Vatican City, Dec 9, 2005 (CNA) - At the close of the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago, Pope Paul VI entrusted the implementation of the new documents to Mary, calling her by the title; Mother of the Church. Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI called this the greatest ecclesial moment of the 20th century.
Following Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica, in honor of the Feast of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, the Holy Father appeared at his study window--before cheering throngs below--to pray the Angelus.
Prior to the prayer, he referred to the Solemnity as "a day of intense spiritual joy," calling to mind Dante’s depiction of Mary in the “Paridisio” of his Divine Comedy.
She appears in the thirty-third canto, the Pope recalled, "humbler and higher than all other creatures, fixed aim and goal of the eternal plan" - saying: "In contemplating the Virgin, how can we not reawaken in ourselves, her children, the aspiration to beauty, goodness and purity of heart?”
“Her celestial candor”, Benedict said, “attracts us towards God, helping us to overcome the temptation to a mediocre life - one made up of compromises with evil - and orienting us decisively towards authentic goodness, which is a source of joy."
The Church yesterday, continued to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the close of Vatican Council II, which the Pope called: "the greatest ecclesial event of the twentieth century,"
He recalled that Pope Paul VI "amid the jubilation of many faithful in St. Peter's Square, entrusted the implementation of the conciliar documents to the Virgin Mary, calling her with the title of Mother of the Church.”
“In a special way,” he said, “Mary watched with maternal concern over the pontificates of my venerated predecessors, each of whom, with great pastoral wisdom, guided the ship of Peter on the route of authentic conciliar renewal, working ceaselessly for the faithful interpretation and implementation of Vatican Council II."
Tucson, Ariz., Dec 9, 2005 (CNA) - The bishops of Arizona are calling on Catholics to welcome immigrants into their parishes, whether documented or undocumented, and to work to reform the U.S. immigration laws in an effort to facilitate immigration and stem the growing number of migrant deaths at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Arizona Catholic Conference has made this appeal in its first-ever pastoral letter on migration, titled “You Welcomed Me.” It will be officially released Dec. 12, on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Arizona has become the focal point of the immigration debate in recent years, given the concentration of border crossing at the Arizona-Mexico border, the record number of migrant deaths, and the growing presence of civilian patrol groups, noted the bishops.
In 2005, at least 261 border crossing deaths were documented in Arizona—more than half of the 460 migrant deaths reported all along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The bishops expressed their sadness about the deaths at the border, the division among citizens over the issue of immigration, and the hostility expressed toward migrants. They acknowledged “the legitimate strain of this crisis” on different aspects of society, but they reminded Catholics of their call “to live out the principles of global solidarity” and to defend the human dignity of the other.
Despite these hardships, the bishops said they believe Arizona can “lead the country to a comprehensive and permanent solution to our broken immigration system.”
Based in Scripture and teaching
The bishops highlighted the scriptural foundation for the call of Catholics to “welcome the stranger,” citing the experience of the people of Israel in Egypt and their subsequent liberation, the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan, and the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt as refugees.
Catholic social teaching has consistently maintained that the goods of the earth belong to all people and that it is the right of the worker to migrate to sustain their family when they are unable to achieve a life of dignity in their own land, the bishops underlined.
This teaching was stated in 1891 in the encyclical “Rerum Novarum.” It was repeated 40 years later by Pope Pius XI in his document “Quadragessimo Anno,” and then again at the end of World War II by Pope Pius XII in “Exsul Familia.”
And while Catholic teaching recognizes that nations have the right to control their own borders and to regulate immigration, “this right is not absolute,” said the bishops. Instead, they explained: “the needs of immigrants must be measured against the needs of the receiving countries, and that the rights of these nations must not be exaggerated to the point of denying access to needy people from other countries.”
Wealth of contributions
There are currently about 10 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., and the bishops noted their contributions, particularly in Arizona, both economically and in the Church.
For example, the bishops cited a report by the Thunderbird School of International Management, which states that Mexican immigrants generated a fiscal surplus of approximately US$106 million to Arizona in 2001.
As many of the immigrants are Catholic, they have also brought deeply rooted religious traditions and practices to parishes throughout the state, said the bishops.
