Archive of April 21, 2006

Catholic institutions should reflect values and teachings of Church, says Cardinal O’Malley

Boston, Mass., Apr 21, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley sat for an interview yesterday with the Boston Globe. A great number of issues were tackled by the recently named Cardinal, such as the identity of Catholic institutions and the need for greater consistency of Catholic institutions with Church teachings.
First mentioning his recent nomination as Cardinal, he described the Consistory last month as a “very significant moment for Catholics, and important moment for the Catholic Church in Boston, the recognition of the importance of this Catholic community.”

Referring to yesterday’s presentation of the financial situation of the diocese, he said
“We had a very important event. We had promised transparency, and everyone was anxious to find out exactly what the situation in the church is, and where the pot of gold is buried.” 

He then strongly renewed his call for Catholic institutions “to reflect what the values and the teachings of the church are.” “And certainly,” he said, “the institution of marriage is very central in what the church's message is. So, obviously the church imposes a definition of the institution of marriage, and we see that the very best way for children to be raised is in a loving relationship of a married man and woman.”

Cardinal O’Malley stressed the need for consistency in the Church, saying, “Our teachings, when they're seen in isolation, are I think difficult for people, but they're part of a whole.”

“They're part of a Catholic ethos,” he continued, “and our desire to be faithful to Christ and to the commandments, to certain core values…I would hope that those who disagree would try to understand more where the church's teachings are coming from,” he added.

On the issue of Catholics who have stopped practicing their faith, Cardinal O’Malley stressed the need to evangelize “We hope that, as we approach our 200th anniversary in 2008, when we would like to launch programs of evangelizations, spirituality that would invite people to reconnect with the church, those who have stepped away, particularly those who have stepped away over these very painful issues of the past couple of years.”

On whether the Church should be open to certain reforms, such as the ordination of women, he said “I don't want people to think that the church is being unjust. I want them to see that we are being faithful even when it is difficult, even when it is challenging.”

The Boston Cardinal also renewed his concern for the identity of Catholic education institutions, saying, “Certainly my meetings with the college presidents have been very encouraging. I think Father Leahy is sensitive to the needs for Boston College to deepen its Catholic identity and part of that means to be concerned about teaching.”

“We have a very ongoing dialogue with all our Catholic colleges around issues of Catholic education,” he added.

The interview concluded with questions about his appointment to the Boston Archdiocese in the midst of massive sexual abuse scandals.

He said, “I think in general for many Catholics, the crisis has caused us to focus more on what is the very center of the church, why we are Catholics, who our God is and the mission that's given to us. It's not about me. It's about Christ, his church, his mission. I'm just a small part of it. I do my best,” he concluded.

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Catholic press systematically shut-out of state senate meeting with Bishop

Denver, Colo., Apr 21, 2006 (CNA) - On Thursday, a Denver Catholic Register journalist, and the respective editors of ‘New Advent’ and Catholic News Agency approached to the office of Joan Fitz-Gerald, president of the Colorado Senate, expecting to attend a scheduled luncheon with Detroit’s Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, who was in town to discuss two state bills which would lift the statutes of limitation on some cases of sexual abuse.

The pending legislation, House Bill 1090 and Senate Bill 143, have come under heavy fire from Catholics and others as they would allow sexual abuse victims to wait up to 40 years before filing suits against Catholic and other private institutions in the state.
The problem, critics say, is that the bills would unequally punish the Catholic Church while public school teachers and coaches accused of abuse would--because of state sovereignty laws--be all but exempt.

On Thursday however, Senator Fitz-Gerald told the Catholic journalists that the bishop wanted to “settle down, be calm and get together with the senators.”

Gumbledon, a retired auxiliary bishop of Detroit, has been a strong advocate for the Colorado legislation and others like it around the country. He admitted earlier this year to having been sexually abused by a priest as a young man, but has refused to name his abuser.

The small Catholic group, gathered at the state capital, proceeded to ask Fitz-Gerald to recall that under the Colorado Sunshine Law, any meeting involving more than one senator is public, and therefore, open to anyone willing to attend, including journalists.

She immediately responded: “Is this an intimidation?” The journalists explained that they only wanted to know if the scheduled luncheon was on, because if it was going to happen, it was a public meeting, and therefore, they had the right to attend.

