Vatican City, Oct 21, 2005 (CNA) - This Friday morning, during the 20th Congregation of the General Synod on the Eucharist, the final document “the Eucharist, living Bread for the Peace of the World,” was approved. The final message of the synodal fathers will be made public Saturday in five languages.
The messages, made of 26 paragraphs, and 17 pages, was approved after an extended debate and more than 200 amendments. It will start by saluting the members of the Church and explaining that the message was prepared to enhance the eucharistic pastoral within the Church.
The text also invites to prayer, in order to fulfill the full unity and reconciliation between local churches, including China, which was specially present in the minds of the Bishops. The Document mentions as well the challenge of secularization and its consequences in the ethical relativism, in front of which, the conviction of the Church is reaffirmed, that in the Eucharist, the real presence of Jesus Christ is found.
The synodal fathers support the reform of the Church initiated 40 years ago at the Vatican II council, but warn of the existence of numerous abuses, deriving from the mentality of those who view themselves as “owners” of the liturgy of the Church.
The document includes a message to the divorced and remarried, to the families and an invitation to the “joy of being Christian.”
A call for unity of Christians is made as well, expressing the pain of separation , which prevents a common celebration of the Eucharist. The conclusion, in the last paragraph, talks about the hopes of peace in the world, and explains therefore the title of the document.
Kansas City, Mo., Oct 21, 2005 (CNA) - Recent statistics show that the amount of money spent annually in the U.S. pornography industry is greater than all of the money spent on Major League baseball for a year combined. Worldwide, the industry brings in over $57 billion dollars.
Startlingly, this makes pornography one of the largest and post powerful industries in the world--a fact that the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas has decided to fight head on.
“I think we’re naïve”, said Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann, “if we don’t think that all of us are vulnerable to . . . [what] the culture is communicating, and very powerfully communicating, through modern instruments of communication.”
For this reason, the Archdiocese has launched “As for me and my house”, a unique, anti-pornography program which will be implemented on a pilot bases in a number of parishes throughout the area.
According to the archdiocese, the program, whose name is taken from the book of Joshua, seeks to help faithful fight against the influences of pornography and call Catholics to greater fidelity and respect for human sexuality.
According to a recent story in The Leaven, the archdiocese’ newspaper, the idea was born after the archbishop’s office was approached by an interfaith group who were developing a similar program.
Archbishop Naumann said that the materials the ecumenical group were using “were good, but from a Catholic viewpoint they were incomplete.”
“They didn’t use the resources available to us through the sacramental life, nor did they take the rich teaching we have from Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body, which helps us understand, in a very integrated way, our sexuality.”
The Archdiocese opted to work in conjunction with the interfaith group--The National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families--but to develop its own, fully Catholic anti-pornography program.
“We asked key members of our archdiocesan staff”, the Archbishop told The Leaven, “to develop a program that will help parishes achieve this goal . . . calling us to a deeper conversion to Christ and to the principles of the Gospel in this very important area of our lives — human sexuality.”
In its final version, organizers say the program will include support and counseling for those struggling with pornography addiction, a website with wide-ranging resources, and a course offered in John Paul II’s Theology of the Body catechesis.
Added Archbishop Naumann: “I think this is really an opportunity for our people to hear a representation of the church’s teaching — its meaning, why we believe what we believe, and the beauty of human sexuality.”
Vatican City, Oct 21, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday evening, Pope Benedict XVI praised musicians from the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, the Ratisbone Cathedral choir and the Athestis Chorus, who performed a concert in his honor at the Vatican.
He told the musicians, who included members of a choir formerly led by the Pope’s own brother, that they had brought an “experience of something of the vastness of musical creativity which has, indeed, always been nourished by the Christian roots of Europe.”
The Holy Father expressed pride that the Regensberg, Germany-based Ratisbone choir was “led with passion” for thirty years by his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.
He added that "now, under Roland Buchner, it is still in excellent hands."
Thursday night’s musical selection ranged from pieces by Palestrina, Richard Wagner, Mozart, Verdi, Hans Pfitzner, and an arrangement by Georg Ratzinger.
The Pope told the musicians that, “even if Wagner, Pfitzner and Verdi transport us to new dimensions for experiencing reality, the shared foundation of a European spirit formed by Christianity still remains present and effective.”
“In this concert”, he said, “have we been able, once again, to feel how sublime music purifies, uplifts and, in the final analysis, makes us feel the greatness and beauty of God."
