Archive of October 27, 2006

Archival document reveals Pope Pius XII’s support for Jewish people

Rome, Italy, Oct 27, 2006 (CNA) - A recently uncovered archival document demonstrates Pope Pius XII’s high esteem and support for the Jewish people during the Second World War.

The uncovered document provides further evidence against the notion that Pope Pius XII was an anti-Semite and did nothing to help the Jews during World War II.

Monthly magazine, Inside the Vatican, reported on the document, which is an article that was published in The Palestine Post, (now The Jerusalem Post), on April 28, 1944. The article was written as a first-hand account by an anonymous Jewish author in wartime Palestine.

It describes a meeting between Pope Pius XII and the anonymous author, a young German Jew, in 1941 at the Vatican. The young man had gone seeking help for Jews who were being held in an Italian Fascist internment camp.

After listening to the young man and asking him to follow up with a letter to the Secretary of State who was dealing with the matter, Pius told him twice in front of a large group, which included German soldiers: “Be proud to be a Jew.”

The document was uncovered by William Doino, a longtime contributor to Inside the Vatican and the author of an 80,000-word annotated bibliography on Pope Pius XII, titled “The Pius War: Responses to the Critics of Pius XII". Doino found the article in archives maintained by Tel Aviv University.

"The testimony has apparently been forgotten, because, as far as I know, no leading Holocaust authority or biographer of Pius XII has ever cited it,” Doino was reported as saying.

According to the article, the Pope had told the young Jewish man: "You have done well to come to me and tell me this. I have heard about it before. Come back tomorrow with a written report and give it to the Secretary of State who is dealing with the question. But now for you, my son. You are a young Jew. I know what that means and I hope you will always be proud to be a Jew!"

Pius then raised his voice so that everyone in the hall - including the German soldiers - could hear him. "My son, whether you are worthier than others only the Lord knows, but believe me, you are at least as worthy as every other human being that lives on our earth! And now, my Jewish friend, go with the protection of the Lord, and never forget, you must always be proud to be a Jew!"

"For Pius XII to make this statement to a German Jew, in 1941, in private, would have been remarkable enough," Doino told Inside the Vatican. "That he did it in public, with his voice raised so that 'everybody in the hall' could 'hear it clearly,' in front of German soldiers, as well as cardinals, bishops, and other high dignitaries of the Vatican government, is more astonishing still.”

“It doesn't merely reveal Pius XII's kindness and Christian compassion; he goes well beyond that and affirms the young man's Jewishness, the very core and dignity of his being," Doino said.

Doino will be contributing a full commentary on his findings in an upcoming publication of Inside the Vatican.

For Doino's initial article and the full text of The Palestine Post article see this link to Inside the Vatican.

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Holy Spirit is present and is a guide on path to Christian unity Pope says

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI received this morning a delegation from the Christian World Communions, an organization comprised of leaders from several Christian denominations who meet to encourage ecumenism.  The Successor of Peter reminded the group that the Holy Sprit will continue to guide and strengthen Christians in overcoming their human weaknesses and bringing all Christians back to unity.

The Holy Father noted the theme of the group’s meeting, “Visions of Christian Unity,” and encouraged them in their goals.  “I am glad to meet all of you here today, and to encourage you in your work,” the Pope said. “Every step towards Christian unity serves to proclaim the Gospel, and is made possible by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who prayed that his disciples might be one, ‘so that the world may believe’ (Jn 17:21).”

“It is clear to us all that today’s world is in need of a new evangelization, a fresh accounting on the part of Christians for the hope that is in them (cf. 1 Pet 3:15). Yet those who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord are tragically divided and cannot always give a consistent common witness,” Pope Benedict lamented. “Herein lies an enormous responsibility for us all.”

“However daunting the journey,” the Holy Father continued, “we must not lose sight of the final goal: full visible communion in Christ and in the Church.”

Pope Benedict continued, noting the difficult path of Christian unity. “We may feel discouraged when progress is slow, but there is too much at stake to turn back,” he said. “On the contrary, there are good reasons to forge ahead, as my predecessor Pope John Paul II pointed out in his Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint on the Catholic Church’s ecumenical commitment, where he speaks of brotherhood rediscovered and greater solidarity in the service of humanity (41ff.).”

