Archive of September 29, 2006

Cardinal Pell concerned over secularism in education

Sydney, Australia, Sep 29, 2006 (CNA) - Catholic education must clarify its goals and “try to learn from [its] mistakes” in order to better instill the teachings and values of Catholicism to young people in the face of secularism, said Cardinal George Pell, yesterday.

In his keynote address to a National Catholic Education Conference, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Sydney praised the huge contribution Catholics have made to Australian public life. However, he warned, modernity is now threatening Catholic life. Currently, Catholics form one-quarter of the Australian population, but only 16 percent of them attend Mass regularly.

“Secularists strive to remove religion from the public domain and restrict it to private life, where individual religious choices reflect personal preferences unrelated to truth and general principles,” the cardinal said. “They see religion as another area for consumer choice.”

"Too many young Catholics have been led by the pressures of contemporary propaganda, whatever might be said about the inadequacies of family life and Catholic religious education, so that their religious confusion is worse than that of all other young Australian Christians,” he said.

This attitude has seeped into the education system, he said, and evidence of this is documented in a recent study, which indicates that 75 percent of young people said they believe it is acceptable to "pick and choose beliefs."

The study also states, 56 percent of young Catholics believe morals are relative — much higher than other Christians at 40 percent — and 10 percent of young Catholics believe "only one religion is true," against a rate of 34 percent for other Christians, the cardinal noted.

“The [latter] question is capable of being understood in several ways, but the pressures on young Catholics beyond tolerance and ecumenism and towards muddle are evident here,” he said, “channeled sometimes through the ill effects of courses in comparative religion.”

The prelate was also concerned about the drop in religious belief and practice among the current generation of young women.

"Generations of children across most ethnic groups in Australia had the faith passed on to them and nurtured by the devotion of their mothers,” he said.  “It remains to be seen how many Gen Y women revert to this role once they have children of their own.”

Young people are “also poorly equipped for any return to the fold when they have little instinct for or understanding that there are truths of faith and morals, which are to be sought after and judged according to rational criteria," the cardinal told the conference.

Still, the cardinal remained optimistic about the contribution Catholic schools can make to the bleak situation. “Schools can impart religious knowledge [and] encourage patterns of clear thinking, constructive enquiry and a thirst for answers,” he said. “We need to inculcate a respect for reason and tradition as well as call to faith, hope and love.”

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Bertone emphasizes religious freedom, right to life in first meeting with diplomats

Vatican City, Sep 29, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, newly installed Secretary of State for the Holy See, met today with the many diplomats to the Holy See at the Vatican.  Bertone said the most important area of concern for diplomats must be the dignity, freedom, and respect for the human rights of all human beings – especially their freedom of religion and right life.  

Speaking at the “Duke’s Hall” Cardinal Bertone, offered his thanks for the many messages of welcome and good wishes he received on his appointment September 15th.
Laying out his overarching vision of the role of diplomats, Bertone said the world hopes that the diplomats will be "artisans of peace, men of law, reason, sincere dialogue and promote a renewed impulse of solidarity between peoples, especially in rethinking the problem of debts of the poorest countries, so that no longer will any person, especially children, die of hunger or endemic illnesses, no longer will people be innocent victims of wars or local conflicts, nor poorly treated because of their convictions or beliefs".
Turning to specific issues, the cardinal said, "Our main preoccupation must be the dignity, the freedom and the unconditional respect of all human beings as to his fundamental rights, in particular his freedom of conscience and religion".
"As diplomats,” he said, you “are particularly attentive to these sensitive problems founds throughout the world. I am thinking especially about all forms of violence inflicted on women, children born and to be born. The defense of life, from its conception to its natural end, as well as the defense of the family based on marriage, are also essential themes in social life".
The Cardinal said the areas where the greatest difficulties lie, "difficulty of the bond between the prophetic aspect and the concrete necessities of life - which must also be considered by a humane ethos, especially in the context of violence, private or organized, marked also by the plurality of opinions confronting each other".
These domains include "social defense to guarantee the objective order and the defense of human rights; the condemnation of war, on the ethical level and its exclusion as a means to resolve possible differences between nations; security, favoring the non -military members and in turn reinforce the political, economic and social structures; disarmament, which must include all types of weapons, and thus become a generality, also including the objective of 'unilateral disarmament', which contains a great ethical and positive value."
He continued saying that "Research by intellectuals and reflection by the organisms of the Church and Christian communities must never stop looking at these themes."
"The documents of the Holy See, and above all those of the Magisterium of the post-war Popes - the Secretary of State concluded - are not texts lightly read, or even worse, to be ignored. These are texts which must be read carefully and meditated upon, so that the ideas may be translated into practical acts, and that the world may recognize the force and actuality of the Christian message (...) with which the Christians act in favor of peace, today, for all men." 

