Archive of September 20, 2005

Holy See rejects accusations of harboring Croatian war criminal

Vatican City, Sep 20, 2005 (CNA) - The spokesman for the Holy See, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, and the Croatian Episcopal Conference both rejected the accusations of the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for Ex-Yougoslavia (TPIY), Carla del Ponte, of protecting alleged war criminals.

In an interview published by the British Daily Telegraph, Del Ponte declared that Croatian General Ante Gotovina, is hiding in a Franciscan monastery in Croatia and that the Catholic Church  and the Vatican refused to cooperate.” The Prosecutor said to be “extremely disappointed” for the Vatican’s silence, after months of secret dealings that all failed.

Before such declarations, the Vatican spokesman declared that “in the meeting held between Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Secretary for relations with States, and Carla del Ponte, in an attempt to  answer her requests  for information and more intervention, Mons. Lajolo  explained that the Secretary of State does not have the authority to collaborate institutionally with the international tribunal.”

Navarro-Valls added  that “ Archbishop Lajolo asked Mrs Del Ponte to provide indications with some precision upon which she suspected General Ante Gotovina  to have sought refuge  in religious buildings in Croatia, with which he could enter in contact with the appropriate ecclesiastical authorities. Mrs Del Ponte did not answer to Mons. Lajolo yet.

Croatian Episcopate rejects accusations.

On the other hand the Croatian Episcopal Conference (HBK) rejected the accusations of the prosecuter. The head of the press office of the institution, Anton Suljic, assured the press that “the leaders of the Catholic Church in Croatia didn’t have any knowledge, much less indications of where General Gotovina could be located“

Suljic criticized the frustration of the procurer in her investigations, that leads her to accuse without any base, the most high officials of the Holy See.”

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Civil unions in Italy should not be equated to marriage, says Cardinal Ruini

Rome, Italy, Sep 20, 2005 (CNA) - Cardinal Camillo Ruini conceded Monday that de facto unions are on the rise in Italy, but he does not believe most couples in these unions want legal recognition. Heterosexual couples are either looking to marry or to “remain in a situation of anonymity, without any bonds,” he said according to The Associated Press.

The cardinal was responding to the debate sparked in Italy on civil unions last week, when Romano Prodi, the center-left leader expected to run against Premier Silvio Berlusconi next year, had proposed giving legal status to unmarried couples.

Cardinal Ruini, president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, told a meeting of Italian bishops Monday that common-law status might be applied to offer some legal protection to unmarried heterosexual couples, but it should stop short of envisioning "something similar to a marriage."

According to the AP, the cardinal said proposals to give legal recognition to de facto couples “are largely modeled on the institution of marriage, and envisage what might be called a ‘small marriage’ — something of which there is no real need and which would produce, on the contrary, an eclipsing of the nature and value of a family and a very grave harm to the Italian people.”

The Pope’s vicar for Rome also defended traditional marriage and its "great social role" in raising children.

The cardinal added that homosexual and lesbian couples “are not always looking for legal recognition. On the contrary, many run away from it on principle and want to remain an exclusively private matter,” he was quoted as saying.

Church law already recognizes the "civil effects" of non-marital unions in providing child care, but distinguishes between civil unions and "the religious character and validity" of sacramental marriage, Msgr. Ronny Jenkins told the AP. Msgr. Jenkins teaches canon law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

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US government says pope immune from lawsuit

Vatican City, Sep 20, 2005 (CNA) - The US government, through the Assistant Attorney General Peter Keisler,  has told a Texas court that Pope Benedict XVI should be given immunity from a lawsuit accusing him of conspiring to cover up the sexual molestation of three boys by a seminarian, court documents show.

Assistant US Attorney General Peter Keisler said in Monday's filing that, as pope, Benedict enjoys immunity as the head of a state - the Vatican. Allowing the lawsuit to proceed would be "incompatible with the United States' foreign policy interests" he said.

