Archive of August 17, 2006

Forthcoming article says Bertone has been Pope’s choice from the start

Rome, Italy, Aug 17, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Pope Benedict XVI’s newly announced choice as the Secretary of State of the Holy See will be the subject of an in-depth article to be published by Northern Italian journal, “Il Riformista,” tomorrow.

The article also says that Bertone had been the Pope’s choice from the beginning.  “Benedict XVI would already have chosen Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as Secretary of State a few months after his election to the Pontifical Throne, even though the announcement was made only a few weeks ago,” the article says.

Bertone, who will be responsible not only for communications between the Holy See and other nations, but also for caring for the universal Church and dealing with the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, is considered one of the first major moves in Pope Benedict’s planned reform of the Curia.  

CNA will offer coverage on relevant portions of the “Il Rifomista” article upon its release tomorrow.

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Veterans, 1st amendment advocates rejoice after Mount Soledad victory

San Diego, Calif., Aug 17, 2006 (CNA) - Religious rights advocates and veterans’ groups are announcing their support for U.S. President George W. Bush’s decision to sign a bill passed by Congress, which is intended to save a 29-foot cross in San Diego.  The cross, which is part of the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial will be transferred from city to federal ownership, thus halting two lawsuits which sought to remove the structure.

The national commander of the American Legion said yesterday that the bill’s passage and signing was a “victory for common sense.”  Thomas Bock, who represents the 2.7 million-member veterans group, said the Legion is “pleased to see the U.S. Congress and the President walking in the ‘footsteps of the founders (of the country)’ in recognizing the sanctity of this veterans’ memorial.”

The current Mount Soledad Cross has sat on one of the highest hills of San Diego since its installation on Easter in 1954, but was preceded by other crosses, which have sat on the site since 1913.  

Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center, a religious rights law firm in Ann Arbor, Mich., that fought on behalf of the monument, told the Washington Times that the Oval Office signing is "a line in the sand."

"It's the culmination of a 17-year battle that the atheists backed by the American Civil Liberties Union have been fighting," he said, referring to a lawsuit filed against the city by atheist Philip Paulson, the Washington Times reported.

The cross was slated to be demolished on August 1st, but that order, given by U.S. District Court Judge Gordon Thompson Jr., was halted by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a move which opened the possibility for an appeal to the Supreme Court.  The recent congressional and presidential action made such an appeal unnecessary.

And the act seems to be in accord with the desire San Diegans.  Last year, 76 percent of San Diego voters approved Proposition A, which would have allowed the cross to be donated to the federal government.

Bock said the Legion doesn’t expect attacks on the religious symbols of fallen veterans to stop. “We expect more litigation and I assure you that The American Legion will be in the fight,” Bock said in yesterday’s press release.

“The religious symbols that mark the graves and honor the sacrifices of our fallen heroes - a cross, Star of David, or other identification of faith in God - are sacred to Americans. As a grateful nation, we must ensure that the memory of our heroes will never be dishonored by those who would seek to remove them.”

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A grateful Cardinal George discharged from hospital

Chicago, Ill., Aug 17, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Francis George was clearly in good spirits yesterday after being discharged from Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, three weeks after major surgery.

Cardinal George, 69, entered the hospital July 27 to remove his cancerous bladder, prostate and part of his right ureter. Doctors believe he is now cancer-free.

"I feel very good -- nice to be out on a good day like this," the cardinal told reporters while leaving the hospital on crutches. "I feel very grateful to God and especially to all those who prayed for me, who sustained me, who spoke to the Lord about me. I felt that support and I'm very grateful."

"I'm not in any pain now and I wasn't in pain then. But there was a lot of pain in between and I'm a little weaker now, obviously, but I'm on my way to recovery, hopefully, with God's help," the cardinal said.

Dr. Myles Sheehan, the cardinal's personal physician and a Jesuit priest, said the cardinal will need to use crutches until his legs, weakened by his long hospital stay, could be strengthened through physical rehabilitation.

A physical therapist will work with Cardinal George in the coming weeks. The cardinal had polio as a child and normally wears a brace on his leg and walks with a limp.

"Probably we could have let him go earlier last week if it wasn't for some of the extra physical therapy and leg strengthening that we wanted to do before he went home," Fr. Sheehan told reporters.

