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Archive of March 21, 2006

Soon-to-be Cardinal O’Malley looks toward future for strained Archdiocese of Boston

Boston, Mass., Mar 21, 2006 (CNA) - On Friday, Boston’s Archbishop Sean O’Malley will travel to Rome where Pope Benedict XVI will officially be made a Cardinal. In an interview with the Boston Globe, the Cardinal-designate looked back on his time as Archbishop, and forward, as the Church faces new challenges and tries to make itself understood in what he called “a highly secularized culture.”

During the exhaustive interview, the Cardinal-designate discussed what he sees as profound strides in reconciling the archdiocese’s tumultuous sexual abuse crisis, the recent Catholic Charities controversy over adoption by same-sex couples, and even his thoughts on the volatile national immigration debate.

Early on, the Globe asked O’Malley what he thought of the symbolic red of the cardinal’s hat representing the wearer’s willingness to suffer for the Church. 

He said he likes to think that he is prepared for any suffering that might come for his vocation and his Church and added that “the dominant culture, the secular culture, does trivialize our beliefs, and at times ridicules them.”

“It's not the same as the kind of persecution that people experience in Cuba or, before the fall of the Iron Curtain…But, I think that there are many forms of persecution, and certainly one of them is to be ridiculed.”

He went on to cite the many strides made in the Archdiocese to rectify the sexual abuse crisis--which has colored much of the Archbishop’s tenure--starting with the sale of the Archbishop’s own home. O’Malley pointed out that there is likely no “other institution in [Massachusetts] that has done as much to re-guarantee the safety of children as the Catholic Church has done.”

He admitted however, that “we still have a long way to go.”

The Cardinal-designate also defended the Holy See’s recent directive that Catholic Charities not place adoptive children with same-sex couples—a particularly heated controversy in Boston. He said that that “in our works of mercy, in our social programs…we must be consistent in teaching the Catholic faith in one voice.”

He pointed out that “the Church's teaching on marriage is very central to our beliefs and…we see that the institution of marriage in today's world is very much threatened on many fronts, and yet it is the very cornerstone of society.”

“The best way for a child to be raised”, he explained, “is to be conceived and nurtured and raised by committed, loving parents in a marriage. And so, for the church, in our social service activities and other works of mercy, we need to be consistent.”

He quickly added however that “it's always difficult when people look at Catholic teaching on the periphery, and don't see that the core of our teaching is the love of God above all else, and the love of our neighbor as ourselves.” He said he “was very pleased that the Holy Father's first encyclical is 'Deus caritas est,' that God is love.”

“I know,” he said, “that many people would cast our actions as mean-spirited or to denigrate people. But it is our desire to be faithful to that love that is the very core and reason for our church and our religion, that we must love God, obey his commandments, and try and create a civilization of love…in our highly secularized, individualistic world, I know that that message doesn't come across too clearly.”

Archbishop O’Malley also alluded to numerous transitions taking place in the chancery itself, referring to the selection of a new chancellor, new auxiliary bishops and a new director of development.

He also lamented the archdiocese’s numerous parish closings--acts which were greeted with much consternation by parishioners--but said that the Church didn’t have much choice.

He said that the “closing of parishes has allowed us to regroup, to strengthen some of our communities, and it's going to allow us to be able to staff all of our parishes with clergy for a much longer time. It's also allowed us to strengthen our retirement funds that were weak.”

He added however, that “It certainly has been a very painful process,” both for parishioners and for himself.

Prince of simplicity

Cardinal-designate O’Malley, a Franciscan Capuchin, is known for his simplicity and love of poverty. Asked how he would handle the prestige of becoming a cardinal, he responded, “We have the vow of obedience, and I took as my motto 'Do Whatever He Tells You -- Quodcumque Dixerit Facite,' which are the last words of the blessed mother in the Bible.”

He admitted however, that he didn't “like the hoopla and will try to avoid as much of it as I can without --I don't want to not recognize the dignity of this honor and the office and what it means for Catholics, and so, when in proper times I have to wear certain liturgical vestments, I will certainly do that.”

“I've always tried to observe what the church expects of us,” he said, “but my preference is to try and maintain a simple lifestyle.”

Looking to the future, O’Malley said that “passing on the faith is the biggest challenge,” he faces, coupled with “inspiring people to have a sense of personal vocation as individuals.”

