Archive of November 2, 2006

Marxist analysis of the faith leads to atheism and armed revolution, Cardinal Hummes says

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Nov 2, 2006 (CNA) - The new Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, explained that a Marxist analysis (or view) of the faith "brings (theology) to materialism and atheism and leads to an armed revolution."

In an interview published by the Brazilian paper, O Globo, the prelate said he was consulted on the relations of the Vatican and Marxist-based Liberation Theology by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when he was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.  Hummes said he held then, as he does now, that the use of a Marxist model brings a lot of politics to the Church.  

"A great point of conflict was the use of the Marxist analysis inside theology.  That produced a great disagreement between the Pope and some liberation theologians who were using it.  In addition, the Marxist analysis brings (theology) to materialism and atheism and leads to an armed revolution", indicated the new Prefect.  

"With Liberation Theology, some theologians were using a Marxist view as an analysis of reality, as if the Marxist analysis was scientific.  Pope John Paul II offered a warning about this and of course Cardinal Ratzinger and I concurred," he added.

"The Marxist analysis is a much more an ideological analysis than a scientific one," he explained.  Likewise, he was consulted regarding the social problems that affect many Catholic communities and clarified that there are urgent issues like "conquering poverty, the question of employment, the question of fair wages, the rights of workers.”  However, Hummes notes, the Marxist ideology has not solved the problems.

I think, Hummes continued, "the world has changed.  Clearly it has changed as we all change and we should change with history.  One cannot use the same thoughts and practices of 1980’s today."  

Cardinal Hummes is preparing to travel to the Vatican in a few weeks to assume his new post, and is awaiting the appointment of his successor as Archbishop of San Paulo.

The cardinal says he is "optimistic" about the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and hopes for some "good surprises."  

For Cardinal Hummes, the world has created a distorted image of the Holy Father.  "He is a very intelligent man, very kind, very fine, very wise, very friendly, and very goodhearted."  

"The world has made him a caricature, due to his responsibilities as the Prefect of the Doctrine of Faith, where once in awhile he had to say:  'Look, that does not belong to our faith,'" Hummes affirmed.

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Cardinal Hummes sees higher standards in seminaries and "personal" evangelization efforts as challenges

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Nov 2, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Claudio Hummes, chosen this week by Pope Benedict XVI as Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, considers the institution of higher standards in priestly formation and the urgency to initiate a plan of "house by house" evangelization as two of the key challenges he will face in his new roll.  

In an interview published by the newspaper O Globo, the Prelate said that "first of all what we need is a more rigorous selection in seminaries, higher standards in the formation of future priests, to insure we can have the moral certainty that they are going to have the capabilities to live celibately, as asked by the Church."

Likewise, it must be reiterated that if accusations of sexual misconduct exist on the part of a priest, "they have to be directed to the Holy See."

The cardinal will take the reigns from another Latin-American, the Colombian Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos.  The Congregation for the Clergy, has among its functions to oversee the formation and the performance of all the Catholic priests around the world.

According to Cardinal Hummes, one of the challenges that priests should address is the re-evangelization of Catholics themselves.  "We should evangelize more, go…from house to house.  We have to visit the people.  They have to feel the warmth of the Church in which they were baptized," he maintains.

Additionally, he referred to the relationship between faith and science and the necessity of "the Church always being open to dialogue regarding science, reason, and philosophy.  The people cannot confuse the opinion of someone as absolute truth.  Or some unverified hypothesis as a truth that is presented as having been verified."

For Hummes, the news of his appointment was a big surprise.  "The first thing I felt I should do was to begin to pray, to ask God to illuminate me, because for me the voice of the Pope is the voice of God and, therefore, it was necessary to say yes," he indicated.

Cardinal Hummes, who up to this week was the Archbishop of Sao Paulo, hopes to travel to Rome within a month to assume his new position.  No successor has been named yet for Hummes in Sao Paolo.

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UN agents try to stop Nicaragua's vote on abortion

Washington D.C., Nov 2, 2006 (CNA) - A United Nations committee on women’s rights sent a letter to Nicaraguan politicians prior to their historic vote last week which banned abortion. According to a press release issued by Concerned Women for America (CWA), the letter tried to stop Nicaragua’s banning of abortion by claiming that the “right to life” means a right to abortion.

The letter also criticizes Nicaragua’s religious leaders for being involved in their nation’s public policy debates and implies that the country must comply with UN officials.  And it blames maternal mortality on lack of access to abortion.

“Nicaraguans held a massive rally – 200,000 strong, led and filled by women – in support of an abortion ban,” said CWA president Wendy Wright. “Yet radical feminists and UN officials tried to bully Nicaraguan leaders into canceling the vote.”

“Clearly, UN agents are abusing their position to force their ideology on democratic societies, even when the women of those societies vehemently oppose it,” Wright said.
The letter, sent by the UN committee for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), misrepresents international agreements and medical facts regarding abortion, Wright added.

CWA warns the CEDAW treaty would threaten countries’ self-determination, stripping from citizens the right to decide their laws and culture.