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Milingo says he rejects excommunication notice

Washington D.C., Sep 29, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who was excommunicated Tuesday, said he does not accept his excommunication and will continue his campaign to persuade the Vatican to allow married priests. The 76-year-old archbishop married a Korean acupuncturist in 2001.

"We do not accept this excommunication and lovingly return it to His Holiness, our beloved Pope Benedict XVI, to . . . withdraw it and join us in recalling married priests to service once again," said excommunicated Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo in a written statement read for him at a news conference at Imani Temple in Northeast Washington.

According to the Washington Post, the retired archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia, was at the news conference, surrounded by the four men he illicitly installed as bishops Sunday. The four, who were also excommunicated and who will not be recognized as bishops by the Vatican, include George Augustus Stallings of Washington, Patrick Trujillo of New Jersey, Peter Paul Brennan of New York and Joseph Gouthro of Nevada.

The statement also claimed that 25,000 married priests in the United States could help the Catholic Church with its clergy shortage if it would lift "the medieval church-imposed regulation" requiring celibacy.

The Vatican this week released a statement acknowledging the excommunication of the men.  According to Canon Law, the five excommunicated themselves by their actions - the statement from the Vatican served as a public recognition of the consequences of the illicit ordination.

Excommunication bars the archbishop and the four others from presiding at public worship or administering the sacraments.

The Rev. Robert Kaslyn, who teaches canon law at Catholic University, told the Post that Milingo has already demonstrated his break from the Church, despite what he says.  “It's very easy to say you're in communion with the Catholic Church, and yet if you're not recognized by other bishops," that relationship is not real, Kaslyn said. "Communion is a two-way street."

Washington Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Gibbs noted again that the ordinations are illicit and said that the archdiocese will continue to “pray for his reconciliation."

Milingo, who resides in Washington with his wife, recently started an organization called Married Priests Now!

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Catholic editor calls John Paul II ‘unbelievable misogynist’

Anchorage, Alaska, Sep 29, 2006 (CNA) - Following the Pontiff’s death in 2005, the new editor of the diocesan newspaper for the Diocese of Anchorage, Alaska, called the late Pope John Paul II an “unbelievable misogynist.”

“John Paul II did not like women and spent the entirety of his 26 years as Pope working to put them in their ‘place’,” wrote Maia Nolan on her blog, according to a new report from

Nolan began as editor of the Anchorage Catholic Anchor Sept. 8, succeeding founding editor John Roscoe. The comments have since been removed from the blog, but have been cached by the Google search engine and are making the rounds of the Internet.

At the time of John Paul’s death in April 2005, while the world was wrapped up in praying for and honoring the deceased Pope, Nolan wrote: “This pope, this benevolent, everyone’s-best-friend, Karol-from-Poland pope, was an unbelievable misogynist. News flash, kids: JP2 did not like women.”

“When it comes right down to it, all the globetrotting and rift-mending in the world doesn’t quite make up for the fact that Pope John Paul II obviously believed that, on a fundamental level, women are not as good as men: that we can’t hold the same offices or fulfill the same responsibilities, that we are unfit for service at the same level, and that we should generally be subservient in pretty much every way,” wrote Nolan, under the pseudonym “Myster”.

Nolan wrote that she hoped John Paul’s successor would be “a little more progressive, a little more pragmatic.”

“Of course, the College of Cardinals is packed with a bunch of old conservative guys who generally share the most recent pope’s reactionary approach to gender politics, so it would also be a foolish thing to think,” she wrote.

Mary Gore, assistant to Archbishop Roger Schwietz of Anchorage, told that Nolan made the comments when she was in college and editor of the campus newspaper.

Gore admitted the archdiocese had received complaints about Nolan’s comments but she was not sure what the archbishop was going to do.

“Bottom line is that it's an internal policy decision,” Gore was quoted as saying. “Right now, Archbishop Schwietz is sticking by his editor.”