“Well, you obviously know the law… now please step out of my office,” said Fitz-Gerald, requesting that the reporters wait outside, without giving any further information about the event.

35 minutes after the event was scheduled to begin, Bishop Gumbleton, surrounded by Fitz-Gerald’s aides and by Barbara Blaine, National President of SNAP, arrived on the scene, coordinated for a few minutes and then proceeded into the senator’s office.

Two other journalists who had been invited, one from the Associated Press and one from the Denver Post, were informed that because of the presence of the “Catholic troops” –referring to the three Catholic journalists present--it was impossible to keep the original plan.

Senator Fitz-Gerald announced to them--and not the Catholic journalists present, who were never addressed by either the senator or any of her assistants--that the meeting with Bishop Gumbleton would be private--with just with one senator at a time--as a way to prevent the Sunshine law from applying and keep the Catholic press out of the meeting.

Ms. Blaine, who remained inside Senator Fitz-Gerald’s office for the meetings, informed the eight senators present, that the nature of meeting had changed, and would be one on one. Two of them decided to leave.

Finally, in the span of an hour and a half, Bishop Gumbleton met with 6 state senators.

Blaine later approached Catholic News Agency to say that the reason why the meeting between the bishop and the senators was private was because Bishop Gumbleton had made a commitment to Church authorities not to speak in public about his opinions.

CNA explained that it had tried to contact Bishop Gumbleton through the Diocese of Detroit, but were advised that the bishop handles his own agenda and commitments in a completely independent manner.
CNA also informed Blaine that Senator Fitz-Gerald changed the original public nature of the event, to which Associated Press and Denver Post were invited, only after learning that members of the Catholic Press were present.

Blaine only responded by saying, “I cannot speak for Fitz-Gerald.”

CNA approached Fitz-Gerald to ask her about her comments regarding the presence of Catholic Press and why she tough it was “intimidating.” “I haven’t said anything and I have nothing to say about the Catholic press,” she responded.

Fitz-Gerald was quoted in the Denver Rocky Mountain News Thursday as saying that “Gumbleton…maintains that openness is 'the only way the Catholic Church can get beyond the scandal.”

On Thursday afternoon however, it was Fitz-Gerald and Blaine who told CNA that Gumbleton himself insisted on the day's closed-door secrecy. Kevin Knight, a well respected Catholic Colorado Native who came to attend the meeting said that "it was ironic to hear SNAP's lecture about bishops who won't meet with people -- as we stood outside their own bishop's locked door."


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University of Wisconsin cuts funding for Catholic group

, Apr 21, 2006 (CNA) - The UW Roman Catholic Foundation, serving University of Wisconsin-Madison students, cannot receive student government funding for religious activities, announced University Chancellor John Wiley.

In an April 4 letter to Associated Students of Madison officers, Wiley wrote that student funding cannot go toward a church-related religious activity, nor can any student organization based off campus receive money for electricity, gas, water or rent, reported the Madison Capital Times.

This means the off-campus group stands to lose $35,462 for electricity, gas and water. Tim Kruse, the Catholic foundation's development director, said he received the news on April 13th and interpreted it “as nothing short of blatant systemic religious discrimination."

"They refuse to treat religious students on the same terms they treat other students," he was quoted as saying in the Times.

In the letter, Wiley said the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment bars the university from giving state money for religious activities. He voiced concern about the Roman Catholic Foundation's use of student funding for personnel like a librarian, accounting assistant and student event coordinators; activities like "Friday After Class Theology" and printing jobs like Lenten booklets.

Wiley also wrote that all groups receiving student funding must be registered student organizations. The Catholic foundation is not a registered student organization, so starting next year, unless it becomes one, it will not be eligible for student funding, reported the newspaper.

If the chancellor's cut stands, it would overrule a decision by the UW Student Judiciary, and possibly send the matter into litigation.

In February, the student government approved a $147,000 budget for the Roman Catholic Foundation after the Student Judiciary made it clear that it must fund activities that include religious expression.

The student government is expected to respond to Wiley with a letter later this week. Wiley is expected to make his final decision about the budget after reading the letter, said Rachelle Stone, chairwoman of the Student Services Finance Committee. After that, the organizations can appeal the decisions.

Other off-campus groups affected by the cuts include Sex Out Loud, the environmental group CFACT, the Jewish Cultural Collective and the Tenant Resource Center.

