Archive of May 1, 2006

China ignores Vatican, consecrates new bishop for state-controlled church

Beijing, China, May 1, 2006 (CNA) - The state-controlled Catholic church in China has ignored urging from the Vatican and gone ahead with the consecration of a new bishop without the Holy See’s approval.

The Vatican had called for a delay in the appointment over concerns that the bishop is inexperienced and too closely aligned with China's communist regime.

Fr. Ma Yingling was consecrated as bishop of Kunming at a ceremony Sunday in the southwestern Yunnan province. He was shown on Hong Kong cable television wearing a mitre and waving to crowds.

While the Chinese state-controlled church does not recognize the Vatican's power to appoint bishops, many recent appointments had been approved by both sides.

Vatican-appointed bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, had called for the delay on the Vatican’s behalf. He said the Vatican needed more time to assess Fr. Ma’s qualifications, and said that ordination without Vatican approval “would be deliberately wrecking China-Vatican negotiations," reported the BBC.

China has stated repeatedly that relations with the Vatican could improve if the Holy See cuts diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

China’s state-sanctioned Catholic church has four million members, while the unofficial church that is loyal to the Pope has 10 million members.

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Pope launches month of Mary with visit to Shrine

Rome, Italy, May 1, 2006 (CNA) - Conversion to God, who is a God of Love, is necessary today for the world to be “liberated from war and terrorism,” said Pope Benedict XVI Monday during his papal visit to the Italian Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love.

During his discourse to the faithful who gathered at the shrine, he recalled several points that he made in his first encyclical, Deus caritas est.

“From this shrine, I renew my invitation that was expressed in Deus caritas est: let us live love and, in this way, we will allow the light of God to shine in the world,” he said.

The Pope’s one-hour visit to the shrine on the first day of May launched what is considered the month of Mary in the Church. He led the recitation of the rosary in the old sanctuary and prayed privately in the new sanctuary, which was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1999. He recalled his predecessor’s first visit to the sanctuary in 1979.

“It is a comfort for me to be here with you today to recite the rosary in this Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love, in which we express great affection for the Virgin Mary, rooted in the soul and history of the Roman people,” he said, following the prayer.

He noted how the Joyful Mysteries “allow the beginnings of our salvation to pass before the eyes of our heart… We have contemplated the docile faith of Mary, who trusts God without reserve and places herself fully in his hands.”

The link that unites Mary and the Holy Spirit was clear throughout her life, from the moment of her Immaculate Conception, to her fiat, to her Assumption into heaven at the end of her earthly life, the Pope said.

“In the encyclical Deus caritas est I wrote that Mary is a woman who loves,” he stated. “Yes, dear brothers and sisters, Mary is the fruit and the sign of the love God has for us, of his tenderness and of his mercy.

“For this reason, together with our brothers in the faith of every time and place, we turn to her in our needs and hopes, and in the difficulties of life,” he said.

The Pope noted that many people will likely make a pilgrimage to the shrine in May and said he expected “strong spiritual support” to emanate from the shrine for the Diocese of Rome, for its bishops and clergy, for families, vocations, the poor, children, the elderly, all those who suffer and the nation of Italy.

“We also await the interior strength to fulfill the promise made by the Romans June 4, 1944, when they solemnly asked Our Lady of Divine Love to spare this city from the horrors of war,” he said. The promise was to correct and improve one’s personal moral conduct and conform it more to that of Jesus.

The Pope also recalled the victims, civilians and troops, in last week’s attack in Nassiriya, Iraq. “We entrust them to the intercession of Mary, Queen of Peace,” he concluded.

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Family of Terri Schiavo alarmed by judge’s participation on pro-euthanasia panel

St. Petersburg, May 1, 2006 (CNA) - One year after the death of Terri Schiavo, the judge who ordered her feeding tube removed spoke at a right-to-die symposium; something Schiavo’s family calls a disturbing conflict of interests.

The two-day event the University of Pennsylvania was titled The Legacy of the Terri Schiavo Case: Why is it so hard to die in America? It was held to mark the 10th anniversary of the university’s Center for Bioethics.

In March 2005, Circuit Judge George Greer ruled in favor of Michael Schiavo and ordered the disabled Florida woman’s feeding tube removed. She died of marked dehydration.

The panel at the symposium included Greer, Michael Schiavo and Dr. Jay Wolfson, who testified that Terri was in a vegetative state.

Terri’s family was alarmed by Greer’s presence at the conference.

Terri’s brother, Bobby Schindler, said the judge’s participation in the symposium “is indicative of [Greer’s] own biases against the disabled, and may well be in violation of Florida’s judicial canons as prescribed by the Supreme Court of the State of Florida," claimed Bobby Schindler, Terri’s brother.

Schindler pointed out that Geer is not retired. "Judges are duty-bound to be an unbiased, fair finder of fact, not an advocate of the ‘right-to-die’ movement,” said Schindler.

