Archive of June 8, 2006

Iraqi Archbishop says al-Zarqawi death brings hope

Baghdad, Iraq, Jun 8, 2006 (CNA) - Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of the Caldean Catholic Church in Iraq, told AsiaNews today that while Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s death brings hope for the future, ultimately dialogue and the way of love must conquer the hearts of the Iraqi people.  The death of the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq was confirmed by US and Iraqi officials today.  

Officials of both governments were overjoyed at killing the most wanted man in Iraq, who was the mastermind of several terrorist attacks and multiple violent murders in Iraq.

President Bush, commenting on the death said, "The ideology of terror has lost one of its most visible and aggressive leaders. Zarqawi's death is a severe blow to al Qaeda."

However, while the killing does deal a blow to the major terrorist organization in the world, the threat of terror still exists in a very real way in Iraq and abroad and Archbishop Delly hopes that new ways are found to bring peace in his country

“This is a great hope for the end of violence which torments,” the Archbishop said. “but we repeat that the best solution is always in dialogue and not in killing. Killing each other for personal reasons can not bring anything good,” Delly continued, “loving each other and not killing - this is the way to keep in mind.”

It is clearly not the way Al Qaeda is keeping in mind. Al-Qaeda in Iraq confirmed the death of its leader and vowed it will continue its "holy war" in a statement posted on the Web on Thursday.

"We want to give you the joyous news of the martyrdom of the mujahed sheik Abu Musab al-Zarqawi," said the statement, signed by "Abu Abdel- Rahman al-Iraqi," identified as the deputy "emir" or leader of al- Qaida in Iraq.

"The death of our leaders is life for us. It will only increase our persistence in continuing holy war so that the word of God will be supreme," it said.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said the demise of al-Zarqawi won't end the violence in Iraq, but it is "an important step in the right direction” CNN reported.

"This is,” Khalizad said, “a message to all those who take violence as a path."

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Denver Archdiocese to unveil privatized school voucher program

Denver, Colo., Jun 8, 2006 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Denver announced that it will hold a press conference today to announce a new educational initiative for students of low-income families to attend Catholic schools.  

The initiative comes after inaction on the part of State and Federal legislatures to act on a school voucher program. 

In June of 2004 the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that a school voucher law, which the state legislature had passed, was in violation of the state constitution.   

Now, with no apparent action on the part of the Democratic-controlled Colorado legislature, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput is beginning a privately funded voucher program for students who are not currently in Catholic schools.

According to the Denver Post, the Archdiocese’s plan will supply 250 children each from families who demonstrate an “economic need” with $3,000 vouchers. The families will then be able to shop and pick one of the 30-plus Denver-area Catholic schools, the article said.  The voucher is good for one year, but is renewable for up to four years.

Richard Thompson, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Denver, told the Denver Post that, there already has been significant interest in the program.

"The interest we're receiving is far greater than we expected," Thompson said. "I've already reviewed 100 applications, and the program hasn't even been officially announced yet."

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Senate ignores American people on marriage

Washington D.C., Jun 8, 2006 (CNA) - Pro-family groups say the Senate's 49-48 vote against a constitutional amendment to protect marriage ignores the will of the majority of Americans. Sixty votes were needed to approve the amendment.

"Today the U.S. Senate voted against marriage and against the American people," said Family Research Council president Tony Perkins. "This Senate is grossly out of step with the American people."

Perkins pointed to the June 6 vote in Alabama which approved a marriage amendment by 81 percent, bringing the number of states with constitutional amendments protecting marriage to 20.

The Pennsylvania state House also approved a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage June 6 by a vote of 136-61 that included significant Democratic support, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer. The approved proposal would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The bill will likely be voted on in the Senate by the end of June.

"These amendments have been enacted by an average of over 71 percent of the popular vote. An additional 26 states have statutes protecting traditional marriage," Perkins said. "That's 46 out of 50 states that have taken extra steps to define marriage as being between a man and a woman."

World Congress of Families organizer Dr. Allan Carlson expressed "extreme disappointment" over the Senate's failure to approve the Marriage Protection Amendment.

"The Senate has once again evaded its responsibility to defend the institution of marriage," Carlson said.

Carlson referred to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes the right of "men and women" - and men and women alone -- "to marry and to found a family."

"This suggests that the United States government has an absolute duty to keep the courts from defining marriage out of existence, as the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court did three years ago, when it forced gay marriage on the state," said Carlson.

The role of the courts are a matter of concern for pro-family groups. Judges in several states, most recently Georgia, invalidated voter-approved constitutional amendments to protect the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Courts in New Jersey and New York are poised to rule in cases that would make same-sex unions legal.

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Philadelphia looses one Auxiliary Bishop gains another

Vatican City, Jun 8, 2006 (CNA) - The Holy Father today appointed a new Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and appointed a current Auxiliary as Bishop of his own Diocese.

Pope Benedict XVI announced that Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, who was appointed as Auxiliary in Philadelphia in June of 2002, will be the new Bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina.   

