Archive of July 18, 2006

Religious brother details tension in Lebanon

Rome, Italy, Jul 18, 2006 (CNA) - In e-mails sent to his family members and community, Marist Brother Jose Maria Romero has detailed the growing tension Christians are experiencing in Lebanon amidst the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

Brother Jose Maria was able to make it to the Champville School, operated by the Marist Brothers in Beirut, in order to send a message to his family members and community, who then passed the message on to CNA.

“First let me tell you we are safe and calm and are staying in a house we have in mountains, where we are out of danger.  Today I came down to the Champville School, where I am writing you this message to ease your concern, despite the fact that the situation here continues to be worrisome,” he said.

“In order understand what is happening,” Brother Jose Maria explained, “you need to keep in mind that Lebanon is a country governed in a unique way.  In recent years, the Hezbollah party, which was created to fight against Israel, had permission to arm itself: a distinct army within a nation.  This party has declared war on Israel on its own, without the consent (or the opposition) of the central government.  As a consequence, we have these bombings which you are seeing on television.”

“The situation is serious, as the highways have been cut off and you cannot enter or leave the country.  But Israel is distinguishing between Hezbollah and everyone else, attacking only the areas where they are large numbers of Muslims.  We are in the center of the country, where many Christians live and so far Israel has not attacked here.  But the highways and airports have been cut off so that Muslims cannot have contact with Syria, which is protecting them,” he went on.

“There are many other details I can’t tell you about now, but I think this will help you understand that the situation is grave. But, neither we nor our schools, which are located in the Christian region, are in any danger right now.  I say right now, because with each passing the day things change and become more complicated,” he warned.

“Please send this message to all who might be interested,” Brother Jose Maria said in closing.

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Catholic relief agency calls for negotiations, majority of Palestinians agree

Rome, Italy, Jul 18, 2006 (CNA) - As Catholic relief agency Caritas Internationalis released a statement calling for peace negotiations in the Middle East, a new poll was released indicating more than 65 percent of Palestinians favor of resuming peace negotiations with Israel.

In a statement based on the social teaching of the Church, and in line with International Humanitarian Law, Caritas has called for “an end to all violence, and the beginning of constructive negotiations geared towards long-term solutions.” Caritas Internationalis is a Vatican-based federation of national Catholic relief and development agencies worldwide.

"Indiscriminate bombings and hostage taking are against all moral and humanitarian laws and principles,” says the statement, reissued to the public again yesterday by Caritas Jerusalem.

"Caritas believes that a just peace is possible in the Middle East, and urges the international community and political leaders to uphold international law and help the people of Israel, of Palestine, and of Lebanon to step back from the brink of full-scale war," the statement reads.

In the meantime, a poll conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Public Opinion, indicates that a majority of Palestinians are in favor of finding a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Of those polled, 96 percent favor solving the problem of the Israeli detainees in return for some advantages, and 47 percent favor the release of the soldiers in return for the release of Palestinian women and children detained in the Israeli prisons. Forty-nine percent of Palestinians think the current embargo in the Territories "might be removed by establishing a national united government"; 25 percent believe Israel must be recognized.

While the poll demonstrated that most Palestinians trust President Abu Mazen, most Palestinians (77 percent) said they are concerned about the future of their families.

The survey included a sample of 1,050 adult Palestinians residents in Gaza, East Jerusalem and Cisjordan. 

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Martino calls on UN to act in the Middle East

Rome, Italy, Jul 18, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, strongly urged the United Nations to get involved in settling the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

The Cardinal told Vatican Radio yesterday that greater international involvement on the part of the international community would help the world not to loose hope that a peaceful solution can be found.

“Today we must recall the United Nation’s sense of mission…to maintain peace and stability in every possible way.”

“No conflict can be considered at just a local level,” the cardinal said, “due to the implications it has on human order, political and economic.  This is why its important for our world to be conscious of these and to work harder to help our brothers in the middle east for a common of destiny of peace.”

Father Justo Lacunza, Director of the Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies, also called on the international community to action, especially against terrorist forces in the middle east.

“I think the international community has perhaps to do less talking and more acting,” Fr. Lacunza said of the terrorism problem, “I think too much and too many of the problems of the middle east are left in the hands of politicians.”

“The acts of terrorism undermine relations between states, between nations, between peoples.  Terrorism is the plague of our modern age - particularly when it is performed in the name of religion.”  