Cardinal George is expected to return to work on a limited schedule at his residence after Labor Day, and hopes to resume his full schedule in October.

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Catholic parliamentarians work to support human life in Australia

Sydney, Australia, Aug 17, 2006 (CNA) - Australian Prime Minister John Howard seems to have had a change of heart with his recent decision to hold a conscience vote on the cloning of fetal stem cells. But the announcement has raised sharp criticism from some Catholic parliamentarians, reported Australian news source CathNews.

Health Minister Tony Abbott told Australian media that he opposes embryonic stem-cell research because “there is very little real evidence” that embryonic stem cell research will bring about the cures proponents claim.

He said some proponents “have been guilty of over-pedaling hope to vulnerable people in this area.” He also expressed his concern about going down the path of the “Dolly the Sheep-type situation” with human beings.

Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce criticized the decision to re-open debate at all, saying debate gives “a start-off imprimatur” to that position. Both Abbott and Joyce are Catholic.

However Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, also a Catholic, said he welcomes Howard’s decision to hold a conscience vote. Bracks has previously stated that Victoria might go ahead and legalize therapeutic cloning on its own.

Meanwhile, the Health Department said it might be able to prevent sales of the RU 486 abortion drug in Australia, according to a report by LifeNews. The drug is responsible for the deaths of 12 women worldwide.

The Australian Parliament recently approved the transfer of responsibility for approving sales of the drug from the health minister to the Therapeutic Drugs Administration (TGA).
Two abortion practitioners have received approval from the TGA to sell the abortion drug locally to their patients. However, one practitioner said she knows a foreign company that plans to file an application with the government to sell the drug nationwide.

Should the TGA approve nationwide sales, Abbott said his department could cancel a company's TGA registration to sell the drug, which means the product can no longer be legally marketed and supplied in Australia.

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American priest named nuncio of South Africa, Namibia

Vatican City, Aug 17, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has named Msgr. James Patrick Green apostolic nuncio of South Africa and Namibia and apostolic delegate of Botswana. With the appointment, Msgr. Green, a native of Philadelphia, will be made archbishop.

The 56-year-old monsignor was working in the General Affairs section of the Vatican’s Secretary of State.

Msgr. Green was born in 1950 and ordained a priest in 1976 for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He studied canon law and was called to the Vatican’s diplomatic service in 1987. He is fluent in five languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch.

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Irish Church officials to monitor inaccurate media reports regarding Church

Dublin, Ireland, Aug 17, 2006 (CNA) - The Catholic Communications Office, an agency of the Irish Bishops Conference, has stated that it will be proactive in monitoring statements made about the Church in the future and will file complaints with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission if inaccurate comments are made, reported The Universe.

The decision comes after the editor of the Irish Daily Star, the second-biggest selling newspaper in Ireland, made what were described as “exaggerated” comments about the Church on Ireland public service network RTE's Prime Time program.

"We should have had less privacy in respect to clerical abuse of children, when they were screaming in every presbytery in the country,” said Irish Daily Star editor Gerard Colleran.

In a complaint filed with Ireland’s Broadcasting Complaints Commission, Martin Long, director of Catholic Communications Office, said the comments had hurt many people, both lay and religious.

"These words were false, slanderous and amount to an allegation against every parish-based priest in the country," he said.

The commission rejected Long’s complaint, saying that child abuse was a serious issue which should be dealt with in a fair and balanced manner, but the statement was made on a live discussion program and the presenter could not have foreseen it.

The commission concluded that although Colleran had spoken in an exaggerated manner, his comments were not intended to have caused offence.

Long told The Universe that despite the complaint’s rejection, the process had been "a useful exercise." 

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Brazilian support for abortion waning

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug 17, 2006 (CNA) - A recent poll has revealed that support for abortion in Brazil is waning and that Brazilians do not support efforts to widen its legal scope.

The company Datafolha, hired by Rede Globo, polled 7,000 Brazilians on a variety of issues.

According to the results, 63% of those polled believe the country’s laws on abortion should remain untouched, that is, that abortion be permitted in cases of rape or life of the mother.  Only 41% of those surveyed two years ago, in an official poll by the Ministry of Health, answered similarly.