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Archbishop Lajolo: Church cannot stay out of public square when rights of mankind, religious freedoms are in question

Vatican City, Apr 21, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican’s secretary for Relations with States, granted an interview with the Indonesian newspaper ‘Kompas’ this week, in which he explained the Catholic Church’s unique role in public life throughout the world, arguing its essential nature as a voice for morality and the fundamental rights of mankind.

During the interview, the archbishop discussed the special governmental status of Vatican City State, the Holy See's diplomatic activity, the separation between Church and State, and inter-religious dialogue.

He began the interview by pointing out that the name "Vatican" is often used to refer to two very different things. First, the Vatican City State, which is a country in its own right, "though of minuscule political substance, and having the sole purpose of guaranteeing the independence of the Pope, as supreme authority of the Catholic Church, from any form of civil jurisdiction."

Second, he said, there is the Holy See, which is "the Pope and the Roman Curia, ... and is sometimes commonly though incorrectly referred to as the Vatican because it has its headquarters in Vatican City State.”

“But the Holy See”, he recalled, “is not an organ of civil government and hence does not have political functions. Therefore, the problem of confusion or overlap between the two functions - the political function of the State and the religious function of the Church - does not arise."

The archbishop explained that, while the external relations of Vatican City State "are of modest proportions and directed above all to Italy and to a few international organizations for such matters as post and telecommunications," the Holy See has "a vast network of embassies (known technically as 'apostolic nunciatures') all over the world."

Archbishop Lajolo contrasted these nunciatures with traditional embassies, pointing out that they do not concern themselves with "political questions, defense or trade, but with matters concerning the freedom of the Church and human rights.”

“Mostly,” he said, “the Holy See intervenes to guarantee the juridical status of the Church and, in some countries, to defend Catholic faithful who may be oppressed or subject to pressure and discrimination.”

“It does so”, he went on, “by invoking the rights endorsed in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, or even those ratified by the Constitutions of particular States.”

Moving to the subject of the separation of Church and State, the prelate said that "The Church in no way seeks to impose any piece of civil legislation, if political forces do not themselves take it up.”

“The fundamental principle of distinction between political and religious spheres and firm protection for religious freedom applies,” he stressed, “according to which, just as the State does not interfere in the activities of the Church, so it does not take orders from her.

In practice, the archbishop continued, the Church and “the bishops in the countries concerned - seeks to illuminate Catholics and public opinion ... using public declarations to explain the Catholic position on the moral questions that arise from political activity and legislation, and adopting above all rational arguments accessible even to those without faith."

"At a universal level,” he explained, “the Holy See intervenes on the great moral questions posed by politics through such documents as papal Encyclicals and Apostolic Exhortations, and the instructions issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

He said that while “Various criteria are used to judge where it is appropriate to intervene,” the Church “cannot in any case remain silent when the dignity or the fundamental rights of mankind, or religious freedom, are in question."

Archbishop Lajolo closed his interview by turning to the question of dialogue with different faiths, affirming that Benedict XVI will continue, just as his predecessors did, "the commitment to inter-religious dialogue."

He stressed that "a conflict of cultures, or worse still of religions, could divide people even more than they are already divided," pointing out that "inter-religious dialogue aims at a better understanding of the faith of others and at making one's own faith better known, as well as at reinforcing mutual bonds of personal respect.”

“It does not”, he said however, “aim to make those who participate in it less faithful to their own profound religious convictions, but to open minds and hearts ever more to the will of God."

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Project Joseph offers men chance to heal after abortion

Kansas City, Mo., Apr 21, 2006 (CNA) - A relatively new ministry is offering men the opportunity to heal after an abortion. Project Joseph is a Catholic Charities ministry offered to men who have experienced abortions. The ministry is groundbreaking in that it cuts through the stereotype that only women suffer the effects of abortion.

This stereotype is false, Pat Klausner told Kansas City’s diocesan newspaper, The Leaven.

“Men are deeply affected,” attested Klausner, the coordinator of Project Joseph. “I’ve had grown men cry in my office.”

One of the reasons some men feel guilty over an abortion is because they have sometimes pressured their partner into intercourse and then to abort when their partner got pregnant. They might also feel guilty because they may not have wanted an abortion, but felt unprepared for fatherhood. And while these men find themselves initially relieved when their partner chooses abortion, they are later beset by feelings of guilt.

