Archive of February 6, 2007

Holy See offers special indulgence for World Day of the Sick

Vatican City, Feb 6, 2007 (CNA) - Late yesterday afternoon, the Apostolic Penitentiary published a decree announcing the concession of indulgences to the faithful for the World Day of the Sick, which is celebrated every year on February 11, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. This year, the Day will be celebrated in Seoul, Korea.  The decree from the Vatican includes provisions for the elderly and sick who are unable to celebrate the Day of the Sick and encourages all the faithful to offer special prayers for the sick.
"We must," the text of the decree reads, "reflect deeply upon the fact that human remedies have a limit and that, therefore, there will inevitably come a time when man reaches the end of his journey on this earth. To the sick who are in that condition we must offer the most attentive care and the greatest charity, so that their transit from this world to the Father is comforted by divine consolation and so that, as the Church's prayer for the dying implores, they may see the gentle face of Jesus Christ and clearly hear the voice calling them to eternal glory and joy."
"With this awareness, the Holy Mother Church hopes that the annual celebration of the World Day of the Sick may become an effective catechesis of the teaching ... of the treasure of Revelation, concerning the value and function of suffering."
For this reason, Plenary Indulgence will be granted "to the faithful who, under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Holy Father), and with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin, participate on February 11 in the city of Seoul, or at any other place decided by the ecclesiastical authorities, in a sacred ceremony held to beseech God to grant the goals of the World Day of the Sick."
The decree continues: "The faithful who, in public hospitals or in private houses, like 'Good Samaritans' charitably assist the sick - especially those suffering incurable and terminal diseases - and who, because of the service they provide, cannot participate in the aforementioned ceremony, will obtain the same gift of Plenary Indulgence if on that day they generously provide, at least for a few hours, their charitable assistance to the sick as if they were tending to Christ the Lord Himself, with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin, and with the intention of observing, as soon as they can, the conditions required for obtaining the Plenary Indulgence.”
"The faithful who, through sickness, old age or similar reason, are prevented from participating in the aforementioned ceremony, may obtain the Plenary Indulgence if, with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin and with the intention of observing, as soon as they can, the conditions required, they spiritually participate together with the Holy Father in the aforesaid ceremony, pray devotedly for the sick, and offer - through the Virgin Mary 'Health of the Sick' - their physical and spiritual sufferings to God."
Partial Indulgence, the text of the decree concludes, will be conceded to "all the faithful whenever, between February 9 and 11, with a contrite heart they raise devout prayers to the merciful Lord calling for these aspirations to be met in order to help the sick, especially those suffering incurable and terminal disease."

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Lawyers to get half of money set out for Spokane abuse settlements

Spokane, Wash., Feb 6, 2007 (CNA) - About half of a proposed $48-million settlement would go to victims of clergy sexual abuse while lawyers are due to receive the other half, according to a settlement plan filed last week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The Diocese of Spokane’s 92-page disclosure statement in U.S. Bankruptcy Court said the Church’s bankruptcy lawyers are owed about $7 million, leaving $41 million to compensate victims.  However, nearly half of the $41 million will be taken by lawyers of the victims.

The settlement money would come from nearly $20 million in insurance settlements, $18 million from the sale of the bishop's office building and other assets; and $10 million from the diocese's 82 parishes.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams has yet to approve the reorganization plan. Lawyers representing all sides already approved it during the settlement mediation process, said Shawn Cross, a Spokane lawyer representing the diocese.

The victims have yet to vote on whether to accept or reject it.

In an article by the Associated Press, Michael Ross, an abuse victim who sued the diocese, pointed out that claimants who retained lawyers to represent them would owe their attorneys 40 percent to 50 percent of their settlement portion.

When lawyer fees and other expenses are deducted, claimants will only split about $22 million, Ross said.

According to the AP, Molly Harding, a leader of the Spokane chapter of SNAP, said victims are angry that so much of the settlement pool is going to pay lawyers. SNAP is a national activist group which speaks out against the Church over clergy abuse.  The group has been promoting similar civil lawsuits against Catholic Dioceses around the country and continues to press state legislatures for laws which would facilitate a greater number of suits against the Church.

The diocese has already reached settlements with 36 victims and one claim was filed for potential victims who make claims in the future. About 147 claims qualify for payment under the diocese's settlement offer, and $1 million would be set aside for future claims.