Only 11% of those responding to the Datafolha poll said they supported unrestricted abortion. 17% said they supported more liberal abortion laws.

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Mexican bishop says Church will always defend comprehensive sexual education

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 17, 2006 (CNA) - Reacting to the Mexican government’s proposed reform of sexual education material, the president of the Bishops’ Committee on Family Ministry, Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Martinez, said the Church would never be opposed to sexual education as long as it is comprehensive and respects the dignity of each person.

In response to school officials’ distribution of textbooks that treat sexuality separately from morality and marriage, the bishop stated, “Each person filters information according to his basic experiences, his social context, his level of human development.  Therefore, this education should be imparted first of all by parents, who have the responsibility and the primary right to provide it.”

He said the textbooks contain ambiguous and incomplete information, with a reductionist view of human sexuality, which leads to bad formation, since it does not allow for a healthy and balanced sexual development founded upon self-control and the fostering of responsible sexual behavior, both individually and in society.

“By encouraging self-eroticism, masturbation, and pornography searches on the internet, the textbooks exempt adolescents from their responsibility, which is detrimental to a proper character formation that assumes the consequences of one’s own acts,” Bishop Aguilar noted.  “They are being exposed to becoming incapable of responsible love that involves self-donation,” he added.

Bishop Aguilar also noted that the material does not fully explore the reproductive aspect of sexuality, as it does not make reference to the family as the proper place for the procreation of children.  Rather, it separates sexual activity from the family and from ethical norms.

“By presenting sexuality divided into potentialities and separated from the person, not only is it not being understood as a reality with diverse aspects, but pleasure is prioritized without any reflection on the moment in which one has the maturity to exercise responsibility in the use of sexuality,” the bishop continued
Lastly, Bishop Aguilar recalled, “Sexual pleasure is a reality that should never be independent of the conjugal act, as it would lose its sense of communion and be reduced to the encounter between two egos.”

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Bolivian bishop reaffirms right of parents over their children’s education

La Paz, Bolivia, Aug 17, 2006 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Luis Saenz of Cochabamba recalled this week that the education of young people “must have freedom” and that parents are the best ones to decide what kind of formation their children will receive.

“Schools and education must have freedom.  Parents are the only ones who should decide what kind of education to give their children, not the State.  Freedom is the most important thing for the people.  Our consciences must be respected,” the bishop said.

Bishop Saenz emphasized that Bolivia is a country of one people devoted to the one true God and his Blessed Mother.  Mary, under her different titles, wants all Bolivians to be united, he added.
He also called for prayers that “God will illumine the darkness in order to extinguish lies and deceit…because they want to silence us.  God’s message is free.  God gives us the strength to guide our people,” he stated.

“The Catholic Church shall not be enslaved.  She is not a slave to the government because she is not a political party.  Fear not, Bolivia, because the Church is born of God,” he said.

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Bishops call for clean elections in Nicaragua

Managua, Nicaragua, Aug 17, 2006 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Nicaragua has called on the country’s Electoral Council to ensure transparency in the upcoming presidential elections set for November 5th, and it is asking Nicaraguans to get out and vote.  Not voting, the bishops said, means simply “conforming to those, others elect.”

In a pastoral letter, the bishops point out that the Electoral Council is the principal guarantor that the elections will be fair.  “We exhort them to carry out their service with honor, transparency, and uprightness, so that when the time comes to vote, there are no suspicions or doubts about the validity or legitimacy of the results,” the bishops stated.

They also reminded Nicaraguans that voting is a right and a duty.  They discouraged people from abstaining; noting that not participating in the elections is to “forsake possible solutions to the country’s problems.”

Voters should consider what policies will best respond to the needs of the country and how candidates will fulfill their campaign promises.  “We should verify that a candidate is a person of proven virtue,” the bishops said.

They also exhorted priests to refrain from partisan politics, because “we betray the trust of our parishioners if we publicly support or oppose a particular candidate or party.”

The letter also calls on the media to be accurate in their reporting and to refrain from dirty campaigning or fostering violence between different factions.

They concluded their letter announcing that on Sunday, October 29, Masses in the country will be offered for the success of the elections.

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