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Archive of March 6, 2007

Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist one week away, Vatican announces

Vatican City, Mar 6, 2007 (CNA) - After over a year of work, the Holy See will release the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist, titled “Sacramentum Caritatis,” on Tuesday, March 13th.  The document, which flows from the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, held in October of 2005, has been highly anticipated in ecclesiastical circles.

A press conference for the document’s release will be held in the Press Office of the Holy See, led by Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice and relator general of the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, and Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.

The document is rumored to be a profound reflection on the Sacrament of the Eucharist and may call for a proposal and plan for liturgical reforms, including a greater use of the Latin language, Gregorian chant, classical polyphonic music.  According to one source, the document may also call for “more decorum and liturgical sobriety in the celebration of the Eucharist, excluding dance and, as much as possible, applause.”

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Pope Benedict appoints new bishops for two U.S. Dioceses

Vatican City, Mar 6, 2007 (CNA) - The Press Office of the Holy See announced this morning Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment of bishops for two U.S. dioceses.  Bishop Kevin Farrell will be the new Bishop of Dallas and Monsignor Glenn Provost will take the helm of the Diocese of Lake Charles.

Bishop Kevin Joseph Farrell, who has served for the last five years as an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. will take over in Dallas, which boasts the 10th largest Catholic population in the U.S.  

By many accounts, Bishop Farrell has been a highly effective and popular bishop and priest for the archdiocese since 1983, when he left the Legionaries of Christ for service in the local church.  

The 59-year old bishop was born in Dublin Ireland, and has been extremely active in leading Washington’s Hispanic ministries since he arrived in the city.  Bishop Farrell has also served on numerous committees for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Farrell holds advanced degrees in Philosophy and Theology and is fluent in both Spanish and Italian.

Commenting on Bishop Farrell’s new position, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, said, “the appointment of Bishop Kevin Farrell as the Bishop of Dallas is good news for the Church in Texas and we join in thanking God for this blessing.”

“As the faithful of that See will come to recognize, Bishop Farrell is blessed with many priestly talents and brings to his work a sense of genuine concern for others and great pastoral ability. His wisdom and administrative skills will be gifts to his new home as they were here during his many years of ministry.”

“Over the past nine months since my own transition to Washington, I have experienced his pastoral counsel, which has meant so much to me,” Archbishop Wuerl continued. “He has the ability to combine the wisdom of years of administrative experience with the pastoral demands of each new day. Together with the people of the Archdiocese of Washington whom he has served faithfully for 24 years as pastor, administrator and, in a special way, as auxiliary bishop for the past five years, I will miss him greatly. At the same time, we recognize the wisdom of the Holy See’s desire to use his gifts more broadly at the service of the Church. May God’s blessings be with Bishop Farrell in this great new ministry.”

He succeeds Bishop Charles Victor Grahmann, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

Lake Charles

The Holy Father also appointed a new bishop for the Diocese of Lake Charles in Louisiana.  Msgr. Glen Provost, a priest of the Diocese of Lafayette, LA, will become the third bishop in the neighboring diocese of Lake Charles, which was once part the Lafayette Diocese.

Bishop-elect Provost who has been serving as Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Lafayette, will be ordained and installed on Monday, April 23 in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.  Provost has also held numerous diocesan leadership positions in Lafayette.

The 58 year-old Provost completed his seminary studies at the Pontifical North American College and Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome.  The Bishop-elect holds advanced degrees in Sacred Theology from the Angelicum and in English Literature from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.  He has also done extensive language studies in French, Spanish, and Italian.

Bishop Michael Jarrell, Bishop of Lafayette, offered praise for Mons. Provost upon hearing of his appointment. “I am extremely pleased that the Holy Father has named Monsignor Glen Provost to be the Third Bishop of Lake Charles,” Bishop Jarrell said. “In his previous assignments, Monsignor Provost has proven himself as a capable and effective pastor. I am confident he will provide the same leadership for the Catholic people of Lake Charles.”

“I am sorry that he is leaving Lafayette, but I know that I speak for his parishioners and his fellow priests in offering congratulations and best wishes to a native son of Lafayette who has been called to another level of leadership in the Church. May the Lord prosper the work of his hands.”