At the same time, he said, people must “feel that they are part of a communal mission that Christ has entrusted to us as his people. For some people, in today's world, religion is kind of reduced to this new age, individual spirituality. But this is not our ecclesiology. This is not our Catholic faith.”

Rather, he said “Our Catholic faith is very much that, although I have a personal vocation, a call to holiness and a call to a way of life, I'm also called to be a disciple with, and to share a mission, with my brothers and sisters in the household of the faith. And so, to communicate that vision in today's world, which is so highly privatized and individualistic.”

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Church’s new doctrinal watchdog says Catholic politicians need to take Church teachings seriously

Vatican City, Mar 21, 2006 (CNA) - On Friday, Archbishop William Joseph Levada will be the first of 15 men from around the globe to be made Cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI. Levada’s role is unique however. Earlier this year, he took over the Holy Father’s former job as Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith--a job charged with upholding the teachings of the Church.

Recently, the Cardinal-designate granted an interview to Time Magazine, in which he talked about the responsibilities of Catholic politicians and the ramifications of the Church’s recent document on homosexuals in seminaries.

During the 2004 U.S. presidential election, the issue of Catholic politicians promoting and publicly holding views contrary to the Catholic Church became a volatile one.

Asked whether “politicians should be granted communion if they support policies counter to Church teachings,” Archbishop Levada said that “There are certain teachings that as Catholics we have to accept as part of Jesus' Gospel. When you see Catholic politicians who favor abortion rights ... you have to ask yourself how this person squares this with his personal faith.”

“Catholic politicians”, he stressed, “need to take this seriously. Maybe they need to say I'm not able to practice my faith and be a public representative.”  

Likewise, the Cardinal-designate hit on the Church’s recent document on homosexuals in seminaries calling the controversial teaching tool “very clear.”

“It says a person with deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not suited for the priesthood,” he pointed out. “Somebody who comes to the seminary from a gay lifestyle cannot be a priest.”

“But”, he also offered, “if you can show us after five or 10 years that you have been able to live a celibate life, it could be possible. But there would need to be spiritual and psychological evaluations.”  

Time’s Jeff Israely closed his interview with the prelate by asking if the Pope had “any advice on how to handle such a responsibility” when he “welcomed you to the new job.”

With a laugh, Archbishop Levada said no. Benedict "just smiled, and said: ‘Go to it.’” 

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Cardinal George “deeply troubled” as Archdiocese of Chicago releases findings of massive abuse probe

Chicago, Ill., Mar 21, 2006 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Chicago released the disturbing findings of their "Report on Clerical Sexual Abuse of Minors Findings and Solutions" yesterday. In response to the wide-sweeping, independent probe, Cardinal Francis George said that he was “deeply troubled.”  

In a statement, the Cardinal said that “This is a tragedy for the children, for their families and all who are involved. But it also represents failures within the Archdiocese to react promptly and appropriately to what happened in these cases.”

He stressed that “Sexual abuse or molestation of a child by any adult is disordered. It is a sin and a crime.”

“When children or young people”, he added, “are robbed of their innocence and suffer the pain, anguish and anxiety caused by the illegal and immoral actions of a priest, a person of trust, the tragedy of sexual abuse is compounded.”

He quickly pointed out however, that the archdiocese’s Father Daniel McCormack “has been arrested and charged with sexually abusing three children” and that the Church is continuing to look into additional accusations by more families.

“It is up to the legal process now to determine innocence or guilt on the part of Father McCormack,” he said, “but we have tried to examine our own actions and mistakes.”

“We are here today”, he went on, “to report to the people of the community on how we intend to move forward to further strengthen our commitment to the protection and safety of children.”

Cardinal George also said that he has asked Chancellor Jimmy Lago, “an expert in child welfare, to take a hard look at what went wrong and to implement changes.”

Personal responsibility

In is his statement, the Cardinal also wished to share some personal thoughts.

“For the many missteps in responding to the accusations of sexual abuse of minors by Father McCormack,” he said, “I accept responsibility.”

“For the tragedy of allowing children to be in the presence of a priest against whom an accusation of sexual abuse had been made,” he continued, “I am truly sorry. I should have focused more clearly on the actions we needed to take and I should have taken them more quickly.”

“For not following the advice of our independent Professional Responsibility Review Board to remove Father McCormack temporarily, even without a judgment about his actions,” he added, “I am deeply sorry.”