Cross explained that bankruptcy laws prohibit lawyers from advocating a particular plan.

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Christians called to fearlessly evangelize culture, says Archbishop Gomez

Dallas, Texas, Feb 6, 2007 (CNA) - The New Evangelization calls Christians to go fearlessly into the heart of culture and invite people to come to know and love Christ, said Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio.

Speaking at the Tenth Anniversary Conference of New Evangelization of America, the archbishop underlined of the Christian heritage of the Americas and addressed the current cultural obstacles to coherent Christian living.

During the Feb. 4 event, the archbishop noted that San Antonio is celebrating the 275th anniversary of its San Fernando Cathedral. He recounted that the diocese got its name because Mass was first celebrated in the city on the Feast of St. Anthony in 1691, but that evangelization in the Americas began at least 100 years before that.

“From their earliest settlement, these lands were Catholic, Christian. And these lands were, from the start, immigrant lands, meeting places of cultures,” he said. “Long before America had a name, the Gospel was being preached in these lands and the Holy Mass was being celebrated. Jesus Christ was here first -- in Word and sacrament -- changing lives and destinies, sowing the seeds of a civilization of love.”

He said Americans do not reflect upon this truth enough, and he believes that the New Evangelization requires U.S. Catholics “to develop a very clear understanding of who we are and where come from.”

He reiterated the words of Pope John Paul in saying that the biggest obstacles to the New Evangelization are cultural.

“The culture of consumerism is not a culture worthy of the great dignity of the human person created in the image and likeness of God,” he said. “The human person is far more than the sum of what he buys and sells, or the size of his house, or the kinds of music he downloads to his iPod.”

The archbishop also warned against materialism, practical atheism and its hostility toward religion and a “new nativism” that replaces cultural and ethnic identities with “lifestyle” choices and consumer models.

The New Evangelization calls Christians to “go fearlessly into the heart of our culture, into the heart of our people's lives, bringing the Gospel into their homes, into all their many occupations, into their schools and into their arts and sciences, into the media and into the political arena,” the prelate said.

“The New Evangelization means we must inspire people to seek Christ in everything they do, to seek to be his friend, to seek to love him, and to glorify him,” he said. The arts, media and ordinary work must point to the mystery of God. It also involves helping people to discover their vocation.

Gomez said the faith of Catholics has been eroded by consumerism and secularism and there must be new efforts in faith education. The areas of focus must be the identity of Christ and the identity of the Church, he said.

“Too often Jesus is treated as if he was just a historical figure, a holy man perhaps but not the Son of God. And there is also a bad tendency to treat the Church as only an old institution, guided by human prejudice and weakness,” he said.

The archbishop said the New Evangelization would be possible if Christians begin by rooting their lives and everything they do the Scripture, prayer, and the Eucharist.

“No one will believe us if we're not true believers ourselves,” he concluded.

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Mandatory HPV vaccination overrides parental rights, say Christian groups

Houston, Texas, Feb 6, 2007 (CNA) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed an executive on Friday mandating that Texan girls, starting in September 2008, receive a vaccination against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) before entering sixth grade.

Texas became the first state to require school-age girls to be vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus, though several states are considering the same move.

HPV, which also causes genital warts, is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the country. Several strains have been linked to cervical cancer, which kills about 3,700 Americans a year.

However, Concerned Women for America (CWA) believes that the vaccine should be optional and up to the parents -- not the government -- to choose whether or not their daughter receives the vaccination.

The group argues that the flu virus kills more than 60,000 people annually in the U.S., and yet the flu vaccine remains optional.

In a statement, the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) said while it encourages the use of the vaccine — Gardasil — which it calls “safe, effective, and ethically acceptable”, it rejects efforts to legislate that girls be vaccinated against HPV.  The drug is manufactured by Merck.

“Making school attendance conditional on HPV vaccination does not make sense, because girls who are not vaccinated pose no threat, as they would with communicable diseases such as mumps, measles, and polio, to other children attending school,” said Dr. Paul Cieslak in a statement.

CMA executive director John Brehany said the fact that HPV is spread primarily by sexual contact does not render vaccination against it unethical.

“Healing and preventing diseases, no matter what their source, are acts of mercy and a moral good,” he said.

