Washington D.C., Feb 7, 2006 (CNA) - The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops shared his concern about the Jan. 29 targeting of Christian churches in Baghdad and Kirkuk and the bombing near the Vatican Nunciature with the patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church.
“We are greatly saddened by the deaths and injuries of the innocent victims of these heinous acts,” said Bishop William Skylstad in a Feb. 2 letter to His Beatitude Emmanuel III Delly. The bishop assured the patriarch of the U.S. bishops’ continued solidarity and prayer for the people of Iraq.
“We condemn all of the violent attacks against innocent people in Iraq without regard to the religion or political identity of the victims,” Bishop Skylstad wrote on behalf of the U.S. bishop. “It is particularly reprehensible when terrorists attack religious communities at times of worship or religious events.
“This contempt for God and for human life must yield to genuine religious freedom and respect for the life and dignity of all. We hope that these recent attack are not a new sign of a pattern of attacks against Christians, who are not only an ancient presence within Iraqi society, but who are also essential participants in creating a truly democratic future for Iraq,” he stated.
Madison, Wis., Feb 7, 2006 (CNA) - This year’s annual diocesan Parish Leadership Day, Feb. 17, for the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, will focus on evangelization.
Fr. Robert Barron, a professor of systematic theology who was recently named director of evangelization for the Archdiocese of Chicago, will give the keynote address. He is also the host of Word on Fire on Relevant Radio (8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Sundays). He is the author of seven books and his articles on theology and spirituality have appeared in a variety of journals, reported the Catholic Herald.
The day’s workshops include: "Catholics, Come Home: We've Missed You"; "The Role of Ecclesial Movements"; "Welcoming Hispanics in Our Parishes"; "Evangelization in Every Day Life”; "Parish Web sites as a Tool for Evangelization," and "Accommodating and Including Catholics with Disabilities.”
Other workshops will explore the diocesan strategic planning process; health care decisions at the end of life; how to start a parish respite team; legal aspects of personnel management; parish cemeteries; teens with problems; Theology of the Body; Christian unity; fostering vocations; and Catholic social teaching.
The full-day event will be held at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center. The registration fee is $30. To register, go to www.madisoncatholic.org/PLD.
Naples, Fla., Feb 7, 2006 (CNA) - Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer, president of Human Life International and Magaly Llaguno, executive director of HLI’s Vida Humana Internacional, were conferred the Legatus 2006 Cardinal John O’Connor Unambiguously Pro-Life Award Feb. 4 at the Legatus International Winter Summit.
Legatus is a Catholic lay organization of over 3,200 executives and their spouses, committed to the ideals of fidelity, courage and integrity. It was founded by Tom Monaghan, former owner of Domino’s Pizza.
The Cardinal John O’Connor Award was established in honor of the late New York prelate, who was a leader in the struggle to promote a culture of life.
Founded in 1981, Human Life International is the world’s largest pro-life, pro-family organization that is dedicated to defending life, faith and the family, with branches and affiliates around the world.
Washington D.C., Feb 7, 2006 (CNA) - Parishes across America kicked off Black History Month Feb. 5 by celebrating the National Day of Prayer for the African American Family.
The National Day of Prayer for the African American Family was begun in 1989 by Fr. James Goode, OFM, as a day set aside for the African American community to give special thanks to God for their families and to place their cares in the arms of Jesus, stated a press release. This year’s theme was “God’s Ever Present Help Keeps Us Keeping On.”
On Sunday, even non-African Americans were called upon to stand in solidarity with African American families and to pray for them.
“Even though this is the beginning of a new year, for many it will be a time of fear, fear of losing electricity, fear of losing housing, fear of losing Medicare benefits, fear of losing your job,” said the press release.
London, England, Feb 7, 2006 (CNA) - The Anglican Church began its four-day long General Synod Monday during which the issue of ordaining women bishops is expected to be discussed.
While various Anglican leaders support it, there is wide opposition to the move in the Anglican Communion. The issue is so controversial that Synod spokesman Arun Kataria explained that a final decision is not expected until 2012.
Kataria said the gathering would focus on “legislative options” and “possible time-frames and ways of maintaining unity with those who oppose this.”
The General Synod, which brings together religious and laity from all Anglican dioceses, meets twice a year. The Synod is also expected to address declining attendance at Sunday services.
Rome, Italy, Feb 7, 2006 (CNA) - Reacting to news of the assassination last Sunday of a Catholic priest in Turkey, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints told the Italian daily La Repubblica, “With the sacrifice of Andrea Santoro, the Church is once again colored in red, the color of the blood of martyrs."
The Portuguese cardinal called for restraint in laying blame for the killing on Islam. “Before saying anything and giving an opinion one must know the whole truth. The context that led to this tragedy must be explained,” he said, adding that it would be “a grave error to blame an entire religious creed” for the actions of one individual.