“They have proven themselves to be extremely hard working and very committed to the family values we hold so dear. Many of our parishes in the state have blossomed because of the contributions of new immigrant parishioners and their families,” the bishops continued. “Finding new ways to welcome and integrate immigrants into parish life can only make us a stronger and more united Church in Arizona.”
Acknowledging the legitimate concern that undocumented immigrants are violating the law, the bishops described the country’s immigration laws as “outdated,” no longer fitting “the economic realities and security needs of our times.”
“While we do not condone undocumented immigration, we recognize that it would not be feasible to deport all of these immigrants. We must find a way to bring them out of the shadows and incorporate them into society,” said the bishops. “This will ultimately enhance national security, help stabilize the labor market in the United States, improve the living standards of immigrant communities, and encourage them to become more active participants in our society.”
The bishops said they would like others to join them in their commitment to pray for and with all those affected by this crisis; make parishes more welcoming; learn about the issues; call for comprehensive immigration reform; support efforts to reduce poverty in Mexico and Latin America; and participate in the partnership with sister dioceses in Mexico.
They have also invited priests and parishioners to reflect on these issues and to discuss ways to transform the situation. Parishes are urged to prayerfully reflect and comment in small groups on the pastoral letter, using the attached study guide.
Arizona’s bishops include Bishops Gerald Kicanas of Tucson; Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix; Donald Pelotte of Gallop, and William Skurla of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Van Nuys.
For the full letter, go to:
Washington D.C., Dec 9, 2005 (CNA) - Intervening in the heated debate about the mention of Christmas on the public square, Concerned Women for America (CWA) presented a first Christmas list showing which businesses are honouring the Reason for the Season (the birth of Jesus), which ones are not, and which have mixed records.
It first lists the corporation ‘Nice’ or friendly to the Original Christmas tradition. This year Macy's joins the NICE list because it has returned the explicit mention of Christmas and Merry Christmas to its stores and its ads. L.L. Bean, on the other hand, just barely escapes the Grinch list and gets a middle rating because, while its first seasonal catalogue says Christmas 2005, all subsequent catalogues say Holiday 2005, culminating in the Best of Holiday 2005 (surrounded by Christmas items).
"More and more retailers are realizing, too late, that Christian consumers now understand that the constant use of 'happy holidays' and 'holiday' is grating and insulting," said Robert Knight, director of CWA's Culture & Family Institute. "It's an act of cultural cowardice and even an overt attack on Christmas and ultimately the Christian faith.
"When something is clearly about Christmas itself, it is dishonest to ban the very mention of Christmas on the grounds that it might offend a handful of people. This is a nation where surveys show 96 percent of the population celebrates Christmas. There is no survey showing that people of other faiths are insulted when the majority celebrate Christmas or wish anyone a 'Merry Christmas.'
"The tyranny of a tiny minority of Grinches to veto any mention of Christmas must stop," Knight concluded. "We are very encouraged that some major retailers like Macy's are starting to get it and hope that more will join them."
Following is a highlight of the whole list, set into three categories: ‘Nice’, ‘Somewhat Nice, somewhat naughty’and ‘Scrooges.’
Macy’s, Chick-fil-A,Kroger, IHOP, Saks Off Fifth Avenue, Kay Jewelers, Capital One, Hobby Lobby, In-N-Out Burger
SOMEWHAT NICE, SOMEWHAT NAUGHTY
Walgreens, Wal-Mart, L.L. Bean, Sears, Lowe’s
Target, Office Max, Kmart, Staples, Home Depot, Best Buy, Kohlâs, BJ's, SC Johnson, Verizon, Radio Shack, Zales, Outback, Lexus, Old Navy, Cingular, Reckitt Benckiser, Pier 1, Red Lobster, Office Depot, Gillette, Applebee’s, Burlington Coat, Dell, Milton-Bradley, U.S. Postal Service, Costco
Concerned Women for America (CWA) is the nation's largest public policy women's organization.
Warsaw, Poland, Dec 9, 2005 (CNA) - The Polish news agency PAP quoted Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow this week as saying Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to Poland next year may take place sooner than expected.
Although the Holy See has not officially confirmed the visit, Polish media had reported that the Pope would visit Poland in June. Pope Benedict himself, during an interview on Polish television, stated he intended to visit the homeland of his predecessor.
According to PAP, the visit could take place in May of 2006 rather than in June, in order not to coincide with the World Soccer Cup, which is slated to begin June 9 and will feature the Polish team among the competitors.
