Vatican City, Sep 9, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican reconfirmed today that Pope Benedict XVI plans to canonize five blesseds and declare 26 beatifications later this month. Many see the act as a sign that the Pope shows no desire to slow down the canonization momentum started by Pope John Paul II, who canonized more saints than any pope in history.
On October 23, the same day as the closing of the worldwide Eucharistic Synod, the Pope will canonize: Blesseds Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, a Jesuit priest who died in 1952; Archbishop Jozef Bilczewski of Lviv of the Latins, who died in 1923; Sygmund Gorazdowski, a priest, and founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, who died in 1920; Gaetano Catanoso, a priest, and founder of the Congregation of the Veronica Sisters of the Holy Countenance, who died in 1963; and Felice da Nicosia, of the Friars Minor Capuchin. He died in 1787.
Pope Benedict broke with recent tradition earlier this year, returning to an older Church practice in which the Pope does not preside over beatification ceremonies himself.
He will continue this practice, which hasn’t been active since 1971, with the October 9th beatification of Servant of God Bishop Clemens August von Galen of Munster, Germany, a cardinal of Holy Roman Church, who died in 1946. The ceremony will take place at St. Peter’s Basilica.
On October 29th in the Basilica, the following Servants of God will be beatified: Jose Tapies Sirvant and six companions, priests, martyrs, who died in 1936 and Maria de los Angeles Ginard Martí, a professed religious of the Sisters Guardians of the Eucharistic Cult and a martyr who died in 1936.
On November 6th, in Vicenza, Italy, the beatification of Servant of God Eurosia Fabris, mother, of the Third Order of St. Francis who died in 1932 will take place.
On November 13th in St. Peter’s, three more Servants of God will be beatified. They include: Charles de Foucauld, a priest who died in 1916; Maria Pia Mastena, foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Holy Countenance who died in 1951; and Maria Crocifissa Curcio, founder of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus who died in 1957.
In Guadalajara, Mexico, on November 20, 13 Mexican martyrs will be beatified. They include: Servants of God Jose Trinidad Rangel--a priest; Andres Sola Molist, a priest of the Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and Leonardo Pérez, a layman, all of whom died in 1927.
Likewise, Dario Acosta Zurita, a priest who was martyred 1931; Anacleto Gonzalez Flores and seven companions--all martyrs; as well as Jose Sanchez del Rio--lay people who all lost their lives between 1927 and 1928 will be beatified in the ceremony.
According to Church teaching, the Pope cannot “make” someone a saint. Rather, the beatification and canonization process is simply a declaration that the person or persons in question were particularly holy, and the faithful may have confidence that they are in heaven.
Alexandria, Va., Sep 9, 2005 (CNA) - All Catholic Charities agencies, located across the country, have joined forces to launch Operation Home Away from Home, a program aimed at providing temporary housing for Hurricane Katrina evacuees.
The program assists evacuees in need of temporary accommodations with available housing across the country. Local Catholic Charities agencies in potential host cities are working to identify and screen available housing, place families in appropriate housing, and provide services to the evacuees as needed.
Appropriate housing includes unoccupied apartments, rental homes, duplexes, condominiums, lake cabins, or manufactured homes. The agency is not asking families to host evacuees in their homes. Evacuees will be housed and provided services until they are ready to return home or to resettle in the area.
As of yesterday, more than 60 Catholic Charities agencies across the country have identified housing opportunities in their local dioceses. Others have already begun to welcome evacuees arriving in their communities.
"Restoring and recognizing the dignity of the human person is at the heart of our efforts," said Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA. "In the weeks and months to come, this effort will assist families in rebuilding their lives with supportive services, including counseling, job services, and other needs until they are able to return home."
In Memphis, Catholic Charities, Inc. is assisting 110 evacuees at its St. Peter Home. The former residential facility for teenage girls, which was once shuttered, is now housing evacuees in individual cottages. The evacuees have been given clothing, toiletries, and other essentials.
