Vatican City, Sep 7, 2006 (CNA) - Made public at the Holy See Press Office this morning, was a compilation of 12 speeches made by Cardinal Angelo Sodano over his nearly 16 years of service as the Vatican’s “Foreign Minister.” The book, written in Italian, is titled “Il lieveto del Vangelo: La presenza della Santa Sede nella vita dei popoli” (The Leaven of the Gospel: The presence of the Holy See in the life of the people).
Sodano served as Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, guiding Church diplomacy through the end of the Cold War, two Gulf conflicts, the war in the Balkans, and the outbreak of international terrorism in the wake of September, 11th 2001, not to mention the ever-present tensions in the Holy Land.
Presenting the book were two officials of the Secretariat of State - Monsignor Gabriele Giordano Caccia, Councilor for General Affairs, and Monsignor Pietro Parolin, Under-Secretary for Relations with States. The two officials laid out the major themes of the work.
One of the strongest themes featured in the book and found at the heart of Sodano’s service, Msgr. Parolin pointed out, is “The central importance of human beings as the main inspiration of the Holy See’s diplomatic activity.”
Also central are Sodano’s, “considerations on the need to place ethical values at the foundation of all forms of social structure and human coexistence,” Parolin said.
Msgr. Caccia noted that the book is filled with examples of the pastoral side of Sodano’s ministry. “From between the lines,” Caccia said, “there emerges a desire to answer a question…on the meaning and significance of the Holy See’s presence in the life of peoples.”
“From the very opening pages Cardinal Sodano illustrates the pastoral mission of the Holy See, that aims ‘to introduce the leavening of Christianity into the life of nations,’” Caccia noted.
Quoting from the text, Caccia pointed out that, “The Church has no other raison d’etre in the world than that of continuing the work of the Lord. She has, in fact, been well defined as Christ…prolonged over the centruries.”
“This is even truer in our own times,” Msgr. Caccia concluded, “when the greatest challenges are not economic or technical, but first and foremost ethical and spiritual.”
Cardinal Sodano will step down from his post on September 15th, being replaced by another Italian, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
Springfield, Ill., Sep 7, 2006 (CNA) -
A group of women who know first hand the suffering caused by rape and incest have come together in an attempt to have their voices heard. The women have formed the Ad Hoc Committee of Women Pregnant by Sexual Assault (WPSA) and are taking their message to legislators in Washington and around the country, asking for public hearings at which victims can be heard, according to LifeSite.
In a petition to the U.S. Congress and state legislators the WPSA said, “In virtually every case, those people who claim to represent our interests have never taken the time to actually listen to us or to learn about our true circumstances, needs, and concerns. We are deeply offended and dismayed each time our difficult circumstances are exploited for public consumption to promote the political agenda of others.”
According to a LifeSite article published today, the group is particularly concerned about the widespread misconception, even among people who generally oppose abortion, that sexual assault victims generally want or benefit from abortions.
On the contrary, the WPSA points out, abortion does nothing to help women pregnant through sexual assault, and in many cases is detrimental to them.
"In many cases, we felt pressured to abort by family members, social workers, and doctors who insisted that abortion was the 'best' solution," they wrote. "For many the abortion caused physical and emotional trauma equal to or exceeding the trauma of the sexual assault that our abortions were supposed to 'cure.'"
Polls indicate that a majority of Americans do think abortion is helpful to victims of sexual assault. A recent survey done of South Dakota citizens found that a proposed referendum which would ban all abortions gained overwhelming support when it contained a clause allowing for abortion in the case of rape and incest. However, when the clause was removed, only 39 percent of those polled still supported the abortion ban, with 47 percent in opposition.
The WPSA says, however, that the only two published studies tracking the choices and experiences of rape and incest victims show that the public opinion has been formed without taking into account the facts.
Both studies cited found that approximately 70 percent of pregnant rape victims chose to give birth rather than have abortions, even though the option was made available.
Dr. David Reardon, Director of the Elliot Institute and co-author of the book Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About Their Pregnancies, Abortions, and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault, told LifeSite that according to his organization’s study, many women who support abortion prior to their rape, “change their minds (after their assault) because they have a heightened concern about abuse and trauma. They want to break the cycle of violence. Many also sense that an abortion will only add to their emotional suffering.”
