Archive of July 26, 2005

Vatican calls Israeli criticism of Pope unfounded, says attacks were included in statement

Vatican City, Jul 26, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican reacted yesterday to harsh criticism from Israel over a claim that they were deliberately ignored by the Pope during a brief listing of nations that experienced recent terrorist attacks during Sunday’s Angelus--a claim that the Vatican called unfounded.

Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Holy See Press Office Director said that, "Concerning the Israeli reaction to the fact that the Holy Father, in his Angelus of Sunday July 24, did not also mention Israel alongside other countries, it should be noted that Benedict XVI's words specifically referred to the attacks of 'these days.'“

A bombing in the Israeli city of Netanya, to which the government referred, happened 12 days ago while those mentioned by the Pope had occurred within the past 72 hours.

"It is surprising”, Navarro-Valls continued, “that the Holy Father's intention should have been thus groundlessly misinterpreted, it being well known that in numerous interventions the Church, the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs, and most recently Pope Benedict XVI, have condemned all forms of terrorism, from whatever side it comes and against whomsoever it is directed.”

He added that: "Obviously, the serious attack in Netanya two weeks ago, to which the Israeli comments refer, also falls under the general and unreserved condemnation of terrorism."

A report by AsiaNews notes that the Israeli statement was “unusually harsh and violent”, and that it was marred by grammatical errors, suggesting it was written in haste.

In a statement later yesterday however, the Israeli foreign ministry toned down their claims calling the Pope’s omission merely “a mistake.”

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Cardinal says enough of euphemisms—Terry Schiavo was killed

Lima, Peru, Jul 26, 2005 (CNA) - The President of the Pontifical Council for Heath Care, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, recalled the Terry Schiavo case this week and said “they killed her” by denying her food and hydration.

According to the cardinal, “Food and hydration are never considered medicine.”  “To remove them means euthanasia, it means killing, and so this woman was killed by hunger and starvation.  Let’s stop with the euphemisms—they killed her,” he stated.

“Law consists of a rational ordering that seeks the common good and not the common evil,” Cardinal Lozano noted, “but many times there are laws that are called laws but are nothing more than arbitrary norms.  In fact, the President of the United States was against this court decision because he had enough sense to realize it was incorrect.”

In today’s world, he stated, there is an abundance of euphemisms to disguise euthanasia.  “The dignity of death means that this person has the capacity to reach the fullness of maturity so that upon crossing the threshold he or she does so in full consciousness, blossoming forth completely in the Lord,” the cardinal added.

He also called for advances in palliative care in order to “resolve the problems of pain and so that individuals can be more aware and more united to Christ on the cross, and thus be more conscious of the beginning of the resurrection.”

Likewise, the cardinal pointed out that “a doctor who is not a believer is always a frustrated doctor.  The most advanced techniques, the most advanced medicines, are always met at the exit by the ironic laughter of death; on the other hand, the believer says no to death,” he said.

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Ordination of women priests not valid, says canon law expert

Gananoque, Ont., Jul 26, 2005 (CNA) - The ordinations of nine women yesterday on a boat in the St. Lawrence River are not valid and cannot be recognized by the Catholic Church, said canon law expert Msgr. Jean Pelletier.

The chancellor of the Archdiocese of Quebec told CNA that the ordinations are not valid because they are contrary to the very “nature of the Catholic priesthood”, which is male.

“To be a priest is not a right,” explained the monsignor. “Even a man cannot just become a priest because he decides he wants to be a priest. The priesthood is a calling that has to be recognized by the Church.”

The ordinations Monday came at the end of a three-day international conference on the ordination of women in Ottawa. The boat set sail from Gananoque (Thousand Islands), west of Ottawa. It sailed between the Canadian and U.S. borders.

Of the nine women, seven were American, one was German and one was Canadian. Four were ordained priests and five were ordained deacons. This was the first known women’s ordination ceremony in North America.

