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Archive of November 16, 2005

Msgr. David Malloy Elected USCCB General Secretary

Washington D.C., Nov 16, 2005 (CNA) - The Reverend Monsignor David J. Malloy has been elected General Secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

A priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Msgr. Malloy has served as a USCCB Associate General Secretary for the past five years.

In his new post he succeeds Msgr. William P. Fay, who became General Secretary in 2001 and will leave that position on February 2, 2006.

The General Secretary serves a term of five years which can be extended for a year at a time.He studied for the priesthood at St. Francis de Sales Seminary, Milwaukee, and the North American College, Rome, and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on July 1, 1983.While in the diplomatic corps, he served as secretary to the apostolic nunciatures in Pakistan and Syria.

He also served as secretary to the Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York.Monsignor Malloy was serving in the Prefecture of the Papal Household prior to his appointment to the USCCB. He became USCCB Associate General Secretary on January 15, 2001.

His duties involved supervision of about one third of the departments, offices, and secretariats of the Conference. He also acted as liaison to several outside groups affiliated with the Conference, and worked with two other associate general secretaries in matters of supervision and administration.

The election took place November 15 at the USCCB Fall meeting. Msgr. John J. Strynkowski, former Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices, was the other candidate in the election of a new General Secretary for the bishops’ national organization.He succeeds Monsignor William Fay of Boston, who told the bishops his years as general secretary were "an extraordinarily painful time in the life of the church," referring to the priestly sex-abuse scandal.

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Pro-life group, Hillary Clinton agree: Bush should condemn forced abortion during China visit

Front Royal, Va., Nov 16, 2005 (CNA) - As U.S. President George Bush continues an historic four-country trip around Asia, some surprisingly strange bedfellows are joining together to urge the president’s condemnation of vast human-rights and reproductive violations in China, which he will visit over the weekend.

The Population Research Institute, a Virginia-based pro-life organization, praised New York senator Hillary Clinton for a November 10th letter, in which she urged the president to raise the issues of sterilization and forced abortion--part of the country’s severe population control program--during his Chinese visit.

Introduced in 1979, China holds to a much-criticized 1-child policy, enforced through what many call, coercive and abusive practices which run contrary to Catholic teaching and natural human dignity.

Steven Mosher, president of the PRI said Tuesday that, "I am glad that Senator Clinton has raised the profile of this official, systematic abuse of the rights of Chinese women and their husbands.” "Although Sen.

Clinton generally takes the wrong side when it comes to the life issues,” he said, “we are very pleased that she has not remained silent when it comes to this persecution of Chinese mothers as so many feminist and so-called pro-choice leaders have.” Noting however, that Clinton supports U.S. funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which, he pointed out, subsidizes China's population control apparatus, Mosher called on the senator to bring her policy in line with her rhetoric.Nevertheless, Joseph A. D'Agostino, Vice President of Communications at PRI, was grateful for Clinton’s words, recalling that, "too often, discussion of the Communist Chinese government's human rights abuses includes religious and political persecution, but fails to mention the one-child policy, which restricts the rights of every family in China.”

He also expressed gratitude “for President Bush's decision earlier this year to withhold U.S. funding from UNFPA. We hope that President Bush, Sen. Clinton, and others will continue to press this issue and propose specific incentives to persuade China to change her oppressive policies."

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U.S. Catholic bishops issue guidelines for lay workers

Washington D.C., Nov 16, 2005 (CNA) - The U.S. Catholic bishops covered a lot of ground in the two first days of their fall meeting. The bishops talked about Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, the role of the Catholic laity in public ministry, a reaffirmation of the church's opposition to the death penalty, changes to the order and language of the Mass, financial and spiritual support for the church in Africa, a new religious alliance against pornography and a report by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

The president of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., reported that priests' morale was high in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis.Of 415 U.S. bishops, about 300 attended the meeting this week.

The bishops meet twice a year, but the fall meeting is better attended, and the news media are typically given more access to the bishops in the fall and can observe many session.

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops took a big step Tuesday to acknowledge and deal with one of the church's nagging problems: the growing shortage of priests.The bishops approved new rules and expectations for the American church's 30,632 "lay ecclesial ministers," many of whom are filling tasks that used to be exclusively assigned to clergy. In some parishes, for instance, they conduct weddings and baptisms.The debate showed that a number of bishops worry that the term "minister" undercuts the status of priests. But it has come into common use for lay professionals who are certified and authorized by bishops.

