Archive of March 14, 2007

Haiti to host 3rd Caritas Encounter for Latin America and the Caribbean

Port au Prince, Haiti, Mar 14, 2007 (CNA) - From March 19-23 Haiti will host the 3rd Continental Meeting of Caritas Social Ministry and the 16th Latin American and Caribbean Congress, which will address issues such as development and democracy, reconciliation and peace, and migration.

Father Francisco Hernandez, Regional Coordinator of Caritas and organizer of the event, said preparatory meetings for the encounter have been taking place and discussions have been held with other world and regional organizations.

He said the different proposals will serve as the foundation for designing the next regional plan.

Father Hernandez stressed that the choice of Haiti, which is one of the poorest nations in the region, as host of the event, “is a sign that will help us to think about the objective and focus of the work of Caritas for the coming years.”

“This is the spirit that is motivating delegates, who will come to this country to strengthen their ties and to grow in the communication of the actions of solidarity that being carried out, journeying together with impoverished people and communities,” he stated.

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Shalom Community receives pontifical recognition

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2007 (CNA) - During a ceremony on Tuesday at the offices of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Shalom Community, which was founded in Brazil 25 years ago, was granted pontifical recognition as an International Association of the Faithful of Pontifical Right.

The ceremony was attended by more than 500 members of Shalom, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, and Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

Founded by Moises de Azevedo Filho, Shalom seeks to evangelize young people and is currently present in ten countries.

Members of Shalom will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, presided by Cardinal Hummes.

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Ghanan Priest killed by unknown assailants in Nairobi

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2007 (CNA) - Father Martin Addai, a member of the Missionaries of Africa and a citizen of Ghana, was killed by unknown assailants last Saturday in Nairobi, Kenya.

According to Vatican Radio, the 46 year-old priest was rector of his congregation’s seminary in the Kenyan capital and professor of medical ethics at Tangaza College, which is part of the Catholic University of Eastern Africa.

In statements to the MISNA news agency, the vice superior general of the Missionaries of Africa, Father Richard Baawobr, explained that Father Addai was walking down Mombasa Road in the southern section of Nairobi when he was gunned down.  His body was left abandoned in the street.

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Venezuelan Cardinal warns against Marxist-Leninist Socialism of Chavez

Caracas, Venezuela, Mar 14, 2007 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa, said this week Venezuela would not benefit from the installation of a brand of Marxist-Leninist socialism.  Such as system under President Hugo Chavez would not lead to prosperity, but to a “great oppression of the people,” Cardinal Urosa said.
In an interview with the Venezuelan daily El Universal, the Cardinal rejected the statements of President Hugo Chavez that Jesus was a “socialist” and he said that the “21st century Socialism” being touted by Chavez is ambiguous. 

Noting that during his speeches Chavez constantly encourages people to read Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Cardinal Urosa said, “Evidently he is telling us which road he is taking, and we tell him that it’s not for us, because it does not lead to prosperity.” 

Urosa pointed out that the Socialist system with the Marxist-Leninist tendencies, as developed in Eastern Europe, “did not produce any benefit or progress and actually led to serious oppression of the people.”
“Jesus Christ was not a politician,” the Cardinal stressed, and “it cannot be said that Jesus Christ supports either the Socialist or the neo-liberal capitalist system, nor the monarchy, nor the republic.”
In other statements, Cardinal Urosa recalled that last December, the Venezuelan bishops sent a letter to Chavez telling him that they hoped his 21st century Socialism would be “equally devoid of both savage capitalism and Marxist ideology.”
The bishops said they were hopeful it would be “a path of transformation of the country, open to the transcendent and to religion and promoting the inclusion of all Venezuelans through dialogue and peaceful persuasion.”

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Archbishop voices opposition to cloning in Australia

Melbourne, Australia, Mar 14, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne intends to make a personal plea to Premier Steve Bracks to abandon his plan to pass a bill that would allow therapeutic cloning of human embryos. The archbishop said he would seek talks with the premier once details of the bill were known, reported The Age.

Archbishop Hart said Tuesday that embryonic cloning was "always unethical" and there was "total opposition" from the Catholic Church.

Bracks has said his Catholic faith has not dissuaded him from proceeding with the bill.

