Archive of July 8, 2005

USCCB President expresses “support and concern” over London bombings

Washington D.C., Jul 8, 2005 (CNA) - Following yesterday’s rush hour bombing of London’s mass transit system resulting in an estimated 50 dead and 700 injured, Bishop William Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter offering support and concern to his British counterpart.

In the letter, addressed to Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, President of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales, Bishop Skylstad recalled “with great appreciation the tremendous expression of support and concern received from the Church in England and Wales and from many other hierarchies at the time of the devastating terrorist attacks upon our nation on September 11, 2001.

”In that same vein, he offered the Cardinal and all people of the U.K. a similar expression of support and concern as was given to the U.S.

The Bishop also noted the celebration of “the great honor of London’s being chosen to host the 2012 Olympic Games, which are meant to symbolize international solidarity and good will.”“It is tragic”, he wrote, “that you should now have to face the terrorism which seeks to divide nation against nation and which shadows the globe with the specter of sudden death perpetrated against the innocent.

”Bishop Skylstad expressed his heartfelt prayers for the dead and the injured as well as “for you and your fellow Bishops that you might be strengthened in this sorrowful moment by your faith in the Lord who rose to new life after the most fearful of deaths and inspire your people with your example of faith, hope, and love.”

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Catholic Cultural leaders gather to discuss new challenges in the light of globalization

Vatican City, Jul 8, 2005 (CNA) - This morning, members of Catholic cultural centers descended on Sarajevo to begin discussions on the theme, “The Challenge of a new Cultural Dialogue in the context of Globalization.“

The meeting, which is scheduled to last until Sunday, is being organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture, in collaboration with the "Hrvatsko Kulturno Drustvo Napredak" Center of Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, officially commenced the gathering this morning. According to the Vatican, it is part of a series of such international encounters, the first of which began in Barcelona, Spain, in 1996 to look at the challenges faced by Catholic cultural centers in the Mediterranean.

Some of the key themes which participants will discuss are that of dialogue with Byzantine culture and with Muslims in light of migration. They will also explore ways to dialogue with non-believers in a program centered on secularization in the West, and the heritage of communism in the East.

This weekend’s meeting place, Sarajevo’s "Napredak" (Progress) Center boasts two Nobel prize-winners (Ivo Andric, in literature, and Vladimir Prelog, in science) in their alumni list.

The center, which was founded in 1902 and today has 20,000 members in 66 branches throughout the world, is located within the Archdiocese of Sarajevo. During the communist years in that country, it was forced to close but reopened in 1990. It remained closed under the communist regime but reopened in 1990.

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Vatican to present consolidated budget for 2004

Vatican City, Jul 8, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican announced this morning that members of the Holy See’s Prefuncture for Economic Affairs will present last year’s consolidated budget during a press conference on Monday.

The conference is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. in the Holy See Press Office.

President Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, Secretary, Bishop Franco Croci and accountant general, Paolo Trombetta, of the Vatican’s economic arm will present 2004’s consolidated budget to members of the press.

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Cardinal Schonborn clarifies Church’s stance on evolution: intelligent design is clear in nature

, Jul 8, 2005 (CNA) - In a New York Times piece published yesterday, Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christof Schonborn called “neo-Darwinian”, evolution, or the idea that there is no intelligent design behind creation, incompatible with the Catholic Church and in conflict with nature itself.

While noting that the late John Paul II accepted evolution as “more than just a hypothesis”, he clarified that, “the Catholic Church, while leaving to science many details about the history of life on earth, proclaims that by the light of reason the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world, including the world of living things.”

Many, he said, mistakenly use John Paul’s undefined openness to evolution as an open door to align the Christian faith with the neo-Darwinian dogma, as he calls it, this can never be true.

Evolution, in the sense of common ancestry may be true, the Cardinal wrote, but he sees neo-Darwinism, what he describes as “an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection” as completely false in the eyes of the Church.

“Any system of thought”, he clarifies, “that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.”

The Cardinal added that while many quote John Paul II’s “rather vague and unimportant” 1996 statement, referenced above, few truly explore what the pontiff really said about design in nature.

He cited a 1985 general audience in which John Paul said, "All the observations concerning the development of life lead to a similar conclusion. The evolution of living beings, of which science seeks to determine the stages and to discern the mechanism, presents an internal finality which arouses admiration.”

“This finality which directs beings in a direction for which they are not responsible or in charge,” he continued, “obliges one to suppose a Mind which is its inventor, its creator."

New Pope, new confusion

The Austrian prelate further lamented that the new Pope Benedict XVI now finds himself falsely aligned with an incorrect idea of evolution as well.

