Konigstein, Germany, Nov 4, 2005 (CNA) - During a visit to the international headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Pedro Jose Conti of Macapa, Brazil, said, “Many young people dream about an easy life. They turn their back on the Church and abandon healthy social relationships. As a consequence we have a troubling increase in abortions, drug addiction and violence, including suicide.”
In order to counteract the situation, Bishop Conti maintained, “The Church should find new ways of making it possible for young people to experience the faith. Likewise she should work to help young people embrace ethical principals and Christian values.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 4, 2005 (CNA) - Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez of Guadalajara, Mexico, announced this week the beatification on Sunday, November 20, of Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio, a 14 year-old Mexican who died during the persecution of the Cristeros. At the request of Pope Benedict XVI, Sanchez del Rio will be beatified together with 12 other martyrs who were part of the movement to resist the oppression of the Mexican government under Plutarco Elias Calles, during the early part of the 20th century.
Sanchez del Rio was born on March 28, 1913, and died on February 10, 1928.
His martyrdom was witnessed by two boyhood friends. One of them, Father Marcial Maciel, who went on to found the Legionnaires of Christ, revealed in his book, My Life is Christ, that Sanchez del Rio was “captured by government forces,” who demanded he “renounce his faith in Christ, under threat of death. Jose refused to accept apostasy.”
“Consequently they cut the bottom of his feet and obliged him to walk around the town toward the cemetery,” Father Macial wrote. “He cried and moaned with pain, but he did not give in. At times they stopped him and said, ‘if you shout ‘Death to Christ the King’ we will spare your life.’ Jose Luis finally died shouting ‘Long live Christ the King’ while his assassins fired upon him.”
Likewise, the founder of the Priestly Confraternity of the Workers of the Kingdom of Christ, Father Enrique Amescua Medina, recalled that as they were accompanying him in his martyrdom, Sanchez del Rio told him to flee saying, “You will do things I will not be able to do.”
The remains of Jose Luis lie at the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Sahuayo, Mexico.
La Paz, Bolivia, Nov 4, 2005 (CNA) - The Apostolic Nuncio to Bolivia, Archbishop Ivo Scapolo, inaugurated a new crisis pregnancy center in La Paz, Bolivia on October 29.
The nuncio blessed the facilities and each person who will be working there, emphasizing the professional and evangelical focus of the center in its welcoming and support of pregnant women. The center will help soon-to-be mothers appreciate their maternity and avoid being influenced by anti-life policies that encourage an abortion mentality.
The center is the first of its kind in the Bolivian capital. Volunteers will help the center’s staff attend to those seeking assistance either in person or over the phone.
Champaign, Ill., Nov 4, 2005 (CNA) - Msgr. Stewart Swetland has more confidence in college students than most. So much, in fact, that this Oxford-trained, former Lutheran Naval officer turned Catholic priest, decided to devote his life to evangelizing a group that statisticians have cynically dubbed “Generation Y.”
Msgr. Swetland came to Champaign-Urbana in 1997 and immediately began to build up the University of Illinois’ already long-running and nationally respected Newman ministry.
This fall, ground will be broken for a substantial expansion to the Newman center, which already constitutes a full residence hall with cafeteria, colonial-style church and scores of priests, nuns and laypeople ministering to university students.
The St. John’s Newman Center is not only the largest of its kind in the country, but it has been called the standard to which many other Newman centers and ministries model themselves.
Established in the early 1920’s with a far reaching vision, and thanks largely to the work of Msgr. Swetland, 350 students, along with 6 full time priests and three religious sisters currently live and work at the 75-year old facility.
With a packed waiting list of students wanting to get in, and a rapidly aging residence hall to refurbish, the first phase of expansion plans include a large addition to the existing dorms and a religious convent to be built across the street.
Mark Randal, Director of institutional advancement for St. John’s spoke to CNA this week, and quoted University of Illinois president, B. Joseph White, who said recently that he wants to make U of I the top research university in the world.
