Archive of September 13, 2005

China confirms it will not let Bishop travel, sets conditions to renew relations with Vatican

Rome, Italy, Sep 13, 2005 (CNA) - The spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Secretary Qin Gang confirmed that his government has not granted permission to four bishops to travel to Rome, to participate to the Synod of Bishops, and subsequently worded three conditions in order to reestablish formal relations with the Holy See.

“Three premises have to be honored. The Vatican has to suspend diplomatic relations with Taiwan, recognize China  as a State with legitimate sovereignty, and not intervene in Chinese domestic affairs” Gang said.

The Holy Father invited three bishops, members of the Patriotic Catholic Association controlled by the government and one from the underground Church, loyal to the Vatican. The numbers were disclosed  last week, published along the other members from around the world.

According to the official news agency Xinhua, the government had already said it wouldn’t let the bishops travel, prior to the Vatican invitation.

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Have courage to commit to peace and dialogue, says Pope

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2005 (CNA) - In a letter sent today by way of Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, Pope Benedict XVI told participants of the 19th 'International Meeting on Men and Religious' to commit themselves courageously to peace and dialogue, "which alone can enable the future of the planet to be planned with hope."

The theme of the gathering, being held in Lyon, France, is "The courage to forge a spiritual humanism of peace." It is being sponsored by the Rome-based Sant'Egidio Community.

In the message, addressed to Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Sodano writes that the Holy Father "eagerly unites himself through prayer with all the people gathered to reflect and pray for peace and for friendship among peoples."

He asks, the letter continues, "the men and women of our time, especially the young, to have the courage to commit themselves ever more actively in favor of peace and dialogue, which alone can enable the future of the planet to be planned with hope. Violence, whatever form it takes, cannot be the way to resolve conflicts; it places a heavy mortgage on the future and respects neither individuals nor peoples."

The Pope concluded his text expressing the hope "that the men and women of today may implore the gift of peace from God, trusting in Christ's promise: 'peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.' Thus, may they be able to accept all the requirements of peace, and become founders of peace."

The 50,000 member Community of Sant'Egidio is a movement of lay people, founded in Rome in 1968, which is committed to evangelization and charity in Italy and around the globe.

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Religion-media expert says for some evolution debate journalists, fairness does not apply

, Sep 13, 2005 (CNA) - In the ongoing debate over intelligent design and evolution (in its many forms), a new article in the Columbia Journalism Review is raising some eyebrows with its suggestion that when it comes to evolution, journalistic fairness may not apply.

Terry Mattingly, religion writer for the Scripps-Howard News Service wrote yesterday on his web log,, that the piece, entitled ‘Undoing Darwinism’, argues that “American journalists must stop acting as if there is any kind of scientific argument left to cover related to Darwinism.”

“Thus,” he says, “’fairness’ does not apply, since there are no critics of Darwinian orthodoxy worthy of being treated fairly.”

According to Mattingly, the article seems to suggest that “all the critics are religious nuts and there is no need to take their claims seriously or present their arguments accurately.”

In the article, which appears in the September issue of CJR, authors Chris Mooney and Matthew C. Nisbet ask, “So what is a good editor to do about the very real collision between a scientific consensus and a pseudo-scientific movement that opposes the basis of that consensus?”

“At the very least,” they write, “newspaper editors should think twice about assigning reporters who are fresh to the evolution issue and allowing them to default to the typical strategy frame, carefully balancing “both sides” of the issue in order to file a story on time and get around sorting through the legitimacy of the competing claims.”

“Mooney and Nisbet”, Mattingly points out, “are arguing that the position that newspapers should advocate goes go even further than the language now being used and defended by the National Association of Biology Teachers.”

Blurring lines

Mattingly claims that the divide between faith, science and philosophy is not is clear cut as many may like it to be.

“Many”, he says, “openly argue that Darwinism supports atheism or some form of deism. People on the other side — the Intelligent Design crowd — are trying to use the same sequence, arguing by data and logic for a philosophical position (that evidence points to a Creator) that cannot be proven in a lab…we see this science/ logic/philosophy sequence.”

“However, it seems that CJR is saying that newspapers must protect the public from this debate over philosophy and science.”