He said that many often quote “a sentence about common ancestry from a 2004 document of the International Theological Commission, [and point] out that Benedict was at the time head of the commission…”

He adds that they use this to conclude “that the Catholic Church has no problem with the notion of "evolution" as used by mainstream biologists - that is, synonymous with neo-Darwinism.”

In actuality, the cardinal points out, “The commission's document…reaffirms the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church about the reality of design in nature.”

“Commenting on the widespread abuse of John Paul's 1996 letter on evolution,” he wrote, “the commission cautions that ‘the letter cannot be read as a blanket approbation of all theories of evolution, including those of a neo-Darwinian provenance which explicitly deny to divine providence any truly causal role in the development of life in the universe.’”

In his conclusion, Cardinal Schonborn, almost exhaustedly pointed out that, as it has for years, the Church would not fail to “defend the truths of faith given by Jesus Christ.”

He calls scientific claims like that of the neo-Darwinists simply a way to “avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science”, and, quoting John Paul said that these theories are not science, but in fact, an “abdication of human intelligence.”

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Massachusetts legislation could allow Morning After Pill over the counter

, Jul 8, 2005 (CNA) - On Wednesday, the Massachusetts State House passed legislation which could allow for the morning after pill, or Plan B, to be sold over the counter in pharmacies around the state.

Massachusetts is the latest state to pass the bill which has yet to be signed by Governor Mitt Romney. The morning after pill is known to sometimes cause an abortion by failing to allow a fertilized egg to attach to the uterine wall.

According to, the legislation, which passed the House 135-17 would also mandate that hospitals supply the drug to rape victims. A different, Senate version of the legislation exempted private hospitals, like Catholic ones, which may be morally opposed to the drug from having to supply it.

As for whether or not the Governor would sign the bill into law, spokeswoman Julie Teer told the Associated Press that he needs time to review it.

"During his 2002 campaign,” she said, “Gov. Romney said he would not change the abortion laws of the Commonwealth. Therefore, when the governor receives the emergency contraception legislation, he will review it carefully and measure whether or not it changes the status quo."

Seven other states, including Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Washington, have passed similar legislation, and the drug is now available without a prescription.

Many pro-choice groups like NARAL, are putting strong pressure on Gov. Romney to sign the legislation into law.

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Vatican observer describes growing tension between UN and Vatican over birth control

Rome, Italy, Jul 8, 2005 (CNA) - In his weekly column for the Italian online magazine L’Espresso, Vatican analyst Sandro Magister explains how the so-called “reproductive rights” have become a source of growing tension between the Vatican and the United Nations, in addition to the European Union.

The Holy See has permanent representation at the UN and the European Union, says Magister, “but the Catholic Church is frequently treated as enemy number one.”

“This is because it is a monotheistic religion, and so is held to be a source of intolerance,” Magister explains, but most especially it is because of the Church’s opposition to “the philosophy of ‘reproductive rights’ that is the unquestionable position of the UN and the EU in matters of family and procreation.”

The fiercely anti-life nature of both organizations, notes Magister, has been proven recently by a book published in Italy entitled, “Against Christianity: The UN and the European Union as a New Ideology,” written by Eugenia Roccella y Lucetta Scaraffia.

Rocella, who is not Catholic, is “a prominent advocate of the feminist movement,” while Scaraffia is professor of modern history at the La Sapienza University in Rome.

In his column, Magister offers an analysis of the book, highlighting among other things that Rocella and Scaraffia “identify the root of the new ideology as the ‘separation between sexuality and procreation.’ They see the outcome of this ‘beyond the boundaries of abortion, in the insidious return of eugenics’.”

The complete article can be found at:

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Catholic schools in the Bible-belt growing, despite national trend

Nashville, Tenn., Jul 8, 2005 (CNA) - A recent report showed signs that despite national trends to the contrary and an overwhelming protestant population, attendance at Catholic schools in places like Tennessee are on the rise.

The Diocese of Nashville, for example, which runs 22 Catholic schools within its 38-county borders, has seen an influx of some 750 new students in the past seven years.

Although the growth is slow, studies show that it is also steady. Says Rick Musacchio, spokesman for the diocese: "The growth we've seen here is tremendous."

The Nashville Diocese includes some 71,000 registered families who make up about 3.4% of the overall population in Middle Tennessee.

Hans Broekman, principal of Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville, TN was recently quoted as saying, "The Catholic church has always taken education very seriously…From a Catholic perspective, education is about teaching as Christ did and trying to help people discover the truth about themselves and the truth about the world."

Studies show that one reason for the growth is a recent influx of Hispanic families and northerners moving to the region.

The Nashville area is reported to be one of the fastest growing in that part of the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of nearby Spring Hill grew some 18% between 2003 and 2004.

Traditionally Protestant, the region is seeing the Catholic school‘s populations growing in members of many different faiths. Many see the Catholic schools as having more opportunities for their children then public alternatives.

