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Archive of March 16, 2006

San Francisco mayor will not attend Levada’s installation in Rome

San Francisco, Calif., Mar 16, 2006 (CNA) - The San Francisco delegation to Archbishop William Levada’s elevation to the College of Cardinals in Rome will have one less member. San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom announced that he would not attend, after the Vatican reiterated its opposition to gay adoptions last week, reported the San Francisco Sentinel.

The Vatican had stated its opposition to gay adoptions in 2003 and Archbishop Levada, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, reiterated this position last week. The archbishop had served the Archdiocese of San Francisco for 10 years.

Newsom expressed his concerned about what this recent reiteration of the Vatican’s position says to children who were placed with same-sex couples by San Francisco Catholic Charities.

In the last decade, San Francisco Catholic Charities has placed a few children with same-sex couples in rare and carefully considered cases. But a recent statement from Archbishop Levada indicated that no Catholic organization should place children with same-sex couples under any circumstances from now on.

“If we're supposed to be encouraging adoption, if we're supposed to be discouraging abortion which is principled — I absolutely believe that — then we also have to be encouraging placement in loving households,” added the mayor, a practicing Roman Catholic. Newsom suggested the Vatican should evolve in its position on this issue.

Police Commissioner Joe Alioto Veronese will lead the delegation to the March 24 ceremony in Rome. The archbishop will be formally installed as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a position which he took in August.

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Christian, Jew and Muslim, all believers in one God, must cooperate for good of humanity, says Pope

Vatican City, Mar 16, 2006 (CNA) - Earlier today at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI issued a powerful call for the world’s monotheistic religions to work together--through dialogue and mutual respect--for the sake of the common good of humanity.

The Pope’s words came during a meeting with delegates from the American Jewish Committee, with whom he urged increased efforts for “friendship between the Jewish people and the Catholic Church."

The Pope also recalled the recent 40th anniversary celebrations for the Vatican Council II Declaration "Nostra Aetate," pointing out that it "increased our shared desire to know each other better and to develop a dialogue characterized by mutual respect and love."

"Jews and Christian”,  Benedict said, “have a rich common patrimony…In many ways this distinguishes our relationship as unique among the religions ofthe world. The Church can never forget that chosen people with whom God entered into a holy covenant.”

He stressed that "Judaism, Christianity and Islam believe in the one God, Creator of heaven and earth. It follows, therefore, that all three monotheistic religions are called to cooperate with one another for the common good of humanity, serving the cause of justice and peace in the world.”

“This”, the Holy Father said, “is especially important today when particular attention must be given to teaching respect for God, for religions and their symbols, and for holy sites and places of worship."

Concluding his brief address, Pope Benedict said that "religious leaders have a responsibility to work for reconciliation through genuine dialogue and acts of human solidarity.”

“I pray”, he told the group, “that your visit today may confirm you in you rendeavors to build bridges of understanding across all barriers."

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Pope praises Ukrainian-Catholic Church for upholding Sacred Tradition, communion with Seat of Peter

Vatican City, Mar 16, 2006 (CNA) - Today, the Vatican released a letter sent by Pope Benedict XVI to Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, major Archbishop of Lviv of the Ukrainians, recalling the forced fusion of Catholics into the Orthodox Church by the communist Soviet government in 1946.

The Pope’s message served to mark what he called "the sad events to which the cathedral of St. George at Leopoli was witness, in March of sixty years ago."

In the letter, which was dated February 22nd, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the Holy Father recalled the infamous March 1946 date, during which "a group of prelates meeting in a pseudo-synod which took upon itself the right to represent the Church, made a serious attack against ecclesial unity.”

“Violence against those who remained faithful to the Bishop of Rome intensified,” he wrote, “giving rise to further suffering and forcing the Church to descend once again to the catacombs."

Despite this, the Pope expressed his thanks to God that "the Greek-Catholic Church did not disappear but continued to bear her own witness to the unity, sanctity catholicity and apostolicity of the Church of Christ."

