Rome, Italy, Aug 26, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI could travel to Poland in 2006, in a declaration from Bishop Kazimierz Nycz, to oversee the Polish Episcopal encounter in Czestochowa.
Bishop Nycz declared “the Polish Bishops invited Benedict XVI immediately after his election . The Bishops got an answer from the Pontiff saying he will make the pilgrimage next year.”
The close collaborators of the Pope “received orders to prepare this trip” he added, without any specifications or details on the visit. End of April, Polish head of State Alexander Kwasniewski had already officially invited Benedict XVI to visit the mother land of his predecessor John Paul II.”
“It would serve as an homage of all of us to John Paul II” who died on April 2nd”, “ a symbolic event of an other dimension. Today we have a representative of a neighboring country, Germany, at the head of the Church, a country with which through centuries of strenuous relations, we reconciled to build together a united Europe.”
On August 19, during a briefing for reporters at World Youth Day ceremonies in Cologne, papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that there were no plans in place for future papal trips abroad, but that some events could be set on Pope Benedict's schedule in the near future.
Rome, Italy, Aug 26, 2005 (CNA) - Dispute between Israel and the Vatican over recent comments the Pope made on terrorism appears to have been resolved after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI calling him "a true friend of Israel," Israel's ambassador to the Vatican said Friday.
Israel's top diplomat at the Holy See, Oded Ben Hur, brought the letter Tuesday to the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, in what Ben Hur called an "amicable and intimate" meeting that signaled that "we definitely see this thing behind us and are looking forward to improving our relationship.
The dispute began in July, when Israel summoned the Vatican envoy to complain that Benedict had "deliberately failed" to include a July 12 suicide bombing in Netanya when he listed countries recently hit by terrorist attacks, including Egypt, Britain, Turkey and Iraq.
In his letter, Sharon said Benedict's efforts to promote dialogue with Jews and Israel made him "a true friend of Israel, genuinely committed to advancing tolerance, understanding and reconciliation," Ben Hur said in a phone interview, reading from the letter. He said Sharon then explained the reasons for his country's reaction to the omission.
"Israel has been devastated and victimized by terrorism and we are very sensitive to any attempt to distinguish between Islamic terrorism which systematically targets innocent Israeli civilians and that which is aimed at citizens of other countries," the ambassador quoted the letter as saying.
Sodano expressed his satisfaction with the letter during Tuesday's meeting, saying that both sides had made mistakes and that he was happy to put the issue behind him.”
Ben Hur said the Vatican said the omission of Israel on the list was unintentional and the result of hastily prepared remarks.
Ben Hur confirmed that Israel's two chief rabbis will meet with the pope Sept. 15, although he said the meeting has been in the works for some time and was due to coincide with commemorations marking the 40th anniversary of the Vatican's Nostra Aetate declaration that revolutionized its relations with Jews.
Washington D.C., Aug 26, 2005 (CNA) - The U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference (USCCB) has announced that a Vatican delegation will begin an Apostolic Visitation of U.S. seminaries and houses of formation around the country, seeking to ensure proper training of high-caliber candidates for priestly and religious life.
The Holy Sees’ Congregation for Catholic Education, along with the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life is organizing the effort, which will assess some 229 schools of theology, college-level seminaries, houses of formation, and academic institutions that form future priests.
Archbishop of Military Services, Edwin O’Brien, who is heading the visitation process, said he is “confident that this Apostolic Visitation will assist us in promoting the highest standards of formation necessary to bring forth qualified men for priestly ordination.”
The USCCB noted that the two-fold objective for the visits will be to, first, “examine the criteria for admission of candidates and the programs of human formation and spiritual formation aimed at ensuring that they can faithfully live chastely for the Kingdom;” and second, “to examine other aspects of priestly formation in the United States.”
“Particular attention”, they said, “will be reserved for the intellectual formation of seminarians, to examine fidelity to the Magisterium, especially in the field of moral theology, in the light of Veritatis Splendor (the 1993 encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II, ‘The Splendor of the Truth’).”
Monsignor Maniscalco, a spokesman for the USCCB committee on priestly formation, reiterated that the group will be looking at the intellectual and spiritual formation programs--especially in the field of moral theology--which will best help in preparing qualified, young men for the priesthood.
He told CNA that, while he believes that the nation's seminaries are doing a good job, as "with anything, we can always improve."
The Congregation, he added, will be looking at the criteria of formation programs which "help young men be faithful to the commitments of priesthood;" commitments, he said, which "can be very challenging."
The visits will be conducted by 117 bishops and seminary personnel appointed by the Congregation for Catholic Education.
The group plans to have completed the process by the end of the 2005-2006 academic year. The Apostolic Visitation is the first such effort to take place in U.S. seminaries and formation houses since the 1980’s.
