Archive of July 10, 2006

St. Louis Archbishop appointed to Church’s highest court

St. Louis, Mo., Jul 10, 2006 (CNA) - On Saturday the Holy See announced that Archbishop Raymond Burke of the Archdiocese of St. Louis has been appointed to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.  The Archbishop will undertake his new duties while remaining Archbishop of St. Louis.

While the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura is often labeled the “Supreme Court” of the Catholic Church, the Tribunal’s cases are generally more rare than those of the U.S. Supreme Court. Most judicial appeals, which come to Rome from dioceses around the world, are decided by the Roman Rota.  The Supreme Tribunal’s duties include responsibility for any appeals to rulings of the Roman Rota, in addition to oversight of the Roman Rota itself.  

The Tribunal is currently being asked to consider the appeal of a group of parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston, which have been closed due to restructuring in the archdiocese.  The parishes are appealing to the Tribunal after their initial appeals to Rome were denied earlier this month.

The Tribunal also oversees the administration of justice within the Church, examining administrative matters referred to it by the Congregations of the Roman Curia as well as questions committed to it by the Holy Father.

Archbishop Burke is known as an accomplished Canon Lawyer. Having completed his graduate studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Burke was named Moderator of the Curia and Vice Chancellor of the Diocese of La Cross, Wisconsin. Prior to being named Bishop of La Crosse in 1994, Burke served as Defender of the Bond of the Supreme Tribunal for five years - the first American to hold such a post.

Burke has been one of the strongest voices in the American Church in recent years, speaking boldly against pro-abortion politicians who also claim to profess the Catholic faith.  

Burke, who attempts to meet one-on-one with Catholic politicians in his dioceses in order to explain and encourage them to follow Church teaching, is not afraid to take a public stance. In 2004 Burke, then Bishop of La Crosse, issued a directive to his priests to refrain from giving Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion.  

Burke was then named Archbishop of St. Louis and publicly criticized presidential candidate John Kerry for his pro-abortion stance, suggesting that Kerry should not be allowed to receive communion.

Burke was also involved in a difficult legal battle with a schismatic parish in his current archdiocese.  In 2004, while Archbishop Justin Rigali was still Archbishop of St. Louis, Stanislaus Kostka Parish, an ethnically Polish congregation, altered its by-laws to eliminate any recognition of the authority due to the archbishop and pastor - making it a self-governing church.  When Archbishop Rigali and then Burke attempted to talk the parish into returning to the governance of the Church, they refused.  

Archbishop Burke placed the parish under interdict and brought consulters from Poland to speak to the parish, but the parish decided to appeal to Rome for help.  When the ruling came back and the Congregation for the Clergy found in favor of Burke, the parish further distanced itself and appointed its own priest.  At that point, Burke declared that the parish had completed the break from Rome and excommunicated itself.  In 2005 Burke suppressed the parish and began taking action to encourage the growth of another Polish parish in St. Louis.

Appointed with Archbishop Burke were Archbishop Luis Martinez Sistach of Barcelona, Spain and Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education who has previously served as Secretary and Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal.

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Church of England says women bishops are ‘theologically justified’

London, England, Jul 10, 2006 (CNA) - The Church of England voted by a large majority on Saturday, that the ordination of women as bishops is "consonant with the faith of the Church" and can be theologically justified, reported the London Telegraph.

The vote was passed by the General Synod in York despite a plea from the Vatican that the ordination of women bishops would make unity between the two Churches "unreachable" and intercommunion impossible.

In early June, Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Vatican's Council for Christian Unity, had urged the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, and his fellow bishops not to proceed toward ordaining women bishops, which would severely distance them from of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.

Cardinal Kasper said 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 full unity as their goal.

Archbishop Williams admitted on Saturday that there would be "a heavy and serious" cost to relations with the Roman Catholic Church as a result of the vote.

Some bishops, fearful that the move would threaten the Church of England's relationship with other denominations, urged the General Synod to reject the motion.

Bishop Peter Forster of the Anglican diocese of Chester had warned the vote was premature. "We have not had enough dialogue and are at risk of jeopardizing our unity," he said. "We don't want to have a divided episcopate."

Regardless, the motion won strong backing from bishops and clergy. It did not, however, receive the level of support from the laity that it will need to get final approval.

Archbishop Williams asked the synod yesterday to set up a group to write a draft measure that would include the proposal but also appease traditionalists within the church.

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Cardinal Re: Faith is greatest inheritance parents can leave their children

Valencia, Fla., Jul 10, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, said during the International Theological Pastoral Congress at the World Meeting of Families that faith and not material possessions is the greatest inheritance parents can leave their children.

At the closing Mass of the Congress, which was concelebrated by some two thousand bishops, Cardinal Re explained that, “some parents cannot leave many things as an inheritance, but if they pass on the faith to their children they will be giving them the most precious good that exists.”

According to the AVAN news agency, Cardinal Re maintained that, “what is sown in the heart of a child will bear fruit in the future,” and that there are many parents, “whose faith is deepened thanks to their children, in whom they see the values of the Gospel.”