The Diocese of Lake Charles has been without a bishop since March 15, 2005, when Bishop Edward K. Braxton was appointed to the Diocese of Belleville in Illinois.

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Knights of Columbus to launch 125th anniversary year

New Haven, Conn., Mar 6, 2007 (CNA) - The Knights of Columbus will launch its 125th anniversary year with a Mass on March 29th, where the world’s largest international lay organization was founded — St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Conn.

Founded in 1882 by Fr. Michael McGivney, along with a few parishioners in the basement of St. Mary’s Church, the group has grown to an international organization of more than 1.7 million members. The mass will be celebrated in honor of Fr. McGivney, who’s cause for canonization is actively being presented by Fr. Gabriel O’Donnell, O.P.

The Knights have remained true to their founding principles of charity, unity and fraternity, and have included patriotism as a fourth principle. The organization is renowned for its dedicated support of both church and country.

The efforts and contributions of the councils tally to significant amounts. In 2005 (the last period for which data has been compiled), the K of C donated more than $139 million and 64 million hours of volunteer service to charitable causes. Among these contributions was $10 million in relief assistance to Gulf Coast residents and Catholic organizations affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Other prominent charities annually supported by the Knights are Special Olympics and the Wheelchair Foundation.

Its charitable work also includes substantial support for the Catholic Church in Rome. The K of C funded the restoration of the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica during the 1980’s, and annually underwrites the cost of satellite TV broadcasts of liturgical celebrations from Vatican City, including the Christmas Midnight Mass. The organization has established a $20 million endowment called the Vicarius Christi Fund. The annual proceeds are provided to the Pope in support of his charitable initiatives.

In its dimension as a fraternal benefit society, the Knights of Columbus provides its members a variety of life insurance products for the financial stability of their families. One of the most highly rated insurance companies in North America, the K of C has more than $61 billion of life insurance in force and consistently earns the industry’s highest independent rankings for fiscal management and ethical business practices.

Before and throughout World War I, the Knights ran “Army Huts”, a predecessor to the USO, which provided recreation, snacks, and comfort items to the troops near bases and near the front.

During the 1920’s, in direct opposition to the Ku Klux Klan, the Knights lobbied President Calvin Coolidge to pressure the Mexican government to stop its persecution of Catholics in Mexico. Ultimately, the demands paid off, and an accord was reached between the Church and the Mexican government.

In the 1950’s, it was the Knights of Columbus that led the effort to have the words “under God” added to the Pledge of Allegiance.

The organization continues to speak out on important social issues today, especially human life matters. Among the many notable Knights over the past 125 years were: Babe Ruth, Connie Mack, Joyce Kilmer, Vince Lombardi, Al Smith, John F. Kennedy, Sargent Shriver, and Ron Guidry.

Knights councils are urged to arrange a church drive as part of the organization’s membership blitz on the weekend of March 24-25, the weekend prior to Founder’s Day.

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Church leaders urge Vietnamese government to return shrine property

Hanoi, Vietnam, Mar 6, 2007 (CNA) - Local Church leaders have petitioned the government to resolve a land dispute involving the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Vang in central Vietnam.

Church leaders say only 6.5 hectares of the more than 25 hectares of land that belong to the national shrine, located 600 km south of Ha Noi, is at their disposal. The local government has allowed people to build houses, cultivate fruit trees and raise fish and poultry on the remaining land, reported UCA News.

Church leaders argue they need the land to build accommodations and other facilities for pilgrims, whose numbers continue to increase from year to year. About 500,000 pilgrims came to the shrine in 2005.

Bishop Paul Nguyen Van Hoa, head of the Vietnam bishops' conference, and Archbishop Etienne Nguyen Nhu The of Hue signed the petition, which was sent to senior government leaders at the end of January.

A basilica, a square, and other facilities for pilgrims had existed in Hai Phu village on the site where the Blessed Mother is believed to have appeared in 1798 to console persecuted Christians. But the site was destroyed in 1972, during the Vietnam War. Only three concrete banyan trees, 20 meters in height, and the Marian statue survived. The old statue was replaced by a new one in 1998.

