Archive of November 11, 2005

Pope reminds all faithful need Jesus to ‘take their hand and lead them to the Father’s House’

Vatican City, Nov 11, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier today, Pope Benedict presided at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica commemorating deceased cardinals and bishops, and noted that during November in particular, the Church must pray and offer "its redeeming sacrifice for the souls of the deceased faithful."

Members of the College of Cardinals concelebrated with the Holy Father, as he remembered cardinals, archbishops and bishops who had died within the course of the last year.

Specifically recalling his predecessor, the late John Paul II, Pope Benedict affirmed how "he left us, among other shining examples, that most precious example of prayer. At this time too, we take up his spiritual heritage, in the knowledge that his intervention continues even more intensely from heaven."
The Pope also specifically named five cardinals who have died over the last twelve months: Juan Carlos Aramburu, Jan Pieter Schotte, Corrado Bafile, Jaime Sin and Giuseppe Caprio, saying that, "Today, together with their souls, we entrust to the Lord those of the archbishops and bishops who, over the same period, concluded their earthly journey."

A reading from the book of Sirach was chosen to commemorate the dead, which the Holy Father said, "contains first an exhortation to constancy under trial then an invitation to trust in God."

He added that, "Whoever puts himself at the service of the Lord and passes his life in ecclesial ministry is not exempt from trials, on the contrary he faces the most insidious ordeals, as the experience of the saints amply shows.”
“But living in fear of God”, he pointed out, “frees the heart from all fear and immerses it in the depths of His love."

"Whoever trusts in Jesus”, continued the Pope, “places his faith in God Himself. ... We human beings need a friend, a brother to take us by the hand and accompany us to 'the Father's house,' we need someone who knows the way well."

"Jesus is the way open to everyone,” he said, there is no other. And those that appear as 'other' ways, in as much as they are authentic lead back to Him, otherwise they do not bring life.

While pointing out that “it is, then, a priceless gift that the Father gave humanity sending His only-begotten Son”, he said that “This gift brings a responsibility, which is greater the closer the relationship with Jesus."

The Pope concluded saying that "As we give thanks to God for all the benefits He granted our late confreres, for them we offer the merits of Jesus' passion and death to compensate for shortcomings due to human frailty."

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Two US dioceses receive new bishops

Vatican City, Nov 11, 2005 (CNA) - Two United States dioceses received new bishops this week. Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Walker Nickless of Denver to head the Diocese of Sioux City.
The current vicar general of the Archdiocese of Denver will succeed Bishop Daniel DiNardo, who left his post in March 2004.

The 58-year-old monsignor was ordained a priest in 1973. His ordination to the episcopate will be Jan. 20 at Sioux City’s Cathedral of the Epiphany.

At a press conference yesterday, the bishop-elect said he feels blessed to have been named to Sioux City.

Bishop Salvatore Matano succeeded Bishop Kenneth Angell Wednesday as bishop of the statewide Diocese of Burlington, Vt., following the Pope’s acceptance of the 75-year-old bishop’s retirement.

Bishop Matano had been named co-adjutor bishop in April. His priorities include regaining support for the Church among Catholics in Vermont; encouraging priestly vocations; urging parishioners to commit to attending weekly mass, reported Burlington’s Free Press.

At a press conference Wednesday, the 59-year-old bishop also said he intends to defend and promote the Church’s position on marriage and life issues, and does not intend to make any dramatic decisions about church closings, mergers or sales. 

While Catholicism is the largest denomination in the state, the number of practicing Catholics has declined, forcing the diocese to consider closing parishes. According to chancellor Fr. John McDermott, only one-third of Vermont’s 118,000 Catholics attend mass on a given weekend.

The diocese has faced a sharp decline of priests. Since last year, the number of active priests has declined from 92 to 82 due to death or retirement. The bishop said he would address the priest shortage partly by bringing in priests from other countries.

Bishop Angell served the diocese for the last 13 years. During his tenure, he dealt with ongoing physical and sex abuse scandals and the same-sex civil union debate. The heated social debate resulted in the passage of a bill that legalized same-sex civil unions.

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Archeologists find evidence supporting Biblical Goliath

Jerusalem, Israel, Nov 11, 2005 (CNA) - Archeologists near Jerusalem have made a significant discovery which lends historical credence to the Old Testament story of David and Goliath.

A piece of pottery was unearthed at the speculated site of Goliath’s house at Tel es-Safi, an area in southern Israel, bearing an inscription with his name. The site is thought to be the location of the ancient Philistine city of Gath.