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US Catholic clergy encouraged by bishops’ liturgy decisions

Washington D.C., Jul 18, 2006 (CNA) - North American priests and deacons, who are members of the Confraternity of the Catholic Clergy, passed a resolution at their annual convocation last week expressing their support for the recent recommendations of the U.S. bishops to more accurately and faithfully translate the mass from the Latin text into English. The clergy asked, “for a complete and consistent correction of all errors and deletions in the Roman Missal.”

“Rather than a partial repair, we, as daily celebrants of the Divine and Sacred Liturgy, see the need for a complete restoration of sacred language and precise translations, based on the axiom lex orandi, lex credendi,” the resolution reads.

“We are particularly concerned for sacrosanct vocabulary such as ‘consubstantial’ defined by the Council of Nicea in 325 … and other areas the literal Latin expresses more reverence and clarity than the current translations.”

The clergy association, which numbers nearly 700 members throughout the United States and Canada, held its 30th annual convocation in Washington, from July 10 to 14. Among the list of speakers were Senator Rick Santorum and Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Harrisburg.

However, the President of the Confraternity, Father John Trigilio said that “the zenith of the week,” was a meeting with Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, and Archbishop Donald Wuerl, newly installed Archbishop of Washington.  The meeting with the two archbishops included the praying of Vespers and a Benediction followed by dinner.  Fr. Trigilio told CNA that the archbishops spoke to the group and encouraged them to, “continue fostering ongoing spiritual, theological, pastoral, and human formation among the clergy in a spirit and climate of sacerdotal fraternity.”

The 700-member organization began in 1975 as a response to the call of the Second Vatican Council to foster associations among the ordained to support each other in service to the Church.

The CCC’s annual gathering includes a week of intellectual discussion, lectures from expert speakers, common prayer and time for fraternity. Local monthly chapter meetings are held around the country. The group also publishes a quarterly journal, SAPIENTIA.

The clergy’s other resolutions expressed their appreciation to Pope Benedict XVI for his participation at the 5th World Meeting for Families in Spain, “where he vigorously reaffirmed traditional values such as sacramental marriage and the intrinsic sanctity of family life.”

They urged all fellow clergy to encourage their people to fully support those in public office who defend the sanctity of life and marriage and to educate parents about the threats to children present on the Internet and through cell phone technology.

The clergy also expressed their deep concern for the long-term harm being done to women, who are unaware of all the consequences and effects of abortion. Finally, they renewed their filial devotion and love to the Blessed Mother, consecrating their ministry to her Immaculate Heart.

Fr. Trigilio said that due, in large part, to the presence of the Archbishops Sambi and Wuerl that this was the most memorable convocation in his 26 years of affiliation with the Confraternity.

Next year’s convocation of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy is being planned for St. Louis, Missouri.  Fr. Trigilio said that plans are being considered for a possible joint meeting in Rome in the coming years with the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.

To learn more about the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy visit their website at:

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Pope working on book and encyclical during vacation

Valle d'Aosta, Italy, Jul 18, 2006 (CNA) - According to several Vatican sources who are following the trip of the Pope to the region of Les Combes, in the northern Alps of Italy, the Pope is working on a book considering the theology of the person of Christ as well as a future encyclical on the importance of human labor.
Last Sunday the Vatican Television Center released a few images of the Pope’s activities in these days, including a moment of study in the Salesian residence in Les Combes.

According to Salvatore Mazza, special correspondent for the Italian daily Avvenire, “It seems that, among other things, he has in his hands the book which he was writing before being elected to succeed John Paul II...a theological text.”

The book, according to other sources close to the Vatican, will consider Christ and his relation to the human race, as well as the relationship between Christianity and the other world religions.

Another work that may be occupying the Pontiff’s time prior his trip to Germany in September, is a new social encyclical centered on the value of human work.

The previously noted sources speculate that the work may take the name, “Labor Domini,” or, “The Work of the Lord.”  The encyclical is to speak about a Christian view of human labor, of the importance of work in society, and of work as a human necessity and duty.

According to the Bishop of Aosta, Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi, speaking with the Holy Father during his visit, has been extremely simple and it seems, the bishop said, as if that is his nature. “Also, he is totally attentive to everyone when speaking.”

The prelate related to Vatican Radio a story, “of a very personal nature:” “As soon as he got into the car for ride from the airport to the house, the first words that Pope XVI Benedict said to me were requesting news of my mother's health.  Frankly I didn’t expect so much attentiveness", Bishop Anfossi said.

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Bolivian archbishop decries “Communist” actions of the government

La Paz, Bolivia, Jul 18, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Tito Solari expressed his disappointment at the politicization of the recent National Congress on Education in which, “in a Communist fashion, the government imposed its ideology without any room for dialogue.”

