London, England, Oct 10, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Seán Brady of Armagh said yesterday’s formal talks between Northern Ireland’s Roman Catholic Church and the province’s largest Protestant political party were “very helpful and constructive.”
“Today’s meeting confirmed to me that all of us have a part to play in creating a more stable and prosperous future for Northern Ireland,” he said in a statement, released by the Northern Ireland Catholic Council on Social Affairs.
“I think that real peace will come only when we focus on the common good of all of our society and not just on sectional interest,” he added.
The Northern Ireland Catholic Council on Social Affairs and the Protestant Democratic Unionist Party exchanged views on poverty and social need, adequate funding for education, the right to faith-based schools, support for the family - based on marriage, and the benefits of stable self-government.
Rev. Ian Paisley, who leads the Protestant party, agreed that the meeting served as “useful exchange of views across a range of issues,” reported the New York Times.
“It is in the interests of everyone to develop the foundations for stability and prosperity for all the people of Northern Ireland,” Paisley reportedly said.
Over the years, Paisley has been open in his hatred for the Catholic Church. In 1988, as a member of the European Parliament, he interrupted a speech by Pope John Paul II by shouting, “I renounce you as the Antichrist!” He held up a poster to the same effect.
A spokesman for the Democratic Unionist Party stressed in an interview yesterday that the meeting was political, not religious, and refused to get into Paisley’s views on Catholicism, reported the Times.
Archbishop Brady said he looks forward to further meetings with Paisley and his colleagues.
“A lot of progress has been made,” the archbishop stated. “Hopes are now rising for further progress. I pray that these hopes may not be dashed but realized abundantly.”
On Thursday, the prime ministers of Great Britain and Ireland are to meet with the leaders of the largest Catholic and Protestant political parties in Northern Ireland to discuss restoring self-government to the province.
Northern Ireland’s experiment in self-government, set up after the Good Friday peace accords in 1998, failed. The British government reintroduced direct rule amid charges of Republican spying and the I.R.A.’s failure to dismantle its arsenal.
Last week, the independent group monitoring the cease-fire in Northern Ireland said the I.R.A., was no longer sponsoring criminal activities. The I.R.A. formally renounced violence last year.
Vatican City, Oct 10, 2006 (CNA) -
Addressing participants in the International Congress for Catholic Television, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of the Holy See, sent a message of encouragement and hope on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI. The cardinal noted the power of television and the tremendous ways in which it can be used by the Church, as a means of fulfilling Her mission of evangelization.
In a letter written on September 29th and made public today, the prelate affirmed that, “the Church no longer questions whether to use the communications media, but rather, how to do so in order the better to accomplish and the more faithfully to fulfill Christ’s missionary mandate, and so to respond in a solicitous manner to the needs of our times.”
The multiplicity of initiatives already in effect, he continued, “in many cases evidence of the promptings of the Holy Spirit, today require greater mutual collaboration in a true effort to enhance professional quality, so as to facilitate a more spirited dialogue between the Church and the world.” For this, the cardinal emphasized, it is necessary, “that there be a great unity between the Holy See and the local hierarchies in order to inspire and support the various television companies, and those that will develop in the future, helping them to remain faithful to their Catholic identity while preserving their diverse styles, sensibilities and cultural characteristics.
“The pastoral work of the Church, which seeks before anything else direct engagement with individuals for their well-being, must be complemented and strengthened through a harmonious and widely diffused presence in the various means of social communication. These means offer and propose models of culture and ways of life, powerfully influencing the preferences and opinions of persons and groups as well as helping to shape decision making in diverse environments,” the Secretary of State continued.
“In this sense,” Bertone said, “the new forms of communication offer a highly favorable framework for more active participation of the public together with the media, promoting the inclusion of less fortunate sectors of the public and adapting themselves in a particular way to the experience of communion that is at the very heart of the Church.”
Ultimately, the said, “it is necessary, without fear of technology, with intrepid hope and faith, to promote a joyful, creative and professional presence in television. We must be co-workers of the truth so as to offer the Good News of Our Lord in the multiple formats of audiovisual media, while also witnessing to the beauty of creation.”
The international congress was organized by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, led by Archbishop John Foley. Archbishop Foley has served as the Pontifical Council’s head since 1984. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The congress began today in Madrid, Spain and concludes on Thursday.
Konigstein, Germany, Oct 10, 2006 (CNA) - In an interview this week with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) newly appointed Peruvian Bishops José Maria Ortega and Kay Schmalhausen have said a new emphasis needs to be placed on the neglected spiritual wellbeing of their people.
