, Apr 28, 2006 (CNA) - Yesterday,
Vienna’s Cardinal Christof Schönborn inaugurated an international
symposium to discuss the growing rift between the two shores of the
Atlantic, stressing that the United States and Europe both need to
listen to criticism from the other on critical cultural matters.
“Europe, he said during his opening speech, “should be open to critical voices that are raised against [them] from the United Sates.”
Cardinal Schonborn--who himself called for the symposium--recalled his own gratitude for the liberation of Austria by the Americans in 1945. He then stressed the “common Christian roots of both continents,” saying that “An essential difference between Europe and the U.S. would be the greater value given to the role of Christianity in the United States.”
“Today, Europeans are hearing from the Muslims living in their midst, that religion is not only for private, but also has its place on the Public square,” the cardinal said, reminding his listeners of the words of former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami to the German President: “If you want dialogue, then you should recognize your roots, otherwise no dialogue is possible.”
“We have been witnessing for a long time the growing divide between Europe and the United States. What can be done to stop this?” the cardinal asked.
The prelate also mentioned an article from writer and columnist George Weigel titled “Europe’s Problem-and ours” published in 2004 in ‘First Things’, a Catholic monthly review.
In it, he stressed the ironic turn that European’s integration progress has taken, accompanied by a loss of power and of identity. He likewise pointed to Europe’s rejection of its Christian roots, giving way to a hedonistic secularized society.
Weigel, who is also present at the symposium, said Thursday said that “Europe is on the brink of committing ‘Demographical Suicide’, which threatens the pension system. It’s about something deeper. The soul of Europe is penetrated by ‘the Dictatorship of Relativism,’ as Pope Benedict XVI said.”
Other symposium participants included French philosopher Remi Brague, who voiced his skepticism for a genuine dialogue with Islam, and also criticized a certain perception of modernism, which he said can be witnessed in Spain, which has one the lowest birth rates in the world.
Law philosopher Joseph Weiler was also on hand and expressed his great concern for Europe’s future. “Europe doesn’t need a new constitution. What keeps me worried is rather the demoralization of Society. The participation in elections has been strongly reduced; it shows a lack of interest in the European Union project.”
Other prominent intellectuals who are scheduled to lecture during the symposium are American Priest and Writer Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, former Polish Ambassador in Austria Irena Lipowicz, Italian Senate president Marcello Pera, and Law researcher Lord Daniel Brennan among others. The symposium will be held in Vienna, at the Archbishop’s Palace until Saturday.
This evening, Weigel will give a lecture discussing, "Politics and God: Thoughts on the Democratic Future in the Twenty-First century."
Vatican City, Apr 28, 2006 (CNA) - In a message sent to members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, currently gathered to discuss "Vanishing Youth? Solidarity with Children and Young People in an Age of Turbulence", Pope Benedict lamented a societal deficit of faith, hope and love, and urged parents and community leaders to help often isolated children to choose life and truth.
The Academy’s plenary session is being held at the Vatican from April 28th to May 2nd.
The Holy Father began his message by pointing to "two significant and interconnected trends: on the one hand, an increase in life expectancy, and, on the other, a decrease in birth rates."
"This situation”, he continued, “is the result of multiple and complex causes- often of an economic, social and cultural character - which you have proposed to study…But its ultimate roots can be seen as moral and spiritual; they are linked to a disturbing deficit of faith, hope and, indeed, love.”
The Pope opined that “the lack of such creative and forward-looking love is the reason why many couples today choose not to marry, why so many marriages fail,and why birth rates have significantly diminished."
"Instead of feeling loved and cherished,” he said, children and young people often “appear to be merely tolerated.”
“In 'an age ofturbulence’”, he added, “they frequently lack adequate moral guidance from the adult world," and many of them "now grow up in a society which is forgetful of God. ... In a world shaped by the accelerating processes of globalization, they are often exposed solely tomaterialistic visions of the universe, of life and human fulfillment."
