Archive of October 3, 2005

Humanity deserves to be free from scourge of self-destruction, says Vatican Ambassador to UN

, Oct 3, 2005 (CNA) - In a speech to the General Assembly’s First committee, of disarmament and international security, Msgr. Migliore, Ambassador of the Holy See to the United Nations, reiterated the Vatican’s commitment to "the importance of arms control and disarmament, which are fundamental pillars of the architecture for peace."

He expressed his confidence in the will of nations to rid the earth of weapons, saying "many of them care a great deal about the suffering and increased dangers posed by the proliferation of weaponry of all kinds." But he regretted the lack of concrete decisions in order to fulfill that mission. "It remains deplorable that the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May ended without a single substantive decision," he added. As well no declaration was made in the outcome document of the World Summit held in New York a few weeks ago.

He vowed for a world free of all weapons, stressing that "Nuclear weapons are becoming a permanent feature of some military doctrines, and there has been a dramatic 20 percent increase in world military spending in the past two years. Small arms kill at least 500,000 people per year, and the U.N. conferences on this subject have still not produced a legally-binding instrument on small arms transfers."

"It is disappointing that the principles and progress of disarmament are being weakened both by the reluctance of some to disarm and by the unwillingness of others publicly to take to task such an attitude."

"The "we the peoples" of the United Nations, as the Charter so eloquently refers to humanity, deserve to be free from the scourge of self destruction," he concluded.

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Pope Benedict XVI invites members of the Synod to “think and act like Christ” during working sessions

Vatican City, Oct 3, 2005 (CNA) - In an lengthy and profound commentary on the Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians in today’s liturgy of hours, Pope Benedict XVI initiated Monday the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, inviting the 241 prelates to “think and act” like Jesus Christ in these days of work and reflection.

The Pontiff read from the reading of Saint Paul in his letter to the Corinthians: “ rejoice, change and encourage each other, and live in peace, and the God of Love and Peace will be with you,” and in the following he proposed five imperatives and one promise, that he developed in his reflection.

“One of the functions of collegiality, is helping us to know the gaps that we don’t see: it isn’t easy to see ones own flaws and the others see them better than we do,” the pope said, commentating the “need to change mutually.”

“Fraternal correction, helps to be more open, so that each one of us might find the truth, his integrity as an instrument of God. All of this require humility, to prevent the thought that one is superior to the others, but to help us mutually.”

The Holy Father said during his intervention “we can help each other in a great act of love, and true collegial affection. When a person is desperate , and doesn’t know how to go forth, he needs consolation, that someone might be with her, that encourages her, and fulfills the role of the comforting Holy Spirit.”

Faith reminded the pope, is “the common fundament upon which we work”, and in the words of Saint Paul, “ there is an invitation to remain always in these fundaments that precede us, to keep this common faith. Each one of us should live the faith according to its original characteristics, but always remembering that this faith precedes us.”

The Holy Father concluded encouraging the participants to the Synod to be “instruments of Christ” and  “to enter in the thoughts and in the feelings of the Lord.”

That is the meaning of the last warning of the Apostle”, the pope continued: “thinking with Christ’s thought”; he invited the prelates to “feel Christ’s thinking in the scripture, to learn to think like Christ, to reflect on Christ’s thinking and therefore to acquire Christ’s feelings, and being able to give to others Christ’s thinking and feelings.”

He finished with an optimistic tone: “ God precedes us. He already gave us everything. He gave us peace, forgiveness and love. He is with us. Only for the fact that he is with us, for that in baptism we received his grace, in the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, in the Sacrament of the Ordination we received his mission, we can know act, cooperate with his presence that precedes us. All of our action of which the five imperatives talk about, is a cooperation, a collaboration with the God of peace that is with us.” 

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Cardinal Scola vows to face challenges of the Synod based on faith and not pressure from the world

Vatican City, Oct 3, 2005 (CNA) - Cardinal Angelo Scola, official relator or key moderator of the Synod, that started today its sessions, presented today to ‘Relatio ante disceptationem’, the report that gatheres indications given by the prelates in the working document of the Assembly, the ‘Instrumentum Laboris.’ The theme of the Synod is “ the Eucharist, source and summit of the life and mission of the Church.’ 256 prelates of 118 countries are gathered, of which only 241 participated in the first reunion.

He  opened  the sessions by remarks on the Eucharistic wonder, and the evidence of a link between Eucharist and evangelization.” “the Eucharistic celebration is the act called to manifest in the most eminent way the unique  paschal event. The Eucharist makes the Church.”