The newly appointed bishops of Juli and Ayaviri, located in the Andean high plateau of southern Peru, told the international aid agency that “there is a lot of ideology” within their local Churches.
The prelates pointed out that, over the past three decades, “social interests” had been overemphasized at the expense of “pastoral care for the indigenous population.”
“What we have to do now is to promote evangelization and social justice – in accordance with the Magisterium of the Church,” Bishop Ortega stated. “Appropriate catechetical work among laity as well as a sound and proper formation of seminarians are priorities for the next few years.”
The two asked ACN to support their efforts and both bishops made it clear that they would do all in their power to turn around the deterioration in faith and morals in their prelatures.
Washington D.C., Oct 10, 2006 (CNA) - A former Vatican envoy told NewsMax.com he believes the violent reaction to Pope Benedict XVI’s comments about radical Islam served as “an eye-opener” for the West about the need to pay more attention to other countries.
In an exclusive interview with the online media outlet, the former mayor of Boston, Ambassador Ray Flynn, said he believes the reaction to the Pope’s speech at the University of Regensburg in Germany last month was unwarranted.
“I think a lot of people just flew off the handle before they even knew what his message was all about,” he was quoted as saying.
Flynn said the Pope was likely surprised by the reaction. “I don't think he [the pontiff] ever realized the intensity, the hatred, that is in society today and I think it was an eye opener for many,” he added.
However, Flynn said, he does not believe the Pope should have apologized for his comments since he was not expressing his personal point of view but citing a 14th-century Christian emperor.
“It's fair game in society today to attack the Catholic Church and to attack the papacy — it's almost as if no matter what the Pope or the Church says, they are going to be attacked anyway so I'm glad he held his ground and didn't apologize,” he was quoted as saying.
Flynn told NewsMax.com he believes this type of violence has been going on for a long time, but this particular incident serves as “an eye-opener” for the West and the United States, which “pay so little attention, even in our foreign policy, to the rest of the world.”
“As a result, we don't understand the severity and the extent of what's going on in other parts of the world and in other peoples' culture and we don't appreciate the intensity of hatred that is out there,” he was quoted as saying.
Flynn served as U.S envoy to the Vatican from 1993 to 1997. He is also the best-selling author of "John Paul II, a Personal Portrait of the Pope and the Man" and "The Accidental Pope."
Flynn, a longtime friend of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, said the current Pope is a peaceful, gentle man, who is committed to inter-religious dialogue.
Minneapolis, Minn., Oct 10, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Renato Martino, former Holy See representative to the United Nations, will speak at an ecumenical Faith and Work Breakfast at a Minnesota church this month.
The cardinal currently serves as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.
The breakfast, to be held Oct. 24, is the first in a series that is co-sponsored by St. Olaf Church and the John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought at the University of St. Thomas. The event will take place at the church, from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
The cardinal will speak on the theme, “The Compendium and the World of Work: What Does the Church Have to Say to Those Who Work?”
He will discuss the Catholic Church’s social, economic and spiritual perspectives on the role of work in view of the Church’s social teachings.
The 73-year-old Italian cardinal served at the United Nations as permanent observer of the Holy See, from 1987 to 2002. He participated in conferences on disarmament, development, poverty, the rights of minors and Palestinian refugees, and religious liberty. He was named to his current post in 2002.
This is the 13th annual Faith and Work Breakfast series. The morning gatherings offer participants an opportunity to address the personal challenges of integrating faith and work. The theme of this year’s series is “Scarcity and Abundance: Faith, Work and Poverty.”
Rome, Italy, Oct 10, 2006 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Cardinal Peter Erdö, was elected president of the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe on Monday at a gathering of representatives of the 34 different European bishops’ conferences that make up the body.
As the Primate of Hungary, Cardinal Erdö succeeds Bishop Amedee Grab of Chur, Switzerland. In addition to electing a new president, the council also elected two representatives, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux and Cardinal Josip Bozanic of Zagreb.
Cardinal Erdö said that as the new president, he would direct his efforts to promoting “the Christian values upon which Europe is founded.” The Church, he underscored, as “protector of these values,” should firmly carry out this task in order to counter the “superficiality” that has become prevalent in European countries.
The Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe was founded in the Swiss city of Saint Gallen in 1971 and has as its mission the promotion of cooperation between the European bishops. It also works closely with the Conference of European Churches, which is headquartered in Geneva.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 10, 2006 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, defended marriage and “faithful and permanent conjugal love,” this week, calling for such a defense of marriage amid the “terrible plague of divorce,” which is seriously affecting Spain.
In a homily given at the Cathedral of Toledo, Cardinal Cañizares also denounced the trend of “express divorces” calling them, “a very harsh reality that cannot be maintained any longer.”