Two women bishops conducted the ceremony. They had been ordained priests on a boat in the Danube River, along with another five women, in 2002, but all seven were excommunicated the following year. Some expect the new ordinands to face excommunication as well.

In a telephone interview from Quebec City, Msgr. Pelletier cited Article 1024 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law, which states that only a baptized male can receive ordination.

He also explained the significance of the male priesthood in relation to the feminine image of the Church and the Catholic understanding of the Church as the bride of Christ. The male priest, as the spouse, respects and completes this important complementary image.

Msgr. Pelletier said the ordination ceremony was a “gesture empty of meaning.

“The ordinations are recognized only by the women themselves,” he said. “Where will they exercise their ministry? No Catholic parish could accept them.”

Msgr. Pelletier said Catholics should know that none of the sacraments performed by these women, such as Eucharist and reconciliation, has any value. However, he clarified, they, like anyone else, could baptize in situations of emergency.

The monsignor added that, given the Church’s understanding of the priesthood, it could seem to some that the Church is against women, but this is not the case. He recalled recent comments by Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec, who said that in the Gospel women are regarded as more important than men. Mother Mary, he said, was a notch above the Apostles.

Spokespeople from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said the bishops were not issuing any statements about Monday’s event.

The Women’s Ordination Conference, who promoted the ordinations, did not reply to a request for an interview.

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Archbishop thinks ‘ordination’ ceremony could mean automatic excommunication

Ottawa, Canada, Jul 26, 2005 (CNA) - On Monday, nine women had themselves ‘ordained’ as Catholic priests aboard a boat near Ottawa, Canada, an act, which one local archbishop fears, could mean automatic excommunication.

The women, who include seven Americans, a Canadian and a German living in the U.S., were falsely ordained, according to Church law, by Austrian, Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger and German, Gisela Forster who were ‘ordained’ bishops in 2002.

The ceremony, reportedly sponsored by a group called, ’Roman Catholic Womenpriests’ was held aboard a boat in the middle of the St. Lawrence River near Gananoque, Ont., so as to avoid any diocesan jurisdiction.

According to Catholic teaching, only men can be ordained to the priesthood, a doctrine which it argues is not sexist, but respects different vocations created specifically for men and women.

Archbishop Anthony Meagher of Kingston said that while he would like to see more women involved in the Church, “wearing the colors of priesthood” is not the way to do it.

"What they are doing is stepping outside of the Church,” he said, “and I believe it's an automatic excommunication…It saddens me. Sacrament is so precious and they are trivializing it."

Following a similar ordination ceremony in France early this month, Vincent Feroldi, a spokesman for Lyon’s Archbishop Philippe Barbarin said that no decree of excommunication would necessary in a technical sense, because of the fundamental violation of Church law the woman’s actions constitute.

Many are waiting to see if a formal declaration is issued, as the number of ceremonies for women’s ordination seems to be growing.

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Muslim world must condemn terrorism, says Iraqi priest

Baghdad, Iraq, Jul 26, 2005 (CNA) - The Muslim world must condemn terrorism “carried out in its name,” says an Iraqi Catholic priest in Mosul.

“At the same time we must not identify the Arab and Muslim world with terrorism, and we must encourage those who work to promote the universal values of respect for human rights and social harmony, Fr. Nizar Semaan told the Fides news agency.

“Certainly these people who kill themselves to kill others think they are right, but this does not justify their actions,” he said.

The priest made these comments after terrorists attacked the London subway system, killing more than 50 people and after continued violence in the Middle East.

“Once again we mourn the death of innocent men and women killed by terrorists: these acts are criminal and nothing can justify them,” he said.

The priest said that people should not make distinctions with regard to violence in Iraq, Palestine or Afghanistan.

“These are only excuses,” he told Fides. “I am convinced that the extremists would plant bombs even if these situations did not exist.

“These situations must be settled, it is a question of justice which has nothing to do with terrorism,” he said.