Addressing that issue, the final text emphasizes the gap in status between lay workers and the clergy.Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., who chaired the drafting committee on lay ministers, told a news conference that the church has long had lay religious educators but what's new is the laity handling pastoral and administrative work."That role has evolved because of the shortage of priests," he said.In their final public session, the bishops also approved a statement reaffirming their opposition to the death penalty and heard from New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes about the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina.

The number of active Catholic priests has dropped from 57,317 to 42,528 since 1985. The church has 30,632 salaried lay ministers who work at least 20 hours a week, a 53 percent increase since 1990. The priesthood shortage is also alleviated by the 15,027 men ordained as permanent deacons to assist priests.

On Tuesday afternoon, the bishops began a day or two of closed-door executive sessions, provoking complaints from lay activists who champion open meetings.Among the issues likely to be discussed behind closed doors are ongoing problems and programs in the wake of the priestly sex-abuse scandal.

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Catholic development organization gives $2M in post-tsunami efforts

Ottawa, Canada, Nov 16, 2005 (CNA) - The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has made its largest ever one-time contribution to a long-term development project. Nearly one year after a massive tsunami hit Southeast Asia, hundreds of thousands of people are still displaced and trying to rebuild their communities. Development and Peace has responded with a $2-million payment to a multi-country post-tsunami relief effort.

Valued at $25 million, the new project will build 3,000 houses in Aceh, Indonesia, restore damaged or destroyed village infrastructures, and assist the economic and cultural recovery of the region’s tidal wave survivors The project is being funded in large part by a $19-million grant from Misereor, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Germany, and $2 million from Development and Peace, which is the development and emergency relief arm of the Canadian bishops.

Development and Peace is also seeking an additional $4 million in support from the federal government’s Canadian International Development Agency through its tsunami matching-funds program. “By working collaboratively with Misereor, our sister agency in Germany, this project shows what can be accomplished when Catholic development organizations link their resources to benefit those in need in countries across the globe,” said Development and Peace president Margie Noonan.

The first phase of the housing project started in April 2005; it will end in December 2006. It is being conducted under the supervision of Uplink (Urban Poor Linkage Indonesia), one of Development and Peace’s principal partner organizations in Indonesia. Almost 100,000 houses will be built according to government standards.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops had launched a nationwide appeal early in January 2005 to help victims of the tsunami and raised $20.7 million in direct contributions. It is also eligible for matching Canadian government funds of $11.7 million.

Joint projects involving Development and Peace and CIDA have already provided $3.7 million for tsunami reconstruction in Asia. In addition to the Aceh housing project, Development and Peace is developing large number of multi-year projects for the period 2005 to 2010.

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Refugee appeal board long overdue, Canadian bishops tell government

Ottawa, Canada, Nov 16, 2005 (CNA) - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has expressed its disappointment regarding the federal government’s decision not to introduce the refugee appeal mechanism, which is provided under Canadian law.

The introduction of appeal proceedings is written into the current Immigration Act, adopted in 2001, but the federal government has stalled its implementation. “The right to an appeal process is a fundamental question of human rights to be recognized for every person,” said Archbishop Roger Ebacher, chairman of the CCCB’s Social Affairs Commission and Human Rights Committee, in a letter to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Giuseppe Volpe.

“Faced with a situation in which someone, if deported, risks death, torture or extreme cruelty, human conscience must guide our decisions and action toward Canada’s treatment of foreigners, and in particular of refugees,” he said.

In his Nov. 8 letter, the archbishop of Gatineau pointed out that the government has not moved on the appeal board even though, on two occasions this year, “members of four federal parties presented to Parliament an ecumenical petition containing over 24,000 signatures, demonstrating the concern of Canadians on this issue.”

“We hope the law approved by Parliament will be taken seriously by your government which should implement this appeal mechanism to ensure justice and equality for persons who seek refuge in our country,” said Archbishop Ebacher.

“We must welcome and promise to protect refugees in accordance with our duty to humanity and according to international law.”