The cardinal said many people do not value the importance of the family out of selfishness, over-dedication to work, or the desire to follow the latest fads.  He also reiterated that teaching children to pray is, “to teach them the greatest strength,” for their lives.

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Religious leaders call on G8 to protect family, promote justice

Moscow, Russia, Jul 10, 2006 (CNA) - Religious leaders from around the globe have called on G8 countries to implement national and international laws that will assure good stewardship of the world’s resources, give more assistance to families and assert the value of all human life, from conception to natural death.

Heads and delegates of the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and Shinto religions met in Moscow, July 3-5, for the World Summit of Religious Leaders. At the conclusion of the meeting, they directed a message to the Group of Eight Summit, which will begin in St. Petersburg, July 15th.

In their message, the religious leaders called for the protection of religious freedom and human rights. “Individuals and groups must be immune from coercion. No one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his or her own beliefs in religious matters,” they wrote.

“We condemn terrorism and extremism of any form, as well as attempts to justify them by religion,” they continued. “We consider it our duty to oppose enmity on political, ethnic or religious grounds. We deplore the activities of pseudo-religious groups and movements destroying freedom and health of people as well as the ethical climate in societies.”

The world’s wealth must also be distributed in a just fashion, they said. “The concentration of the majority of the world’s wealth in the hands of a few, while an enormous number of people, especially children, live in abject poverty, is a global tragedy.”

“We call upon all nations to return to a life of moderation, self-restraint and active justice. This will secure a hopeful future for upcoming generations and effectively function to cut the ground out from under the feet of extremists and terrorists,” they wrote.

In his remarks, Cardinal Walter Kasper said the Holy See is critical “of a collectivistic view, just as we are critical of a one-sided individualistic approach to human rights.” The cardinal, who heads the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, participated at the summit of religious leaders.

“Individuality and solidarity are the two sides of the same coin,” he continued. “This leads us to conclude that alongside the sense of the dignity of each human person we have to promote the sense of solidarity among people, among ethnic groups, among nations and among religions.”

“Religions,” he said, “inspire openness to transcendence and … they call for respect for what is holy and stand in opposition to today's widespread attitude of cynicism and disrespect towards nature and human beings.”

He warned that where there is a loss of religion and, “respect for the transcendent is lost, respect for the human person is in danger as well.”

“There cannot be peace in the world without peace among religions,” he added.

Cardinal Kasper also encouraged dialogue among peoples and civilizations. Dialogue does not mean “a mixture or confusion of religions or an agreement on the lowest common denominator,” he clarified. “Dialogue means to share common values and to transmit them to a world which so urgently needs them.”

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Archbishop calls for attention to battling poverty rather than military buildup

Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 10, 2006 (CNA) - The president of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Ubaldo Santana of Maracaibo, has warned that the country is investing too much money in the purchasing of armaments and not enough in the struggle against poverty, “a much more real war.”

Speaking at the opening of the bishops’ Plenary Assembly, the archbishop’s comments came as President Hugo Chavez announced his intention to build up the country’s military defenses in preparation for a supposed foreign invasion.  The Venezuelan president also said he hopes to bring together all of the different military forces of South America.

“The bishops have always believed that too much money is being invested into the purchase of armaments instead of into other areas.  I think there is a much more real, much more concrete war that we must confront, which is the war against the poverty, misery, poor health, and malnutrition that has been affecting all Venezuelans for many decades,” Archbishop Santana said.

He argued that the war against poverty is something that could unite all Venezuelans, since no one would oppose any initiative that would more widely, “confront the grave scourge of poverty.”

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Human rights group demands Olympic change after infirm Chinese bishop arrested

Stamford, Conn., Jul 10, 2006 (CNA) - A U.S.-based human rights group is calling on the Olympic Committee to cancel the Olympic Games in China after government officials arrested yet another Catholic bishop, while he was recovering in the hospital.

Joseph Kung, the president of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, said the games in China should be canceled “in order to preserve [the] good name and spirit” of the international sports event.

Bishop Jia Zhiguo, Roman Catholic bishop of the “underground” Diocese of Zheng Ding in Hebei Province, was arrested on June 25th, while he was still recovering from an operation.  Medical staff reported that the bishop, in fact, still had a catheter in place when he was taken.

On the morning of June 25, the government authority informed the nursing staff at the local hospital that a car was being sent to take the 72-year-old bishop to his home in Wu Qiu, where he cares for about 100 handicapped orphans.

When his faithful noticed that their bishop had not returned, they inquired about the delay at the government’s religious bureau. The religious bureau told them the bishop had been sent for "education" for several days.

To date, there has been no word on the bishop and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Cumulatively, Bishop Jia has been jailed for nearly 20 years of his 26 year episcopacy.  According to the Cardinal Kung Foundation, this is the ninth time he has been arrested since January 2004.

