Konigstein, Germany, Jul 25, 2006 (CNA) - Today, the German-based Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, (ACN) described the number of families affected by the ongoing military clashes in Lebanon to be exceeding 100,000, most of them Christian.
ACN announced that, “While the number of casualties exceeds 300 dead and 900 wounded, many of the some 100,000 affected families are taking refuge in public and private schools as well as in convents and other Church buildings,”
“At present, canned food, milk for children, detergents, soap, and medication are the items most urgently needed”.
ACN has sent 25,000 dollars as an immediate response to an appeal launched by Issam Bishara, regional director of the Pontifical Mission.
Father Joaquín Alliende, ACN’s international ecclesiastical assistant, strongly appealed to Catholics world wide to “follow the call to prayer of the Holy Father for peace in the Middle East.”
Vatican City, Jul 25, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI, who is on vacation until July 28 in Les Combes in northern Italy, met privately on Tuesday with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Archbishop of Genoa and soon-to-be Vatican Secretary of State.
The meeting “did not focus on international political issues,” said Vatican sources, in an apparent response to speculation by some reporters that the Pope and his former collaborator at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith may have been discussing the appointment of a successor to Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo as the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States.
The same sources also hinted that the meeting touched upon two other issues: what actions to take regarding Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who recently announced his decision to join a new cult started by a renegade priest in Washington; and the creation of a special commission at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to look into the alleged Marian apparitions at Medjugorje, where the Virgin Mary supposedly began appearing to six young people on June 24, 1981.
Peoria, Ill., Jul 25, 2006 (CNA) - The process of canonization for Archbishop Fulton Sheen is advancing steadily. Copies of a report on an alleged miracle that took place in 1999 through the intercession of the Archbishop were signed Sunday by Roman Catholic Church officials and will be sent to the Vatican for review, reported The Journal Star.
The 500-page report and supporting documents will be delivered to Rome by canon lawyer Fr. Andrea Ambrosi, postulator of the cause. The cause was officially begun in 2003.
Archbishop Sheen was born in the Woodford County town of El Paso in 1895 and ordained in the Diocese of Peoria in 1909. He became widely known and respected as a teacher of the faith through his television programs in the 1950s and 1960s. He died in 1979.
The alleged miracle involves a Champaign woman, then 72 years old, who was undergoing lung surgery when a tear was discovered in her main pulmonary artery. The woman's husband told investigators he prayed for his wife's recovery invoking the archbishop. The woman is still alive and in good health.
Fr. Ambrosi has reportedly worked on hundreds of sainthood causes, including Pope John XXIII's. He said it is still very early in the process to have two claims of miracles. The Church still has to investigate how holy his life was.
Fr. Andrew Apostoli, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal in New York, is vice postulator of the cause. He said he knows of at least four other claims of miraculous intercession by the archbishop.
“Fulton Sheen is one the shining gems of the diocese [of Peoria],” said Msgr. Stewart Swetland, director of homiletics and pre-theology at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, at the signing Sunday.
“Sheen was a pioneer in the use of social means of communication and predated (the Second Vatican Council document) Inter Mirifica and was in some ways a forerunner for the work that Karol Wojtyla [later Pope John Paul II] was able to do in the vast social communications of his pontificate.”
Msgr. Swetland said the way Archbishop Sheen delivered the truths of the faith have an impact to this day. “I am constantly amazed that, even with the great increases in the sophistication of media technologies, so many still enjoy listening to or watching his recordings from the 1950s and 60s.”
Pope John Paul II recognized Archbishop Sheen’s contribution to evangelization through the media. Two months before his death, Pope John Paul II visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and embraced the archbishop, saying: "You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a loyal son of the Church.”
Denver, Colo., Jul 25, 2006 (CNA) - On Monday evening, St. Thomas More parish in the south Denver suburb of Centennial was packed with a standing room only crowd who came bearing their concerns over the nation’s growing immigration problem. Archbishop Charles Chaput was on hand to answer questions and reiterate his call for civility and compassion in the heated national debate.
The Archdiocese of Denver called the event a town hall meeting; the second so far in a series aimed at emphasizing “the importance of civil dialogue when discussing comprehensive immigration reform.”
According to the Denver Rocky Mountain News, tensions ran high as the largely Anglo audience expressed fears and concerns ranging from a perceived reluctance to learn English to the effect of immigration on local hospitals and schools.
