Archive of November 16, 2006

Vatican reaffirms the value of priestly celibacy

Vatican City, Nov 16, 2006 (CNA) - The Vatican released a short statement at the conclusion of Pope Benedict XVI’s three hour meeting with heads of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia today.  The statement confirmed the Church’s adherence to the discipline of priestly celibacy for Latin Rite priests.

In a simple statement, the Vatican said, “The value of the choice of priestly celibacy, according to Catholic tradition, has been reaffirmed, and the need for solid human and Christian training, for seminarians as well as already ordained priests, has been reiterated.”

The Holy See had stressed that Thursday's summit would not open up debate on celibacy, but would instead examine requests for dispensation made by priests wishing to marry and requests for readmission by clergy who had married in recent years, according to the AP.

The three-hour meeting's conclusions "were not a change in how the present rules (on celibacy) are applied," Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, told the AP by phone today.

Despite the projections of many in the press, the meeting yielded "no change in the current discipline" of the church on the celibacy requirement, he said.

The meeting was announced earlier this week as an opportunity for the Pope to meet with leaders of the Church’s various offices, “in order to examine the situation that has arisen following the disobedience of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, and to reflect upon requests for dispensation from the obligation of celibacy and requests for readmission to the priestly ministry, presented by married priests over the course of recent years.”

Milingo is the now excommunicated former Archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia who has continued to draw attention after abandoning his commitment to priestly celibacy as well as a promise made to Pope John Paul II.  After sneaking away from his home in Italy, Milingo has surface in the United States, where he began a campaign to end the celibacy requirement for Catholic Priests and illicitly ordained four married men as bishops.

Catholic priests of the Latin Rite promise to be celibate (unmarried and chaste) for life.  While the celibacy requirement is considered a discipline and not an unchangeable doctrine, the Church has consistently held that it is an important rule, which will not be changed.

Several Vatican watchers say a final decision on the Holy See’s handling of Milingo will be forthcoming.

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Pope trip will not heal wounds, says Turkey’s religious head

Rome, Italy, Nov 16, 2006 (CNA) - Turkey’s head of religious affairs says the Pope’s visit to Turkey later this month may help improve relations with Muslims, but he does not believe it will heal the wounds stemming from the Pontiff’s misinterpreted remarks about Islam in September.

"Peace is destroyed in a second but it takes a lot of time, a long process, to build it," Ali Bardakoglu told the Italian La Stampa newspaper

Bardakoglu said he has no concerns about the Pope’s safety during his visit to Turkey Nov. 28-Dec. 1, despite recent protests.

The focus of the Pope’s trip to Turkey was supposed to be discussions on Christian unity with the spiritual head of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. However, the controversy that emerged in September may overshadow the visit.

Bardakoglu, who is scheduled to meet Benedict during his visit, says he believes the trip “will be a good step in the direction of dialogue.”

The Pope has repeatedly expressed regret for the reaction to a speech he gave at the University of Regensburg, in which he quoted 14th-century Byzantine emperor who said the Islam was “spread by the sword”.

While Bardakoglu says he has accepted the Pope's expressions of regret, he believes the comments were "unacceptable" and that the incorrect comments must be corrected.

"But these are things of the past. We're looking ahead," he was quoted as saying.

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Italians debate whether Pope can be subject of satire

Rome, Italy, Nov 16, 2006 (CNA) - The Italian press this week is debating whether it is politically correct to poke fun at Pope Benedict XVI, after his secretary, Msgr. Georg Ganswein, reportedly told an Italian news agency that he had enough of satire in the media about the pontiff.

The controversy started last week when Church officials and Catholic newspaper Avennire blasted a wave of Italian television and radio programs poking fun at Pope Benedict. It made the front pages of most of Italy's newspapers on Wednesday.

While some newspapers defended the Pope, L'Unita said Italians should not accept any attempt at censorship and added that "this all smells a little like fundamentalism".

A long editorial in Corriere della Sera, Italy's largest-selling newspaper, criticized the satires, calling them "a sad gag".

"The Teutonic accent of the German Pope may be the stuff of a comic sketch but there are a billion people accustomed to calling him 'Holy Father' and everyone wants to see a minimum of respect for their father, if only for his age," it said.

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Fra Angelico's paintings expected to sell for £1 million

London, England, Nov 16, 2006 (CNA) - Two sacred art pieces by Renaissance master Fra Angelico were recently discovered and are expected to be auctioned in England for at least one million pounds (1.8 million U.S. Dollars) this spring.

