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Archive of July 13, 2006

Vatican issues statement on Milingo reappearance

Vatican City, Jul 13, 2006 (CNA) - At midday today, in Rome, the Holy See released a brief statement regarding the reappearance of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo in Washington, D. C. yesterday.

The Holy See said that it has not yet received, “precise information concerning the aim of the journey to the United States of America by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo.”
 
"In any case,” the statement continued, “if the declarations attributed to him concerning ecclesiastical celibacy were to prove authentic, the only thing to do would be to deplore them, Church discipline on this matter being well known."

CNA reported last night that Milingo, the erratic, retired Zambian archbishop who drew massive attention in 2001 has appeared in Washington, D.C. and reportedly 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,” the Milingo said, “is still my wife and will remain so until death.”
 
Milingo was speaking at the National Press Club at the invitation of excommunicated Catholic priest and self-proclaimed Archbishop George Augustus Stallings Jr.  According to the New York Times, Stallings was accused of sexual misconduct with a man in his parish in 1989 and was to be sent for treatment by the Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal James Hickey.  Stallings refused his treatment and began his own church, the Imani Temple, of which he appointed himself Archbishop.  Since that time Stallings has sought to expand his church by embracing priests who have renounced their ordination promises and sought illicit marriages.

According to the Washington Times, the Stallings event at which Milingo was speaking, was to announce Milingo’s newly formed “ministry” to persuade the Roman Catholic Church to allow priests to marry.

Milingo claims that his goal, apparently by means of public reemergence in disobedience to Rome and reaffirmation of his sectarian marriage, is to make a stand to awaken awareness in the Catholic Church for the need to bring married priests back into the ministry.  "I feel it is time for the church to reconcile with married priests," Milingo said.

The report said that Milingo was surrounded by several married former priests, and disguised his attack on the ancient discipline of the Catholic Church with words of reconciliation. "To our beloved mother church, we beseech you to open your arms to these prodigal children who have longed to return home and have so much to offer," he said. "There is no more important healing than the reconciliation of 150,000 married priests."

Milingo’s words yesterday are contrary to those he spoke in 2001 when he admitted that his marriage was not recognized by the Church, "and out of respect and love for the Holy Father," he "honored the pontiff's request to return to his healing ministry in Rome.”

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. 
 
Milingo, who’s 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.  

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Cardinal urges Senate to support bills on stem-cell research

Washington D.C., Jul 13, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal William Keeler has urged the U.S. Senate to support two out of three bills related to stem cell research, which he says respect both science and ethics. The cardinal also announced opposition to the third bill, which would force taxpayers to support the destruction of early human life.

In a letter to the Senate, Cardinal Keeler expressed support for S. 2754, the Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act, and S. 3504, the Fetus Farming Prohibition Act. He called on the Senate to reject H.R. 810, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, “in the name of sound ethics and responsible science.”

The Senate is expected to vote on all three bills during the week of July 17.

The Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act would fund efforts to derive and study cells which have the capabilities of embryonic stem cells but which are not obtained by destroying human embryos.

“Many studies suggest that stem cells from adult tissues and umbilical cord blood already have the versatility once thought to exist only in embryonic cells, or may acquire this versatility by various forms of ‘reprogramming’,” wrote Cardinal Keeler, who is Archbishop of Baltimore and Chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities.

The Fetus Farming Prohibition Act amends current federal law against abuses in the area of fetal tissue research. It would prevent the use of human fetal tissue obtained by growing human embryos in a human or animal uterus in order to provide such tissue. Some state laws, including one in New Jersey, could allow such “fetus farming” to harvest human body parts.

The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, however, violates a decades-long policy against forcing taxpayers to support the destruction of early human life, Cardinal Keeler said.  “Federal funds would promote research using ‘new’ embryonic stem cell lines, encouraging researchers to destroy countless human embryos to provide more cell lines and qualify for federal grants,” the Cardinal said. “However, no alleged future ‘promise’ can justify promoting the destruction of innocent human life here and now, whatever its age or condition.”

According to the Washington Post, the Senate is expected to pass the later bill. But, President George Bush has promised to veto the measure and neither chamber of Congress has displayed the two-thirds majority needed to override it.

Bush reportedly supports stem-cell science but only if it advances without crossing moral and ethical lines.