Benedict stressed that "Parents, educators and community leaders ... can never renounce their duty to set before children and young people the task of choosing a life project directed towards authentic happiness, one capable of distinguishing between truth and falsehood, good and evil,justice and injustice, the real world and the world of 'virtual reality'."
The pontiff alsourged the conference participants to give "due consideration to thequestion of human freedom,” which is "the condition for authentic humangrowth.”
“Where such freedom is lacking or endangered,” he explained, “young people experience frustration and become incapable of striving generously forthe ideals which can give shape to their lives as individuals and asmembers of society."
The Pope concluded his message by saying that Christians must not fail "to be convinced that faith, lived out in the fullness of charity and communicated to new generations, is an essential element in thebuilding of a better future and safeguarding intergenerational solidarity."
Washington D.C., Apr 28, 2006 (CNA) - For
the fourth consecutive year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
(USCCB) will participate with ecumenical and interfaith partners in
‘Cover the Uninsured Week,’ a national campaign to spotlight the nearly
46 million Americans who lack health insurance.
Cover the Uninsured Week 2006 runs from May 1 to 7.
The Catholic effort is being led by the USCCB and the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA).
“A problem of this magnitude and moral urgency requires the leadership of the Catholic community as we work to address this crisis with compassion and a commitment to justice,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, chairman of the bishops’ Domestic Policy Committee, and Sr. Carol Keehan, CHA president and CEO.
Through activities in communities nationwide, religious leaders, physicians, business owners, educators, union members and others are banding together to send a unified message: we cannot afford to remain silent while quality affordable health care is not a reality for everyone in the country.
In their letter to Catholic bishops, Bishop DiMarzio and Sr. Keehan said the two organizations are leaders in this effort “because of our longstanding commitment to accessible and affordable health care for all and our desire to show solidarity with our ecumenical and interfaith partners.”
Resources are available at www.covertheuninsuredweek.org. Liturgy resources are available on the USCCB website, www.usccb.org/sdwp.
Vatican City, Apr 28, 2006 (CNA) - Pope
Benedict XVI has expressed his sadness and prayers for victims of an
insurgent attack Thursday in Nassiriya, Iraq, which killed three
Italians and one Romanian soldier. He said that the latest attack
constitutes yet another obstacle to the reconstruction of that
The Pope sent a telegram by way of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, to Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, military ordinary for Italy.
Cardinal Sodano wrote that "The Supreme Pontiff received with great sadness news of the attack in Nassiriya in which three Italian members of the armed forces and a Romanian colleague, generously contributing in a mission of peace, lost their lives.”
The Pope, he said, “expresses his firm condemnation of this new act of violence which, together with other cruel acts perpetrated in Iraq, constitutes yet another obstacle in the path toward harmony and reconstruction in that tormented country."
Likewise, the Cardinal wrote that "His Holiness would like to express his profound spiritual closeness to the families of the victims in the midst of a grave sorrow which also effects the Italian and Romanian armed forces and their respective national communities.
Benedict also assured “his fervent prayers for the young lives cut short,” and invoked “heavenly consolation for those who mourn this tragic loss and he sends to all a special apostolic blessing, thinking in particular about those wounded and those, both civilian and military, who are dedicated to the arduous task of helping the people of Iraq, subjugated to so many difficulties."
Front Royal, Va., Apr 28, 2006 (CNA) - Johnson
& Johnson’s funding of Planned Parenthood is “antithetical” to its
“best corporate interests” and should be stopped, said Fr. Thomas
Euteneuer, president of Human Life International yesterday.
The Catholic priest addressed the corporation’s board of directors, executive management and shareholders at their meeting April 27 in New Brunswick, N.J. Human Life International is a stockholder in Johnson & Johnson.
“Human Life International is particularly distressed that any amount of funding should be given to a so-called ‘charitable’ organization that undermines the very consumer base of Johnson & Johnson,” Fr. Euteneuer told them.
