Archive of February 13, 2007

Cardinal Zen says China’s actions are “acts of war”

, Feb 13, 2007 (CNA) - The leading Roman Catholic Bishop of China, Cardinal Joseph Zen has once again spoken out against the Communist government’s recent decisions to appoint bishops without the Vatican’s permission.  The Archbishop of Hong Kong told the BBC late last week that the Chinese government is waging a war to destroy the Church.

Speaking to the BBC in London on Friday, Cardinal Zen denounced three episcopal appointments and subsequent ordinations conducted by the government-controlled church of China over the past year, saying, “These three illegitimate ordinations ... are acts of war against the church.”

The archbishop, who recently took part in a Vatican conference on the Church’s future in China, also criticized Chinese government’s claims that the Vatican is meddling in state business by insisting on control over the appointment of bishops.

"So how can you say that we opt for confrontation? They are waging a war, they want to destroy the church," said Zen, the head of Hong Kong's Catholic dioceses and a Vatican adviser on Chinese affairs.

Zen, who has been a constant voice regarding the Church’s right to religious freedom in China, said China's refusal to recognize the Vatican's authority had overturned two decades of compromise efforts.

China welcomed the Catholic Church’s call for a “respectful and constructive dialogue,” following last month’s Vatican summit.  But, while the government says it wants to work with the Holy See, it continues to demand the Church relinquish its authority over Chinese clerics and discontinue diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.  

China's 10 million Catholics are divided between an underground Church loyal to the Holy See and a state-run Church which rejects Papal authority on such matters as episcopal appointments, but attempts to follow most other Catholic teachings.

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Pro-lifers encourage New Hampshire legislature to keep parental notification laws

Boston, Mass., Feb 13, 2007 (CNA) - A national pro-life group is calling on New Hampshire legislators to preserve the state's parental notification law. New Hampshire is one of several states which is considering putting an end to parental notification.

A spokesman for New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch said the governor would sign a repeal of the state's parental notification act on abortions if it passes in the Legislature, The Union Leader reported.

"Some legislators claim that they want to repeal the parental notification statute in order to prevent judicial activism,” said Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. “If that's their motivation, let them oppose its most egregious example, Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile, let New Hampshire's parents exercise their right to know about a minor daughter's abortion."

The parental notification law requires one parent to be notified in writing 48 hours before a doctor or clinic performs an abortion on a minor child. It allows a girl to ask a judge to authorize the abortion if she does not want to involve her parents.

Immediately after Gov. Craig Benson signed the parental notification law into effect in 2003, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England sued in federal court, arguing that the law is unconstitutional because it has no health exception for emergency cases. Two lower courts agreed and the state appealed.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in January 2006 that the lower courts "chose the most blunt remedy" available by striking down the entire law. So the justices sent the case back to U.S. District Court in Concord to settle the issue of how the Legislature meant the law to protect a young woman's health.

They said the federal appeals courts could then settle the issue of how to protect the confidentiality of girls who seek abortion permission from a judge.

On Feb. 1, a federal judge in Concord said he will continue to block enforcement of the law while the Legislature works on the repeal bill. If the repeal passes, the case is moot. If it doesn't, the case will continue.

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‘Screwtape Letters’ to be released on film

Los Angeles, Calif., Feb 13, 2007 (CNA) - The company that produced The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is planning to adapt C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters into a major motion picture that will open in theaters nationwide in early 2008.
This is the second effort of Walden Media to bring C.S. Lewis to the big screen, following the very successful Narnia. The company also plans to release the sequel to Narnia, Prince Caspian, sometime next year.

First published in 1942, The Screwtape Letters features a series of letters between senior demon, Screwtape, and his wannabe diabolical nephew, Wormwood. As a mentor, Screwtape advises Wormwood on how to undermine the faith and promote sin to an earthly man known only as “the Patient.”

Like The Chronicles of Narnia, which grossed $744 million worldwide, The Screwtape Letters will be shot as a live-action movie.

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Not voting is sin, says Lithuanian archbishop

Vilnius, Lithuania, Feb 13, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic primate of Lithuania has called on all citizens to vote in the upcoming municipal elections, stating that failing to participate in the ballot is a sin, reported The Baltic Times.

