Washington D.C., Nov 30, 2005 (CNA) - American Bishops openly welcomed the final release of the document from the Congregation of Catholic Education on the admittance of homosexuals into Catholic Seminaries.
“A timely” document said Bishop William Skylstad , President of the U.S Bishops Conference.
Bishop Skylstad said that, in the Instruction, “the Congregation for Catholic Education is exercising a Christian realism about what is expected in candidates for the priesthood. This realism understands the challenges of our time.”
Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput published a column on this new document, focusing on the discernment of the Church regarding candidates to the priesthood.
“The Church seeks to ordain only those men who can joyfully accept Catholic teaching on human sexuality,” he said.
“Living the vocation of a genuinely holy priesthood can only be accomplished by a man who possesses a firm Catholic spiritual foundation, and who is supported in his maturity by the Church”.
“At the same time, it is neither unjust nor discriminatory for the Church to insist that candidates for the priesthood meet the demands of the ordained ministry,” he concluded.
The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy echoed the bishops commentary stating that “We do not consider this a matter of discrimination since as the document itself affirms in “the mere desire to become a priest is not sufficient and there is no right to receive sacred Ordination.”
“Sexual misconduct and immoral behavior certainly do not belong in seminarians any more than it belongs in the priesthood, the diaconate or the episcopacy” the statement concluded.
Washington D.C., Nov 30, 2005 (CNA) - Life Decisions International (LDI), a group dedicated to challenging the Culture of Death, concentrating on exposing and fighting the agenda of Planned Parenthood, will release a revised edition of The Boycott List on Thursday, December 1, 2005. The List identifies corporations that are boycott targets due to their support of Planned Parenthood, the world’s primary abortion-advocacy group.
“So far, as a direct result of the commitment, action and prayers of pro-family people, a minimum of 122 corporations have agreed to stop funding the abortion-committing goliath,” said Thomas Strobhar, chairman of LDI’s Board of Directors.
It is estimated that the boycott has cost Planned Parenthood more than $35 million since the Corporate Funding Project (CFP) began nearly 14 years ago. “This should be a testament to those who believe it is impossible to change corporate philanthropic behavior.”
Corporations slated to appear on The Boycott List for the first time include: AIG (financial/insurance), Altria (Phillip Morris, Nabisco, and Kraft products, Post cereals, etc.), Circuit City (retail electronics outlet), Cost Plus World Market (retail stores), Price Chopper/Mini Chopper (supermarkets/convenience stores), New World Restaurant Group (Chesapeake Bagel Bakery, Einstein Bros Bagels, Manhattan Bagel, etc.), Nike (apparel/footwear, etc.), Tommy Hilfiger (apparel, etc.), and SBC Communications (AT&T, Cingular Wireless, Southwestern Bell, etc.), among others.
The new Boycott List will include a revised “Dishonorable Mention” section, which identifies charitable groups that are associated with Planned Parenthood and/or its agenda. Among the groups to be named in the section are The American Cancer Society, Camp Fire, The Dr. Phil Foundation, Girls Inc., Girl Scouts, Rotary Clubs, The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and the YWCA.
London, England, Nov 30, 2005 (CNA) - An article in the Sunday Times this past Sunday, highlighted a crucial problem regarding late-term abortions and their deep moral consequences. The question regards babies surviving the attempts to abort them past the 18th week.
A British government agency has launched an inquiry into doctors’ reports that up to 50 babies a year are born alive after botched National Health Service abortions.
The number of terminations carried out in the 18th week of pregnancy or later has risen from 5,166 in 1994 to 7,432 last year
Abortion on demand is allowed in Britain up to 24 weeks — more than halfway through a normal pregnancy and the highest legal limit for such terminations in Europe. France and Germany permit “social” abortions only up to the 10th and 12th weeks respectively.
The Department of Health was alerted three months ago to the issue of babies surviving failed terminations..
“If a baby is born alive following a failed abortion and then dies (because of lack of care), you could potentially be charged with murder,” said Shantala Vadeyar, a consultant obstetrician at South Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust, who led the study.
