Archive of June 27, 2006

Vatican refuses comment on talks with China

Vatican City, Jun 27, 2006 (CNA) - The Director of the Holy See Press Office issued a statement today, refusing to comment on reports of ongoing discussions between the Holy See and the government of China.

Joaquin Navarro-Valls said at mid-day, "I have no comments to make on news that has appeared in various organs of the press concerning ongoing contacts between a Holy See delegation and the Chinese authorities."

Navarro-Valls, however, did not deny that any such reports were true.

Several news services are reporting that two senior Vatican officials were in Beijing Tuesday for talks on re-establishing diplomatic relations with China.   

The AP reports that two Vatican representatives, Archbishop Claudio Celli, who is secretary of the Patrimony of the Holy See, and Monsignor Gianfranco Rota Graziosi of the Secretariat of State have been in Beijing since Sunday.

Talks between the Holy See and China have been rumored for two weeks.  The Sunday Times reported last week that Chinese representatives were in Rome.  The week prior, reports had surfaced that envoys from the Vatican were in China.

The AP today, quoted Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Archbishop of Hong Kong, who has long been involved in the attempt to mend relations between the two bodies, as saying, “I don't have any detailed information.  The Vatican hasn't told me anything. I just know people from the Vatican were planning on going to China."

The reported meetings could signal the end of over 50 years of silence between the Holy See and China.  Since 1951 the Church in China has face pressure and persecution from the government.  Chinese Catholics are currently faced with the choice of attending a government-run form of their religion or worshiping in secret with others who remain loyal to Rome.

Relations between the Holy See and China were beginning to warm prior to the Chinese government’s decision, two months ago, to ordain two bishops without the approval of the Vatican.

Despite Vatican indignation following the insult, talks may have resumed, partially, in order to facilitate a release for several imprisoned Chinese Catholic Bishops who are reportedly close to death.

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Church organizations in India are about charity, not conversion, assures prelate

Mumbai, India, Jun 27, 2006 (CNA) - The health, educational, and social projects of the Catholic Church in India have “no ulterior motives of conversions,” assured Cardinal Ivan Dias, Archbishop of Mumbai, at a farewell ceremony in his archdiocese Sunday evening.

The cardinal, who begins his role as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples today, urged the people of Mumbai to engage in more inter-religious dialogue and to undertake common action for communal amity, reported the Indo-Asian News Service.

There has been an ongoing battle in parts of India against the Church and conversions to Christianity, with some areas even passing anti-conversion laws. Some Indians have accused Catholic charitable and missionary organizations of proselytizing rather than being there to simply serve the people.

The prelate said his dream is that Indians will, “progress and flourish in human, humane and spiritual virtues.” He also challenged Indian politicians to demonstrate noble intentions and selfless love for the poor and the marginalized. Politicians should be “outstanding in moral integrity,” he said.

Cardinal Dias, who is fluent in 18 languages, is well respected for his staunch orthodoxy, his efforts in inter-religious dialogue, and as a defender of the unborn, human rights, and religious freedom.

As a young priest, he studied at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy for Vatican Diplomats. Since then, it has been a steady rise for him at the Vatican, including as a high profile ambassador to various European, African and Asian countries during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

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Australian Bishops approve new English translation of the mass

Sydney, Australia, Jun 27, 2006 (CNA) - Following a similar decision by U.S. Bishops, the Bishops of Australia have voted, in principle, to accept a new English translation of the Roman Catholic Mass, which the Vatican favors as being more faithful to the original Latin text, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

Bishops in England and Wales have also voted to accept the new English translation, drafted as a result of a Vatican directive issued in 2001 by Pope John Paul II. On June 15, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops also conditionally approved the changes by a mail-in ballot.  It is a process that the whole English-speaking Catholic world is undertaking.

The translation, the full text of which is not publicly available, will replace the current version, which was introduced in 1973. A new template for the mass was proposed by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, comprising bishops from 11 English-speaking countries.

"The prayers we are used to are a very good first attempt at translation," Bishop Mark Coleridge, newly appointed Archbishop of Canberra, told the Herald. "What we are having now is a more mature translation that learns the lesson of the past 40 years." The bishop believes that people will embrace the changes.

Most of the changes to the Mass are minor and generally look similar to the translations approved in the U.S. and U.K.

Where the priest says, "The Lord be with you," parishioners will eventually respond, "And also with your spirit." And, instead of saying, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you", during the prayer before Communion, Catholics will pray, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof."

More complex phrases might still be vetoed by Australian bishops when they meet in November. The final modified Australian version must still be approved by the Vatican. It could still be two or three years before the new text is published and put into use.

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Holy Father grants plenary indulgence for World Meeting of Families

Vatican City, Jun 27, 2006 (CNA) - A decree was made public today by Cardinal James Francis Stafford, Apostolic Penitentiary, declaring a plenary indulgence for the faithful during the 5th World Meeting of Families, which is being celebrated in Valencia, Spain from the 1st - 9th of July.

The decree, which was published today but dated on the 15th of June - the Solemnity of Corpus Christi - says that the Holy Father, who will be in Valencia for the celebration, is very pleased to bestow a plenary indulgence to the faithful, “in order to feed the lively desire which brings numerous people from every part of the world, to the celebration.”

Pope Benedict bestowed the plenary indulgence to all participants in the World Meeting as well as those who can not go but, "are united in spirit and thought," to those that will be in Valencia.

The World Meeting of Families was instituted by Pope John Paul II, who desired that the celebration occur every three years, as a way of honoring and discussing issues regarding the pastoral care of families.  Pope Benedict said that participants will closely examine this year the theme of the family as the, “seat of life and love, the domestic church, in which is transmitted to children the inestimable gift of the faith from their parents.”

