Los Angeles, Calif., Jan 12, 2006 (CNA) - Thousands of people are expected to meet at the Los Angeles Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Jan. 22 and take part in a pro-life procession through the streets of downtown L.A. to pray for an end to abortion.
The Los Angeles Archdiocese Commission for Catholic Life Issues and Hispanics for Life are sponsoring the 2006 Los Angeles March for Life/Life Chain that will mark the 33rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
"Life Chain is a way to make the proclamation [that] to be human is to be called to protect life and to promote human dignity," said Cardinal Roger Mahony, archbishop of Los Angeles.
"The 2006 Life Chain will be a reflection of the cultural diversity of the Catholic Church," added Astrid Bennett Gutierrez, board member of Hispanics for Life.
Bishop Edward Clark, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, will open the event with a pro-life prayer and statement.
The event will begin at 2 p.m. in the cathedral plaza. A rosary procession at 2:30 p.m. will lead thousands to the Life Chain route along the 101 FWY and the busy Olvera Street to the area of Our Lady of Guadalupe to listen to speakers.
Walkers will carry signs in both English and Spanish that read: "Abortion Kills Children" and "Jesus Forgives and Heals."
For more information, go to: www.hispanicsforlife.org. A Spanish-language video is available on the Web site.
Ann Arbor, Mich., Jan 12, 2006 (CNA) - A federal judge has ruled that a high school principal cannot prohibit a student from wearing his pro-life shirt in school.
Judge Elfvin of the Western District of New York signed a permanent injunction ordering Fillmore Central High School, located in Fillmore, N.Y., to allow the student to wear his pro-life shirt to school.
The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Mich., represented the student, assisted by the American Catholic Lawyers Association, which acted as local counsel.
“The ruling is clear — public schools don’t have the right to silence the pro-life speech of students,” said Richard Thompson, chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center.
The student’s shirt is distributed by the American Life League’s Rock for Life group and displayed the message: “Abortion is Homicide. You will not silence my message. You will not mock my God. You will stop killing my generation. Rock for Life.”
Fillmore Principal Kyle Faulkner told the student that he could not wear his shirt in school and sent him home for the day.
The student contacted the Thomas More Law Center, which attempted to amicably resolve the dispute by sending a letter to school officials explaining that students have a First Amendment right to peacefully express their views at school.
However, after school officials refused to acknowledge the student’s right to free speech, the Thomas More Law Center filed a lawsuit against his school.
Judge Elfvin issued a preliminary injunction Sept. 6, ruling that the student’s First Amendment rights had been violated, and ordered the school to allow him to wear his pro-life shirt to school until the lawsuit was resolved.
This past December, Judge Elfvin permanently ordered the school to allow the student to wear clothing that expresses his pro-life message. The judge also ordered the school district to pay the student nominal damages. The judge awarded a total of $24,600 in attorneys’ fees to the two law firms.
Julie Shotzbarger, trial counsel with the Thomas More Law Center, who handled the case, commented, “Students at Fillmore were allowed to wear all manner of shirts, including rock band shirts depicting bloody skulls, and shirts promoting sex, yet this public school singled out our client to silence his peaceful pro-life message.”
Krakow, Poland, Jan 12, 2006 (CNA) - The Vatican has issued a disciplinary document for Polish clergy after reports that some priests were becoming involved in business ventures or other controversial public activities that threatened the unity of the Church.
The document, issued by Vatican nuncio Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, reminds priests that they must obey Church law and states that all priests’ public activity outside the Church must, from now on, require written permission of the bishops or their superiors.
A spokesman of the Polish Episcopate, Fr. Jozef Kloch, told Polskie Radio that the document touches upon some worrying developments in the Catholic Church in Poland.
During a recent visit to the Vatican, Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek pointed out that the Polish bishops have no say over the Catholic broadcasters Radio Maryja and TV Trwam. As well, he gave the example of a controversial priest, Fr. Henryk Jankowski, who used to market wine bearing his name and now is opening an institute again bearing his name, without clearing it with any of his superiors. In addition, a group of priests recently obtained about a $128-million credit from a bank.
The Vatican document will be sent to bishops in dioceses and superiors of religious orders. It is also to be discussed at a plenary meeting of Polish bishops at the end of January.
Winston-Salem, N.C., Jan 12, 2006 (CNA) - The Catholic Church is playing an increasingly important role in state politics, says Wake Forest University sociologist David Yamane in his new book, "The Catholic Church in State Politics."
The book documents how conferences of Catholic bishops in 33 states and Washington, D.C., bring the Church's theology into the legislative arena as they lobby on major issues, such as abortion, capital punishment, education, health care and same-sex marriage, reports the Wake Forest News Service.
One of the book's key findings is that the clergy sexual abuse scandal did not significantly diminish the political influence of state Catholic conferences because the lay people, who staff and run the conferences, have bases of political legitimacy that are independent of the bishops' moral authority, Yamane says.
Yamane also shows how state Catholic conferences combine religious arguments with secular arguments.
"State Catholic conferences are welcomed into the state legislative arena because they play by the secular rules of the political game and they succeed to the extent that they play by those rules," says Yamane.