According to a recent public opinion survey, 34.3 percent of respondents said they would not vote and did not know for whom to vote. Municipal council elections are due to take place in Lithuania on Feb. 25.

Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius said people should not be indifferent and should consider the moral characteristics of candidates, such as honesty, sincerity, openness and respect for others.

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Vatican official calls for reconciliation of faith and science

Madrid, Spain, Feb 13, 2007 (CNA) - The Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, spoke recently on the need to overcome the unnecessary barriers between faith and science which modern currents of thought create regarding life issues, the origin of man, and the biological conception of the person.

The bishop made his statements recently while in Oviedo (Spain) at a seminar on the reconciliation between science, philosophy, and faith, organized by the Archdiocese of Oviedo.

During a press conference, Bishop Sanchez said there are three “areas of conflict” regarding “the harmonization of science and faith” that need to be reconciled.  The first is “the problem of when an individual human being begins, whether with the stem cells, with the embryo, etc.” and united with this, that of “when an individual human dies, since the concept of death has changed:  it has gone from ‘rigor mortis’ to cessation of heartbeat, and later, to brain death, but brain death is something that not all religions accept, although the Catholic Church does.”

The second area of conflict is in the field of brain research, “where great discoveries have been made during the last 70 years to the point that today [the brain] is understood to be the center of energy of the entire organism,” Bishop Sanchez continued.  Yet “some think that man is only intellect, only neurons, but we speak of the mind, or spirit, or soul, or person,” he stressed.

The third area of conflict concerns “the origin of man: when does he appear,” that is, “evolution and creation.”

It is urgent, the bishop emphasized, “that the conditions of harmony be re-established,” as they were broken by “modern science” but can be found in “the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas, with everything in order, or in the Greek vision of the world, when Aristotle, in this most important treaty, locates the soul of plants, of animals, and of man.”

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Pope’s Lenten message: From the side of Christ flows an example of self-giving

Vatican City, Feb 13, 2007 (CNA) - In his message to the world’s faithful for Lent of 2007, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized that God’s act of suffering and death on the Cross was not only an act of love directed at mankind, but an invitation for men and women to emulate His love towards one another.

The text, dated on November 21st, 2006, and titled, “They shall look on Him whom they have pierced,” was released by the Holy See today.

In the brief text, the Pontiff recalled that Lent is a perfect time to, “learn to stay with Mary and John, the beloved disciple, close to Him Who on the Cross, consummated for all mankind the sacrifice of His life.”

“With a more fervent participation let us direct our gaze, therefore, in this time of penance and prayer, at Christ crucified Who, dying on Calvary, revealed fully for us the love of God.”

Calling to mind his first encyclical “Deus Caritas Est,” the Holy Father spoke of the fact that God’s love for mankind is both “agape” and “eros.”

"Dear brothers and sisters,” the Pope said, “let us look at Christ pierced in the Cross! He is the unsurpassing revelation of God's love, a love in which 'eros' and 'agape,' far from being opposed, enlighten each other.”

“On the Cross, it is God Himself Who begs the love of His creature: He is thirsty for the love of every one of us.”

“In all truth,” Benedict continued, “only the love that unites the free gift of oneself with the impassioned desire for reciprocity instills a joy, which eases the greatest of sacrifices…The response the Lord ardently desires of us is above all that we welcome His love and allow ourselves to be drawn to Him. Accepting His love, however, is not enough. We need to respond to such love and dedicate ourselves to communicating it to others.”

“Christ 'draws me to Himself' in order to unite Himself to me, so that I learn to love the brothers with His own love,” the Pontiff reminded.

"'They shall look on Him whom they have pierced.' Let us look with trust at the pierced side of Jesus from which flow 'blood and water!'”

Pope Benedict recalled that the blood and water flowing from the side of Christ are reminders of Baptism and the Eucharist.  In Baptism, he said, “we are exhorted to come out of ourselves in order to open ourselves, in trustful abandonment, to the merciful embrace of the Father.”  And the Eucharist, “draws us into Jesus' act of self-oblation ... we enter into the very dynamic of His self-giving.”

“Let us live Lent then, as a 'Eucharistic' time in which, welcoming the love of Jesus, we learn to spread it around us with every word and deed. Contemplating 'Him whom they have pierced' will move us in this way to open our hearts to others, recognizing the wounds inflicted upon the dignity of the human person.”