Catholic Charities of Chicago is working with the Red Cross to house 200 evacuees. Currently, they are staying in hotels while the agency screens vacant archdiocesan property. To date, they have placed 60 people into available space on a campus of Maryville Academy, 40 people into Solace Place (a recently shuttered home for young men), and 20 people into a vacant suburban rectory. An additional 30 people who arrived on their own have been placed into existing transition homeless shelters.
Individuals, parishes, and corporations wishing to help are asked to contact their local Catholic Charities. For more information, go to: www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.
Washington D.C., Sep 9, 2005 (CNA) - An international conference on the moral implications of trade agreements came to a close yesterday. The two-day meeting, led by Catholic bishops, was attended by policymakers, legislators, economists and academics from 19 countries in the Western Hemisphere. Leaders of international financial institutions and other religious leaders also attended.
The theme of the Sept. 7-8 event was Trade, Growth, and Poverty Reduction: Public Policy, Moral Aspects and Social Justice. The conference, held at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, was organized on the heels of the contentious debate over the passage of the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
Cardinals Theodore McCarrick of Washington, Francis George of Chicago, and Oscar Rodriguez of Honduras led the conference and spoke on how trade agreements impact families, communities, workers, and farmers in their respective countries.
The conference was sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank and organized by the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Washington D.C., Sep 9, 2005 (CNA) - As the world continues to watch the horrible aftermath of Hurricane Katrina--which devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast--unfold, President George Bush has declared Friday, September 16th as a national day of prayer and remembrance for victims of the tragedy.
The president said yesterday that, “I ask that the people of the United States and places of worship mark this National Day of Prayer and Remembrance with memorial services and other appropriate observances. I also encourage all Americans to remember those who have suffered in the disaster by offering prayers and giving their hearts and homes for those who now, more than ever, need our compassion and our support.”
Many religious groups are applauding the announcement, including the National Clergy Council, who has been encouraging Bush to make the declaration since last week.
Rev. Rob Schenck, head of the group, which represents leaders of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches around the country, said that "Americans are overwhelmingly people of prayer and it is prayer that will get us through the worst of circumstances.”
He added that “The President is once again exercising the highest form of leadership by uniting the American people on the deepest level of our common life."
President Bush added that he wished to “offer thanks to God for the goodness and generosity of so many Americans who have come together to provide relief and bring hope to fellow citizens in need.”
“Our Nation”, he said, “is united in compassion for the victims and in resolve to overcome the tremendous loss that has come to America. We will strive together in this effort, and we will prevail through perseverance and prayer.”
Washington D.C., Sep 9, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday, the office of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he would veto a bill legalizing same sex marriage, saying that it was counter to the will of the people. Today, while gay-marriage advocates are up in arms, many pro-family groups are praising the governor’s decision.
Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America‘s Culture and Family Institute said that, "Gov. Schwarzenegger has done the right thing in promising to veto this illegal bill. It's evidence that CWA of California and other pro-family groups got their message through to him: 'We don't want counterfeit marriage.'"
"The California Constitution”, he added, “clearly states that the Legislature cannot overturn a Proposition vote unless they put another Proposition on the topic to the voters, who spoke loudly and clearly with Proposition 22 in 2000 that they want marriage to remain marriage.”
The passage of the AB 849 made the California state legislature the first such body in the country to legalize same-sex marriage without a court mandate.
Many pro-family groups had argued that the bill went counter to Proposition 22, which passed a statewide vote in 2000 with 61% of the population affirming that “Only marriage between a man and a woman be valid or recognized in California."
Gov. Schwarzenegger pointed out that the California State Constitution prohibits lawmakers from repealing or amending voter-approved initiatives.
Karen England of the Capital Resource Institute was also grateful for the move. "On behalf of families across the state of California,” she said, “Capitol Resource Institute wishes to express its gratitude to the governor for standing up for, not only the voters of California, but also for the timeless institution of marriage."
