Archive of October 11, 2005

New book of Pope Benedict's WYD speeches unveiled

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2005 (CNA) - In the Vatican press office earlier today, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, unveiled the new book: 'La Rivolzione di Dio', or 'The Revolution of God', in English. The book is a collection of Pope Benedict's 2005 World Youth Day speeches.

According to the Holy See, the volume, which is being published by the Vatican Publishing House and the St. Paul Publishing House is a collection of the Holy Father's discourses during August's World Youth Day celebration in Cologne, Germany, as well as his general audience of August 24, in which he explained the legacy of World Youth Day.

"In his addresses," Archbishop Rylko told members of the press this morning, "the Pope supplied important elements for a precise pastoral program which draws inspiration from the exemplary spiritual adventure of the Magi. It is a program constructed around three key words: seek, find and adore Christ, the Redeemer of mankind."

"For this reason," he said, "the book we are presenting is not a 'souvenir volume.' ... It is, above all, a manual, a guide to be frequently consulted in search of precious stimuli to consolidate one's faith and learn how to announce Christ in the world today."

Cardinal Ruini, who wrote the book's introduction stressed that "this book is, above all, one of prayer, just as prayer and adoration of the Eucharistic Christ were the dominant themes of 20th World Youth Day. From this book, as from that Day, what shines forth is joy for the beauty of faith, and for the beauty of Christ and of life in Christ." 

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Eucharist as sign of unity: best way to unite Catholics is faithfulness to Church teaching, says Cardinal Sodano

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2005 (CNA) - Today in Rome, world prelates are continuing to meet for the 11th General Synod of Bishops. Among the more heated debates, the topic of intercommunion and norms for receiving the Eucharist continued to take center stage at this morning's sessions.

Echoing some bishops who have questioned the Church's instruction that only Catholics should receive communion, Bishop Czeslaw Kozon of Copenhagen, Denmark said that, "From an ecumenical point of view," in his country, and "despite a generally positive atmosphere, the Catholic Church has noticed an increase in incomprehension concerning the question of inter-communion."

"The Catholic point of view on this is considered backward by other Christians," he said, “and this opinion is unfortunately also shared by some Catholics."

He also recalled what he called "the painful situation of the many divorced and remarried Catholics who cannot take part in communion"--a subject which has also been breached numerous times by the Synod thus far.

In contrast, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, pointed out that while "The Eucharist is always an invitation to the unity of all the disciples of Christ," and "always an agent of unity, due to the unifying grace it communicates to us," that there is "a delicate problem [in] the attitude we must show towards our separated brothers who wish to participate in the Eucharist celebrated in our Holy Church." 

The Cardinal stressed that, "to favor unity with our separated brothers, we must not be divided ourselves. And a sure way to avoid division is faithfulness to the existing discipline of the Church. ... Paragraph 45 of the last Encyclical by the late Pope John Paul II 'Ecclesia de Eucharistia' recalls: 'While it is never legitimate to concelebrate in the absence of full communion, the same is not true with respect to the administration of the Eucharist under special circumstances, to individual persons belonging to Churches or ecclesial communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church."

He said that, "In this case, in fact, the intention is to meet a grave spiritual need for the eternal salvation of an individual believer, not to bring about an inter-communion which remains impossible until the visible bonds of ecclesial communion are fully re-established'."

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Cuban bishop praises, government announces crackdown on home-based churches

Havana, Cuba, Oct 11, 2005 (CNA) - Just one day after Bishop Alfredo Victor Petit Vergel of San Cristobal de la Habana, Cuba, who is currently in Rome for the General Synod of Bishops, praised much-needed, home-based churches which meet in his country for Mass and worship, Cubans are now expecting a government crackdown on religious meetings in private homes. The wide-sweeping regulations could curtail Catholic and Evangelical worship services indefinitely.

The bishop said yesterday in his Synod address that, "In spite of the lack of priests, we have enormous esteem for the Eucharist and it is celebrated with great respect for liturgical norms."

"Faced with the difficulty and the practical impossibility of constructing new churches," he said, however, "we have what are known as 'prayer houses' or 'mission houses' located in suburbs, in small villages and in country homes where each week, or as often as they can, small groups of faithful, not more than 40, gather together under the guidance of a committed lay person, a religious or a deacon. The priest comes to these houses and Mass is celebrated with great devotion and respect for liturgical norms, care being taken to ensure sacramental Confession for those who ... wish to participate in the Eucharistic bread."

The new governmental restrictions were announced in April of this year, but their implementation is expected this month.

Services that have not been authorized by the government are now banned, and organizers of approved services must submit the names of and signed approval from all owners of the house. Likewise, the days and times when services are to be held and the number of worshippers must also be given.

The government will also require disclosure of the full name and place of residence of the pastor and details on their theological education.