Ottawa, Canada, Aug 26, 2005 (CNA) - A Canadian woman who grew up in a homosexual household in Toronto in the 60s and 70s says same-sex marriage does not respect or protect the rights and best interests of children.
Dawn Stefanowicz said as a child she was at high risk of exposure to contagious STDs due to sexual molestation, her father's high-risk sexual behaviors, and multiple partners. She shared her personal story and her position on same-sex marriage in a statement at a pro-family rally in Ottawa on Parliament Hill in April.
Her father, who was molested by older males as a child, lived with depression, control issues, anger outbursts, suicidal tendencies and sexual compulsions. He died of AIDS in 1991.
Stefanowicz, who cared deeply for her father, noted that growing up in a gay household exposed her to "bathhouse sex, cross-dressing, sodomy, pornography, gay nudity, lesbianism, bisexuality, minor recruitment, voyeurism, and exhibitionism.” In addition, she said, "Sadomasochism was alluded to and aspects demonstrated. Alcohol and drugs were often contributing factors to lower inhibitions in my father's relationships."
After two decades of exposure to these behaviors, she became insecure, depressed, suicidal and confused over her own sexuality.
“I did not see the value of biological complementing differences of male and female or think about marriage. I made vows to never have children since I had not grown up in a safe, sacrificial, child-centered home environment,” she said.
“I can tell you that I suffered long term in this situation and this has been professionally documented … I witnessed that every other family member suffered severely as well … My gender identity, psychological well being, and peer relationships were affected.”
According to Stefanowicz, children should not be subjected to such an environment. "Same-sex marriage will put the human rights of the individual in a higher place than what is best for society, families and especially children."
Stefanowicz says her experience is not that uncommon. She said research and personal testimonies indicate that children do best with both a mother and a father in a lifelong marriage bond. “Children need responsible monogamous parents who have no extramarital sexual partners. Parental promiscuity, abuse and divorce are not good for children.
“Children need consistent appropriate boundaries and secure expressions of emotional intimacy that are not sexualized in the home and community,” she wrote.
In addition, legalized same-sex marriage will provide “a direct legal entranceway of indoctrination, desensitization, personal and political recruitment of our vulnerable children by some gay activists within our schools while silencing all students who oppose the gay agenda.
“We have an obligation, for the sake of our children, to speak freely and to direct the laws of our land,” she wrote.
Stefanowicz is currently writing her biography, soon to be published.
For her full statement, go to: http://www.citizenimpact.ca/issues/defn_marriage/ssm_children.html
Chicago, Ill., Aug 26, 2005 (CNA) - A new book on Blessed Mother Teresa is the first to examine the meaning of her life in light of her personal letters that were uncovered after her death.
Publishers say that "A Revolution of Love: The Meaning of Mother Teresa" by David Scott not only expels doubts about her worthiness as a saint, but also explains her relevance in this period of history.
Scott, an associate of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and contributing editor of Godspy.com, considers the significance of her early life, including the murder of her activist father, her separation from her mother and her quiet years as a teaching nun.
He details her recently revealed mystical visions and the events that led to Mother Teresa's difficult decision to work with the poor and the dying. He also quotes from her dark years, when the visitations ceased.
Citing examples of Mother Teresa's ministry, Scott relays her profound messages on the dignity of every person, the natural condition of human holiness, the transcendent nature of the Eucharist, the importance of love in the home, and the strength of a smile.
Scott is former editor of Our Sunday Visitor. His other books include The Catholic Passion: Rediscovering the Power and Beauty of the Faith.
"A Revolution of Love: The Meaning of Mother Teresa" is available at Loyola Press for $18.95.”
Vatican City, Aug 26, 2005 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II, who was shot at in 1981 and survived though with many health problems, was “an authentic martyred Pope,” said the editor-in-chief of the Vatincan’s daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
Mario Agnes told an annual pro-Catholic political meeting recently that the stones in St. Peter's Square where John Paul's blood was shed should be preserved.
"These stones of St. Peter's Square where a bit of John Paul II's blood fell may be merited, and certainly merit being preserved as a historic document, because there fell the blood of an authentic martyred pope, hit in the full of his physical vitality, victim of an attack," he was quoted as saying by ANSA.
"The fact that he didn't die doesn't mean he wasn't a martyr," Agnes said.
The question of Pope John Paul II’s martyrdom emerged after Pope Benedict XVI announced May 13 that the late pontiff was being put on the fast track to sainthood. If declared a martyr, a miracle after his death would not be necessary for his beatification. A miracle would still be required, however, for his canonization.
Church officials had initially rejected the suggestion since John Paul lived for 24 years after the assassination attempt. However, some Vatican officials are no longer so reluctant to the idea.
Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, reportedly said last month it was up to theological experts to decide if the assassination attempt, as well as his long, public suffering before he died, warranted a declaration of martyrdom.
Boston, Mass., Aug 26, 2005 (CNA) - A new television series about the joys and challenges of the priesthood, based on the experience of 12 Boston-area priests, is set to launch the fall line-up on Boston Catholic Television (BCTV) next month.
“Feed My Sheep” features priests at different stages in their ministry. Some are recently ordained, others are long-time priests, still others are nearing retirement. Some priests will share their experience ministering in the city, while others will reflect on their suburban parish experience.
The program includes the question-and-answer format. BCTV's director, Fr. Robert Reed, asked the priests 12 questions on the station’s “Daily Mass” chapel set.
"Feed My Sheep" will run from Sept. 6 through February. It will air weekly on Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m., Thursdays at 6 p.m., Fridays at 11:30 a.m., Saturdays at 9 p.m., and Sundays at 1 p.m.
, Aug 26, 2005 (CNA) - Two U.S. dioceses surpassed their annual fundraising goals and collected record amounts in 2005.
The Diocese of Bridgeport, CT, raised a record $10.6 million, and the Diocese of Arlington raised more than $6.3 million.
The Diocese of Bridgeport had set its goal at $10 million. According to officials, 75 of its 87 parishes in Fairfield County met or exceeded their fundraising goals. The average gift was $392.
These funds support a range of programs, including Catholic schools and religious education programs, ministries, new vocations, chaplains, the Safe Environments program and Catholic Charities.
In Arlington, the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal surpassed the $6.24 million raised in 2001. Last year, the appeal only collected $4.8 million from 25,000 families. This year, 31,000 families in 67 parishes participated.
"This unprecedented outpouring of generosity from the faithful of our diocese will bolster our efforts to serve our communities through Catholic education, outreach to the underprivileged in our midst, and ministry to our ever-growing and diverse Church of Arlington," said Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington.
In addition, the appeal supports youth ministry, seminarians in their study for the priesthood, and Catholic Charities.
On average more 12,000 Catholics are joining the Diocese of Arlington each year. Some parishes receive more than 30 new families per month. The number of registered Catholics has increased 42 percent over the past decade to over 400,000 members.
Chicago, Ill., Aug 26, 2005 (CNA) - Yet another Catholic school has planned to feature a pro-abortion speaker at a large-scale public event. The Women's Council of St. Ignatius College Prep will feature pro-abortion Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan at its 7th Annual Women's Council Dinner Sept. 22.
Matt C. Abbott, a Catholic journalist and commentator from Illinois, reported that there was a scandal in 2004 surrounding another Chicago-area Catholic institution, Loyola University Chicago School of Law ,which had honored Madigan with an award.
Despite pleas from concerned Christians and even from Cardinal Francis George, Loyola refused to cancel the award, Abbott reported.
According to Abbott, “Madigan once pledged to close down Illinois crisis pregnancy centers, which she deems "phony", because they do not offer abortions.”
Pro-lifers are urged to contact St. Ignatius College Prep president Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ, to voice their concerns at [email protected]
The Pro-Life Action League is planning a protest of the Sept. 22 event. For information, go to: www.prolifeaction.org
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 26, 2005 (CNA) - In a six-paragraph letter sent to the Permanent Committee of the Argentine Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Juan Carlos Maccarone, who resigned this week after a video tape surfaced of the bishop engaged in a homosexual act with a 23 year-old man, apologized for the incident and said extortion was behind the scandal.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires read the letter aloud to the 30 bishops that make up the Committee.
“I owe you all much,” Bishop Maccarone wrote. “I wish to say to you as brothers that despite this incident, my life has not been a lie. I have always obeyed the Church since my days as a seminarian and I have accomplished things I never imagined for my priestly life,” he said.
“Out of obedience,” the letter continues, “I accepted the episcopate and the different destinations in which I was to exercise it. Likewise I accepted without question the extraordinary tasks that the bishops entrusted to me.”
According to Bishop Maccarone, the incident that led to his resignation was organized as part of an extortion plan in order to “take advantage of my good will, and as a consequence it has damaged my moral credibility and my authority.”
Acknowledging his own responsibility for the scandal, the bishop said he was “very saddened” by the incident and asked his brother bishops for mercy and forgiveness.
“And thus my other feeling or state of mind as a result of the painful moment I am experiencing is one of great liberation from the anguish that this incident has caused me.”
In conclusion, Bishop Maccarone writes, “I dearly love the Church in Santiago and Santiago del Estero, and I was committed to serving them the best that I could. They deserve a good shepherd soon, as in the Church there is a bastion against the powerful and against injustice, against which we struggle with the priests and the faithful, with the religious and with men and women of good will, even at the risk of their own lives. This stance has a cost, like what is happening with this painful situation.”
