Vatican City, Oct 18, 2005 (CNA) - At the closing of this morning’s 19th General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops in Rome, Special Secretary Archbishop Roland Minnerath, of Dijon, France presented the Holy Father with the Integrated List of Propositions, from which, the Pope will begin to form his apostolic exhortation for the historic 11th Synod.1
The list is the result of the unification of numerous propositions prepared by bishops in individual working groups, divided by spoken language, who met throughout last week.
It was compiled by the Synod’s Relator General along with the Special Secretary and the Relators of each of the working groups.
During the opening of yesterday’s General Congregation, Pope Benedict presented the Synod Fathers with a gift of his own--a ring emblazoned with an image of a pelican.
The image of the pelican has been used since the Middle Ages as a symbol for the Eucharist because the bird will, in extreme cases, pierce its own flesh in order to feed its young.
St. Augustine has written about this profound Eucharistic symbolism, as have St. Thomas Aquinas and the poet Dante.
In addition to the presentation of the rings, experts and auditors who were invited to participate in the Synod were given a rosary.
The Synod will conclude this Sunday with a Papal Mass and beatification ceremony for five soon-to-be Saints.
Vatican City, Oct 18, 2005 (CNA) - Today, at the closing of the morning session of the 19th General Congregation of the Synod of Bishops, meeting in Rome, the Holy Father was presented with the massive 2,800-page Enchiridion of the Synod of Bishops, containing all of the Synod documents from 1965 until 1988.
His Excellency Most Reverend Msg. Nikola Eterovic, Secretary General of the Synod, presented Pope Benedict with the white-bound, first volume of the Synodal history, which marks the 40th anniversary of its institution.
The collection, written in Latin and Italian, will be of great interest not only to the Episcopal college, but to historians, researchers and theologians seeking to understand the life and mission of the Church after the Vatican Council II.
As a sign of his own gratitude and encouragement, the Pope is slated to give a copy of the volume to all the participants in the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod meeting currently.
Sources say that he wishes it to be reflective of communion in the Church centered on the Mystery of the Eucharist.
Vatican City, Oct 18, 2005 (CNA) - As prelates gathered in Rome prepare to conclude the 11th General Synod of Bishops this weekend, the Vatican has announced the schedule for the final days, which will climax with a beatification ceremony on Sunday.
Today, the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, the bishops will gather for their smaller working groups in the afternoon, following a morning ceremony in which the Pope was presented with an integrated list of propositions from the working groups--which had met throughout the last week.
The groups will meet again tomorrow morning and in the afternoon.
On Thursday, there will be no General Congregation, while the General Relator, along with the Special Secretary and the Relators of the Working Groups study the Collective Amendments of the Propositions given to the Pope today.
The bishops will vote on the text of their final message on Friday morning and on the amended list of propositions Saturday morning.
On Sunday, World Mission Day, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass with all of the Synod Fathers marking the conclusion of the historic event. There, he will preside at the beatification of five future saints.
The newly proclaimed Blesseds will include Jozef Bilczewski, archbishop of Lviv of the Latins (1860 - 1923); Gaetano Catanoso, priest, founder of the Congregation of the Veronica Sisters of the Holy Countenance (1879 - 1963); Zygmunt Gorazdowski, priest, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph (1845 - 1920); Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, priest of the Society of Jesus (1901 - 1952); and Felice da Nicosia, of the Friars Minor Capuchin (1715 - 1787).
The Vatican’s Office for Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff released a statement which read: "On this Sunday, which closes the Year of the Eucharist and in which five new saints are proclaimed, we are invited to make the Eucharist ever more the summit and the source of the life and mission of the Church, and to be witnesses to the Gospel, even unto the ends of the earth."
, Oct 18, 2005 (CNA) - A new book, Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce, chronicles a three year study which found, among other things, that many children of divorced parents experience a profound lack of trust in God and faith in the Church.
Elizabeth Marquardt of the Institute for American Values and Professor Norval Glenn of the University of Texas at Austin co-directed the study, which was funded by the Lilly Endowment.