Gathering on each Sunday, in any place in the World to participate to the same Body and Blood of Christ, imposes the duty to fight tenaciously against any kind of exclusion and economical injustice, social and political, to which many are submitted to, children and women mostly.

The relator for the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Patriarch of Venice, Angelo Scola affirmed, that the Catholic Church doesn’t need to ordain married men, it would be insufficient, and he maintained the value of celibacy. The Venice Patriarch said that in the meeting, presided by Benedict XVI, the question of dominical assemblies without priests  and the ‘viri probati’, the possibility to ordain married men will be treated. He underlined that the Church over centuries, has maintained  the value of celibacy, and that it doesn’t wish to foresee the case of married priests.

“If priesthood is a gift and the Church a corporation, when can we interpret that there is a lack of priests or not?

Who can fix the amount of priest we need? The Church has to confide in the Providence,” declared Scola, who added that another question would the distribution of priests in the universal Church. He talked about the Christian cult, which is a total offering of ones life to Christ, of the Eucharistic act, which nature isn’t something strange but rather an act that Christ realizes, gathering the faithful that are part of the people, in the anthropological dimension, cosmological and Social of the Eucharist.

Scola doesn’t discard that the theme of remarried divorced Catholics might be tackled. The Church up until today, forbids them to access to communion

Scola referred to the separation between Christians and said that the Eucharist is not an automatic instrument to reach the unity the Church.” Of course it increases it, but if there isn’t a unique profession of faith, we run the risk of a major division’ the cardinal specified. “We have to remark the substantial communion of faith between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church on the theme of the Eucharist and priesthood” he added. 

The novelty of the synod will be that each day, at the end of each sessions, the priests participating will take part in an hour long of free debate. The assembly will last until October 23, day in which Pope Benedict will officially mark the end of the Year of the Eucharist.

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Synod on Eucharist opens with new norms under Pontificate of Pope Benedict for better collegiality

Vatican City, Oct 3, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict inaugurated the XXI Synod of Bishops dedicated to the Eucharist this Sunday with a solemn Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, with more than 250 bishops from around the word, various invited experts, and more than 4,500 of the faithful in attendance.

The new norms were presented by Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, Genera Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, first reminding that this Synod is taking place celebrating the 40th anniversary of the institution of the Synod by Pope Paul VI, on September 15, 1965 with the “motu proprio Apostolica sollicitudo.”

The Synod will have a different pace from previous ones, according to new norms requested by the Pope.  The meeting will last three weeks—one less than previous Synods.  In addition, the bishops will have two minutes less to deliver the personal written interventions.

But also new this time will be the possibility for bishops and participants to briefly comment upon or reply to ideas that are put forth.  Under the former norms, the exchange of opinions was not possible.

The final two weeks will be spent preparing suggestions regarding the Eucharist in the life of the Church—from its theological value to the possible “reform of the reform” of the liturgy—which will be presented to the Pope.

These conclusions will form the basis of an eventual Apostolic Exhortation, possible one of the first official documents of the Holy Father.

Although the Synod is an event for bishops, the Pope has invited a significant number of lay observers from the Americas, including Carl Albert Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Leoardo and Martha Loreno Casco of Honduras, Moyses Lauro de Acevedo Filho, founder and General Moderator of the Shalom Catholic Community of Brazil, and Luis Fernando Figari Rodrigo, founder of the Sodalite Family, who was invited by the Pope the proclaim one of the readings during the inaugural Mass.

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Archbishop O’Brien criticizes media for reducing seminary visitations to homosexuality issue, ignoring facts about potential Vatican document

Washington D.C., Oct 3, 2005 (CNA) - As the much-talked-about national seminary visitation process gets underway, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, head of the military Archdiocese and overseer of the visitations recently criticized those who seek to reduce them to the issue of homosexuality alone--something he called “a serious error.”

In a statement released Friday by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Archbishop said that, “The Visitation is an assessment of institutions and not of individuals, to see whether our seminaries and houses of formation are doing the work they were established to do -- to train men to be Catholic priests who accurately and fully convey the Church’s teachings to their people and who live out their life-long priestly commitments, especially with regard to celibacy.”

A team of Vatican and USCCB appointed representatives are currently visiting U.S. seminaries and houses of formation in what is likely to be a multi-year process.

