Archive of September 26, 2006

Vatican: Archbishop Milingo and four others excommunicated

Vatican City, Sep 26, 2006 (CNA) - In a statement released by the Holy See Press Office this morning the Holy See announced that “unfortunately” scandalous African Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, along with four men he supposedly ordained bishops Sunday, “have incurred excommunication” - according to the directives of Canon Law.

Milingo, who is married and on a personal campaign to make celibacy optional for Roman Catholic priests, ordained four married men Sunday as Roman Catholic bishops, reported the Associated Press.

Archbishop Milingo installed George Augustus Stallings of Washington, Peter Paul Brennan of New York, Patrick Trujillo of Newark, and Joseph Gouthro of Las Vegas during a ceremony at a Capitol Hill church. The four men claim affiliation to the breakaway Synod of Old Catholic Churches.

The Vatican’s communication says,"For this public act, both Archbishop Milingo and the four ordinands have incurred excommunication 'latae sententiae,' as laid down in Canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law.”

The four men have joined Milingo’s Married Priests Now organization, which has announced its intent to change Catholic rules on celibacy by refusing to obey the Church’s teaching or hierarchy.  

Stallings, who is a former Catholic priest who broke from the Church in 1989 and declared himself bishop of his own Cathedral in Washington, D.C., told the AP that the men consider themselves validly ordained Roman Catholic Bishops.  

However, the Vatican communication notes that “the Church does not recognize, nor does she intend to recognize in the future, these ordinations and all ordinations deriving from them; and she considers the canonical status of the four supposed-bishops as being that they held prior to this ordination.”

Though, by virtue of his episcopal status, Milingo is capable of validly ordaining the men, they are not considered Roman Catholic Bishops due to their schismatic act.

The Holy See noted that it has followed the actions of Milingo, “with great concern.”  The new association of married priests, the Vatican said, is “spreading division and confusion among the faithful.”

"Church representatives of various levels have tried in vain to contact Archbishop Milingo in order to dissuade him from persisting in actions that provoke scandal, especially among the faithful who followed his pastoral ministry in favor of the poor and the sick,” the Vatican said.

“The Apostolic See, attentive to the unity and peace of the flock of Christ, had hoped that the fraternal influence of people close to Archbishop Milingo would cause him to rethink and return to full communion with the Pope. Unfortunately the latest developments have made these hopes more unlikely,” the communication lamented.

The Vatican's Congregation for Bishops had reportedly demanded that the 76-year-old archbishop send the Pope a letter of repentance for his previous actions by Oct. 15 or face “canonical suspension.” The suspension would bar Milingo from ordaining priests, leading Mass and performing other sacraments.

The Vatican said Milingo also violated Church law when he established his new organization, Married Priests Now, and when he celebrated Mass with married clergy. He introduced Married Priests Now in July in Washington, D.C., where he currently resides with this wife.

Today’s statement from the Holy See concluded with a call for prayer.  "At times of ecclesial suffering such as these, may prayers intensify among all the community of the faithful."

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Vatican announces dates of new canonizations and beatifications

Vatican City, Sep 26, 2006 (CNA) - On October 15 Pope Benedict XVI will preside over the ceremony of canonization for Mexican Bishop Rafael Guizar y Valencia, Italian priest Father Filippo Smaldone, who worked with the mute, Sister Rosa Venerini, who founded the first all-girls public school in Italy, and Sister Theodore Guérin of France, who worked in the United States.

Bishop Guizar y Valencia was born on April 26, 1878 in Cotija, a small town in western Mexico.  He was the fourth of eleven children. His brother eventually became Archbishop of Chihuahua and his sisters Maria and Maria de Jesus entered religious life.

Rafael was ordained a priest on June 1, 1903, at the age of 23, and five days later he celebrated his first Mass on the feast of Corpus Christi.  He preached all over Mexico and in Guatemala, Colombia, Cuba and the southern United States.  He was eventually named Bishop of Veracruz.

He died on June 6, 1938 in Mexico, and in 1995 he was beatified by Pope John Paul II.