Noting the divorce rate which has skyrocketed in the U.S. over recent decades, Marquardt and Glenn interviewed 70 young adults face-to-face, and compiled telephone surveys of 1,500 young adults--half of whom were raised in divorced families and half from intact families.
The findings were surprising. They report that young people from divorced families “experience a loss of trust that affects their belief in God—making them overall much less religious than their peers from intact families,” although for some, the experience dramatically strengthened their faith.
In addition, many of the young people raised with divorce “often say the church failed them. Of those children of divorce who were regular [attendees] at a place of worship, two-thirds say that no one from the clergy or congregation reached out when their families broke up.”
As a result, a greater percentage of children of divorce claim to be “religious” or attend church than their two-parent counterparts.
Children of divorce are also “much less likely to say their mother and father taught them how to pray and prayed with them – and are much more likely to say they doubt the sincerity of their parents’ religious beliefs, do not share their parents’ values, and to say there are things their parents have done that they find hard to forgive.”
Perhaps most strikingly, the pair found that many “feel pain and loss evoked by the idea of God as a father or parent.”
Marquardt and Glenn cited one child of divorce, who said “when she prayed as a child she thought of it as a letter to God. She exclaimed, ‘But then you kind of wonder about it ’cause they never answer. So that made me wonder—well, I wrote to him. I didn’t get a letter back. That sounds like Dad!’
The study however, was not all negative. Marquardt and Glenn further found that for many of these children, the experience actually strengthened their faith, which gave them something to hang on to.
In fact, thirty-eight percent of young people from divorced families (compared to 22 percent from intact families), say, “I think of God as the loving father or parent I never had in real life.”
Despite this, the authors conclude that there is no such thing as a “good divorce”, and encourage greater compassion toward both the divorced couple and their children.
The book is now available through Crown Publishers for $24.95.
Fairfield, N.J., Oct 18, 2005 (CNA) - Sacred Heart University will host Catholic university leaders and scholars for an international four-day conference, Oct. 20-23. It will mark the 30th anniversary of the Center for Coordination of Research, established within the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU).
The conference, titled "The Center for Coordination of Research (CCR) Memories for the Future," will draw delegates from more than 20 nations and five continents.
Among the various topics, conference participants will discuss the focus of research emanating from the center; current trends informing research; the effect of rapid globalization, cultural pluralism, poverty and violence on research, and; how Catholic universities reflect their missions in their research. The conference will be in English, French and Spanish with simultaneous translation.
“There are those who hold that scholarly research should maintain a separation from the life and perspective of faith. The understanding of the Catholic intellectual tradition offers a contrary perspective,” said Sacred Heart University president Anthony Cernera, who also serves as vice president of IFCU for research.
Based in France, IFCU was created in 1949. It comprises about 200 universities and institutions of higher education throughout the world and has consultative status with the United Nations and the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
Washington D.C., Oct 18, 2005 (CNA) - The American Life League is urging all United States bishops to publicly challenge and rebuke politicians who claim to be Catholic but who support abortion.
American Life League president Judie Brown put out the call in light of yesterday’s 20th anniversary luncheon for Emily’s List, a organization founded in 1985, dedicated to having pro-choice women elected into office.
The five pro-abortion public officials who highlighted yesterday’s luncheon include: U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Ct.), Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-Mich.) and State Sen. Joan FitzGerald (D-Colo.)
"These women, who claim to be Catholic, all adamantly defy the Church,” said Brown. “It would be my hope that each of their bishops contacts them as soon as possible to remind them it is impossible to be Catholic and pro-abortion.
"The fact that their public support of abortion is seemingly going unchallenged is a cause of great scandal," she continued.
Brown said bishops’ ongoing private dialogue with pro-abortion public officials is “an excellent first step.”
"However, the apparent reluctance of many bishops to publicly rebuke these pro-abortion Catholics is a source of confusion, not only for their fellow Catholics,” said Brown, “but for all Americans who would benefit from a clear understanding of Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human beings' lives."