Read the Pope's entire message here:

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One anti-Catholic Edwards campaigner quits, Donohue calls for termination of second

, Feb 13, 2007 (CNA) - Following the first day of a “public relations blitz” on the part of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, one of the chief campaign bloggers for Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards quit Monday evening.  The resignation of Amanda Marcotte came on the same day that the Catholic League publicized a new post she made regarding the Virgin Birth of Jesus.

Marcotte posted on her personal blog that the criticism "was creating a situation where I felt that every time I coughed, I was risking the Edwards campaign." Marcotte said she resigned from her position Monday, and that her resignation was accepted by the campaign.

Immediately after Edwards announced that he would hire Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, two well-known liberal bloggers, to run his on-line campaign, Catholic League President Bill Donohue uncovered a long history of anti-Catholic and anti-Christian blogging by the two.  Donohue immediately called for Edwards to fire the two “foul-mouthed bigots.”

On Feb. 8 Edwards released a statement, stating that he had spoken with the two women and would not fire them.  He also said: “that kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign, whether it’s intended as satire, humor, or anything else.”

However, on Monday Marcotte’s reviewed the film “Children of Men” on the blogsite Pandagon, and included in her review an attack on the Christian belief in the Virginal Birth of Jesus.
“The Christian version of the virgin birth is generally interpreted as super-patriarchal,” she wrote, “where god is viewed as so powerful he can impregnate without befouling himself by touching a woman, and women are nothing but vessels.”

Following Monday’s comments, Donohue, who had pledged a “public relations blitz” to attack “the glaring double standard that colors the entire conversation about bigotry,” called again for Marcotte and McEwan’s firing.

With her resignation on Monday night, Marcotte took a parting shot at Donohue and credited him with influencing her decision to quit. "No matter what you think about the campaign, I signed on to be a supporter and a tireless employee for them, and if I can't do the job I was hired to do because Bill Donohue doesn't have anything better to do with his time than harass me, then I won't do it."

The Catholic League President, however, has said Marcotte’s resignation is not enough.
“It is not enough that one foul-mouthed anti-Christian bigot, Amanda Marcotte, has quit. Melissa McEwan must go as well. Either Edwards shows her the door or she bolts on her own. There is no third choice—the Catholic League will see to it that this issue won’t go away.”

“The Edwards campaign is in total disarray and the meltdown will continue unless McEwan is removed from his staff,” Donohue wrote. “The fact that Marcotte had to quit suggests that Edwards doesn’t have the guts to do what is morally right. He has one more chance—fire McEwan now.”

On Monday, the Catholic League also compiled a web page full of the anti-Catholic writings of Edwards’ staffers: docs/warning.htm

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Spiritual poverty is worse than material poverty, Pope’s message says

Vatican City, Feb 13, 2007 (CNA) - To celebrate the presentation of Pope Benedict XVI’s Lenten message, a press conference was held today at the Vatican.  Speaking at the conference were Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," and Fr. Oreste Benzi, president of the John XXIII Foundation.  Archbishop Cordes noted that through his message this year, the Pope is decrying the poverty of God’s presence in today’s world, saying that, “the absence of God is worse than material poverty.”
Until now the pontiffs' Lenten Messages have concentrated, said Archbishop Cordes, "on works of charity in the sense of the social commitment of Christians." However, Benedict XVI's Message this year "focuses forcefully upon God the Father of Jesus Christ and has, therefore, not an anthropocentric but a theocentric emphasis. ... This alteration is also discernable in the preaching of Benedict XVI in general. He seems to want us to address ourselves more intensely to the Father in heaven, to entrust ourselves to His Son, Jesus Christ."
"Of course, Benedict XVI is also aware that God seems to be the great missing presence of our time, whether man knows it or not. ... Clearly, the Pope cannot accept this impoverishment. The absence of God is worse than material poverty because it kills all sure hope and leaves man alone with his pain and grief."
The president of "Cor Unum" pointed out how in this year's Message, "the Pope resumes the reflections on 'eros and 'agape' he began in his Encyclical, and sees these two forms of love come together in all their fullness in the crucified Christ. He writes: 'only the love that unites the free gift of oneself with the impassioned desire for reciprocity instills a joy, which eases the greatest of sacrifices.'
"Thus," Archbishop Cordes added, "the Pope also uses his Lenten Message to go back to the pain that weighs upon our lives through our own or others' fault, and he invites us to raise our eyes from the depths to the heights, 'they shall look on Him whom they have pierced'." The Holy Father reveals "a sensitivity to the despair of the world, not exclusively, perhaps not even principally, to eliminate misery by one's own efforts, but to seek energy in the fountain of love against all forms of resignation."
Archbishop Cordes concluded by pointing out that no one, "by appealing for us to turn to Christ, seeks to substitute the service of man with service to God."
For his part Fr. Oreste Benzi indicated that Lent must be, for all Christians, "a renewed experience of the love of God, donated to us in Christ, a love that in our turn we must 're-donate' to our fellow man, especially to the needy and the suffering."
In this context, Fr. Benzi enumerated the tasks facing the communities and movements recognized by the Church. These include: "the struggle to defend women from abortion, recognition of the true family, the fight against drugs, the commitment to show a real welcome to immigrants ... and gypsies, the commitment to help prisoners, ... the commitment not to be employees of charity but lovers of Christ, the commitment to be a [united] people, and the struggle for freedom from slavery and prostitution." 