“The Apostle assures us that ‘the Spirit helps us in our weakness’ (Rom 8:26),” Pope Benedict noted. “Though there are many obstacles still to be overcome, we firmly believe that the Holy Spirit is ever present and will guide us along the right path.”

“For decades the Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions has provided a forum for fruitful contacts between the various ecclesial communities,” the Pope noted, mentioning how their Conference of Secretaries, “continues to grapple with important questions of its identity and its specific role in the ecumenical movement. Let us pray that such reflection will bring fresh insight regarding the perennial ecumenical question of ‘reception’ (cf. ibid., 80f.) and that it will help to strengthen the common witness so necessary today.”

“Let us continue our journey with patience and determination as we offer all our efforts to God, ‘through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever’ (Rom 16:27).”

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Knights sponsor spiritual pilgrimage with Pope during visit to Turkey

New Haven, Conn., Oct 27, 2006 (CNA) - The Knights of Columbus announced yesterday that it will sponsor a spiritual pilgrimage with Pope Benedict XVI as he travels to Turkey next month.

“Only a few Catholics can physically travel with the Holy Father to Turkey,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said, “but millions of us can be united with him in prayer during his pilgrimage for peace.”

Knights, their families, and all Catholics are being asked to pray daily for the Pontiff during the trip, which begins Nov. 28 and ends Dec. 1.

Knights will begin offering special prayers for the Pope’s intentions, starting Nov. 26, the Sunday before the Pope’s departure. The Knights are distributing prayer cards, written by the Order’s Supreme Chaplain, Bishop William Lori. They and others joining in the spiritual pilgrimage will say the prayer each day during the Pope’s trip.

The prayer asks that the Pope’s visit bring about “deeper ties of understanding, cooperation, and peace among Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and those who profess Islam.” It also asks that the Pope be kept safe from all harm.

Anderson said the Knights are also invoking Our Lady of Fatima to intercede for the Pope during this journey. “Mary is regarded with special esteem by people of the Islamic faith,” Anderson explained.

For the prayer, go to

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U.S. Bishops to vote on funding for sex abuse study

Washington D.C., Oct 27, 2006 (CNA) - Bishops in the United States will discuss funding for a study to understand the underlying causes of the problem of sexual abuse of minors.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), who will meet November 13-16 in Baltimore, will vote to release an initial sum of money for proposed study into “the Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Children and Young People by Catholic Clergy in the United States.”

With their vote the bishops hope to approve the release of a third of the one million dollars earmarked last year to get to the root of sexual abuse.  The money, if released, will be used to underwrite initial research in a project which is being undertaken by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, a release from the USCCB says.

Last November the bishops accepted a proposal from John Jay for the study of the Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Children and Young People by Catholic Clergy in the United States, as called for by the bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The entire study, which is to be completed by 2009, will have three components.  The first will look at, “the historical context and influences on the problem.”  The second component will focus on "gaining understanding of the temporal, structural, and leadership factors within the Catholic Church that framed the response of individual dioceses to the crisis.” And a third component will aim to "understand, on an individual level, how priests with allegations of sexual abuse differ from other priests (those with and without other problems) as well as sex offenders who are not priests."

The proposal from the John Jay researchers says the study will offer tremendous insight into the problem of sexual abuse, both within the Church and without.  

"It is important to recognize that the Church is funding a study of ground-breaking significance in the field of research into sexual abuse of children," the proposal notes. "Additionally, however, the study will have historical significance for the Church itself. It is important, in many years from now, to understand as much as possible about the individual priests who committed acts of child sexual abuse, to share this understanding with bishops, priests and their diocesan associates, so as to prevent future crises."

The proposal also notes that John Jay researchers, who will raise an additional 2-3 million for their research, are preparing to begin a study of sexual abuse within other religious institutions. Dr. Karen A. Terry will also be the principle investigator for that study, according to the proposal.

Patricia Ewers, Ph.D., chair of the National Review Board, which advises the bishops on addressing the sexual abuse crisis, emphasized the significance of this study.

"The National Review Board is committed to working with the bishops and John Jay on this study that will benefit not only the church but also our entire society," Dr. Ewers said. "We need to know what led to this violation of a sacred trust in order to take the steps needed to prevent future offenses. All relationships are based on trust and some relationships are sacred. This study will provide vital information to benefit not just the church, but also families, schools, sports programs and other situations in which young people are placed in the care of adults."