In concluding, he expressed hope that "the harmony of music and song, which knows no religious or social barriers, may be a constant invitation for believers and all people of good will to seek together the universal language of love, which makes men capable of building a world of justice and solidarity, of hope and peace."
, Oct 21, 2005 (CNA) - 5-year old Antonio Peck had no idea when he turned in his homework assignment--a poster about protecting the environment--that it would land him in federal court.
Peck, then a kindergarten student at Baldwinsville, NY’s Catherine McNamara Elementary School, originally turned in his poster-assignment to his teacher in 1999. It featured, among other things, a cut out picture of Jesus--something he reportedly thought applicable to the environment, and the assignment.
School officials however, felt otherwise. The rejected a first version of the poster and folded Antonio’s second attempt in half, in order to obscure the image of a kneeling Jesus they thought to be too religious in nature.
In 2000, a New York federal court ruled that the school had the right to censor the poster on the grounds of separation of church and state.
A second court ruled in favor of the school again last year, but on Tuesday, a three judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan unanimously decided that Peck’s constitutional rights may have been violated and recommended the case back to court once again.
Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel for Florida-based Liberty Counsel, who is representing Peck said that “The school humiliated Antonio when the teacher folded his poster in half so that the cutout drawing of Jesus could not be seen.”
“To allow a kindergarten poster to be displayed for a few hours on a cafeteria wall, along with 80 other student posters, is far from an establishment of religion. To censor the poster solely because some might perceive a portion of it to be religious is an egregious violation of the Constitution," he said.
In the Peck vs. Baldwinsville School District case, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals joined with the ninth and eleventh Circuit Courts who hold the view that discrimination--even in the public school setting--is unconstitutional.
Conversely, the first and tenth Circuit Courts opine that discrimination in the public school context is permissible.
This split in opinion could land Antonio in the Supreme Court--something which Staver says he would be all for.
“I'm elated with the decision,” he said. “Now Antonio will have his day in court.”
Menlo Park, Calif., Oct 21, 2005 (CNA) - A parish priest says the “wise prohibition” of homosexuals from the priesthood should remain and be enforced.
In his regular column in the San Mateo Times, Fr. James Garcia said he is reserving judgment on the press reports, based on anonymous sources, that the Vatican will issue a document that sets conditions for homosexuals to enter the priesthood. “They just don't square with past Vatican teachings that kept the door firmly closed,” he said.
Ordained 35 years, Fr. Garcia said he doesn’t know why anyone would abolish the ban.
“The Catholic Church is just beginning to extricate herself from the greatest scandal and financial payout in her American history,” he wrote. He referred to last year’s John Jay Report, which indicated that 80 percent of the clergy sexual abuse victims in the past 50 years were boys between the ages of 11 and 17, “making both the sin and the crime homosexual in nature.”
The ban is consistent with two points of Catholic thought, said the pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Menlo Park. First, he said, the Church will never accept that homosexuality is part of the Creator's plan, and will continue to view homosexual activity as a contradiction of natural law.
“Second, when a Roman Catholic man makes the sacred promise of celibacy, the object is the definitive renunciation of the good of marriage,” he explained. “Ecclesiastical celibacy has value precisely because an average Joe relinquishes the love of a wife and the joy of fatherhood for the sake of the love of God. This oath is appropriately taken by someone who otherwise would have made a good family man.”
“Canon Law and Vatican instructions provide seminary bishops and vocation recruiters with all the backing they need to say with respect, compassion and sensitivity: ‘Look, friend, if you're living with some degree of same-sex attraction, the seminary and the priesthood are not the place for you to serve God’,” he wrote.
The priest contends that if the prohibition is enforced, “seminaries will be more apt to form psychologically healthy men into spiritually generous priests. In time, the unfortunate association between the priesthood and deviant behavior will diminish, and a new generation of seminarians will emerge.”
Los Angeles, Calif., Oct 21, 2005 (CNA) - To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Vatican's Nostra Aetate, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has announced the creation of a new online guide that explains the historic changes in Church theology and provides educational resources.
The Second Vatican Council adopted the landmark document, on Oct. 28, 1965, which launched a new positive relationship between the Church and the Jewish people. It repudiates the “deicide” charge, absolving all Jews, past and present, of killing Jesus. It clearly deplores anti-Semitism, dismisses Church interest in converting Jews, and reaffirms the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people.