If that’s the case, Randal said, “we need to have the best Newman ministry in the world.”
Of the more than 40,000 students at the University, he speculates that some ten to twelve thousand are Catholic.
“Right now”, Randal said, “we serve 2,500 students at weekly Mass.” On holy days like Ash Wednesday, he pointed out however, “that number has jumped to 5,000.”
He noted out that St. John’s simply doesn’t have the facilities to minister to this burgeoning population in the ways they would like to.
“We want the cafeteria”, he said in particular, “to be a central gathering place for students on campus.”
Indeed, St. John’s location--in the heart of campus--makes it desirable real estate even for non-Catholic students.
There is a dual function, Randal said. “To feed students physically, but also spiritually.”
He added that the major thinking of the ministry is that “you can minister to a student who lives with you much more effectively than if they just come here for Mass once in a while.”
The current project, which is slated to be completed in June of next year, is being billed at an estimated $40 million dollars.
Santa Clara, Calif, Nov 4, 2005 (CNA) - An official from the Jesuit-run Santa Clara University in California told Catholic News Agency that hosting a two-day long conference, on how to promote opportunities for gays and lesbians at Catholic colleges is “the Catholic” way to act as opposed to highlighting the intrinsic immorality of homosexual acts.
As the Vatican prepares a document reiterating its stance, particularly against homosexuality in seminaries, the aim of the conference entitled “Out There” was to highlight scholarships and student affairs being created to cater specifically to gays and lesbians at Catholic institutions.
The conference brought together representatives from the Universities of Georgetown, Loyola Marymount, Gonzaga, Fordham, DePaul, La Salle, Marquette and Emory, as well as Boston College, and College of the Holy Cross. Out of the plus 40 Catholic universities represented, thirteen were Jesuit institutions like Santa Clara.
Some 150 attendees were invited to choose from workshops like, "Curriculum and Same-Sex Marriage in a Jesuit University" and "Can I Be Gay and Catholic?"
The dean’s office and Santa Clara’s campus ministry helped finance the event, which was organized largely by English professor Linda Garber.
The Bay Area Reporter, a local gay & lesbian publication, celebrated the event reporting:
“Queers and Catholics converged upon Santa Clara University over the weekend for a watershed conference, marking the first-ever large-scale LGBT event at the Jesuit University.”
Keynote speaker Mark Jordan, a theologian from Emory University and self proclaimed gay man, told the Bay Area Reporter the conference served a purpose that was more than academic.
"This conference was a discovery for a lot of people, first of all in how many of us [LGBT and LGBT-friendly Catholics] there are," Jordan said.
"But to see that people have been improvising solutions, and have the chance to come together and compare improvisations was important," he added.
Jordan acknowledged that the religion is exclusive of gays and lesbians in many ways, and in particular that the Catholic Church’s newly chosen Pope is alienating to many.
"[Choosing Ratzinger as pope] is a catastrophe. I felt kicked in the stomach," he said.
“But that doesn't mean that LGBT people can't be Catholic, even if the institution does not formally welcome them,” Jordan said.
"The Catholic tradition is bigger than the church, it's bigger than the boundaries of the institution, and has more to offer to queer people than just a place in the institution," Jordan said.
"So if the institution alienates us, we take the tradition with us outside the institution," he said.
Jordan believes Catholic authorities likely won't change church doctrine to be fully inclusive of LGBT people for several hundred years, so contemporary queers should instead focus on "horizontal" change – working at the level of Catholic people instead of butting heads with the hierarchy.
Lisa Millora, who is the University’s Assistant Dean for Student Life and one of the co-organizers of the event, told CNA that, although the coincidental timing of the new Vatican document wasn’t planned, “it is important.”
She said that the overall importance of the conference was that it dealt with what she called, “an invisible minority, who face an oppression and tension different than racial minorities,” for example.
Primarily, the job of her office, she said, “is to remove any obstacles to a student’s education.”
As a Jesuit University in the Catholic tradition, she added, “We need to pay attention to social injustices, no matter how uncomfortable they are for us.”