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Catholic Mobile launches new wireless content service

Denver, Colo., Jul 13, 2006 (CNA) - Denver based media company, Catholic Mobile announced today the launch of its innovative wireless content delivery service.  With this public launch, Catholic Mobile along with its service in Spanish, Móvil Católico, plans on to becoming the leader in the development and distribution of wireless Catholic based content in North and South America.

“We feel that Catholic Mobile is a tool that will enhance the mobile experience for users of our service,” said Catholic Mobile spokesman Alejandro Bermudez. 

From their website <http://www.catholicmobile.com/>, Catholic Mobile provides families and individuals with inspiring Catholic content that will enrich their daily wireless experiences. Catholic Mobile users can receive messages by subscribing or selecting from a range of services anytime, anywhere, from their cell phones, PDA’s or smart phones. Using a text messaging service (SMS or Short Message System), daily prayers, the saint of the day, or daily scripture readings will be sent directly to the individual’s cell phone or mobile device.  Users will also be able to personalize their phones by downloading Catholic wallpapers and ring tones.

 “The Catholic community looks for new ways to remain centered on God and our Catholic faith as well as to bring the message of peace and hope to as many people as possible,” stated Alan Napleton, President of The Missionaries of Faith Foundation (MOFF).

Catholic Mobile and Móvil Católico will launch their new mobile content solution by offering the service to users in the United States, Canada, Argentina and Mexico.  Catholic Mobile plans to make their service available to users in Brazil, Spain, and Australia by early 2007.

Catholic Mobile is a partnership between Denver, Colorado based JP2 Media and The Missionaries of Faith Foundation (MOFF), headquartered in San Diego, California. JP2 Media is a company that specializes in developing and distributing Catholic based content, information and news. JP2 Media delivers Catholic content in English, Spanish and Portuguese. The Missionaries of Faith Foundation is aimed at promoting the Catholic faith by several means. Currently it is involved in Catholic initiatives that are Internet and wireless oriented, including the distribution of Vatican artwork in the Americas. 

For more information see Catholic Mobile's website http://www.catholicmobile.com/

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Vatican: Threats to human dignity are threats to peace

Vatican City, Jul 13, 2006 (CNA) - In a brief communiqué, made public today, the Vatican announced the theme of the 40th World Day of Peace, due to be celebrated on January 1, 2007: "The Human Person: Heart of Peace." The statement says that due to the “transcendent dignity” of each human person world peace is, “in danger when human dignity is not respected and when social coexistence does nor seek the common good.”
 
This theme for reflection, chosen by the Holy Father, "expresses the conviction that respect for the dignity of the human person is an essential condition for peace within the human family," says the statement. "Only through an awareness of the transcendent dignity of each man and woman can the human family follow the path that leads to peace and to communion with God."
 
The communiqué continues: "Today, perhaps more persuasively and with more effective means than in the past, human dignity is threatened by aberrant ideologies, assailed by the misguided use of science and technology, and contradicted by widespread incongruent lifestyles. Indeed, ideologies that find their inspiration in nihilism or fanaticism (material or religious) seek to deny or to impose supposed truths upon reality, upon man and upon God."
 
The note highlights the fact that, "often science and technology (especially biomedicine), rather than serving the common good of humanity, are instrumental in serving an egotistical vision of progress and well-being. Moreover, propaganda and the growing acceptance of disordered lifestyles contrary to human dignity are weakening the hearts and minds of people to the point of extinguishing the desire for ordered and peaceful coexistence. All this represents a threat to humanity, because peace is in danger when human dignity is not respected and when social coexistence does nor seek the common good.
 
"The Church," the statement adds, "has the mission of announcing the Gospel of Life, the central position of mankind in the universe and God's love for humanity. Therefore, to the challenges of the present time, the Church responds with a Christian anthropology based on the three pillars of human dignity, sociality and activity in the world, oriented in accordance with the order stamped by God on the universe, and with a view to an integral and solidary humanism that tends towards the development of all of man and of all men."
 
The communiqué concludes by affirming that "any offence to the person is a threat to peace; any threat to peace is an offence to the truth of the person: 'The human person is the heart of peace'."

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Bishops denounce increased militarization and violence in Venezuela

Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 13, 2006 (CNA) - The Bishops Conference of Venezuela has denounced the increasing militarization of the country, led by President Hugo Chavez, as well as the growing violence and exclusion of the poor from the benefits of oil profits.

“Venezuela is watching with shock and moral outrage the promotion of a warlike climate and the militarization of society, among other things, through the creation of civil militias,” the bishops said in a statement released at the conclusion of their general assembly.