The regulations also allow for no more than one church of any one denomination existing within two kilometers (1.25 miles) of each other. Foreigners cannot attend house churches in mountainous areas, and they are required to obtain specific permission to attend churches elsewhere.

Violations will lead to the house being closed and both the leader and the foreigner being fined a 1000$.

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Faith and action: Eucharist should encourage faithful to build just culture, say bishops

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2005 (CNA) - As questions of dropping numbers of church-goers, waning interest in confession, and lack of quality catechesis continue to be debated among prelates at the 11th General Synod of Bishops in Rome this week, one Cardinal, Ivan Dias, of Bombay, recalled how God has always raised up spiritual giants--like the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen and St. John Mary Vianney, in their own times--to build up and inspire the Church.

"These problems have been in the Church always," the Cardinal said, "albeit in different ways. On the other hand, the Church has also had persons who have tackled such situations in ways which can inspire us even today. Everyone knows of the saintly Cure of Ars and great apostle of the confessional, John Mary Vianney, and of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the brilliant speaker who reached millions of people through his television and radio broadcasts."

"The secret", he stressed, "of their resounding success was the many hours they spent in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. They could well be role models for priests and bishops today."

Cardinal Dias suggested that, "As we are immersed in the darkness of spiritual and moral ills all around us, would it not be wonderful if bishops and priests all over the world would spend an hour in praise and worship before the Blessed Sacrament everyday interceding for themselves, for the faithful entrusted to their pastoral care and for the needs of the whole Church? Their flocks would certainly be edified and encouraged at seeing their shepherds practicing what they preach on devotion to the Blessed Eucharist."

Cultural disconnect

On the topic of the Church in culture, Bishop Gabriel Mbilingi C.S.Sp., of Lwena, Angola, said that the high percentage of Catholics in his country and the years of violent civil war suggest a disconnect between the faith and daily life of his people.

"With such a high percentage of Christians," he said, "and in particular of Catholics, we must ask ourselves why did we experience so many years of civil war?"

"Insistence", he continued, "must be placed on the personal and ecclesial meaning of the Eucharist with reference to moral life, sanctity and mission in the world. From Eucharistic communion should arise a moral commitment that is a source of life to overcome sin, in the search for truth, rectitude of conscience and the testimony of the evangelical values that were thrown into darkness by the war."

"During catechesis," the bishop stressed, "we must insist on the link between the Eucharist and the building of a just society, through everyone's personal responsibility to active participation in the Church's mission in the world."

Likewise, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland said that "In a society marked by increased secularization there is need to give much greater place in our catechesis and in our parishes to formation in faith."

"In so many of our communities today," he pointed out, "we can no longer presume faith. The seed of faith needs nourishment, not just in the early years of the life of the Christian in the traditional catechesis of young people, but at every stage in life. The rapidity of social change means that faith formation of adults is more and more urgent to accompany them as they try, day by day and year by year, to live their Christian commitment in a changing world."

He suggested that, "The lay person imbued with Eucharistic spirit will be present in the realities of the secular world with a capacity to look towards the values that endure and to indicate the foundations of a hope which springs from a recognition of Eucharist as revelation and presence in our midst of God's gratuitous love for us in Jesus Christ who gave Himself up for us."

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Cardinal Herranz: Faithful deserve access to confession, Blessed Sacrament, reverent liturgy

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking to the 11th General Synod of Bishops yesterday afternoon at the Vatican, Cardinal Julian Herranz, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts said that while there are certain personal requirements to receiving the Eucharist, the faithful deserve access to the proper means--i.e., confession, prayer before the Blessed Sacrament--to properly dispose themselves.

"Humanity”, he said, “has no right before God to receive the Eucharist, precisely because this is an act of infinite generosity and mercy. But once God has given the sacraments to the Church for the good of His people, all the faithful enjoy the following right formulated by ... canon 912: 'Any baptized person who is not forbidden by law may and must be admitted to Holy Communion.'“

While the topic of who may, and may not receive communion has been frequently discussed throughout the course of the Synod, Cardinal Herranz suggested that individual cases may not always be black and white.

“We are dealing here”, the Cardinal said, “with a fundamental right but not, as some think, an absolute one. There are, in fact, personal requirements limiting that right.”

He pointed out that “The need of a state of grace to receive Holy Communion, which the people concerned must judge for themselves, also has certain external manifestations that make demands on Pastors.”

“Perhaps” he said, “we should be more sensitive to the reasonable requests of the faithful who express their 'hunger for the Eucharist.' In fact, many of them complain of the difficulty of finding a confessor, even where priests are not lacking in the parish; they point out liturgical abuses and trivializing desecration of Eucharistic celebrations; they suffer because, contrary to canonical norms on public worship, churches are always closed except during community celebrations, and people cannot remain in adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament, etc.”