While scientists admit the finding does not prove Goliath’s existence, it does lend new historical credibility to the oft-told Bible story.

According to the Associated Press, Dr. Aren Maeir, a professor at Bar-Ilan University and the excavation‘s director said, "What this means is that at the time there were people there named Goliath…It shows us that David and Goliath's story reflects the cultural reality of the time."

According to the famous underdog tale, recorded in the book of 1 Samuel, David, a lowly shepherd who would become Israel’s king, slew the Philistine giant Goliath--who was said to have wreaked havoc on, and provoked the people of Israel--with a slingshot.

Israel and the Philistines were engaged in a brutal war at the time.

Archeologists say that the newfound pottery dates back to somewhere around 950 BC, putting it within 70 years of the story as recorded. This also makes it the oldest Philistine inscription ever unearthed.

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Attacks on journal editor raise questions about academic freedom and intelligent design

Washington D.C., Nov 11, 2005 (CNA) - The editor of a small, scientific journal, loosely associated with the Smithsonian Institute, has come under tremendous fire recently, for his publication of an article supporting the theory of Intelligent Design--and he doesn’t even believe the theory himself.

Intelligent design, the burgeoning theory which suggests that the universe is too complex to have been created at random, and that an intelligent hand lies at its genesis, has garnered considerable attention in recent months.

The attention largely comes from two U.S. school districts who want (or don’t want) to include a note about the theory as an alternative to certain aspects of evolution in their biology classrooms.

Richard Sternberg, a staff scientist at the National Institutes of Health, found himself at the center of the debate over science and academic freedom when he published an article by university professor and Intelligent Design proponent Stephen Meyer last year.

Meyer, a Cambridge-trained professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University and Senior Fellow at Seattle’s Discovery Institute, a think tank for determining the place of a creator in the universe, wrote the peer-reviewed article called, “The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories.”

According to National Public Radio, Sternberg published the piece, despite his skepticism "because evolutionary biologists are thinking about this. So I thought that by putting this on the table, there could be some reasoned discourse. That's what I thought, and I was dead wrong."

Sternberg, who edits the small, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, reports that not only were his colleagues furious, but some tried to smear his scientific reputation by accusing him of fraud and saying that the piece was not really peer-reviewed.

He filed a complaint with U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which protects federal employees, but after investigating--and backing up many of Sternberg’s claims--they decided they could not take action because he was not technically an employee of the Smithsonian.

While Sternberg’s critics say that no real harm was done to him, the incident highlights what many see as a hypocritical attack on academic freedom from strict evolution proponents.

Many supporters of intelligent design hold and admit that while it is widely accepted and largely unquestioned, Darwin’s theory of evolution contains serious holes which defy explanation.

Terry Mattingly, a religion writer for the Scripps-Howard news service recently criticized an article in the Columbia Journalism Review which suggested that “all the [evolution] critics are religious nuts and there is no need to take their claims seriously or present their arguments accurately.”

Earlier this year, Vienna’s Cardinal Christof Shoenborn wrote in a New York Times editorial that, “Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.”

Evolution, in the sense of common ancestry may be true, the Cardinal wrote, but neo-Darwinism, or what he describes as “an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection”, is completely false in the eyes of the Church.

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Archbishop thanks police for ‘doing God’s work’

Newark, N.J., Nov 11, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop John Myers of Newark honored two police officers Thursday, who had been killed in the line of duty this year, and thanked those still on the job for “doing God’s work.”

During the archdiocese’s 13th annual mass for law enforcement officers at Sacred Heart Cathedral, the archbishop praised the late Atlantic City Patrolman Thomas McMeekin Jr. and Newark School District Special Police Officer Dwayne Reeves.
The ceremony was attended by hundreds of police officers as well as Gov. Elect Jon Corzine, U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, and other dignitaries, reported the Associated Press.

"Every day you are called on to defend the weak, protect the innocent, to maintain the peace," the archbishop reportedly told the officers in the congregation during his homily. "Evil exists in this world. Terrorists can raise their bloody hands at any moment. I thank you for your protection. You are doing God's work.”

McMeekin was killed March 4 when he was struck by a bus while directing traffic at an accident scene. Reeves was shot outside a city high school July 18, allegedly by a man angered by a fight that had broken out between two girls.