There was no immediate ruling from Judge Lee Rosenthal of the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Houston, who has been presiding over the case. However, the Supreme Court has held that US courts are bound by such "suggestion of immunity" motions submitted by the government, Keisler's filing says.

In fact, a 1994 lawsuit against Pope John Paul II, also filed in Texas, was dismissed after the US government filed a similar motion.

The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was named as a defendant in a civil lawsuit by three boys who allege that a Colombian-born seminarian on assignment at St Francis de Sales church in Houston, Juan Carlos Patino-Arango, molested them during counseling sessions in the church in the mid-1990s.

Daniel Shea, lawyer for one of the three boys, has said that if the pope is granted immunity, he would challenge the constitutionality of the US diplomatic recognition of the Holy See on the grounds that it goes against the First Amendment's "establishment clause" that bars any laws respecting the establishment of religion.

However, legal experts said such a challenge would be difficult to win, in part because previous challenges have failed and because the United States has maintained diplomatic relations with the Vatican since 1984.

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Vatican to open museums, catacombs, share Christian history in celebration of European Heritage Day

Vatican City, Sep 20, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican announced today that it will once again take part in the annual "European Heritage Day", on September 25th, and will open all Vatican museums and Roman catacombs to the public for free that day.

The "European Heritage Days" celebration is a yearly initiative sponsored by the Council of Europe. This year, more than 40 countries will explore the theme: "Memory and Identity. The 'traditio ecclesiae' in intercultural dialogue."

According to the Vatican, programs are being prepared by the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church, the Vatican Museums, and the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology.

On the 25th itself, entrance to the Vatican Museums and to the catacombs of Rome will be free. Likewise, the Pio Christian Museum, part of the Vatican Museum system, will house an exhibition entitled: "The 'dogmatic' Sarcophagus, or the Sarcophagus 'of the two Testaments.' The burgeoning faith of the Church transmitted in images."

An exhibition will also be inaugurated in Rome's famed Catacombs of St. Calixtus that day entitled, "The 'traditio ecclesiae' in intercultural dialogue: reflections on the art of the catacombs." It will remain open until October 31.

Pope Benedict has spent considerable effort over recent months encouraging Europe to remember and return to its Christian roots. It is the Church and Christian culture, he has said, which helped made Europe great.

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Thousands witness annual Italian miracle of St. Januarius

Naples, Fla., Sep 20, 2005 (CNA) - Clergy, faithful, and even civic leaders were on hand Monday morning at Naples’ Cathedral to witness the centuries old occurrence--still unexplainable by scientists--of the liquefaction of martyr St. Januarius’ blood.

Thousands watched as Cardinal Michele Giordano announced the occurrence of the miracle at 7:56 GMT and held up a phial of the usually solid--now liquefied blood of the city’s patron Saint.

Yesterday’s occurrence marked the 1,700 year anniversary of St. Januarius’ martyrdom. He was beheaded by the Roman emperor Diocletian in 305 for refusing to bow down to his persecutors.

The miracle is said to occur three times throughout the year--something which many locals see as a sign of God’s closeness with the city.

On five particular occasions, the blood has failed to liquefy and each was shortly followed with disaster.

In 1527, for example, tens of thousands died from the plague, and in 1980, 3,000 people were killed in an earthquake which devastated much of southern Italy.

Naples Mayor Rosa Russo Jervolino, who was on hand to witness the event, is quoted in ANSA news saying that the miracle was "a sign that San Gennaro (St. Januarius) is still protecting our city. It was also a strong sign of hope and, I'd say, encouragement for everyone to work for the common good."

Scientists who have confirmed that the phials do indeed contain human blood have been unable--for 1,700 years--to explain the thrice yearly phenomenon.

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Bishop Wuerl says intelligent design has rightful place among modern ‘origin of man’ theories

Pittsburgh, Pa., Sep 20, 2005 (CNA) - Adding his voice to the still sticky evolution / intelligent design conversation, Pittsburgh Bishop Donald Wuerl, argued in a recent column in the Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper for the reasonableness of intelligent design, and the need for its rightful place in accepted theories for the origin of man.

