Vatican City, Jul 12, 2006 (CNA) -
On behalf of Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano has sent a telegram to officials of the Church and state in India offering condolences and prayers for those effected by the recent terrorist attacks on eight trains in the city of Mumbai and condemning the acts, which caused the death of at least 200 people.
In a statement from the Vatican today the cardinal said, “Deeply saddened by the news of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI assures all affected of his spiritual closeness in prayer. While deploring these senseless acts against humanity, the Holy Father commends the many deceased to the loving mercy of the Almighty. Upon their grieving families and the numerous injured he invokes the divine gifts of strength, consolation and comfort."
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India on Tuesday condemned the serial bomb blasts that shook the city.
Reports this morning have raised the toll to 200 people killed and than 400 injured during the eight blasts that occurred during peak evening traffic in a span of 30 minutes.
The bishops’ spokesperson, Fr. Babu Joseph, appealed to the people to face “this hour of anguish with equanimity.”
“The bomb blasts are the handiworks of anti-social elements,” he said. “We should all join hands together to defeat the nefarious designs of the anti-social elements in the country,” he urged.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cut short his Kolkata trip and returned to New Delhi. Home Ministry sources said security has been beefed up at all vital installations in the country, public places, places of worship and markets across major cities. Paramilitary forces are on full alert.
Indian press agencies have reported that many Mumbians returned to work this morning, but that there was a marked decrease in riders on the city’s mass transit system.
The Central government has assured the Maharashtra government that Mumbai will be given all the necessary help to deal with the tragic event.
Konigstein, Germany, Jul 12, 2006 (CNA) - According to Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of the Diocese of Anatolia, Turkey, the stabbing of a Catholic priest has exposed a media-led campaign to undermine the success of the Pope’s trip to the country.
Turkey’s beleaguered Christian population of barely 100,000 were shocked after the elderly French Father Pierre Brunissen was knifed - allegedly by a schizophrenic - in the northern port city of Samsun last week. It was the sixth attack on a Churchman in as many months.
Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need earlier this week, Bishop Padovese said the country’s media has spread lies about Fr Brunissen, 75, and called Christians “enemies.” He explained that the newspapers have made false claims that Fr Brunissen had tried to bribe people to win conversions. “The newspapers are trying to aggravate,” he added, “to show the Christians as enemies of Turkish people.” The bishop said the media reaction to the attack on Fr Brunissen had coincided with hostile comments about Pope Benedict XVI’s scheduled visit to Turkey in November: “There are some who will search out all the possibilities to reduce the positive effects of the trip.”
Reporting on media opposition to the planned meeting between the Pope and Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, Bishop Padovese stated: “Many, many people think it is not acceptable for the Pope to visit the Patriarch. They have a very negative attitude.” He referred to newspaper reports calling on the Holy Father not to pray while visiting the Hagia Sophia, one of Christendom’s greatest achievements - a vast cathedral which was turned into a mosque before becoming a museum. “The newspaper reports were saying that the Pope should remember Hagia Sophia is now a museum, not a place of worship. They say they will be very critical of him if he starts praying there.”
Stressing how the media was inciting religious hatred among Turkey’s Muslim population, he said, “If you read the newspapers and listen to the TV, what you see about Christians is very negative. The authorities are trying to search for dialogue, but if the opinions of the media are so negative, how is it possible to talk about dialogue?”
Valencia, Fla., Jul 12, 2006 (CNA) - The AVAN news agency published a message from Pope Benedict XVI to Archbishop Agustin Garcia-Gasco of Valencia in which he expressed his thanks for the reception and hospitality extended to him by the archdiocese during his recent visit to Spain.
“Upon returning to Rome after the joyful ecclesial and spiritual experience of the World Meeting of Families, convened to produce abundant fruits in the numerous participants and in so many other families around the world, I wish to express to your Excellency and to the auxiliary bishops my most heartfelt gratitude for the exquisite reception, the pleasant hospitality and the continual attention given to me at all times during my enjoyable stay in that city,” the message states.
The Pope offered prayers that the Lord would continue to bless Archbishop Garcia-Gasco and the, “beloved Valencian Church, with its grand history and rich Christian values.”
The Pontiff also asked that his appreciation be conveyed to all the volunteers who collaborated in the preparation and development of the WMF. “Upon the pastors and faithful of this archdiocese, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.”