Father Filippo Smaldone (1848-1923), founder of the Congregation of the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Hearts, is known as the apostle of the deaf and mute.  He founded an institute for handicapped in Lecce, Italy, in 1885.   He was a confessor and spiritual director for many religious and was beatified in 1996.

Sister Rosa Venerini (1656-1728) taught catechism to children and adults and founded the first all-girls school in Italy.  In May of 1952, she was beatified by Pope Pius XII.

Sister Theodore Guérin (1798-1856), born in France, founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence.  In Terre Haute, Indiana, she established the Academy of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, the first Catholic women's liberal-arts college in the United States.

The Holy See also announced that Pope Benedict XVI has approved decrees of beatification for a German priest and two religious sisters from Spain and Italy.  The three will be beatified during the month of October.

On October 8, Sister Maria Teresa de Jesus, foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Carmel, will be beatified at the Roman amphitheater in Fiesole, Italy.

On Sunday, October 22, Sister Margarita Maria Lopez de Maturana will be beatified at the Cathedral of Bilbao in Spain.  She converted the Mercederian monastery of Vera Cruz in Berriz, built in the 16th century, into a Missionary Institute.

On Sunday, October 29, Father Paul Josef Nardini (1821-1862) will be beatified at the Cathedral of Speyer in Germany.  The servant of God founded the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Family.

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Same-sex marriage debate threatens redefinition of parenthood

Washington D.C., Sep 26, 2006 (CNA) - The next great frontier in law and culture, stemming from the same-sex marriage debate, is the legal redefinition of parenthood, says a new report issued by U.S. and Canadian family and law think tanks.

The Revolution in Parenthood: The Emerging Global Clash Between Adult Rights and Children's Needs explores how the rights-based same-sex marriage movement places adult rights over the rights and needs of children.

The report also explores the status of parenthood in society and the ways in which natural parenthood — the biological mother-father model — is being legally challenged and redefined by states.

The report notes that states around the world are taking an increasingly active role in defining and regulating parenthood, moving far beyond its limited, historic, and child-centered role in finding suitable parents for needy children through adoption.

In Canada, for example, the law that legalized same-sex marriage “quietly included the provision to erase the term ‘natural parent’ across the board in federal law, replacing it with the term ‘legal parent.’ With that law, the locus of power in defining who a child’s parents are shifts precipitously from civil society to the state, with the consequences as yet unknown,” reads the report’s executive summary.

In Spain, after the legalization of same-sex marriage, birth certificates were changed to read “Progenitor A” and “Progenitor B” instead of “mother” and “father.” In New Zealand and Australia, influential law commissions have proposed allowing children conceived with use of sperm or egg donors to have three legal parents.

Authors of the report say U.S. judges “have seized upon the idea of ‘psychological’ parenthood to award legal parent status to adults who are not related to children by blood, adoption, or marriage. At times they have done so even over the objection of the child’s biological parent.”

“But what about the children?” asks the report, which also includes an exploration of the experiences of the first generation of children conceived with the use of donor sperm.  The testimonies of several such children say that the children believe they were denied the birthright of being raised by or at least knowing about their biological fathers and that it has profoundly shaped their ability to understand who they are.

The think tanks insist that societies immediately open a vigorous, child-centered debate on marriage and child rearing. They say their report is intended to draw much-needed public attention to the current revolutionary changes in parenthood and the risks arising from increased state intervention in parenthood.

The report was issued the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and the Institute for American Values in the United States, and the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada and the Institute for the Study of Marriage, Law and Culture in Canada.

You can read the full report at

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University of Wisconsin refuses to recognize another Catholic organization

Madison, Wis., Sep 26, 2006 (CNA) - The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced this week that it would refuse to recognize a University of Wisconsin Catholic Student group, the second Catholic organization it has refused to ok in as many months.

On Friday, a university official explained to The Associated Press that the school rejected the application of the UW Roman Catholic Foundation to be a registered student organization this academic year because only three of its 12 advisory board members are students.  The board of the Catholic Foundation is mostly staffed by clergy and benefactors who wish to support the student programming at the school and maintain foundational stability among the constantly changing student population.