For Bishop Wuerl, the crux of the problem is the either/or mentality which says that, “either everything as we know it was created as it is now by God in the beginning, or there was no creation or God of creation at all.”

Intelligent design, he says, is an appropriate middle ground.  In this, he says, “we recognize both God’s free creation of all that is and the possibility, or even probability, that creation carried within it the plan of development which we can call evolution.”

Bishop Wuerl cites the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, and his work, Physics, where in “his study as a natural philosopher and scientist, not unlike Darwin’s Origins of the Species except in its conclusion, Aristotle develops at length a reasoned explanation for what we find in the universe.”

“His logical inferences”, the Bishop writes, “lead to the conclusion that there is in the cosmos a design that requires an explanation beyond our limited natural world…Aristotle discusses what he considers to be an intrinsic part of the cosmos – teleology. Translated into the idiom of today what he is talking about is ‘purpose’ or as some would define it, intelligent design.”

Likewise, philosopher Plato, he says, “discusses at considerable length the ordering principle of which the world is constituted. More than one scholar of Plato recognizes his ‘ideas’ or ‘forms’ as the ideas in the mind of God.”

Using ancient and more recent forms of philosophy and reasoning, Bishop Wuerl says that “One can easily conclude from reason alone that there is intelligent design in the universe. Most people, in fact, have. You do not have to invoke religious faith to arrive at such a reasonable conclusion. However, with faith you can bring unimpeachable support to that same conclusion.”

Noting Saint Augustine, who suggested centuries ago, that “the six ‘days’ of creation could hardly have been solar days as we now know, for according to the account in Genesis, the sun was not made until the fourth ‘day’,” the Bishop points to the fact that the “structure and literary form of the creation narrative are there to help us grasp what God is teaching us about creation.”

“Revelation”, he said, “tells us that only God existed forever and that God made all things out of nothing…In the marvel of that wondrous creation, there is a whole array of realities all of which reflect the glory of God. What God created is good.”

A reasoned response

“One can very comfortably”, the Bishop concludes, “believe that God is the Creator, and also hold the theory that creation had within it the seeds of an evolutionary development that would take place over eons.”

He says that while it is the job of science to ascertain many of the details of the advancement of life on earth, the “light of reason and the human intellect” can easily discern that there is a purpose and a design behind our existence.

He echoes Vienna Cardinal Christof Shoenborn, who wrote in a New York Times op/ed piece earlier in the summer that while “Evolution in the sense of common ancestry may be true…evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense – an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection – is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.”

Continuing to make a case for intelligent design among other leading theories of the universe’s origin, the Bishop wrote that, “When we examine with the light of reason the origins of the cosmos and human life then we must be prepared to respond to all the reasonable, rational, intellectually sustainable theories.”

“Academia”, he said, “must never become arbitrarily exclusive of the conclusions of rational investigation.”

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Wisconsin parish plays vital role for new immigrants

Wautoma, Wis., Sep 20, 2005 (CNA) - The Catholic community of Wautoma in central Wisconsin, is further evidence that dioceses across the country, including rural areas, are increasingly multicultural and playing important roles in assisting new migrants.

At St. Joseph Parish in Wautoma, Sr. Pat Flanigan assists the pastor, Fr. Philip Dinh-Van-Thiep, and coordinates Hispanic ministries for the Diocese of Green Bay, reported The Monitor.

The parish gathers Anglos, Hispanics and Hmong refugees from Laos to form community and for prayer and worship. It also plays a major role in Wautoma's growing Hispanic population. The pastor is Vietnamese and speaks Spanish.

Both he and Sr. Flanigan provide faith education for the new immigrants, act as translators, offer clothing and food, help new immigrants learn about and integrate into the host community, and serve as links between the Hispanic and Anglo communities, reported the newspaper.

The parish also offers a Spanish-language Sunday mass, one of few Spanish masses offered in central Wisconsin. People drive as far as 50 miles to attend this mass.