In addition, Brehany said, overriding objections that parents might have to HPV vaccination is a violation of parental rights. It would be counterproductive to undermine parents’ sense of responsibility for their children in this sensitive area, he added.

The CMA statement insisted that support for the vaccine, and similar vaccines in the future, should not be used to undermine support for efforts to promote chastity and to reduce extramarital sexual activity.

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Representatives of Communion and Liberation to have audience with Benedict XVI

Rome, Italy, Feb 6, 2007 (CNA) - Members of the movement Communion and Liberation will have an audience with Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square on March 24 in order to mark the 25th anniversary of their Pontifical recognition.
The president of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, Father Julian Carron, has invited members to appropriately prepare to go to Rome as “a sign of simple and total adherence” to the person of the Pope, the steadfast guide without whom the Catholic faith would descend “into one of the many ideological variants that dominate the world.”
“The power of the Spirit, linked to his ministry, is the guarantee of the presence of Christ in history.  With this in mind we should present ourselves to the Holy Father, with that childlike devotion that has been instilled in us,” he wrote in a letter to members of the movement.
Father Carron recalled that Benedict XVI “has had and continues to have a very singular relationship with our history for which we feel especially close to him. He knows us well, just as he knew Father Guissani (the founder of CL) well; we all had to chance to see him at his funeral” when he was still a Cardinal.
Father Carron expressed his hope that the Pontiff would “address to us words that will enlighten our path in this so very decisive moment of our history, of the history of the Church and of the world.”
In this sense, after recalling his audience with John Paul II, Father Carron invited all CL members to prepare themselves for “the encounter with Benedict XVI, praying to the Virgin Mary during your daily Angelus, and to Father Giussani for an attentive disposition to listen to him and follow him.”

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Cardinal pleads for calm among Bolivians

La Paz, Bolivia, Feb 6, 2007 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Cardinal Julio Terrazas Sandoval, has called for a cease to “the discourses of death and of confrontation” between Bolivians and for an openness to dialogue in order that a solution may be found to yet another violent conflict in the country.

“Unfortunately, I think we are not taking it seriously that blood, even if it is only a little that is spilled, is not absolutely necessary in order to understand each other as brothers, in order to achieve solutions for the country’s problems,” he said in reference to the conflict in Camiri, where residents are rioting for “true nationalization” of the country’s natural gas industry, leaving several people injured.

Cardinal Terrazas called for a respect of the commitments both sides have made in the dispute and for a return to the rule of law, “in order to avoid any conflict of trust.”  

“How nice it would be,” he said, “if those injured by injustice would contribute with that which is proper to the people: wisdom, not violence, rationality, not intemperance in word or deed,” the cardinal stated.

He said that while the faithful can not ignore injustices and tragedies which occur in the country, “what is required is that of us are ready to share with those who are suffering.”  The mission of the Christian, he continued, is to watch over others, to recover the sense of solidarity.

After eight days of strikes in Camiri, the government of Evo Morales reached an agreement with local leaders, partially giving in to their demands.

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Family policy institute to promote family issues in Europe and Latin America

Madrid, Spain, Feb 6, 2007 (CNA) - The Institute for Family Policy in Spain announced this week that in addition to promoting a series of measures in support of the family in Europe among various European administrations and international organizations, it would also organize the First Report on the Evolution of the Family in Latin America.

The pro-family organization, which last week issued a revealing report on the state of the family in Spain during 2006, said it would also lend its support to the European Alliance of Families currently being proposed by the German Minister for Family Affairs, Ursula von der Leyen.  The group also called for the creation of a European Observatory of the Family that would analyze the situation and evolution of the family in Europe, “by advising, controlling and supervising the political measures that affect it, thus assuring that public policies are developed with a family perspective.”

Likewise the institute announced it would request that various European governments draft a so-called “green book” on the family that would “analyze the problems facing the family, their causes and consequences, and would propose solutions and alternatives to such problems.”  According to the President of the European Network of the Institute for Family Policy, Lola Velarde, “of the 95 green books written since 1984, none has been devoted to the family.”

Green books are drafted by a special EU commission and are consulted during the drafting of policy proposals.