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Archdiocese of Chicago annouces strategic plan to address Catholic schools challenges

Chicago, Ill., Nov 16, 2005 (CNA) - The Office of Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Chicago unveiled on Monday Genesis: A New Beginning for Catholic Schools, a strategic plan for enhancing the Catholic identity, academic excellence and vitality of Catholic schools in Cook and Lake counties.

As presented by Nicholas Wolsonovich, Ph.D., superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago, the multi-year Genesis plan seeks to build on the academic strengths of the Catholic school system in the Archdiocese – already the “best school system in Cook and Lake counties,” said Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago -- by proposing new methods for enhancing faith development and a new model for the structure of school funding. Specifically, the plan includesnew directions and ongoing goals that will help modify school governance, improve instruction, strengthen curriculum, increase professional development for faculty and administrators and utilize networks of educators and other constituencies.

“Over the years, Catholic schools have done a marvelous job educating the young people of the Archdiocese,” said Wolsonovich. “At the same time, we see significant challenges that might affect the way we serve the youth of the Archdiocese, particularly in the area of our schools’ financial viability.

Genesis is designed to help us meet those challenges -- and it calls for greater involvement by laity to support our Catholic school children.”Furthering Catholic identity and academic excellence “Years ago, faith-training for Catholic school teachers was never a concern because schools were staffed predominantly by women and men religious who had been formed in the faith by their respective religious congregations,” noted Wolsonovich. “Today, lay people in the schools have taken on that role, and so the Genesis plan calls for the establishment of a new framework to assist our schools, faculty and staff to pass on our faith to new generations.” Genesis provides opportunities for all teachers to be certified in religion education.

Genesis also calls for the development of a new religion curriculum and its implementation in grades K-12. That religion curriculum will be assessed through the use of a standardized test. As part of its effort to further academic excellence, Genesis calls also for the system-wide implementation of newly developed curricula in language arts, fine arts and social studies in 2006 and 2007. New mathematics, science and health curricula were introduced in 2005.

An additional Genesis goal designed to enhance academic excellence calls for greater inclusion within the regular education classroom of students of varying abilities and learning needs and styles. This effort will continue a commitment to inclusive education furthered by the establishment of two Archdiocesan Centers for Inclusive Education.

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Through periods of trial and liberation, God is always with His people, says Pope

Vatican City, Nov 16, 2005 (CNA) - The continued presence of God with His people throughout history was the major theme of Pope Benedict XVI’s weekly Wednesday audience, held earlier today at the Vatican.

22,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to hear the Holy Father as he continued his ongoing catechesis on the psalms--today speaking on the latter half of Psalm 135, which he called, “thanksgiving for God’s salvation.”Benedict first recalled that the first part of the psalm proclaims "faith in God the Creator, Who reveals Himself through His works of creation," while the second half leads us to "the presence of God ... in the history of salvation."

The Pope pointed out that God’s presence with his people, Israel, is particularly made manifest in the events of the exodus from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the journey through the desert.

"Desert and sea," said the Pope, "represent the passage through evil and oppression to receive the gift of freedom and of the promised land."He said that during the future time of humiliation - trials and oppression which would later befall the people- “Israel would always encounter the saving hand of the God of freedom and love.

"Pinnacle of HistoryPope Benedict went on to explain that Psalm 135 contains within it "two modalities of the one divine revelation [which] are intertwined: the cosmic, and the historical.”

He said that “the Lord is, of course, transcendent as the Creator and Arbiter of existence, but He is also near to His creatures, entering into space and time. Indeed, His presence among us reaches its pinnacle in the Incarnation of Christ.

"The Pope cited the Fathers of the Church who testify to this fact and, he said, “see the apex of the history of salvation, and the supreme sign of the Father's merciful love, in the gift of the Son as Savior and Redeemer of humanity.

"Benedict concluded his prepared catechesis by recalling St. Cyprian who, in his tractate on "Works of Charity and Alms-giving," reflects on "the great deeds God has accomplished for His people in Christ."

Afterwards, speaking off-the-cuff, the Pope noted that "With these words, the holy doctor of the Church adds something to what the psalmist said: that the true gift of the Son of God is the gift of the Incarnation, in which He gave Himself to us, and which remains with us in the Eucharist, in His Word, every day until the end of history.""We often run the risk”, he continued, “of our memory of the evil we have suffered being stronger than our memory of good.”