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Pope Benedict expresses “personal anguish and horror” over priestly sex abuse

Dublin, Ireland, Oct 27, 2006 (CNA) - Irish Bishop Denis Brennan released a statement yesterday, relaying the message of Pope Benedict XVI to the people of his diocese.  In their meeting the Holy Father expressed his spiritual closeness to those who have been affected by the scandalous acts of sexual abuse committed by some clergy members and spoke of the personal anguish and horror which the accounts of abuse by priests as well as the pain experienced by their victims have caused him.

Bishop Brennan was appointed to serve as bishop of the Diocese of Ferns in March of this year and has been working to bring about healing and confronting the issue of scandalous clerical sexual abuse since he began.  A recent report presented to the Irish Minister for Health and Children recorded over 100 abuse accusations against 21 priests in the Diocese of Ferns between 1966 and 2005.  The bishop’s meeting with the Holy Father came as part of the Ad limina visit of Irish bishops.  

The diocesan office of communications said the Holy Father asked Bishop Brennan to “assure those, who have been sexually abused by priests, of his concern for them and his deep regret at the harm and suffering they have experienced. His prayer at this time is for healing and peace of all those who have suffered.”

Pope Benedict also asked the bishop, “to convey to all the faithful of the Diocese of Ferns, his care and solicitude for them, as supreme Pastor of the Universal Church.”

“The Holy Father expressed prayerful solidarity with the lay-faithful, religious, and priests of Ferns in the sufferings they have endured and in the deep pain caused by the scandal of sexual abuse of the young, by some of those entrusted with the sacred ministry,” the press release said.

“Pope Benedict expressed his own personal anguish and horror at the incomprehensible behaviour of those clergy, whose actions have devastated human lives and profoundly betrayed the trust of children, young people, their families, parish communities and the entire diocesan family,” the statement concluded.

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Pittsburgh mayor says Catholic upbringing central to his political success

Pittsburgh, Pa., Oct 27, 2006 (CNA) - The 26-year-old mayor of Pittsburgh says that he would not be in his current position, as a credible and successful civic leader, if it weren’t for his Catholic faith.

“I’m not shy to say it, and I do say it whenever I can,” Luke Ravenstahl told the Pittsburgh Catholic. “I would not be where I’m at without my Catholic upbringing and my Catholic education.”

As president of the city council, Ravenstahl became the Mayor of Pittsburgh Sept. 1 following the death of Mayor Bob O’Connor from primary central nervous system lymphoma.

“The foundation that was instilled in me and my two brothers, both through my family as well as the school and the Church, are something that I use on a daily basis,” Ravenstahl, told the Pittsburgh Catholic.

“I’m proud to be a representative of the Catholic community in the mayor’s office,” he reportedly said.

Ravenstahl said his leadership positions in high school and in college helped him to prepare him for his future political career. He attended Incarnation Academy and North Catholic High School. He and his wife, Erin, are currently active members of Holy Wisdom Parish.

“It may sound simple, it may sound like a cliché or even a politician, but you treat people like you want to be treated. We live that in my family,” he said. And he lives that on the job as well, he added.

“I think I’ve been successful because I’ve been willing — when we’ve sat down and in individual conversations with people — to respect their points of view. You’re not going to agree at all times, but to respect their points of view, and listen and then make a decision,” he told the diocesan newspaper.

Ravenstahl said he never expected to land a mayoral seat at such a young age. He also said it was a difficult position to take up emotionally because the late mayor was his mentor and a good friend.

Ravenstahl was raised in a political family. His grandfather was a state representative, and his father is a district justice.

The Allegheny County Board of Elections ruled Oct. 12 that Ravenstahl will have to run for election in 2007 if he wants to keep his job. The three-member board voted unanimously that the city will hold a mayoral primary May 15, 2007, followed by a general election Nov. 6, 2007.

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Italian journalist says Benedict XVI has made the Church bulwark of reason

Rome, Italy, Oct 27, 2006 (CNA) - Italian journalist Vittorio Messori said this week that Pope Benedict XVI is the leader “of a Church that seems to have become the greatest bulwark of reason.”

In an article published by the Spanish daily “La Razon,” Messori said the “intellectual prestige” of Benedict XVI, “which was not lacking in his predecessors,” seems to be the unique characteristic of the current Pontificate.