According to AVAN, the Pope’s message was sent to the Archbishop of Valencia by the Sostituto of the Vatican Secretariat of State, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, who said the Pope’s visit to Valencia was “unforgettable.”
Bern, Switzerland, Jul 12, 2006 (CNA) - Yesterday, the
Society of Saint Pius X re-elected Bishop Bernard Fellay as their superior, at their headquarters in Econe, Switzerland.
Bishop Bernard Fellay, one of four priests illicitly ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988, will remain superior of the group for a second, twelve-year term.
The election of Fellay, who is one of the bishops more amicable to reconciliation with the Holy See, came as a victory over Bishops Richard Williamsson and Bernard Tissier de Mallerais who are considerably more hostile towards talk of reconciliation. Both Tissier and Williamson have recently released interviews very critical of Pope Benedict XVI on the site www.unavox.it <http://www.unavox.it>.
In August of 2005 Fellay met with Pope Benedict at his summer residence at Castelgandolfo.
The Society of Saint Pius X, founded by Archbishop Lefebvre, rejects the reforms of the Second Vatican Council especially those exhibited in the post-conciliar liturgy. Following the ordination of Bishop Fellay and the three others without his permission, Pope John Paul II proclaimed that Lefebvre and the four bishops had excommunicated themselves and referred to their disobedience as a “schismatic act.”
Many have been waiting for Pope Benedict XVI to grant a complete authorization for the celebration of the Tridentine Mass in order to facilitate the Society’s return to the fold of the Catholic Church. While such an universal indult has not been assured, Tuesday’s vote is seen by many as a positive step in amelioration between the SSPX and the Vatican.
Vatican City, Jul 12, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, has announced that while several segments within the Vatican lost money in 2005, the Holy See consolidated financial statements for last year closed with a surplus of 9.7 million euro. This, he said, "represents the most significant value of the last eight years."
The financials of the Holy See have been slowly improving over the last four years. In 2004 the budget closed with a surplus of 3.08 million euro, which was the first surplus in three years. In 2003 the Holy See was in the red by 9.6 million euro.
The budget surplus comes as the Holy See continues to expand its spiritual support for the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics. The Vatican diplomatic service, in particular, has continued to expand its presence throughout the developing world.
In terms of the institutional activity of the Holy See (Secretariat of State, congregations, councils, tribunals, the Synod of Bishops and various other offices), the president indicated that the sector closed the year with a deficit of 36.9 million euro, an increase with respect to 2004, which had closed with a deficit of 23.2 million euro.
Sebastiani said that the costs associated with the funeral of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI contained within the portion of the report concerning “other income and expenses,” closed with a negative result of seven million euro. Nonetheless, the cost of the transition in pontificates was expected to have a greater effect than it did on the financials in general.
A large reason for the surplus, Sebastiani said, was the improvement of the situation of the financial markets which occurred in the course of 2005. A net positive fluctuation of 21.7 million euro was registered in 2005 while a net loss of roughly 11 million euro occurred in 2004 due to fluctuations in the rates of exchange." For its part, the real estate sector closed with a surplus of 22.2 million euro, slightly down on last year's closing figure of 24.9 million euro.
The activity of the media institutions connected with the Holy See (Vatican Radio, the Vatican Printing Office, L'Osservatore Romano newspaper, the Vatican Publishing House and the Vatican Television Center), closed with a deficit of 11.8 million euro, "substantially due to the negative results of Vatican Radio (about 23.5 million euro) and of L'Osservatore Romano (4.6 million euro)," said Cardinal Sebastiani. Nonetheless, "the Vatican Printing Office closed its financial statement with a surplus of 653,000 euro, and the Vatican Television Center closed with a profit of 650,000 euro. ... The Vatican Publishing House also closed its 2005 financial statement with a surplus of 934,000 euro and with a rise of 3.8 million euro in the volume of the activity." In this context, the cardinal recalled how the Vatican Publishing House has been entrusted with the exercise and the guardianship of the copyright of "all the documents by means of which the Supreme Pontiff exercises his teaching."
The cardinal also said that offers from the faithful to Peter's Pence, the fund which goes directly to the Holy Father's works of evangelical solidarity, came to 46,741,000 euro in the year 2005, an increase of 14.95 percent with respect to 2004.
Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Jul 12, 2006 (CNA) - The Catholic Church is investigating reports of a miracle at a Scottish hospital. Catholics are claiming that the intercession of a deceased nun helped a premature baby to live after doctors gave up hope for the infant’s survival, according to The Scotsman.
The relic of Venerable Margaret Sinclair, a former Edinburgh factory worker and committed trade unionist, was placed in the incubator of the infant, who weighed just one pound when born.
The baby’s family was given permission by medical staff to open the sterile incubator and place the relic next to the infant after they were told there was no hope of survival. The baby is now four months old and is said to be doing well.
Doctors and nursing staff will now be asked to give detailed medical statements to Church officials as part of the investigation.
"Pope John Paul II told me when we were discussing the cause of Margaret Sinclair to ask the people to pray for a miracle and this has been happening,” said Edinburgh Archbishop, Cardinal Keith O'Brien regarding the claims of a miracle.
"Although it is exciting news we must tread cautiously,” he reportedly said, adding that investigations must be conducted before miracles can be declared genuine. Previous miracle claims have not passed the investigation stage.
If this event proves to be a miracle, it would lead to Sr. Margaret’s beatification for which a campaign has been mounting in Scotland in recent years.
Sr. Margaret died in 1925. Pope Paul VI declared her a Servant of God in February 1978.
Sydney, Australia, Jul 12, 2006 (CNA) - The Australian government has earmarked $116 million to combat pornography in the country. Communications Minister Helen Coonan announced that every Australian family would be offered free Internet filtering software to block X-rated sites and offensive words. She expects that 2.5 million families will take advantage of the offer. Public library terminals will also be blocked.
Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, commended the government for its anti-pornography program. In a cardinal-archbishop’s regular column in the Sunday Telegraph, he said public awareness about the problem of pornography must continue to grow, as it is “the worst fruit of free-market capitalism.”
Particular concern has been expressed about the accessibility of pornography to children. A 2003 report by the Australia Institute indicates that more than four out of five boys and three out of five girls using the Internet had experienced unwanted exposure to sexual material.
In his column, Cardinal Pell addressed the growing social problem of sexual addiction, which can take its form in promiscuity, multiple affairs, exhibitionism, voyeurism, compulsive masturbation, as well as rape and sexual abuse of children. Pornography, particularly that which is available on the Internet, he said, feeds this addiction.
Citing American psychologist Patrick Carnes, he said about 8 percent of men and 3 percent of women become sexually addicted at some stage in their lives.
According to research cited by the cardinal, 40 percent of the adult male population in the U.K. (9 million) logged onto sex websites last year, four times as many as in 2000; 1.4 million women downloaded Internet porn in that time, representing an increase of 30 percent. At least 40 percent of couples with marital difficulties say Internet pornography is partly to blame. As well, Sydney lists among cities with the highest users in the world of pornographic material.
Valencia, Fla., Jul 12, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal William Levada has recommended that families turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a "unique help" in discovering the beauty of the faith and to vocation of families.
The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was speaking to participants at the Theological-Pastoral Congress, held in the context of the 5th World Meeting of Families, which ended Sunday.
The Catechism, and the recently published Compendium which summarizes it, "can help families and each one of us to discover the beauty of the Catholic faith and to live it joyfully, to transmit it to the new generations," he said.
The cardinal recalled that John Paul II highlighted the importance of the new Catechism as an "instrument of renewal and unity in the Church."
He also lamented the recent efforts in some nations to change laws that, for millennia, “have recognized God's plan for marriage and the family.”
Cardinal Levada concluded his comments by underlining the importance of the Catechism within the family, stating that, "it could be a highly useful tool in the realization of [the family’s] vocation and mission."
La Paz, Bolivia, Jul 12, 2006 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santa Cruz, Cardinal Julio Terrazas Sandova, called on Bolivians this week to defend the right to practice their faith and he reminded President Evo Morales of the difference between a lay State and a secular State that is hostile to religions.
The cardinal’s statements came in response to comments by the country’s Education Minister, Felix Patzi, who said recently he wanted to end the “monopoly” of the Catholic faith in schools and permit the teaching of all faiths, “from oriental religions to those practiced by our native peoples.”
Cardinal Terrazas said the Church would defend, “the universal right to profess a religion. This is unrenounceable and non-negotiable. This is the basis for helping to form a family that is much more united in the cause of the kingdom of justice and peace and to build a country that is not in constant turmoil.”