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Respect Life Sunday: time to give thanks, commit to more pro-life efforts

Washington D.C., Sep 29, 2006 (CNA) - There have been several advancements in creating a culture of life in the United States that a well worth celebrating Respect Life Sunday, Oct. 1. But there are still other areas, where respect for life must be promoted, said Cardinal William Keeler in a statement leading up to Respect Life Sunday.

The day gives Catholics across the country an opportunity to give thanks to those who help foster respect for life in pregnancy care centers, hospices, legislative assemblies, homes, schools and workplaces, said the cardinal, who serves as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities.

The cardinal noted that many young people have joined the pro-life movement as educators and activists and a growing number have committed to living chastely until marriage, which contributes to the decline in abortions.

He also observed a change in public sentiment toward abortion, with fewer Americans favoring unlimited abortions and acknowledged the ongoing debate to ban partial-birth abortions.

The cardinal said he was encouraged by the increased opposition, particularly among committed Catholics, to the use of the death penalty.

“These and other signs of progress are true advances,” he said.

However, the cardinal also pointed out “other recent developments, though hailed as forms of technical progress, are regressive and harmful in their effects on human life.”

The RU-486 abortion pill remains on the market even though it has been linked with serious side effects for women, including death. Plan B, approved by the Food and Drug Administration for “emergency contraception”, may also act as an abortifacient and poses health risks as well.

He also deplored the “exaggerated or even fraudulent claims” that are made in favor of embryonic stem-cell research — as in the case of Missouri’s November ballot — while downplaying adult stem-cell research.

“Let us educate and motivate ourselves to ensure that truth – the scientific and medical truth, and the profound truth about the dignity of each human person – will increasingly inform and guide our society’s decisions about human life,” he concluded.

Respect Sunday is celebrated by Catholics throughout the U.S. with many dioceses and parishes offering special Masses for the unborn and life issues.

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Anti-Defamation League says conspiracy theory of Jewish-controlled Pope growing in Muslim world

, Sep 29, 2006 (CNA) - A report from the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) claims that cartoons and editorials published in the Arab/Muslim world are claiming Pope Benedict XVI's comments at the University of Regensburg were part of a Jewish anti-Islamic conspiracy.

ADL National Director, Abraham Foxman, said that conspiracy theorists are claiming that, “Pope Benedict  XVI is being manipulated by Jews to attack Islam.”

Foxman's ADL website shows several cartoons from Arabic newspapers which make the conspiracy claims based upon the misunderstood words of Pope Benedict in which he recently quoted a 14 th century Byzantine emperor.

September 22: The Star of David, representing the Jews, is using the Cross to slam the Crescent of "Islam."

The quotes of the emperor, which the Holy Father has insisted do not speak for the Church's stance on Catholic-Muslim relations, came in the middle of an argument the Pope was making for increased dialogue between the West and Islam. Several Islamic clerics and politicians, however, have only quoted portions which seem to show Pope Benedict attacking the prophet Mohammed.

In addition to the cartoons, the ADL says it has found “a growing trend in editorials and opinion-pieces in the Arab/Muslim media that claim the Pope's statements should not surprise anyone, since they are the long-lasting natural discourse of international Zionism against Islam.”

“Some maintain that after September 11 a new Rome was erected, one that aims at converting Christianity and God to Judaism under the watchful eyes of the evil American-Israeli alliance that was established by the international Zionism, which eventually seeks to enflame a full confrontation between Islam and Christianity,” the ADL press release continued.

Headline "The Vatican Pope insults Islam." It shows Jesus saying to Pope Benedict XVI: "With your words (speech) you have insulted me as did the Jews…" The Pope has in his hand the Jewish snake of strife.

The ADL sited Bahraini newspaper, Akhbar Al-Khalij, as the leader in publishing cartoons claiming Jewish control of the Pope and a Jewish-Christian conspiracy against Islam. But it also acknowledged, “such anti-Semitic, anti-Christian conspiracy arguments” as appearing in widespread daily newspapers, including the Egyptian Al-Gomhuriyya, the Jordanian Ar-Rai and Qatari Al-Watan.

Foxman called on Islamic religious and political leaders of good will to publicly denounce and reject these false assertions of Jewish control of the Pope and to reject violence against Christians and Christian institutions as an unacceptable form of protest. "Religious leaders have a special responsibility to show their followers that there are non-violent ways to express their opinions and disagreements," he said.