The online guide, Nostra Aetate: Transforming Catholic-Jewish Relations is available at http://www.adl.org/main_Interfaith/nostra_aetate.htm. It includes essays by some of the world's leading Jewish-Catholic interfaith experts who analyze the history and significance of Nostra Aetate, as well as a practical "how-to" guide on teaching the lessons of Nostra Aetate to new generations of Catholics and Jews.
On the country’s West Coast this evening, Fr. Robert McNamara along with 100 or so parishioners from St. Bernadine of Siena Catholic Church will join the Jewish community at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills, Ca., for a celebration marking the 40th anniversary of the Vatican document. He will also deliver the Shabbat sermon, reported the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, home to the largest U.S. archdiocese, with almost 5 million Catholics and to the second-largest U.S. Jewish population of about 550,000, the 40th anniversary was publicly celebrated Sept. 22. About 350 attended the event at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels jointly organized by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the American Jewish Committee and the Board of Rabbis of Southern California.
Ann Arbor, Mich., Oct 21, 2005 (CNA) - The Thomas More Law Center has submitted a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court of the United States, supporting Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s efforts to uphold the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Nebraska had previously found the act to be unconstitutional.
In its brief, the Law Center is also requesting that the Supreme Court “take this opportunity to reconsider and reject its ‘abortion rights’ decisions,” said Edward L. White III, trial counsel. “The time has come for the Supreme Court to prevent the grave injustices, which have resulted from those decisions, from continuing.”
The act bans the abortion procedure wherein an unborn baby, generally 20 weeks or longer in gestation, is removed from her mother’s womb, except for the head. The doctor punctures the child’s head, sucks out the child’s brains in order to collapse the skull, and then removes the dead child from the mother.
“Partial-birth abortion is a gruesome procedure. It is nothing other than infanticide and must be prohibited in this country,” said Richard Thompson, chief counsel of the Law Center.
In the brief, the Law Center exposes the rhetoric of the pro-abortion movement, which is designed to distract the public and the courts from the reality that each time an abortion is performed, a human life is destroyed.
The Thomas More Law Center is a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 21, 2005 (CNA) - In a strong statement the bishops of southern Spain have expressed their “pastoral concern for the educational problems” that the country is facing, and they denounced “the lack of recognition of fundamental rights related to education” in the government’s educational reform program which has been sent for consideration to the Spanish parliament.
In their statement, the bishops denounced any attempt to diminish the right of parents to make decisions about their children’s education, emphasizing that the State cannot assume the responsibility proper to parents nor deprive them of their authority to determine the kind of education their children receive. Likewise, they said it was “unacceptable” that the reform package does not sufficiently guarantee the inclusion of religion in school curricula.
The bishops also slammed the proposed reform for not granting religion teachers the status of employees at schools, calling the idea “degrading.”
They expressed their support for legitimate action that promotes “the defense of fundamental rights in the area of education” and they united their voices to those of the entire Bishops’ Conference of Spain in calling for a stable educational system that would lead to an improvement in the quality of education.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 21, 2005 (CNA) - The bishops of southern Spain have released a statement calling the phenomenon of immigration “unstoppable” and warning that it is a “vital issue” not only for poor countries but also “for richer countries,” and therefore they called for the international community to become involved in the matter.
“The immigration phenomenon is unstoppable and cannot be ignored. It is a vital issue for all, including the richest countries, and the EU, the United Nations and those international organizations devoted to promoting justice, liberty and peace should get involved,” the bishops said during their gathering at Cordoba.
They reiterated the “sacred and inalienable” value of the person, “no matter what his condition or country of origin is,” and they recalled that “the future of a nation does not consist in its being abandoned by its brightest children, but rather in seeking to reach full cultural, economic, social and political development.”
As they pondered the dramatic events of recent weeks in Ceuta and Melilla, where immigrants attempting to illegally cross the Spanish-Moroccan border were killed, the bishops emphasized that the goods of the earth are meant for everyone and that man is capable of “promoting an adequate social and industrious order that will make it possible to eradicate hunger, injustice and disease.”
Lastly, the bishops called on Catholics “to strive for a greater understanding of the reality of our times, as well as to open themselves up to welcoming and living peacefully and respectfully with those brothers and sisters of ours who join our society.”