Yamane joined the Wake Forest faculty in 2005 as assistant professor of sociology. His area of expertise is the sociology of religion and postwar American Catholicism. He is editor of the academic journal, "Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review."
Corrientes, Argentina, Jan 12, 2006 (CNA) - During the celebration of the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Archbishop Domingo Castagna said the peoples of Latin America “are sealed with the Baptism of Jesus,” and he explained that although the region “risks becoming de-Christianized, it maintains a mysterious bond with Christ, and with His Church, that cannot be broken.”
Archbishop Castagna recalled that nothing can erase or wipe out the seal of Baptism which marks each believer upon receiving the sacrament.
He likewise mentioned the recent message by Pope Benedict XVI for the World Day of Peace, noting that “the truth should be proposed as God proposes it. Jesus is severe with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees but never with the moral weakness of other sinners. Pharisees proclaims as truth that which is error and as good that which is evil. In this attitude lies the ‘sin against the Holy Spirit,’ which cannot be forgiven and influences the pharisaic attitudes and behavior of some people, whether they are baptized or not.”
Archbishop Castagna pointed out that “to recall the Baptism of Jesus is to commemorate our own. Christians must be mindful of their own baptism and must not disregard it when considering what path to take in the world. On that mysterious day at the Jordan, Jesus allowed Himself to be identified by the Father before the whole world, as the Saving Messiah.”
La Paz, Bolivia, Jan 12, 2006 (CNA) - The Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia, Bishop Jesus Juarez, announced this week that during their spiritual retreat in the town of Tolata, the country’s bishops would take the opportunity to reflect on “what the Lord wants to tell us” through the recent events that have taken place in Bolivia.
The objective “is to discern, in an atmosphere of prayer and reflection, what the Lord is trying to tell us through the signs of the times manifested in the events we have recently experienced,” he said.
Likewise, Archbishop Tito Solari of Cochabamba said the retreat would also serve as preparation to face a host of new issues in 2006, including the administration of incoming left-wing President Evo Morales.
Denver, Colo., Jan 12, 2006 (CNA) - Starting today, CNA users can synchronize their portable devices, Pocket PC, Palm and mobile phones with a completely free news service.
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Lima, Peru, Jan 12, 2006 (CNA) - Speaking on behalf of the entire diplomatic corps in Peru, the country’s Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Rino Passigato, expressed to the Peruvian government his hopes that the upcoming elections would take place in “peace and democracy.”
During a celebration at the Government Palace marking the commencement of a new year, Archbishop Passigato said the international community has an interest in seeing the elections scheduled for April 9 carried out with respect for democratic norms and with complete transparency, with the hope that those elected will lead the country on the path to human rights, justice and progress.
Noting that the different diplomats have no intention of interfering in Peru’s internal affairs, the archbishop underscored the desire of Peru’s friends “to see Peru free of every outbreak of terrorism’s plague of violence and that there would be complete peace and security for all citizens.”
He also recalled the message of unity which Pope Benedict XVI sent to the country.
On the other hand, Archbishop Passigato noted the decrease in the level of poverty in Peru was a positive development but that there was still much to be done. The international community, he stated, “will not cease to support the national institutions that are honorably committed to improving the living conditions of the least fortunate.”
Vatican City, Jan 12, 2006 (CNA) - In a traditional New Year’s gathering, Pope Benedict today met with civic leaders from around Rome, to whom he strongly stressed the importance of caring for the moral institution of marriage, and for families.
The Pope met with Piero Marrazzo, president of the regional administration of Lazio, Italy; Walter Veltroni, mayor of the city of Rome; and Enrico Gasbarra, president of Rome’s provincial administration.
In his message, the Holy Father pointed out how the people of both Rome and Lazio had poured out their affection for the late John Paul II during his final days and weeks and also after his death.
He also thanked local and civil authorities for their "great contribution" to the control and organization of the millions of pilgrims last spring who came to Rome "to pay their final homage to the lamented Pontiff, and on the occasion of my own election to the See of Peter."
That "profound spiritual experience of faith and of prayer, of brotherhood and of rediscovery of the things that make our lives worthwhile and rich in meaning," the Pope said, must also bear fruit within "the civil community, its duties and its multiple responsibilities and relationships."
Benedict then went on to address the central focus if his message, which was the family, which, for the past three years has been the central focus of pastoral activities in the diocese of Rome.
This focus was chosen, he said, "in order to help [the family] face the reasons behind the crises and distrust present in our own culture, giving it a clearer and firmer awareness of its own nature and tasks."
The Holy Father then noted his own words during a congress of the diocese of Rome, last June, in which he stressed that "marriage and the family are not in fact a chance sociological construction, the product of particular historical and financial situations.”
“On the other hand,” he said, “the question of the right relationship between man and woman is rooted in the essential core of the human being and it is only by starting from here that its response can be found.”
He went on: “Marriage as an institution is thus not an undue interference of society or of authority. The external imposition of form on the most private reality of life is instead an intrinsic requirement of the covenant of conjugal love."