Earlier in the summer, Vienna Cardinal Christof Schoenborn stated in a New York Times editorial that so-called Neo Darwinian theories are incompatible with the teaching of the Catholic Church.

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

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

This unleashed a firestorm of controversy regarding the Catholic Church’s true position on evolution, which some experts say, had been somewhat misaligned for years.

Dr. Michael Behe, professor at Lehigh University and one of the nations leading scholars on intelligent design told CNA in July that the Cardinal’s piece was a “much needed clarification” of the Church’s position.

Nevertheless, editorials and commentaries flooded newspaper pages and radio waves in the following weeks, many of which suggesting that the Church and intelligent-design minded people were horribly behind the times and a determent to the scientific community.

Mattingly however, points out that it would “help if these same newspapers demonstrated that many of the Darwinian authorities cannot agree on what the word ‘Darwinism’ means and to what degree Darwinism does or does not ‘prove’ that humanity is the result of a random and meaningless process that did not have humanity in mind.”

Rather than tackle the debate head on, he thinks that the CJR’s suggested strategy is “a quick and easy way to further weaken the newspaper industry.”

“I do not”, writes Mattingly, “think that this is what most editors want to do.”

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Pope hopes to visit hometown in 2006

Castelgandolfo, Italy, Sep 13, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI received in a private audience this week a group of old friends and acquaintances of the city of Pentling, where he lived for several years, and although he did not mention a specific date, he assured them he would visit the German city of Ratisbona in 2006, as well as the city of Pentling and his childhood home.

The Holy Father met with representatives of Pentling’s city council as well as other residents of the city in the Vatican’s Swiss Hall.  Father Wolfgang Beinert, professor at the University of Regensburg and old friend and colleague of the Pope, said he had been preparing the entire year for this trip to Rome, even before anyone imagined that his old friend would be elected Pontiff.

A joyous Pope Benedict spent two and half hours with the guests, recalling his days in Pentling and even reminiscing about the pets of his old neighbor, Rupert Hofbauer.

The mayor, Albert Rummel, presented the Pope with a painting of his old home, “so that when your Holiness feels nostalgia, you can glance at it.”  “I feel very proud to be here today,” he added.

He also gave the Holy Father a book that was signed by all the citizens of Pentling offering their congratulations for his election as Pope, as well as pictures drawn the some of the town’s children, expressing their best wishes to the Pontiff.  The audience concluded with a Mass at which the Holy Father presided, accompanied by Father Beinert.

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Archbishop Gomez: God was not silent in Hurricane Katrina disaster

San Antonio, Texas, Sep 13, 2005 (CNA) - Although the horrors of Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the U.S. Gulf Coast two weeks ago, has become a source of despair and dismay for many, San Antonio Archbishop Jose Gomez is challenging his people to see the ever-present face of God in the midst of tragedy.

In a special editorial Saturday in the San Antonio Express-News, the Archbishop said that “When Hurricane Katrina was forcing its will on the cities and the people of Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana, it seemed that the only voice that could be heard was the roaring of an angry wind and the human cry for help.”

He described a “deafening silence” heard by many in the days following the storm and subsequent flooding which begged the question--repeated by many in the last two weeks--‘where was God?’

“God”, said the Archbishop, “was in the fearful mother driven only by her desire to protect her children. God was in the heroic acts of men and women who risked their lives, some losing them, to save those they loved and those they hardly knew.”

“God truly was present in Katrina,” he wrote, “even in the darkness it brought, allowing us to see how fragile life can be, and how, when the storm grew quiet, all that we ever had that truly mattered was him and each other.”

He stressed that “In the face of the devastation of Katrina, God was not silent. His voice has been heard in the welcoming words, embraces and hard work of literally thousands of people involved in restoring the lives of evacuees.”

Archbishop Gomez pointed to the Gospel of Matthew, specifically the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, in which “the disciples were concerned that they could not feed the thousands who had been listening to Jesus preach that day.”

“They wanted”, the Archbishop said, “to send them away, but Jesus told them, ‘There is no need to go away; give them some food yourselves‘…The disciples looked at how little they had but still did what he told them, and the miracle happened, and all were fed.”

