Archive of March 14, 2006

Could reported miracle bring beatification a step closer for John Paul II?

Rome, Italy, Mar 14, 2006 (CNA) - The Vatican will begin an official inquiry this week into what could be the first miracle needed for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, reported Exactly two months after the Polish pontiff’s death, a young French nun was healed from Parkinson’s after her community of sisters had prayed for his intercession.

Msgr.Slawomir Oder, the postulator for the late pontiff’s cause, said he first learned of the case when the nun's superior sent him a letter describing what happened. He traveled to France last year to meet the young nun, who remains in perfect health. She had suffered many years from early on set Parkinson’s. She has now returned to active life and continues in her apostolate of caring for newborns.

Msgr.Oder declined to identify the nun or give her age, her community, her location or the name of her bishop to protect her privacy. He told The Associated Press that he would send a formal request to her bishop, asking for an investigation.

A team of doctors and other experts, appointed by the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will then determine whether the nun's recovery was miraculous.

Msgr. Oder intends to request an investigation into another reported miracle in South America and on in Europe, in case this French case is not accepted as a miracle. He continues to compile evidence from people around the world about John Paul's virtues and alleged miracles.

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Pope and President Mubarak meet to discuss prospects for peace in Iraq, Iran

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2006 (CNA) - On Monday evening, Pope Benedict XVI met with Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, with whom he discussed prospects for lasting peace in the violence-wracked Middle East.

Holy See Press Office director Joaquin Navarro-Valls said in a statement that "The cordial discussions, which lasted for around half an hour, began with an acknowledgement of the good relations between the Holy See and the Arab Republic of Egypt, and of the situation of inter-religious affairs in that country.”

He added that "the meeting provided an opportunity to consider themes relative to the prospects for a stable peace in the Middle East,” citing a “profound exchange of ideas” which transpired “regarding the situation in Iraq.”

Likewise, he added that some attention was also given to “questions concerning the Islamic Republic of Iran."

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Bishops oppose bill that would require hospitals to dispense morning-after pill

Hartford, Conn., Mar 14, 2006 (CNA) - A bill that would require all hospitals in Connecticut, including Catholic hospitals, to provide emergency contraception to women who have been raped is being strongly opposed by the Catholic Church and is causing serious debate in the state legislature, reports The Associated Press.

Eight months ago, the state’s Catholic bishops recommended that Catholic hospitals adopt a practice that was begun in a Catholic hospital in Peoria, Ill.It requires doctors to conduct tests to determine whether a woman has ovulated. If she hasn't ovulated, they can prescribe the drug. If she has, they cannot prescribe emergency contraception because it could interfere with pregnancy.

According to the AP, Catholic hospitals in Hartford, Bridgeport, Waterbury and New Havenhave been following the “Peoria Protocol” since January. If they can't prescribe the drug, doctors provide the rape victim with a list of places where she can receive it, and transportation to get there if necessary, reported the AP.

Barry Feldman, general counsel for St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, explained the Catholic position before the legislature's Public Health Committee last week. He testified on behalf of the Connecticut Catholic Hospitals Council.

"Catholic moral teachings allow the woman to protect herself from possible conception as a result of the assault so long as any medications administered to do so do not cause an abortion," he said, reported the AP.

Similar legislation already exists in other states. Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina and Washington require hospitals to dispense the drug and do not exempt Catholic hospitals. Twelve other states are considering similar legislation, reported the AP. Only New Jersey and New York include provisions that prevent the pill from being given if a woman is already pregnant.

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Controversial Notre Dame priest accused of plagiarism…again

South Bend, Ind., Mar 14, 2006 (CNA) - Just weeks after Father Richard McBrien, a controversial professor at the University of Notre Dame was essentially cleared by the University on charges of plagiarism, Virginia’s Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) has announced evidence of a separate--and far more sweeping case--this time involving the priest’s 1997 book; Lives of the Popes.

Yesterday, CNS said they faxed Notre Dame president, Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C an 11-page comparison of McBrien’s 1997 book, Lives of the Popes, and strikingly similar--sometimes exact--pages from Rev. J.N.D. Kelly’s 1986 Oxford Dictionary of Popes.

They pointed out that this situation was first reported in 1998 by University professor emeritus Rev. Marvin O'Connell, in the magazine, Books and Culture.