Furthermore, in the Elliot Institute's survey of 192 women who became pregnant through rape or incest, nearly 80 percent of the woman who had abortions said that they strongly regretted the abortion, with most saying it had caused far more harm than good in their lives. Among women who gave birth to their children, the consensus against abortion was even stronger.
Of the women who reported having abortions, most reported feeling pressured by family members or health care workers to undergo abortions, Reardon noted.
"This was especially the case for those who became pregnant through incest," Reardon said. "in almost every case, the abortion was chosen by the girl's parents or tragically, by the perpetrator himself. In some cases the abortion was used to cover up the incest and the girl was returned to the same abusive situation to be victimized again."
"The women in our survey said repeatedly that what they needed was time and support to come to terms with the assault and the resulting pregnancy," Reardon said. "While none proposed that there are any easy solutions, well over 80 percent believed that abortion clearly made their problems worse."
For Kathleen DeZeeuw, who raised her son after becoming pregnant through rape at the age of 16, the solution begins with attentive listening. She says abortion advocates have used the issue of sexual assault pregnancy to push for abortion without considering the real needs of the women involved.
"I feel personally assaulted and insulted every time I hear that abortion should be legal because of rape and incest," she wrote in Victims and Victors. "I feel we're being used to further the abortion issue, even though we've never been asked to tell our side of the story."
"Women who have gone through the trauma of rape or incest need to be counseled, cared for, and listened to," she added. "A woman is most vulnerable at a time such as this and doesn't need to be pounced on by yet another act of violence. She needs someone to truly listen to her, care for her, and give her time to heal."
Munich, Germany, Sep 7, 2006 (CNA) - Thaddäus Kühnel is not only the Pope’s “courier,” he’s his chauffuer, friend, and confidant. A 28 year-long friendship unites them and remains to this day, despite a few difficulties.
Kühnel, who is Director of the Bank of Munich, met then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1978 at the home of the Sisters of Mercy at Bad Adelholzen. In an interview with German television, Kühnel explained that he is known as the “Pope’s courier” because when Cardinal Ratzinger was called to work in the Roman curia, he offered to bring “Bavarian things” to him in Rome, which he did and still does to this day.
“The first thing I brought to Rome, in my car, was a paschal candle, as well as some fruit from Adelholzen and mineral water. For Christmas I brought him his Advent wreath, as they can’t be easily found in Italy. Up to now I have brought some 40 different objects,” Kühnel explained. “He likes the Christmas cookies that women from Bavarian parishes bake at home as well as those made at certain monasteries. He also likes the chocolates made in Aachen”, he added.
Kühnel said he’s also acted as Cardinal Ratzinger’s chauffuer and that he often picked him up at the airport and “brought him to Pentling or Ratisbona to his brother’s home. Sometimes I drove the whole family—the cardinal, his brother Georg and their sister Maria. The little trips we took to Mallersdorf, Brixen, Linz, Klagenfurt, and Bad Hofgastein—most of the time with the entire family—were very beautiful,” Kühnel said.
Kühnel said he has always been amazed at the Pope’s great intellect, citing an experience two years ago as an example. “When he was still a cardinal, he came to Germany to celebrate the Ascension of the Lord in 2004. As we were driving he said, ‘I have to think now about what I am going to say.’ After he finished his homily, several people asked to have a copy. They could not believe that the cardinal had not written down a single word and had simply preached from the podium.”
Kühnel nowadays travels to Rome once a month and usually meets with the Pope. “Even after his election as Pontiff, we wanted to maintain this tradition,” he said, adding that the Pope often spends a generous length of time conversing with him until the nuns call the him to dinner.
“Since April of last year it has become more difficult for us to meet. Before, I simply picked him up and we drove together to a good restaurant. Obviously this is no longer possible. As Pope he cannot move about as freely, since his security must be first,” Kühnel said.
“Before the conclave we spoke by phone and he said to me: ‘Mr. Kühnel, let’s keep in touch’, as if he had already had a premonition,” Kühnel went on. “When he was elected, I was not in Rome, but rather sitting in my office in Munich nursing a broken leg. When I saw the ceremony on television, I was profoundly moved. On the one hand I was full of joy, on the other, nostalgia. I knew that everything has an end at some point. Joseph Ratzinger is no longer a private person. Now he is the Pope,” Kühnel said.