The Cardinal stressed his commitment “to a full disclosure of the facts and to the implementation of deliberate, meaningful changes to do all in our power to ensure that such events never happen again”.

The Monday report showed a widespread breakdown in communications within the Archdiocese. For example, a priest charged with molesting three boys had been accused years before of having questionable conduct with a minor while he was in the seminary and was still allowed to be ordained.

The report was based on investigations conducted by two outside consultants and an internal review. It noted that the archdiocese's failure to follow its own procedures put children in harm's way and may have violated Illinois law.

It also discovered that various archdiocese departments responsible for dealing with abuse allegations failed to communicate. Likewise, the archdiocese didn't seem to follow its own procedures and at one point, determined that a policy of monitoring priests accused of sex crimes would be adequate.

The investigations were sparked by allegations against Fr. McCormack. He pleaded not guilty earlier this month to aggravated criminal sexual abuse charges and is accused of molesting three boys between September 2001 and January 2005.

According to the Associated Press, officials at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein were told that Fr. McCormack acted inappropriately with two adult males and one adult minor in 1992, according to the report. McCormack was ordained in 1994.

Jim Dwyer, a spokesman for the Archdiocese said that all the information in the report has now been turned over to prosecutors, who will decide if penalties should be imposed on the church or its employees.

During an interview with Jay Levine of Chicago’s CBS 2 news, Cardinal George admitted his devastation at the consultant’s report.

"You read it, and you weep," he said.

Asked if the review board was upset that he did not follow its recommendation, the Cardinal said, "Of course. Sure, I would be too, and I understand that. I wish I had taken their precautionary advice."

Appearing clearly shaken, he told Levine, "When I pray, I think about the faces of children abused by priests…And those are intense moments, and I ask the Lord to protect them."

Regarding Fr. McCormick, Cardinal George lamented, "Police let him go free, and I misunderstood that to mean that they thought he wasn't a danger. I think now as I've been told by lawyers and others, it doesn't mean that, but it was certainly in my mind at the time. I didn't think he was a danger."

The full report, presented by Defenbaugh & Associates, Inc., is available at the Archdiocese of Chicago's web site: http://www.archdiocese-chgo.org/keeping_children_safe/report_032006/defenbaugh_report.pdf

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Pope Benedict to create 15 new Cardinals Friday

Vatican City, Mar 21, 2006 (CNA) - On Friday, the Church’s College of Cardinals will grow to 193 members. Among them, a 15 men will travel from various sees around the world to be named the first cardinals of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate.

The Pope will celebrate his first Ordinary Public Consistory at the end of this week, bringing the total number of cardinals eligible to vote for a new pope to 120,

According to Church law, only those under the age of 80, enjoy the right to participate in a papal conclave.

The Consistory will bring the number of cardinals in Europe to 100, 60 of whom have the right to vote. The Americas will now have 52 cardinals (20 from North America and 32 from South America) with 36 electors. Africa will have 17 African cardinals with 9 electors; Asian will have 20, with 13 electors, and Oceania will have four with 2 electors.

After Friday, Italy will remains the home of the world’s largest number of cardinals, 40 in all including three new prelates who will be consecrated on March 24th.

Following Italy, the United States has the second largest number with 15 cardinals, and France and Spain each have nine.

Friday's consistory will follow new rites which were introduced at Pope John Paul II’s June 28th, 1991 ceremony.

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Afghan man could face death for becoming Christian

Kabul, Afghanistan, Mar 21, 2006 (CNA) - The Associated Press is reporting that an Afghan man who reportedly converted from Islam to Christianity is facing a potential death sentence from a court in Kabul.

Abdul Rahman is charged with violating his country’s Islamic laws by making the conversion. Judge Ansarullah Mawlavezda told the AP that the man was arrested last month after his family turned him into police for being a Christian.

The judge said that Rahman claims he converted 16 years ago—at age 25—while working as a medical aid worker in neighboring Pakistan.

"We are not against any particular religion in the world, Judge Mawlavezda said.” But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law…It is an attack on Islam. ... The prosecutor is asking for the death penalty."

The case is thought to be the first of its kind in Afghanistan and reportedly, the charges could be dropped if Rahman agrees to convert back to Islam. That, he said however, is not an option.

