Archive of February 23, 2006

Chinese Official warns newly appointed Cardinal, Bishop Zen, not to interfere into politics

Beijing, China, Feb 23, 2006 (CNA) - Following the nomination of Hong Kong Bishop Joseph Zen, as one of the fifteen new Cardinals appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, the Chinese foreign ministry made known its position Thursday on the issue. It has warned the head of the Roman Catholic church in Hong Kong, Bishop Joseph Zen, not to meddle in politics.

At a news briefing in Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the Chinese government had noted the appointment and believed the Catholic church had all along advocated that religious figures should not interfere in politics. Zen has frequently been critical of Beijing in the past.

In an interview with CNN, Zen said there were two distinct type of politics - official party politics and a wider participation of civil society.

"We should not engage in the first but the second kind should be a duty of all citizens," he told the network.

"We in Hong Kong and because of principle of one country-two systems we can keep this distinction," he said.

Zen said he saw his appointment as an indication of a very special predilection for the Chinese people. The outspoken Zen, who on Wednesday became the sixth Chinese in history to be named a cardinal, said on Thursday he hoped his appointment could help end the 55-year dispute between the Vatican and China.

Earlier on Thursday, Zen told a press conference in Hong Kong that his forthright style would be hard to change and he hoped Sino-Vatican ties could be normalized before the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

The communist government cut off ties with the Vatican in 1951 and does not recognize the authority of the Pope, forcing the faithful to adhere to the government-controlled Chinese Catholic Church.

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Greek seminarians, priests to make historic visit to Rome; seek understanding between Orthodox and Catholic faiths

Vatican City, Feb 23, 2006 (CNA) - On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to meet with priests and seminarians from Greece’s Orthodox Christian Church. It is hoped that the visit, which parallels a similar trip taken by Catholic priests and seminarians to Athens last year, will foster greater knowledge and understanding between the two faiths.

The group, which arrives in Rome tomorrow and will stay until the 28th, hails from the Orthodox Theological College of "Apostoliki Diakonia."

The Vatican announced yesterday afternoon that the historic visit is being orchestrated in part by the Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration and the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The group will be composed of 31 priests and seminarians from theology faculty and related disciplines at the University of Athens. It is being headed by Bishop Agathangelos, who is director general of the "Apostoliki Diakonia” as well as representative of His Beatitude Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and Greece.

The group is scheduled for a Monday audience with the Holy Father, as well as a visit the Vatican’s Apostolic Library, home to the famous Greek manuscript, the "Menologue of Basil II.”

Likewise, they will visit the Monastery of St. Mary at Grottaferrata outside Rome, and the city’s four major basilicas.

The group is also slated to meet priests and seminarians from the diocese of Rome, who spent five weeks last year studying in Athens and striving for a better understanding of the Orthodox faith. The trip was made at the behest of the "Apostoliki Diakonia."

The Vatican noted that both the Orthodox and Catholic groups are due to attend a liturgical ceremony which will be held in the church of St. Theodore Megalomartyr, home of the Greek-Orthodox community in Rome.

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ACLU opposes creation of 'Catholic town'

Orlando, Fla., Feb 23, 2006 (CNA) -

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is opposed to the efforts of Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan to build a Catholic town, named Ave Maria, in Florida.

In an interview with Tucker Carlson, host of “The Situation,” Florida ACLU executive director Howard Simon insisted that his organization’s opposition has nothing to do with anti-Catholicism. Rather, he said: “It’s a story about any religious group trying to exercise governmental power.” 

“You’ve to make a distinction between just encouraging like-minded people to come and live in the same place with a town organized on religious principles, in which the religious group is given governmental authority,” said Simon.

About a year ago, Monaghan indicated that he would own all the commercial real estate, residents would not be able to buy pornography or contraception, and the town would determine what cable system it would have.

Carlson pointed out that towns everywhere decide what cable system it has, what types of stores it will have and if pornography can be sold. “That’s called zoning,” he said.

Simon continued to defend his position, citing the 10-year-old U.S. Supreme Court decision, which ruled that a group of Hasidic Jews in upper New York state in a town called Kiryas Joel, could not receive government funding because it was organized around sectarian religious principles. 

“And when you‘re required to conform to religious principles, that town is not fitting for governmental authority,” he said. 

“It’s his hand, and if he wants a pharmacy that doesn’t sell condoms or the pill, it‘s not your business. It’s not my business,” Carlson told his guest.

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New cardinals express joy at news of appointment

Denver, Colo., Feb 23, 2006 (CNA) - Upon receiving news of their appointment to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI, several new cardinals expressed their joy and gratitude, as well as their sense of responsibility, over their new task in the Church.