Bishop Burbidge, who turns 49 next week, was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1984 after completing studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.  

Following his ordination Burbidge completed a Master of Arts Degree in Administration and Education at Villanova University and in 1999 received his Doctorate of Education from Immaculata College.  

Bishop Burbidge served in numerous capacities around the Archdiocese, serving at parishes, catholic schools, and at the archdiocesan seminary, where he was appointed Rector in 1999.  

Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, said today that, “Bishop Burbidge is a skillful leader who will shepherd the people of Raleigh with great care and concern for their spiritual well-being. They will come to know Bishop Burbidge as we do; as a compassionate, wise and faith-filled priest and Bishop. He exhibits deep joy in carrying out his priestly duties and serving in Jesus' name; it is a gift to witness his zeal for his ministry.”

The Holy Father also appointed Monsignor Daniel Thomas as a new Auxiliary for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Bishop-elect Thomas, who will be 47 on Sunday, was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1985.  Thomas completed his seminary studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.  He was an assistant at St. Joseph’s Parish in Aston for two years, prior to departing for Rome where he completed his Licentiate in Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1989.  For the last 15 years Bishop-elect Thomas has resided in Rome where he worked for the Congregation for Bishops as well as serving as a spiritual director to seminarians at the Pontifical North American College.  

Cardinal Rigali said of Thomas, “He is an exemplary priest with a great love for the Church. Bishop-elect Thomas demonstrates a pastoral care for the faithful which I know will only grow as he assists me in ministering to the entire Archdiocese of Philadelphia. His experience in Rome and in the Archdiocese will be of great benefit to him as he begins his episcopal ministry.”

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Unity 'impossible' if Anglican church ordains women bishops, says Cardinal Kasper

London, England, Jun 8, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Vatican's Council for Christian Unity, told the Church of England that to consecrate women as “bishops” would make unity "unreachable" and shared Communion impossible, reported The London Times.

Cardinal Kasper has urged the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and his fellow bishops not to proceed towards attempting to ordain women bishops without support from the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.

Cardinal Kasper made his statement at a private meeting this week of the Church of England's bishops at Market Bosworth, Leicestershire.

He made clear that while the Catholic Church would not break off talks with Anglicans, the tone of ecumenical dialogue would change and future talks would no longer have unity as their goal.

"Ecumenical dialogue in the true sense of the word has as its goal the restoration of full Church Communion. That has been the presupposition of our dialogue until now. That presupposition would realistically no longer exist following the introduction of the ordination of women to episcopal office," he reportedly said.

Above all, all hopes of intercommunion would end. "The shared partaking of the one Lord's table, which we long for so earnestly, would disappear into the far and ultimately unreachable distance,” Kasper said, “instead of moving towards one another we would coexist alongside one another."

This autumn, Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Williams are expected to announce the third round of talks under the auspices of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission.

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3rd Circuit affirms right of Catholic school to fire Pro-abortion teacher

Wilmington, Del., Jun 8, 2006 (CNA) - The Third Circuit Court of Appeals, yesterday, decided in favor of the Ursuline Academy of Wilmington, which was accused of sex discrimination after they fired a Pro-abortion teacher.  The case had named the Academy itself, as well as some of its former employees, the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, and Bishop Michael Saltarelli.

Michele Curay-Cramer taught English and Religion at Ursuline Academy, an independent Catholic school in Wilmington, Delaware. In January 2003, on the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Curay-Cramer signed onto a full-page ad in the Wilmington News Journal, praising the Roe decision and declaring her pro-abortion position.  The Ursulines, however, are a decidedly pro-life organization and on the same day were sponsoring a field trip of its students to Washington, DC to protest the Roe decision and declare the school's pro-life position.

Following her public declaration on abortion, Curay-Cramer was terminated by the school.  Curay-Cramer quickly sued the school (and others), claiming her discharge was sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Today’s decision rejected Curay-Cramer’s claims under Title VII and affirmed a motion of dismissal, granted in November 2004, by the federal District Court.  

According to a release from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonpartisan, interfaith, public-interest law firm which filed the motion for dismissal, one of the claims under Title VII was again dismissed because it threatened to violate the First Amendment, but two others were found so weak under Title VII that the Court did not even have to reach the constitutional question.

Anthony Picarello, President & General Counsel of the Becket Fund said in the press release that, "The Third Circuit reaffirmed what should have been obvious all along: Title VII was not designed to prevent a religious school from firing a teacher for publicly repudiating the school's religious teaching.  To rule otherwise would threaten fundamental religious freedom interests of the school guaranteed by the First Amendment."

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Colombian priest to provide chaplain services to Hispanic US troops in Iraq

Orlando, Fla., Jun 8, 2006 (CNA) - Colombian-born Father Luis Silva is set to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan as a member of the US military chaplaincy to provide for the spiritual needs of Hispanic troops.

“There is a great need for priests who speak Spanish in order to care for those young Hispanic Catholics who are fighting in the areas of conflict,” Father Silva told the EFE news agency.