The pontiff expressed hope that the anniversary would stimulate the Greek-Catholic community in Ukraine "to strengthen its intimate and committed bond with Peter's Successor."

He likewise emphasized how, "in the patient daily journey of faith, in communion with the successors of the Apostles, ... the Ukrainian Catholic community has managed to uphold Sacred Tradition in its integrity."

"In order”, the Pope went on, “for this precious heritage of 'Paradosis' (or Tradition) to survive in all its richness, it is important to guarantee the presence of the two great currents of the one Tradition - the Latin current and the Orthodox current.”

Each, he said, contains “the multiplicity of historical characteristics that the Ukraine has been able to express."

Benedict closed the letter by calling to mind what he called "the dual mission entrusted to the Greek-Catholic Church in full communion with Peter.”

“On the one hand,” he wrote, “her task is to ensure the oriental tradition remains visible in the Catholic Church, on the other, to favor the encounter of the traditions, bearing witness not only to their compatibility, but also to their profound unity in diversity."

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Illinois Catholic citizens group calls for homosexual activist who called Cardinal ‘bigot’ to be removed from anti-hate commission

Chicago, Ill., Mar 16, 2006 (CNA) - The group, Catholic Citizens of Illinois, are calling on Governor Rod Blagojevich to remove homosexual activist Rick Garcia from the Governor’s Commission Against Discrimination and Hate Crimes because of what they see as his own hate-filled agenda.

Garcia recently called Chicago’s Francis Cardinal George a “bigot” for his, and the Catholic Church’s stance against homosexual marriage and the practice of homosexuality.

Mary Anne Hacket, president of Catholic Citizens of Illinois, said that “We are offended by Garcia’s frequent attacks on the Catholic Church and all Christians for their belief in biblical values.”

She added the group’s disdain for “his attacks on the Illinois Family Institute which has been effective in the defense of marriage and efforts to place a referendum on the ballot to define marriage in Illinois as a union between one man and one woman.”

“The type of hatred Rich Garcia spouts on a regular basis”, Hacket charged, “has no place on a commission financed by the taxpayers and he must be removed from the Commission at once.”

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Catholic group puts faith element back into St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Raleigh, N.C., Mar 16, 2006 (CNA) - Their mission was to spread the Gospel, not just wear the green. A Catholic lay apostolate participated in their local St. Patrick’s Day Parade with the aim of putting faith back into what has become a largely cultural event.

One Bread Lay Apostolate organized a group of Catholics from various parishes in the Diocese of Raleigh to march in the local downtown parade March 11.

They distributed St. Patrick holy cards among the 20,000 spectators. The cards included an invitation to attend mass at a Catholic church nearby and to receive free information about the Catholic Church.

"Many people are not knowledgeable about Church history," said One Bread member Karen Matthews. "They think St Patrick’s Day is about shamrocks and leprechauns. We want to bring back the spiritual aspect of the holiday and use the parade as a teaching moment to tell the world about one of the world’s great evangelists."

Matthews said the spectators seemed glad to receive the holy cards and to learn more about the man who converted the Irish people in the 4th century from paganism to Christianity.

This was the third year the group has marched in the parade, but the first year that it invited Catholic youth groups to compete for the Catholic Youth Evangelization Award. St. Luke’s the Evangelist Catholic Church in Raleigh won the trophy for their cheer.

After the parade, One Bread offered free information about the Church at their booth in Moore Square, where they also sold food, soft drinks, Catholic books and gifts.

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Polish priests fill need for ministers in European countries

London, England, Mar 16, 2006 (CNA) - Due to the shortage of British clergy, dozens of priests from Poland arrive in the United Kingdom each month to take charge of parishes and minister to the growing number of Polish migrant workers, reported The Guardian. While some are long-term assignments, some priests just fly in for the weekend to celebrate mass.

But Polish priests aren’t just going to Britain. In recent months, more than 62 priests from the Archdiocese of Krakow left for assignments around the world, including Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Germany, Tanzania, Ukraine, and the United States.