The bishops warned that the militarization of the country, an excess of weapons, police misconduct, and impunity have created an atmosphere of fear and anxiety in the country and, “neutralizes the capacity of legitimate protest.”  Consequently, they called for a “frontal assault” on these problems as well as a “healthy purging” of the military and police forces.

The bishops also denounced some media outlets for contributing, “to the glorification of these violent attitudes by broadcasting violent content and images.”  Sadly, they noted, Venezuelans are becoming accustomed to a culture and way of thinking in which death seems to win the battle every day against living together in peace.”

The bishops went on to criticize the country’s oil industry for not allowing the poor to benefit from oil profits through, “decent and stable employment, adequate salaries for sustaining a family and a social security program that is universal, just, and effective.”

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Bishop Skylstad says while parish property is safe, assistance may be requested

Spokane, Wash., Jul 13, 2006 (CNA) - In an ongoing commitment to settle with victims of sexual abuse by priests, Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane told church members in a letter that the diocese is able to raise up to $35 million for the settlement. If this amount is not enough, he may ask parishioners for donations.

The bishop’s letter was published last week in the diocesan newspaper, the Inland Register. In it, the bishop explained that the diocese will have just over $20 million from its insurance carriers and about $8 million in assets, much of it in real estate that can be sold.

The bishop underlined that this real estate does not include parish churches. On June 15, Judge Justin Quackenbush ruled that a bishop does not own parish property but rather holds them in trust. In sum, the ruling states that parish property does not qualify as diocesan assets and it cannot be sold by the bishop to cover diocesan expenses.

“Judge Quackenbush’s ruling was not only helpful to us, but also sends a good message to the whole country as to how we look at parish property in the Catholic Church,” Bishop Skylstad wrote.

The bishop also estimated that $7 million could be raised from other Catholic groups.

At that point, diocesan resources will be exhausted, the bishop said.

“If any additional monies are needed for the final settlement, I will have to ask for the financial support of the parishioners,” he stated. “At this point in time, that amount is unknown, although there is certainly a limit to what parishes can contribute to a feasible final plan.”

Bishop Skylstad reiterated that his primary concern remains the victims. "They have been hurt. Trust has been broken. Healing and reconciliation are crucial considerations. As we travel this very expensive journey, I hope no one in our diocese will blame the victims.”

“To the very best of our ability, we must make sure that sexual abuse will never occur again. Already in place are codes of conduct, safe-environment training, and protocols for handling abuse when it occurs. This is no small matter,” he continued. “As we make certain that ministry occurs in within the context of a safe environment, the demands on ministers and volunteers are considerable.”

He also urged the faithful, “to take the high road in relationships and in conversation that is respectful and humble.”

Lawyers for the diocese and the victims participated in one day of settlement talks Friday, in Reno, Nev., and more talks are scheduled for the week of Aug. 21, in Spokane, reported the Associated Press. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams reportedly told participants not to disclose the content of the talks.

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British bishops order review of child-protection measures

London, England, Jul 13, 2006 (CNA) - The bishops of England and Wales have commissioned a review of the progress made by the local Church in the protection of children and vulnerable adults from abuse.

The Cumberlege Commission, chaired by Baroness Cumberlege, will conduct an independent review of the measures taken since the Nolan Report, published in 2001. It will also review the steps taken by the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults, which has been the principal mechanism for the implementation of Nolan.

In 2000, Lord Nolan headed a commission to suggest ways in which the Catholic Church in England and Wales could prevent and respond to child abuse.

“The bishops and religious orders accepted in full Nolan’s recommendations in his final report,” said Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor in a statement.

“Since then great efforts have been made, throughout the dioceses of England and Wales, the religious congregations and through the … [Catholic Office for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults], to move swiftly towards the goal of ensuring that the Church becomes the safest place for children and vulnerable adults,” he continued.

The Cumberlege Commission will recommend changes in current policy and mechanisms for implementing those changes. The commission’s findings are expected to be published in the spring of 2007.

Lord Nolan’s “A Programme for Action” sets out 83 recommendations, which can be viewed on the commission’s website at http://www.cumberlegecommission.org.uk  Institutions and organizations will be invited to submit their views about the implementation of Lord Nolan’s recommendations on the website.

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Spanish diocese founds first new diocesan seminary in 100 years

Madrid, Spain, Jul 13, 2006 (CNA) - The Diocese of Terrasa in northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia is set to open a new major seminary, the first to be founded in that area in the last 100 years.