"To allow human embryos to be deliberately created and then destroyed for scientific research is always unethical," the archbishop was quoted as saying. However, he added, the Catholic Church does support ethical forms of stem cell research based on adult stem cells, as well as those derived from the blood of the umbilical cord.

The bill was introduced in State Parliament last night, and opposition was voiced at a government caucus meeting yesterday. Former minister Christine Campbell reportedly spoke against the bill for more than 20 minutes.

Campbell said that benefits had not been extensively proven in animal testing and legalization of the procedure would put fertile women at risk by harvesting their eggs.

She and fellow Labor MP Tammy Lobato have organized a forum for MPs on Thursday to learn more about the issue before voting.

Under the proposed legislation, researchers would be allowed to clone human embryos for medical research through somatic cell nuclear transfer, commonly known as therapeutic cloning. But researchers would not be allowed to merge an egg with sperm to create an embryo.

This research is already practiced in the U.S., Britain, Sweden, Japan, China, India and Israel.

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Discovery Channel sends legal notice to Catholic group for alleged false claim

Mumbai, India, Mar 14, 2007 (CNA) - The Discovery Channel has threatened to take legal action against the Mumbai-based Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) for claiming that the channel had decided not to broadcast the controversial documentary “The Lost Tomb of Jesus.” The channel sent the CSF legal notice on March 6, reported the Indo-Asia News Service.

The Catholic group had claimed that the channel pulled the documentary from its line-up after it, along with several Christian groups and leaders asked management not to broadcast the film.

“Media reports have erroneously claimed that Discovery Communication India has withdrawn the television program 'The Lost Tomb of Jesus' as a result of pressure from a local religious group,” the channel said in a statement. “This assertion is false and inaccurate.”

“Discovery Communication India had never scheduled the telecast of the program in India, as demonstrated by our program guide, monthly press kit and website,” it said, asking the CSF as well to refrain from making false and misleading statements.

CSF general secretary Joseph Dias told UCA News March 8 that they "have not gotten any legal notice," and that he learned about it from the media. The Catholic group said it stands by its statements.

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Specialists in Spain denounce lack of care for women with unexpected pregnancies

Madrid, Spain, Mar 14, 2007 (CNA) - During the conclusion of the international conference “Women and the Reality of Abortion,” on March 10th in the Spanish city of Caceres, dozens of specialists from Spain and other countries issued an urgent call for greater care for women who are at risk for having an abortion, especially women with unexpected pregnancies.

During the three days of the event organized by the Spanish Forum for the Family, experts discussed government policies which claim to reduce the number of abortions.  The Forum members agreed that current policies do no such thing. “Far from that,” organizers of the conference said in a press release, “each year thousands of women find themselves helpless and without support from society, which can lead them to have recourse to abortion.”

Among the presentations given during the event was that of psychiatrist Carmen Gomez Lavin, who discussed post-abortion stress syndrome and its impact on many women in Spain who have procured an abortion.

Likewise, Esperanza Puente, a Spanish woman who aborted her child twelve years ago and is today a renowned pro-life leader, shared about the drama many women suffer after having an abortion.  “Abortion,” she said, “has not made these women feel modern or progressive, but rather enslaved.”

Participants in the conference also emphasized the need for governments to put into place policies that help women in troubled pregnancies, especially teenagers and immigrants.

The Spanish Forum on the Family announced it would begin sending up a series of legislative proposals to help such women.

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Europe must be re-evangelized and rediscover its roots, professor says

Rome, Italy, Mar 14, 2007 (CNA) - Europe must rediscover its Christian identity and defend against legislation and policies that threaten the family, said a main organizer of the recent European Conference on the Family.

The conference, (as previously reported here) focused on the theme "The Family: the Future of Europe". It was organized by the Institute for Higher Studies on Women of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University in Rome.

In an interview with Fides, Patricia Martínez Peroni said conference participants agreed that Europe has chosen to ignore its Christian roots and is, as a result, losing its identity.

They also concurred that the continent’s current policies, which only for material wellbeing and are having “a worrying effect on various aspects of the human reality, including the family.”

“These policies cut the human person in two, restricting the transcendent dimension to the sphere of private life and expecting people to live in social groups where citizens have rights but no rights are recognized for God who is the author of Europe and all humanity,” said Martínez, who teaches anthropology and psychology at San Pablo University in Madrid, Spain.