Brown noted that the issue is not on the agenda for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ meeting next month in Washington. Brown claims that it is only when this topic becomes a major concern that legislative change will come.
, Oct 18, 2005 (CNA) - A new and promising scientific technique may satisfy researchers who want embryonic stem cells without the moral dilemma of destroying the embryo, says ethicist Fr. Thomas Berg.
A recent study published in this week’s issue of Nature suggests scientists are closer to devising ways of getting stem cells with qualities like those of embryonic stem cells, but without destroying embryos in the process.
“I see it as a potential breakthrough,” said Fr. Berg, the director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person, a Catholic think-tank based in Thornwood, N.Y. “This kind of research is directing us away from the moral impasse over embryo destructive research and toward solutions we can all live with.”
Nature reported that MIT researchers Alexander Meissner and Rudolf Jaenisch are the first to use a technique called altered nuclear transfer (ANT) in laboratory mice to derive a line of “fully competent” mouse embryonic stem cells. This stem-cell line did not come from a normal mouse embryo but from a biologically engineered source that appears to lack the organization necessary to be a mouse embryo.
How would the technique work for humans? A normal adult body cell is genetically modified. In its nucleus, genes essential for normal embryo formation are drastically altered. This cell is then implanted in an egg with its nucleus removed. “Theoretically, the resultant product of the procedure would not be an embryo, but a disordered biological artifact, capable of yielding stem cells, but otherwise on its way to becoming something akin to a tumor,” explained a press release from the institute.
The stem cells derived in this process are called “pluripotent” because they give rise to all cell tissue types in an organism.
While previously thought to exist only in five- or six-day-old embryos, Fr. Berg said scientific evidence is mounting to show that pluripotent cells can be found in human umbilical cord blood and bone marrow.
“Scientists who still want embryonic stem cells, but want to avoid the moral controversy, could have good reason to be satisfied with such an alternative,” he said.
, Oct 18, 2005 (CNA) - A Catholic school principal, Brother Kenneth M. Hoagland decided to cancel the spring prom, because of the abuses and decadence such an event produces.
The principal of Kellenberg Memorial High school in Long Island, a member of he Society of Mary (Marianists), that actually owns the school, made the announcement in a letter addressed to the parents.
"it is (..) the flaunting of affluence, assuming exaggerated expenses, a pursuit of vanity for vanity's sake - in a word, financial decadence," said Hoagland, fed up with what he called the "bacchanalian aspects."
The outpouring of wealth and money spend for such an event that makes it
"Each year get worse - becomes more exaggerated, more expensive, more emotionally traumatic," he added. "We are withdrawing from the battle and allowing the parents full responsibility. (Kellenberg) is willing to sponsor a prom, but not an orgy," he said.
The move brought a mixed, albeit passionate, reaction from students and parents at the Roman Catholic school..
Hoagland began talking about the future of the prom last spring after 46 Kellenberg seniors made a $10,000 down payment on a $20,000 rental in the Hamptons for a post-prom party. When school officials found out, they forced the students to cancel the deal; the kids got their money back and the prom went on as planned.
"A lot of people have lamented the growing consumption that surrounds the prom, (..)it is not uncommon for students to pay $1,000 on the dance and surrounding folderol: expensive dresses, tuxedo rentals, flowers, limousines, pre- and post-prom parties," says Amy Best, an associate professor of sociology and anthropology at George Mason University in Virginia and the author of "Prom Night: Youth, Schools and Popular Culture."
"The school has excellent values," said Margaret Cameron of Plainview. "We send our children here because we support the values and the administration of the school and I totally back everything they do." This comment showed the support of parents for the principles decision.
Hoagland said in an interview that parents, who pay $6,025 in annual tuition, have expressed appreciation for his stern stand. "For some, it (the letter) was an eye-opener," he said. "Others feel relieved that the pressure is off of them."
Chris Laine, a senior from Rockville Centre, said the cancellation was "unfortunate, but you can't really argue with the facts they present. ... It's just what it's evolved into. It's not what it was 20, 30 or 40 years ago. It's turned into something it wasn't originally intended to be."