Vancouver, Canada, Sep 7, 2006 (CNA) - A recent agreement between the government of British Columbia and homosexual activists is an unwarranted intrusion on the rights of parents to determine how their children are educated, says Archbishop Raymond Roussin of Vancouver.
The archbishop, writing in the B.C. Catholic, says the agreement to make public school curriculum more positive toward homosexual behavior could lead to the introduction of inappropriate and morally objectionable material and restrict the right of parents to determine whether their children are exposed to such material.
"The right of parents to determine how their children receive instruction on matters of faith and morals must be the primary consideration," he says.
The archbishop encourages the faithful to express their concerns to the government and insist that their right to oversee their children’s education be upheld.
The issue is not exclusively Catholic, he says, but one that "extends beyond our community and is worrisome for a broad range of faith groups.”
The B.C. government reached the agreement with Peter and Murray Corren in May but family groups only started organizing public protests and petitions in August.
Under the terms of the six-page agreement, the homosexual couple abandoned a longstanding complaint filed with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal in which they alleged systemic sexual discrimination in the provincial education system.
Murray Corren, a Coquitlam literacy teacher, had argued that schools should teach about homosexual history, positive homosexual role models, the contributions made by homosexuals, and legal issues relating to marriage and adoption from a homosexual perspective.
The government also agreed to guarantee the couple a consultative role in the development of the sexual orientation/gender identity component of an elective Grade 12 social justice course, which is still in the draft stages.
As well, the government will consult with the two men in preparing draft guidelines to review its K-12 curriculum from the perspective of inclusion and with respect to sexual orientation and “other grounds of discrimination.”
The changes take effect in September 2007.
About 1,000 people gathered to protest the agreement Aug. 26 at Vancouver’s McBride Park and circulated a petition with more than 15,000 names on it which will be presented to the government.
The petition was organized by the Canadian Alliance for Social Justice and Family Values Association. It calls on the government "to defend and to preserve parental and children’s rights" and to "stop selling out to special interest groups."
Other groups represented at the protest included the Catholic Civil Rights League, B.C. Parents and Teachers for Life, Concerned Parents of B.C. and the Canadian Family Action Coalition.
London, England, Sep 7, 2006 (CNA) -
Young people today provide a challenge for the whole Church in their spiritual journey and their search for God and community, said Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster.
“I believe that today many young people are themselves part of a community which is searching, and that search is a challenge to the whole Church to journey with them in their seeking,” he said at an Aug. 30 lecture in Melbourne, made public this week. “Firstly,” he said, “they are seeking God, but don’t always know where to go.”
“Secondly, they are seeking to belong; they are seeking community,” he continued. Young people “crave” community and they “need to know that they are loved.”
“In community they can discover a place of healing, of forgiveness, and the opportunity of a fresh start,” he stated.
Young people are also seeking the poor and ways in which they can reach out to them.
“They are scandalized by any show of religion which does not have an eye to the most needy,” he observed. “I find today that young people are very generous, very willing to reach out to those who are on the margins.”
These young people, however, are wrestling with the realities of a post-modern society, replete with its suspicion of once-trusted institutions, its breakdown of the family and other basic societal structures, its emphasis on relativism and religion à la carte, the Cardinal said.
“It is as though people, especially many young people, are dressed up complete with 1,001 possibilities but nowhere to go,” he said.
However, the cardinal said he does not regard the post-modern period as totally negative if it can lead to God. “It is this very desolation which is the beginning of our reaching out to God. And I suspect that our post-modern society is leading us back to God.”
“The individual does not see himself only as subject to outside pressures but, thanks to the modern experience of freedom, and a history of freedom, recognizes that he can write his own biography, live his own lifestyle, free from outside influences,” he continued. He warned, however, that the greatest threat of individualism is to the basic community, which has historically been the place of most profound human flourishing.
“To be human means to be in relationship and so the concentration on the individual in contemporary society has brought in its wake greater personal isolation and loneliness,” he said.