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The world must rediscover riches of Natural Law, Benedict says

Vatican City, Feb 13, 2007 (CNA) - Late yesterday morning, the Holy Father received in audience participants in an international congress on Natural Law, being promoted by the Pontifical Lateran University.
In his address, which was made public this morning, the Pope began by noting "the great advantages" of technological progress. He also mentioned, however, "the threats menacing the destruction of nature," and also noted "another danger, less visible but no less alarming: the method that enables us to have an ever greater understanding of the rational structures of matter, makes us ever less capable of seeing the source of this rationality: creative Reason."
For this reason, the Holy Father went on, "there is an urgent need to reflect upon the question of natural law and to rediscover its truth" which "is common to all mankind. ... This law has as its first and most general principle that of 'doing good and avoiding evil'," from which "derive all the other more specific principles that regulate ethical judgments on the rights and duties of everyone."
These include: "the principle of respect for human life from conception to natural end," because "life is not the property of man but a gratuitous gift of God;" and "the duty to seek the truth, a necessary supposition for all authentic human maturation." Another of the principles is human freedom, which since it "is always shared with others, ... can only be found in that which is common to everyone: the truth of human beings, the fundamental message of existence itself, in other words the 'lex naturalis'."
Pope Benedict also dwelt upon the need for justice and solidarity, values expressed in "obligatory norms that do not depend upon the will of the legislator, nor even upon the consensus that States may give them. They are, in fact, norms that precede any human law and as such they cannot be repealed by anyone."
"Natural law," he affirmed, "is the source from which, along with fundamental rights, flow ethical imperatives that must be honored. Modern legal ethics and philosophy reveal the widespread influence of the postulates of juridical positivism. As a consequence legislation often becomes a mere compromise between various interests; there is an attempt to transform into law private interests or desires that clash with the duties deriving from social responsibility.
"In this situation, it is well to recall that all legal systems, both internal and international, ultimately draw their legitimacy from their rooting in natural law, in the ethical message inscribed in human beings themselves. ... Knowledge of this law ... increases with the development of moral conscience. The primary concern for everyone, and especially for those charged with public responsibilities, must then be that of promoting the maturation of moral conscience."
"What we have said so far has very concrete applications if referred to the family," explained the Pope, "in other words 'the intimate partnership of married life and love established by the Creator and qualified by His laws.' ... Indeed, no law made by man can overturn the norms written by the Creator, without inflicting a dramatic injury to society in what constitutes its most basic foundation."
"Finally, I feel the need to reaffirm once again that not everything that is scientifically possible is also ethically legitimate. Technology, when it reduces the human being to an object of experimentation, ends up by abandoning the weak to the power of the strongest. Entrusting oneself blindly to technology as the only guarantee of progress, without at the same time presenting an ethical code, ... would be an act of violence against human nature, with devastating consequences for everyone."
“Scientists must also contribute in helping us to acquire a profound understanding of our responsibility for man, and for the nature entrusted to him. On this basis it is possible to develop a fruitful dialogue between believers and non believers, between theologians, philosophers, jurists and scientists, all of whom can also give legislators precious guidance for individual and social life."
The Pope concluded his talk by expressing the hope that the conference will "bring not only a greater sensitivity among scholars towards moral natural law, but also help to create the conditions ... for an ever greater awareness of the inalienable value of 'lex naturalis' for a real and coherent progress of individual life and of the social order."