According to a witness of the killing, an assailant who shouted, “Allah is great”, gunned down the 60 year-old missionary priest.
Cardinal Saraiva said the Church “does not feel threatened, and it’s a mistake to talk about religious war because every faith is against war and against the misuse of God’s image.” He said he did not yet see a link between the killing and Muslim violence that has broken out over the publishing of cartoons containing the image of Mohammed. The Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdula Gul, said Monday the killing was “not related” to the protests. “We think this is a purely individual act, but we do not yet know the motive behind it,” he added.
The Apostolic Vicar for Anatolia, Msgr. Luigi Padovese, said Father Santoro’s ministry to prostitutes in the region could also be a possible motive for the murder. “We don’t know why it happened,” he said, underscoring that nothing yet has been ruled out.
Father George Marovitch, spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of Turkey, said the killing could have been the work of someone mentally ill, or in reaction to the cartoons of Mohammed, or the work of organized crime.
Speaking to the Fides news agency, Father Marovitch said that while Christians in Turkey are living in a period of uncertainty, they are not fearful thanks to the good relationship with civil authorities and Muslim leaders in the country. He said he did not believe the killing would have political repercussions, as the government is doing everything possible to keep the situation under control.
Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 7, 2006 (CNA) - The General Secretary of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, praised the active role the laity are taking in preparing for the V General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council (CELAM), which will take place next year in Aparecida, Brazil.
The bishop said those who are interested could send their comments and suggestions about the Conference through their movements, parishes, schools, universities or dioceses. He said a team of experts from CELAM would evaluate all such comments.
Bishop Aguiar noted that having the meeting in South America has been a key motivating factor behind the intense interest on the part of the laity.
The bishop also announced that the Annual Meeting of American Bishops will be held February 13-16 in Toronto, Canada, and that bishops from Canada, the US and Latin America are expected to attend.
Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 7, 2006 (CNA) - Several Mexican bishops have criticized efforts to keep faith out of the public arena and restrict it to private life.
Bishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico, praised the remarks of a top Mexican official, who said that a sense of religion needed to be recovered in order to give meaning to ethical values.
“This official said that ethics must be based on religion if they are to have a solid foundation, because values such as honesty and fidelity are anchored there,” he said.
Bishop Rabago said it was completely unacceptable to limit the mission and work of the Church to simply preaching in the abstract, without any link to historical realities.
In Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera noted the need for the Church to evangelize all areas of life saying, “No matter how much they tell us we should stay in the sacristy, we will not cease from doing so.”
Rome, Italy, Feb 7, 2006 (CNA) - It seems that the musical artist who gave the world “Bad”, may be interested in producing something profoundly good.
According to Father Giuseppe Moscati of the Edizioni Musicali Terzo Millennio, a group specializing in church music and one which has organized large musical events for the Holy See, associates close to pop star Michael Jackson say the down-on-his-luck superstar is interested in putting the words of the late Pope John Paul II to music.
The star, of “Thriller” fame, was recently cleared of numerous child molestation charges by a California court and is currently living in Bahrain.
"We have been contacted”, Moscati told the Reuters news agency, “by people close to Michael Jackson who have expressed interest and we are thinking about it."
"As a celebrity”, he pointed out, “[Jackson] is perhaps a bit remote from the teachings contained in the Pope's prayers. But if he can help us put together a group of singers that fulfill the criteria of the project then we'll study the proposal."
Fr. Moscati’s company, whose name translates as, the Millenium Music Society, owns the rights to 24 of John Paul II’s prayers and has reportedly been interested in putting them to music for some time.
Representatives from the Vatican said that the Holy See is not directly involved in the initiative.
Added Fr. Moscati however, "Michael Jackson is very interested in this project…We shall see what happens."
Vatican City, Feb 7, 2006 (CNA) - Following news of a second assassinated priest in one weekend, Pope Benedict XVI has sent his personal condolences to Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Apostolic Nuncio in Burundi, calling for an end to that country’s violence and what he called “works of death.”
Father Elie Koma, a Jesuit priest was killed on Saturday, February 4th, after becoming caught in a cross of fire between Burundi government soldiers, and rebel militia forces.
The letter, sent by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano in the Pope’s name said that "Upon learning about the tragic death of Fr. Elie Koma, S.J., the Holy Father asked me to express to all the members of his family and to his brother Jesuits his profound sorrow.”
Benedict, he said, offers “a fervent prayer to the Lord of Life for the dead and for all of those in mourning.”
“The Pope”, the message continues, “gives thanks for all the work accomplished by Fr. Koma in the service of the spiritual growth of those who have benefited from his apostolate.”