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Church disclosure bill clears Massachusetts Senate

Boston, Mass., Nov 11, 2005 (CNA) - The Massachusetts Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill that would require religious organizations to disclose their financial records annually, like all other nonprofit and charitable groups.

The Senate approved the bill 33-4, reported the Associated Press. Supporters of the bill have said the lack of transparency helped the Church in Massachusetts hide the sex abuse scandal from the public, and one way to prevent a repeat is to make all financial records public.

The bill will now head to the House.

Catholic dioceses and other religious organizations have voiced their opposition to the bill.

Last month, Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston pledged full disclosure of the archdiocese's finances, including the sources of all clergy sex abuse payments and the fiscal health of every parish, but supporters of the bill were not satisfied by the diocese’s plan.

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Cardinal asks Jews to forgive church's past anti-Semitism

, Nov 11, 2005 (CNA) - There must be a continued effort to improve communication between Jews and Christians is needed, said Cardinal William Keeler Nov. 4 at the 40th-anniversary celebrations of Nostra Aetate at Temple Oheb Shalom.

Nostra Aetate was promulgated in 1965 as a result of the Second Vatican Council. It condemns anti-Semitism and rescinds claims that the Jews as a people are guilty for the death of Christ.

"The Church has caused great suffering through the ages in the name of Jesus, and for that we asked for forgiveness," said Cardinal Keeler, reported journalist Louis Llovio.

Cardinal Keeler warned that, even today, the words of Jesus are manipulated to justify anti- Semitism, as they were by the Nazis. The Scriptures “should never again be twisted" to justify hate, he said.

Rabbi Steven Fink commented on Nostra Aetate’s affirmation that the roots of Christianity are in Judaism. He thanked those who created the document and those who, like Cardinal Keeler, “have devoted their lives to bringing God's people ever closer.”

Cardinal Keeler has been on the International Catholic Orthodox Commission for Theological Dialogue since 1986 and serves as moderator for Catholic-Jewish dialogue for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. He was chairman of the bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, from 1984 through 1987.

"Nostra Aetate pointed out for Catholics that we hold in common with the Jewish people the Torah and the prophets" and that we share the same "traditions of the faith,"Cardinal Keeler reportedly said.

The bishop of Baltimore spoke of Pope John Paul II's visit to Israel in 2000 and his prayer at the Wailing Wall. He also told the congregation that the new Pope would continue to reach out to Jews and people of other faiths.

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Underground Catholic bishop arrested again in China

Madrid, Spain, Nov 11, 2005 (CNA) - The Cardinal Kung Foundation is reporting that government agents in China have arrested an underground bishop of the Catholic Church for the eighth time in the city of Zhengding in northern China.

The detention of Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo, 70, by Chinese security forces was denounced by the Cardinal Kung Foundation, which defends the rights of the underground Catholic Church that is faithful to the Pope and the Vatican.  The Foundation reported that Bishop Jia was taken away for a “study session.”
According to the statement, police officers also detained two other priests of the same diocese on November 7.  Fathers Li Suchuan and Yang Ermeng were taken to the Security Bureau of Jinzhou City and have not been heard from since.
Bishop Jia has been arrested eight times and has spent approximately 20 years in jail and has been under strict surveillance for many years for refusing to join the Catholic Patriotic Association operated by the Chinese Communist Party.  The “official” Chinese church rejects the authority of the Vatican over the appointment of bishops.

The Patriotic Association boasts of four million members.  The Cardinal Kung Foundation, on the other hand, maintains that the underground Church loyal to the Vatican consists of nearly 12 million.

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Lay groups express support for bishops’ criticism of sex-ed laws in Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 11, 2005 (CNA) - The Catholic Lawyers Corporation (CLC) and the organization Pro-Vida in Argentina have announced their support of the Argentinean bishops’ call for the government to reject sex-ed laws that do not have the consensus of the people.
Representatives of the CLC called on “those in power” to refrain from approving laws that make sex-ed obligatory in schools because they constitute a “severe attack on the family.”

The group of lawyers specifically mentioned a proposal that has made its way to the national Congress and would make “sexual instruction” obligatory throughout the country, thus jeopardizing the right of parents to determine their children’s education.

Pro-Vida also denounced sex-ed policies, calling such efforts by the state “coercive.”  “The policy of ‘sexually educating’ children on the part of the State without the intervention and consent of parents is an attack on the elemental principles guaranteeing families the right to the moral formation of their children,” the group said in a statement.