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Masses in reparation for abortion celebrated in Madrid

Madrid, Spain, Sep 29, 2006 (CNA) - In the Spanish capital of Madrid a special Mass in reparation for the victims of abortion and for mothers and doctors who have committed such acts will be celebrated September 29 at the parish of Our Lady of Wonders.

Organizers of the Mass have issued an invitation to attend to “all people who desire to make an act of reparation for abortion, and especially to mothers and family members who have lost children, either as a result of abortion or miscarriage or stillbirth.”

Likewise they underscored that this work “is not an NGO but rather an apostolate of reparation for the recuperation of mothers who are victims of abortion” and its purpose is to provide “spiritual support for the different groups that work with mothers.”

During the Mass a list with the names mothers wish to give to their deceased unborn children, “in order to entrust them with hope to the Father and His mercy” will be presented during the offertory.  Afterwards the list will be given to a community of cloistered nuns who will pray for the mothers and their unborn children.

Organizers will also encourage those attending to adopt an unborn child and pray for him.

Masses in Reparation for abortion have been celebrated weekly in Madrid at the parish of Our Lady of Wonders since June.  Organizers said the initiative is a response to the call by John Paul II in his encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” to mothers to entrust their unborn children to the mercy of the Father.

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Archbishop of Milan visits Moscow at invitation of Patriarch Alexis II

Rome, Italy, Sep 29, 2006 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Dioniggi Tettamanzi, arrived Thursday in Moscow at the invitation of Patriarch Alexis II for a visit to the Russian Orthodox Church.

According to Vatican Radio, the visit is a confirmation of the developing relations between the Archdiocese of Milan and the Patriarchate of Moscow.  Milan has seen an increase in the numbers of Orthodox faithful in recent years, with whom the Archdiocese has established “very cordial” relations.

During the visit, which will last until October 3, Cardinal Tettamanzi will visit the most important sites of the Russian Orthodox Church.  On October 2 he will have an official meeting with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch.

The president of the Italian Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenism and Dialogue, Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, is accompanying the cardinal on the trip.

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Condemnation of abortion is question of fundamental ethics, says Cardinal Policarpo

Lisbon, Portugal, Sep 29, 2006 (CNA) - In response to an upcoming referendum on abortion, the Patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Jose de la Cruz Policarpo, said recently “abortion is not simply a Church matter, but one of fundamental ethics.”

According to the Portuguese news agency Ecclesia, Cardinal Policarpo told reporters that “abortion is a question of fundamental ethics, of human rights.  We would like the laity, fathers and mothers, doctors and scientists to be the ones to lead this campaign to say ‘no’,” the cardinal said.

“The teaching of the Church on respect for life has not changed and will not change,” he stated, adding that he hopes the campaign will provide a chance to “enlighten consciences.”

Cardinal Policarpo also said he was troubled by the confusion prevalent in the debate, as some people believe abortion is simply a religious matter or a woman’s right.  “There is a basic question, which is to determine to what degree the State can support something that is a matter of fundamental ethics,” he said.  He questioned how the State would determine at what point an individual is a citizen with rights.  “Why at 10 weeks, or 18, or 16,” he asked.

The problem of clandestine abortions “continues to worry the Church,” he continued, “but you cannot solve one problem by creating another, especially in the case of a citizen brought into being by other citizens and who does not appear to be subject to rights, freedoms and guarantees.”

This is a not simply a “religious” problem, the cardinal emphasized, and he expressed dismay that the Church is seen as a “barrier.”  The real barrier to overcome is the education of the Portuguese people on the subject, the cardinal noted.

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Bishop condemns killing of Salvadoran priest and demands investigation

San Salvador, El Salvador, Sep 29, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Jose Adolfo Mojica Morales of Sonsonate, El Salvador, has condemned the murder of Father Ricardo Antonio Romero and is demanding that authorities “investigate and bring to swift and due justice” those responsible for the crime.”

In a press release the bishop expressed his “just and uncontainable indignation” over the killing of Father Romero, who he said constantly “showed his love for the poor and for his untiring work of evangelization.”

Father Romero was bludgeoned to death on Monday.  Police said they suspect the crime was carried out by a group of men associated with powerful gangs that operate in the area.

The body of the Salvadoran priest was transported to the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity for a traditional wake.  Dozens of people have come to pay their last respects to Father Romero, who was a priest for almost eleven years.

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