The result is that the Catholic group cannot receive student fees, reserve space on campus, recruit students at school events, or use “UW” or “University of Wisconsin” in its title.

Casey Nagy, top aide to Chancellor John Wiley, told the AP that the group could be recognized if it restructures its board. It could also receive funding if its programming is open to all students and does not violate the separation of church and state.

Last month, the school refused to recognize Catholic fraternal group, the Knights of Columbus, because of its requirement that members be Catholic.

The Catholic Foundation group runs St. Paul's Catholic Center, which serves the school's estimated 12,000 Catholic students. According to the AP, while St. Paul’s Catholic Center traces its history on campus to 1883, it officially opened in 1909.  It was the first Catholic chapel at a secular university in the United States and the group claims 30,000 alumni.

Foundation spokesperson Tim Kruse said 90 percent of those using the center's services are students. He said the board includes community leaders, such as Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, to manage its budget wisely.

Kruse reportedly said that the school’s decision “is just the latest in a series of disingenuous attempts by the university to hide under policy and procedures that were only intended so that they could discriminate against a religious viewpoint."

According to the AP, the Catholic group had coincidentally filed a complaint last week with the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice, alleging that the university had discriminated against the religious group by illegally attempting to cut or limit its funding.

Kruse alleges the school repeatedly violated court rulings that mandatory student fees be awarded without regard to the viewpoint of the group.

After a yearlong dispute, Wiley approved $145,000 in student fees for the group in May, even though he complained that much of the money may violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits public money from being used to support religion.

According to records at St. Paul’s a portion of the money went for running an evangelical ministry, holding prayer groups, and printing Lenten booklets. These actions elicited the threat of a lawsuit from the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

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Mexican cardinal calls on accused priest to turn himself in

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 26, 2006 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, has called on a Mexican priest accused of pederasty in California to turn himself into police.

This week Joaquin Aguilar Mendez, a Mexican citizen, filed charges of pederasty in the Los Angeles Superior Court against Father Nicolas Aguilar, and with the help of the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, accused the archbishops of Los Angeles and Mexico City of covering the abuse up.

According to some analysts, the case may be being used by anti-Catholic organizations to damage the reputation of Cardinal Rivera, since he was not Archbishop of Mexico City at the time when the alleged abuse took place.

"I ask that Father Nicolas Aguilar, wherever he may be, respond to the corresponding authorities for the terrible crimes he is accused of, for the good of his conscience and to avoid further damage to the church," Rivera said in a statement after Mass in the capital's cathedral.   He explained that the priest in question does not belong to his diocese and he rejected accusations that the bishops are shielding criminals.

The Episcopal Council of the Archdiocese of Mexico said the accusations against Cardinal Rivera were unjust.

In an article published in the archdiocesan newspaper, “Desde la Fe,” the Council called on Catholics not to be deceived and manipulated by those who, instead of seeking justice, are attempting to get rich off of the cardinal’s suffering.

“We are witnesses that Cardinal Rivera Carrera has always acted with great pastoral responsibility.  Since these crimes and unfortunate cases of pederasty began to be made know publicly, he has been firm in his condemnation of such aberrant conduct,” the Council said.

It emphasized that the cardinal has always asked his priests to prevent and avoid such deplorable incidents that affect not only the innocent victims but also their families and the faithful’s trust in their shepherds.  The Council reiterated that Cardinal Rivera was not Archbishop of Mexico when the alleged abuse took place, since it supposed happened in 1984, and Cardinal Rivera took over the archdiocese a year later in 1985.

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Venezuelan cardinal takes issue with Hugo Chavez’s remarks about President Bush

Caracas, Venezuela, Sep 26, 2006 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Sabino, took issue this week with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s remarks before the UN General Assembly in which he called President Bush “a devil,” saying people should not be referred to with such expressions.
During a radio program the cardinal emphasized the need for adversaries to seek out a path to peace and understanding.  He also said the comments by Pope Benedict XVI at the University of Ratisbona had been distorted, thus underscoring the need for dialogue between faith and reason.