However, regardless of their initial reaction, Klausner told the Leaven, men inevitably experience regret, remorse and guilt.  

Project Joseph was launched in 2002 by Klausner and Fr. Peter Jaramillo, then-pastor of St. Paul Parish in Olathe, Kansas. Both had attended conferences designed to promote healing for women who had experienced an abortion, and both had observed that there were always some men in attendance, seeking healing as well. They decided there was a need to address the pain of post-abortive men as well.
Project Rachel, geared toward the healing of post-abortive women, originated 25 years ago in Milwaukee and has spread to more than 100 U.S. dioceses in the United States.

But, to date, Project Joseph is unique to Kansas City. It offers Catholics and non-Catholics four to five weekly sessions that consist of group discussions, exercises and Scripture readings — all designed to begin the healing process.

Klausner estimated that 20 men have gone through the sessions. Part of the reason for the low turnout is that many men involved in abortion remain in denial.

“Many men want to bury the issue,” Klausner told the Leaven. “But it’s such a deep wound that you can’t help but experience trauma. We fail to realize God has wired us in a certain way. Men are programmed to procreate and women to nurture. Abortion goes against the very fiber of our being.”

For more information, contact: [email protected]

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Former White House aide to become president of Saint Vincent College

Washington D.C., Apr 21, 2006 (CNA) - The assistant to the U.S. president and director of the country’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives was named president of the America's First Benedictine College earlier this week.

H. James Towey has been named the 16th president of the Saint Vincent College, effective July 1. The 160-year-old liberal arts and sciences college is sponsored by the Benedictine monks of Saint Vincent Archabbey.

"The liberal arts education that is offered here is desperately needed in a culture often lacking direction and values and intellectual curiosity," Towey said in a press release.

"The common ground upon which we [staff and administration] stand is our shared desire to make sure those enrolled here have the opportunity to grow academically, spiritually, morally and socially so that their lives can be a gift for others," he said.

Saint Vincent’s College has 1,600, students from 25 U.S. states and 13 foreign countries. More than 12,000 alumni reside in all 50 states and 29 foreign countries or territories.

Christopher Donahue, chairman of the board of directors, said the college considered applications from 70 candidates across the country.

Towey has been assistant to the U.S. president since February 2002 and director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. He served as a member of the President's Senior Staff and reported directly to the president on matters pertaining to church-state and religious liberty issues, federal grants to religious and community-based charities and corporate and foundation grant-making to social service agencies.

In 1996, he founded Aging with Dignity, a national non-profit organization to help individuals and their families plan for and receive care during times of serious illness.

As Secretary of the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, Towey served as a member of the Governor's Cabinet and administered the largest state health and social services agency in the country.

Towey represented the late Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity on legal matters in the United States and Canada for 12 years, from 1985 until her death. He served nearly two years as a fulltime volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity.

He has been honored many times for his public service including six honorary doctoral degrees and the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Papal Cross from His Holiness John Paul II. He was also recognized by Church World magazine for being one of Fifty Most Influential Christians in America.
Towey, 49, is a native of Jacksonville, Florida. He and his wife, Mary, have five children.

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Kiev chosen to host International Congress for the Family

Kiev, Ukraine, Apr 21, 2006 (CNA) - Kiev has been chosen to host the 22nd International Congress for the Family, from May 9th to 11th, under the theme “The Family, a Community of Love.”

According to the group, Aid to the Church in Need, family life in Ukraine still bears the consequences of an atheist regime, which, rooted the Christian values out of the family and endangers their existence. As a result, the country proclaimed 2006 as a year of Right Protection of the Child and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, in cooperation with the Christian Churches, declared 2006 the Year of Spiritual Protection of the Child.

The historic congress will include workshops on the following themes: The family, the cornerstone of a civilized society; natural family planning; the dignity of human life; children, the wealth of nations; parents, first teachers of love.

Representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate, the Kyivan Patriarchate, the Evangelical Church and the Muslim and Jewish communities are expected to attend.

The congress is currently under the responsibility of Patriarch Lubomyr Husar.