Sydney, Australia, Aug 26, 2005 (CNA) - Dozens of university students in Australia have already come forth and offered to volunteer for World Youth Day 2008, saying they are confident the event will be a success.
Critics of the decision to hold the event in Sydney have said it will be too costly, but students responded by offering their complete support. ““On behalf of hundreds of university and TAFE students from across Australia, I am guaranteeing our support and pledging volunteers to help make this a reality,” said Daniel Hill, president of the Australian Catholic Students Association (ACSA) and who was in Rome for World Youth Day 2000 (WYD). He said he had already received phone calls from university students enthusiastic to volunteer.
Australian young people who traveled to Cologne for WYD 2005 hope the event will bring renewal to the Church in their country. ”WYD rejuvenated my faith and put me in contact with Catholics from all over the world,” said Annalise Wurtsthorn, a 24 year-old student at La Trobe University in Melbourne. “Australia will benefit from the energy of the pilgrims, their enthusiasm, gratitude and excitement and the opportunity to give hospitality and welcome to hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from overseas”
John Smyth, who attends Monash University in Melbourne, said, “The mood over here is just awesome, unbelievable. There is a real optimism that WYD Sydney 2008 will change the face of the Church in Australia forever. We’ve been out partying every night since the news and we can’t wait to get back and join other Aussie students at the September 4th celebrations.”
Only about 200,000 pilgrims are expected to fly into Australia in 2008 due to the long distances between most capitals and Sydney.
The WYD cross, which was damaged by wind in Cologne, will probably be refurnished or replaced by a new one in order to begin its journey through the different churches and parishes on the way to Sydney.
According to Sandra Nori, Minister of Tourism for New South Wales, WYD could bring more visitors than the 2000 Olympics did. Chris Brown, chief of the Department of Tourism and Transportation, said, “With luck we’ll all end up richer, both financially and spiritually.”
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the decision to celebrate WYD in his country was "a great compliment to Australia, a great compliment to Sydney and very importantly a great compliment to Australia's Catholic community".
La Crosse, Wisc., Aug 26, 2005 (CNA) - In accordance with a 2004 meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Lacrosse Wisconsin’s Bishop Jerome Listecki has instituted what his diocese calls a “policy of prudence” for speakers in Catholic churches--a move that is earning praise from some Catholic leaders.
According to the Diocese of LaCrosse, the new policy requires a potential speaker to submit a curriculum vitae to the bishop showing that he or she is in good standing with the Church. This would include, if applicable, a mandate for college and university professors and permission from their bishop, if a cleric, to celebrate the sacraments outside their diocese.
Bishop Listecki will review the documentation of all potential speakers on diocesan property.
“When we provide a forum for a speaker within our parishes or schools,” he said in a letter to the diocese, “the faithful have the right to expect that what they hear will be consonant with the teaching of the Church, and with the pastoral direction of the Diocese.”
In an interview with CNA, Diocesan Chancellor Benedict Nguyen said that “the idea behind the policy was to avoid difficult or embarrassing situations with speakers.”
Often, he said, “if something were to go wrong with a speaker, we’d usually find out after the person was already booked.”
He also pointed out that the policy is not one of censorship, but one that “allows the Bishop to exercise his canonical authority.” Asking speakers in Catholic churches to be in line with Catholic teaching, he said, “is not unusual.”
Fr. Frank Pavone, president of Priests for Life said Wednesday that he “thanks Bishop Listecki for exercising vigilance in the matter of the positions of speakers at Catholic events. When this relates to abortion, it is about more than defending the integrity of Catholic teaching. It's about opposing an act of violence that cuts across and transcends all religious beliefs.”
Bishop Listecki added that “As the Chief Shepherd of souls within the Diocese of La Crosse, the law of the Church obliges me ‘firmly to defend the integrity and unity of the faith to be believed’… As part of the fulfillment of this duty, it is important that I assist the pastors and those with pastoral authority in the Diocese to insure that guest speakers who come to teach the Catholic faithful do so with fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church.”
Recently, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix instituted a similar policy which disallows certain speakers from Catholic churches who publicly oppose fundamental Catholic teaching on issues like abortion and sexuality.
Nguyen commended Bishop Olmsted on his stance and said that similar policies are arising in dioceses across the country. He noted that LaCrosse’s is based largely on a similar policy in the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia.
Bishop Olmsted in a recent editorial in the Arizona Republic said: “Why would we honor or give a platform to someone who radically disagrees with our fundamental teachings? We should instead be criticized if we allowed such things to happen.”