Likewise, Cardinal Sodano noted that “His Holiness also exhorts those who continue committing acts of violence to definitively renounce such works of death, so that the inhabitants of this country may live in peace and security.”
The Cardinal also expressed the Holy Father’s trust in the “maternal solicitude of Mary for those coming together in faith for the funeral,” adding that “the Holy Father sends you, as a sign of consolation, a special apostolic blessing, so that God may guard you in peace and in hope."
In addition to Fr. Elie, another priest, Father Andrea Santoro, a missionary priest from Rome was killed in Trabzon, Turkey over the weekend as he prayed in a church in which he had just celebrated Mass.
Vatican City, Feb 7, 2006 (CNA) - The Vatican has announced that later this month, the Holy See’s Pontifical Academy for Life will host a conference exploring the nature of the Human Embryo and assessing progress of the Culture of Life against what the late John Paul II called the “Culture of Death.”
The Vatican’s New Synod Hall has been decided as the venue for the February 27th through 28th congress themed, "The Human Embryo Before Implantation: Scientific Update and Bioethical Considerations" following the XII General Assembly of this institution (March 1st).
In a statement released today, the Vatican said that the symposium will be opened by Bishop Elio Sgreccia, President of the Academy for Life.
Following the commencing session, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, President of the Pontifical Council for Heath Pastoral Care will address the theme "The Culture of Death Against the Culture of Life in the Teachings of Evangelium Vitae."
Congress members will explore the development of the human embryo prior to implantation, the diagnostic of the embryo, both prenatal and before implantation, and the bio-anthropological status of the embryo prior to implantation, among other topics.
Likewise, February 28th will bring a roundtable discussion in which various academics will address the question: "Is the Human Embryo a Person?"
Ankara, Turkey, Feb 7, 2006 (CNA) - The 16-year old high school student who murdered Fr. Santoro, an Italian priest, was arrested on Tuesday and has confessed to a crime which has shocked this Muslim nation.
The student told police he was influenced by cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammad, NTV commercial television said. The report could not be immediately confirmed.
The state Anatolian news agency said the student, aged 16, had been carrying a 9 mm pistol when he was captured in the Black Sea city of Trabzon, where Fr. Santoro was gunned down on Sunday while praying.
The Turkish government has strongly condemned the killing of Santoro, which coincides with increased religious tension worldwide following the publication of cartoons in some European and other newspapers lampooning the Prophet.
TThe Vatican has joined Muslim countries, including Turkey, in condemning the cartoons of the Prophet, saying freedom of speech does not mean freedom to offend a person's religion.
Following the murder of Fr. Santoro, Italian Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, in the midst of a political campaign, called on the Turkish government to "neutralize fanatics" after the killing of Santoro, but said the murder should not be allowed to affect Ankara's bid to join the European Union.
Rome, Italy, Feb 7, 2006 (CNA) - Upon receiving news from the murder of Fr. Andrea Santoro, the Vicar of the Diocese of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini declared that these events are the "new link in the long chain of priests from the Diocese of Rome who have shed their blood for the Lord,” and assured that the Diocese is grateful to the Lord for his “brilliant testimony with the humble certainty that from it, new Christian life will rise.”
The Diocese of Rome, from which the missionary sent to Turkey as a “Fidei Donum” priest was sent to, conceded in the interview in which he assured the faithful of Rome “who loved and appreciated intensely Fr. Andrea, former pastor of the Roman parish of Jesus of Nazareth and later of Saint Fabian and Venancio, who were deeply touched by the this sad news, that they elevate their prayers for Fr. Andrea, for his elderly mother, for his sisters and his family.”
“With this tragic event, a new link in the long chain of roman priests who have shed their blood for the Lord. Fr. Andrea had wished and asked intensely to leave Rome for Anatolia, to be in that land as a silent and praying witness of Jesus Christ, with respect to local laws,” we can read in the communiqué released by the Fides agency.
The note continues as follows, “the Diocese of Rome, amid this pain, is proud of him and grateful to the Lord for his “brilliant testimony with the humble certainty that from it, new Christian life will rise.”
Fr. Andrea Santoro was born in Priverno in 1945. He was ordained for the diocese of Rome in 1970. He exercised his pastoral work in various parishes and was at the head of the parishes Jesus of Nazareth in the Collatino and Saint Fabian and Venancioin Appio Tuscolano.
In 2000, Fr. Andrea left to be a “Fidei Donum” missionary in Turkey, establishing in Trabzon on the Black Sea. He was entrusted with the Sancta Maria Kilisesi parish. In 2003, he founded the association “Window for the Middle East,” dedicated to the study, prayer and dialogue to facilitate the encounter between the Western world and the Middle East.