Patrick Reilly, CNS’s president said today that "Notre Dame's response to our first complaint was a whitewash, but this they cannot ignore"

"There is no valid excuse for a university professor to copy or closely paraphrase the wording of another's scholarly work without clear attribution,” he said. “If that is what has happened here-and the evidence is extensive-then Notre Dame's integrity is on the line."

Fr. McBrien’s previous allegations were also brought by the Cardinal Newman Society, along with Catholic blogger, Domenico Bettinelli and the Boston Herald newspaper.

They claimed that a column written by the priest in The Tidings--a LosAngeles Catholic newspaper--closely resembled a column and news items previously printed in the Boston Globe newspaper.

McBrien strongly denied the claims and Notre Dame’s theology department chair, John Cavadini dismissed the charges, according to a university report leaked to the National Catholic Reporter newspaper in January.

Cavadini has charged the Cardinal Newman Society as being a “militant right-wing Catholic interest group lobbying for the most stringent standards of orthodoxy to be used in courses and curricula at Catholic colleges and universities." Likewise, Fr. McBrien maintains that the group hasa“thorough bias” against him.

As of press time, Fr. McBrien was unavailable for comment.

In a letter sent yesterday to Notre Dame’s president, Reilly wrote that "On behalf of the more than 18,000 members of the Cardinal Newman Society-and in the interest of the students, faculty and alumni of the University of Notre Dame-I urge you to insist upon a serious investigation of the concerns raised about Fr. McBrien's work…Anything less than a serious examination, whatever the result, is less than wha tone expects from Notre Dame."

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Lawsuit argues that fathers should not have to support ‘unwanted babies’

, Mar 14, 2006 (CNA) - Two pro-life organizations have criticized a recent lawsuit filed by the National Center for Men, which argues that fathers should be able to opt out of financial responsibilities for “unwanted” babies.

In Dubay v.Wells, a Michigan man is claiming that the constitution protects him from having to pay child support for a baby he did not want carried to term. The case has been dubbed "Roe v. Wade for men."

Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, says this case challenges the consistency of the pro-choice position.

"The problem here for abortion supporters is that they either have to uphold the notion of reproductive choice and leave single women with no monetary support to raise their children or they have to say that reproductive choice is a human right that only applies to some humans," he said.

Furthermore, the priest warned, the law should not “make it any easier for men to evade their responsibilities.”

Concerned Women for America (CWA) voiced a similar concern.

"This is merely an attempt for these men to avoid their responsibilities if their 'girlfriends' shoulder their own duties and refuse to have an abortion,” said Dr. Janice Crouse, CWA’s Senior Fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute. But the most important question about the rights ofthe child remains, she said.

Crouse observed that absent fathers are becoming increasingly common; the phenomenon is detrimental to children, the family and society. Children who are raised without fathers tend to suffer “long-lasting wounds” and “often look to destructive avenues for the acceptance,” she said.

“Fathers must start acting like men and accept responsibility for their actions,” she stated. “They need to wake up … and realize that fatherhood is a beautiful and huge responsibility, which affects the lives of children and our society as a whole.”

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Cardinal urges new Chilean government to stand up for life

Santiago, Chile, Mar 14, 2006 (CNA) - Duringhis Te Deum homily at the Cathedral of Santiago for the installation of Chile’s new president, Michelle Bachelet, Cardinal Javier Errazuriz said that “With trust we pray to God that our leaders and legislators will always protect the sacred gift of life, and that we all may learn to properly respect each human existence.”

The cardinal said respect for life must always be extended, particularly to the sick, the handicapped and the defenseless, “so that each human life maybe desired and loved.”

“Considering that the right to life is the foundation of all other human rights,” Cardinal Errazuriz said, “how can we show scorn for a life?  How can we not allow it to be born?  How can we cut it off when it is defenseless?”  Likewise he wondered aloud how it was possible for one person to determine whether or not another has the right to live or whether or not their life would be of value.

“How can we ignore some lives and even mistreat them, as if some deserved respect and others didn’t,” he asked. “The 20th century is, among other things, a painful documentary of the terrible injustices which provoked such discrimination.”