San Francisco, Calif., Oct 18, 2005 (CNA) - The Ann Arbor, Michigan based, Thomas More Law Center is challenging a California public school district which they say indoctrinated impressionable middle-schoolers in the Muslim faith.
The group said that during a three-week project, the 12-year old students were “placed into Islamic city groups, took Islamic names, [and] wore identification tags that displayed their new Islamic name” along side of the Star and Crescent Moon--the symbol of Muslims.
In addition, they were given materials which instructed them to “Remember Allah always so that you may prosper.”
The students also completed “the Islamic Five Pillars of Faith, including fasting, and memorized and recited the ‘Bismillah’ or ‘In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,’ which students also wrote on banners that were hung on the classroom walls.”
San Francisco’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will begin hearing Eklund vs. Byron Union School District tomorrow.
A San Francisco federal judge had previously ruled that the school district did not violate the constitution, but according to Richard Thompson, Chief Counsel of the Law Center, “There is a double-standard at play in this case. If the students had done similar activities in a class on Christianity, a constitutional violation would surely have been found.”
He said that, “If the public school’s practice is upheld on appeal, all public schools should begin teaching classes on Christianity in the same manner as the Islam class was taught in this case.”
Added Edward L. White III, trial counsel with the Law Center: “Rather than teach students about Islam, which is constitutional, the public school crossed the constitutional line and began indoctrinating students.”
“The public school”, he said, “placed students into the position of being trainees in Islam, which is impermissible in a public school.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 18, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Leopoldo Gonzalez of Tapachula, Mexico, is encouraging Mexicans to reach out to those affected by tropical storm Stan, which caused heavy flooding in the region.
The bishop warned that because the damage in Tapachula is worse than the damage caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, donations of food, water, medicine and clothing are urgently needed.
Bishop Gonzalez reported that according to pastors and catechists of the diocese, the more than 40 neighborhoods located near the Coatan River have suffered the most damage. He added that while there are some five thousand people in town of Motozintla who have been displaced by the storm, in the valleys of the Sierra Madre Mountains there have dozens of deaths and hundreds of homes destroyed.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 18, 2005 (CNA) - A report issued by health officials in Valencia, Spain, indicates that in the last four years, the number of teen pregnancies in the country has risen from 15.4 cases per 1000 in the year 2000, to 17 cases per 1000 in 2003.
Vicente Rambla, a government health official in Valencia, admitted that efforts to reduced teen pregnancy have been unsuccessful, and he said the data from the report would serve as a basis for a new health plan for 2005-2008, which would emphasize the need to “boost education and foster debate on sexuality.”
Rambla stated that teens are engaging in sexual activity at an increasingly earlier age not only because they don’t have adequate information but also because they have greater access to contraception. Such factors make it more difficult to achieve the “desired results,” he said.
Nevertheless, Rambla said he would not change the policy that allows teens to obtain the morning-after pill without a prescription.
Málaga, Spain, Oct 18, 2005 (CNA) - A group of pharmacists in Malaga, Spain, many of whom belong to the Spanish Association of Catholic Pharmacists, has refused to yield to pressure to sell condoms at their drug stores, arguing that their refusal is based on “conscientious objection.”
According to the Diario de Malaga, the pharmacists say their decision is based on the belief that “the selling of condoms involves a clear incitement to murder.” Therefore, they argue that the issue constitutes “in all cases, a problem of conscience.”
The decision has provoked a response from the Anti-AIDS Association of Malaga, which calls the matter “a very grave problem.” “It’s true that we have received a lot of complaints about this decision,” said the organization’s secretary general, Alicia Cueto.
Despite complaints against the pharmacists, the Malaga newspaper points out that they are legally within their rights to conscientiously object to selling products “that go against their principles.” Leandro Martinez, spokesman for the College of Pharmacology in Malaga, said the complaints against the pharmacists were essentially unimportant. “There are so many pharmacies in close proximity of one another that a customer who desires to purchase such a product can simply go to another one,” he said.