While homosexuality is certainly one of the issues to be looked at, the Archbishop said that “It is an extremely serious error for the media or any segment of the public to reduce the Visitation to only one issue.”

“The Visitation”, he said, “is meant to look at the life of each institution as a whole to see whether it is helping to form men who, from a human, intellectual, and spiritual point of view, will be faithful to their commitments as Catholic priests and worthy leaders of the communities for which they will eventually be responsible.”

An ambiguity, he said, about the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and even “whether some homosexual activity could be compatible with celibacy” is not compatible with helping men to develop a mature commitment to living out celibacy every day for the rest of their lives.”

Likewise, Archbishop O’Brien mentioned the Vatican document which many say could be released soon, regarding seminary admission of homosexual candidates.

He pointed out that, “Such a document has been said to be in preparation for several years as a policy directive for the whole Church. Connecting the possible release of this document to either the Visitation or the sex abuse crisis in the United States in 2002 ignores these facts.”

Commenting also on media reports of the Archbishop’s own words regarding candidates “who have engaged in homosexual activity or who have strong homosexual inclinations” not being admitted to the priesthood, he said: “I was reflecting my personal opinion and offering a prudential practice based on twelve years experience as rector (president) of two U.S. seminaries.”

“As Visitation Coordinator,” he said, “I do not speak in an official capacity for either the Holy See or the USCCB on this matter.”

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Many pro life, religious groups adopt a wait and see attitude toward Supreme Court nominee

Washington D.C., Oct 3, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier today, President Bush tapped White House counsel Harriet Miers to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor--a move which pro-life groups are responding to with mixed reactions.

The nomination of 60- year old Miers, who has never served as a judge, comes as the court prepares to begin their new session led by just-confirmed Chief Justice John Roberts. 

The group, Concerned Women for America opted to take a wait and see attitude toward the nomination. Jan LaRue, chief counsel for the organization said that "We give Harriet Miers the benefit of the doubt because so far, President Bush has selected nominees to the federal courts who are committed to the written Constitution." 

She added however, that "whether we can support her will depend on what we learn from her record and the hearing process."

Fr. Frank Pavone, head of the group Priests for Life, expressed optimism at the pick.

He praised the president for a timely nomination and said that "Our prayers are with Harriet Miers this morning as she begins this important process. We trust the President's judgment and his determination to fulfill his promises about the kind of Justices he wants to see on the Court.”

Others are more skeptical however. According to records released by the Federal Election Committee, Miers financially supported Al Gore and Lloyd Bensten--both of whom are pro-abortion--in the 1980’s.

This has raised criticism and serious questions among many pro-lifers who see the court as being in a key position to rule on such heated topics as abortion, stem cell research homosexual marriage and human cloning in the coming years.

Roberts, and now Miers, should she be appointed could be instrumental swing voters on these key cultural issues.  

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Colorado Catholics gather to celebrate religious media giant, and its tenacious mother

Denver, Colo., Oct 3, 2005 (CNA) - Thousands of people bustled about the massive new Denver Convention Center this weekend to show their love and support for a feisty, 82 year old nun from Ohio, and for her dream--the worldwide Eternal Word Television Network. The Catholic media giant celebrates its 25th year of broadcasting this month.

Founded against near-impossible odds, the Alabama-based network, founded by Poor Claire nun, Mother Angelica in 1981, currently reaches 125 million television sets in 147 different countries in addition to its radio and internet services.

The Denver celebration was part of a multi-city tour honoring the network’s anniversary.

Marcus Grodi, well-recognized apologist, Catholic convert and host of EWTN’s “The Way Home” program, said that in an age of ‘I’m okay, you’re okay’ mentalities,  “one of the gifts of EWTN is that it charitably allows its viewers to recognize the problems in their lives so that they can be open to change.”

“The core of everything that is on EWTN”, he said, “is about Christ.”

Sr. Mary Catherine, Mother Vicar of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Angels monastery, founded by Mother Angelica, told CNA that “It was an act of God and an act of His mother to found EWTN.”

“Through that act,” she said, “the Lord is showing us His love and mercy,” because the network has been “a tool for conversion.”

The weekend was, in large part, a tribute to Mother Angelica herself, who suffered a stroke four years ago and was said to be watching the event live via satellite.

Raymond Arroyo, EWTN’s news director and author of the newly released biography about “little Rita Rizzo”, the tenacious little Italian who would become Mother Angelica, told the crowd of nearly 3,000 that she is perhaps the most feared and revered woman in Catholicism.