The Spanish daily La Razon reported that the young diocese, which was erected only two years ago, has seen a boom in vocations, in contrast with other dioceses of Catalonia where numerous seminaries have been closed.

Bishop Josep Angel Saiz Meneses of Terrasa, who is also in charge of Youth Ministry for the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, said this week, “The importance of opening a seminary at this time is extraordinary, and it will surely lead to an increase in vocations.”  He said the seminary would be fully operational in September, with 20 students beginning their studies.

The Spanish prelate emphasized that, “although these are difficult times because of the secularism we are experiencing, we trust that the Lord will bless us with many more vocations.”

The new seminary will be located at the old monastery of the St. John monks of Terrasa, who donated the buildings to the diocese and moved to the nearby town of Alava.  “It has been somewhat providential because we are staking a good portion of our future in this seminary,” said Bishop Meneses.

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Six thousand projects receive help from Aid to the Church in Need in 2005

Konigstein, Germany, Jul 13, 2006 (CNA) - Aid to the Church in Need has released its annual report, which indicates that in 2005 some 1,900 projects in 145 countries received help from the association.

According to the Fides news agency, ACN received $93 million in donations in 2005, mainly from benefactors in France, Germany and Spain.

Most of the projects that received assistance from ACN were building projects (28.8%), followed by pastoral projects such as financing for religious instruction (21.6%) or for seminary training (21.4%).

Mass stipends for helping maintain priests in poor areas represented 13.8% of the assistance, and projects aimed at the distribution of Sacred Scripture represented 5.6%.  4.4% of the recourses went to providing automobiles for pastoral work, 3.8% to Catholic media apostolates, and 2.9% to numerous women’s religious communities.

The report highlighted the assistance provided to the Ukraine for the major seminary in Lviv and the aid given to the Catholic Church in Russia for pastoral work.

In Africa, the countries that received the most assistance were the Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria. In Latin America, Cuba and Haiti received the most aid, while in Asia, the persecuted Church in China received much assistance, as well as areas affected by the 2004 tsunami.

For more information on Aid to the Church in Need see their website at: www.kirche-in-not.org

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Despite overwhelming odds, Catholic faith in Pakistan remains strong, says Bishop

Boston, Mass., Jul 13, 2006 (CNA) - Recently, Pakistan’s Bishop Anthony Lobo, head of Diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi was in Boston to share a message of hope with local parishioners and Catholic officials.

In one of a series of talks given around the Archdiocese of Boston, Bishop Lobo spoke to listeners at Revere’s Immaculate Conception parish about the extreme marginalization of Christians--particularly Catholics--in his home country, and why there is cause for hope.

Only 2 percent of Pakistan is Christian, making for a difficult environment. Of that, only about half are Catholic. Another 2 percent is Hindu, making the remaining 96 percent strongly Muslim.

According to the Pilot, the Archdiocese of Boston’s newspaper, Bishop Lobo stressed that “Christians are marginalized in our society.” In his own diocese, which includes the country’s volatile Kashmir region, he said “the general attitude was not very friendly toward Christians.”

Because Christianity is a predominantly western religion, the bishop said, the Church bears the stigma of “belonging to the west.”

“We are the scapegoats”, he said, “for all the offences committed by the West.” He pointed specifically to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after 9-11 when Al-Queda charged its members to kill two Christians for every Muslim killed in the invasion.  

There are signs of hope however. Following 2005’s devastating earthquake in the region, the Catholic Church was one of the first to respond. Because of the generosity of the Church throughout the world and the swift action of his own diocese in its response, attitudes are beginning to change.

According to the Pilot, Bishop Lobo also pointed to other steps being made which should give Christians cause for hope.

In 1972, all schools in Pakistan were nationalized, meaning Christian schools had to close their doors. That began to change in 1992 and now, the bishop says, nearly all schools which were forced to close have re-opened.

Likewise, pressure from the Church recently helped defeat a bill in Pakistan’s parliament which would have imposed Sharia, or Islamic law on the country.

The nation’s first Catholic University is even set to open in fall of 2007.

The Pilot pointed out that Bishop Lobo has been a strong defender of families and advocate for the priesthood in his diocese. He recently founded a seminary in the country and said that “the happiest time in my life is when I am teaching those young men.”

Following his trip to Boston at the end of June, Bishop Lobo traveled to Valencia, Spain to attend the recent World Meeting for Families.

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