The two small panels, which measure fifteen inches by five inches and each depict a Dominican saint in tempera on a gold ground, formed part of the altarpiece of the church and convent of St. Marco in Florence. They had been commissioned by Cosimo de Medici, and his brother Lorenzo, the greatest art patrons of the Italian Renaissance.

The paintings, dated to 1439, were believed to be lost since the Napoleonic Wars, when the original work was broken up.

They were discovered by Mark Liversidge, the former head of art history at Bristol University, following the death of a family friend, reported The Universe.

The two paintings are due to go to auction on March 8 at Dukes of Dorchester, reported The Universe.

A spokesperson for the auction house told The Universe that it is extremely rare for a work by Fra Angelico to come up for sale; the last one sold in England was in 1978 for £230,000.

The Dominican monk was beatified in 1982.

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Czech bishops to propose new date for papal visit

Prague, Czech Republic, Nov 16, 2006 (CNA) - The Czech Catholic Bishops Conference are going back to the drawing board to propose new dates for a papal visit, after receiving a letter from the Vatican indicating that the Pope could not travel to the Czech Republic next September.

The Czech bishops had invited Pope Benedict XVI to visit the Czech Republic after a scheduled visit to Austria. However, the bishops reportedly received a letter from the Vatican recently indicating that the Pope cannot come on the originally proposed date, reported Czech News Agency.

The itinerary of the Pope's two-day Czech visit included a tour Brno and Prague and meeting with Czech President Vaclav Klaus.

The Czech bishops have said they want to propose another time for a possible papal visit.

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Catholics in Chile to celebrate “Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church in the World”

Santiago, Chile, Nov 16, 2006 (CNA) - Inspired by a similar initiative by Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, the Bishops’ Conference of Chile has declared November 19 to be a day of prayer for the persecuted Church throughout the world.  

The bishops said that starting this year, the last Sunday of November would be designated in Chile as a day of prayer for Catholics around the world suffering persecution and martyrdom for the faith.

The Chilean branch of Aid to the Church in Need recently issued a statement, explaining that “in many countries, despite the fact that religious freedom is in theory recognized, in practice this is hindered for political reasons, or in a concealed way, by the cultural predominance of agnosticism and relativism,” as in the cases of China, Pakistan, Nigeria and other countries.

The statement explained that Catholics in Chile have the duty to show concern for the suffering of those who live in far-away countries and to help them in faith and in prayer.  “Let us be aware that religious persecution exists today, in the 21st century, in just as crude and cruel a way as in the times of the first Christians,” the statement indicated.

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South African bishop says parliament's approval of homosexual unions doesn't make it ok

Cape Town, South Africa, Nov 16, 2006 (CNA) - South Africa’s parliament has approved gay unions, making that country the first in Africa to pass such a law.
Last August the South African government had approved the measure and now only the approval of the National Council of Provinces is needed for it to become law.
Before the measure was approved, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, president of the Bishops’ Conference of South Africa, told the Daily News, “Something that is morally incorrect does not become morally correct just because it is legalized.”
The cardinal said the law is an attack on democracy as it is quite obvious that “such types of measures are overwhelmingly opposed in all of South Africa.”

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Portuguese Prime Minister says legalization of abortion to be determined only by referendum

Lisbon, Portugal, Nov 16, 2006 (CNA) - The Prime Minister and leader of the Socialist Party in Portugal, Jose Socrates, said this week his administration would not legalize abortion without popular support and that a referendum would decide the issue.

Socrates distanced himself from some members of his party who hinted that the Portuguese parliament could approve the law on abortion even if it failed to pass a national referendum set for January of 2007.

“There can be only one position for the Socialist Party.  We will only approve the law if there are more ‘yes’ votes than ‘no’ votes,” Socrates said during the 15th Socialist Party Congress.

The Portuguese parliament decided to submit the law on abortion to a referendum before deciding on the issue.  In 1988 voters rejected a previous attempt to legalize abortion.

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Cardinal calls for laws defending life in Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Nov 16, 2006 (CNA) - The House of Representatives of the Dominican Republic has awarded Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo for his contributions to society.  In his remarks expressing gratitude for the honor, the cardinal called for laws that always defend human life.
Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez stressed the need to give priority to laws that benefit the citizenry and that defend human life, and he called on lawmakers to serious reflect on what the country really needs before making decisions.
The cardinal acknowledged that such efforts are not easy, because “there are opposing interests, economic interests that also carry much weight in society,” and he warned of currents in the world that are offered as better solutions.
Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez exhorted lawmakers to “think of respect for human life, respect for the dignity of persons, of the meaning of well-being, especially for those most in need,” underscoring that this should be “the first intention of any lawmaker who claims to be Christian.” 

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