Joseph Winter, a professor at Loyola, said that his school is seen as very progressive, and even offers housing to LGBT couples.
At Saint Louis, there is not much proactive administrative support but neither is there opposition, said Ken Haller, a professor and pediatrician.
Haller, the former president of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, said he is often asked whether he is still a Catholic.
"I answer 'yes,'" he said. "I'm a pediatrician, and being gay and being Catholic both call me to that job, to see the person in need and serve that person."
Santa Clara University describes itself as “a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university” located in California's Silicon Valley, which offers its 8,213 students “rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master's and law degrees.” As California's oldest higher-education institution “it demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice.”
Rome, Italy, Nov 4, 2005 (CNA) - Christians have the obligation to consider the insights of science, and science has the obligation to consider religion’s expert insight on human ethics, says Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
"We know where scientific reason can end up by itself: the atomic bomb and the possibility of cloning human beings are fruit of a reason that wants to free itself from every ethical or religious link," he said at a press conference yesterday, announcing an international conference on religion and science next week.
"But we also know the dangers of a religion that severs its links with reason and becomes prey to fundamentalism," he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.
"The faithful have the obligation to listen to that which secular modern science has to offer, just as we ask that knowledge of the faith be taken in consideration as an expert voice in humanity," he continued.
In answer to questions from journalists about intelligent design, Cardinal Poupard reportedly stressed: "The universe wasn't made by itself, but has a creator." He added: "It's important for the faithful to know how science views things to understand better."
The Vatican will host an international conference on "the infinity in science, philosophy and theology," next week. It is organized by the Vatican project Science, Theology and Ontological Quest (STOQ). This is the STOQ’s first international conference.
The STOQ project was inspired by Pope John Paul II's 1992 declaration that the Church's denunciation of Galileo was an error resulting from "tragic mutual incomprehension" and was created to help end the "mutual prejudice" between religion and science.
"The permanent lesson that the Galileo case represents pushes us to keep alive the dialogue between the various disciplines, and in particular between theology and the natural sciences, if we want to prevent similar episodes from repeating themselves in the future," Poupard said.
Boston, Mass., Nov 4, 2005 (CNA) - A bill that would force the Archdiocese of Boston and other religious groups to disclose its finances moved another step forward this week.
State Representative and chairman of the Judiciary Committee Eugene O'Flaherty sent a bill to the House, reported the Boston Globe. While O’Flaherty’s decision moves the bill forward, it is being considered an unusual move since he did not return it to the bill’s chief sponsor in the Senate, Senator Mary Walsh.
The Catholic Church and other religious groups have voiced their strong opposition to the bill, which they say represents a serious government encroachment on religion.
It would require all religious organizations to file annual financial reports and a list of real-estate holdings with the attorney general's charities division. The bill emerged in the wake of the abuse scandals and financial problems that ensued.
Terrence Donilon, communications director for the archdiocese, said the passage of the bill and its implementation would cost the archdiocese more than $3 million, reported the Globe. Donilon said it would force the archdiocese to make further cutbacks.
The bill’s opponents have told legislators to hold off on the bill since the Archdiocese of Boston has developed a voluntary disclosure plan, which it released Oct. 21.
The archdiocese’s voluntary plan would require an audit and annual financial report of the archdiocesan accounts and an audit and financial report from all parishes every three years.
But advocates of the bill are not convinced that the archdiocese’s plan will guarantee full transparency, reported the Globe. As well, they say the plan does not guarantee that Archbishop Sean O'Malley—or a future archbishop—would not end the plan. The legislation, on the other hand, they argue, would be permanent.
They also argue that the voluntary plan does not include the three other dioceses in Massachusetts.
Some Catholics have shown support for the bill. According to the Globe, more than 300 people attended a hearing in August at the State House, with a large majority in favor of the legislation.
There is no guarantee that the bill will pass before the end of the legislative session, Nov. 16.