The psalm however, “awakens our recollection of goodness, of all the good the Lord has done and continues to do, that we may finally know what the psalmist so joyfully says: the truth that God's mercy is eternal, it is present day after.22,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to hear the Holy Father as he continued his ongoing catechesis on the psalms--today speaking on the latter half of Psalm 135, which he called, “thanksgiving for God’s salvation.

”Benedict first recalled that the first part of the psalm proclaims "faith in God the Creator, Who reveals Himself through His works of creation," while the second half leads us to "the presence of God ... in the history of salvation." The Pope pointed out that God’s presence with his people, Israel, is particularly made manifest in the events of the exodus from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the journey through the desert.

"Desert and sea," said the Pope, "represent the passage through evil and oppression to receive the gift of freedom and of the promised land."He said that during the future time of humiliation - trials and oppression which would later befall the people- “Israel would always encounter the saving hand of the God of freedom and love."Pinnacle of HistoryPope Benedict went on to explain that Psalm 135 contains within it "two modalities of the one divine revelation [which] are intertwined: the cosmic, and the historical.”

He said that “the Lord is, of course, transcendent as the Creator and Arbiter of existence, but He is also near to His creatures, entering into space and time. Indeed, His presence among us reaches its pinnacle in the Incarnation of Christ.

"The Pope cited the Fathers of the Church who testify to this fact and, he said, “see the apex of the history of salvation, and the supreme sign of the Father's merciful love, in the gift of the Son as Savior and Redeemer of humanity."Benedict concluded his prepared catechesis by recalling St. Cyprian who, in his tractate on "Works of Charity and Alms-giving," reflects on "the great deeds God has accomplished for His people in Christ."

Afterwards, speaking off-the-cuff, the Pope noted that "With these words, the holy doctor of the Church adds something to what the psalmist said: that the true gift of the Son of God is the gift of the Incarnation, in which He gave Himself to us, and which remains with us in the Eucharist, in His Word, every day until the end of history."

"We often run the risk”, he continued, “of our memory of the evil we have suffered being stronger than our memory of good.” The psalm however, “awakens our recollection of goodness, of all the good the Lord has done and continues to do, that we may finally know what the psalmist so joyfully says: the truth that God's mercy is eternal, it is present day after.

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U.S. Bishops call for end to use of death penalty

Washington D.C., Nov 16, 2005 (CNA) - While pointing out that its moral gravity is different from that of always-evil acts like abortion and euthanasia, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has overwhelmingly approved a new statement, which calls for an end to this country’s use of the death penalty in a 237-4 vote.

The Bishops, who are currently meeting in Washington for their semi-annual plenary assembly, released the statement Tuesday evening, calling it a renewal of the group’s first official appeal--made 25 years ago--to abandon capital punishment in the U.S.They said that their major concern at this “new moment” is to clarify the Catholic Church’s true teaching on the subject and faithfully apply it.

The statement noted that the decision to rethink the death penalty first came about at the urging of the late John Paul II, who wrote in his 1995 Gospel of Life encyclical that, punishment “ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity…when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society.

”Today however, he said that cases like this “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.” The bishops explained that long-held Catholic teaching permits the state to impose the death penalty “upon criminals convicted of heinous crimes, if this ultimate sanction is the only way to protect society from a grave threat to human life.”Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput however, echoed the late John Paul when he said recently, that "In modern industrialized states, [like the U.S.] killing convicted murderers adds nothing to anyone’s safety. It is an excess."

Pastoral responsibilityThe bishops went on in the statement to say that morally speaking, the death penalty is intrinsically different than acts like abortion and euthanasia, which, the Church teaches, are wrong in any and all circumstances.They also took care to clarify that “as pastors,” they “share the justified anger and revulsion at terrible and deadly crimes.” “In calling for an end to the use of the death penalty”, they wrote, “we do not seek to diminish in any way the evil and harm caused by people who commit horrible murders.”They pointed out however, that “standing with families of victims does not compel us to support the death penalty…The pain and loss of one death, cannot be wiped away with another death.”Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the bishops wrote: “if…non-lethal means are sufficient to protect and defend people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and…the dignity of the human person” (2267).

