Archive of July 27, 2005

Benedict XVI vacation dedicated to pray for world peace comes to an end

Vatican City, Jul 27, 2005 (CNA) - On the first hundred days as the Catholic Church Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI  completes a vacation time dedicated to pray for world peace, as Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Holy See Press Office Director stated in a report for Radio Vaticano.

“The Pope was enjoying a vacation time, however he  still keeps mankind in his mind. Therefore, the victims , and also the terrorists, have been in the Pope’s thought and specially in His prayers when he celebrated the Holy Mass” said Navarro -Valls when talking about the days spent by the Pontiff in  Les Combes.

According to the spokesman, in this rest period the Holy Father has followed attentively the development of the terrorists’ attacks in several countries of the world; he has taken some rest, studied and contemplated the beauty of nature. “His Holiness have rested but at the same time he has worked a great deal” he said.

He also revealed that the Pope had to adapt himself to the new climate and “during the second day in a conversation with a nine-year old  boy he felt himself involved in the nature and the location. After this dialogue His Holiness said he never had an idea of walking through these valleys in such privacy”.

Navarro-Valls also considered that one of the most outstanding moments for the Holy Father was his private meeting with all the priests in a little church in Introd in the Aosta valley, where all of them shared with him their concerns and also their happiness for their ministry.”

Tomorrow, Pope Benedict XVI will leave the chalet in Les Combes to go to  Castelgandolfo, near Rome, where he will stay until the end of the Summer.

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Populorum Progressio launches 212 projects aimed at caring for the poor, building up the Church

Vatican City, Jul 27, 2005 (CNA) - Last week in Lima, Peru, the administrative arm of the "Populorum Progressio" Foundation concluded its annual meeting, announcing 212 new initiatives which they hope will provide material and spiritual care to the poor of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The foundation was established in 1992 by John Paul II to promote integral development among the poor, indigenous, mixed race and Afro-American rural communities of Latin America and the Caribbean. It is part of the Pontifical Council ‘Cor Unum.’

The Vatican noted today that since its creation, the group has financed more than 2,000 projects valued at nearly 20 million dollars, giving concrete form to "the Church's gesture of loving solidarity towards the most abandoned and needy - such as the poor, indigenous, mixed race and Afro-American rural communities - as the fruit of love and charity."

The projects for this coming years will focus the foundation’s attention specifically on five major areas. 36.29% of resources, the group said, “will be used for production, be it farming, small businesses, or community stores; 23.55% for communal infrastructure projects such as potable water, fencing, latrines and community halls; 18.15% for buildings such as schools, houses and health centers; 16.60% for education: training, communications, donations and publications; 5.49% for health-oriented projects, including donations and training."

Countries to be included in the new initiatives include Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, as well as Argentina, Chile and the entire Caribbean area.

Msgr. Segundo Tejado Munoz, a Cor Unum official who participated in the Lima meeting said that one of the unique facets of Populorum Progressio is "the ecclesial nature of its projects."

"The Church," said Msgr. Tejado, "cannot be reduced to becoming a humanitarian aid organization; rather her mission embraces individuals in all their facets, both material and spiritual. Hence, the projects that are presented to the foundation have to include this component of Christian charity: the announcement that in Jesus Christ man has access to a Father full of love for the poor.”

“This testimony”, he continued, “is carried forward by providing aid in the Holy Father's name and by including all achievements within the framework of the local Church."

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San Bernardino Diocese first in U.S. to have two Hispanic Bishops; reflects changing face of Catholic Church

San Bernardino, Calif., Jul 27, 2005 (CNA) - On Monday, the Vatican named a Riverside, CA priest to fill the position of auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of San Bernadino--a position which has been empty since 2003. His appointment makes the diocese the only one in the U.S. with two Hispanic bishops, reflecting what is perhaps the changing face of the American Church.

Bishop-elect Rutilio J. del Riego, who comes to the diocese from Our Lady of Perpetual Health in Riverside, now becomes one of 23 Hispanic bishops in the U.S., joining Bishop Gerald R. Barnes in ministering to the nearly 1.1 million member diocese--47% of whom are Hispanic.