The crowd also showed its support however, for several immigrant workers who spoke out at the forum.
Greeted by a large round of applause, one audience member said, "My parents came from Mexico…I'm no bum. I've worked since I was an infant. I went to Korea. There are good, hardworking Mexicans."
In an effort to quell fears and confusion, Archbishop Chaput encouraged legitimate debate on all levels. "I think we're all confused," the Archbishop said, encouraging one audience member to articulate her personal concerns to her Mexican friends.
The Archbishop--himself from Native American heritage--added that he believes fear and the 9-11 disaster largely enflamed the immigration problem, but assured, "I think we can manage it. My ancestors - I'm an American Indian - we can handle this; we're a big country."
Asked what the country’s Catholic bishops are doing about the situation in Mexico, where the vast bulk of the U.S.’s illegal immigrants come from, the Archbishop said that "Bishops are encouraging the government not to be corrupt and to create jobs.”
“They're not encouraging people to leave and come here,” he stressed, “and it's not sensible for you to think that they are."
The statewide Colorado Catholic Conference is organizing the forum series. Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs has held a number of similar forums in his own diocese while Pueblo’s Bishop Arthur Tafoya is planning events in that diocese.
, Jul 25, 2006 (CNA) - Charles Town, West Virginia, has a new city landmark — St. James Catholic Church — believed to be the largest Catholic church in the state.
Bishop Michael Bransfield of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston will preside at the dedication mass for the new church this evening.
About two years ago, parishioners decided it was high time their growing congregation, currently numbering 3,400, had a new home. The old church seats only 276 people and seven services had to be held on the weekends to accommodate everyone, reported the Charles Town Herald. The parish also has a growing Hispanic population.
The parish had bought 22 acres of land for a future church site in 1999, but plans for the new church were only concretized two years ago.
Parishioners held fundraisers, raising more than $3 million. This was enough to build the church. The complex is being completed in phases. The rectory and the parish school are next on the horizon. They will require about another $14.4 million combined.
Dedication ceremonies for the new church began Sunday. It included a nearly two-mile procession, from the old church to the new one, carrying altar items, statues and other sacred objects.
The new church is decorated with 100 stained-glass windows – including 13 stained-glass windows transferred from the old church — an altar made of Italian Botticino marble, and numerous statues carved by craftsmen in Peru. It also includes a digital organ with four keyboards.
The church is home to 85 ministries, including prayer groups, the Knights of Columbus and ministry to the sick. The old church will still be kept for various functions.
Seoul, South Korea, Jul 25, 2006 (CNA) - In a historic step on the road toward Christian unity, the World Methodist Conference adopted the Catholic-Lutheran joint declaration on justification July 23. The declaration had been previously approved by the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, called the signing in Seoul, South Korea, “historic” and “a gift of God.”
The agreement on justification, which explains how people are made just in the eyes of God and saved by Jesus Christ, "provides a basis for a more profound common witness before the world," the cardinal reportedly said at the signing.
Two representatives from each of the three church bodies signed the agreement.
Cardinal Kasper expressed his hope that the joint agreement would lead to a commitment to deepen common prayer; to continue theological dialogue, and to “an increase in joint witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Dialogue between the Methodist and Roman Catholic churches has been ongoing for more than four decades. A Methodist statement about the declaration was drafted and circulated among all member churches of the World Methodist Council for consultation and approval, and all responses were positive. On July 18, delegates to the World Methodist Conference voted unanimously to adopt the declaration.
The 1999 declaration said: "By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping us and calling us to good works."
The Methodists said the declaration "corresponds to Methodist doctrine.”
"The Methodist Movement," which grew out of the Anglican Church, "has always understood itself as deeply indebted to the biblical teaching on justification as it was understood by (Martin) Luther and the other reformers," the resolution said.
"But it has also always embraced elements of the doctrine of justification which belong to the Catholic tradition of the early church."
As a guest speaker, Methodist Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, said the signing was “a giant step to … overcoming Christian divisions.”
“Our world needs a church that bears witness to the Gospel in word and deed,” he added.
Brussels, Belgium, Jul 25, 2006 (CNA) - The European Union has decided that its six-year, $65-billion budget for scientific research and development will not directly fund embryonic stem-cell research.
Rather, EU science funds would be distributed to member nations, which would then decide if they wanted to fund embryonic stem-cell research in their own countries, reported LifeNews.com.
