Alexandria, Va., Nov 10, 2005 (CNA) - The Catholic response to the people who survived Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the southern United States continue. To date, Catholic Charities USA has allocated more than $36 million to 58 local Catholic Charities and other Catholic organizations responding to these natural disasters.
The organization has also raised a record $101 million to assist in what will be the network's largest disaster response effort in its history.
Across the country, more than 80 local Catholic Charities are working to meet the needs of hurricane victims by providing victims with the basic necessities, helping with medical and prescription needs, offering clean-up assistance, and providing crisis counseling, job placement, and housing. Some 58 local offices have each received disaster relief grants from Catholic Charities USA, ranging from $6,000 to $25 million; a $25.6 million grant was allocated to Catholic Charities of New Orleans.
Two months after Hurricane Katrina struck Catholic Charities in New Orleans as well as the other Catholic Charities agencies are moving into the long-term recovery phase, which could last up to a few years.
For more information, visit www.catholiccharitiesinfo.org.
London, England, Nov 10, 2005 (CNA) - Devotion to Mary is growing among Anglicans, Fr. Noel Wynn told the New York Times. Fr. Wynn is the director of the Roman Catholic Marian shrine in Walsingham, known as “England’s Nazareth.”
Walsingham is home to two Marian shrines—one Catholic and the other Anglican—located at opposite sides of the town.
Tradition says the first shrine was founded in 1061, when Richeldis de Faverches, a Saxon noblewoman, had a vision of the Virgin Mary, who showed her the house in Nazareth where the Angel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus. Mary then instructed the lady to build a replica.
Since then, Walsingham has been an important pilgrimage site in England, whose emphasis is not healing but on one’s lifelong Christian journey.
In 1538, what is now the Protestant shrine was destroyed as part of the Reformation under King Henry VIII. It was rebuilt in 1931, with accommodations for 218 people.
The Catholic shrine is built around the Slipper Chapel, so named because historically it was there that people removed their shoes and walked the Holy Mile, the last mile of the pilgrimage. Some still walk it, reported the New York Times. This shrine has accommodations for 120.
According to the New York Times, the number of Protestant pilgrims visiting the Marian shrine and staying overnight has risen since 1999, from 10,000 to 12,000.
Protestant worshipers in Walsingham often belong to the Anglo-Catholic tradition, which accords greater reverence to the Virgin Mary than other Protestant sects, and uses the bells and incense like in the Roman Catholic liturgy.
The shrines also appeal to other Christians, and the Orthodox and Methodist churches in the town are indicative of this.
Austin, Texas, Nov 10, 2005 (CNA) - A majority of voters approved writing a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Texas Tuesday.
Approximately, 76 percent of voters favored the amendment, which defines marriage as "the union of one man and one woman" and prohibits the state from "creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."
This vote will make Texas the 18th state to adopt a pro-marriage constitutional provision. Turnout was 17 percent statewide, reported the Houston Chronicle.
The proposition was supported by Gov. Rick Perry and many churches throughout the state.
State Rep. Warren Chisum, who wrote the amendment, said the victory was won “from the pulpits of the state,” reported the Chronicle.
"The people of Texas have spoken and they intend that marriage should be between one man and one woman," he was quoted as saying.
That same day, Maine voters took to the polls as well and voted to maintain the state’s gay rights law.
The Christian Civic League of Maine and Maine Grassroots Coalition consider the gay rights law as a step toward legalized gay marriage. However, pro-family groups are committed to lobby for a state constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage.
"Though we are disappointed in the vote on Question One, we remain committed to marriage as the beautiful and loving union between a man and a woman," said Rev. Sandy Williams of the Coalition for Marriage, reported the Associated Press.
Baldacci is not interested in such an amendment because the state already has a law barring marriage between people of the same gender, his aide, Lee Umphrey, told the AP.
Washington D.C., Nov 10, 2005 (CNA) - As the House of Representatives takes up its budget reconciliation bill, the chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committees for domestic and international policy said they are “deeply disappointed” by the proposal, particularly its lack of concern for children.
In a Nov. 8 letter to the House, the bishops said several programs that serve vulnerable people—often children—would lose funds if the legislation passes in its current form.
The letter was signed by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, chairman of the USCCB Domestic Policy Committee and Bishop John Ricard, SSJ, of Pensacola-Tallahassee, chairman of the USCCB International Policy Committee.
Last February, when Congress began the process of developing the 2006 budget, USCCB president Bishop William Skylstad urged Congress to remember that budget decisions “will reflect not only economic policies but moral choices,” and “to give priority attention in the budget to the needs of poor and vulnerable people both here and abroad.”