Paul Clarke, a neonatal intensive care specialist in Norwich, has treated a boy born at 24 weeks after three failed abortion attempts. The mother decided to keep the child, who is now two years old but is suffering what doctors call “significant ongoing medical problems”.
“The survival of this child was not recorded in any official statistics,” Clarke said. “There is nothing at the moment to force abortion practitioners to account for their failures.”
The issue will be highlighted by Gianna Jessen, 28, who survived an attempt to abort her. She is to speak at a parliamentary meeting on December 6 organised by the Alive and Kicking campaign. Jessen, a musician from Nashville, Tennessee, was left with cerebral palsy but is to run in the London marathon next April to raise funds for fellow sufferers.
“If abortion is about women’s rights, then what were my rights?” she asked.
Beijing, China, Nov 30, 2005 (CNA) - The Cardinal Kung Foundation reported this week that on November 18, Chinese police officials arrested seven priests of the Diocese of Zhending of the underground Catholic Church. Two of the priests were beaten during the detainment.
According to the Foundation, the Diocese of Zhending is centered in the city of Shijiazhuang, in the northern province of Hebei. Two of the priests, Father Wang Jinshan and Gao Lingshen, both 50, were severely beaten by police. The reasons for the arrest have not been disclosed.
Bishop Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding was himself detained on November 8 after again refusing to join the Patriotic Church, controlled by the Chinese government.
Bishop Jia Zhiguo has spent more than 20 years in prison for not renouncing his fidelity to the Vatican.
Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 30, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Onesimo Cepeda of Ecatepec, Mexico, said this week the Catholic Church is committed to encouraging Mexicans to participate in the coming general elections next year.
The bishop emphasized that the Church should encourage politicians to explain their positions clearly, so that voters “can see and analyze the candidates” and are not subjected to “lies and manipulation.”
Bishop Cepeda also called on political candidates to refrain from spreading “black legends” and to be transparent in their campaigns.
, Nov 30, 2005 (CNA) - Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, Archbishop of Sao Salvador de Bahia and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Brazil, inaugurated the traditional National Evangelization Campaign of Advent saying, “The time has come to move from receiving to giving.”
The cardinal said the 2005 Evangelization Campaign corresponds to the Church’s awareness that the “challenges to evangelization are constantly changing in Brazil,” and that that the work of evangelization should not be considered finished.
The Campaign’s objectives include deepening the faithful’s awareness of the urgency of evangelization and raising the necessary funds to carry out mission work.
Cardinal Agnelo invited Catholics in Brazil to take up the task of evangelization and to recognize that during the last 500 years, evangelization in the country has been led by foreign missionaries, and that it is now time for Brazilians to invest their own energy and resources in the work of evangelization. “It is more and more necessary that we share our goods with others, out of our own poverty,” he said.
The Evangelization Campaign will end the third Sunday of Advent with a national collection.
Vatican City, Nov 30, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier today before a crowd of over 23,000, Pope Benedict said that the theme of slavery, found in many of the Psalms, helps show the anticipation of Christ’s salvation which the Church waits for during Advent.
After a brief hiatus into St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians last week, the Pope returned today to his ongoing catechesis on the Psalms, this time, discussing Psalm 136, ‘on the rivers of Babylon.’
He said that "On this first Wednesday of Advent,” the Church waits in the “liturgical period of silence, vigil and prayer in preparation for Christmas.”
The Pope explained that Psalm 136 “evokes the tragedy experienced by the Jewish people during the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC, and their deportation to Babylon."
"This heartfelt invocation to the Lord to free His faithful from slavery," he said, "also expresses the feelings of hope and expectation of salvation with which we began our Advent journey.”
Pointing out that “the backdrop to the first part of the psalm is the land of exile with its rivers and canals, the rivers and canals that irrigated the Babylonian plain where the Jews had been deported,” the Pope called this imagery an almost “symbolic foreshadowing of the death camps in which, last century, the Jewish people underwent the infamous operation of extermination that has remained as an indelible mark of shame in the history of humanity."