Denver, Colo., Dec 9, 2005 (CNA) - As the Catholic Church approaches the second half of Advent, and with it, the coming of Christmas, Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput is asking whether or not American culture really has room for Christ…or simply a secular construct of His birthday.
He begins his column, printed in Wednesday’s Denver Catholic Register, by citing a 1955 essay by author and Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis, who’s Chronicles of Narnia are slated to hit movie theaters this week.
Lewis wrote of the particular holiday customs of the fictional nation, Niatirb (his home country of Britain spelled backward), which simultaneously celebrates both the winter festivals of “Exmas” and “Crissmas.”
During Exmas, Lewis writes, the people “lie in bed till noon”, exhausted from their preparations, “But in the evening…eat five times as much as on other days,” crown “themselves with crowns of paper” and “become intoxicated.”
“On the day after Exmas,” he says, “they are very grave, being internally disordered by the supper and the drinking and the reckoning of how much they have spent on gifts and on the wine.”
The far less prominent celebrators of Crissmas, on the other hand, “rise early on that day with shining faces and go before sunrise to certain temples where they partake of a sacred feast.”
Archbishop Chaput sees Lewis’ parable as an apt allegory for modern culture.
“The world” he said, “left to its own devices---has no room and no use for the birth of Jesus Christ. It has contempt for Christians who seriously strive to be His disciples.”
He said that “the world has an ingenious ability to attach itself to what Christians believe; tame it; subvert it — and then turn it against the very people who continue to believe.”
“Too many Americans” the Archbishop pointed out, “don’t really celebrate Christmas. They may think they do, but they don’t. They celebrate Exmas.”
He challenged the faithful to spend the remaining time of Advent “tithing” our time to God, sitting quietly with Him, and allowing “Him to fill our actions and our choices with His Son…let Him shape us into the men and women He needs.”
He also lamented that in many ways, “America is no longer a Christian culture.”
He stressed that this fact can change, pointing to the “many good Catholics and other Christians [who] still live in it.” “But if people really understood”, he said, “and acted on the meaning of Advent, the world would be a different place.”
Advent, the Archbishop pointed out means “coming.” “What’s coming”, he said, “in the reality of Christmas is an invasion. The world needs the invasion but doesn’t want it. It’s an invasion of human flesh and all creation by the Son of God; by the holiness of the Creator Himself.”
St. John's, Canada, Dec 9, 2005 (CNA) - An international medical organization has recently concluded that there is an increased risk of breast cancer in women who have had abortions.
The Illinois-based Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer has pointed out that this is the seventh recent instance of a respected medical association recognizing the link.
The medical group, MaterCare International, an international organization of Catholic Obstetricians and Gynecologists, has released a statement saying that they were presented with “evidence of the link between abortion and breast cancer” during an international conference in Rome in October of 2004.
They cited Dr. Joel Brind's research group as the source of the new information.
The group said that based on medical and epidemiological evidence, “there is a significant increase in breast cancer risk after induced abortion, especially before the first full term pregnancy.”
“This evidence”, they pointed out however, “has been denied by the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) and other researchers.”
They said that recent studies done to counter the new evidence “have serious methodological weaknesses and flaws and therefore do not invalidate the conclusion that there is a increased risk of breast cancer.”
Dr. Brind’s new findings were published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, in the winter of 2005 edition.
MaterCare’s statement stressed that, "Women have a basic right to know of this increased risk of breast cancer and it is unacceptable that the information should be denied to them by the medical and cancer research establishments.’
The group added that it recognizes “its responsibilities in this matter and will do all it can to publish this evidence."
Chicago, Ill., Dec 9, 2005 (CNA) - Adolescent girls and their parents will picket Saturday at American Girl Place on Fifth Avenue in New York City in protest of the company’s ties to the pro-abortion advocacy group, Girls Incorporated.
The girls will hold "Girls for Life" signs, along with their Samantha, Kit, Molly and other American Girl dolls, each holding her own miniature picket sign.
The Pro-Life Action League will lead the demonstration, from 10 a.m. to noon, and is hoping to reach thousands of shoppers during this busy Christmas-shopping period.
In August, American Girl launched the "I Can" bracelet program, pledging to support Girls Inc. with 70¢ for every $1 bracelet sold, plus a $50,000 donation. Girls Inc. supports abortion and lesbianism, and opposes abstinence-only sex education programs.