The Cardinal Kung Foundation has also appealed to governments and corporations to take into greater consideration such human rights violations when forming and implementing their political and business decisions regarding communist China

China became communist in 1949, and by 1953 many Chinese priests and lay people were arrested and dying in jail. Unable to stamp out the Catholic Church, the government created its own church three years later, called the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA).

The Chinese government officially permits only those Catholic churches affiliated with the CCPA. The CCPA does not recognize the administrative and judicial authority of the Pope and only takes orders from the State Council's Religious Affairs Bureau. Members of the CCPA must sever ties with the Vatican and submit to the government-appointed bishops.

Those who wish to remain faithful to the Roman Catholic Church must practice in secret.  Currently, all of the 45 bishops of the underground Roman Catholic Church are either in jail, under house arrest, under strict surveillance, or in hiding.

In his December 1996 message to China, Pope John Paul II described the underground Church as "a precious jewel of the Catholic Church."

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Statistics not equal to moral law, warns Mexican archbishop

Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 10, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Carlos Emilio Berlie Belaunzaran of the Yucatan reminded Mexicans this week that moral law does not originate in statistics and that the fact that a crime such as abortion is committed with frequency does not mean it should be legalized.

The archbishop said that the fact that number of abortions committed has risen tremendously over the last ten years is no reason to legalize the practice.  “We are not the owners of anyone’s life, not that of a fetus, not that of an elderly 86-year old man,” he emphasized.

Archbishop Berlie said the faithful should not get confused by so many different statistics, because they are not the origin of the moral law, which is instead born of the divine commandment, “enshrined in the fifth commandment: Thou shalt not kill.”

“There is a fifth commandment that says you shall not kill because you are not the owner of life, not even of your own,” he said.

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Stable democracy may lead Christians to return to Middle East, says patriarch

Chicago, Ill., Jul 10, 2006 (CNA) - The spiritual leader for Maronite Catholics worldwide said working together toward democracy in the Middle East will encourage Lebanese citizens to invest in their former homeland and possibly to return when things in the region become more stable.

Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, 86, is the patriarch of the worldwide 14-million member Maronite Catholic Church. He was at Our Lady of Lebanon Church in Chicago last week in conjunction with the national convention of the Maronite Catholic Church in the United States. The Maronite Church, present mostly in Lebanon, is an Eastern Rite that is obedient to the Pope but maintains distinctive liturgical traditions.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribute, the main theme of his talk was concern regarding the place of Christians in the Middle East, the relationship between Lebanese Muslims and Christians, and the delicate balance Lebanon faces in being a sovereign state between Syria and Israel.

Continuing unrest in the region and the inability to worship freely are making it more difficult to maintain a Christian presence in Lebanon as in the rest of the Middle East. The majority of Lebanon was once Catholic, but Muslims have recently taken over the majority. Many Lebanese Christians have emigrated over the last four or five decades.

Lebanon is seen by many as a country of hope for Christianity in the Middle East.

"Christians will stay in the Middle East if there is peace," Cardinal Sfeir reportedly told his audience. "If they migrate and go nearby to places like the Arab gulf, for instance, they can come back. But if they migrate to farther places like the United States, it is very difficult to return."

"Lots of Muslims love to have Christians living among them and they want to continue living together without any problems," the cardinal was quoted as saying.

"The ability to live together peacefully will involve each side letting the other worship God in his own manner," he said. "But we have to believe in democracy and in justice. Yet, as you know, there is no peace without justice.”

The cardinal, who has served as patriarch for Maronite Catholics for the last 20 years, also spoke favorably of the role of President George Bush in the removal of Syrian forces from Lebanon.

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Cardinal Dzwisz recalls John Paul II as the “Pope of the family”

Valencia, Fla., Jul 10, 2006 (CNA) - During his participation at the International Theological Pastoral Conference at the World Meeting of Families in Valencia last week, Cardinal Stanislaw Dzwisz recalled John Paul II, as “the Pope of the family.”

According to the AVAN news agency, John Paul II’s former secretary emphasized the late Pontiff’s “courage and conviction” in defending and promoting the family.

During his comments, Cardinal Dzwisz underscored that John Paul II, “always expressed with courage his concern for the family in the countries he visited and he made concrete decisions with initiatives in favor of life.”  “He always believed that family ministry was an enormous issue and that a certain sensitivity and clear conviction regarding the important role the family plays in the Church was needed,” the cardinal maintained.

The model of the family according to John Paul II, the cardinal continued, “depends upon the education young people receive, and thus he always dedicated much time to youth ministry.”

Cardinal Dzwisz also noted the numerous family institutions created during John Paul II’s pontificate, including the Institute for the Family, the Pontifical University of Theology of Krakow, and the Pontifical Council for the Family, as well as his numerous writings on the family, such as Familiaris Consortio, the Letter to Families, and the Gospel of Life.

John Paul II, “took advantage of his literary skills to make his Christian vision of the family known to the greatest number of persons possible,” through such works as “The Jeweler’s Shop,” the cardinal stated.

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