The compromise also says funding would only support research on existing embryonic stem cells or research conducted after the destruction of human life has taken place.
A coalition of nations, led by Germany, had been working to block funding for embryonic stem-cell research. However, Finland, which holds the EU presidency this year, proposed the compromise.
"We believe [this is] a constructive compromise. It takes into account the legal situation in every member state," said Slovenian minister Dusan Lesjak, according to the London Guardian.
Poland, Austria, Malta, Slovakia and Lithuania voted against the compromise, but Germany, Slovenia and Italy supported it. Britain, Portugal, Spain, Belgium and Sweden supported the initial proposal of supporting embryonic stem-cell research with EU tax dollars.
Funding for stem cell research is a small part of the EU science budget, which does not fund human cloning or the genetic modification of humans, reported LifeNews.com.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 25, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City said this week the Church is willing to help mediate the country’s post-election conflict if asked, but he emphasized, “There are many options in Mexico before this,” such as dialogue between all parties.
Speaking to reporters after Mass on Sunday, the cardinal said the Church’s participation in resolving the disputed results of the presidential election would not be immediate and that while the Church could act as an intermediary, “nobody has requested it and we are not walking around offering to do it.”
Cardinal Rivera said the Church’s position has been that the dispute should be resolved justly for the sake of peace in Mexico. The Church hopes “we remain united despite our differences, and above all that we all be concerned about Mexico and not about our own interests or parties. Mexico should be before and above anything else,” he stated.
The cardinal said that amidst the election dispute people should be allowed to protest, “as long as third parties are not affected or violence is not encouraged, as this would be unacceptable.”
Asked whether he would support a full recount, Cardinal Rivera said the Church “cannot get involved in these legal questions.”
Desde la Fe, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Mexico City, published an editorial this week reminding those involved in the dispute that their protests of the results “must not go beyond the legal channels upon which the justice and peace of society are guaranteed.”
“Our society in general has understood this moment and remains expectant that the respective institutions would intervene. The citizenry remains calm and, while not refraining from expressing its political convictions, is convinced that there are legal ways and appropriate times to bring about the conclusion of this important process,” the editorial insisted.
Madrid, Spain, Jul 25, 2006 (CNA) - The materials that were used to build the papal altar for the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families in Valencia will be shipped to Peru for use in constructing churches and schools for poor children.
According to the Archdiocese of Valencia’s newspaper “Paraula,” the more than 75,000 square feet of wood and canvas used for the altar and stage where Pope Benedict celebrated Mass will be sent to the Foundation for the Integral Development of Peoples, which for decades has promoted works of evangelization and human development in Peru through the construction and recycling.
The Foundation plans to use the materials to build churches and schools for both children and adults to help them develop job skills.
The AVAN news agency reports that the materials from the altar have already been shipped to Madrid, where they will be prepared for shipment to Peru.
Madrid, Spain, Jul 25, 2006 (CNA) - In response to the urgent humanitarian crisis brought on by the fighting in the Middle East, Caritas Lebanon has provided food, medicine and water to more than 25,000 people affected by the conflict.
The humanitarian organization has sent out trucks carrying potable water and food to areas of Lebanon that are most in need. “We are doing what we can, but in some cities the Caritas teams are totally isolated, there is no communication with them, we cannot get in and they cannot get out of those areas because the roads and bridges are destroyed,” said Father Louis Samaha, director of Caritas Lebanon.
“One of the problems we are facing is the excessive increase in prices,” he explained. “Gas has gone up 50 cents, and some basic necessities cannot be purchased because of the increase, and so we are also distributing purchasing coupons.”
In the Gaza Strip, Father Manuel Musallam said there people are in need of food, potable water, electricity, candles and medicine. The bombing has destroyed generators and so we cannot preserve food and water pumps are not working.”
“Without gas there is no transportation, and those who need it can’t come. Therefore we will have to send them first aid kits so that they can take care of themselves or of the people close to them,” said Bandali El-Saigh, director of the Caritas Medical Center in Gaza.
Likewise, Caritas Jerusalem has already distributed more than 500 rations of food, 23 first aid kits and 750 food coupons. Some three thousand more units of food will be distributed in coordination with religious leaders of the churches of Jerusalem.
The fighting between Hezbollah and Israel has left more than 500,000 people displaced, many of whom have taken refuge in schools, convents and public buildings. Some 18,000 have fled to Jordan.