Bishop Joseph Zen of Hong Kong said he was happy to have been among the first cardinals named by Pope Benedict XIV.  He said his appointment was an indication of the Holy Father’s concern for the Church in China.

Archbishop Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk of Seoul, South Korea, is the second Korean to be named a cardinal.  The first was Cardinal Stephan Kim in 1969.  Archbishop Cheong Jin-suk said he was “honored to become a cardinal thanks to the support of the people and the government as well as the Church.”  The South Korean president and the administrator of the Buddhist order of Chogye also congratulated the archbishop for his appointment.

Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley of Boston said he felt “deeply honored at being made a cardinal by the Holy Father, for greater service to the Church.”  In a humble statement to the faithful of the archdiocese, the archbishop noted: “While there are certain additional responsibilities that come with the privilege of serving as a Cardinal, I wish to reaffirm a commitment I made during my Installation Homily to the priests, deacons, religious and laity, who together form this great Archdiocese of Boston. That is, I am your Shepherd, your brother, and I am here to serve all the people of the Archdiocese.”

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New Venezuelan cardinal says appointment means greater service to the Church

Caracas, Venezuela, Feb 23, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas said he considers his appointment to the College of Cardinals an opportunity to deepen his commitment to God and a sign of the importance of the Church in Venezuela in the eyes of Pope Benedict XVI.

Speaking to local reporters, the future cardinal said he felt “overwhelmed” at the news of his appointment.  He added that although the Apostolic Nuncio in Venezuela had informed him of his appointment on Monday, he did not expect the announcement to come so soon.

“It’s a greater responsibility, it’s a more profound commitment to God and to the people of Caracas, which is my archdiocese, to which I owe much, and of course to Venezuela.  These are my feelings of joy, gratitude, and at the same time knowing that this means a greater commitment,” Archbishop Urosa stated.

Venezuela’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Ivan Rincon, said his government was “pleased” with the appointment of Archbishop Urosa.  “Our country was in need of a cardinal with spiritual qualities like his.  He has shown himself to be a pastor of all Venezuelans, regardless of one’s political ideology,” Rincon said.

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Massachusetts faithful elated, surprised over O’Malley’s elevation to Cardinal

Boston, Mass., Feb 23, 2006 (CNA) - When Pope Benedict XVI announced the list for his first group of named cardinals yesterday, some Catholics in Massachusetts were surprised to see their own Archbishop Sean O’Malley on the list--while others thought the elevation only fitting.

Cardinal-designate O’Malley was appointed by the late Pope John Paul II to oversee the Archdiocese of Boston during the height of the clergy sexual abuse scandal, the epicenter of which fell largely in that Archdiocese.

According to the Boston Globe, Jim Marotta, an area parishioner, said yesterday that when the Archbishop arrived, "This city was hurting really bad…I think a lot of us were having some problems, and then the closing of the churches didn't help at all.

“And yet,” he said, “the man has still kept it all together."

Often controversial Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy (D), himself a Catholic who has vocally opposed the Church on many issues, said that he sees the elevation as a “great personal tribute to [O‘Malley], and…an important day for Boston, because it's a recognition of the people of faith” there.

He called the city “a place of men and women, of families, that are strong believers, and I think it's a compliment to the people here in Boston and, I think, all families are looking forward to a future and a positive hopeful time in the future."

Likewise, Boston’s Catholic mayor, Tom Menino, who has been criticized by Cardinal-elect O’Malley for his stance on abortion and same-sex marriage, said yesterday that the “decision serves as recognition of the Cardinal-Elect's tireless leadership during difficult and trying times.”

He praised the Archbishop’s work with the immigrant populations which, he said, “mean so much to the future of the Church and our City.”

“…As a Catholic,” Menino added, “I am proud that the Holy See has honored the Archdiocese of Boston with a Cardinal-Elect. This reflects the national and world standing of the Archdiocese, the City and its people.”

Not all shared this enthusiasm over the appointment however. According to the Globe, Mitchell Garabedian, an area attorney who is still pursuing a number of abuses charges against the Archdiocese said that, "Many victims consider it a slap in the face that Archbishop O'Malley has been rewarded for a job not very well done."

Bishop Robert J. McManus, S.T.D., of the nearby Diocese of Worcester, MA, however, had nothing but congratulations to offer Cardinal-designate O’Malley. He also thanked the Holy Father “for elevating [O’Malley] to the College of Cardinals.”

“The Holy Father is assuring us”, he wrote in a statement, “by his decision that the community of faith in this part of New England, which is guided by Cardinal-designate O’Malley from the Metropolitan See of Boston, continues to be an important voice in the universal Church.”