Becoming the “first woman in the history of television to start a non-profit T.V. network,” and “creator of the largest religious media empire on the planet”, he said, “is no small task”--particularly for a woman who came to the table with no television of her own and no more than $200 in the bank.

Arroyo describes in his biography that from a very early age, the nun came to understand suffering and tragedy--from her dysfunctional family life to her frequent conversations with the gangsters and prostitutes who shared her Canton, Ohio neighborhood growing up.

Because of this, he said, T.V. viewers recognized that she understood them because she had suffered herself.

Hers, he said, “is a great hopeful story for those of us who have been told that, ‘you can’t,’ or ‘don’t try,’ or ‘shut up,’ or ‘sit down.’”

“She loved Christ with abandon”, he said, “that’s what drove her.”

Reflecting on EWTN’s next 25 years, Deacon Bill Steltemeier, chairman of EWTN and longtime companion of Mother Angelica’s mission, told CNA that he’s anxious to see what God has in store for the network.

“This is God’s work”, he said, “not ours.” 

Likewise, Archbishop Charles Chaput, who celebrated Mass for the celebration on Sunday, said that, “God never leaves abandoned those who love him--and we celebrate that today.”

As he closed his address, Arroyo left the crowd with a thought from Mother Angelica herself, reflecting on her tumultuous battle to build the network into the apostolate it is today and offering a message of hope to all present.

“Being afraid,” she said, “is not the problem. It’s being afraid and doing nothing that’s the problem.”

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A Poverty of the U.S. is its Approach to Life, Bishop Samuel Aquila notes on Respect Life Sunday

, Oct 3, 2005 (CNA) - There is a poverty of the United States is “its approach to life and its disregard of the dignity of life,” Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fargo, said Oct. 2 during a Respect Life Sunday Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary, Fargo. October 2 marked the beginning of a month long initiative to foster respect for human life in the Church in the United States.

Terrorism, suicide bombings, euthanasia, and capital punishment are all “attacks on the dignity of human life, on the understanding of the human person as created in the image and likeness of God,” Bishop Aquila said. The gravest of these attacks, he added, “is abortion itself.”

Bishop Aquila said it is God who bestows dignity upon each human person, even those some may refer to as “mistakes,” noting “The eye of God does not see it that way.”

The primary struggle throughout history has been “between the culture of life and the culture of death,” Bishop Aquila said. “We must speak more forcefully for the culture of life.”

At 3 p.m., Bishop Aquila led a Eucharistic procession from the Cathedral to the Red River Women’s Clinic, the state of North Dakota’s only remaining abortion facility. Hundreds followed through the streets of downtown Fargo, reciting the rosary and singing. The group prayed in front of the abortion facility, then continued to pray the rosary on the return walk to the Cathedral.

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Conference explores future of Catholic universities

South Bend, Ind., Oct 3, 2005 (CNA) - The future of the Catholic university was the focus of a three-day conference at University of Notre Dame last week. "Joy in the Truth: The Catholic University in the New Millennium” was sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Culture and featured speakers from eight Catholic universities across the country.

Notre Dame professor emeritus Philip Gleason gave the keynote address Thursday on how Church authorities are acting to keep Catholic universities from suffering the secularization that obliterated the religious identity of Protestant colleges a century ago, reported the South Bend Tribune.

Gleason is the author of "Contending with Modernity: Catholic Higher Education in the Twentieth Century."

He traced the history of Catholic higher education in America in four stages, beginning with the founding of Georgetown University in 1789. Fewer than one-third of the 174 Catholic colleges founded during that century survive.

The schools were forced to reorganize due to social changes from 1890 until 1930, creating vocational courses and more schools for women. However, a rise in neo-Scholastic philosophy in the 1920s, Catholic education remained viable and distinctive.

Catholic education underwent another change after World War II with the emergence of a new Catholic liberalism, Gleason reportedly said. Catholics increasingly identified with values such as pluralism, tolerance and diversity brought more tensions, and critiqued the traditional approach.

It peaked in the 1960s, when Catholic universities took on the values of religious freedom, collegiality, ecumenism, pastoral approaches and openness to the modern world, spurred on by the social changes at the time, including the civil rights and anti-war movements and the “modernizing trends of the Second Vatican Council,” Gleason said. The neo-Scholastic approach was essentially abandoned.