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Roberts should not have to submit to religious litmus test, says Catholic League

, Jul 26, 2005 (CNA) - Supreme Court nominee Judge John Roberts should not have to submit to a religious litmus test, says Catholic League president William Donohue. But Donohue adds that informal discussions Roberts has had with some senators last week are “cause for alarm.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee is not expected to hold hearings on the nomination for some time, “but already there are signs that he will be asked to submit to a religious litmus test,” said Donohue.

Donohue referred specifically to Sen. Tom Coburn’s complaint last week that Roberts was reticent when asked to explain how his Catholic religion affects his views. The senator said he intends to ask Roberts about this again at their next meeting.

The League president also referred to a report in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times that cites George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. Turley said when Sen. Dick Durbin asked Roberts what he would do if the law required a decision that conflicted with his religion Roberts reportedly said he would probably have to recuse himself.

“The Catholic League is angry at Coburn and Durbin for asking these questions, and at Roberts for his replies,” said Donohue.

Donohue pointed out that in 1993 Supreme Court nominee Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not asked to defend her strong Jewish cultural identity.

“Ginsburg was never asked to explain why her identity as a Jew was mostly cultural. Nor was she asked how her secular identity might affect her rulings on abortion and church-state issues,” said Donohue. “Indeed, it would have been outrageous had anyone attempted to pursue such a line of inquiry.

“Why it is not seen as equally outrageous for Coburn and Durbin to go down this road is testimony to the double standard? Ginsburg was not asked to submit to a religious litmus test and neither should Roberts,” he contiued.

“If Roberts doesn’t defend himself on this matter, he will only feed the sharks,” Donohue said. “Playing it too safe isn’t cute: he’d better show some gumption.”

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Mass. governor to veto emergency contraception bill

Boston, Mass., Jul 26, 2005 (CNA) - Gov. Mitt Romney has announced that he will veto a bill that would make the morning-after pill available without a prescription from pharmacies.

Romney told House and Senate leaders of his decision yesterday in a letter, reported the Associated Press. The letter stated that he had “promised the people of Massachusetts that as governor I would not change the laws of the Commonwealth as they relate to abortion.”

“The bill before me would change those laws and for that reason I am vetoing it,” the Republican governor wrote.

The legislation would also require hospital emergency room doctors to offer the abortifacient drug to rape victims. A provision that exempted Catholic hospitals was dropped from the legislation.

The morning-after pill prevents ovulation, stops the egg from being fertilized or stops a fertilized egg from attaching itself to the uterus wall.

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Japanese Bishops call for peace on anniversary of a-bombs

Hiroshima, Japan, Jul 26, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic bishops in Japan have released a message for the 60th anniversary of the World War II atomic bomb droppings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki next month calling for a strong commitment of Catholics to peace.

The anniversary of the 1945 bombings, which ended WWII, is scheduled to be held from August 6th through 15th, with a special Mass at Hiroshima’s city Cathedral on the 6th, celebrated by Bishop Joseph Atsumi Misue of Hiroshima.

In their message, the bishops said that, "The Catholic Church in Japan must be conscious of its prophetic role, both in the protection of human life as well as in asking forgiveness from God and from all those people who had to endure immense suffering during World War II."

Likewise, the bishops urged members of Japanese faith communities to "intensify their prayers for peace in the world, and to promote concrete initiatives for peaceful solutions to conflict.”

“The Japanese people”, it continued, “have learned to accept their history, made up of invasions and violent colorizations. Let us reflect on all this and again undertake the journey."

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Aid to the Church in Need donates 70 million euros in 137 countries

Rome, Italy, Jul 26, 2005 (CNA) - Aid to the Church in Need distributed about 70 million euros in 2004, supporting nearly 6,000 pastoral projects in 137 countries.

Beneficiaries who received the largest sums were located most notably in Sudan, where projects for more than 1 million euros were carried out in 2004; Ukraine (about 4.6 million euros); Cuba (780,000 euros); and Vietnam (more than 850,000 euros).