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North American nun closer to sainthood, second miracle attributed

Saint-Mary-of-The-Woods, Ind., Feb 23, 2006 (CNA) - A second miracle has been attributed to Mother Theodore Guerin, opening the way for a possible canonization this fall.

Mother Guerin, who founded the Sisters of Providence in St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., in 1840, is credited with helping to restore the eyesight of Phil McCord, an employee of the order's motherhouse, general superior Sr. Ann Margaret O'Hara told reporters Wednesday. The miracle is waiting approval from Pope Benedict XVI, reported the Associated Press.

McCord was waiting for a corneal transplant in his right eye after a cataract surgery in 2000 resulted in permanent damage. While the 59-year-old awaited the transplant, he returned to his job, and one day entered the order’s college chapel and asked for Mother Guerin’s intercession.

His eyesight began improving the following morning, and when he visited his doctor two weeks later, he was told he no longer needed the transplant. His eye specialist and a second doctor have confirmed there's no medical explanation for the sudden improvement.

Mother Guerin came to Indiana from France in 1840 to start her order, which offered education and medical care for pioneer families in western Indiana. By the time of her death 1856, the order had grown to more than 150 women. Today, there are about 800 in 26 states and Asia.

Mother Guerin's cause for canonization officially opened in 1909, but work started in 1901 when Sr. Mary Theodosia Mug, whose cure from cancer was accepted as the first miracle attributed to Guerin, wrote her foundress’ biography.

Pope John Paul II beatified Mother Guerin in 1998.

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The Bishop of Ratisbon cuts financing of main secular organization, in move to counter groups hostile to the Church

Ratisbon, Germany, Feb 23, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller has decided not to finance anymore the Central Committee of German Catholics, an organization which is nearing closer to movements which contemplate the Church as a “power fortress,” in need of reform and democratization.

The working group of Catholics of Frankfurt am Main, the Union for the Associations of the faithful to the Pope is asking other bishops to follow the trend set by the Bishop of Ratisbonne and denounces the Central Committee, which has become ‘an instrument for the self-destruction of Catholicism”

A simple internal reform in the diocese of Ratisbon, in Bavaria, Germany is set to mark a deep trend in the Church in Germany. Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, a bishop linked to Faculty of Theology of San Damaso in Madrid, has suppressed the Diocesan council of Lay people and thirty-three other organizations, a decision approved by the Vatican, and interpreted as a  means to “debureaucratize” the Church and strengthen the missionary roots of the Church as asked by former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, today Benedict XVI.

The news was confirmed by Fr Michael Fuchs to Radio Vatican and he affirmed that what triggered the process was “the constant severe charges of the Central Committee, through its President and the Assembly General.” Fuchs resents the fact that this has been a “straightforward reaction (to these declarations), but rather the consequence of year long talks.

One of the foremost critics against this reform was the Central Committee of German Catholics, the main secular organization in the Country, which receives more than two millions Euros financing from the Church. The Bishop of Ratisbon has decided to cut this financial support in his diocese.

The Union for the Associations of the faithful to the Pope (Zusammenschluß papsttreuer Vereinigungen e.V.) didn’t wait long to salute Bishop Müller's move: “It is a good thing that the bishop made this decision.” This association started in 1997 as a reaction to the Central Committee of German Catholics, “who purports to talks for all Catholics,” and fundamentally calls for an end of the Papacy. Its president for Frankfurt Main Werner Rothemberg, defined this Central Committee as an “instrument for the self-destruction of  the Church.” He subsequently encouraged other German Bishops to follow his example. Particularly criticized is the association Donum Vitae created by the Committee, which was delivering counseling for women who are seeking an abortion and certificates, a necessary step for a women to have an abortion.

This row between the Bishop and the Central Committee reflects a new era in the German Church. “It is the natural consequence of an increasing missionary sense of  the Church rather than a bureaucratic institution”, says Guido Horst from Die Tagespost.

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Catholics fight proposal to oblige hospitals to provide ‘morning after pill’

Hartford, Conn., Feb 23, 2006 (CNA) - Catholics have taken up the fight against a proposal in the Connecticut state legislature that would require all hospitals — including Catholic hospitals — to provide the emergency contraceptive Plan B, or the morning after pill, to rape victims.

Hartford priest Fr. John Gatzak said he understands the trauma of rape but insists Plan B should not be forced on Catholic hospitals.

"In no case can a Catholic hospital initiate or provide anything which is going to remove or prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum," Fr. Gatzak told News Channel 8.