In October, the Pro-Life Action League alerted parents about the "I Can" project and urged them to contact American Girl to express their objections. When American Girl refused to break its ties with Girls Inc. by Nov. 1, the league called for a boycott through the Christmas shopping season.
About 1,800 babies are aborted each day in the United States.
, Dec 9, 2005 (CNA) - The Constitutional Court of Colombia has ruled it is “inhibited” from legalizing abortion in that country, saying the arguments presented by pro-abortion lawyer Monica Roa were insufficient to change Colombian law.
The high court issued its ruling this week in Bogota, stating the request “lacked requirements” and contained fundamental errors, thus preventing the court from ruling on the matter. Nevertheless, it did not rule out future consideration of the issue.
According to Caracol Radio, Monica Roa said she did not understand the court’s decision and that she and her advisors would search out new ways to argue the case.
With the court’s ruling, Colombian law punishing those who procure and assist in procuring an abortion with up to three years in prison remains in force.
Boise. Idaho, Dec 9, 2005 (CNA) - At press time, the Keep the Commandments Coalition was presenting arguments to the Idaho Supreme Court in favor of putting a voter initiative on the ballot, giving the citizens of Boise the right to vote on returning the Ten Commandments Monument to Julia Davis Park.
The hearing was scheduled for 10 a.m. this morning. The coalition is proposing a display that is identical to one that was ruled constitutional by a federal judge in 1995.
The court case was brought after the Boise City Council refused to put the initiative on the ballot. The city’s decision went against the will of more than 19,000 registered voters, who signed a petition to allow a vote on the issue.
"The city has used a legal technicality to deprive us of our right to vote. But the Idaho Supreme Court has said that the right to vote is our most 'cherished and fundamental right' and so we're optimistic that the court will rule in our favor,” said Bryan Fischer, the executive director of the Idaho Values Alliance and co-director of the Keep the Commandments Coalition.
If the coalition wins, this would be the nation's first voter initiative on the public display of the Ten Commandments.
Boston, Mass., Dec 9, 2005 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Boston is expected to make a decision by early in the New Year on whether Catholic Charities of Boston should facilitate adoptions for same-sex couples.
Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo Higuera, the papal nuncio, sent Archbishop Sean O’Malley of Boston a letter, urging him to stop his local Catholic Charities office from brokering adoptions unless same-sex couples are excluded, the Boston Herald reported earlier this week.
When asked about the letter, the archdiocese issued a statement, saying: “The dioceses of Massachusetts are currently reviewing the issue of Catholic Charities having facilitated adoptions for same-sex couples. The bishops expect to receive a recommendation concerning this matter early in the New Year.” A commission, established to study the situation, will make that recommendation.
To date, only a small percentage of the adoptions coordinated by Catholic Charities are to same-sex couples, and none are being planned now. Catholic Charities officials have defended the practice, citing the need to work within state guidelines that mandate agencies to process adoptions for same-sex couples.
Catholic Action League of Massachusetts executive director C.J. Doyle has criticized the state for not including a conscience clause in the law, exempting groups such as Catholic Charities from placing children with same-sex couples.
Miami, Fla., Dec 9, 2005 (CNA) - The Catholic music website, CatholicMusicNetwork.com, launched a digital music service this week allowing users to purchase and download individual songs by Catholic artists in the Mp3 format.
Priced at just $.99 per song the new feature provides users with an additional avenue for acquiring Catholic music along with that of purchasing CDs and tapes at the CatholicMusicNetwork.com online music store.
The digital music download service is ideal for iPods and other MP3 players, which have become increasingly popular among consumers and was a natural outgrowth of CatholicMusicNetwork.com’s leadership in providing online access to music by Catholic artists in both English and Spanish.
Individual songs can be purchased for $.99/each, and in some cases users will be able to download entire albums.
According to Doug Archer, co-founder of CatholicMusicNetwork.com, "This service will allow the public around the world to have faster access to music by their favorite Catholic artists at a reasonable cost and without additional shipping expenses."
Suggesting that Catholic Mp3s would be a great addition to the iPods and other players parents will be buying for their teenagers this Christmas, Archer asked, “Rather than an empty iPod, why not give one filled with Catholic music?”
