Archive of November 25, 2005

Pope’s challenge of true Catholic university: quality research and teaching, faithfulness to Magesterium

Vatican City, Nov 25, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict, earlier today visited Rome’s Sacred Heart Catholic University, where he described and challenged faculty and students with his vision for a truly Catholic University--one that seeks to recover the synthesis between faith and reason.

The university is currently celebrating the inauguration of its new academic year.

Prior to the Pope's arrival, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general of the diocese of Rome celebrated Mass with students and faculty from the Milan, Brescia, Piacenza-Cremona, Campobasso and Rome branches of the university.

The celebration began in earnest at 11.00 a.m. in the main hall of the "Agostino Gemelli" where Lorenzo Ornaghi, rector of the university, gave a brief speech, followed by a greeting from Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan, Italy.

The famous Gemelli hospital, part of Sacred Heart, takes its name from the university’s founder, Fr. Agostino Gemelli. 

After greeting leaders of the university, Pope Benedict began his address, saying that, "Finding ourselves here together we cannot but think of the time charged with trepidation and emotion we experienced in this hospital during John Paul II's final months.”

“During those days,” he said, “from all over the world the thoughts of Catholics and non-Catholics alike were directed to the Gemelli hospital where, from his ward, the Pope provided everyone with a matchless lesson on the Christian meaning of life and suffering, bearing personal witness to the Christian message."

The Holy Father then thanked hospital staff for "the attentive care given to the Holy Father."

Moving on to the thousands of young people who pass through the university, the Pope asked: "How do they leave? What culture did they find, assimilate, develop? This is the great challenge: ... to give life to a true Catholic university, one that excels for the quality of its research and teaching and, at the same time, for its faithfulness to the Gospel and to the Church's Magisterium."

He stressed that "the Catholic university is a great workshop in which, in keeping with the various disciplines, new lines of research are constantly being developed in a stimulating encounter between faith and reason, one that aims to recover the synthesis" between these two elements.

This synthesis, he said however, is "unfortunately contrasted by important currents of modern philosophy. As a consequence, ... the fundamental questions facing man - how to live and how to die - seem to be excluded from the realm of rationality and are left to that of subjectivity.”

“The end result”, said Benedict, “is that the question which gave rise to the university - that of truth and goodness - disappears, to be replaced by the question of feasibility.”

“This then is the great challenge facing Catholic universities: to practice science within the horizon of a rationality different from that which dominates today, in keeping with a form of reason open to the transcendent, to God."

The Pope then called on the teachers and students to cast out their nets "into the high seas of knowledge, trusting in the Word of Christ, even when you experience the fatigue and disappointment of not having 'fished' anything.”

“In the great sea of culture,” he said, “Christ always has need of 'fishers of men,' in other words, of people of conscience, well prepared people who place their professional expertise at the service of the Kingdom of God. And university research, if carried out from the standpoint of faith, is also part of this service to the Kingdom and to mankind."

As the Holy Father closed his address, he referred to the "Paul VI International Scientific Institute of research on human fertility and infertility for responsible procreation," which was founded in November 2000.

"It is, he said, "an eloquent example of that synthesis of truth and love that constitutes the living center of Catholic culture."

He noted that the institute, "which came into being in response to the appeal launched by Paul VI in his Encyclical 'Humanae vitae,' aims to give a secure scientific foundation both to the natural regulation of human fertility and to the commitment to overcome infertility by natural means.”

Before bidding farewell to the assembled faculty and students, the Pope echoed John Paul II’s “grateful appreciation for this scientific initiative, I trust it may find the necessary support in continuing to carry out its important research activities.

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Catholic Charities appeals for funds as heating costs rise

Boston, Mass., Nov 25, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston has stepped up its private appeals and announced a fundraising campaign to help lower-income families meet the cost of rising fuel prices.

Catholic Charities president Fr. J. Bryan Hehir told the Associated Press that he expects the number of people seeking assistance from Catholic Charities to surpass the 150,000 the agency helped last year, due largely to fuel costs.

Heating fuel prices are estimated to rise about 30 percent this winter, and Catholic Charities isn’t the only agency appealing to private donors. These agencies say the need is too urgent to hope for more money from the federal government, already funding a war and hurricane cleanup.

Yet, government has provided some relief. On Tuesday, the state Legislature agreed to assistance for some lower and middle-income households, including tax deductions up to $800 for winter heating bills, reported the AP.

Don Atwater, executive director of the Berkshire Community Action Agency in Pittsfield told the AP that his agency already has 1,000 first-time applicants for fuel assistance this year, equaling the total number for all of last year.

Atwater began his private appeal last month, securing $25,000 from the Northern Berkshire United Way and a $10,000 matching fund from the Hoosac Bank in North Adams. The agency's goal is $100,000 to $150,000.

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Catholics warn Anglicans of ‘irreparable damage’ if allow women bishops

London, England, Nov 25, 2005 (CNA) - The Catholic bishops have warned the Church of England against its continued plans to allow women bishops, saying it would “radically impair the relationship between the two large Church bodies."