Largely though, Catholic families are finding a fast-growing enclave in which to teach their children the faith. "There's been this massive influx of new faithful looking for Catholic education for their children," added Broekman. "Southern Catholics take their faith very seriously."

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Peruvian childhood congress to center on Mary, Eucharist, Mission

Lima, Peru, Jul 8, 2005 (CNA) - The national office of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Peru announced recently that preparations are being made for their 2nd annual Holy Childhood Congress, the theme of which will center around Immaculate Mary leading to the Eucharist and the Eucharist, in turn, leading to Mission.

Organizers of the August 4th through 7th event to be held in Trujillo, Peru are anticipating nearly 2,000 school-aged children from Holy Childhood groups across the country to take part in the congress.

The Family Rosary Apostolate Office of the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference is likewise launching an event to get young people more involved in their faith with an upcoming competition called, “Try, prayer works!”

Children from schools, parishes or other movements are invited to join the competition by submitting poems, stories, artwork, videos or photographs depicting the living out in daily life of virtues taught by Jesus to promote peace in society.

Winners will be chosen by a panel from the Family Rosary Apostolate. More information can be found by writing: [email protected]

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Mexican bishops express support for Catholic homosexual outreach group

Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 8, 2005 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Mexico has expressed its support for Courage Latino, a Hispanic version of the successful Catholic ministry for homosexuals founded by Father John Harvey.  The Courage office in Mexico will be under the guidance of Father Buenaventura Wainwright.

According to the coordinator of ministries for the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Msgr. Agustin Rivera, those who wish to join the group will be able to obtain information confidentially at the Basilica. 

Father Wainwright said the founder of Courage, Father Harvey, explained the objectives of the ministry to the General Assembly of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference on Monday.  Courage has been in existence since 1980 and is now beginning to open chapters in Latin America.

“The response from the bishops was very positive.  We have had success in this direction,” said Father Wainwright.  He also indicated that Courage Latino would make use of “reparative therapy” as a way of helping homosexuals to overcome their tendencies.

Msgr. Rivera and Fathers Wainwright and Harvey celebrated Mass at the Basilica of Guadalupe during which Msgr. Rivera praised the work of Courage and introduced its Hispanic version to those attending.

During his homily, Msgr. Rivera said the ethical relativism humanity is experiencing is dangerous, “in which each person wants to live his own life style and demand and ask for his own rights.  These situations are legislated by governments themselves, such as same-sex unions.”

For his part, Oscar Rivas, a successful Courage member, said that in order to maintain the necessary discretion this type of pastoral work requires, the location where the first Courage Latino group will meet will not be publicly disclosed.

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Canonization cause for 21 Spanish martyrs moves forward

Valencia, Fla., Jul 8, 2005 (CNA) - On Saturday the first phase in the canonization cause of 21 new martyrs of the Spanish Civil War of 1936 will be finalized.

Auxiliary Bishop Esteban Escudero of Valencia will preside at the closing of the diocesan phase of the cause for the martyrs who were members of an apostolate inspired by the charism of St. Vincent of Paul.

The acts will be sent to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints in Rome for study and elaboration.  When the Holy See approves them, the 21 martyrs will be declared Blesseds.

The delegate for the cause, Ramon Fita, told the AVAN news agency that “the singularity of this cause lies in the fact that it brings together servants of God from diverse backgrounds who suffered martyrdom in Valencia, Gerona, Barcelona and Cartagena.”

The martyrs included in the cause are seven religious brothers, two sisters, five diocesan priests and seven lay people.

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Benedict XVI’s charism with youth will show forth at WYD, says bishop

Madrid, Spain, Jul 8, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Jose Saiz Meneses of Terassa, Spain, told reporters this week World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne will be an opportunity to witness the charism of Pope Benedict XVI with young people, and he recalled other occasions in which the Pontiff “has shown his closeness” with the young.

Bishop Saiz said Benedict XVI “is a different person than John Paul II” and that “what his charism with young people will be” is still not known.  Nevertheless, he recalled that on previous occasions, “he has shown his closeness to them.”

The bishop noted that although it is true “that the Church has it rough with young people, it is also true that the Catholic Church is the organization that brings the most young people together.” 

For his part, Archbishop Julian Barrio of Santiago de Compostela explained that young people and today’s society are seeking answers to many questions that the Church is willing to resolve with an attitude of “attentiveness and dialogue.”

“If young people find an answer to their questions, they will find answers to their lives, which will be of benefit to an increasingly fraternal and humane society,” he said.

The head of Youth Ministry for the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, Victor Cortizo, revealed that so far 40,000 young people from that country have registered for WYD.  That number is expected to rise to 50,000 by mid-August.  54 bishops from Spain have also indicated they will attend the event.

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