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Colombian bishops make energetic call for reconciliation in the country

Bogotá, Colombia, Feb 13, 2007 (CNA) - Amidst the climate of violence and tension which Colombians are suffering, the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, gathered for its 82nd Plenary Assembly, issued a statement calling for reconciliation, “so that victims, victimizers and society in general might know the profound experience of forgiveness.”

In a message entitled, “The commitment of the Church in response to the challenges of the national reality,” the bishops indicated that reconciliation would lead to the establishing of “a peace scenario that would denote the ‘fullness of life,’ a life of dignity and abundance for all, rather than the simple absence of war.”

The bishops denounced lying as “one of the causes of all conflicts and main obstacle to any effort at political negotiation” and urged all parties to embark upon “the path of truth.” Only that way could the “cycle of anger, resentment and vengeance” be broken, they said.

They also stressed that reconciliation could only come about if those responsible for the violence acknowledge the sinfulness of their actions in attacking the lives of others.  This is a “necessary step” for there to be peace, the bishops stated.

In their message the bishops also reiterated their commitment to speak out for those who have been “unjustly deprived of their freedom and subjected to kidnapping.”  “We will not be silent, nor shall we cease in our efforts until both the government and the FARC reach an humanitarian accord granting freedom to all of them,” they stressed.

The bishops also denounced drug trafficking in their message, calling it “the fuel of corruption and armed confrontation and the cause of many ills in the country,” and they emphasized their commitment to “speaking out prophetically” “in the defense of life, from conception to natural death, of the dignity of persons, for equality of opportunities and honesty in order to build a country that is for all and that excludes no one.”

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First Catholic church in Granada celebrates 525th anniversary

Madrid, Spain, Feb 13, 2007 (CNA) - The parish of Our Lady of the Incarnation in Alhama de Granada, the first Christian church consecrated in the Kingdom of Granada by order of Queen Isabel the Catholic, is celebrating this year its 525th anniversary.

The president of the Association of Alhamian Studies, Andres Garcia Maldonado, explained that the consecration of the church, which had previously been the Mosque of Alhama, in the spring of 1482, has great historical significance, as it sparked the Battle of Granada.
The consecration of this church, Maldonado said, led Pope Sixtus IV, until that moment an observer of the Reconquest embarked upon by the Catholic Kings, to officially declare the Battle of Granada and to express his support of the Spanish royalty in its effort to return Spain to the Christians.

The church’s consecration was ordered by Queen Isabel the Catholic and was carried out on April 30, 1482, by Cardinal Pedro de Mendoza, accompanied by King Ferdinand the Catholic, “thus following the standard practice of the day to consecrate mosques and turn them into Christian churches,” Maldonado explained.  After being consecrated, the mosque was destroyed and a gothic-style church was raised in its place.

Each month special commemorative acts will take place at the church.  The main celebration will take place in April, when the church celebrates 525 years since its consecration.

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Argentinean bishop calls for prayer for CELAM conference

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Feb 13, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Jose Luis Mollaghan of Rosario is calling on the faithful in Argentina to pray for the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Conference, which will take place in Aparecida, Brazil and will be inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI.
In noting the theme of the Conference, which is scheduled for 13-31, “Disciples and Missionaries of Jesus Christ, so that our peoples may have life in Him,” Bishop Mollaghan recalled that God desires the salvation of all men and women, and therefore we need missionaries.
“The missionary work of the Church expands every day, because at the dawn of the third millennium, the missions are truly an urgency,” he stressed.
Bishop Mollaghan explained that like St. Therese taught, “the fountain of mission work does not spring up first and foremost out of human efforts, but rather out of the faith and communion of the saints,” and he underscored that mission work is “like the seed, that grows if it falls on fertile ground, and it does not grow first and foremost because of our efforts, but rather because of the action and grace of God.”
Likewise, the Argentinean bishop invited Catholics to participate in mission work “through prayer, the increase of the missionary spirit, the promotion of missionary vocations and the support need to achieve this end,” as such vocations “are a sign of the love of Jesus Christ and of the true growth of the Church in that place.”

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