According to Velarde, “ The family needs to become a political priority in Europe by incorporating the ‘perspective of the family’ in all actions, policies and programs of the European Union, promoting uniformity in national family policies, avoiding discrimination between countries and supporting equality of opportunity between European families.”

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Beatification cause opened for courageous Argentinean mother who rejected abortion

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Feb 6, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Guillermo Jose Garlatti of Bahia Blanca has opened the cause for beatification of the Servant of God, Maria Cecilia Perrin de Buide who refused cancer treatments in order save her unborn daughter Augustina.

The tribunal that will investigate the heroism of Cecilia Perrin, who was a member of the Focolare movement, will include Father Marino Giampetruzzi, Father Elio Ricca and Alejandra Belfoire.

Cecilia Perrin died on March 1, 1985 at the age of 28, when she gave up her life for her daughter and refused to undergo an abortion.  In February of 1984, while already pregnant, Perrin was diagnosed with cancer.  Her daughter Agustina was born in July of 1984.  By the time she gave birth, however, the cancer had already progressed to an untreatable stage, and Cecilia died eight months later.

Her remains are interred at the Mariapolis Lia Cemetery in the Buenos Aires province and hundreds visit the place each year, especially pregnant women who pray for her intercession.  On November 10, 2005 the Holy See declared Perrin a Servant of God, thus paving the way for the opening of her cause for beatification and canonization.

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Child soldiers still a problem in African nation

Paris, France, Feb 6, 2007 (CNA) - According to a report offered yesterday by the Save the Children humanitarian organization, at least 1,500 child soldiers are still in the ranks of the notorious Ugandan rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army LRA and another 10,000 remain missing.

The report, which was presented as part of a “Free Children From War” conference in Paris, says the LRA has continued to retain child soldiers for the bloody war it has waged in northern Uganda since the 1980s.  Another 10,000 children are considered missing, since nothing has been heard of them for years.

According to the Fides news agency, the forum is being jointly hosted by the UN children's agency, UNICEF, and the French government.  

The Paris conference, which began on Monday and includes representatives from the EU, Canada, Japan and affected countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America seeks to create a set framework of action for affected countries to take, with the aim of getting the affected governments to work harder to obtain the release of children from conflict and to reintegrate them into society.

The countries, along with several humanitarian organizations, are to discuss a new set of commitments and principles to end recruitment of children and to demobilize and reintegrate those who have been involved with armed groups and forces. Ten years since the approval of the Cape Town Principles, the “Paris Principles” insist more on protection for minors in armed groups where many are raped and become mothers and are rejected by their communities.

“An estimated 250,000 children are involved in conflicts around the world,” said UNICEF Executive Director, Ann M. Veneman. “They are used as combatants, messengers, spies, porters, cooks, and girls in particular are forced to perform sexual services, depriving them of their rights and their childhood.”

According to studies, the most affected countries include Afghanistan, Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Philippines, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda, as well as Sierra Leone and Liberia, where conflict ended only in recent years and where children were recruited to fight ferocious wars.

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Pope to visit youth prison in March

Vatican City, Feb 6, 2007 (CNA) - The Holy See has confirmed that on Sunday, March 18th, Pope Benedict XVI is planning a pastoral visit to Rome’s juvenile detention center.

Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, confirmed that the Holy Father plans to visit the Casal del Marmo jail next month.

Fr. Lombardi noted that while this will be the first prison visit conducted by Pope Benedict, the Pontiff is following in the steps of is predecessors, beginning with Pope John XXIII.  Both John XXIII and Pope Paul VI visited the Regina Coeli Prison in Rome.

Pope John Paul II visited not only the Regina Coeli and Rebibbia Prisons - where he personally forgave Mehemed Ali Agca, who was in jail after attempting to assassinate the him - but also visited Juvenile Prison of Casal del Marmo in 1980.
Just this past Tuesday Vatican Radio remembered that occasion, when Pope John Paul announced that, “I hope that my presence in this place is therefore also an encouragement for all those wise reforms of the judicial and administrative ordinances, which tend not towards the weighing down of those who have fallen short, but towards assisting them to find themselves, to be reinserted with serenity and awareness in the general order of civil coexistence.”

In addition to receiving the visits of two Popes, Casal del Marmo had for several years, been the site of the tireless and humble pastoral work of Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, Vatican Secretary of State during the 1980s.

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