The cardinal maintained the Pope’s words were taken out of context and used to give the impression he was attacking Islam.

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Slight progress reported in Catholic-Orthodox dialogue

Belgrade, Serbia, Sep 26, 2006 (CNA) - A week-long, closed-door meeting between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches was “marked by a spirit of friendship and trustful collaboration” and showed signs of progress in the churches’ relationship, reported church representatives in a joint statement.

About 60 bishops, metropolitans, and cardinals from various countries gathered in Belgrade for the ninth meeting of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the two churches, reported AKI.

The commission worked on a document, drafted at a Moscow meeting in 1990, titled “The Ecclesiological and Canonical Consequences of the Sacramental Nature of the Church: Conciliarity and Authority in the Church”.

The document “was carefully examined in a shared spirit of genuine commitment to the search for unity,” said a joint statement issued Monday.

The meeting was an important step in restarting talks in which there has been little progress in the past 15 years. At the commission’s last meeting in Baltimore in July 2000, participants could not agree on the text of a joint statement.

Participants assessed that the document is a solid basis for the next meeting to be hosted by the Roman Catholic Church next year.

The Belgrade meeting was co-chaired by the Vatican chief ecumenist Cardinal Walter Kasper and Metropolitan John of Pergamon.

According to a report filed by AKI, the main obstacles in bringing the two Churches closer included the issue of papal primacy, the Orthodox Church’s organization on national grounds, the view that the Vatican wants to establish Catholic parishes in traditionally Orthodox territory, and the crimes committed by members of both churches during the recent Balkan wars in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.

“The Churches of the East and West are setting an extraordinary example by means of their dialogue,” noted Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica in greeting the clerics.

“The greatest gift to contemporary humanity would be to convince people, perhaps first and foremost the political elites, that dialogue has no alternative,” he said.

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Paraguayan episcopate rejects political activity of bishop emeritus

Asunción, Paraguay, Sep 26, 2006 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Paraguay issued a statement last Friday expressing clear disapproval of the political activity of Bishop Emeritus Fernando Lugo of San Pedro, who said he is considering a run for the presidency.

Bishop Adalberto Martinez, speaking on behalf of the Conference, read the statement which emphasized that “the Church should not embark on its own on a political endeavor” and that “canon law prevents Bishop Lugo from being dedicated to religious and political activities at the same time.”

Although the bishops “are not annoyed” by Bishop Lugo, they do wish to “know what he will do with his religious future,” and they noted that “it falls to the Holy See, to the Vatican, to grant him the corresponding dispensation to become involved in politics, but the request should be made by the former bishop; if he does not act thus, he will be in a state of rebellion.”

Bishop Lugo responded to the statement saying, “The position of the Paraguayan Bishops’ Conference is correct. For my part, I still have not made a final decision but by December I will announce whether or not I accept the nomination to lead the Citizen Assembly party.”

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Turkish cleric says Pope is taking right steps in dialogue

Rome, Italy, Sep 26, 2006 (CNA) - Turkey’s top Islamic cleric, Grand Mufti Ali Bardakoglu praised Pope Benedict XVI for his Monday meeting with Muslim leaders at Castelgandolfo and said the Pontiff is on the right track to repairing dialogue between Catholics and Muslims according to Italian daily “La Repubblica”.  

The Grand Mufti, referring to the Pontiff’s quotation of a 14th century emperor which was very critical of Islam, said that "some time will be necessary to completely cancel the mistake committed by the pope."

"However,” the Islamic leader continued, “the recent expressions of regret and the speech yesterday (Monday) made to Muslim political and religious representatives will certainly be perceived as positive steps."

On Monday Benedict received Italian Islamic leaders as well as ambassadors from 21 Muslim countries and a representative from the Arab League.  The Pontiff reaffirmed to the gathered leaders his desire to continue a open and honest dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

The pope is scheduled to visit mostly-Muslim Turkey in November. 

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