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Tucson bishop, claimants’ lawyers praise judge in settlement talks

Tucson, Ariz., Sep 20, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson and lawyers involved in settlement talks regarding sexual-abuse claims have praised the judge who is leading the process for his firm and fair guidance and remarked on the amicable way in which talks are proceeding.

In fact, they’re proceeding so well that a resolution may be expected as early as today—remarkable, say bankruptcy experts. The Diocese of Tucson filed for bankruptcy only last year after receiving an overwhelming number of claims of clergy sex abuse.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James Marlar is leading the process. He had approved the diocese's Chapter 11 reorganization plan in July. The plan makes $22.2 million available to settle court-approved claims by 31 people.

Susan Boswell, the diocese's lead bankruptcy lawyer, told the Associated Press she hopes the settlement trust would be funded today. This would officially free the diocese from bankruptcy. The trust will provide initial payouts of up to $600,000 to the victims.

Boswell told the AP that the case could be resolved quickly because everyone wants fair treatment for the victims. The victims, in turn, are not looking to destroy the Church.

Bishop Kicanas agreed, saying the victims were focused on a fair and fast resolution to the case.

Lynne Cadigan, who had sued on behalf of many of the victims before the bankruptcy filing, told the AP she was impressed with Judge Marlar. "He treated the victims with complete respect in the courtroom, and spent more time than I've ever seen a judge spend, trying to address the concerns of the victims, whether they were legally valid or not," she was quoted as saying.

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October dedicated to prayer, adoration for those affected by Katrina

Jackson, Miss., Sep 20, 2005 (CNA) - Catholics in the Diocese of Jackson have been called to dedicate the month of October to prayer and eucharistic adoration for those affected by Hurricane Katrina and those helping in the relief efforts.

Bishop Joseph Latino asked parishes to organize ample opportunities for the faithful to pray before the Blessed Sacrament throughout the month, reported the Mississippi Catholic.

“We have been so heavily involved in relief efforts and many of us are getting stressed and frayed around the edges,” the bishop said. “A month dedicated to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament will help us draw strength to continue this vital task at this moment in our history as a church family.”

Since the storm hit Aug. 29, Catholic Charities, the diocesan chancery staff and parishioners have been working non-stop to bring much-needed survival supplies to devastated areas. The diocese has also become a temporary home to thousands of evacuees.

“It is time for us to come together as a Catholic community and worship our God – a God who not only is with us and has been with us during this horrific time of suffering, but also has been reflected to those suffering in the hearts and actions of all who have been ministering to them,” Bishop Latino said.

The month of prayer will conclude with mass Oct. 29 at 11 a.m., celebrated in several parishes throughout the diocese.

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Chilean cardinal hopeful about country’s future

Santiago, Chile, Sep 20, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santiago, Chile, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, said this week he was hopeful about the future of the South American country and he expressed thanks to God for the blessings Chile has received.

During the recitation of the Te Deum at the archdiocesan Cathedral to mark the country’s national holiday, Cardinal Errazuriz pointed to different signs of hope for Chile, including the canonization this coming October of Father Alberto Hurtado, who was profoundly committed to serving the people of Chile, “especially the poor and the abandoned.” 

In addition, he pointed to the new Constitution, which has been signed by President Ricardo Lagos and has brought consensus to the nation, new government programs and legislative measures, and the preparations for the bicentennial celebrations of Chile in 2010.  This event, he said, is bringing Chileans together across the country in meaningful dialogue and discussion. 

“For this reason, as we dream of the future of Chile, I invite you to give thanks for the friendship of God, who is the first origin of all that is good, as well as of the great spiritual treasures that He entrusts to us for building up the nation,” the cardinal stated.

The country’s top leaders were present at the ceremony, including President Ricardo Lagos and his wife, as well as the heads of the Senate and the House of Representatives and the country’s chief justice.

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Cardinal Sepe: “The Church seeks good of society when she defends the family”

Madrid, Spain, Sep 20, 2005 (CNA) - Before more than 15,000 people gathered in Torreciudad, Spain, to celebrate the 16th Marian Day of the Family, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, said the Church “only seeks the good of society when she defends and proposes the unity of the family.”