Bogotá, Colombia, Oct 21, 2005 (CNA) - In an opinion piece for the newspaper El Tiempo in Colombia, that country’s former Vice Minister of Justice, Rafael Nieto Loaiza, denounced the exaggerated statistics being used by abortion supporters to get the practice legalized in Colombia.
Referring to the interview granted to the same newspaper last Sunday by Colombia’s First Lady, Lina Morena de Uribe—in which she said she was in favor of the legalization of abortion in some circumstances—Nieto Loaiza explained that both the statistics cited by the First Lady and her arguments in favor of the change do not have a real basis in the country’s situation and that “she has not been sufficiently clear about certain points.”
“The first is that the case currently before the Constitutional Court seeks the general legalization of abortion, and only secondly does it refer to the cases of rape and life of the mother,” he said.
He pointed out that to say there are 400,000 abortions a year in Colombia “has no basis whatsoever,” noting that in Spain, where it is legal, 80,000 abortions were reported in 2002. Therefore, he continued, there is no reason to think that in Colombia, where the practice is illegal and where the roots of Christianity are deeper, 600% more abortions are occurring than in Spain.
“According to the World Health Organization, each year 69,000 women worldwide lose their lives due to ‘unsafe’ abortions. A little less then half of these occur in India, where abortion is legal. Thus the number of deaths from abortion in Colombia should be much less than what is being reported,” Nieto Loaiza maintained.
He also noted that “the legalization of abortion does not reduce the maternal mortality rate” nor does it reduce the number of cases. In Ireland, for example, where abortion is prohibited, the maternal mortality rate is very low--close to four times lower than that of the United States, where abortion is allowed.
According to this data, he added, “legalization increases the number of abortions, and with them, the risk to the health of women, not to mention the deaths of thousands of unborn babies.”
Lastly, responding to the government’s claim that deaths from unsafe abortions is a public health problem, Nieto Loaiza noted that “what reduces the maternal mortality rate is not the legalization of abortion, but rather the quality of medical care mothers receive before, during and after birth. And this is a responsibility the government should not shirk from by claiming that the problem is due to the illegality of abortion.”
Santiago, Chile, Oct 21, 2005 (CNA) - On October 29 thousands of young people in Chile are expected to participate in a 16-mile pilgrimage to celebrate the canonization of Father Alberto Hurtado and to close the Year of the Eucharist.
The Pilgrimage of the Andes is in its 15th year and according to the organizers, the purpose of this year’s edition is to deepen the understanding of the Eucharist as the source and summit of the Christian life and to celebrate the canonization of Father Hurtado—which will take place this coming Sunday, October 23.
In recent years the pilgrimage has become “an encounter of faith and a sign of unity, almost at a national level,” as Chileans from across the country participate in the event.
During the walk, pilgrims will stop at 10 different stations for reflection. At the Shrine of the Andes, they will be able to visit the crypt and enjoy a musical performance. The pilgrimage will culminate in a Mass with Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz to close the Year of the Eucharist.
Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga was born in Viña del Mar, Chile, on Jan. 22, 1901. On Aug. 14, 1923, he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Chillan. In 1925 he went to Cordoba, Argentina, where he studied humanities. In 1927 he was sent to Spain to study philosophy and theology.He frequently directed retreats and offered spiritual direction to many young men, accompanying several of them in their response to the priestly vocation and contributing to the formation of many Christian laymen.
In 1941 Father Hurtado published his most famous book: "Is Chile a Catholic Country?" The same year he was asked to assume the role of assistant for the Youth Movement of the Catholic Action, first within the Archdiocese of Santiago and then nationally.
He is known for the numerous social initiatives he led to fight poverty and exclusion in his home country. His apostolate had been an expression of a personal love for Christ the Lord. It was characterized by a great love for poor and abandoned children, an enlightened zeal for the formation of the laity, and a lively sense of Christian social justice.
Father Hurtado was beatified by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 16, 1994.
Vatican City, Oct 21, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican daily newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published today a doctrinal note indicating that only priests are habilitated to apply to Sacrament of the Unction to the sick and ill.
“ Only priests-bishops and priests-, are admitted to administrate the Sacrament of the Unction, therefore, deacons nor lay can not exercise this ministry and any sort of act of that kind will constitute a simulation of a sacrament,” says the note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The Document bears the date of the February 11th, 2005, and therefore, was signed by then Prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.