In July, the Church of England began toward the process to allow women bishops, after bishops voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposal at a General Synod. The proposal just managed to secure the two-thirds majority in the House of Laity, which would be needed to conclude the legislation when it comes for its final approval in about seven years.


In an official paper, the Catholic bishops said consecrating women bishops was a “tremendous and intolerable risk” that could cause “irreparable damage” within and outside the Anglican Communion—something other critics have warned as well.


The Catholic bishops said inviting women bishops could mar recent efforts calling for greater unity between the Anglican and Catholic churches as it is completely at odds with the “texts and spirit” past agreements between the two churches.


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Catholic church hosts interfaith Thanksgiving service

, Nov 25, 2005 (CNA) - Buddhists, Baptists, Jews and Unitarians joined Catholics at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Daytona Beach Monday at the fifth annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service.

More than 400 people attended, of all ages and ethnicities and representing 21 different religious groups, prayed and gave thanks.

Attendance at the service was an indication of the success of a grassroots religious group, called FAITH (Fighting Against Injustice Towards Humanity), which tackles problems in the city, said one participant.

"It is important that we build bridges, not walls," Catholic pastor Fr. Philip Egitto told the Orlando Sentinel. "We have to look at what we have in common rather than our differences."

Rabbi Gary Perras of Temple Israel in Daytona Beach told participants that he hoped there would come a day in the future when "regardless of creed, we would all see each other as family."

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Diocese asked to look into alleged Sacramento miracle

Sacramento, Calif., Nov 25, 2005 (CNA) - A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary which seems to be crying tears of blood outside a Vietnamese Catholic Church in California has caused quite a stir.

Pilgrims and curious locals have been flocking by the hundreds to see the alleged miracle which has been taking place at Sacramento’s Catholic Martyrs Church.

The parish has asked the Diocese of Sacramento to step in and investigate the phenomenon which was discovered last Sunday by Ky Truong, who does maintenance at the church.

Parish officials say they each time they have tried to wipe the red liquid away, it inexplicably returns.

Sacramento resident Andre Nguyen told CBS channel 13 that "To me, personally, it is a miracle. You believe it or don't believe it, that's okay. But I strongly believe it."

The diocese has not yet commented on the situation.

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Missouri Bishops take campaign against stem cell research to the pulpit

St. Louis, Mo., Nov 25, 2005 (CNA) - Missouri Roman Catholics who attend Mass Sunday can expect to hear a homily against embryonic stem cell research and a statewide petition drive aimed at allowing Missourians to vote on a constitutional amendment to protect the research.

Earlier this month, the bishops of the four dioceses that make up the Catholic province of St. Louis decided to direct priests to convey the church's position from their pulpits this Sunday.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday that the Catholic church is using the first Sunday of Advent to launch a campaign aimed at keeping Catholics from signing the petition, and to teach them the Catholic view of the issue.

The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, which includes business interests, universities and patient groups, announced the petition in October. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan approved the petition last week. The coalition has already begun airing advertisements.

The initiative is believed to be the first of its kind. Some believe its success could help fuel a national movement to protect stem cell research through state constitutional amendments.

It isn't just Catholics who are opposed. In June, the editor of "The Pathway," the Missouri Baptist Convention's newspaper, called embryonic stem cell research "highly speculative and dangerous" and "the greatest moral issue facing Missourians since the state ratified the 13th and 14th Amendments abolishing slavery."

Former Republican Sen. John Danforth is the honorary co-chair of the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, and an ordained Episcopal priest. He said initiative opponents should ask themselves two questions.

"First, do you believe the cells in the Petri dish are the equivalent to a 10-year-old child with a disease that may be preventable with this research?" he said. "And second, if you do believe that, do you believe the government should pass legislation to enact that religious proposition?"

The Catholic church believes embryonic stem cell research destroys human life and is therefore akin to abortion. Church leaders, however, say they support adult stem cell research.

In a letter to his priests dated Nov. 10, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke told them: "Without an understanding of the true nature of the 'Initiative,' Catholic voters may be inclined to sign the petition. In order to avoid Catholic voters succumbing to the false promises and statements made by this initiative's proponents, it is important that voters in our parishes receive appropriate scientific, moral and ethical information."

The bishops also have asked every Catholic parish to hold an educational event to discuss the topic.

"The whole purpose is to educate the public that this coalition wants to amend our constitution to give free rein to do whatever scientists want to do with our embryos," said Molly Kertz, director of the St. Louis archdiocese's Respect Life apostolate.

In a recent column in his archdiocesan newspaper announcing the campaign, Burke wrote about the "intrinsic evil" of embryonic stem cell research, and the moral consequences of signing the petition.

"To sign a petition favoring the initiative is to promote the culture of death which tragically besets our nation and constitutes a cooperation in the destruction of human lives at their very beginning," he wrote.

In a sample homily provided to each Catholic pastor in the state, the Missouri Catholic Conference suggests the priest end with, "Our hope and our prayer this day is that - by our words and actions as faithful Catholics - we can shape the policy of our state over this next year so that our state laws and policies respect human life at its very beginnings."


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