Last Friday, the delegates who had remained at the Congress approved a new educational reform measure that would secularize the country’s schools.   Several delegations, including that of the Bolivian bishops, walked out the meeting complaining that government officials had politicized the event.

Auxiliary Bishop Estanislao Dowlaszewicz of Santa Cruz said, “Today some people live as if they were allergic to religion or the Church,” painting it as “a danger for the future of the country” and attempting to, “remove not only religion from the classroom, but God as well.”

During a commemoration of Bolivian independence, attended by President Evo Morales, Archbishop Edmundo Abastoflor of La Paz stated, “It is crazy to think that God doesn’t exist or that we can forget about Him.”  “No matter how important we might be in this world, there is someone who is more so than us,” he said.

Several days ago Bolivia’s Minister of Education, Felix Patzi, announced the government would end “the religious monopoly” of the Church.  In an interview with La Razon, Patzi said, “In Bolivia the people are not only Catholic, but also of other religious faiths.”  He claimed the issue was leading to confrontation among Bolivians, despite polls showing that 77% of the population says they are Catholic and 95% say they are Christians.  Patzi, a sociologist by profession, claims to practice a pre-Colombian religion that worships the earth goddess.

Local reporters explained that the measure would still have to be approved by Parliament.  However, Patzi, who had previously pledged to the country’s bishops that he would uphold religious instruction in schools, said the conclusions of the Congress were binding and would be implemented immediately.

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Nicaraguan bishop gave up NBA career to become priest

Managua, Nicaragua, Jul 18, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Jorge Solorzano of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, has revealed to a local newspaper that he gave up the chance to become an NBA star and instead chose to become a priest.

In an interview with “El Nuevo Diario,” Bishop Solorzano explained that when he was 20 years old and was preparing to enter the priesthood, he met with scouts who were impressed by his height - 6’4’’- and his basketball skills and offered him the chance to try his luck in NBA.

“When I was studying theology in Mexico, I was 18 years old.  At the seminary nobody played baseball so they trained me to play basketball,” the bishop said.  “Since we played against other seminaries and Mexican universities, some scouts from the NBA saw me and they offered me a chance to join that organization and that I would be paid millions.  I was 18 years old (in 1979), weighed 100 pounds less, and they saw how I made triple jumps and dunked the ball, and so they made me a proposal,” he said.

Bishop Solorzano recalled that he consulted then-Archbishop Miguel Obando, who told him, “Don’t give in to temptation.”  “So I rejected the offer to earn millions in the NBA and I stayed in the seminary.  I had my doubts, and the cardinal encouraged me to not give in to the temptation.”

The Nicaraguan bishop said he felt the call of God ever since he was a young child helping his father tend to their livestock and attending the local school.  As they lived in a rural area they were often without electricity, “not to mention television,” he added. “I feel it was a direct call from God and not from any kind of vocational campaign.  In the fields I felt almost as if I heard the voice of God say: ‘Do not tend the cows any longer, but rather tend my people,” he recalled.

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Federal Act to save Mt. Soledad Cross heads to debate

Washington D.C., Jul 18, 2006 (CNA) - An act that would protect a 29-ft hilltop cross from being removed from public view now heads to debate in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The purpose of the act is to provide for immediate federal acquisition of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial atop Mt. Soledad in San Diego, Calif., in order to prevent the court-ordered removal of the cross.

The Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Protection Act, H.R. 5683, is scheduled for debate July 19. The resolution is being sponsored by Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA).

The cross, which is the centerpiece of the war memorial, has stood atop Mt. Soledad since 1954. In 1989, a single atheist- plaintiff brought suit to remove the cross because he was offended by its sight.

That lawsuit resulted in a federal court order, mandating that the city of San Diego remove the cross by Aug. 1, 2006, or face fines of $5,000 per day thereafter. The Supreme Court stayed that order last week.

A petition drive is currently underway, calling upon President George Bush to federalize Mt. Soledad National War Memorial by incorporation in the National Park system. 

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Catholics in Colombia joining together to stop perverse sex event

Bogotá, Colombia, Jul 18, 2006 (CNA) - Various Colombian organizations are calling on government officials to intervene and prevent a massive “sexual exchange of partners” scheduled to take place in cities on the Caribbean coast of Colombia from October 13-16.

The event, which is being organized by a self-professed pedophile who calls himself “Jesus,” is being promoted on popular Colombian radio stations.

Catholic groups, which are opposed to the event on several levels, are urging people to send letters and e-mails of protests to hotels located on the Colombian coast and are urging government officials to stop the event on the basis that it could lead to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.

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