Poland seems to be the only nation in Europe where the number of vocations is rising, accounting for one-quarter of all European applications to the seminary, reported The Guardian. Currently, Poland has 29,089 ordained priests, about 1,845 monks and 23,105 nuns.

Krakow's seminary alone currently has 240 students. The number of Poles applying to join the priesthood increased, from 4,500 in 1998 to 7,100 in 2005. Some explain the high numbers with the Church's role in the struggle against communism and the extraordinary influence of Pope John Paul II.

In contrast, in 2003, there were a total of 110 seminarians in all of Ireland and a total of 27 seminarians in England and Wales. This trend of decline repeats itself in other European countries.

In France, seminaries accepted 927 applicants in 2001, compared with 1,210 in 1991. There were no applications to join the priesthood in the French-speaking part of Switzerland in 2002.

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Carmelite who died at 26 to be beatified Saturday

Rome, Italy, Mar 16, 2006 (CNA) - The Vatican’s Office of Liturgical Celebrations announced this week that on Saturday, March 18th, the Servant of God, Elia di San Clemente, a Carmelite nun who died in 1927 at the age of 26, will be beatified at the Cathedral of Bari in the Italian region of Puglia.

Elia de San Clemente, whose given name was Teodora Fracasso, was born in Bari on January 17, 1901, and was called “the little smile of God” by the bishop of the time.

Teodora lived with her family until she was 19, when she entered the Discalced Carmelite Monastery of St. Joseph in her native city on April 8, 1920.  She made her final profession on February 11, 1925 and towards the end of 1926 she began to suffer a continuous headache, which she referred to as “my little brother.”

In a letter written to her spiritual director, she said: “My little brother won’t allow me to give long discourses, much less listen to them.  As you see, all this is working together to isolate me from everything so that I live only in God.  Nothing upsets the peace of my soul.  Everything has become a way of drawing myself towards Him.  No, venerable Father, I do not regret having consecrated myself victim to the Lord.”

The pains were the beginning of encephalitis, which would culminate in her early, and unexpected death; the community was only made aware of the gravity of the situation when she was already in a coma.

On a radiant Christmas morning in 1927, at age 26, Sister Elia went home to God.

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Spain's new Cardinal-designate says Church defends man from secularism

Toledo, Spain, Mar 16, 2006 (CNA) - TOLEDO – In an exclusive interview with the Catholic News Agency, Archbishop Antonio Cañizares of Toledo, who was recently named cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, spoke at length about the challenges of secularism and the hopes of the Church.

The archbishop said his appointment to the College of Cardinals was a sign of “support for the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, that we continue ahead unfalteringly with the mission we have in this delicate phase our country is experiencing.”

“We live immersed in a profound cultural change characterized by a secular plan imposed on our society, a plan that seeks to eradicate the Christian roots that form our foundation and a cultural change characterized also by nihilism, the neo-Marxism, where God doesn’t count and is reduced to the private sphere.  And this doesn’t happen without very serious consequences for man and for our society,” the cardinal-designate said.

Archbishop Cañizares denied the government’s claim that the Church is “inappropriately interfering” in public life.  “Is it interference to defend fundamental human rights such as the right to life, to defend the human being from the first moment of conception, to protect him against manipulation and destruction?” he asked.

“Is it interference to defend the truth about marriage, which consists solely of the stable union between a man and a woman through love that is open to life?  Is it interference to protect marriage and the family from ‘quick’ divorce?  Is it interference to defend freedom of education and that parents see their right respected to have their children educated or to receive a moral and religious education that is in accord with their moral and religious convictions?”  

“The Spanish bishops,” he continued, “have the duty to do what we are doing.  If not, we would not be good bishops who defend the truth about the human being.”

“What I am demanding is that, for the good of Spain, of our society and of our people, those fundamental principles and rights be respected, that the ethical foundation of our society be sustained and respected, that we not fall into an ethical relativism which will bring down democracy.  Because when we defend moral principles, the human person and his dignity, greatness and freedom, the right to a moral and religious formation, etc, we are defending democracy.  If we don’t, then the future of democracy in Spain and in other countries is seriously at risk,” he said.

