Archive of December 8, 2005

Mary is the key to interpret the Council says the Pope, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the closing of Vatican II

Vatican City, Dec 8, 2005 (CNA) - During his extensive homily, on the occasion of the feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrating the same day the 40th anniversary of the closing of the Vatican II Council, Pope Benedict said during the Mass celebrated in Saint Peters Basilica, that the Virgin Mary is “the key” to interpret the council documents.

The Holy Father began his homily reminding the 40th anniversary of the closing of the Vatican II council, which happened in the same Basilica of Saint Peters.

“A Marian framework that oversees the Council. Really, it is much more than a framework, it is a direction for its entire journey.  It sends us back, as it sent the Council Fathers then, to the image of the Virgin who listens, who lives the Word of God, who preserves in her heart the words coming from God, and joining them together in a mosaic, learns to understand them (cfr Lc 2,19.51); it sends us back to the great Believer who, full of faith, placed herself in God’s hands, abandoning herself to His will; it sends us back to the humble Mother who, when the Son’s mission so required, put herself aside and at the same time, to the courageous woman who, when the disciples fled, stayed besides the cross.

The Pope remarked that still remains “ indelible in my memory the moment in which, listening to the words “‘Mariam Sanctissimam declaramus Matrem Ecclesiae’, ‘we declare Mary Most Holy as Mother of the Church,' spontaneously the Fathers of the Church were lifted from their seats and applauded, giving homage to Mary, our Mother, Mother of the Church.”

According to Pope Benedict, “the Council strived to tell us this: Mary is so interwoven in the great mystery of the Church, that She and the Church are inseparable as She is from Christ.”

In Mary Immaculate, we find the essence of the Church in an undeformed way,” the Pope added. We should learn from her, how to become “ecclesial souls,’ as the counciliar fathers expressed it.

In the evening, on the Spanish square in Rome, Pope Benedict will give homage for the first time in his pontificate to the image of the Imaculate Conception, presenting to her a bouquet of flowers.

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Plan exempts Catholic hospitals from offering morning-after pills

Boston, Mass., Dec 8, 2005 (CNA) - Governor is set to grant an exemption for Catholic and other privately run hospitals from this regulation on religious and moral grounds.

The new law, which was passed overwhelmingly in July and overrode a veto by Gov. Mitt Romney, also lets pharmacists distribute the abortifacient without a prescription.
The emergency contraception is a high dose of hormones that women can take up to five days after sex to flush out a potentially fertilized egg.

Public Health Commissioner Paul Cote Jr. said Tuesday that the new law does not trump an existing statute that says private hospitals can not be forced to provide abortions or contraception, reported the Associated Press.

Cote’s statements drew criticism from Attorney General Thomas Reilly, a Democratic candidate for governor, who said the law clearly applies to all hospitals, reported the AP. 

Seven other states with emergency contraception laws have not allowed exemptions.

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Brooklyn priest named direct of US bishops’ ecumenical office

Washington D.C., Dec 8, 2005 (CNA) - Fr. James Massa of Brooklyn and professor at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, N.Y., has been named executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, effective in January.

Fr. Massa succeeds Fr. Arthur Kennedy of Boston, who served the office for nearly four years. Fr. Kennedy will return to teaching at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.

“Father Massa is a gifted scholar and a fine priest with significant ecumenical and pastoral experience,” said Msgr. William Fay. “We are fortunate that he will direct an office whose mission is so vitally important to the life of the Church.”

Fr. Massa completed undergraduate work at Boston College, where he earned a BA in Theology and History and at the University of Durham in England. He earned a M. Div. at Yale University Divinity School.

After serving as a parish priest in Forest Hills, N.Y., and as a campus minister at the City University of New York, Fr. Massa pursued doctoral studies at Fordham University, where he wrote on communion ecclesiology under Cardinal Avery Dulles. His doctoral dissertation was on “The Communion Theme in the Writings of Joseph Ratzinger.”

Fr. Massa has published articles and book reviews on topics related to Christology, church and culture, and ecumenism. He is a member of the Society of Catholic Liturgy and the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.

Over the past 12 years Fr. Massa has held teaching positions at Newman University in Wichita, Kan., and Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass. He coordinated various programs for undergraduates and seminarians with the Jewish, Islamic, and Hindu communities.

In addition to parochial duties in the Diocese of Brooklyn, he maintains formational responsibilities for men preparing for the priesthood in the dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Center, and the Vincentian Order.

Fr. Massa served as Theological Advisor to the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on the Laity in 2003-04 and is currently preparing a book-length manuscript on the ecclesiology of Pope Benedict XVI.

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Apostolic nuncio recommends no same-sex adoptions for Catholic Charities

Boston, Mass., Dec 8, 2005 (CNA) -

The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts has welcomed a letter by the apostolic nuncio in Washington that calls for Catholic Charities of Boston to stop assisting same-sex couples adopt children.


"You can't defend Catholic teaching in society unless you follow it yourself," said the league’s executive director C.J. Doyle, reported UPI. "No religious agency should be forced to act against its principles in the name of charity."


As Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo Higuera does not have direct authority over Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston, the letter does not constitute an order. But as the Pope’s representative in the United States, the letter serves as a message from the Holy See.


The Boston Herald reported that only a small percentage of the hundreds of adoptions coordinated by Catholic Charities are to same-sex couples, and none are in process now.

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Bishops say health care is ‘basic human right’

Frankfurt, Germany, Dec 8, 2005 (CNA) - Adequate health care is a basic human right and the state should do more to ensure medical treatment for the poor, say the Catholic bishops of Kentucky.

"We, bishops of Kentucky, consider access to adequate health care to be a basic human right, necessary for the development and maintenance of life and for the ability of human beings to realize the fullness of their dignity," said Archbishop Thomas Kelly, chairman of the board of the Catholic Conference.

"The lack of access to affordable health care for so many children and adults in our country and in Kentucky is a structural injustice that harms people and undermines the common good," reads the statement, issued by the bishops.

The statement by the Catholic Conference of Kentucky notes a 2004 study, which indicates that 600,000 Kentuckians are without health insurance coverage, including 100,000 children.

The bishops make the recommendation that the Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program and Medicaid, the joint state-federal program that provides health care services to the poor, should be improved to include preventive care, smoking cessation and substance abuse treatment.

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Pope makes pilgrimage to Mary statue in Rome, marking the feast of the Immaculate Conception

Rome, Italy, Dec 8, 2005 (CNA) - After the Mass celebrated in Saint Peters Basilica, Pope Benedict marked the feast of the Immaculate Conception, paying homage to the statue of Mary in Rome's historic Piazza di Spagna .

Thousands of Romans flocked to the square to greet the German pope, on his first 'pilgrimage' to the sculpture of the Virgin .

The tradition of the papal pilgrimage was brought back by his predecessor John Paul II more than 20 years ago .

"I deliver to the celestial mother of the Redeemer the anxieties and hopes of humanity," the 78-year-old pontiff said. He called on Mary to grace mankind with her spiritual presence "in every moment of our existence, above all during moments of darkness and trials." The statue of the Virgin Mary stands on a column in the northern section of the piazza, just around the corner from the famed Spanish Steps known to all tourists .

The column was erected by Pope Pius IX in 1854 after he declared the dogma of her immaculate conception, meaning that Jesus' mother was conceived without the stain of original sin .

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