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Poll on abortion reveals Spanish public wants a change in anti-life policies

Madrid, Spain, Apr 21, 2006 (CNA) - The Institute for Family Policy in Spain this week presented the results of a poll that shows strong support for reversing the Spanish government’s policies related to abortion and assistance to pregnant women.

The poll, which was carried out in four Spanish regions, reveals that 97% of Spaniards believe abortion has negative consequences for at least one of parties involved in the act and that 78% believe the government’s campaign to prevent unwanted pregnancies has been a failure.  42% believe abortion has negative consequences for all the parties involved.  

82% of those polled said an increase in government assistance to pregnant women would help diminish the number of abortions in the country.  

Based on the results of the poll, the Institute argued that Spaniards appear to be largely unaware of the magnitude of abortion, although they do recognize that it is one of the main causes of mortality in Spain.  This was evidenced by the small percentage of respondents—16%--who were aware that the number of abortions in Spain was more than 85,000.

Respondents also said they believed economic reasons were the primary motive behind most abortions, followed by loneliness and unwanted pregnancies.

90% of respondents said preventive policies should include, above all, the promotion of alternatives to abortion, as well as information about its consequences for women. Most said women who obtain abortions do so without sufficient knowledge of the physical and psychological consequences.

The Institute said preventive policies should be based on recognition of the importance, personal and social value of childbirth, pregnancy and maternity, and should include an increase in the public resources dedicated to helping pregnant women and providing them with complete and accurate information.

According to the president of the Institute for Family Policy, Eduardo Hertfelder, in 2004, there were 84,985 abortions in Spain—which translates to one abortion every 6.2 minutes and one out of every six pregnancies ending in aborting.

The poll was developed by a team of experts and sent to 600 respondents in the four regions of Spain where most abortions take place: Madrid, Catalonia, Andalusia and Valencia.

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Fourteen Cuban families will travel to Spain for World Meeting of Families

Havana, Cuba, Apr 21, 2006 (CNA) - The AVAN news agency is reporting that fourteen couples from Cuba have applied for permission from the Castro regime to travel to Valencia, Spain, for the V World Meeting of Families, which will be held July 1-9.

The Cuban delegation will be joined by the president of the Cuban Bishops’ Committee on the Family, Bishop Arturo Gonzalez of Santa Clara, and by Bishop Emilio Aranguren of Holguin.

According to Liana Lorigados of AVAN, if the couples receive the proper visas, it will be the largest Cuban delegation to ever attend a World Meetings of Families. The bishops of Cuba, she said, “are already obtaining room and board for the couples.”

She also said that the Cuban dioceses are currently distributing catechetical material to help prepare for the event and that a day of formation and festivities has been planned for May 15 in Cuba.

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Cardinal Cañizares offers analysis of Spanish government two years on

Toledo, Spain, Apr 21, 2006 (CNA) - The archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, offered an analysis this week of the first two years of the current administration in Spain, noting his disagreement with its policies related to the family, marriage and education, as well with a number of laws recently passed which seek to establish a secularism in society that he says would radically affect the human person.

The cardinal said that his comments were not meant to offer any kind of political assessment, but rather were in reference to human rights and ethical principles related to the laws passed by social government. These laws, he said, affect “the truth about marriage” in relation to divorce, the right to life in relation to the law on assisted reproduction, and the law on education in relation to the government’s educational reform.

Cardinal Cañizares decried efforts to instill secularism in Spanish society that would “radically” affect the human person.  Consequently, he said he “personally disagreed” with everything the current government has done in these areas.

At the same time, the Spanish cardinal encouraged greater cooperation between Church and State, saying the State could maintain its non-sectarian nature without falling into a secularism that “limits the faith to the private sphere.”  The Church, he said, is not trying to interfere in State matters, but rather seeks to defend a series of principles that are in keeping with the common good and that correspond to “human reason and the truth about man.”

Asked about the government’s educational reform, Cardinal Cañizares said a State-Church committee established to ensure compliance with the accords between Spain and the Holy See has been “absolutely ignored.”

Anniversary of Benedict XVI’s pontificate

Regarding the first year of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate, the Spanish cardinal said it has been “a year of grace from the Lord,” during which the Pope has shown himself to be a “faithful servant” in continuing the work of his predecessor, John Paul II.  He also noted the “simplicity and wisdom” with which Benedict has won over the masses.

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