The cardinal-designate praised the laity for their peaceful protests demanding respect for marriage, the family and human dignity, saying such manifestations prove that “this is not about being against anybody, but rather that Christians want to be heard because we are convinced that faith in Jesus Christ is valid for all and is a richness that mankind needs today.”

“Therefore, despite everything, I believe this is a very hopeful moment, a sign of a new springtime in the Church,” he said in conclusion.

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Brazilian official says country not ready for abortion

, Mar 16, 2006 (CNA) - Brazil’s Secretary for Women’s Policies, Nilceia Freire, admitted this week that political conditions in the country were not favorable for the passage of a controversial new law that would legalize abortion on-demand.

Freire said that the current election year in Brazil does not appear to be an appropriate time to pass the law, which was brought before the Brazilian senate and then later withdrawn.  Passage of the law had been a priority for Freire and the Brazilian government.

“Politicians who want to be reelected are not going to take a risk by voting for a bill that is not popular,” Freire said.  Polls show that 92% of Brazilians oppose legalizing abortion.

Freire said she hoped to bring up the issue again during the next legislative session, under what she called “better conditions.”

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Campaign initiated to establish ‘Terri’s Day’

Detroit, Mich., Mar 16, 2006 (CNA) - An initiative has been launched to establish March 31 as Terri’s Day, an annual national day of remembrance to honor the memory of Terri Schiavo.

The initiative was announced by Schiavo’s father, Bob Schindler, and Kevin Fobbs, president of the National Urban Policy Action Council.

“Terri Schiavo’s legacy has taught us that life is precious and should be protected,” said Fobbs. “We are asking Americans to take a moment of their time to honor Terri’s memory as well as what former Pope John Paul II called the Culture of Life.”

Organizers are seeking up to one million pledges from around the United States and the world in support of establishing this day of remembrance.

The organizers are also asking supporters to pledge that they will obtain a living will, to encourage state officials to establish March 31 as Terri’s Day, to encourage the media to embrace stories that promote the Culture of Life, to support the creation of professional volunteer networks to assist families dealing with disability and neurological issues, and to support the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation in establishing a neurological health care facility.

The pledge drive will culminate May 12 in Southfield, Mich., with an official ceremony, prayer vigil, and the presentation of a ceremonial pledge sheet to Schiavo’s family and a check of donations.

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Catholic Charities and World Cup 2006; buying sex is a not a sport!

Berlin, Germany, Mar 16, 2006 (CNA) - Catholic Charities and Caritas of Germany have expressed a heartfelt “no” to female prostitution during the World cup soccer tournament which is being held there next summer. They are calling for petition signatures protesting what they call a form of “slavery.”

In 2002, Germany officially legalized the prostitution industry, and now, with one of the largest sports competitions in the world coming to that country, women are being brought in from Eastern Europe for this purpose, says Germany’s Catholic Charities and Caritas organizations.

From June 9th, to July 9th, more than 3 million visitors are expected to attend the World Cup games. Catholic Charities has signed a petition against this form of exploitation and the new sex industry stressing that sex cannot be acquired at any price; that the human body is not a commodity that can be traded.

Prostitution, they said, is contrary to international standards, promotion of equality, respect and non-discrimination.

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Belief in God and superstition incompatible, says Mexican bishop

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 16, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo Cardenas of Cancun-Chetumal, Mexico, warned Mexicans this week against believing in superstition, which, he said, the world proposes as an answer to personal problems. He said that the only answer to trials and tribulations is in attentiveness to the word of God.

The bishop lamented the loss of faith and the spread of pagan rites and superstition, such as fortune telling and tarot cards, which are rejected by God.
 
He warned parents not to let their children to become involved in witchcraft, sorcery, magic, astrology or séances, “because all these things are an abomination to your God.”  Such practices, he said, were common among pagans, “but we know that Christ is the only one who came to bring to the truth.”

 

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