San Francisco, Calif., May 12, 2005 (CNA) - The spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco dismissed as "rumors" recent reports announcing that Archbishop William Joseph Levada was about to be appointed as the new Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Mr. Maurice Healy, spokesman for the San Francisco diocese, dismissed the speculation as rumor, telling the Associated Press that the recent meeting between the Archbishop and Pope Benedict XVI was just a “courtesy call.”
Time magazine reported Tuesday that Benedict already had asked Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco, a doctrinal expert, if he were interested in leading the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.
Last week, both The Oregonian and Religion News Service reported on Benedict's meeting with Levada and speculated that he was a contender for the job.
But Time magazine also quoted an unidentified senior Vatican official as saying that if Levada isn't appointed, "it means somebody got to (the Pope) and convinced him to change his mind."
As a priest, Archbishop Levada joined the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1976 and served for six years, leaving shortly after the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took over as Prefect in 1981.
Levada, a friend of Pope Benedict, is since 2000 one of the five bishops serving on the Congregation's board.
The Archbishop was also a leading figure in drafting the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Levada, 68, has been Archbishop of San Francisco since 1995; after serving as the Archbishop of Portland, Ore.
Vatican City, May 12, 2005 (CNA) - This morning Pope Benedict XVI met with members of the Vatican diplomatic corps, whom he thanked for their nation's participation in the funeral of John Paul II and his own papal election, which followed shortly after.
The Pope also expressed his particular gratitude to those nations with which the Vatican does not have diplomatic ties, for their own participation in the aforementioned events.
This morning's meeting was the first with the diplomats since Benedict's becoming Pope on April 19th.
The Holy Father directed his thoughts "to the nations with whom the Holy See does not yet have diplomatic relations," who attended the various funeral and election ceremonies, saying that he was "appreciative of such gestures."
He said that, "I wish today to express my gratitude and to send greetings to the civil authorities of these countries, hoping to see them represented very soon to the Holy See."
"Messages that I especially appreciated arrived from these countries, notably from those whose Catholic communities are numerous. I would like to say how dear these communities and their people are to me, and I assure them they are present in my prayers," he said.
Pope Benedict went on to highlight "the long and fruitful ministry of the beloved John Paul II," as a "tireless missionary of the Gospel to the many countries he visited, rendering a unique service to the cause of unity of the human family." John Paul, he said, "invited all people of good will ... to build a society of justice, peace, and solidarity in charity and mutual pardon."
"For my part," the Holy Father said, "I come from a country where peace and fraternity are dear to the hearts of the people, notably those who, like me, have known war and the separation among brothers belonging to the same nation because of devastating and inhuman ideologies which, masked by dreams and illusions, brought down the yoke of oppression upon men and women."
"You will therefore understand", he continued, "that I am especially sensitive to dialogue between people in order to overcome all forms of conflicts and tensions and to make our earth a land of peace and fraternity."
The Pope stressed that: "everyone is called to realize a peaceful society in order to vanquish the temptation of clashes between cultures, ethnic groups and different worlds. Thus, each people must draw from its spiritual and cultural patrimony the best values of which it is a bearer."
But, the Holy Father noted, "To pursue in this direction the Church never ceases to proclaim and to defend basic human rights, unfortunately still violated in different parts of the earth, and she works towards assuring respect for every person's right to life, food, a home, work, health care, protection of the family and the promotion of social development, in respect for the dignity of men and women, created in the image of God."
He told the group that he hoped the Catholic Church would continue to help safeguard "the dignity of every human person and service to the common good ... without seeking any privilege for herself, but only the legitimate conditions of freedom and action for her mission."
Vatican City, May 12, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican announced today that the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held at the Vatican October 2nd through the 23rd, would center around the theme of "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church."
While confirming the synod's theme, Pope Benedict today, confirmed various Vatican appointments, including the president's delegate, relator general and the special secretary.
Likewise, he confirmed the appointments of the delegates and substitutes of the synod, as ratified by the late John Paul II.
The presidents delegate are: Cardinals Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, Juan Sandoval Iniguez, archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico and Telesphore Placidus Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, India. The relator general is Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy and the special secretary is Archbishop Roland Minnerath of Dijon, France.
Vatican City, May 12, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican announced today that Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Fr. Joseph Tyson and Fr. Eusebio L. Elizondo M.Sp.S, as new auxiliary bishops for the 904,000-member Archdiocese of Seattle.
Frs. Tyson and Elizondo, pastors of St. Edward, St. George and St. Paul, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parishes, respectively, will join Archbishop Alex J. Brunett in shepherding the Archdiocese--home to 313 priests, 98 deacons and 585 religious brothers and sisters.
Bishop-elect Tyson, originally from Moses Lake, WA, was ordained to the priesthood in 1989, while Bishop-elect Elizondo, from Victoria, Mexico, was ordained in 1984.
Anchorage, Alaska, May 12, 2005 (CNA) - Claims made by a pro-life group that Providence Alaska Medical Center, a Catholic hospital, is performing abortions are "patently untrue," said Catholic League president William Donohue.
For the past two years, Alaska Right to Life has become increasingly critical of the Providence and Archbishop Roger Schwietz of Anchorage, whose jurisdiction includes the hospital.
In 2003, Alaska Right to Life told Archbishop Schwietz that early inductions of labor were being performed at the health care facility, and that these were a form of abortion. He immediately declared a halt to the procedure.
After some study, the archbishop concluded that Catholic ethical principles were not being compromised, and he lifted the moratorium. He then asked Providence to work with the National Catholic Bioethics Center and leading Catholic bioethicist Dr. John Haas to make sure that its guidelines were airtight. The Catholic community was satisfied, but Alaska Right to Life continues to state its claim.