Marriage is “a good written in the very nature of the human being,” the Cardinal said. He indicated that the institution of marriage belongs “to the common good and to the patrimony of humanity and that cannot be destroyed with such casualness as is happening today.”
The cardinal underscored the indissolubility of marriage and noted that the words of Jesus are “very clear” and “leave no room for doubt or distortion.”
“The demand of fidelity and stability that human reason itself discovers in marriage clearly appears in the words of Jesus Christ,” the Cardinal said.
He denounced the “current forms of dissolving marriage,” such as civil unions “and even pseudo-marriage between people of the same sex,” which he called expressions of anarchy that some want to put forth as the true liberation of mankind.
“That pseudo freedom is based on a trivialization of the body that inevitably includes the trivialization of man. It is based on the supposition that man can do with himself what he pleases,” and therefore, he added, “we find ourselves faced with a great challenge: that of presenting, defending, living, and spreading the gospel of the family, to which belongs the truth of marriage and its indissolubility.”
Cardinal Cañizares noted that when a man and a woman contract marriage, they establish a permanent bond between themselves, “and although they were free to contract it, they are not free to break the bond that was born of their mutual consent.”
“This is the way things are, even though, because of the hardness of our heart, we have grown accustomed to divorce. The Church knows she is going against the tide when she proclaims the indissolubility of the marriage bond, and we should not be surprised that this teaching is not followed by all,” the cardinal said.
Memphis, Tenn., Oct 10, 2006 (CNA) - Catholic men in the Mid-South are invited to stand up and be counted at the first-ever Men's Morning of Spirituality in Memphis.
"This, I believe, will be a significant spiritual outreach to our men, which will empower them to become strong examples of faith in their families and in the wider community,” said Bishop Terry Steib of Memphis in a letter of endorsement to his priests.
“The Holy Spirit is providing us with an opportunity to enhance the spirituality of the Catholic men of our diocese," he added. The bishop will attend and preside at the Mass.
Similar mornings of prayer have already been hugely successful in New Orleans, San Diego, Boston, and Cincinnati, drawing thousands of Catholic men, reported the Weakely County Press. They offer men an opportunity to strengthen their faith and commitment to their families and community.
The morning of prayer in Memphis will be held Oct. 28 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Germantown. The pastor, Fr. J. Edwin Creary, and the OLPH Fishers of Men prayer group organized it.
Speakers at the event included Scott Leary, J.D., federal prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice, who will give a witness, and Danny Abramowicz, former All-Pro NFL wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints, who will be the keynote speaker. Abramowicz also authored "Spiritual Workout of a Former Saint".
The men will have the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and to participate in Eucharistic Adoration. The event will conclude with a free lunch.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 10, 2006 (CNA) - Buenos Aires for the New Evangelization (BANUEV) is organizing the 11th National Gathering of Catholic Artists as part of its 15th annual "Multifestival."
According to a statement by BANUEV, the gathering will bring together people from across Argentina and from other countries to “get to know one another, pray together and share spiritual and formation experiences in the different forms of art,” including music, acting, theatre, painting and many more.
The gathering is meant “for all those who consider art to be a means for transmitting to the world the beauty that loves us, creates us and saves: a means of evangelization,” the statement indicated.
This year the theme of the event will be, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path,” with speakers, prayer and other artistic activities.
Amsterdam, Netherlands, Oct 10, 2006 (CNA) - Due to the increase in the abuse of alcohol among kids under the age of 16 in Holland, two specialists in the country will open a youth clinic in December to help young people overcome the problem.
Dr. Nico Van der Lely and child psychologist Mireille de Visser will open the clinic in the city of Delft in order to investigate the causes of alcohol abuse and present healthy alternatives through questionnaires, education and counseling, involving both teenagers and their parents and schools in the process.
The clinic will also research the long-term brain damage alcohol abuse causes to teenagers, such as hypothermia and physical violence. The project is the result of concern by many pediatricians about the brain damage the problem causes in young people.
In Holland some 500-1000 teens are hospitalized each year due to alcohol abuse.
Dr. Van der Lely explained that kids between 12 and 13 years of age have been hospitalized with a blood alcohol level of .06. Of these 60% are girls and two-thirds get drunk at home. In addition, the boys who are hospitalized have often been admitted before.
“At 12 years of age, the brain of a child is not yet developed and the influence of sexual hormones is just beginning to occur,” he noted. “If it is exposed to a blood alcohol level of .06, which is becoming increasingly more common, the future of that child is clear. As a pediatrician I must do something about it.”