Messori said that the idea of Pope “as professor” seems to prevail in the minds of the people.  This is evident during each of his public appearances in which “the masses of the faithful” do not come to get emotionally charged up, “but rather to learn, almost to attend the lecture of a wise and at the same time generous professor, who breaks down and offers his knowledge to those who do not have it.”

In this sense, he referred to the “first-hand knowledge” that the Pontiff has “of the secular intellectual world.”  

“Pope Ratzinger,” he said, is never “invective” nor engages in “ecclesial rhetoric.”  “He knows what he says and he makes his arguments.”  

In his article, the Italian journalist noted that this intellectual quality, outstanding in the current Pontiff, was not uncommon in his predecessors.  “None of the Popes who have reigned during the life of someone who is today in his seventies could be classified as an ‘amateur,’ as a pastor lacking in profound and solid culture and human experience,” Messori said.

Messori said whether people agree with him or not, Benedict XVI’s warnings “are always examined with great attention” by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. As proof he pointed to the words of the Pope and the Lateran University: “It is urgent that new paths be found to help the West out of the dramatic crisis of culture and identity that has unfolded before our eyes.”

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Argentinean bishop: “Catholic schools should be a place of hope”

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 27, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Oscar Domingo Sarlinga of Zarate-Campana said this week “Catholic schools should always be a place of hope” in which all students and faculty should feel they are part of God’s family in order to thus carry out the different objectives of education.

In his homily for a Mass celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the St. Thomas Aquinas School in Campana, the bishop underscored the existing relationship between education and the Church throughout history.

“There is a word that today is not very common: educe, which means to elicit, to draw out what is already in another, what I have to do is bring to light their moral values.  I always think that in a child, in a young person there are essential values such as loyalty, respect.  All of this needs to be educed, to be drawn out.  This is the work of education,” Bishop Sarlinga said.

At the end of the Eucharist, Bishop Sarlinga, accompanied by school officials, parents and students, blessed the new library and science facilities of the school.

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Secretary of Bishops’ Conference calls on Lopez Obrador to cease creation of parallel government in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 27, 2006 (CNA) - The Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico, Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, has called on former presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to reconsider his decision to set up a parallel government, saying it is of no help to the country.

“One must always know his place in history, in the time in which one is living.  I would like to ask Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to reconsider his decision of two months ago, I think it is out of place and that instead of helping is actually harming the country,” the bishop said.

During a press conference, Bishop Aguiar explained that current circumstances are distinct from those of July 3, the day after the elections. He said it is now in everyone’s best interest to move forward with the results of the election.

Lopez Obrador has insisted that the results of the presidential elections were inaccurate and he has begun what he calls a campaign of “civil disobedience,” including calls for a full recount.  Mexico’s Federal Electoral Tribunal has certified Felipe Calderon as the winner of the elections, but Lopez Obrador recently announced his decision to set up a “parallel government.”

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Connecticut Episcopal diocese approves blessing of same-sex unions

Hartford, Conn., Oct 27, 2006 (CNA) - Episcopal priests in Connecticut may bless same-sex unions in church ceremonies. Bishop Andrew Smith, the leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, made the announcement Saturday.

Bishop Smith's decision authorizes priests to formally acknowledge gay couples who have a civil union granted by the state. But it does not force the priests to do so, giving ultimate authority over the matter to individual churches.

The bishop’s decision, however, has polarized New Haven's liberal and conservative Episcopal churches in the last few days.

Nine other Episcopal dioceses nationwide have permitted blessings of same-sex unions.
Connecticut passed the bill legalizing same-sex unions in April.

Bishop Smith initially did not want priests to bless same-sex unions. But he said after much prayer that he decided it was “time for this church, this diocese, formally to acknowledge and support and bless our sisters and brothers who are gay and lesbian.” As a result, he reversed his decision.

Rev. Geoff Little of Saint James Church in New Haven objects to the church's blessing of same-sex unions. He said gay people are welcome to the church but he will not conduct any blessings.

“If they are asking for an affirmation of their sexuality, they won't get that at this church," he was quoted as saying.

Rev. Sudduth Cummings of Saint John's Episcopal Church said his church will not bless same-sex civil unions either. Cummings said this development is “contrary to the mainline and historic interpretation of Holy Scripture and the faith standards of most Christians around the world and the Anglican tradition."

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