Recently, some progressives have tried to recover Catholic identity by focusing on council teachings, such as the dignity of lay people, ecumenical openness and especially social consciousness, similar to the old liberal arts education. In addition, many universities have created Catholic studies programs. In 1990, Pope John Paul II's issued the apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, "Ex Corde Ecclesiae."

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Cardinal Rigali, priests engage in candid discussion about sex abuse scandal

, Oct 3, 2005 (CNA) - Priests of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia voiced their candid and honest opinions with Cardinal Justin Rigali last week about a grand jury’s findings of sexual abuse by 63 priests and the cardinal’s response to them.

About 300 priests attended the meeting Tuesday at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

After prayer and remarks by the cardinal, about a dozen priests stepped up to a podium. The opinions were varied. Some supported the cardinal’s criticism of the grand jury findings and his defense of the role of the archdiocese in the scandal. Others were harsh and critical, reported The Delaware Times.

Some of the criticism at the meeting was aimed at Cardinal Rigali’s predecessors, Cardinals Anthony Bevilacqua and John Krol, who were accused by the grand jury of covering up reports of abuse.

The 418-page report is filled with graphic depictions of abuse by the priests, 24 of whom had ties to Delaware County.

“There was support for people who lashed out at the cardinals, but my feeling is we all have clay feet," Fr. J. Thomas Heron told the County Times. "Those cardinals need healing as much as I need healing, and the victims need healing."

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First polygamous civil union registered in the Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands, Oct 3, 2005 (CNA) - The first civil union of three partners was legally registered in the Netherlands Sept. 23, making polygamy a practical reality in the European country. Victor de Bruijn, 46, entered into a civil union with Bianca, 31, and Mirjam, 35, in a ceremony before a notary.

“I love both Bianca and Mirjam, so I am marrying them both,” Victor said, according to the Brussels Journal.

Victor had been already married to Bianca, when they met Mirjam Geven through an Internet chat box nearly three years ago. Eight weeks after their online encounter, Mirjam left her husband to live with Victor and Bianca. After Mirjam’s divorce, the three decided to enter into a union.

“A marriage between three persons is not possible in the Netherlands, but a civil union is,” Victor explained to the Brussels Journal. “We consider this to be just an ordinary marriage.”

Victor told journalists that there is no jealousy between the three partners because both Mirjam and Bianca are bisexual.

“I think that with two heterosexual women it would be more difficult,” Victor said, adding that he is a heterosexual. A fourth person will not be allowed into the union, he said.

They three said they want to take their “marriage” obligations seriously: “to be honest and open with each other and not philander.”

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Bishop encourage families to oppose new education law

Madrid, Spain, Oct 3, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Antonio Dorado of Malaga and Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Teaching and Catechism in Spain called on parents this week to participate in the national debate and to make their opposition known to lawmakers to a new law on education that would make the State the “sole legitimate promoter of centers of learning and the exclusive ideological determiner of what children should and should not know.”

In a pastoral letter, the bishops warned that “from the Christian point of view in particular and the religious in general, the constitutional right of parents to freely request religious education for their children in school is in danger.”

After emphasizing the urgency for “families to get involved in this issue and demand their human and constitutional rights,” Bishop Dorado called on parents to “participate, each one according to his or her possibilities, in the debate and to take the steps you consider necessary and pertinent, always with respect for our constitution.”

“Remember that the right to educate your children and the freedom to elect the type of education that you consider most in accord with your convictions is in danger,” he added.

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Mexican bishop calls for truth in the media

Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 3, 2005 (CNA) - During a Mass celebrating the 89th anniversary of the Mexican daily El Universal, Auxiliary Bishop Marcelino Hernandez of Mexico City called on the media last week to have a greater commitment to the truth no matter what the cost. 

“We want to distinguish ourselves by being respectful and courageous in always speaking the truth, although at times it may be difficult,” said Bishop Hernandez.  “Certainly this can happen, and thus the importance of entrusting our work to the Lord.”

The bishop also recalled that Pope Benedict XVI has said the media should be a bridge that unites people.  “A bridge that is always noble, strong, broad and secure and that favors coming together and helping one another,” the bishop underscored.

Bishop Hernandez also emphasized the importance of speaking the truth—a fundamental principle for Jesus, Mary of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego, who are “excellent communicators who use this so that we can understand, assimilate and benefit from their messages.”

In this sense, he called on journalists of El Universal to promote a message of life and not one of death, and to give an example that in unity they can live their faith and at work and at home.  “Always speak the truth,” the bishop told them.

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