“It is antithetical to your best corporate interests to be donating 'charitable funding' to an organization that eliminates babies and hurts mothers,” he said at the meeting.
He noted that Planned Parenthood Federation of America performed 255,000 surgical abortions last year, and 3.8 million abortions since 1970.
“To avoid further boycotts by other conscientious organizations and individuals, Johnson and Johnson should completely disavow any association with Planned Parenthood and any other group that profits from such drastic human rights violations,” he concluded.
Colorado Springs, Colo., Apr 28, 2006 (CNA) - Researcher
John Jackson has posited a theory that the linen which has become known
as the Shroud of Turin may have been present for the Last Supper as
well as at Christ's crucifixion, reported the Colorado Catholic Herald.
"I think some of the stains [on the shroud] are candidates for foodstuff. The shroud may have been a witness to Holy Thursday and Good Friday," he told the newspaper.
Jackson runs the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado with his wife, Rebecca. The two are dedicated to studying the reputed burial cloth of Jesus and delivering educational lectures around the globe. The shroud has an image of what many believe to be Christ, following his crucifixion.
Jackson is the director of research for the center and has studied the shroud since 1974. He teaches physics at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He led an American team that traveled to Turin, Italy, in 1978 collecting data to study the cloth, including carbon dating. That research is still the primary data source for studying the image on the shroud, reported the Herald.
Jackson told the Herald his concern is authenticating the shroud from an archeological perspective; it is up to the magisterium to concern itself with implications on the Catholic faith.
Jackson says the dimensions of the cloth are consistent with cubit measurements used in the first century. The stains on the cloth are consistent with wounds Christ suffered during the crucifixion, including scourge marks, puncture wounds and blood stains where the crown of thorns would have rested as well.
His wife, Rebecca, a Catholic convert who was raised in an Orthodox Jewish household, is the center's expert on early Judaism. She notes the man of the shroud was buried according to Jewish standards. The figure's hands are crossed, as opposed to being clenched as found in Egyptian pagan burials. And while Jewish custom is to cleanse a body before burial, cleansing would not have taken place if the person died a violent death; if he is sentenced to capital punishment for a crime of a religious nature; if he is killed by a gentile; and if he is considered an outcast from the Jewish community.
Christ met all of these disqualification standards, says Rebecca, hence the likelihood that the man of the shroud was a Jew and plausibly Christ. Furthermore, she said, the linen of the shroud is of the type that was likely to have been woven in the first century A.D.
"The bottom line is I think what is portrayed on the shroud is realistic based upon crucifixion reconstruction," said Jackson. "When you look at the totality of what we have on the shroud, I personally think it is the burial cloth of Jesus."
Eugene, Ore., Apr 28, 2006 (CNA) - The
Catholic League has joined in on a debate over anti-Christian cartoons
published in The Insurgent, student newspaper at the University of
In a letter sent Wednesday to state legislators, higher education officials and Catholic leaders in Oregon, league president William Donohue describes the cartoons as "flagrantly anti-Catholic" and one of "the most egregious examples of hate speech targeted at Christians."
The cartoons — one depicting Jesus on the cross with an erect penis and the other depicting a sexually aroused Jesus and another man embraced in a kiss—were printed in The Insurgent’s March issue, reported Oregon’s Register-Guard newspaper.
A UO student filed a grievance over the publication with the student body government, which last week ruled in the newspaper's favor.
Student editors said they decided to publish the image after the international uproar over cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, first published in a Danish newspaper.
Student editor Jessica Brown said students were taking aim at the institutions of Christianity, not its adherents, and that their critiques don't constitute hate speech.
"Plus, I have to say it is really fun to offend people," she wrote. "It is fun to break the rules, and to do things that are just not done. At least it will stimulate an emotion and create some argument."
Catholic League spokeswoman Kiera McCaffrey said the organization is not calling for censorship or other action, but wants legislators and others to know "what's going on in a state university that receives public funding."
The Insurgent is not a university publication or university supported, but it does receive student incidental fees, $18,349 for this school year.