“Since justice consists in giving each their rights ('unicuique suum tribuere'),” he added, “we ask our Lady - 'Speculum Iustitiae' - to help us guarantee our lay brothers and sisters the exercise of their rights: for the good of their souls, but also for the apostolic vigor of the entire People of God."

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US-born priest honored in Jamaica, tells Jamaicans to turn in criminals

, Oct 11, 2005 (CNA) - A native New York City priest, who has lived in Jamaica since his first assignment to the Caribbean country in 1976, has been a staunch social reformer and has been honored with the title “Servitor Pacis” (Servant of Peace) by the Path to Peace Foundation.

Msgr. Richard Albert has founded numerous charitable works for Jamaica’s poor and sick in the last 29 years and continues to promote social reform.

In a homily at St. Mary’s Catholic Church Sunday, the monsignor urged Jamaicans to take Jamaica back from the criminals, and provide members of the security forces with information that will lead to arrests and convictions.

"Every citizen should become a police informer. Only then will the criminals feel isolated," he said Sunday, reported the Observer. "Civil society needs to stand up and say we have had enough," he said.

Msgr. Albert pointed out the complacency of Jamaicans in fighting the current crime wave and referred to the country’s spiraling murder rate.

He acknowledged corruption within the police force and the judiciary, but said he believed in the justice system.

Msgr. Albert was ordained for the Friars of the Atonement, but when he discovered his love for the poor and vulnerable in Jamaica, he asked to be incardinated in the Archdiocese of Kingston.

In 1982, Msgr. Albert founded St. Monica’s Home for those who have leprosy.  Currently, there are 31 residents comprising those with Hansen’s Disease, abandoned elderly, and poor AIDS patients. 

He also began the St. Patrick’s Foundation in 1993. It has five human resource centers that offer feeding programs, health clinics, programs for pregnant teenage girls, remedial education, skills training in woodwork, dressmaking/tailoring, welding, and computer technology. It is the largest non-government and non-profit organization on the island.

He later began the Stella Maris Foundation, which offers similar services, in one of the most depressed and violent areas of Jamaica.  He also led the construction project for Our Lady of Hope Church, several other health clinics, and four basic schools for early childhood education.

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Sydney’s Catholic universities talk Catholic identity

Sydney, Australia, Oct 11, 2005 (CNA) - Current issues facing Catholic higher education, including notions of Catholic identity, was the theme of the Catholicity Forum at the Australian Catholic University yesterday, reported Cath net Australia.

The CEOs of Sydney's three Catholic tertiary education institutions took the floor: ACU national vice-chancellor, Professor Peter Sheehan AO; vice-chancellor from the University of Notre Dame Australia, Dr. Peter Tannock; and president of Campion College Australia, Reverend Dr. John Fleming.

A panel of four followed the CEOs’ presentations. Bishop David Walker of Broken Bay; Fr. Gerard Kelly, president of the Catholic Institute, Sydney; Sr. Maryanne Confoy, RSC, from the Jesuit Theological College, Melbourne; and Dr. Neil Ormerod, ACU theology professor.

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Catholic Relief Services commits to aid for Pakistan after earthquake

Kabul, Afghanistan, Oct 11, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic Relief Services has announced that it has already committed an initial $50,000 for the immediate needs of the survivors of Saturday’s 7.6-magnitude earthquake in South Asia. This amount is expected to increase significantly as additional assessments take place.

The quake’s epicenter was in Pakistan, which was hardest hit. This morning, Pakistani officials reported that there are as many as 40,000 dead and 2.5 million displaced.

CRS was among the first agencies on the ground within hours of the earthquake and has already identified immediate needs for survivors, including shelter, medicine, food, clean water, blankets and water cans. 

"Continuous tremors and multiple aftershocks are forcing traumatized victims to live outside without shelter," said Jack Norman, CRS country representative for Pakistan, in a press release. "In addition, the onset of the monsoon season has made critical roads inaccessible and the start of operations arduous. We fear that landslides may soon follow."    

CRS has been in Pakistan for more than 50 years. It has a vast network of partnerships in the region, including with Islamic Relief, which allows it to respond in a timely and efficient manner.

It is also working to co-ordinate efforts on the ground with Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations around the world.

While the most devastated areas are in Pakistan, reports indicate hundreds of deaths in India. CRS is working with its local partner, Caritas India, and sending a three-person assessment team to Srinigar.

To donate funds, go to or call 1-800-736-3467.

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Scottish cardinal criticizes legislators intent to enact ‘immoral laws’

Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Oct 11, 2005 (CNA) - Cardinal Keith O’Brien denounced Scottish legislators “intent on enacting unjust and immoral laws,” the Scotsman reported.

The cardinal made the comments Sunday during the annual Red Mass in Edinburgh, celebrated for Catholic lawyers, judges and prosecutors before the start of the new judicial session.