Humble 64-year old del Riego said at a news conference that, "I have to be absolutely frank: I would not have asked for it…My life is going to change radically, and I was very happy where I was, doing what I was doing."

But, he added, "I believe God is calling me to do this, and so I have no excuse."

The bishop-elect, who holds dual citizenship in both the U.S. and Mexico says that building up future priests will be one of his major goals. He will move into a house near the diocese’ Blessed Junipero Serra House of Formation, which houses 12 seminarians, whom he hopes to spent time with.

A changing face

The San Bernardino Sun quoted Ronaldo Cruz, executive director of the Secretariat for Hispanic Affairs at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who said that, "The face of the church is changing. More and more, the Hispanic context is important."

The Sun also cited the Hispanic Churches in American Public Life project, which suggests that about 70 percent of the 41 million Hispanic Americans are Catholic. It also noted however that, although Hispanics account for almost 40 percent of the nation's 67 million Catholics, they only make up about 8 percent of its leadership.

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput however, sees much positive growth for Hispanics and the Church.

Speaking at a retreat which gathered prominent Hispanic business leaders in the Colorado mountains last August, the Archbishop reflected that “Denver is 31 percent Hispanic…Colorado is now 17 percent Hispanic.  That’s a 73 percent growth in our Hispanic population in one decade.  All of America is changing, and Latinos will shape the nature of that change.”

But the change can be more far reaching than simply a matter of increasing numbers, suggested the Archbishop: “Hispanics can bring to the table a Catholic sense of family, a Catholic sense of community, a Catholic love for life, generosity and a respect for the dignity of the person.”

He exhorted the leaders to keep that identity at the center of their lives. “American life has lost its soul,” he said. “You can change that.  America needs to change.  Be different.  Remember who you are.  Remember the faith and Catholic understanding of the world that shaped you.  Make your success a success of the soul -- a success for the common good -- and you’ll leave the world a better place than when you entered it.”

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Catholic, Protestant leaders to hold press conference: ‘there should be no religious litmus test for Roberts’

Washington D.C., Jul 27, 2005 (CNA) - This morning, religious leaders will gather in the nation’s capital to protest what they see as an unfair religious litmus test being used in the senate’s scrutinizing process of Judge John G. Roberts, President Bush’s Catholic nominee for the Supreme Court.

Leaders of the groups, Priests for Life, the National Clergy Council and the Christian Defense Coalition will gather at the Russell senate office building to share their thoughts with reporters at 11 a.m.

Many, including members of the American Life League have expressed concerns that Judge Robert’s Catholic faith could be held against him. They said today that “This form of religious bigotry should not be tolerated by the American public, especially when it is spearheaded by individuals who claim to have faith in the same religious beliefs as the person they are targeting."

The group is planning their own gathering today protesting members of the senate judiciary committee who claim to be Catholic and pro-choice.

Father Frank Pavone, president of Priests for Life said that, "Anyone familiar with American history and the United States Constitution should be embarrassed by the suggestion that a nominee for the Supreme Court has to run a religious gauntlet on his way to confirmation. Religious convictions are not excess baggage or obstacles on the road to public service."

National Clergy Council president, Rev. Rob Schenck added that, "There is no religious test for office in the United States, but what some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are saying is Judge Roberts, if you want to be on the Supreme Court, you better not take your Christian faith seriously.”

“That's a religious test”, he said, “and this is unconstitutional."

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Kansas City bishop learns Spanish to reach out to faithful

Kansas City, Mo., Jul 27, 2005 (CNA) - With the growing number of Spanish-speaking Catholics in the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Archbishop Joseph Naumann has decided put learning Spanish among his priorities.

He is following through on his commitment this  summer with a 32-day intensive Spanish-language immersion program at a Legionnaires of Christ university at Amecameca, near Mexico City. His study began July 18.

"The Spanish-speaking population of the archdiocese is a very significant one,” the archbishop told the diocesan newspaper, the Leaven. “It's the first language and, in some cases, the only language for many of the people in the archdiocese. Knowing the language will help me be a more effective bishop for this large Spanish-speaking community.”