By attempting to impose a one-sided approach to the issue—divorcing sexuality from love and responsibility—which has already failed in other parts of the world, proponents are revealing their “ideological intentions” of inciting young people with ideas that go against their family values, the group maintained.

On Wednesday, the bishops of Argentina gathered for their annual meeting 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.”

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Spanish couple combats violence in Caracas with “City of Hope”

Madrid, Spain, Nov 11, 2005 (CNA) - According to a report published by the AVAN news agency, a home for troubled young people in Caracas, called “City of Hope,” has led to a 90% drop in violence in the suburbs of the Venezuelan capital.

Father Antonio Maria Zubia, collaborator at the home, said Francisco and Pilar Bolinches of Spain, who came up with the idea to found a home for troubled youngsters as a religious apostolate, founded the “City of Hope”.

Since its founding in 2002, the City of Hope has helped more than 1,000 young people.  According to Father Zubia, thanks to the “moral and economic support of many Spaniards and Venezuelans,” the “crime index” has fallen drastically, sparking vast interest in the initiative.

The Spanish couple’s twelve children assist them in organizing missionary activities, educational classes for parents, orientation for university students and tutoring for adolescents.

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Mexican bishops: decisions about life cannot be made “as if God did not exist”

Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 11, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Javier Chavolla of Toluca, Mexico, reacted to news this week of the possible legalization of euthanasia in that country, emphasizing the urgent need for laws based on “principles and values” that acknowledge that “human beings do not own anybody” and that “decisions about life cannot be made as if God did not exist.”

Making his comments as the bishops of Mexico were gathered for their annual assembly, Bishop Chavolla recalled that while the Church supports “dignified death” and shares the concern of the faithful regarding the spread of a culture of pain for pain’s sake, she couldn’t support proposed laws that would legalize euthanasia.

In a statement released by the Conference, the bishops clarified the “radical difference” between “conferring death” and “consenting to death,” as the former is “an act suppressing life” and the latter implies accepting suffering until death.
“Therefore we should not be confused about euthanasia, which is an action or an omission that has as its intention the procurement of the death of another person in order to spare him or her of pain or suffering,” they said.

Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar of Matehuala emphasized that a dignified death is one that “provides the patient sensitive and respectful treatment, truthful information and participation in the decisions that affect him or her, adequate control over pain and other symptoms, psychological and social support, as well as spiritual attention in accord with his or her beliefs.”  Euthanasia, he added, as well as intense therapy that has no chance of contributing to the patient’s recovery, are “unacceptable for the Catholic Church.”

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Italian daily publishes excerpts from long-awaited Vatican document on homosexuals in the seminary

Rome, Italy, Nov 11, 2005 (CNA) - The Italian daily Il Giornale has published what it claims are excerpts from the upcoming Vatican document that will bar homosexuals from the priesthood.

The newspaper claims to have had access to the eight-page document that will be released under the auspices of the Congregation for Catholic Education and will be entitled, “Instruction for vocational discernment criteria regarding persons with homosexual tendencies in view of their admission to the priesthood and holy orders.”

The document will allegedly include an introduction and three chapters: “Affective maturity and spiritual paternity,” “Homosexuality and the ordained ministry,” and “Discernment of the suitability of candidates on the part of the Church.”

Il Giornale says in the document the Vatican will reiterate that homosexual persons should be “treated with respect and kindness” and that “any sign of discrimination” against them must be avoided, but that they should be barred from entering the seminary because of their incompatibility with the priesthood.

The newspaper also maintains the document will affirm that “the Church cannot admit into the priesthood those who practice homosexuality or have homosexual tendencies or are close to the so-called ‘gay’ culture” as manifested through their opinions, their participation at gay protests or their embracing of the homosexual agenda.

The document will also reiterate that “there is no right to ordination” and that “discernment regarding the suitability” of future priests corresponds to the competence of Church, which must judge a candidate’s affective maturity, ability to live chastely, and whether or not he suffers from “sexual disorders incompatible with the priesthood.”

In the case of “serious doubt,” the candidate in question would not be allowed to enter the seminary, Il Giornale reports.

The Italian newspaper also explained that “tendencies that would indicate a transitional problem, such as in the case of an adolescent who has not yet fully matured, would have to be overcome for at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.”

The document maintains that homosexuality can “create obstacles in the correct relationship between men and women,” and in these cases, the spiritual director would have the obligation to “dissuade the candidate” from continuing his seminary formation.

According to Il Giornale, the Vatican document will be published on November 29.

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