Launched in 2000, CatholicMusicNetwork.com has become one of the most prominent online sources of music by Catholic artists from both the English and the Spanish-speaking worlds.
, Dec 9, 2005 (CNA) - Pro-life legislators in Brazil organized a National Seminar in Defense of Life on Wednesday, bringing together representatives of the Health Ministry, the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil and other entities.
Panelists addressed pro-life issues from the scientific, juridical and religious perspectives. The purpose of the Seminar was to come up with strategies for dealing with the attempt to introduce abortion into Brazil.
Among the panelists were renowned scientists, representatives of different churches, researchers and lawyers, including the former Attorney General of Brazil, Claudio Fonteles, who recently made know his opposition to a new law that would legalize abortion on demand in the country.
Lander, Wyo., Dec 9, 2005 (CNA) - Slated to open its doors to its first class of students in 2007, Wyoming Catholic College, a liberal arts institution which will focus on the Great Books and the outdoors, now has a president.
Bishop David L. Ricken, of the statewide Diocese of Cheyenne, announced that Fr. Robert Cook, a parish priest from Casper, will leave his post next summer to begin heading the school, located in Lander, Wyoming.
Fr. Cook, who has been involved in the college’s development for the last two years, holds a law degree from the University of Stanford. He is currently pastor of Our Lady of Fatima parish.
According to the Associated Press, Bishop Ricken has pointed out that Fr. Cook’s classical background in the liberal arts will serve him well as president.
The school’s curriculum will require studies in philosophy, theology, literature, history, the arts and languages, mathematics, and the basic sciences, and seek to help students “know their place in history.”
The college’s website also pointed out that they plan to be “unmistakably Catholic, planted in the "deep center" of Catholic tradition.” All theology faculty will be required to obtain a mandatum assuring that they will teach in unity with the Church Magesterium.
“Education must address the whole of life and prepare one to live an intelligent, meaningful, and contributing life in the midst of family, church, and society,” they add.
In an effort to “educate the whole person”, the college will also focus heavily on experiences in the outdoors. They have already enlisted the help of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), a Lander-based group which teaches leadership skills by way of wilderness expedition and skill training, to help them.
Wyoming Catholic College currently has 2,300 acres of land, south of Lander, but hopes to obtain another 6,300 acres, which they say, will encompass “the ecological systems of the prairie to the streams and woods of high mountain country.”
Vatican City, Dec 9, 2005 (CNA) - In a Friday meeting with Methodist Bishop Sunday Mbang of Nigeria, who was accompanied by members of the World Methodist Council, Pope Benedict expressed his hope and thanksgiving for the “patient and persevering dialogue” between Methodists and Catholics.
Bishop Mbang is the president of the World Methodist Council (WMC).
The Pope particularly thanked the representatives for "the prayerful presence and support of Methodist representatives at the funeral of Pope John Paul II and at the celebration marking the inauguration of my pontificate."
Noting the 40th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council which was celebrated yesterday, Benedict recalled how Pope Paul VI had "expressed the hope that differences between Christians could be resolved, 'slowly, gradually, loyally, generously.'“
“Now”, he said, “we have to reflect upon the friendly relations between Catholics and Methodists, and upon the patient and persevering dialogue in which we have engaged.”
“Indeed,” the Holy Father stressed, “there is much for which we can today give thanks.”
He then recalled some of the major theological themes which the two churches have begin to discuss, such as, “revelation and faith, tradition and teaching authority in the Church.”
“These efforts have been candid in addressing areas of difference,” he said. “Our dialogue and the many ways in which Catholics and Methodists have become better acquainted have allowed us to recognize together some of those 'Christian treasures of great value.'“
The Pope pointed out that “On occasion, this recognition has enabled us to speak with a common voice in addressing social and ethical questions in an increasingly secularized world."
Likewise, he was appreciative for a new initiative which could bring the World Methodist Council into association with the ‘Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification’, signed in 1999 by both the Catholic Church and Lutheran World Federation.
This, the Holy Father said, will "assist in contributing to the healing and reconciliation we ardently desire, and would be a significant step towards the stated goal of full visible unity in faith."
Many of the individual Methodist communions who are affiliated with the WMC have approved the Declaration which will receive a final vote during the Council’s 2006 general assembly, due to be held in Seoul, South Korea.