The archbishop said his long-term goal is to at least give modest homilies in Spanish.

The growth of the Hispanic population is not a phenomenon confined only to the archdiocese. In fact, the Hispanic population throughout the state has jumped from 93,670 or 3.8 percent of the state's population in 1993 to 188,252 or 7 percent in 2000.

Prior to his month of study, Archbishop Naumann had worked with a tutor to learn the principles of Spanish pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. He also read some language workbooks and listened to Spanish-language tapes.

According to the Leaven, at the end of his study, the archbishop will travel to the Diocese of Zipaquira, Colombia, Aug. 19 to visit with Bishop Hector Cubillos Peña and thank his for the assistance of two of his priests. Frs. William Velasquez and Mauricio Garzon have been ministering to the Hispanic community of the Archdiocese of Kansas City for the last two years.

Archbishop Naumann will return to Kansas Aug. 21.

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Alberta may invoke clause to protect officials from marrying same-sex marriage

Edmonton, Canada, Jul 27, 2005 (CNA) - Alberta Justice Minister Ron Stevens said the province may invoke the notwithstanding clause under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect religious and lay officials in Alberta from being forced to marry same-sex couples if it goes against their conscience or religious beliefs.

On Tuesday, the provincial government stated in a news release it had introduced such legislation. The law would be retroactive to July 20, the date same-sex marriage became the law of the land.

The provincial government said it also plans to protect religions from being forced to make their places of worship available for same-sex marriages.

“We will do what we feel is necessary in that regard to protect the marriage commissioners and their religious beliefs," Stevens told the Edmonton Sun newspaper.

Alberta is the Canadian province that has been the most vocal in its opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the country. During the two-year debate, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein had even stated  that perhaps the provincial government should bow out the marriage business altogether and leave it solely up to the religions.

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Chicago cardinal, imam call for improved relations between Catholics and Muslims

Chicago, Ill., Jul 27, 2005 (CNA) - Chicago’s top Catholic cleric and well-known Muslim leader called on Catholics and Muslims to work together to end racism and to strengthen families in the Chicago area.

Cardinal Francis George and Imam Deen Mohammed made their joint appeal Monday before nearly 600 invited guests in the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Auditorium, adjacent to Holy Name Cathedral.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Cardinal George challenged audience members to befriend their Catholic and Muslim neighbors, dismantle stereotypes and become catalysts for social change. He also said people must work together to change the patterns of housing in Chicago that entrench segregation and racism.

Mohammed echoed the cardinal’s appeal, calling all faiths to work toward the same goals.

This joint appeal came after nearly seven years of dialogue between Chicago Catholics and Muslims. The two leaders first met in 1998. Shortly thereafter, a dialogue between Mohammed's non-profit organization, The Mosque Cares, and the archdiocese began.

In the late 1990s, Mohammed also approached the Catholic Focolare movement, which seeks to promote unity among Catholics and other world religions. As his relationship with Focolare grew, Mohammed accepted an invitation, issued by Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore, to meet Pope John Paul II.

Mohammed recalled his meeting with the pontiff and the blessing the Pope gave his effort to improve relations between Catholics and Muslims.

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U.S. Church must reexamine stance on nuclear deterrence, says Catholic peace activist

Washington D.C., Jul 27, 2005 (CNA) - The Catholic Church in the United States should reexamine the nation’s strategy of nuclear deterrence and directly challenge the current administration’s defense strategy that has integrated nuclear weapons in its “Global Strike” option, says the executive director of the national Catholic peace movement Pax Christi USA.

In an article published July 29 in the National Catholic Reporter, Dave Robinson says the Church in the U.S. should follow the lead that the Vatican set on the issue of nuclear deterrence two months ago.

Robinson reports that the Vatican’s ambassador to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, called into question the morality of nuclear deterrence in his May address to delegates at the Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“When the Holy See expressed its limited acceptance of nuclear deterrence during the Cold War, it was with the clearly stated condition that deterrence was only a step on the way toward progressive nuclear disarmament,” Archbishop Migliore reportedly said.