Brookings, S.D., Sep 7, 2006 (CNA) -
Vandals spray painted a symbol on a pro-life sign in front of the Pius XII Newman Center at South Dakota State University in Brookings and painted “NO IRAQ WAR” on the front of the church, reported the Dakota Voice.
The vandalized sign is part of a display which travels to different locations around South Dakota each week. It notes that 828 abortions were performed in South Dakota in 2002 and indicates that 44 million abortions were executed in the U.S. since Roe vs. Wade in 1973. The display has been at the Newman Center since last Saturday, and is to remain until this Saturday.
The pastor, Fr. Rutten, said he is checking into what it will take to replace the sign. Local police are currently investigating but no suspects have been found.
Rutten also said he didn't understand why a statement on the Iraq war was sprayed on the Newman Center, considering that the Catholic Church typically speaks against war, and made a particular stand against the war in Iraq.
South Dakota is in the midst of a major statewide debate as voters face a Nov. 7 referendum on legislation that would ban most abortions.
A recent Mason-Dixon poll found 47 percent of voters oppose the ban, 39 percent favor it and 14 percent are undecided. However, when asked if they would support the ban if it had exceptions for rape and incest, the percentage of those backing it rose to 59 percent. (See related CNA story)
"The coming referendum presents an opportunity for South Dakota to model for the nation the manner in which substantial public debate regarding this volatile moral issue can be carried on with respect, honesty and conviction," writes Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City in the Sept. 11 issue of America Magazine.
In one of his regular columns in the West River Catholic, the bishop said the framing of the issue as “reproductive rights” distracts from the fact that abortion is really a human rights issue “about protecting human life from conception which is supported by people of all faiths and none.”
Medellin, Colombia, Sep 7, 2006 (CNA) - The inhabitants of Angostura, a small town in the Colombian region of Antioquia, are praying with hope for a miracle that will clear the way for the canonization of Blessed Father Marianito, who was a parish priest there in the late 1800s.
Blessed Mariano de Jesus Eusse, known as Father Marianito, was beatified on April 9, 2000, by Pope John Paul II. The event was historic for the town of Angostura. After being the site of violent conflicts between several armed groups, the town has become a place of pilgrimage for thousands who come to pray to Father Marianito.
Father Marianito spent his life working with farmers and the poor. His beatification was possible after the miraculous cure of a priest who suffered from cancer.
Father Enrique Garcia Jimenez, who leads the parish where Father Marianito was once pastor, said he receives calls every day from people who have received favors and miracles through the revered priest’s intercession. He said testimonies of two miracles have been sent to Rome and are being studied.
The large number of pilgrims has meant the town has had to open new hotels, restaurants, and Catholic gift shops. The Colombian government has also agreed to finish building a highway that will connect Angostura to the rest of the country.
Father Mariano de Jesus Eusse was born in Yarumal, Colombia, on October 14, 1845. He entered the seminary at Medellin in 1869 and was ordained on July 14, 1872. He began work as pastor in Angostura in 1882 and died at the age of 81 in 1926.
The cause for his beatification was opened on October 10, 1980. His remains are buried at the church where he served as pastor for 44 years.
Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 7, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Jose Luis Chavez Botello of Antequera-Oaxaca in southern Mexico has encouraged the main parties involved in recently begun peace talks to focus their attention on just and achievable solutions, and he called on the populace to avoid creating further division and confrontations, now that peace is “within reach.”
Federal negotiators are currently presenting proposals to end the violent conflict between local leaders and a group of striking teachers who have been joined by activist organizations in the southern state of Oaxaca.
In his message, Archbishop Botello recalled that social conflicts are a “symptom of serious, unattended illnesses that require emergency action.” He said that the suffering of Oaxaca in recent weeks should help citizens and leaders to “understand the root causes which should be decisively and responsibly addressed.”
He called on the populace to contribute to finding “just and achievable solutions” to the problems and warned that continued violence would only lead to flawed agreements. The main parties in the conflict, he noted, should take concrete steps toward a resolution to give hope and confidence to the region. He also said the Mexican federal government should not shrink from its role in resolving the crisis.
“The most important reform is the reform of our attitudes,” the archbishop emphasized. “Let us not allow division and confrontations between us; we are members of the same society, and the sickness or injury of one member jeopardizes the whole body. Let us cease from seeing each other as enemies,” he added.