"Marriage is the foundation of the family and same-sex marriage discounts the well- established truth that children need both a mom and a dad," she said.
The bill passed the state senate last week with a 21-15 vote and the state assembly 41-35 on Tuesday.
A 2006 state ballot initiative is currently being drafted by some family groups which would seek to amend the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and woman.
Big Fork, Mont., Sep 9, 2005 (CNA) - On Sunday, parishioners in the tiny Montana town of Big Fork, will add something substantial to the worldwide Church. They will dedicate their new and long awaited church building, which, as far as they can tell, is the first in the world to be named after the late Pope John Paul II.
The new parish brings to fruition plans which began in 1992 to combine two small, local parishes into one 500-seat church.
Msgr. Donald Shea pastor of the church, told the Missoulian newspaper that "The dedication of this new parish church combines the churches of St. Ann in Somers and St. Catherine in Bigfork."
Groundbreaking for the $3.75 million church took place in May of 2004, and because the death of John Paul II happened during the construction process, parishioners decided that it be fitting for the late pontiff to become the parish’s namesake.
To his knowledge, Msgr. Shea told the Missoulian, the church is the first in the world to be named after the Polish-born pope, often referred to as, John Paul the Great.
Helena Bishop George Leo Thomas will preside over the dedication ceremony this Sunday in Big Fork.
Toronto, Canada, Sep 9, 2005 (CNA) - A new study indicates that stem cells made from human embryos are prone to serious genetic mutations associated with cancer.
The study was published in the Sept. 4 issue of Nature Genetics and reported in the press by CanWest. According to a team of scientists at John Hopkins University, led by Aravinda Chakravarti, the mutations are so serious that the cells will have to be carefully monitored and screened before being used to treat people.
The team compared the “genetic health” of different cell lines, which had been started at different times and which included some of the first cell lines created in 1998. They found that the more divisions the cells had undergone, the more mutations they had. The scientists described the mutations as those “commonly observed in human cancers.”
While previous studies suggested mutations were rare, CanWest reports that the new suggests claims that a steady supply of new cell lines will be needed to replace the old cell lines due to the mutations that occur when the cells divide.
This discovery may pose a dilemma for long-term embryonic stem-cell research and therapy in the United States, where President George W. Bush announced in 2001 that the government would only fund research on already existing stem-cell lines.
, Sep 9, 2005 (CNA) - Hong Kong is a safe haven for Catholics, according to Mgr John Tong Hon, Auxiliary Bishop of Hong Kong, in a report given on September 9 to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
"We enjoy religious freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of traveling," he said. Since the Chinese takeover of the territory in 1997, "there even have been improvements in visa regulations for missionaries from abroad. After 7 years in Hong Kong, they can apply for a permanent permit of residence. Before 1997, this was not the case."
Asked about the Church's missionary work in Hong Kong (which has about 6.8 million residents, some 370,000 of them Catholics), Bishop Tong stated: "I am quite optimistic. In recent years, our diocese had more than 4,000 newly baptised Catholics per year, including 2,000 adults.
Beijing's March 2005 decision to replace former Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa by Donald Tsang was a very intelligent step. Tung disappointed many people, in Hong Kong as well as in Beijing. While it is too early to predict Mr Tsang's political success now, I can say that he is a good and devout Catholic. We should pray for him."
With regard to Mainland China, Mgr Tong said: "Hosting the 2008 Olympic Games may help China to become more open. However, we should not expect too much from it. I would expect a little bit more of religious tolerance. Nowadays, even many party members in China do not believe in communism any more, they rather believe in money and themselves."
Hong Kong enjoys a special status within the People’s Republic of China, since it was ceded in 1997. It still holds free democratic elections, and enjoys freedom of speech, and religious freedom.