Cardinal Errazuriz also emphasized the role of fatherhood and motherhood in society, which, he said, imply “a strong commitment to that joint collaboration between man and woman—affectionate and at the same time reciprocal—that is the family, the source and sanctuary of life.”

The cardinal also noted the problems that arise when married couples close themselves off to the “fruit of their love—their children” and called on the country’s new leaders, “alerted by the last census and providing the valuable service that they wish to offer to women and the family,” to encourage “a change in this situation.  To God we pray for the necessary wisdom for this,” he said.

Cardinal Errazuriz also expressed the Church’s best wishes for the new Chilean president and that “God would grant her collaborators who enjoy the respect and gratitude of all Chileans,” and that in the midst of a cultural globalization, with its advances and its setbacks, the country might yet preserve its values, culture and institutions while learning at the same time from other countries in a spirit of dialogue and collaboration and in “fidelity to Chile’s tradition of honesty, sobriety, family life, and religiosity.”

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South Park actor quits over religious intolerance

Denver, Colo., Mar 14, 2006 (CNA) - Isaac Hayes has resigned as the well-known voice of the Chef on South Park, citing as a reason the cartoon’s "inappropriate ridicule" of religion.

The 63-year-old singer, who belongs to the Church of Scientology, was with the program since its debut in 1997. A recent episode spoofed Scientology. In the plot, one of the characters did so well on a Scientology test that church members thought he was the next L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.

"There is a place in this world for satire but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs begins," Hayes said in a statement.

"In 10 years and over 150 episodes of South Park, Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslim, Mormons or Jews,” noted the cartoon’s co-creator, Matt Stone.

For example, an episode from a few months ago, called Bloody Mary, parodied the Catholic religion and featured a gross depiction of a bleeding statue of the Virgin Mary. Catholics in the U.S. had criticized the program.

“[Hayes] got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show," Stone said.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue said that it “is nothing short of amazing” that Stone is charging Hayes with intolerance and bigotry for not complaining earlier about all the shows South Park did making fun of Christians and other religions.

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Cardinal Daoud: Faithful must accompany suffering Holy Land Christians with prayer, solidarity

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, the Vatican’s prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches has sent a letter to bishops around the world urging support for Christians who live in the troubled Holy Land, namely, by way of the Church’s annual Good Friday collection.

In his letter, Cardinal Daoud laments that “the Land of the Lord continues to be the scene of a conflict that has lasted for decades and deprives Catholic communities and institutions of the adequate means to maintain and promote religious, humanitarian and cultural activities.”

“This distressing situation”, he continued, “leads to poverty and unemployment, with serious consequences for families and for the entire population. It also increases the disturbing phenomenon of the constant exodus of Christians, especially young couples for whom there is no prospect of a safe and dignified future.”

Despite these challenges however, the Cardinal said that "the presence of Christians in the Holy Land is more necessary than ever for the peaceful future of the area, as it is also for the good of the whole universal Church, which ought to find in the Holy Places living communities that profess the Gospel faith."

The prefect continued, recalling Pope Benedict XVI's audience with participants in the meeting of the Assembly of Organizations for Aid to the Eastern Churches (ROACO) in June 2005, during which the Pope "emphasized…that 'certain positive signs in recent months strengthen the hope that the day of reconciliation between the various communities working in the Holy Land will not be long in coming; for this', he said, 'let us unceasingly pray with trust'.”

Cardinal Daoud called this a responsibility “incumbent upon the universal Church with regard to the Mother Church of Jerusalem, 'to which,' as the Pope said, 'all Christians have an unforgettable obligation'."

"Thus,” he stressed, “it is a duty of all Catholics throughout the world to accompany the Christian communities of that blessed Land with prayer and concrete solidarity."

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No religious freedom without public presence of the faith, says Spanish cardinal-designate

Madrid, Spain, Mar 14, 2006 (CNA) - During a Mass celebrated Sunday at the archdiocesan cathedral, the Archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal-designate Antonio Cañizares, said that reducing religious freedom to the exclusive realm of personal conscience is an error that leads to religion becoming merely a “private affair” and the Church, just another non-governmental organization.

The cardinal-designate also denounced the reinforcing of the tendency to “privatize” churches, especially the Catholic Church.  This tendency, he explained, allows each person to adhere to his own faith as long as it is not expressed publicly.