Bishop Jesus Juarez of El Alto told reporters the government was engaging in “double-speak” with its educational policies. Patzi recently called the Church “colonial” and announced that religion classes in schools would no longer be obligatory. Days later, President Morales contradicted his Education Minister and said religion courses would not be eliminated from public schools after all.
The national secretary of the Bishops’ Committee on Education, Eduardo Gonzales, said the Church does not pretend to be the only religion. He noted that a recent educational congress organized by the Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia affirmed that, “in virtue of religious freedom that is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the [Bolivian] Constitution, parents and teachers have the right to seek a religious education according to their conscience and religious beliefs, and public officials have the duty to guarantee the exercise of man’s inalienable rights, including religious freedom.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 12, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Domingo Castagna of Corrientes exhorted the faithful this week to intensify their evangelistic action in response to laws that are contrary to the faith, telling them that, “a parliamentary decision cannot transform error into truth,” and that, “what is legal is not always morally permissible.”
“As far as we know,” the archbishop said, “there is a majority of national representatives willing to vote in favor of the controversial law on tubal ligations and vasectomies.” While many of them claim to be Catholic, he noted, they, “turn their backs on the unmistakable teachings of the Church,” regarding the defense of life. “What is happening? Is this a legitimate progress or are they simply and obstinately betraying the faith they claim to profess?” the archbishop asked.
He explained that, “in response to laws contrary to the faith, the Church should intensify her evangelistic action, without vain meddling in politics, until Catholic and Christian believers, who are the majority in Argentina, make evident the practical uselessness of such laws.”
Manila, Philippines, Jul 12, 2006 (CNA) - In a statement released at the conclusion of their general assembly, the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines expressed its opposition to calls to impeach President Gloria Arroyo for alleged voter fraud during the 2004 elections.
Read by the Conference president, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Jaro, the statement warned that while the bishops respected, “the position of individuals or groups that wish to continue using the impeachment process to arrive at the truth," the mind-set of both sides must be guided only by genuine concern for the common good. The impeachment process would only, “serve as an unproductive political exercise, dismaying every citizen and deepening citizens' negative perception of politicians, left, right and center,” they said.
The bishops also urged reform of the fraud-tainted Commission on Elections, saying that calls for, "resignation or even prosecution of a number of the commissioners should not be lightly brushed aside. The electoral process, including counting of votes, needs to be reformed and modernized before the next elections."
Washington D.C., Jul 12, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the erratic, retired Zambian archbishop who joined the Rev. Moon cult in 2001 appeared in Washington, D.C. today and has revealed that he is reestablishing contact with the Korean acupuncturist who he illicitly wedded in a ceremony of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon sect.
“Maria,” Milingo said, “is still my wife and will remain so until death.”
Milingo, who spoke at the National Press Club at the invitation of excommunicated Catholic priest and self-proclaimed Archbishop George Augustus Stallings Jr, said that he had reestablished contact with the Rev. Moon a month ago.
Milingo claims that his goal now, by his public reemergence and reaffirmation of his marriage to a woman through the sect, is to make a stand to awaken awareness for the need of the Catholic Church to allow married clergy. "I feel it is time for the church to reconcile with married priests," Milingo said.
The news service Adnkronos has reported that Milingo’s decision to leave his Italian home and return to the spotlight may be due to recent changes at the Vatican which may have prevented him the freedom to journey to his native Africa.
The Vatican official who was successful in bringing about Milingo’s repentance, renunciation of his “marriage,” and return to the Church in 2001 was Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Last week, Pope Benedict XVI promoted Bertone to the role of Secretary of State.
Adnkronos reports that according to a letter from Milingo’s lawyer, Emanuela Comerio, Milingo wants to return to Africa and may think his chances of doing so would disappear under Bertone. “In September,” she said, “Cardinal Bertone will take over for Sodano and its evident that Milingo must think that the change would influence his liberty in the sense that with Bertone he would surely have had little liberty of movement, including to foreign countries.”
The lawyer, however, did not deny the possibility that Milingo desires to return to Africa to rejoin the Moon sect.
Milingo, whose emotional stability has been in the spotlight since his ascent to the episcopacy, served as Archbishop of the diocese of Lusaka through the 70’s and early 80’s and became well known for his charismatic healing services. He retired as Archbishop of Lusaka at the age of 53. He turned 76 earlier this month.