Donohue said he wrote his letter to Oregon legislators after receiving a "tepid response" from university president Dave Frohnmayer.
In a prepared statement, Frohnmayer said the university does not own, control or publish The Insurgent. He wrote that the “best response to offensive speech often is more speech.”
The Register-Guard reported that, in an earlier letter, Frohnmayer said free speech "should be exercised with maturity and good judgment" and that campus publications "should not focus on creating controversy for controversy's sake."
Washington D.C., Apr 28, 2006 (CNA) - Washington
DC’s Cardinal Theodore McCarrick says that it could be time for him to
retire. In July, the 75-year old Cardinal submitted his resignation to
Pope Benedict XVI, as mandated by Church law, but was asked to remain
for the time being.
He now speculates however, that it may soon be time to step down as shepherd of some 560,000 Catholics.
According to the Washington Post, he said recently, "I am getting the sense that this is going to happen soon."
In an interview with the Post, Cardinal McCarrick, who came to the Archdiocese of Washington from New Jersey in 2000 said that he feels at peace with the chance to retire.
In May, the archdiocese will ordain 12 new priests--the highest number since 1973 and it has successfully avoided major economic fallout from the recent priestly sexual abuse scandal.
The cardinal made headlines during the 2004 presidential election adding his voice to the debate over reception of Communion by pro-abortion Catholic politicians. McCarrick said that while “life issues are primary”, he thought “confrontations at the altar” should be avoided.
“I'm afraid”, he said, “there are a lot more people in the church who think that things are black and white…No one can really read another person's conscience. . . . I hope it is not cowardice, I hope it is prudence -- we must always give people the benefit of the doubt."
Upon retirement, Cardinal McCarrick told the Post that he plans to divide his time between work with Catholic Charities, which he sits on the board of, and the Papal Foundation, a charity he helped establish.
Warsaw, Poland, Apr 28, 2006 (CNA) - George
Weigel, Pope John Paul II’s biographer, will receive the Gloria Artis
Gold Medal--Poland's highest honor--in recognition of contributions to
Polish and world culture.
The announcement was made on April 20, in the Royal Castle in Warsaw, by the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Kazimierz Ujazdowski.
In a letter to Weigel announcing the award, Minister Ujazdowski cited the author’s "monumental" biography of Pope John Paul II, Witness to Hope, as well as his contributions to "promoting the concept of democracy based on universal moral values rooted in Christianity."
George Weigel is only the second non-Pole to receive this distinction from the Government of Poland.
London, England, Apr 28, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop
Peter Smith of the Archdiocese of Cardiff and Chairman of the
Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship at the England
and Wales Catholic Bishops Conference has called on Catholics to step
up their opposition to the Joffe Bill, a proposal to legalize
euthanasia in the U.K.
Specifically, he is urging faithful to sign the ‘Care Not Killing’ petition and write to their MPs and peers, according to a letter published this Wednesday.
The ‘Care Not Killing’ alliance plans to deliver the petition to Britain’s parliament on the morning of May 12th, the second reading of the Bill.
Archbishop Smith warned that “On 12th May 2006 a Bill to legalize assisted suicide for the Terminally Ill will be debated in the House of Lords. This Bill has been promoted by Lord Joffe and others, and marks the next step in a concerted and highly organized campaign to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in England and Wales.”
Last March, the ‘Care Not Killing’ program was launched to promote a culture of life and to defend the common good. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has formally joined the Alliance and is encouraging all Catholics to support its work in whatever way they can – through prayer, lobbying and with financial support.
Further information can be obtained by visiting:
Caracas, Venezuela, Apr 28, 2006 (CNA) - Relations
between political leaders and the Venezuelan bishops took a turn for
the worse this week in the wake of the murder of Father Jorge Pinango,
an official of the Bishops’ Conference, who was killed last Saturday at
a hotel in Caracas.