, Nov 4, 2005 (CNA) - Wisconsin Governor vetoes AB 499, a Ban on All Human Cloning, yesterday afternoon. Governor Doyle took his red pen to the measure just a short time ago, he says the bill “would criminalize some of the most promising stem cell research that could cure diseases.”
The bill would have prohibited reproductive cloning, or creating babies using existing human cells.Supporters say Wisconsin needs ethical guidelines for its research and scientists shouldn't be allowed to clone an embryo to harvest stem cells.
“With this action, Wisconsin will beckon to scientists that the welcome mat is rolled out for the pursuit of human cloning for any purpose in Wisconsin," stated Susan Armacost, Legislative Director for Wisconsin Right to Life.
"With no prohibition in place, scientists are free to pursue cloning of living human embryos which can be destroyed at the embryonic stage or developed in an artificial womb or uterus to a stage equivalent to the time of birth.
"The potential for fetal farming – mining human beings for organs and body parts – is alive and well in Wisconsin, thanks to Gov. Doyle’s impending veto of AB 499, a Ban on All Human Cloning."
The measure has been vigorously denounced by Wisconsin Right to Life, a group that strongly opposes the deliberate creation and destruction of a human life for scientific experimentation and is the lead organization promoting a ban on all human cloning in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Right to Life website has the most comprehensive information regarding human cloning anywhere in the state. Go to www.wrtl.org
Rome, Italy, Nov 4, 2005 (CNA) -
The President of the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians will ask Israel, it hands over to Catholics, overseeing of the ‘Upper Room’, the place in which Christ celebrated the Last Supper, and instituted the Eucharist and the Priestly Order.
The EFE agency informed yesterday, it had access to a document, saying that Cardinal Walter Kasper arrived in Jerusalem “with a pre-agreement” stipulating that the Holy See would preserve the historical character of the place, and that it would remain open to pilgrims and tourists and that Israel would provide security.
According to the agency, the Vatican representative “asked for the use of the Upper Room for liturgical offices”, and “that custody will be handed over to the Franciscan Order.”
The Upper Room chapel, was used during John Paul II’s visit in 2000. There, he presided over a historical private Mass, the first one in centuries in this specific place.
The history of the building where the Upper Room is located, reflects the complex history of the region. During the Middle-Ages, the Franciscans set up there first convent in the Holy Land, but they were expulsed by the Ottomans in the year 1551. The invaders built a mosque there, arguing that King David’s tomb was located in the same area.
The building was then taken over by the Israeli Ministry of Culture in 1967, and is now being used as a hebrew school and a synagogue.
Vatican City, Nov 4, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican announced this morning, that His Most Eminent Highness Fra' Andrew Bertie, prince and grand master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta will be this year’s recipient of the Path to Peace Foundation’s annual award for service and leadership in the international community.
Fra’ Bertie will receive the award in New York on November 9th.
A communique released today explains that the grand master is being awarded the prize "in recognition of his exemplary charitable works."
Fra' Andrew Bertie was elected in 1988 as the 78th prince and grand master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta.
The Order of Malta or the Knights of Malta, as it is more commonly known, is a Catholic lay religious order, which was formally recognized by Pope Paschal II in 1113.
It is also the fourth oldest religious order in the Church.
"The motto of the order”, today’s statement continues, “is 'Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum,' that is, to defend the faith and to serve the poor. Gradually the order took on a military function, and became one of the most advanced fighting and naval forces in the world.”
“As the need for military force was diminished,” the communique notes, “the order focused its attention to better serving the poor and the sick throughout the world. Currently, there are over 10,000 knights and dames worldwide engaged in charitable works.”
It adds: “The Order of Malta sends millions of dollars worth of food, medicine, and relief supplies around the world each year."
As Grand Master of the order, it is Prince Bertie’s role to oversee their numerous international charitable activities.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore, apostolic nuncio and Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations is president of the Path to Peace Foundation, who will confer the award. Recently, the Order of Malta was granted observer status at the United Nations.