"The Church cannot condone a wrong by providing for another wrong," he added.

Administrators at rape crisis centers are arguing that it's unethical for Catholic hospitals to deny rape victims this treatment.

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Vatican to release new pastoral document on care for often persecuted Gypsies

Vatican City, Feb 23, 2006 (CNA) - The Vatican has announced that the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples will present a new document dealing with the pastoral care of gypsies next Tuesday.

Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao and Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, respective president and secretary of the pontifical council will present the new document before a gathered assembly in the Holy See Press office.

On Tuesday, one of Europe’s top human rights groups said that Gypsies continue to face widespread persecution--particularly in some eastern European countries, like Lithuania and Romania. Reports also suggest that this population is one of the poorest and fastest growing minorities in Europe.

The group’s population there is estimated at between 7 and 9 million, some 6 million of whom live in Eastern Europe.

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Archbishop of Toledo thankful for red hat, reaffirms mission to serve

Toledo, Spain, Feb 23, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Antonio Cañizares Llovera of Toledo, Spain, thanked Pope Benedict XVI this week for his appointment to the College of Cardinals and said that he never saw himself as a “Prince of the Church,” but rather only as “a servant, and nothing more than a servant.”

During a press conference, the future cardinal said his appointment is “a gesture of confidence” in him, in the Archdiocese of Toledo and in the Bishops’ Conference of Spain on the part of the Pope.  “This gratitude also extends to the One to whom I owe everything, God our Lord,” he added.

He said he considered it very appropriate that the Holy Father would announce the appointment of new cardinals on the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, given the strong bonds between the College of Cardinals and the Successor of Peter.

The mission of the College of Cardinals, he indicated, “is to collaborate with the Pope in his ministry of confirming the apostolic faith, guaranteeing and strengthening the ecclesial community, presiding through service in charity and spreading hope in the entire Church.”

 “I have also been given the grace of helping the Pope with all of my strength.  Being at his side in everything, living in unbreakable communion with him and being an instrument of that communion; sharing his concerns and apostolic works in that singular unity that being a part of the College of Cardinals signifies,” he stated.

Bells rang out in the archbishop’s hometown of Utiel when news of his appointment was made known.

The Apostolic Nuncio in Spain, Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, said he was “very pleased and satisfied” with the news.  He called Archbishop Cañizares “a very educated person, with an extensive academic curriculum, and a member of the most important congregation in the Church, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

The Mayor of Toledo, Jose Manuel Molina, announced he would commission a special golden medallion that will be presented to the new cardinal-elect.

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Chileans moved by testimony of young priest who succumbed to cancer

Santiago, Chile, Feb 23, 2006 (CNA) - Father Francisco Jimenez Araya, the Chilean priest who was diagnosed with cancer shortly before his ordination, died Wednesday morning in a hospital in the town of Illapel.  He faced his illness with great courage, and despite thinking at one point that he would not fulfill his life’s dream, he was able to do so before dying.

Know to family and friends as “Panchito,” Father Jimenez was ordained last January 11 at the Holy Cure d’Ars Home for retired priests in Santiago in a ceremony lead by Bishop Rafael de la Barra of Illapel.  He chose a verse from Psalm 99 as his priestly motto: “Serve the Lord with joy.”

Father Jimenez was born in El Peral, Chile, and began his studies for the priesthood at St. Rafael’s Major Pontifical Seminary.  He was ordained a deacon last June and worked at parishes in Illapel.  He was diagnosed with cancer as he was preparing for his priestly ordination.

According to a statement by the Diocese of Valparaiso, the funeral for Father Jimenez was scheduled to take place Thursday morning at the Cathedral of Illapel.  Pictures of Father Jimenez can be seen at

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EU official condemns attacks on Catholic churches

Brussels, Belgium, Feb 23, 2006 (CNA) - Violent attacks against the Catholic Church impacts the right of Catholics to practice their faith, said deputy chairman of the European Commission Franco Frattini.

The former EU justice minister’s comments, made after a press conference in Brussels, were greatly in line with the message of Pope Benedict XVI on the series of violent reactions that erupted in response to the satirical cartoons about Islam that were printed in a Danish newspaper.

“When violent attacks are repeated against the Catholic Church, it touches at the heart of the right of Catholics to freely practice their faith,” he said, reported AGI.

“The right to criticize cannot be confined by violence,” he said, adding that Europe will continue to respond as it has done.

“No to violence — violence is not right even in response to an offence against one's religious belief — Yes to freedom for all religions and extreme concern about the attack on the Christian church and on Christians worldwide,” he was quoted as saying.

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