"What we are talking about here”, the Pope explained, “are not norms particular to Catholic morals, but elementary truths that concern our shared humanity.”
“To respect them”, he said, “is essential for the good of the individual and of society. These truths, then, appeal both to your responsibility as public administrators and to your normative duties."
Marriage, elderly and the unborn
Moving on to concrete recommendations, Benedict also stressed the need to support young couples in forming their own families and in educating their children.
Noting the sometimes overwhelming cost of rent and of nursery schools, he said, "It is a grave error to obscure the value and the functions of the legitimate family based on marriage, attributing to other forms of union inappropriate forms of legal recognition, for which there is no real social need."
He also asked that attention be given to "the protection of nascent human life," that there be no lack of "concrete assistance" to pregnant women experiencing difficulties, and that there be no introduction of drugs "that hide in one way or another the severity of abortion as a choice against life.”
The Pope then highlighted proper care and respect for the elderly saying, “In an aging society help for the elderly and all the complex problems concerning the health care of citizens becomes ever more important."
Benedict encouraging the local leaders to continue with efforts being made in these matters and said that "continuous scientific and technological developments in the field of healthcare and the commitment to contain costs should be promoted while maintaining firm the principle of the central importance of the sick person."
In the face what he called "cases of psychological suffering and illness," the Pope stressed the importance of giving "adequate help to families who often find themselves having to face extremely difficult situations."
He concluded his time with the civil authorities by expressing his satisfaction at the "growth over these years of various forms of collaboration between ecclesial volunteer organizations and the public administration of Rome city, province and region in the work of alleviating old and new forms of poverty which, unfortunately, afflict a large part of the population, especially many immigrants."
Vatican City, Jan 12, 2006 (CNA) - Earlier today at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI met with a group of some 200 families from the Catholic Neocatechumenal Way movement, all of whom are preparing for evangelistic missions to various parts of the world--particularly Latin America.
The Pope told the group, which recently came under some scrutiny for certain liturgical practices, to be missionaries of the new evangelization and “humble and joyful witnesses” of Christ.
Known as "mission families", these groups were established in 1986 in response to the late John Paul II’s call for the faithful to undertake a “new evangelization.”
Participants, who all belong to the Neocatechumenal Way, offer themselves as volunteers to go to countries where the Church needs help. Their destination is decided by the founders of the Neocatechumenal Way - the Spaniards Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernandez, and the Italian priest Mario Pezzi - bearing in mind the specific requirements of each particular area, and in response to requests from bishops who ask for "mission families" to be sent to their dioceses.
After meeting personally with the group, Pope Benedict told them that, "Your task is part of the context of new evangelization, ... because your apostolic activity aims to situate itself within the bosom of the Church, in total harmony with her directives and in communion with the particular Churches where you will go to work, fully evaluating the richness of the charisms that the Lord has generated through the founders of the Way."
The Pope stressed that the families should be "humble and joyful witnesses" of Christ, "travelling in simplicity and poverty down the roads of all the continents."
Moving on, he emphasized the importance of the liturgy in evangelization, saying, "Your long experience can well confirm how the centrality of the mystery of Christ, celebrated in liturgical rites, constitutes a privileged and indispensable way to build vibrant and lasting Christian communities."
Faithful adherence to directives
Recently, the Neocatechumenal Way came under some scrutiny from the Vatican for some of their more controversial liturgical practices.
In a letter dated December 1st, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments asked leaders of the group to change some practices including those dealing with distribution of the Eucharist, homily practices and attendance of Mass on Sundays, rather than only on Saturdays.
To these, the Pope said: "I am sure that you will attentively observe these norms, which are based on liturgical texts approved by the Church. By faithful adherence to all Church directives, you will render your apostolate even more effective, in harmony and full communion with the Pope and the pastors of dioceses."
Benedict concluded saying, "Dear families, with your own history you can testify that the Lord does not abandon those who entrust themselves to Him. Continue to spread the Gospel of Life.”
“In a world seeking human certainties and heavenly security,” he charged, “show that Christ is the solid rock upon which to build the edifice of one's own life, and that trust placed in Him is never placed in vain."
London, England, Jan 12, 2006 (CNA) - A British airline has prohibited its employees from carrying Bibles, using crucifixes or St. Christopher Medals, on flights to Saudi Arabia in order “not to offend” Muslims in that country.
British Midland International has also established that female flight attendants should walk two steps behind their male colleagues and should cover themselves from head to toe with an abaya, a traditional Muslim overgarment, the Mirror newspaper of London reported.
BMI officials explained the decision saying the Islamic kingdom's strict laws – enforced by religious police – prohibit public practice of Christianity and figures of animals.
An airline employee who asked not to be named told the Mirror: "It's outrageous that we must respect their beliefs but they're not prepared to respect ours."
The employee said his grandmother gave him a crucifix shortly before she died that he wears at all times.
"It's got massive sentimental value and I don't see why I have to remove it," he said.
The employees' union has proposed staff members be able to opt out of the flights, but the airline says the only option is to transfer from overseas staff to domestic flights, which could mean a loss of about $30,000 a year in wages.
About 40 staff members have filed complaints since the route began in September.