“Europe’s identity is Christian and it must be rediscovered and valued,” she stated. Martínez noted that Christian identity is budding again in certain European countries.
“In a situation of de-Christianization, Europe is again a field for evangelization. Like the prodigal son, the continent would seem to have squandered its heritage and must now be re-evangelized so it may rediscover its roots,” she said.
Martínez said she does not believe that the family is ailing, “but that it is threatened by anti-Christian ideologies and groups for which fail to see the family as a value or a juridical good to be protected,” she continued. “The family is endangered by legislation which attacks rather than protects and supports the family.”

The university lecturer said Europe’s social and political goals must respond to the human identity of the person and the identity of the family.

Conference participants discussed the family at the economic, political social, cultural and religious levels and offered practical suggestions that would help people rediscover the importance of the family, Martínez reported. This message, they concurred, must be articulated effectively in the public square.

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St. Peter’s is a “spiritual organism” at the heart of the Catholic Church, Pope says

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2007 (CNA) - Following today's general audience, Benedict XVI went to the headquarters of the Fabric of St. Peter's to greet the people who work there.  The Holy Father told those who serve the Vatican’s Major Basilica that St. Peter’s is not a museum or work of architecture, but a “living place,” a “spiritual organism.”

In his remarks to the staff of this pontifical institution he recalled how they undertake their duties "in a place, the venerable basilica of the Apostle, that is the heart of the Catholic Church. A beating heart, thanks to the Holy Spirit which keeps it alive, but also thanks to the activity of those who daily ensure its upkeep.”

"Slightly more than 500 years have passed," he added, "since the first stone of the second Vatican Basilica was laid. ... And yet it remains a living place, it is not a museum, it is a spiritual organism, and the stones also reflect this vitality."

Benedict XVI thanked the staff of the Fabric for the work they carry out "with commitment and competence, so that this 'heart' of the Church ... can continue to 'beat' with perennial vitality, drawing to herself men and women of the entire world and helping them to enjoy a spiritual experience that marks their lives."

Pope Benedict concluded: "Thanks to your efforts ... many people are able to draw fruit from their pilgrimage or visit to the Vatican Basilica, and take away in their hearts a message of faith and hope."

Among their other duties, the Basilica staff are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the St. Peters.  

The Pope also greeted Archbishop Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica and Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, delegate of the Fabric.

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St. Ignatius of Antioch teaches us to long for union with Christ, Pope says

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2007 (CNA) - Continuing his cycle of catecheses on the Apostolic Fathers, Benedict XVI dedicated the general audience today to the figure of St. Ignatius of Antioch. The audience, held in St. Peter's Square, was attended by around 25,000 people.

From the year 70 to 107 St. Ignatius was bishop of Antioch, "the city in which the disciples first received the name of Christians," said the Pope. Condemned to be thrown to wild beasts, he was taken to Rome for the sentence to be carried out and took advantage of his journey through the various cities of the empire to confirm the Christians living there in their faith.

"No Father of the Church expressed with the same intensity as Ignatius the longing for union with Christ and for life in Him," said the Pope, explaining that "two spiritual currents come together in St. Ignatius: that of Paul, which tends towards union with Christ, and that of John, which focuses on life in Him. In their turn, these two currents lead to the imitation of Christ."

"Ignatius' irresistible attraction towards union with Christ is the foundation for a true mysticism of unity," Benedict XVI went on. And he recalled how in the seven letters the bishop of Antioch wrote during his journey to Rome "he frequently repeats that God, existing in three persons, is One in absolute unity, ... and that the unity Christians must create in this world is no more than an imitation, as near as possible to the divine archetype."

In St. Ignatius' letters we find "a constant and fruitful dialectic between two characteristic aspects of Christian life: on the one hand, the hierarchical structure of the ecclesial community and, on the other, the fundamental unity that binds the faithful to one another in Christ. Consequently, the [various different] roles cannot conflict. On the contrary, the insistence on the communion of believers among themselves and with their pastors is continually reformulated" using musical images such as "the lyre, chords ... symphonies."

Benedict XVI highlighted the "special responsibility of bishops, priests and deacons in the edification of the community," which must translate, above all, into "a proposal of love and unity."