The Colombian priest, who had been serving as pastor at the Cathedral of St. James in Orlando, has received orders to arrive at the Army Reserves base in Mississippi this Saturday.  For security reasons, Father Silva still does not know where his finally destination will be, where he will spend 14 months.  “As a human being one always feels somewhat afraid and of course the people with whom one is serving and my family are a bit concerned, but for now I try not to think about what I will be facing there and I try to fill myself up with God,” he said, adding that if you firmly understand the call of God, “you realize that it is there that you need to be and you should strive to be positive.”

Father Silva served for five years at a small parish in Minnesota, where he was ordained before being transferred to Orlando. “Since I was little I always wanted to be either a soldier, a doctor or a priest, and now I will be able to fulfill my dream of being a soldier, at least as a priest,” he said. 

In order to serve as Army chaplain, Father Silva’s petition for citizenship was put on the fast track.  “That’s when I knew I was going to go,” he said.  After a brief interview on May 22, he became a US citizen.  “When I finished the interview I thought they were going to tell me to come back in a month, but I was surprised to hear that I was to return that same day,” Father Silva explained.

According to statistics from the Military Archdiocese, in 2002 there were 369 priests in active duty, and 405 in the Reserves and National Guard.

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Cardinal Cipriani calls for “truce” to allow new Peruvian government to take form

Lima, Peru, Jun 8, 2006 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, sent greetings to the new President-elect of Peru, Alan Garcia, and called for a political “truce” in order to allow the new government to be set up and to heal the wounds of the electoral season.

“I think this suggestion is reasonable, because the government needs a period of maturity, things cannot be done in 24 hours.  An atmosphere of calm needs to be established and this will take place in a reasonable amount of time so that the new government can begin implementing its policies,” the cardinal said.

“I have come to express my congratulations to Dr. Garcia and to ask that whatever words or gestures that were hurtful during the campaign die down, because we believe that we are in a new stage,” he added.

Cardinal Cipriani said his conversation with Garcia was amicable and that the two discussed the defense of life from the moment of conception and the importance of religious formation in young people.

On the other hand, the cardinal called for the differences between Peru and Venezuela to be settled.  “We have gone through difficult moments but I think that Latin America deserves to work in unity and therefore I hope that steps are taken to restore that climate of cooperation.”

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Satanic sect thought to be behind murder of Colombian family on 6/6/06

Bogotá, Colombia, Jun 8, 2006 (CNA) - Authorities believe a satanic group may be behind the murder of six members of a Colombian family in the town of Barrancabermeja over superstitions surrounding the date 6/6/06.

According to media reports, one of the suspects is a member of the same family and belongs to a group that engages in occult practices.  When police arrived at the gruesome crime scene, they found 27 year-old Javier Parra, a nephew and cousin of the victims, sitting before an image of Satan a few feet away from the bodies.

The six victims ranging in age from 17 to 54 were found with their throats slit.  Six knives were found at the scene, which was dotted with bloody tennis shoe footprints.  Authorities believe Parra let the other members of the satanic cult into the house.  Some reports claimed Parra had already confessed to being involved in the murders.

Bishop Jaime Prieto Amaya of Barrancabermeja called on authorities to work to prevent superstitious beliefs from posing a danger to the public.

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Sunday should be kept for worship, family and community life say Belgian Bishops

Brussels, Belgium, Jun 8, 2006 (CNA) - Yesterday, on the occasion of a debate over the increase of the phenomenon  of “ Sunday Shopping,” with many stores and shopping centers staying open, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Belgium expressed their opinion that  Sunday should remain, as much as possible, a day of rest.  

“For all, Sunday is synonym of rest. This day allows people to dedicate time for family and friends. In a society with the deep mark of individualism, a collective limitation of working hours is necessary to allow a minimum of family contact and a true cultural and collective leisure life.” The statement begins.

“This only underlines the respect one should have for all those who are forced to work on Sunday and are at the service of the community.”

“Submitting Sunday to commercial pressure is done at the expense of community life.”

Finally the declaration reminds that “for Christians, Sunday is also a blessed and sanctified day, 'the Day of the Lord,' that allows people to dedicate time for collective prayer and cult, as well as for Christian reflection and a day to marvel before the beauty of creation.”

“This is why the bishops of Belgium do not wish to see Sunday taken away from its original sense, and becoming a day like others,” the statement concludes. 

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Ruling Socialist party in Bolivia seizes lands surrounding national Marian shrine

La Paz, Bolivia, Jun 8, 2006 (CNA) - The ruling Socialist party in Bolivia has seized lands surrounding the Marian Shrine of Copacabana, which are used to help maintain the site, claming they are “unproductive lands of the Church.”

Father Sebastian Obermaier of the Diocese of El Alto denounced the group of party loyalists who seized the lands that belong to the Catholic Church, cut down the trees and divided the property into seven lots.

Father Obermaier said he hoped the government would resolve the situation.  Several decades ago the Bolivian government had donated the land to the Church to help maintain the shrine.

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