws, where does that leave the ordering of the common good in a society, where does that leave the truth about laws or the truth about man,” the archbishop asked in an interview with the COPE radio network.
He said he was aware that some organizations are preparing to challenge the constitutionality of the law on homosexual unions because of the danger it poses to “true marriage as the foundation of society and the person.”
Regarding the criticism against the statement sent by the bishops to the Spanish government, Archbishop Canizares said the bishops are not enemies of democracy, but rather “because we defenders of it we issued that statement.”
In that statement sent to the government last Friday, the Spanish bishops noted that Catholics cannot vote in favor of the law because it contradicts reason and morality. They also pointed out that the law would not be binding on anyone and that mayors or city officials could exercise “the right to conscientious objection” in refusing to obey it.
Washington D.C., May 10, 2005 (CNA) - Organizers recently announced that San Antonio’s Archbishop Jose Gomez and Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput will join Catholics from around the country in Washington D.C. for the 2nd annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.
The idea for the event was conceived in response to the call of the late Pope John Paul II for a "New Evangelization, new in ardor, methods and expression."
Last year, nearly 1,000 attended the breakfast and keynote address by Cardinal Avery Dulles, who spoke on the “perfect law of liberty.”
Other Catholic and civil leaders also attended, including Senator Rick Santorum who encouraged the faithful not to be afraid to live out their faiths in the public sphere.
The event’s organizers said that the annual gathering takes place “to thank Our Lord for his abundant blessings upon this Land.”
“We reaffirm our faith in Him and renew our dedication to this great Republic. We commit ourselves to providing for our brothers and sisters who are the most vulnerable in society, and we commit our country to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
More information and registration can be found at: www.catholicprayerbreakfast.com.
Allenspark, Colo., May 10, 2005 (CNA) - 51 Korean religious sisters working across North America have gathered in the Colorado mountains this week and last, for period of rest, renewal and fellowship.
Their 12th annual conference and retreat is being held this year at the St. Malo Catholic Retreat and Spiritual Center, where, in 1993, Pope John Paul II spent a day in preparation to spread his message of hope to nearly 400,000 young people during Denver’s World Youth Day.
The sisters are sent to North America to work with Korean communities in parishes, nursing homes, schools, etc.
14 different religious congregations are represented this week, from a total of approximately 80 individual sisters that work throughout Canada and the United States.
This year’s retreat master is Rev. Bernard Chang from the diocese of Cheoung Ju in South Korea.
The conference and retreat is being coordinated by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent the Paul, who serve the Korean community at St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Aurora, Colorado.