In order to receive the indulgence, the faithful must meet the following requirements:

-    Make a good sacramental confession
-    Receive Holy Communion
-    Pray for the intentions of the Holy Father
-    Either participate in the celebrations of the World Meeting in Valencia or, “remain united in spirit and thought” with those who are
-    Recite as a family the Our Father, the Creed, and other prayers invoking Divine Mercy

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Battle to save Mt. Soledad cross continues

Ann Arbor, Mich., Jun 27, 2006 (CNA) - The Thomas More Law Center filed an emergency motion Friday to intervene in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, seeking to reverse an order to remove the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial cross.

Federal District Court Judge Gordon Thompson issued an order May 3rd, to the City of San Diego to remove the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial cross by Aug. 1st or face fines of $5,000 per day.

The Law Center’s emergency motion to intervene was filed two days after the Ninth Circuit denied San Diego’s request to stay the removal of the cross. The Court instead expedited the appeal, ordering briefs to be filed by July 19th and setting oral argument for the week of Oct. 16th, two months after the Cross is supposed to be removed. The Law Center filed its emergency motion to intervene so that it can participate in the expedited briefing schedule and argument.

The Law Center also has pending its own emergency motion to stay the removal of the memorial cross before the Ninth Circuit. The court has yet to rule on their stay request.

“Our heroic veterans continue to fight for our freedoms,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel for the Law Center. “We owe it to them and their families to continue to fight to preserve this national memorial that was erected in their honor.”

The Law Center’s emergency motion to intervene was filed on behalf of San Diegans for the Mt. Soledad National War Memorial, the organization responsible for Proposition A, a hugely successful petition drive that was to transfer the memorial to the federal government.

Proposition A passed by an overwhelming 76% in a special vote held in July of 2005. However, a state judge halted the implementation of Proposition A, claiming that it violated the California Constitution.

Atheist Philip Paulson, the one who challenged the cross in the federal lawsuit, is also challenging Proposition A in the California courts. The Law Center is also appealing the state court ruling.

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Cincinnati Planned Parenthood told to release abortion files

Cincinnati, Ohio, Jun 27, 2006 (CNA) - A Cincinnati Planned Parenthood Clinic has announced that it will appeal a ruling requiring it to open its records, reported the Associated Press.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Dinkelacker ruled June 21st, that the clinic must turn over all records on abortion patients younger than 18 to a family that is suing the clinic

The suing family alleges that Planned Parenthood never got parental consent to perform an abortion on their teenaged daughter, as is required by Ohio law.

The records are needed to determine whether the clinic has a pattern of failing to notify parents, said the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Brian Hurley.  Patients' names would be blacked out on the documents to protect their privacy, Hurley said.

This is only the second time Planned Parenthood has been forced to make records available, and the first time in a civil case, reported Cincinnati’s 9News. 

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Meeting of African Bishops will focus on reconciliation, justice, and peace

Vatican City, Jun 27, 2006 (CNA) - This morning, the "Lineamenta" (or draft guidelines) for the Second Special Assembly for the Synod of Bishops of Africa were presented in the Holy See Press Office.  The synod will focus on the many and diverse problems, which exist around the continent and the Church’s continuing role in bringing reconciliation, justice, and peace.  Participating in the press conference were Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.
Cardinal Arinze began by pointing out that, in order to better understand the "Lineamenta," it would be helpful "to reflect briefly on signs of good news about Church life in Africa," to study the problems and challenges in the areas of reconciliation, justice, and peace in African societies, and to consider "what the Catholic Church in Africa has done, or can do, to help."
"There are great differences in the situation of the Church in each of the 53 countries on the African continent," he said. "Growth is a fact. Experts tell us that Africa is the continent with the highest annual percentage growth for Christianity in the world. Many more Africans get baptized each year. In some African countries seminaries and sisters' novitiates have more candidates than they can conveniently accommodate. ... Several beatification causes are being promoted, one of the latest being that of President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania."
"But the Church in Africa is not closed in on herself. She shares the joys and hopes, problems and challenges of the wider society in Africa. The painful situation of violence and even war in Somalia, the tragedy of Darfur and the not yet totally resolved situation in the Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to some extent in the Great Lakes region, are causes of concern."
He continued: "The challenge of building up a nation in harmony and peaceful development out of peoples from many ethnic groups put together as a country by colonial masters remains present, as in Nigeria. Moreover, poverty, disease and especially HIV/AIDS, are real threats and have wiped out large numbers or crippled them."
The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments also noted some positive signs: "a smooth passage from apartheid to democracy in the Republic of South Africa, the opposition party winning elections without tears in Senegal, Ghana, Malawi and Zambia, and significant steps towards greater democratization in several countries."
"The Catholic Church," Cardinal Arinze concluded, "without any pretence at having a political or economic mission, knows that she has to contribute first by preaching the Gospel to call to a conversion of hearts, respect for the rights of other people, repentance and reconciliation, forgiveness and harmony. ... The dioceses in Africa take practical steps to show Christian solidarity to the poor and the needy. Most bishops' conferences have justice and peace commissions. ... Refugees and displaced persons, find the Church as one of the few institutions that care for them and that can put a smile on their faces."
For his part, Archbishop Eterovic affirmed that for this Second African Synod (the first was held in 1994) Benedict XVI, "accepting the advice of the African episcopate," has approved the theme: "The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. 'You are the salt of the earth. ... You are the Light of the World'."

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