Archbishop Botello reminded the faithful to “redouble” their prayers both in the family and as a community, that “the Lord will enlighten and strengthen the will of all parties involved in the negotiations to courageously choose what would most benefit Oaxaca.”
The protests began in May with a strike by teachers, who demanded a salary increase, and eventually led to a political conflict over calls for the governor of Oaxaca to resign.
Since then some 40,000 teachers have occupied the central square in Oaxaca. When the governor sent police to break up the protest, thousands of leftists, anarchists, and college students joined in the protest and burning buses and spray-painting graffiti on government buildings. Two people have died in the conflict and dozens have been wounded.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 7, 2006 (CNA) -
Archbishop Jose Luis Mollaghan of Rosario said this week “the unborn child should never be seen as an aggressor, but rather as a gift and prolongation of the mystery of life that God offers and gives us.”
He called for stepping up the promotion of adoption and of assistance for mothers with difficult pregnancies, “both before and after the birth of their children.” He also recommended offering “greater pastoral care to women who have suffered or have actively procured an abortion.”
Reflecting on the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you; before you were born, I consecrated you,” the archbishop said they were fulfilled “in a grandiose way in the incarnation of the Lord in the womb of the most holy Virgin Mary, who awaited his birth with love and hope.”
“The lives of those who have already been born should be protected,” Archbishop Mollaghan underscored, “especially children who suffer from hunger, mistreatment, the lack of education and health care, the lack of a home, abandonment and any type of abuse.”
Pointe-aux-Chenes, LA, Sep 7, 2006 (CNA) - One year after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, churches continue to offer hope and practical support for families recovering from the storm’s destruction.
The USCCB held a special nationwide collection two weeks ago and last week the Knights of Columbus announced that their relief fund has given over $10 million in aid to the region.
But one local priest is also inspiring hope in his parishioners through religious art. Fr. Joseph Tu Tran, associate pastor at St. Charles Borromeo Church, took the church’s reconstruction as an opportunity to paint three circular symbols on the floor, reported the Associated Press. The church had been under several feet of water.
The first image, which represents unity and the Holy Trinity, is at the front of the church. It includes two intertwining figures, drawn in deep red and gold, as well as a triangle and a three-part circle.
The second image, at the center of the church, is a sunflower. "The center of Christian life is Christ, the focus of faith," Fr. Tu Tran told the AP. "The sunflowers, they face to the sun. Wherever the sun moves, they move."
The largest, most intricate image is located in the church foyer. The image includes the two Greek letters, Alpha and Omega, representing the eternal nature of God, the name of the church’s patron, “St. Charles Borromeo, 1499-1565”, and two white doves.
The new floor is a version of the simple diamond pattern in a Roman cathedral built in the 16th century, when St. Charles Borromeo lived, explained the priest, who has been at has been at the Louisiana parish for four years. He came to the U.S. from his native Vietnam in 1986.
Montevideo, Uruguay, Sep 7, 2006 (CNA) - Bishops, priests and more than 200 young people from Uruguay and Argentina gathered in Paysandu this week to participate in the 28th National Youth Day, organized by the Youth Ministry Office of the Bishops’ Conference of Uruguay. The theme of the event was “Jesus Christ unites us; the river does too.”
The event is seen as a sign of fraternity between the two countries in the wake of a conflict over the construction of paper factories on their shared border.
Bishop Jorge Lozano, head of Youth Ministry for the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina, and Bishop Pablo Galimberti, Conference president, as well as bishops and priests from both countries participated in the event.
During the principal Mass of the gathering, Bishop Galimberti said seeing the conflict through the eyes of faith provides a perspective that is much broader than that of other analysts, diplomats and leaders.
“The problems are here and we are not going to ignore them, but today we wish to celebrate the common faith expressed in this strong and tight embrace in Christ, who feeds us with his Body,” he added.
The idea to bring together young people from both countries was suggested by Bishop Lozano, who proposed the meeting to several bishops in Argentina as a sign of fraternity between the two countries. On October 1st a National Youth Day will be held in Argentina as well, giving the young people from Uruguay a chance to travel to their neighboring country to repeat the experience.