"God,” he went on, “Who is the ultimate arbiter of history, will know how to understand and accept, according to His justice, the cries of the victims, despite the harsh tones they sometimes assume.”
Pope Benedict also turned to the writings of St. Augustine to help elucidate the text, saying that in his meditation on the Psalm, "the great Father of the Church introduces a surprising note: he knows that even among the inhabitants of Babylon there are people committed to peace and goodness, though without sharing the biblical faith.”
“In the end, then,” Augustine suggests, “God will lead those people to the heavenly Jerusalem, rewarding them for their pure consciences."
He said that, "God will not allow them to perish with Babylon, having predestined them as citizens of Jerusalem, on the condition, however, that, living in Babylon, they do not promote its pride, its grandeur or its overweening arrogance."
Vatican City, Nov 30, 2005 (CNA) - Following his general audience today, Pope Benedict offered his own support, and the Church’s, in dealing with the worldwide scourge of AIDS, as tomorrow marks the annual United Nations sponsored World AIDS Day.
The Pope explained that World AIDS Day "is an initiative…that aims to draw attention to the scourge of AIDS,” and he urged the international community “to a renewed commitment to prevent the disease and to assist those who suffer from it.”
“The statistics” of sufferers and those who have been killed by the disease “are truly alarming,” he stressed.
"Closely following Christ's example,” the Pope went on, “the Church has always considered the cure of the sick as an integral part of her mission. Therefore I encourage the many initiatives promoted, especially by ecclesial communities, to eradicate this sickness.”
He added his feelings of closeness “to AIDS sufferers and their families, invoking upon them the help and comfort of the Lord."
Vatican City, Nov 30, 2005 (CNA) - As the Eastern Orthodox Church today celebrates the Feast of its patron St. Andrew, Pope Benedict took the opportunity to encourage further reconciliation between the separated faithful and show his appreciation for recent strides for communion.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is currently heading a Holy See delegation which is in Istanbul, Turkey for the celebration.
Traditionally, just as a Vatican delegation travels yearly to Istanbul for the November 30th feast, the ecumenical patriarchate annually sends a delegation to Rome on June 29th, for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
The Feast of St. Andrew is commemorated by both the eastern and western churches.
Earlier today, the Vatican delegation attended a solemn liturgy presided by His Holiness Bartholomew I in the Church of St. George in Fanar. Following the ceremony, Cardinal Kasper delivered a special message to the ecumenical patriarch from Benedict XVI.
In the message, the Pope recalled that "This year we commemorate the fortieth anniversary of December 8, 1965, that day on which Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, dissatisfied with what had occurred in 1054, decided together at Rome and Constantinople 'to cancel from the Church's memory the sentence of ex-communication which had been pronounced.'“
“That momentous event”, he said, “became the basis of a renewed relationship marked by reciprocal respect and reconciliation."
Benedict said that the occasion marked the beginning “of a new season of ecclesial life, a season of dialogue, which has seen significant progress yet remains challenged to continue the rigorous pursuit of its much cherished goals.”
The Holy Father expressed his “great satisfaction…that after a pause of some years our theological dialogue begins once again.”
“I pray, he said, that “it will indeed be fruitful and am confident that no effort will be spared to make it so. He who puts his hand to the plough must not turn back. Rather, he must persevere and bring his work to completion, sowing the seed and awaiting the abundant harvest that God in His goodness will provide."
Pope Benedict concluded his message to Patriarch Bartholomew, along with the Holy Synod and all the Orthodox Churches, by saying that "the Catholic Church remains irrevocably committed to promoting all suitable and helpful initiatives to strengthen charity, solidarity and theological dialogue between us."
According to a Vatican communiqué, members of the Holy See delegation will meet with members of the synodal commission for relations with the Catholic Church.
Likewise, Cardinal Kasper is scheduled to visit with leaders of the Christian communities in Turkey, particularly the Armenian patriarch and the Syro-Orthodox patriarch, as well as representatives of the local Catholic community and the chief rabbi of Istanbul.