Three types of projects were carried out in Russia. About 1.2 million euros were directed toward projects of the Roman Catholic Church in Russia, 800,000 euros were given to projects of the Orthodox Church, and another 1.2 million euros funded inter-confessional initiatives.

Pastoral urgencies that received most assistance included the construction and restoration of places of worship, seminaries and convents (27.1 percent), Catholic-inspired media (17.3 percent) and theological education (17.2 percent), including scholarships to pontifical universities. 

The distribution of religious printed material, mostly biblical texts called God Speaks to His Children, ranked fifth at 13.2 percent. More than 1.5 million copies were distributed in 2004, bringing the total circulation to more than 40 million copies since 1978.

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Dominican bishop supports priest’s work among Haitian immigrants

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Jul 26, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Francisco Ozoria Acosta of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, issued a statement this week expressing the support of all of the diocesan clergy for the work carried out by Father Christopher Hartley among the Haitian immigrants, who are brought into the country illegally in order to work on sugarcane plantations.

In recent days, several newspapers in the country have criticized the pastoral work of Father Hartley with sugarcane workers and their families.

In his statement, the bishop noted that thanks to the work of Father Hartely, many immigrants “have realized they have dignity and rights” and they have lost their fear of denouncing the injustices they are suffering and of “demanding and defending their human and worker’s rights.”

Father Hartley’s work in the formation and education of both Dominicans and Haitians “has made it difficult to maintain the abusive work regimen they have been subjected to,” reads the statement.  “This has affected the profits of some companies located in his area and that have benefited from the flagrant injustices.”

Bishop Ozoria noted that those who oppose Father Hartley’s work are fostering a “false kind of patriotism” and “serious xenophobic and racists attitudes.”

“The Church cannot remain indifferent to social changes” because she is the “servant of salvation not in an abstract or merely spiritual sense.”  Moreover, he explained that “while poverty wounds and disfigures the human being, in a certain sense all of society is left wounded.”

The bishop also pointed out that while “the State has the right and obligation to defend national sovereignty,” it is not right “to take advantage of a cheap Haitian workforce.”

Therefore he called on the faithful to be informed about the situation, to not fall into racism, to promote the social teachings of the Church, and to pray. 

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Bishops and priests to participate in international retreat

Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 26, 2005 (CNA) - This Friday the V International Retreat for Priests, organized by the Latin American Catholic Charismatic Council and the Latin American Bishops’ Council (CELAM), will take place in Monterrey, Mexico.

“Mary, your priests wish to see Jesus” is the theme of the retreat, which will bring together 100 bishops and 1,900 priests from 40 countries at the International Center for Meetings and Expositions in Monterrey.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Vicar General, Msgr. Angelo Comastri, will participate in the event.  A closing Mass for the retreat will be held at the Monterrey Arena.

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Argentinean archbishop calls on Christians to avoid “new reading” of the Gospel

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 26, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Domingo Castagna of Corrientes, Argentina, is calling on Argentineans to avoid falling into a “new reading of the Gospel,” popular today among those who seek to separate “their unchristian behavior” from “the Christian faith they claim to profess.”

“Modern thinking does not always coincide with the Gospels,” the archbishop explained, noting that today’s society often promotes ideas that are “opposed to Christian values.” He lamented the fact that even believers are being influenced by this “new reading of the Gospel.”

Archbishop Castagna also denounced arguments supposedly based on the essential content of the faith, which he said are “more emotional than rational,” that support “unacceptable theories” such as abortion, tubal ligation and vasectomies.

He also pointed to the existence of “other contradictions, such as ideological persecution, discrimination on the basis of sex, race and creed, and calumny as a way of eliminating one’s adversaries.”  Archbishop Castagna recalled that “Christ is demanding” and that “the precept of love should be practiced even with enemies and persecutors.”  At the same time, he noted the responsibility of Christians to make the Kingdom of God present.  This, he explained, “is the new society that we are called to carefully build.”

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