“The UN committee’s bullying of Nicaragua proves why the U.S. should not ratify CEDAW and subject Americans to these abusive feminist ideologues,” said Wright.

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Turkey denies “snubbing” Pope after announcing prime minister will not meet Benedict

Rome, Italy, Nov 2, 2006 (CNA) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will no longer be available to meet with Pope Benedict XVI when the pontiff visits the Muslim country later this month.  But, Turkish officials are denying that the cancelled meeting was not a intentional slight.

The Turkish Embassy to the Holy See announced yesterday that Erdogan would be attending a NATO summit in Estonia during that time.

Erdogan had been tentatively scheduled to meet with the Pope on Nov. 28, the first day of the Pontiff’s trip. He would have been the first Turkish prime minister to receive Pope Benedict XVI.

Ahmet Arslan, speaker for Prime Minster Ergodan, told ANSA today that the Turkish premier will be in Riga, Latvia, for a NATO summit until the night of November 29 and the next day he must chair a meeting in Ankara of the Supreme Defence Council, which had been scheduled since the start of the year and would last all day, he added. "Any intention of a diplomatic snub of the pope for his statements on Islam is totally out of the question," Arslan said.

Meanwhile, ANSA has been told by another spokesman, who preferred to remain anonymous, that final details still need to be worked out on the Pope's schedule and a meeting with Erdogan may still be possible.

The Vatican reported yesterday that Erdogan had indicated he would try to find time to meet with the pope, but if this was not possible a deputy premier would stand in for him.

According to a report in The London Times, Turkish analysts have suggested that, with federal elections on the horizon next year, Erdogan could not afford to meet with the Pope, who provoked outrage across the Muslim world in September when he quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor’s statements against Islam.

However, the Pope is confirmed to meet with President Sezer and Ali Bardakoglu, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate and the leading cleric in the predominantly Muslim country.

A statement from the Vatican press office on Thursday said the Holy See had been aware of the Turkish premier's scheduling problems when arranging the pope's visit.

“No one said the Pope had to meet all the officials in Turkey, though he will certainly meet representative authorities,” said papal spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, reported The Times.

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Holy See approves next phase of canonization process for 36 Spanish martyrs

Valencia, Fla., Nov 2, 2006 (CNA) - The Congregation for the Causes of Saints has approved the diocesan phase of the cause of canonization of 36 Franciscan friars from Valencia who were martyred during the Spanish Civil War of 1936.

Benjamin Agullo, vice postulator of the cause of canonization for the 36 martyrs, told the AVAN news agency, “The approval of the diocesan phase is one of the necessary steps during the process of canonization and implies that the Holy See recognizes that the investigation carried out in Valencia is correct, and consequently the cause will move ahead in Rome.”

The Vatican congregation has also given the green light to the cause for canonization of four other nuns in Spain, who were also martyred during the Spanish Civil War.

Agullo explained that linking the two causes is “a common practice to speed up cases that are similar, and in this case the Holy See made the decision after receiving a request to do so from the general postulator of the Franciscan Order, Luca de Rosa.”

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Catholic aid organization to help with translation of Pope’s addresses to Arabic

Konigstein, Germany, Nov 2, 2006 (CNA) - Catholic aid organization, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), has announced it will provide financial assistance for an effort by the Patriarch of Venice to provide an Arabic-language translation of Pope Benedict’s weekly public audience’s through the Oasis International Centre.

“What occurred to the words of our Holy Father, Benedict XVI, at the University of Regensburg was a misunderstanding, demonstrating the distances between two cultures, two ways of thinking and languages,” ACN’s International Ecclesiastical Assistant, Fr. Joaquín Alliende-Luco said.

“Especially in order to build a bridge between the Holy Father and the countries with Arab character, Aid to the Church in Need financially supports the translation of his weekly catechesis, each Wednesday,” Fr. Alliende-Luco said. “This aims to strengthen and to accompany the Christians in these countries.”

The Oasis International Studies and Research Centre was founded in Venice two years ago by a group of Cardinals and Bishops.  Its name came from a speech given delivered by Pope John Paul II in Damascus, in which he referred to the needed support for Christian communities living in countries with an Islamic majority.  

The organization already provides a bi-annual review, also titled Oasis, which is published in four bilingual editions to aid the Bishops stationed in Arabic speaking countries (Italian – Arabic, English – Arabic; French – Arabic; English –Urdu).  The Oasis Centre also initiated this year a series of books “I Libri di Oasis” (The Books of Oasis) on the Catholic Church’s dialogue with Muslims.

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Historic cathedral to reopen after major two-year renovation

, Nov 2, 2006 (CNA) - An historic Catholic cathedral, the first built in the United States after the signing of the Constitution, will reopen this week after a two-year, $32-million renovation.

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore will reopen Saturday with a special ceremony.

The restoration, managed by the Basilica Historic Trust, uncovered a number of architectural and artistic treasures that had been covered up over the basilica’s 200-year history, including 24 skylights and murals of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The 1940s stained-glass windows were replaced with clear glass. Modern heating, lighting and electrical systems were also installed.