They also pointed to statistics which cite the surprising number of wrongfully executed offenders over the last three decades, and said that issues of racism, poverty and an inadequate penal system combine to make the death penalty unjust in the U.S.

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Austrian cardinal says tendency towards secularization is not inevitable

, Nov 16, 2005 (CNA) - During a interview on Austrian television last Sunday, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn said the "tendency towards secularization should be considered an unalterable natural law."

According to the Austrian news agency Orf.at, the cardinal emphasized that "it should not be necessarily assumed that a secularized society should be an inevitably irreligious society."  He said there were signs of a "contrary tendency" toward religion in society, but that it is yet to be determined if such signs truly point to a new "summer" of the faith.

"Christians," the cardinal continued, "could constitute a ‘creative minority’ with the potential to change society.  Christians should not act timidly or aggressively, but rather as a minority that contributes with creativity.”

Asked about Islam, Cardinal Schonbörn said many Muslims consider Christianity to be “decadent and without a future,” which should constitute a challenge for Christians.

During his participation in a debate last Wednesday during the Great Conference on Islam in Vienna, the cardinal expressed regret that the heads of state of the European Union have not addressed in issue of religious in freedom in discussions surrounding the possible entry of Turkey in the EU.

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Catholic clergy not involved in “marriage” of former Brazilian president

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Nov 16, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Jose Carlos Melo of Maceio, Brazil, said this week no Catholic priest was involved in a “simulated wedding” between Brazil’s ex-president, Fernando Collor de Mellor, and his most recent live-in companion at a church in Alagoas.

Last weekend, Collor—who is in the process of divorcing his second wife—showed up for Mass with his current companion at a Catholic church in Alaogaos, both dressed for a wedding.  Collor stood at the foot of the altar while his female companion was led in by her father—without any kind of wedding march.  Afterwards they held hands and posed for pictures near the altar.

The Archbishop Emeritus of Alagoas, Edvaldo Amaral, who warned that “blessing the union of the divorced and remarried is anti-sacramental”, was celebrating the Mass.

In statements to the Brazilian daily O Estado¸ the archbishop stated, “Theologically speaking there was nothing to indicate this was a wedding.  There was no blessing, and I even quoted Pope John Paul II, when he said that the divorced have no right to the sacrament, but I did not see how they came in the church because I was in the sacristy.”

Archbishop Melo said that “there was no formal wedding, but they continue to insist there was.  We must be patient.  We can’t control somebody else’s mouth.”

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Vatican official says Church established accords with states, not governments

Vatican City, Nov 16, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, said this week the Church’s concordats and accords are made with states and not with the governments that happen to be in power at the time.

“The concordats and other accords,” he noted, “are established with countries controlled by different forms of government, without in principle excluding any one of them,” Archbishop Lajolo stated during a conference on Vatican diplomacy at the Gregorian University in Rome.

 

According to the archbishop, “At times the Holy See has been reproached for having entered into accords with totalitarian regimes, giving them in some way moral approval and facilitating their presence on the international stage. In this sense it must be explained first of all that with these accords the Holy See has never recognized a specific regime; according to international law an accord is established by the State, which remains, and not by the regime or government, which passes away.”

“It should not be forgotten that the Holy See, in establishing these accords, seeks to protect the freedom of the Church in a country and the right to religious freedom of the faithful and the citizens, and this can be even more necessary when the government of a State does not fully respect fundamental rights,” he explained.

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Dominican Republic cardinal warns of danger of violence against immigrants

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Nov 16, 2005 (CNA) - Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, has asked the country’s authorities to address the problem of immigration in order to prevent an outbreak of violence between Dominicans and Haitian immigrants.

“I would not rule out the possibility that there may come a time in which, on the one hand, Dominicans who feel they are being left out, and Haitians who believe they have a right to be in this country as well” create “a violent situation that we will later come to regret,” he warned.

Authorities have the duty to stop the massive influx of Haitians, the cardinal said, “because this has become a very serious matter.”

Cardinal Rodriguez said he would not be surprised if the Dominican Republic saw the same type of violence as France.  “In the case of the Dominican Republic, the exact same thing is happening, that is, we have not been able to guarantee everyone an adequate and authentic education or training for work, and thus many have been left frustrated, and some have decided to leave the country,” he stated.

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