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Boston Archdiocese announces removal of 8 priests

Boston, Mass., Mar 21, 2006 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Boston announced yesterday that 8 priests who were charged with sexual abuse have now been removed from the clerical state.

A final decision from the Holy See has determined that Anthony Buchette, Joseph Crowley, Paul Finegan, Thomas Forry, Robert Morrisette, Frederick Ryan, Ernest Tourigney and Patrick Tague will now cease to receive any financial support from the Archdiocese and can no longer publicly exercise their priestly authority in the Church.

In a statement, Archbishop Sean O’Malley said that "During these days of Lent we are called in a particular way to repentance and conversion…With this Lenten call in mind, this moment provides an opportunity to express to the survivors of clergy sexual abuse and to their families my deepest sorrow for the grievous harm done to them.”

He said that “The violations of childhood innocence, under the guise of priestly care, are a source of profound shame,” adding his hope that “that the emotional, physical, and spiritual wounds carried by survivors will be healed and their trust renewed.”

The Archbishop, who will become a cardinal on Friday, pledged the “on-going commitment of the Archdiocese to accompany those who have been abused in their healing work."

Although the 8 men have been removed from the clerical state, they are still permitted to offer absolution to the dying in cases of extreme circumstance.

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Redemption key idea in John Paul II’s thought, says Pope Benedict

Rome, Italy, Mar 21, 2006 (CNA) - In the written introduction for the new edition of John Paul II’s, “Memory and Identity,” Pope Benedict XVI notes that the key word of the entire thinking of the late Pope is “redemption,” a concept that in existential terms means “mercy.”  

Last weekend the Italian daily Corriere della Sera published the prologue written by Pope Benedict XVI for the new edition of last book of his predecessor, in which the late pontiff reflected on the history of the 20th century and on good and evil.

For Benedict XVI, John Paul II’s book, which will be re-published on March 22, brings together “some of the fundamental experiences of his life” and gives readers a “glimpse of his interior biography.”  He also points out that his recollections of the Nazi occupation and the Communist dictatorship of Poland reveal that John Paul II experienced “very personally” the oppression and enslavement of his homeland.

In recalling some of Karol Wojtyla’s reflections on the concept of redemption, Benedict XVI states that this is “the key word to all of John Paul II’s thought,” and he recalled that “his first programmatic encyclical begins with the significant words ‘Redemptor hominis,’ thus becoming ‘the summary of his theological and anthropological vision’.”

The Pope also underscored the references in the book to the Blessed Mother, “who was so central in the spiritual life of John Paul II,” and her role as “the bearer of memory.”  “The memory of the Church is the point where the conscience of humanity widens and touches our origins, the foundations of our being;” because “where the past is not known, the future is also lost in favor of an empty present,” Benedict XVI added.

The Pontiff insisted that all of the different memories have their roots in the common memory of humanity, “conserved in an excellent way in the memory of the Church,” in which lies “the strength of peace and reconciliation of humanity.”

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As anniversary of his death approaches, Canadian bishops offer resources for John Paul II memorials

Ottawa, Canada, Mar 21, 2006 (CNA) - Churches across Canada have organized memorial services next month to commemorate Pope John Paul II. With the approaching first anniversary of his death, April 2, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has made commemorative materials available for use in churches, chapels and schools.

A portrait of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, a reproduction of the original black-and-white rendering, is available in a limited edition. Printed on archival quality paper, each signed and numbered print comes with a certificate of authenticity. Each portrait sells at $100.

Posters of the late Pope are suitable to announce the place and times of memorial services. They cost $2 each or $5 for packages of 5.

Finally, large-format banners on weather-resistant vinyl, with hanging grommets at each corner are available for $47 each.
 
To order or for more information, visit www.cccbpublications.ca.

 

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Poor sales force laboratory to pull morning-after pill from Chilean market

Santiago, Chile, Mar 21, 2006 (CNA) - The Grünenthal laboratory, which manufactures the morning-after pill in Chile, has decided to pull the drug from the market because of poor sales and the constant legal challenges being made by pro-life groups who denounce the drug’s abortifacient nature.

Pro-life leaders, represented by Fernanda Otero, applauded the decision, saying it “proves that [the drug] induces an abortion.”  “Life must always be protected,” she said, adding she was sure the drug was going to be pulled because nobody can guarantee that it “does not kill the unborn.”