The Vatican said that the talks "are particularly important because they focus above all on preparations for the visit by Benedict XVI to the Church of St. George in Fanar."
Other discussions during the visit are slated to include: "the progress of Catholic - Orthodox relations, questions concerning the life and pastoral care of Orthodox faithful in Italy and, above all, following a break of five years, the resumption of official theological dialogue, as decided last September during a pan-Orthodox meeting held at the Fanar and presided by the Patriarch Bartholomew I."
Vatican City, Nov 30, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier this morning, Vatican Press Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls expressed the Holy See’s “firm condemnation” of reported violence against groups of priests and religious in China.
He said that over the last few days, “news agencies have reported two disconcerting events carried out against, respectively, the Franciscan Sisters in Xi'an and six priests in the diocese of Zhengding.”
"These news items,” he continued, “though it is not possible to verify the exact details of their circumstances, provoke pain and disapproval.”
The Press director said that "the violence practiced in Xi'an against a number of defenseless nuns cannot but be firmly condemned” and added that “the detention of six priests of Zhengding, like the earlier detentions of priests in other localities, is also a cause for grave concern.”
Along with the Holy See’s stern condemnation, Navarro-Valls said that “As on earlier occasions, the reasons for the coercive measures inflicted upon [the priests] are unknown."
Madrid, Spain, Nov 30, 2005 (CNA) - In an interview with the Alba weekly in Spain, international terrorism expert Maria Angeles Muñoz said “the fiercely secular state model, the disintegration of the family, and the moral bankruptcy of the West” are the causes of the recent violence among Muslims in France, which does not constitute an isolated incident but rather is part of a “holy war” against the West.
Muñoz called it Europe’s greatest identity crisis. “Simultaneous acts of vandalism in seven French provinces and in various European countries is not just coincidence,” she explained,0 in response to those who claim the incidents were isolated.
She also warned that “calls for a new jihad are spreading across the internet, and this is no joke. On Muslim forums like tajdeed.net or alsaha.com, radical Muslims denounce ‘police harassment’ and call for a struggle against ‘France, the land of infidels’ and ‘enemy of Muslims’.”
According to Muñoz, “five million non-integrated Muslim immigrants consider the West an enemy. That is a risk and it appears we did not realize it.”
She said the $58 million set aside by the European Commission to address the problem is not enough. “The solution is not a blank check, and France must reconsider its model of integration. ‘Multiculturalism’ has become very costly,” she said.
“The French crisis is at heart Europe’s crisis; the European project—the guiding light of civilization, as Schumann said--needs to be recovered. I think that in addition to patching up holes, we need to rethink the societal model and the educational system that we want. And (in Spain) we still have time,” Munoz said.
Novi, Mich., Nov 30, 2005 (CNA) - The defiance of a suburban Michigan family, along with the support of friends and neighbors means that the Nativity scene which graces their front yard will be allowed to stand another year.
The Samona family, of Novi, Michigan was threatened with a fine of $100 a week by the company that manages their subdivision if they did not remove the nativity scene which, they say has stood in their front yard every year since moving into their home three years ago.
Including their previous home, the family estimates that they have displayed the scene every year for the last 25 years.
Batoul Samona told reporters that his family would “not remove the nativity from our front lawn under any circumstances,“ and his 16 year-old son Joseph agreed.
“This Nativity display is a family tradition which will not be abolished. My family strongly believes in celebrating the birth of Christ in this way,” he said.
The controversy sparked a heated local debate which found its way onto TV and radio talk shows and even the front page of the Detroit News.
Richard Thomson, chief counsel for the Ann Arbor based Thomas More Law Center represent the family, and said that “The action of the management company in demanding only that the nativity scene be removed when several other objects remained on the lawn is clear evidence that this was an attack on Christmas.”
Throngs of residents and neighbors ended up coming out in support of the family, leading the management company to back down and even offer the Samoans a holiday gift basket for their trouble.