The fundamental error, he continued, lies in the reduction of religious freedom to the exclusive realm of personal conscience, thus treating religion as a “private matter” and the Catholic Church as just another NGO.

Cardinal Cañizares also insisted on the need to respect the right to religious freedom in order for there to be a solid and integrated society based on peaceful coexistence.  Anything that cuts off, prevents or compromises that freedom only disfigures and destroys society, he added.

Thus, the prelate stressed, full recognition of the true realm of religion “is completely vital” for a correct and fecund presence of the Church in society.

During his remarks the new cardinal also noted the contribution Christians have made to the peaceful transformation of authoritarian regimes to democracy through the promotion of religious freedom and other human rights.

Christianity, he said in closing, respects other beliefs and therefore “we demand the same respect for our own convictions,” as without respect for what “we consider to be most holy, there is no peace for us.”

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Mexican bishops slams ‘ideological agenda’ behind Brokeback Mountain

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 14, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago, president of the Mexican Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and head of the diocese of Leon, has criticized the movie “Brokeback Mountain”—which in Mexico is currently being distributed under the name “Secret on the Mountain”—for its promotionof homosexual love between two cowboys.

Bishop Martin Rabago said that behind these types of movies and television programs, “there is a very clear tendency…of inserting a conviction into the atmosphere and mentality of society that a deviated sexual orientation can be considered completely normal.”

Asked about the controversial movie, the bishop noted that “people who have this type of orientation deserve respect, because they are human beings...but orientations of this nature are always abnormal, they are deviated orientations.”

“I can tell you,” he continued, “that those of us who have pastoral contact with these types of people know about their great suffering.”

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Mexican cardinal reiterates call to halt ‘Indigenous church’, build priestly vocations

Guadalajara, Mexico, Mar 14, 2006 (CNA) - The archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez expressed his support this week for a Vatican decision to halt the ordination of married deacons in the Archdiocese of San Cristobal de las Casas and thus put an end to the so-called “indigenous church.”

Cardinal Iñiguez, who participated in several Vatican meetings on the problem of the permanent deaconate in Chiapas as way to gradually impose a married clergy on southern Mexico, said the matter was “thoroughly analyzed for a significant period of time in different meetings at the Vatican; and it was determined that since there are many married deacons in the Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas—340, with only 80 priests—that it was time to start fostering priestly vocations.”

The cardinal said he was especially supportive of the letter sent by Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, to Bishop Felipe Arizmendi, calling for an end to the promotion of the so-called “indigenous church” inspired by liberation theology.

“There is only one Church of Christ in the world, and it is Catholic, and although it is composed of different cultures, races, peoples and nations, we all form one Church and nobody, even though he has his own culture with his own characteristics, can form a separate church,” he wrote.

Reaction in Chiapas

According to Bishop Arizmendi, the indigenous communities met the news with “pain and sadness.  “They feel marginalized for being indigenous and we have tried to make them see that the Church’s negative answer is not because they are indigenous but rather because of the concern the Holy See has that the concept of an ‘autochthonous church’ is an erroneous,” he said during a press conference.

He also announced an influential group of deacons would organize a gathering on March 24.  “It won’t be a protest, but rather a pilgrimage to ask God to help us discern where are going wrong and to correct us,” he said.

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Vatican Social Communications assembly to address state of Catholic media worldwide

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2006 (CNA) - Earlier today, Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications opened his council’s plenary assembly, which is meeting at the Vatican to address the current state of Catholic media around the world.

Following with tradition, plenary session’s inauguration was preceded by a Mass, celebrated yesterday evening in the chapel of the Vatican's "Domus Sancta Marthae."

Some 60 members and consulters of the pontifical council, are gathered for the session, being held through the 18th, to discuss the reception and implementation of the late John Paul II's Apostolic Letter "The Rapid Development."

The letter was written namely to those responsible for social communications around the world and published in February of 2005.

The Vatican announced that during the course of the meetings, the Pontifical Council will receive reports from committees and departments of social communications from Italy, Europe and around the world, concerning the activities they have carried out over the last year.

From these, the Council said they hope to gain an overall vision of the situation of Catholic social communications throughout the modern world.

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