During his homily, Cardinal O’Brien criticized those who see marriage and the traditional family as nothing more than “outmoded Christian dogma.”

Although laws should not be based on religion, he said, they should still be based on universal standards.

“Certain fundamental civil arrangements have been shared across many societies, faiths and traditions,” he pointed out. “Among them are respect and protection for marriage, the family and human life itself.”

The cardinal also denounced the outright rejection by some of any law that might have its roots in Christianity. Some legislators think it is “fashionable” to reject these values, he said.

“The new iconoclasts of contemporary society are determined to destroy any law which they consider may be associated with the Christian culture and heritage, an inheritance which has both served and defined Europe for many centuries,” the cardinal reportedly said.

The cardinal voiced stark condemnation of the current approach to lawmaking and some of the laws passed by the Scottish Parliament.

“We are now faced with legislators intent on enacting unjust and immoral laws which do not stem from any natural or rational basis,” he was quoted as saying, referring to legislation on marriage, the family and the adoption of children.

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Bishop calls for international intervention to stop illegal immigration

Madrid, Spain, Oct 11, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Antonio Dorado of Malaga, Spain, called for intervention by the United Nations or the European Union this week in order to find a “solution in accord” with human dignity to the crisis of illegal immigration that is affecting the cities of Ceuta and Melilla in the Spanish territories in northern Africa.

In a press release, Bishop Dorado said he felt compelled to “bring attention to the grave situation of immigrants who attempt to enter Spain through the borders of the Kingdom of Morocco.” 

He said it was urgent that a “commission of the United Nations or of the European Union take responsibility for these persons and find a solution in accord with their human dignity.”

“Although there are no numbers, there could be as many as two thousand immigrants who are living in this situation.  If the only solution is to return them to their countries of origin, it should be done with respect for their lives and for the rights inherent in all human beings,” the bishop added.

He noted that although the immigrants may have attempted to enter Spanish territory “without observing the requirements set out by law, the treatment they are receiving does not seem to be compatible with the principles of States that have committed themselves to human rights.”

Bishop Dorado expressed gratitude to Christians and other people of good will in Melilla, to humanitarian organizations, journalists and police officers for all they are doing to help those affected, and he asked that everyone support “urgent humanitarian measures that are in accord with human dignity.”

“As bishop of the Diocese of Malaga, to which Melilla belongs, I share my concern with all those who have raised their voice in favor of these brothers and sisters and I invite all to pray that a more just response might be found,” he said in conclusion.

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Cardinal calls on Colombian politicians to have “ecclesial coherence”

, Oct 11, 2005 (CNA) - As the Supreme Court of Colombia readies to issue a ruling on the legalization of abortion, the Prefect of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, a native of Colombia, has called on the country’s legislators to be coherent in their political decisions.

“The Church has a teaching and a doctrine and Catholics must adhere to it.  The Catholic politician and legislator must be aware of this and must act accordingly,” the cardinal said during an interview on Colombian radio, in reference to the proposed law that would legalize abortion in cases of rape and life of the mother.  The law was put forth two months ago by a group of lawmakers who also support the legalization of homosexual unions.

Cardinal Trujillo—who said during the Synod of Bishops that Catholics who defend policies that are against life, especially Catholics who are in public service, have no right to receive Communion—explained that the teaching of the Catholic Church on abortion and on same-sex unions has remained unchanged and that Catholic politicians must have what he called “ecclesial coherence.”

During the radio interview, Cardinal Trujillo emphasized that he was not saying such individuals should resign from office, but rather that “they cannot have access to Communion, they should re-think things and start a new process, and that the Church is accompanying them as they reflect and continue down a better road.”

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Mexican cardinal says Pope and country’s bishops will continue to speak out

Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 11, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, said this week the Pope and the Mexican bishops would continue to address the issues facing that country from the perspective of the Gospel.

The cardinal made his statements after Mass on Sunday at the archdiocesan cathedral.  Asked if lawmakers were justified in being bothered by the comments of Benedict XVI about the problems in Mexico, the cardinal said they were acting irrationally.

He criticized the reactions of those who think the Pope is meddling in Mexican affairs and noted that there has in fact been an increase as of late in corruption, impunity, drug trafficking and organized crime.  The cardinal said the Pope’s words “are nothing more than the expression of the Gospel,” and that with them “he is encouraging us to fulfill our duties.”

Likewise, Cardinal Rivera underscored that some politicians are seeking “to gain power at all costs for their own benefit and vainglory, rather than in service to society,” and he emphasized that the future of the country “depends not only on the next president, but also on civil society, on both the media and business leaders and intellectuals.”

The cardinal also renewed calls for the defense of life from conception until natural death, in response to an effort by some legislators to legalize euthanasia.

He said the Church would not accept under any circumstances the elimination of some people “just because they are weak, or because they can no longer contribute because they are suffering.  I think there are other remedies for pain besides death,” he stated.

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