The bishops said their recent letter reiterates these priorities and shares their view on how the bill may impact key programs and the people they serve.
“We are guided by Catholic moral principles: respect for human life and dignity; the importance of family and the value of work; an option for the poor and the call for participation; and the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity,” they wrote. “We also draw upon the Church’ experience living with, and serving the poor among us. As perhaps the largest non-governmental provider of health care and human services to vulnerable people, the Catholic community meets the poor in our soup kitchens, Catholic Charities agencies and health care facilities.”
Bishops DiMarzio and Ricard said the reconciliation bill would lead to cuts in the food stamp program, health care for the poor, temporary assistance for needy families, child support funds, and agricultural programs.
“We urge you to remember that the federal budget is more than a fiscal plan; it reflects our values as a people…In these difficult times, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urges you to work for a budget that does not neglect the needs of the ‘least of these’ in our nation and the world,” the bishops wrote.
To read full text of the letter:
San Salvador, El Salvador, Nov 10, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador, El Salvador, warned this week of the need for “world action to protect” those suffering from AIDS and to provide for them “the latest medicines in sufficient abundance.”
“This is a commitment humanity has, we are all brothers and sisters, even though we are separated by borders,” the archbishop said.
Archbishop Saenz’s statements came at the beginning of the III Latin American and Caribbean Forum on HIV/ADIS and the IV Central American Meeting On Persons Living With HIV/AIDS, which are taking place until November 11 in San Salvador.
He also called on pharmaceutical companies to make helping those who suffer and who don’t have the resources to get adequate treatment a priority, rather than simply seeking “their own advantage and economic benefit.”
On the other hand, the archbishop said young people and adolescents should be taught moral values that respect the dignity of persons who suffer from AIDS.
Madrid, Spain, Nov 10, 2005 (CNA) - During a Mass honoring Our Lady of Almudena, the patroness of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela emphasized the importance of devotion to Mary and called on believers to open a place for her in their homes and to look to her as the model for families and the example of “the virtue of Christian strength.”
Before the more than 10,000 people gathered for Mass in Madrid’s main square, the cardinal called on Catholics to enter into the “school of Mary,” who is the “supreme model of contemplation and the admirable example of a fruitful, joyful and enriching interior life.”
Cardinal Rouco also enjoined the faithful to look to the Blessed Mother for encouragement in defending “the right and responsibility” of parents to “determine the moral and religious education that they wish their children to receive at school, in accord with their own convictions.”
The city of Madrid, he said, can only become a better place through “mutual and fraternal understanding” and greater “solidarity” among its residents. The cardinal’s statements were echoed by Madrid mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, who pronounced the traditional invocation of the city, praying that the Spanish capital would be “a land of hope, in which each citizen discover an opportunity to be useful to himself and to others.”
The mayor also prayed to Mary that Pope Benedict XVI would soon visit Madrid and renew the ties of his predecessor with the Spanish capital.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 10, 2005 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Argentina, which is gathered this week in general assembly, has published a statement calling for public debate on proposed laws related to the family and to sex-ed in schools.
Meeting in the city of Pilar, the bishops said that with the risk that certain measures, such as a new policy on sex-ed, might be approved before the end of the current legislative session, the nation needs to ask legislators “to submit the proposals to appropriate and ample debate, in an authentic democratic spirit.” Special attention must be paid, the bishops continued, to the concerns of parents, teachers, and educational institutions that consider the proposals to be detrimental to the family and to education.
Rome, Italy, Nov 10, 2005 (CNA) - Analisis Digital, the news agency of the Archdiocese of Madrid, is reporting this week that an unprecedented symposium on the social teachings of the Catholic Church has taken place in the Chinese capital of Peking.
According to the news service, the symposium was organized by the Social Academy of China and the Bishops’ Conference of Germany. The event was billed by the Chinese as a sort of “ecumenism” between Catholicism and the ideals of the communist revolution.
Some of the issues discussed included the social services offered by the Christian Churches, emphasizing that despite official state propaganda, “poverty is wreaking havoc in China.”
According to Analisis Digital, this situation has led the Chinese government to consider the possibility of “authorizing the entry of Catholic missionaries into the country to work with the poor,” given the Church’s vast experience in this field and the fact that missionaries carry out their work with everyone regardless of creed or nationality.
Another issue that was discussed was “the relationship between religion and society,” which revealed “the disparity of opinions” due to the government’s refusal to recognize religious freedom. This policy has led to an “undetermined number of Catholics” being imprisoned for practicing their faith in communion with the Holy See rather than under the control of the Patriotic church.