Milford, Mass., Sep 9, 2005 (CNA) - The Catholic faith community of St. Isidore Parish in rural but still-developing Milford Township, Pennsylvania, are enjoying their new and much-needed church that was six years in the making.
The new structure is nearly three times the size of their old structure, which was located in nearby Quakertown. The old church accommodated 400 people; the new building, which sits on about 46 acres, can hold up to 1,000.
The pastor, Fr. Fred Riegler, told The Intelligencer that the old church was no longer large enough for the rapidly growing congregation. In 1998, the parish had 6,000 members; that number is now above 8,000.
While St. Isidore's school remains at the old church campus, and the old church is still being used for various activities, Fr. Riegler told the newspaper that eventually all parish activities would be moved to the new campus.
The new church cost more than $5 million, and parishioners raised most of it. Parishioners were also involved in the design of the new church. They asked that most of the new building's statues and artwork, even its stained glass windows, come from the old church. As well, one parishioner made the cross that hangs behind the altar.
Washington D.C., Sep 9, 2005 (CNA) - Parishes, youth ministers, vocations directors and faith communities will soon have a new vocations-awareness and promotion tool at their fingertips. "You Could Make a Difference," a 17-minute vocation video and DVD, will be released this fall.
Producers say the short film is a great conversation-starter on the topic of vocations. It features four segments that illustrate how priests and religious can serve the needs of the Church.
"We need to keep the idea of a call to total commitment to the Church front and center as an option for Catholic young people,” said Bishop Blase Cupich, chairman of the bishops' vocations committee. “This video/DVD helps parish leaders do that."
The short film features two priests and three sisters.
Fr. Mike Schwarte in Petersburg, Alaska, is the pastor of two parishes separated by a glacier, and pilots a small plane between them. He tells a compelling story of personal conversion and reflects his delight in bringing the sacraments to the people.
Fr. Agustin Mateo, pastor of a Latin American parish in Washington, D.C., shares about life in an urban, multi-cultural parish, where Sunday means mass, religious education, and hospitality. He highlights the strength he draws from the congregation and his belief that he can face anything because God provides for whatever is humanly lacking in him.
Sr. Janet Gildea, MD, and Sr. Peggy Deneweth, RN, Sisters of Charity from Cincinnati, show life in the medical clinic they founded in El Paso, where they practice what they call "poverty medicine," resembling what the Charity sisters did in the pioneer days.
Sr. Mary Claudina Sanz, a member of the Oblates of St. Francis, directs the Mary Elizabeth Lange Center Baltimore, a home for troubled young women named for the Oblates' founder. She speaks of the girls from the program who go to college and return to help others.
The video/DVD was developed by the U.S. bishops' Department of Communications and funded by the Catholic Communication Campaign.
It is available in English and Spanish. The DVD costs $10; the video costs $15. It also includes a brief study guide, available online, to facilitate discussion.
For more on the video or order information, go to: www.usccb.org/vocations/
Rome, Italy, Sep 9, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Piergiorgio Debernardi of Pinerolo is calling on Brazilians to show forgiveness over the murder of Father Guiseppe Bessone, a priest of his diocese who was doing pastoral work in the Brazilian town of Blumenau.
The Fides news agency reported that in a statement, Bishop Debernardi asked Brazilians to be forgiving, as “Forgiveness heals, restores health and renews society. Without forgiveness there can be no future of justice.”
According to police, Father Bessone was murdered during the night on September 2 in his parish house by a 16 year-old boy who was staying at the residence, possibly during a robbery attempt.
Bishop Debernardi recalled Father Bessone as a “priest of unique humanity, totally dedicated to his ministry, loved by the people of his parish among whom succeeded in building a network of collaboration giving rise to a variety of ministries and services.”
Father Bessone was born in Bricherasio in 1943 and was ordained a priest on 25 June 1967. After exercising his ministry in Pinerolo for some years, in 1975 he set out for Brazil as a fidei donum priest to be assistant priest in Our Lady of Glory in Blumenau.