Since the communists took control of the country in April 1975, a new church was built along with a hostel. But the bishops said the Church has not been able to mark the boundaries of the shrine, despite having deeds for the land.

During the bishops' annual meeting in September, the bishops planned to reclaim the shrine's land and build adequate facilities for the 2008 Marian congress. Some bishops later met with President Nguyen Minh Triet and apprised him of several issues, including the shrine. The president reportedly pledged to resolve the issues gradually.

The Vatican and government of Vietnam are currently in talks aimed at reestablishing diplomatic relations.  The Communist nation has made considerable strides in the area of religious freedom in recent years.

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German cardinal says Holy Land should not become ‘living museum’

Jerusalem, Israel, Mar 6, 2007 (CNA) - The president of the German Bishops Conference said the Holy Land must not become “a living museum of Christianity.”

Cardinal Karl Lehmann made his comments March 4th, at the end of a recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a delegation of German bishops. The bishops met with local Christians and visited their schools and facilities.

The Catholic Church is vital for spiritual and social life in the Holy Land, he said, mentioning the Caritas children’s hospital in Bethlehem.

“The extent of the contribution made by the Church in the Holy Land to social life through all sorts of schools and social facilities is impressive,” he said. “We want to help Christians have a future here. We urge all believers to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land.”

The cardinal added that it is essential for the German people to face the genocide of the Jewish people during World War II both in the current day and in the future.

The Cardinal had visited the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem. “It is essential for all Germans to face the Genocide of the Jews in the present as well as in the future," he was quoted as saying.

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World seems to have no need for God, says Argentinean bishop

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 6, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Ruben Frassia of Avellaneda said this week “the world appears to no longer have any time for God,” and he called on the faithful to be converted during this time of Lent.”

In his message for Lent 2007, Bishop Frassia said, “God has something to tell us,” askin his people whether they are open to what the Lord has to say.

“Have we decided? When Easter comes will we be able to say that our lives and our commitment have improved during this Lent?” he asked.

“Nobody can change without first deciding to convert and taking this time of Lent seriously,” the bishop said.  “Getting to the end well depends on this.  Let’s not fool ourselves.”

“Our communities should believe in the strength of Him who saves us,” he continued.  “The witness who is convinced has something to say to others. Lent, a time of conversion, also demands decisiveness.”

In his message Bishop Frasia also expressed his hopes that the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council, which will take place May 13-14 in Brazil, will “encourage us to see clearly the new challenges and the appropriate urgent responses from the Church and society.”

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Salvadoran archbishop calls for halt to negative campaign against Guatemala

San Salvador, El Salvador, Mar 6, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador has called for a halt to the “negative campaign against Guatemala” which has resulted from the murder three weeks ago of three Salvadoran lawmakers who were participating in the Central American Parliament.  Agents from Guatemalan security forces have been proven responsible for the killings.

The archbishop’s statements came after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Anders Kompass said Guatemala was a “failed and collapsed State,” because of the prevailing climate of insecurity and distrust for the country’s institutions.

“I think there have been serious problems, but I think we cannot carry out a negative campaign against a fellow country, because we are united by many bonds and even by common economic interests,” Archbishop Saenz Lacalle said.  “It’s not worth it to carry out a campaign against tourism in Guatemala,” he added, saying that each person should analyze with prudence “what security measures to take.”

The archbishop said he hoped Salvadoran officials would “resolve these serious problems soon…but, we cannot judge a nation by the behavior of a few,” he said.
 
Three Salvadoran lawmakers and their driver were killed and burned on a rural road in Guatemala on February 19th.  Three days later officials announced the capture of four police detectives involved in the crime.  On February 25, the detectives were executed at a maximum security prison.

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Chinese government blames Vatican for lack of diplomatic relations

Rome, Italy, Mar 6, 2007 (CNA) - The director of the China’s State Bureau of Religious Affairs, Ye Xiaowen, has insisted on blaming the Vatican for the lack of progress in the restoration of diplomatic ties with his country and he said the breach with the Holy See “is still great.”