“The Holy See has never countenanced nuclear deterrence as a permanent measure, nor does it today when it is evident that nuclear deterrence drives the development of ever newer nuclear arms, thus preventing genuine nuclear disarmament,” the archbishop continued.

While the Church has always condemed the use of nuclear weapons, it had allowed for the possession of them as a deterrent. However, nuclear disarmament did not proceed as expected after the collapse of communism more than a decade ago.

The archbishop’s intervention, Robinson says, is “a dramatic step that signals a sea of change in Catholic moral teaching on nuclear weapons” and “the first time since the early 1980s that it has challenged the very morality of deterrence itself.”

Over the years, Robinson says, the U.S. bishops have repeatedly cautioned against the use of nuclear weapons and stated that their possession could only be justified as a deterrent. But Robinson is hoping that Archbishop Migliore’s statement may prod the U.S. bishops to take the issue one step further and reexamine “the whole strategy of nuclear deterrence and directly challenge this administration’s plans.”

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Protestant extremists attack Catholic churches in Ireland

Ballymena, Northern Ireland, Jul 27, 2005 (CNA) - Tuesday saw what police have called a wave of intimidation attacks against Catholics in and around Ballymena, a mostly Protestant town northwest of Belfast.

The Associated Press reported that Protestant extremists planted a homemade grenade outside a Catholic family's home in Ballymena. The bomb detonated, causing minor damage. Arsonists badly damaged one Catholic-run pub in the village of Martinstown, and caused minor fire damage to the outside of another pub in nearby Rasharkin with two gasoline-filled bottles. In addition, two Catholic churches in Ballymena were vandalized with paint-filled balloons and painted-on anti-Catholic slogans.

No injuries were reported.

Catholic leaders reportedly appealed to the area's Protestant politicians to do more to stop the extremists.

Over the past 35 years of conflict in Northern Ireland, outlawed Protestant paramilitary groups, such as the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force, have threatened Catholics who live in or near Protestant areas despite a 1994 ceasefire and Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace accord.

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Bolivia celebrates week of “the truth” about AIDS

La Paz, Bolivia, Jul 27, 2005 (CNA) - Pro-life groups are meeting this week in Cochabamba, Bolivia, for week-long event on “The Truth about HIV-AIDS,” organized by the New Evangelization Apostolate.

Among the objectives of the gathering is to show through scientific studies the failure of various AIDS awareness campaigns that have focused on mass-distribution of contraceptions, and to emphasize the need for promoting chastity, charity and community, as well as abstinence and fidelity, as the basis for adolescent sexual education.

Those speaking at the event include Dr. Pedro Perez Cardenas, Director of the Anti-AIDS Independent Committee (Spain); Dr. Ronald Sanchez Carranza of the University of St. Simon, as well as Father Miguel Manzanera, SJ, Director of the Institute on Bioethics of the Catholic University of Bolivia.

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African bishop thanks Pope for donation to drought victims

Niamey, Niger, Jul 27, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Michel Christian Cartateguy of Niamey, Nigeria, expressed his thanks to Pope Benedict XVI this week for the donation made in his name by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum for those suffering from the drought and hunger that is affecting that African country.

“I wish to thank the Holy Father who has sent us an important donation through Cor Unum,” Bishop Cartateguy told the Fides news agency.

The bishop noted the work and assistance that other Catholic organizations and other countries have provided in order to address the problem of the drought.  He added that the help “has been pouring in during recent days” and that it has given “ray of hope to the people.”

“With the return of the rain season, the harvest is expected in October or November, and therefore the assistance that will be sent to Nigeria in these next few months to help the people is vital,” Bishop Cartateguy noted.

A recent report by the UN warned that in Nigeria, 800,000 children are suffering from famine, while more than 150,000 are suffering from serious malnutrition and are in danger of dying.  The report also indicated that of the 12 million inhabitants in the country, 4 million are in danger of starvation.

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