He noted that attempts to change the nature of the family constitute “a serious attack on human society because while the family is experiencing difficulties in various parts of the world, its potential for evangelization is truly amazing.”

Cardinal Sepe encouraged the faithful gathered to be more conscious of the value of the Catholic identity of the family, and he recalled that Pope Benedict XVI has always proclaimed that the Church cannot cease to proclaim that marriage and the family are irreplaceable.

“I admire the enthusiasm for living this identity, for bearing witness to it, and the Church has the duty to proclaim the Gospel, living out her missionary identity and bearing witness to the teachings of the Gospel,” he noted.

The cardinal also mentioned the coming Synod of Bishops, which will take place in Rome on October 2.  “It will be of great importance, because it will lead us into a deeper reflection on the Eucharist as fundamental for the Church and for each of the baptized, who find in it the necessary nourishment for their mission,” he concluded.

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Papal envoy notes gestures of “great humanity” in wake of Katrina

Vatican City, Sep 20, 2005 (CNA) - The President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Archbishop Paul Cordes, returned to Rome this week after visiting the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina at the special request of Pope Benedict XVI.  “I have seen some terrible scenes, but also gestures of great humanity,” the archbishop said.

Archbishop Cordes traveled to the regions hardest hit by the hurricane in order to express the solidarity of the Pope with those affected, as well as to offer some help in the relief effort.

In an interview with Vatican Radio upon his return to Rome, the archbishop explained that the presence of a papal envoy was very much appreciated both by Church and civil officials.  He also noted the solidarity and generosity of the different offices of Caritas around the world from the first moments of the disaster.  More than six million dollars has been made available for the relief effort through Catholic Charities in the United States.

“My visit,” he said, “has inspired others to send more material assistance.  The area affected by the storm is vast, and volunteers from all over the United States have been arriving to help.   The reconstruction will take months, maybe even years.  During my travels I have seen some terrible scenes, but also gestures of great humanity,” he continued.  “In this dramatic situation, the United States should not be abandoned.”

Recalling the September 11 attacks during a Mass at the Cathedral of Baton Rouge, Archbishop Cordes invited Catholics to reflect upon the importance of their faith in such circumstances, which “must illuminate each moment of our lives, even the darkest ones.”

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Vatican names Mons. Urosa new Archbishop of Caracas

Vatican City, Sep 20, 2005 (CNA) - The Holy See Press Room informed that Pope Benedict  named Mons. Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino as the new Archbishop of Caracas (Venezuela), who up until now served as the Archbishop of Valencia.

The Prelate was born in Caracas in 1942. He studied at the inter-diocesan seminary of Caracas and at Saint Augustin seminary in Toronto, Canada. Subsequently, he was awarded a Doctorate in Dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

He was ordained in Caracas on August 15th, 1967. He served as professor and rector of the inter-diocesan seminary Santa Rosa de Lima in Caracas.

On July 6th 1982, he was named Bishop of Vegelsa de Bizacena, and auxiliary Bishop of Caracas. He received the Episcopal order on September 22nd, 1982, and on March 16th, 1990 he was named bishop of Valencia in Venezuela.

Mons. Urosa succeeded to Cardinal Antonio Ignacio Velasco as pastoral director of the Archdiocese of Caracas, who died in 2003.

The Archdiocese of Caracas has a population of four million, of which three million, 400 thousand profess the catholic faith. There are currently 610 priests serving the diocese, along with more than 2000 religious and eleven permanent deacons.

In a declaration to the local press, the recently designated Archbishop of Caracas expressed his “great joy” receiving his nomination in a “sense of obedience to the will of God.”

The Prelate expressed that it is of his mission “to be the pastor of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Caracas, to announce  the message of Jesus Christ and bring love of Jesus Christ especially to those living in difficult situations, the poor, weak, banished, ill, those who have gone astray from God.”

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