In statements to the South China Morning Post, Xiaowen said the Vatican resists accepting the two conditions demanded by China for diplomatic relations to be reestablished: a break in ties with Taiwan, and that the Vatican not get involved in the internal affairs of China, such as the naming of bishops.

“Only if the Vatican consents to these two principles will relations be able to continue forward.  As of now they have not been accepted.  Of course, the breach is still great,” he said.

Xiaowen also said that the government awaits “with great interest” the expected letter from Pope Benedict XVI to Chinese Catholics.

Beijing and the Vatican broke off diplomatic relations in 1951, when Mao Tse Tung launched a massive crackdown on all Christian organizations, which he accused of being “counterrevolutionary.”  In 1957 authorities allowed for the creation of the Patriotic Church, whose bishops are chosen by the government.  At that time the Church faithful to Rome went underground to flee persecution.

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Council of Andalusia authorizes euthanasia for handicapped Spanish woman

Madrid, Spain, Mar 6, 2007 (CNA) - In a controversial case in which the distinction between euthanasia and the discontinuation of extraordinary medical treatment has been blurred, the government of the Spanish region of Andalusia has authorized a woman suffering from muscular dystrophy to disconnect the respirator that is keeping her alive.  

The Committee on Ethics of the Council of Andalusia announced its support for the request by Inmaculada Echevarria, who argued that hers was not a case of active euthanasia, but a rejection of further treatment.  

Yet, despite her claim, Echevarria is not terminally ill and the artificial respirator she uses is not prolonging her life but rather supporting her so she does not die of asphyxiation.  The decision by the Council will shield the doctors who disconnect the respirator from legal liability.

Maria Jesus Monteor, a health advisor to the Council, said the disconnection of the respirator is a matter of “strict confidentiality” and that her department would not be making any further statements.  Echevarria’s case, she said, is a question of “doctor-patient relationship” and a matter of privacy.  She called for “respect for this patient’s decision.”

Catholic hospital complicit in decision

Brother Miguel Martin Calderon, director of the Hospital of San Rafael of Granada, which is operated by the order of St. John of God, explained in a press release that the institution accepts the report from the Committee on Ethics and the Consultative Council.

The report asserts there are no “objections of an ethical nature” with regards to Echevarria’s request.  Therefore they counseled hospital administrators to scrupulously watch over respect for the rights of the patient.”

Hospital administrators said they did not want to reveal any details about the plans for Echevarria’s death, but they insisted on making the public aware of the her “express desire” regarding the necessary respect for her dignity and privacy.
 
Euthanasia is always illegitimate

In his comments about the case, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares of Toledo and vice president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference said euthanasia is “always illegitimate” and is “an attack against human life and dignity.”

To disconnect someone from a respirator is “simply to accept euthanasia and that man can take his own life,” the Cardinal said, noting that this type of murder “is always evil and is something that attacks man, his life and his dignity.”

Inmaculada Echevarria will die at the Hospital of San Rafael of Granada where she has been cared for during the last ten years.  Her team of doctors will care for her until her euthanasia is completed.

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Kremlin confirms upcoming meeting between Pope Benedict and President Putin

Vatican City, Mar 6, 2007 (CNA) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has an official meeting scheduled with Pope Benedict XVI during the head-of-state's upcoming trip to Italy and Greek, Russian news sources have confirmed.  The Holy Father and the Russian President will meet on March 13th.

According to a Kremlin news service, the Russian leader will also meet with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Romano Prodi on the same day.

This will be the first meeting between Putin and Pope Benedict, though it will be the Russian President’s third visit to the Vatican.  Putin met with Pope John Paul II in 2000 and 2003.

John Paul II had been invited to Russia by both Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev and Russian President Boris Yeltsin.  However, a visit never came to be due to continued tensions between the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches.

According to the Interfax Russian news service, the Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate has never rejected the idea of a papal visit to Russia or a meeting between the pope and Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia in a third country.  

Working towards Catholic-Orthodox reunification has been one of the main focuses of Pope Benedict’s Pontificate.

RIA Novosti news service also noted that President Putin will depart Rome for Greece, for the signing of an agreement to build a $1 billion, 175 mile (280 km) pipeline to pump Russian oil across Bulgaria and Greece, to Europe.

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