"Judge Greer is confirming exactly what my family has maintained from the beginning of Terri’s case – that he has a disposition against the vulnerable people whose cases he controls,” Schindler claimed. Schindler protested Greer’s presence on the panel outside of the university’s biomedical research building.

Organizers of the symposium held April 30 and May 1, said the event was designed to encourage a national dialogue about the future of end-of-life issues.

The Schindler family now works full time for the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation Center for Health Care Ethics, which promotes the rights of disabled, elderly and vulnerable citizens against care rationing, euthanasia and medical killing.

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Catholic leaders worried national immigrant walkout could do more harm than good

Denver, Colo., May 1, 2006 (CNA) - Colorado’s three Catholic bishops have expressed concern over a massive nationwide walkout planned to demonstrate the impact that immigrants have on the U.S. economy. The bishops said that while well intentioned, the walkouts could do more harm than good in seeking true, comprehensive immigration reform.

The Bishops said in a Friday statement that they are urging members of the community not to take part in the May 1st ‘Day without Immigrants,’ pointing out that “Real immigration reform requires reasonable dialogue and positive actions that persuade our elected officials.”

The letter was signed by Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput, Colorado Springs’ Bishop Michael Sheridan, and Pueblo’s Bishop Arthur Tafoya.

They said that “Walk-outs, as well-intentioned as they may be, do not serve that end.” Instead, they “will hurt many business owners and employers who already support fair immigration reform. They endanger the very jobs that immigrants have come so far to fill and work so hard to maintain. They also frustrate those who are undecided.”

The bishops urged “all people affected by the immigration debate to go to work, to go to school and to show the state and country the contributions that immigrants bring to Colorado.”

“While immigrants have long felt overlooked,” they added, “America’s eyes will be open on May 1. This day is an opportunity to demonstrate the many ways in which you contribute to this community.”

The bishops specifically encouraged “Catholics and all people of good will…to take part in positive actions that lead to real solutions. Write to legislators and encourage employers and business owners to write also, demanding immigration reform that includes secure borders, paths to permanent residency, temporary worker programs, family reunification, labor protections for all workers, and wages and benefits that do not undercut domestic workers.”

They also called on Catholic communities around the state to dedicate the month of May to praying for justice for immigrants. The state’s dioceses have planned a number of prayer initiatives to this end.

A number of other prominent Catholic leaders have also encouraged immigrants not to participate in the walkout. They include Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Washington DC’s Cardinal William McCarrick, and Los Angeles’ Cardinal Roger Mahony--one of the staunchest voices for immigration reform in the country.

''Any kind of action or strategy that could give us a negative backlash of some kind is unhelpful in passing the legislation we need," Cardinal Mahony told members of the press at the U.S. Capitol Saturday. ''We do best by having people at work, having students in school, but using time during Monday to learn more about the immigration issue."

President George Bush and Democratic Senate Minority leader Harry Ried have also voiced their opposition to the boycotts.

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During May, Pope Benedict prays for peace, justice, defense of human life

Vatican City, May 1, 2006 (CNA) - The Vatican has announced Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer intentions for the month of May. Both his prayer and mission intentions center on the Church’s role in the building up of peace and justice throughout the world as well as the defense of all human life.

The Holy Father's general prayer intention for the month reads "That the abundance of the gifts the Holy Spirit bestows on the Church may contribute to the growth of peace and justice in the world."

Likewise, his mission intention is "That in the mission countries those responsible for the public institutions may, with suitable laws, promote and defend human life from its conception to its natural termination."

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Catholic college group helping to battle priestly shortage

Greeley, Colo., May 1, 2006 (CNA) - A national campus ministry group is inspiring a growing number of young men to enter the seminary. The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) is a national outreach program whose goal it is to form Catholic communities on college campuses where students can follow Jesus and live out their faith.

The model includes Bible study, leadership training and one-on-one discipleship. In seeking to bring the fullness of Christianity to students, it has helped inspire at least 67 men to enter seminaries and 25 women to enter religious life.

Deacon Peter Mussett credits FOCUS with helping him perceive and discern his call to become a priest. He will be ordained a priest this month.

According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate 27 percent of parishes do not have a resident priest; the total number of priests, between 1950 and 2000, increased by only 6 percent while the Catholic population increased by 107; and, there are more priests over 90 (433) than there are under 30 (298).

Young men like Benjamin Barron however, are striving to change that. "FOCUS gave me an outlet to learn more about my Catholic Faith and to be around others who cared about their faith", the second year student at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Minneapolis said.

"My FOCUS Bible study was a good fraternity of men, and we held each other accountable to lead a good life. I made some good friends and discovered I didn’t have to be a ‘dork’ to be a good Catholic."