Those who visited the cathedral earlier this week on a special pre-opening tour remarked on the brightness and more cheerful aspect of the church, reported The Baltimore Sun.

At a press conference, Cardinal William Keeler thanked the architects, contractors and artisans who worked on the basilica, which he described as "an American treasure."

Cardinal Keeler told reporters that the first archbishop, John Carroll, "wanted a cathedral that would celebrate the newly acquired right of Catholics and people of other faiths to worship openly, in accord with their conscience," following the signing of the Constitution. The cornerstone of the basilica was laid in 1806.

Preparation for the renovation and restoration began nearly a decade ago and included plans to upgrade the infrastructure and to construct elements of the original design, by renowned British-American architect and engineer Benjamin Henry Latrobe, which were never realized, reported The Baltimore Sun.  Latrobe also designed the U.S. Capitol building.

For example, contractors excavated four to 15 feet to build a chapel in the basilica, named Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Chapel, which was in the original plans but was never built.

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Cloning an affront to human dignity, Cardinal Pell says

Sydney, Australia, Nov 2, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal George Pell is urging Catholics to lobby senators to vote down a bill that would legalize therapeutic cloning, calling it an affront to human dignity. The proposed research process involves the destruction of human embryos.

The cardinal-archbishop of Sydney told The Australian that all Christians hold the protection of innocent life as a basic human value and an issue of justice. This view, he said, is not only theological but based on natural law.

Natural law, he continued, consists of “broad ethical principles accessible to everyone, which place the protection of human life above the casual or commercial curiosity of scientists."

"We pray that Parliament will make a decision based on universal ethics, not on populist rhetoric," Cardinal Pell reportedly said.

The Australian conducted a survey of senators last week. The survey results suggest that a private member's bill, which would lift the ban on cloning, is likely to be passed next week.

Doctors opposed to cloning launched a $100,000 newspaper advertising campaign yesterday. The campaign argues that adult stem-cell research holds more promise than research using cloned embryonic material.

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Teaching of Catholic social doctrine not intrusion into partisan politics, says Argentinean archbishop

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 2, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Domingo Castagna of Corrientes lamented this week that some consider “the normal teaching of Catholic social doctrine to be an intrusion into partisan politics.”

The archbishop called it a “tactic to silence” those who - in absolute freedom - speak the truth, especially Catholics.  Therefore he called on Catholics not to overlook certain aspects of Catholic social teaching, which some people ignore out of ignorance or ulterior motives.  “In a world that fluctuates between truth and falsehood, violence and peace, good and evil, the Church’s work of evangelization is increasingly necessary,” he said.

Archbishop Castagna also reminded the laity of their duty to become involved politics.  “Pope Benedict XVI,” he recalled, “in keeping with his venerable predecessors, reminds us of the irreplaceable mission of the Catholic laity in bring the Gospel into the temporal sphere, including politics.”

While clergy involvement in politics has on occasion occurred in the past, he noted, such cases were due to “exceptional circumstances in which the foundational values of the country were at stake,” and while it is not inconceivable that extreme circumstances could warrant it again, in accord with the recent statements by the Pope, the norm should be that the laity, properly formed in the faith and in the realities of the temporal sphere, assume responsibility for political affairs.

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Religious leaders in Argentina concerned over proposed educational reform

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 2, 2006 (CNA) - Various representatives of the largest religious confessions in Argentina have expressed their concern to the country’s Minister of Education, Daniel Filmus, about “the dangerous absence of religious perspective in the first draft of an educational law that has been presented for debate.”

The religious leaders said they hoped the proposed law would uphold the notion of the “integral development of the person” in ethics, spirituality and religion and would include these elements at every level of education, “reinforcing respect for those who have diverse convictions” and preserving “popular religious traditions.”

They also said priority should be given to improving education for those who have been left behind, “especially kids who are living on the streets,” and to reinforcing parents in their roles as the “primary educators” of their children.

In addition the leaders said there should be greater equality in education, that state funding of education should be just and fair, and that the application of the law should be monitored closely by both the public and the private sectors.

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Protests in Argentina over irreverent depiction of Virgin Mary in Rolling Stone publication

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 2, 2006 (CNA) - The foundation “Argentina of Tomorrow” is protesting the Argentinean daily “La Nacion,” which is affiliated with Rolling Stone magazine, over a blasphemous picture of the Virgin Mary appearing in its latest edition.

In a letter sent to the director of “La Nacion,” Julio Cesar Saguier, the president of Argentina for Tomorrow, Juan Carlos Voiseu, lamented the publication of a picture that depicts a naked woman holding a doll, in an obvious reference to the Virgin Mary.

Voiseu called the two-page picture, entitled, “The Nazarene”, “offensive and immoral” and called on the newspaper to “amend the terrible error of offense committed against the Catholic people of Argentina,” to rescind its contract with Rolling Stone, to recall all of the copies of the paper that have been distributed, and to issue a categorical apology for offending Catholic sensibilities.

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