“Today,” he wrote, “even in the face of our modest means, we have seen the miracle of healing begin as we listen to the voice of God and have given so much to our brothers and sisters of the storm. We have also been God's hands and his strength as we have fed the hungry, provided shelter to the homeless and comforted the mourning.”

As San Antonio--along with greater Texas and many other parts of the country--is flooded with displaced hurricane victims, the Archbishop wrote that, “The evacuees have become our neighbors. As a community, we must make sure that we continue the work God has begun in the wake of this terrible calamity. We cannot let this moment of grace, this opportunity for the outpouring of God's love and acceptance, to be tossed aside like yesterday's news.”

“The poor and suffering are here, even when the TV cameras aren't,” he challenged. “Let them hear God's voice in us, even when their needs are hidden in the monotony of tomorrow.”

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Catholic leaders to explore challenges, direction of Catholic education in America

Washington D.C., Sep 13, 2005 (CNA) - On Wednesday, Catholic school leaders and educators from around the nation will descend on Washington DC for a conference exploring the challenges and hopes for Catholic education--specifically in primary and high school years--in the face of a changing world.

Catholic University of America is sponsoring the event in conjunction with the Atlanta-based Solidarity Association founded by Catholic Philanthropist Frank Hanna.

Special guests and presenters for the conference will include Catholic University’s president, Very Reverend David M. O’Connell, CM, who will give a welcoming address along with Frank Hanna; and Archbishop J. Michael Miller, Secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, who will speak on the Holy See’s Teachings on Catholic Education.

Likewise, a panel discussion featuring Attorney David Brennan of Akron-based White Hat Management, who helped successfully pass Ohio’s School Voucher law and push it to the Supreme Court; Dr. John Convey, Provost of Catholic University and a prominent Catholic education consultant; and Mr. Francis X. Meier, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver, will be held on Wednesday afternoon.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington DC, will also be on hand to celebrate a closing Mass with participants in the nearby Crypt of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

Organizers say that the conference will bring together Catholic education leaders from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and members of the National Catholic Educational Association, as well as superintendents and heads of Catholic schools from around the DC-Baltimore area.

Likewise, numerous representatives from independent Catholic schools and the home-schooling arena will also be present.

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Catholic League calls for apology from Sen. Feinstein

, Sep 13, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic League president William Donohue has called Senator Dianne Feinstein’s remarks at the Sept. 12 hearings of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts “obscene” and has requested that the senator apologize to Catholics for her remark.

Feinstein said she was going to question Roberts on “the constitutional provision of providing for the separation of church and state.” As an example of religious persecution, she cited Jews who lost their lives in Budapest during the Holocaust. She said the tragedy “occurred in the name of religion.”

“At the time of the Holocaust, 67 percent of Hungary was Catholic, so we know who Senator Feinstein was blaming,” Donohue said in a written statement.

Donohue cited Rabbi David Dalin, author of the new book “The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis.”

In his book, Dalin writes about Jeno Levai, a great Hungarian-Jewish historian. Dalin says Levai “was so angered by accusations of papal ‘silence’” that he wrote “Hungarian Jewry and the Papacy: Pius XII Did Not Remain Silent” (1968). Robert M.W. Kempner, the deputy chief U.S. prosecutor at Nuremburg, wrote the introduction and epilogue of Levai’s book.

According to Dalin, Levai demonstrated how Catholic Church officials “intervened again and again on the instructions of the Pope,” so that “in the autumn and winter of 1944 there was practically no Catholic Church institution in Budapest where persecuted Jews did not find refuge.”

Donohue claimed that Feinstein’s remarks show “an appalling ignorance of the Holocaust.” In addition, Donohue continued, “she blames Catholics—the very ones who came to the rescue of Jews in Budapest—not Nazis.”

Finally, Donohue said, Feinstein “fails to understand that had the First Amendment provision on religious liberty been operative in Nazi Germany, Hitler would not have been able to use the power of the state to club Christianity.”

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Australian bishop warns against babies becoming ‘consumer products’

Sydney, Australia, Sep 13, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Anthony Fisher warned that babies could become “consumer products” within 10 years due to the mentality and technologies being promoted by the contraceptive and IVF industries, reported Cathnet Australia.

The auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Sydney was responding to comments by Stanford University emeritus professor Carl Djerassi. Djerassi designed the first oral contraceptive and was in Australia last week on a visit funded by the federal education body Australia Science Innovations.

Djerassi said human reproduction, which would be completely controlled by reproductive technologies and not dependent on sexual intercourse, might be as little as 10 years away.

He said he believes women would be "happy" to be sterilized after having their eggs frozen, knowing that they can be thawed, fertilized and implanted when they choose to have a child.

He also rejected the claim that the decline in fertility in many countries was due to the contraceptive pill.

Bishop Fisher said Djerassi’s prediction about a world where sexual intercourse is not related to the reproduction of children is possible because it is in the best interests of contraceptive and IVF industries.

"These entrepreneurs have been very successful in getting us to adopt a consumer mentality towards the body, sexuality and children," he said.

"The contraceptive manufacturers have taught people not to love their bodies, life and children but rather to fear their fertility, to withhold it even from their spouses, to cauterize it temporarily or permanently," the bishop reportedly said.

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Festival rallies community behind Catholic education

Jackson, Miss., Sep 13, 2005 (CNA) - St. John Catholic School principle William Devine hopes the community festival this past weekend has helped drum up support for Jackson-area Catholic schools.

"We want to bring the community together behind faith-based education, and by promoting it through the festival we can share something fun with the community,” Devine told reporter Jaclyn Roeschke.

Devine served as event chairman of the second Family Fall Festival. About 750 volunteers from the nine parishes and two Catholic schools were involved in organizing the three-day event, which was held from Friday to Sunday on the grounds of St. John’s School.

The festival included a carnival with more than 20 rides, casino games, a craft tent and bingo. About 30,000 people were expected to visit throughout the weekend. Entrance was free, but visitors paid for the rides and food.

Organizers said the proceeds would be split between the schools and parishes.

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Mexican bishops encourage generosity towards victims of Katrina

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 13, 2005 (CNA) - The bishops of Mexico have organized a collection for this Sunday, September 25, in order to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina in the United States.

Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Mexico has also opened an account to which those interested can make deposits that will in turn be sent to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick to help those affected by the hurricane.

Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Archbishop of Mexico City, expressed his confidence in the generosity of the Mexican people and said the assistance offered to the US by the Mexican government was “a very good sign.”

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Argentine bishop: preaching of the Good News should lead to conversion

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 13, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Luis T. Stöckler of Quilmes, Argentina, said this week the proclamation of the Good News should lead people to a conversion of heart and a change of habits.

The bishop warned that unfortunately fraternal correction has come to be seen as something uncomfortable and a source of tension, adding that both parties are tempted if the one who corrects remains quiet and the one being corrected refuses to listen.  “This happens not only in the public sphere, but in homes, friendships, the workplace and in diverse civil organizations.  Thus in order to avoid conflicts we try to justify being indifferent by appealing to the phrase: ‘It’s none of your business’.”

Bishop Stöckler noted it was unfortunate that people complain about others without having spoken with them first or having considered the teachings of Jesus regarding fraternal correction.

“First you must take this step, and only after should you go to the community.  We should always defend the good reputation of another and give him the opportunity to amend his life without his faults being revealed,” the bishop said.

Lastly, he encouraged Argentineans to not remain silent when someone commits serious sin, “because the Lord Jesus assures us that what we do here always has repercussions for eternal life.”

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Thousands march in Europe in defense rights of Belgium children

Brussels, Belgium, Sep 13, 2005 (CNA) - Thousands of pro-family activists marched through the streets of Brussels on Saturday demanding the Belgian government respect the rights of children to have a mother and a father.

In Spain, thousands gathered in front of the Belgium consulates in seven different cities, expressing solidarity with the march in Brussels.  In addition to Madrid, marches took place in Barcelona, Granada, Sevilla, Malaga, Mallorca and Tenerife.

After the marches, organizers read a statement affirming that “adoption should only be considered in the interest of the child” and “should be an instrument to provide the minor with something she has lost: a father and a mother.”  The statement also noted that “the interests of the child cannot be subordinated to the desires of adults.”  Organizers sent the statement to the Belgian ambassador in Spain and to the consulates in the other cities.

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