On the other side, Veronica Schiappacasse, a researcher at the Chilean Institute of Reproductive Medicine and a fervent supporter of the drug, said the decision by Grünenthal was “troubling and understandable.”  “I suppose they had no intention of continuing to manufacture it as it was not good business.”

Schiappacasse said she would now look to the new government led by President Michelle Bachelet “to create policies in favor of women’s rights and not be pressured by minority groups that want to control the rights of Chileans.”

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New family and marriage think tank sets up shop

Ottawa, Canada, Mar 21, 2006 (CNA) - A new Christian think tank on marriage and family has set up shop in Canada’s capital with the hopes of impacting upcoming debates in the House of Commons.

The Institute for Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC) is an outreach of Focus on the Family Canada, an Evangelical organization.

According to IMFC executive director, the think tank is designed to provide Parliamentarians, senators, political staff and other decision-makers with the latest research on a number of issues, including marriage, embryonic stem-cell research, euthanasia and other family-related legislation.

Lobby groups and educational institutions, based on Judeo-Christian principles, have become more numerous and active in the nation’s capital recently, reported the Ottawa Citizen.

Other organizations include the National House of Prayer, which encourages Christians from across the country to spend a week in the capital praying for their political leaders, the Institute for Canadian Values and Vote Marriage Canada.

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Catholic dissident leader says Church in Cuba still being persecuted

Havana, Cuba, Mar 21, 2006 (CNA) - Three years after the Castro government’s massive crackdown on opposition groups, the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya, said the persecution of the Church in Cuba continues.
 
In an interview with the internet magazine Encuentro en la Red, Paya gave an extensive analysis of the status of the opposition and the Church in Cuba.  “Its been three years since that day, which was an event that did not end at that moment, but continues even to this day, since our friends are still in prison.  We can’t talk about this as if it were the past, but rather as a continuing cruel present,” Paya explained.

“We are facing a moment of regression and in recent months the so-called ‘acts of repudiation,’ that is, those fascist, communist acts in which families are terrorized and beaten, have gotten worse. In addition, state police continue to go house to house, to all of the signers of the Varela Project, in other to threaten them with unemployment, deny them leave of the country, and threaten them with everything totalitarianism has to pressure them to retract.”

Paya called for a greater response from the international community, which, he said, pays attention to other unjust situations in the world but is often “silent or indifferent” in response to the injustice in Cuba.

Asked about statements by Cardinal Renato Martino suggesting that the Church no longer suffers repression in Cuba, Paya said, “I’m not going to comment on messages or statements by the local Church or the Vatican.  But I can speak of my own experience and reality.  This oppression not only touches the churches and believers; it has a special component dedicated just to us.”

While there is a certain freedom of worship in Cuba, Paya noted the oppression in many places is “palpable,” with government agents openly monitoring Masses in an attempt to intimidate people.  “Although this is not public, I must speak about it, because I know firsthand how many religious sisters and brothers are victims of threats, intimidating phone calls and blackmail.”

Paya also called for greater commitment from Church leaders to fulfill the Church’s role as prophet and defender of human rights.  At the same time, he added, the laity is already in a position to “take on this attitude.”  “They only have to decide to do it.  Because, I have never been of the thinking that I have to act under the identity of the Church—even though my inspiration comes from being a Christian—or to see the Church as a political trench, or to identify any one movement, program and personality, no matter how great they are, with the Church.”

“I have always defended that distinction,” Paya stated, “because everything in the political and social sphere is debatable.  And when a person or a group wants a commitment from the Church, or acts in the name of the Church, whether openly or not, then they are identifying the Church with what could very well be a legitimate option, but it may be only one option and not necessarily the option of the Church.”

 

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Penitential walk brings together 200,000 in Brazil

, Mar 21, 2006 (CNA) - Last weekend some 200,000 Brazilians joined together in a traditional penitential walk celebrated each year during Lent in the city of São Salvador da Bahía.  The city’s archbishop, Cardinal Geraldo Majella, led the walk.

After celebrating an outdoor Mass, Cardinal Majella Agnelo was joined by dozens of priests and deacons behind a processional cross which lead the traditional Lenten walk.

Part of the annual event includes dropping off non-perishable food at certain hospitals and homes along the way, including the San Antonio Hospital, founded by the late Sister Dulce, who died in 1992 and is revered by Brazilians as “the angel of the poor of Bahia.”

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