According to the director of the Institute for the Study of Religion and the Institute for the Study of Christianity, Zhuo Xin Ping, the symposium “has helped show more clearly the ties that exist between Catholic social teaching and (official) social service with concrete examples and testimonies.”
Vatican City, Nov 10, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier today, Pope Benedict sent a message to Jordan’s King Abdullah II, condemning yesterday’s bombing attacks on three hotels in the capital city of Amman and calling them “cruel acts of violence and disrespect for human life.”
Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano sent the message, in the Holy Father‘s name, to King Abdullah following three separate terror attacks which killed 57 people and injured at least 115.
Iraq’s Al Qaeda group, led by Jordanian militant, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi have claimed responsibility for the blasts.
According to Cardinal Sodano, the Pope said he was "Deeply saddened to learn of the cruel acts of violence and disrespect for law and human life perpetrated in the city of Amman,” and expressed “heartfelt condolences to Your Majesty, to the families of the deceased and to the entire nation.”
“Remembering the victims and injured in his prayers,” the Cardinal continued, “the Holy Father invokes the divine gifts of consolation upon those who mourn, and unfailing courage upon all who work for lasting peace and respect for human rights in the Middle East."
Vatican City, Nov 10, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican announced a unique, upcoming conference today, which will look at the role of the Christian mission in the field of sports.
Organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the first international seminar on sport is scheduled to be held in Rome from November 11th through the 12th.
Some 50 experts from 18 different countries will gather for the seminar, themed: "the Christian mission in the field of sport today." They will include, scholars, directors of Catholic sporting associations, representatives from national bishops' conferences and professional athletes.
The Vatican said that the seminar will include analysis on the global phenomenon of sport, along with its cultural, anthropological, educational and ethical repercussions for society.
Participants will also consider various ways in which the Catholic Church can realize her pastoral mission of evangelization--particularly among the young--through sports.
In 2004, Pope John Paul II established the group, ‘Church and Sport’ as part of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. They will present the group’s current findings and future goals at next week’s meeting.
One of the purposes of the seminar, the Vatican said, is to gather experts in the sporting fields as well as Church leaders to collaborate in “Church and Sport’s“ future endeavors.
Recently, Pope Benedict called sports, a “discipline which, if practiced in respect for the rules, becomes an educational instrument and a vehicle for important human and spiritual values.”
, Nov 10, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking yesterday before the United Nation’s Third Committee, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the U.N., urged the
world body to defend and protect the rights of refugees around the globe, in the name of human dignity.
Speaking on the 'Report of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Archbishop Migliore said that the protection of refugees involves "not just defense from outside hostile forces, [but] touches the whole spectrum of human rights of those forced to flee.”
“Such rights”, he said, “remain constant during all phases of repatriation, reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction."
Steubenville, Ohio, Nov 10, 2005 (CNA) - Particularly highlighting the recent Terri Schiavo debacle, a recent conference held at Ohio’s Franciscan University of Steubenville, pointed to the dangers of, and ways to fight against, what many are calling an increasingly secular society.
The thirteenth annual gathering of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists (SCSS) brought experts from around the country to the Ohio river valley to discuss some 60 different issues of Catholic-social interest.
The conference focused on issues ranging from parenting, reproductive technologies, divorce and annulment, psychotherapy and a discussion on the societal loss of a sense of sin.
The event also featured a panel discussion featuring theological reflections on the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and took a new look at how to prevent incidents like Terri Schiavo’s recent forced starvation from happening again.
Dr. Stephen Krason, professor of political science at the University, and founder of the SCSS, stressed that Catholics need to pray, act, and be "relentless" in their fight against the "paper tiger" of secular culture.
Deborah Sturm of the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses spoke specifically about the Schiavo incident, and denounced recent enthusiasm over living wills.
Asking whether Schiavo’s death "hints of our descent into tyranny," Sturm told the crowd that the media has falsely convinced the public that living wills can protect them from similar fates. In fact, she said, they could do more harm than good.
"The 'right to die'“, she said, “is moving toward a tyrannical 'duty to die,'…At a time when 'do not resuscitate' is being interpreted as 'do not treat,' other options, such as designating power of attorney to a loved one should be sought.”
"Shred your living wills," she argued.
Stressing the importance of the association and its conference, Dr. Krason noted that Catholic social scientists "bring a Catholic understanding about the human person into their work."
According to organizers, this fact could not be more important--especially today--because, as Northern Illinois University political science professor Dr. Gary D. Glenn put it, "Secularism is, in fact, the new religion"