Conference vice president, Archbishop Roberto Luckert, publicly chided Attorney General Isaias Rodriguez—appointed by President Hugo Chavez—that the investigation is not about the private life of Father Pinango but about his murder.
As the investigation into the crime was just beginning, Rodriguez told reporters that Father Pinango’s murder might have been related to a “homosexual relationship.” Archbishop Luckert said the bishops could only go by the information that is reported in the media.
“Up to this point we don’t know anything else besides the things being said by the Attorney General, who seems to want to smear the proceedings and confuse public opinion even more,” he said.
The archbishop explained that the bishops were not seeking “concessions with the truth” because “we understand what Scripture says: the truth will make us free, and the more clarity there is the more friendship there is.” He noted that up to now officials have not contacted the Bishops’ Conference. Only Archbishop Rafael Padron of Cumana was contacted by investigators to come and identify the body.
Several other bishops, including the president of the Conference, Bishop Ubaldo Santana, and Cardinal Jorge Urosa of Caracas, have expressed their support for the statements by Archbishop Luckert.
“We wish to reiterate our unanimity with regards to the statement, and we do not want this to get mixed up with any other political issue, much less with the issue of the elections or with what has happened at other times. We wish to express our support for Archbishop Baltazar Porras and Archbishop Roberto Luckert,” Cardinal Urosa said.
The cardinal said he would not respond to each assertion that is made during the investigation, saying the statement by the bishops “was very clear” and calls for the investigation to determine who was responsible for the crime and that the work be carried out in transparent fashion.
Bishop Santana pointed to contradictions between the Attorney General and investigators, saying they showed that public officials and those involved in the investigation need to get on the same page. “The investigation should be carried out to its final consequences, and we are willing to accept the results of the investigation, but officials must give an example of equanimity and impartiality,” he said.
Lima, Peru, Apr 28, 2006 (CNA) - The
‘United for Life’ organization in Peru is presenting a photo display on
the reality of abortion at the country’s congressional building until
May 5th. The exhibit is being called, “Peru Defends Life.”
According to the president of United for Life, Sandra Tavara, the exhibit is “graphic proof of what happens to children who are aborted through the different methods and is a denunciation of these practices that can never be considered a right of women.”
“Those of us who defend life think that the words in the messages we are giving are losing their real context and are no longer understood, and that is why we wanted to more bluntly show the reality of abortion through large photos,” Tavara added.
Madrid, Spain, Apr 28, 2006 (CNA) - In
his weekly letter, Archbishop Agustin Garcia-Gasco of Valencia said the
upcoming World Meeting of Families is an invitation “to rediscover the
meaning of authentic love” in a time characterized by cheap love, using
people and throwing them away.
According to the AVAN news agency, Archbishop Garcia-Gasco insisted in his letter that the World Meeting of Families “is also a day for Christian young people to meet who are willing to seek out the greatness of human love, open to God and to life, which guarantees the future of humanity.”
“In a singular way,” he continued, “the Church invites young people to understand the greatness of love and to put their trust in Him” because “only in this way will they be able to mature as adults, be happy and contribute to the true development of humanity.”
The archbishop underscored the need for clarifying the true role of love in the life of the human person, and “Pope Benedict XVI in his first great document, the encyclical Deus caritas est” provided just such a reflection.
Archbishop Garcia-Gasco also recalled that to be Christian “is much more than embracing an ethic or an ideology.”
“Bringing us into life, giving us a family, bestowing on us intelligence, freedom and the capacity to love, making us part of a people, benefiting from the common good of our homeland and of humanity are all examples of the love of God that is fully manifest in Jesus Christ,” he said.
The archbishop underscored that “in our days we need solid principles to guide us towards a consistent love, that neither deceives nor runs out with the passing of time.” In a world in which love is often presented in utilitarian or commercial terms, he continued, “Benedict XVI offers us a way that is ever ancient and ever new: the way of Christ who, knowing the human person, male and female, just as he or she is, proposes a love that does not deceive, because it is based on the loving plan of God Himself.”