"It is patently untrue and grossly unfair to say that Providence Alaska Medical Center performs abortions and that Archbishop Roger Schwietz approves of them," said Donohue in a press release.
He added that the secular group's "intrusive manner" has "turned off" the League, as well as the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Daughters of America.
Donohue said the "final straw" was when the group urged its members in April to appeal to the Vatican to intervene in this issue.
"This crosses the line," said Donohue. "A secular group like Alaska Right to Life ought to learn to mind its own business. Its reputation as a meddler does not help its cause."
Boston, Mass., May 12, 2005 (CNA) - Boston College will change its nondiscrimination statement and make it more welcoming to homosexual students and employees.
The changes were agreed upon and drafted at the beginning of May, after weeks of meetings between the Jesuit school's general counsel, two high-ranking student affairs officials, and student leaders, reported the Boston Globe.
Student activists have pushed for changes in the school's policy for more than three years, since the college appeared in Princeton Review's list of gay-unfriendly colleges.
In the new policy, the college "commits itself to maintaining a welcoming environment for all people and extends its welcome in particular to those who may be vulnerable to discrimination on the basis of their race . . . religion, color, age . . . or sexual orientation."
However, the revised policy also states that the school reserves "its lawful rights [protected by state law] where appropriate to take actions designed to promote the Jesuit, Catholic principles that sustain its mission and heritage."
The exemption allows the college to withhold funding or recognition from student groups that are at odds with Catholic principles, without being vulnerable to lawsuits, reported the Globe.
University spokesperson Jack Dunn told the newspaper that some students think the policy still needs work, but most have reacted very positively. ''Students respect the fact that as a Jesuit university, we have an obligation to uphold our religious convictions," he said.
Buffalo, N.Y., May 12, 2005 (CNA) - A junior at Fillmore Central High School near Buffalo, N.Y, has filed a federal lawsuit against his school district for forcing him to remove his pro-life shirt.
The Thomas More Law Center and the American Catholic Lawyers Association are representing the student, arguing that the school's decision violated the student's right to free speech.
In October 2004, Kevin Dibble wore a shirt expressing his view that abortion is wrong. The shirt read: "Abortion is Homicide. You will not silence my message. You will not mock my God. You will stop killing my generation. Rock for Life."
Despite the fact that Dibble had worn the same shirt previously, the school principal, Kyle Faulkner, told the teen that the message was offensive and wearing the shirt was prohibited. When Dibble asserted his constitutional rights, he was suspended for the day.
Before filing the lawsuit, the Thomas More Law Center sent a letter to school officials explaining Dibble's First Amendment right to peacefully express his pro-life views on his clothing at school. The Law Center also pointed to the double standard of school officials not allowing Kevin's message but allowing other students to wear controversial shirts that depict grotesque pictures and sexually charged messages. In response to the letter, school officials again denied Dibble his right to wear his shirt to school.
"This is another example of a school taking sides in the abortion issue and attempting to silence a student's message because it disagrees with it," said Richard Thompson, chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.
Valencia, Fla., May 12, 2005 (CNA) - A prominent Spanish official in charge of social welfare in Valencia is expressing her support for the bishops of Spain in their opposition to a new law that would legalize gay marriage. Alicia de Miguel thanked the bishops for the clarity with which they have expressed the Church's position on homosexual unions, saying other persons, parties and associations should show the same "honesty."
De Miguel said the Church "has every right" and the "obligation" to take positions on issues that affect society, in this case the recognition of homosexual unions as the equivalent of marriage.
Her comments came in response to a homily by the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, during the Missa d'Infants, in which he warned against the "many powerful social, political and cultural forces which seek to snatch away from children and young people the faith of their parents."
De Miguel said the bishops' stance against homosexual unions was "absolutely worthy of respect."
Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 12, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Carmelo Giaquinta of Resistencia, Argentina, said this week the era of globalization implies a "universal call to holiness." "This is an ideal that should not be misunderstood, as if it implied a sort of extraordinary life, attainable only by a few 'geniuses' of holiness. There are many paths to holiness appropriate to each person's vocation. Now is the time to passionately remind everyone of this lofty degree of ordinary Christian life. The entire life of the ecclesial community and of Christian families should go in this direction."
The archbishop also said that during the last few months, the Church has lived through a situation analogous to that of the apostles with the passion, death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord.
"With the suffering, death and solemn funeral of John Paul II and the posterior election of Benedict XVI, perhaps it's necessary that, like the apostles, somebody stirs us as well to make us wake up. 'Why do you keep looking at heaven?' The solemnity of the Ascension is very appropriate for that," he maintained.
Archbishop Giaquinta noted that although modernity has made the spectacular a new ingredient in society, this "adds nothing" to the mission that each Christian must fulfill, except for "a greater responsibility, as it shows the importance of each Christian and the mission he or she must carry out. We live in a globalized world that has become one big village, where the smallest of personal gestures has instant repercussions on the other side of the world. Evil and confusion are globalized, but so too can be our testimony and solidarity. Although in this era of globalization the vast majority continues to live in anonymity, this phenomenon allows us to better see how each person is unique and irreplaceable. The great tide of humanity that filled St. Peter's Square in a matter of minutes at the sign of 'white smoke' would not have taken place without each one of these thousands of anonymous persons who spontaneously went to the Square," Archbishop Giaquinta said.
Later on in his message, the archbishop said, "Although we all aspire to reach heaven, we must journey on this earth carrying out our mission, each one according to his own vocation. Fulfilling one's mission is the trampoline necessary to get there. The mission is common. The mission of the Christian faithful is not different from that of the bishop. Both should give witness to Jesus Christ by word and example," he said in conclusion.