FOCUS was founded in Atchison, KS, by Curtis Martin, a Catholic speaker and author. It now has 100 staff working on 27 campuses in 15 states. FOCUS is headquartered in Greeley, CO

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Pakistan screens first-ever Catholic film; plans made to realize Catholic TV, radio

Karachi, Pakistan, May 1, 2006 (CNA) - Pakistan screened its first-ever Catholic film this week. It “is a historical moment, not only for the Archdiocese of Karachi but for the whole of Pakistan; it is also a start of a new chapter of our history", said Archbishop Evarist Pinto.

The archbishop of Karachi was speaking to 450 guests at the premier of Muhjza [Miracle], held in St. Paul Parish in Mehmudabad, Karachi.

“The aim of Muhjza is to evangelize through the media and it is the first attempt, not only in this diocese but in the whole country,” he said. “The message is simple yet very profound.”

The 40-minute made-for-television movie is about two Catholic parents, who have problems with their two children. They succeed at opening a channel of dialogue through prayer and fasting, thus resolving the situation. Some private television stations have shown interest in showing the film “later on,” reported AsiaNews.

The project was realized thanks to the efforts of a diocesan priest, Fr. Arthur Charles.

“We feel we are a step closer to our dream to have a Catholic TV channel and radio station,” he said, according to AsiaNews. The priest has already named the two media Good News TV and FM 777.

Fr. Charles says he continues to work with “Muslim brothers and sisters” towards setting up the Catholic television and radio station.

“We are working on this, although we clearly need a long time. The only sure thing is that it will not be a channel for Catholics alone: it must be for all,” he said.

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Spanish Health Ministry points to ‘abandonment by men’ as main cause of abortions

Madrid, Spain, May 1, 2006 (CNA) - A report by the Spanish Ministry of Health is expected to affirm that abandonment by men, not social or economic problems or the supposed grave risks to the physical or psychological health of the mother is the main reason that women obtain abortions in Spain.

Although the report has not yet been made public, in an interview with the newspaper “Alba,” the country’s Health Minister, Elena Salgado, revealed that “the fundamental conclusion of the report is that the main reason women abort is because of abandonment by the man.”

“Curiously it has nothing to do with the alleged risks to the psychiatric health of the mother, which supposedly accounts for 97% of legal abortions in Spain.  Nor do supposed socio-economic reasons stand out, despite the repeated threats to legally allow abortion for these supposed socio-economic reasons,” the newspaper pointed out.

The preliminary conclusions of the report also “coincide with a study carried out last December by the Association of Victims of Abortion (AVA) in which 3000 women between the ages of 14 and 40 who have had abortions were surveyed.”

That study showed that the “main motivating factor for the abortion in 87% of the cases was the lack of emotional support.”  In addition, “in 71% of the cases, abandonment by the father is the result of ‘emotional blackmail’.”

The newspaper reported that the AVA study likewise points out that all the women polled said they did not “receive sufficient information about the possible side-effects of abortion.  The study also revealed that 99.1% of the women acknowledged the lack of information about alternatives to abortion, such as social or institutional assistance or adoption.”

“The data reveals the lack of support and the pressure endured by pregnant women from fathers, work, society and doctors.  If the message women received were one of support,” the newspaper stated, “women would continue ahead with their pregnancy.”

The AVA and other pro-family groups have called on the Ministry of Health to create a network of support for women in difficult pregnancies.  “For the moment, they have not received any response,” the newspaper reported.

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Spanish bishop: materialism, obsession with money provoking family crisis

Madrid, Spain, May 1, 2006 (CNA) - During the celebration of the Week of the Family in the dioceses of the Spanish province of Tarraconense, Bishop Agusti Cortes of Sant Feliu said materialism and obsession with money are some of the causes of a deep crisis affecting the family today.

The bishop said the elevated number of separations and divorces is the often the fruit of the social devaluing of human faithfulness and the lack of total and disinterested commitment on the part of spouses.

“In having a concept of love as a business, many marriages end up founded upon a very fragile and temporary commitment and thus difficult to carry out to the end,” he added.

The bishop also recalled that the “superior power of the industrial society, based fundamentally on productivity, has turned us into victims of a work schedule that completely absorbs life, thus resulting in many homes becoming a sort of hotel or boarding house.”

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Cardinal Trujillo reaffirms Church’s rejection of adoption by homosexual couples

Vatican City, May 1, 2006 (CNA) - The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, has reaffirmed the Church’s rejection off any law that would allow the adoption of minors by homosexual couples.

During the opening of the 12th plenary session of the Academy of Social Sciences, the cardinal recalled that the “rights of children” should not be “re-interpreted” or subjected to “distorted readings.”

“One cannot help but feel bewilderment at the acceptance of all this in notorious legislation such as that of Holland, Spain, Belgium and England, with the danger of exporting this same legislation to other countries, as if it were a conquest of modernity,” he warned.

The cardinal explained that “the higher interest of the child” should “be present in their adoption.”  Therefore, he indicated, adoption cannot be permitted for “civil unions of the same sex,” as the child would be exposed to “a false model that is only a caricature of the family.”

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