Washington D.C., Oct 18, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic Music Network (CMN), www.catholicmusicnetwork.com, is celebrating its fifth year as the premier online source for music by today’s top Catholic artists.
According to a press release, CatholicMusicNetwork.com was developed by a group of radio and Internet professionals, inspired by a frustrating attempt to find Catholic music on the Internet. “It was a struggle to find an exclusive source of just Catholic artists,” stated one of CMN’s founders, Doug Archer. “We saw a need and decided to spend our time creating an online portal to help others and to share our love for Catholic music.”
Not satisfied to just create an online store they decided to help other Catholic professionals – musicians and songwriters - spread their mission. The web site is also a great resource for musical reviews and news of concerts and events. “Having news and reviews that inform people of new Catholic music and events around the country was a great start for us. It led to many online users who now look to CMN for the latest information on releases, concerts, and events. Also, our audio interviews and profiles have helped make the public aware of the many devoted and talented Catholic artists making great music today,” stated Jeff Burson, Vice President of Development.
Catholic Music Network represents over 250 artists with a library of 730 albums. From contemporary to children's to praise and worship, CMN offers a wide array of music styles. In addition to CD’s, CatholicMusicNetwork.com also offers DVD’s that artists have produced. CMN has a popular Spanish site as well, www.reddemusicacatolica.com, featuring the latest releases in the world of Spanish Catholic music.
When asked about their future plans, CMN stated their desire to produce more radio programs as well as podcasting artist’s spotlights with music and interviews. CMN would also like to get more involved with Catholic communities and parishes to promote Catholic music. If parishioners can hear about Catholic music at the parish level, then they might be more inclined to support new and up-and-coming Catholic artists.
Catholic Music Network is the premier online source for Catholic music. Based in Birmingham, Alabama, CatholicMusicNetwork.com enters its sixth year in business. Faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, Catholic Music Network.com is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Denver, Colo., Oct 18, 2005 (CNA) - In his most recent column in the Denver Catholic Register, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput clarified the Catholic Church’s often misunderstood teaching on the death penalty, saying that in almost all cases today, it goes beyond necessity, and into undignified excess.
He compared the Church’s teaching on the death penalty to that on acts like abortion, genocide and euthanasia, saying that in the comparison, there is an inequality.
"The death penalty", he wrote, "is not intrinsically evil. Both Scripture and long Christian tradition acknowledge the legitimacy of capital punishment under certain circumstances. The Church cannot repudiate that without repudiating her own identity."
"Catholic teaching on euthanasia, the death penalty, war, genocide and abortion," the archbishop said, "are rooted in the same concern for the sanctity of the human person. But these different issues do not all have the same gravity or moral content. They are not equivalent."
He used war as an applicable example, noting that there are cases in which acts of war are morally legitimate--similar to the death penalty.
However, he pointed out, what the Church’s teaching on the death penalty involves is, "a call to set aside unnecessary violence, including violence by the state, in the name of human dignity and building a culture of life."
"In the wake of the bloodiest century in history," Archbishop Chaput said, "the Church invites us to recover our own humanity by choosing God’s higher road of restraint and mercy instead of state-sanctioned killing that implicates all of us as citizens."
He cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that if "non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor [i.e., the convicted murderer], authority [should] limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person" (2267).
Likewise, he quoted John Paul II, who points out in his Gospel of Life, that "the nature and extent of the punishment [for capital crimes] must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not to go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity; in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society."
The late Pope noted that "today however, as a result of steady improvements to the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent."
The archbishop stressed that "(i)n modern industrialized states, killing convicted murderers adds nothing to anyone’s safety. It is an excess."
He said that "for John Paul II, the punishment of any crime should not only seek to redress wrong and protect society. It should also encourage the possibility of repentance, restitution and rehabilitation on the part of the criminal. Execution removes that hope."
As the Church recognizes Respect Life Month, being celebrated throughout October, Archbishop Chaput ended his piece with strong words: "Choosing against the death penalty is choosing in favor of life."
"We need to end the death penalty," he said, "and we need to do it soon."