"It is clear, then, that St. Ignatius was the 'doctor of unity'," said the Pope. "The 'realism' of Ignatius invites us all to undertake a progressive synthesis between configuration to Christ (union with Him, life in Him) and commitment to His Church (unity with the bishop, generous service to the community and the world), ... between interior communion of the Church and mission, which is the proclamation of the Gospel for others."

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Meeting between Russian President and Pope “positive”

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2007 (CNA) - The Vatican released a short statement on Wednesday, following Tuesday afternoon’s meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pope Benedict XVI.  The Vatican communiqué said that the discussions between the two heads of state “provided an opportunity to emphasize the cordial relations that exist between the Holy See and the Russian Federation.”

"The discussions, which took place in a positive atmosphere, provided an opportunity to emphasize the cordial relations that exist between the Holy See and the Russian Federation and the shared desire to develop them further, also through specific cultural initiatives,” the Vatican release said.

The two leaders discussed several issues “of mutual interest,” including, “relations between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, and current international questions…especially those regarding the Middle East.”

According to the Vatican, Pope Benedict and President Putin also discussed, “the problems of extremism and intolerance, which constitute grave threats to the civilized coexistence of nations, highlighting the need to preserve peace and to favor negotiated and peaceful solutions to conflicts.”

At the same time, the Holy Father and president were meeting, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, met with Sergei Lavrov, minister for foreign affairs of the Russian Federation, and other members of the delegation accompanying the president.
The Vatican made no mention of the possibility for a Papal trip to Russia.

The 25-minute meeting yesterday started at about at 6 p.m. and was held in German, the native tongue of the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.  Putin, a former spy in communist East Germany, is also fluent in the language.

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Vatican puts stop to work of Jesuit Liberation theologian

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2007 (CNA) - Wednesday morning, a day earlier than expected, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a Notification concerning certain works of Fr. Jon Sobrino S.J. According to the note, these works "contain propositions which are either erroneous or dangerous and may cause harm to the faithful."
“Fr. Sobrino manifests a preoccupation for the poor and oppressed, particularly in Latin America. This preoccupation certainly is shared by the whole Church,” the note clarifies."
However, the communiqué continues, "the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), in its Instruction on Christian liberty and liberation 'Libertatis conscientia,' indicated that 'human misery drew the compassion of Christ the Savior to take it upon Himself and to be identified with the least of His brethren,' and that 'the preferential option for the poor, far from being a sign of particularism or sectarianism, manifests the universality of the Church's being and mission. This option excludes no one. This is the reason why the Church cannot express this option by means of reductive sociological and ideological categories which would make this preference a partisan choice and a source of conflict.’”
The CDF also released an earlier statement clarifying that its warnings about Liberation reductionism could not be interpreted as, “a reproach to those who wish to be faithful to a 'preferential option for the poor,' nor could they be an excuse for those who remain indifferent to the grave problems of human misery and injustice.”
“The evil inequities and oppression of every kind which afflict millions of men and women today openly contradict Christ's Gospel and cannot leave the conscience of any Christian indifferent,” the CDF document says.
The Notification from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith then goes on to affirm that "after a preliminary examination of the books 'Jesucristo liberador. Lectura histórico-teológica de Jesús de Nazaret' (Jesus the Liberator) and 'La fe en Jesucristo. Ensayo desde las víctimas' (Christ the Liberator) by Fr. Jon Sobrino, S.J., the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, because of certain imprecisions and errors found in them, decided to proceed to a more thorough study of these works in October 2001. Given the wide distribution of these writings and their use in seminaries and other centers of study, particularly in Latin America, it was decided to employ the 'urgent examination' as regulated by articles 23-27 of 'Agendi Ratio in Doctrinarum Examine.'
"As a result of this examination, in July 2004 a list of erroneous or dangerous propositions found in the above-mentioned books was sent to the author through Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus.”
"In March of 2005,” the Vatican statement continues, “Fr. Jon Sobrino sent a 'Response to the text of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith' to the Congregation. This response was studied in the Ordinary Session of the Congregation on November 23, 2005. It was determined that, although the author had modified his thought somewhat on several points, the response did not prove satisfactory since, in substance, the errors already cited in the list of erroneous propositions still remained in this text."
"For this reason, it was decided to publish this Notification, in order to offer the faithful a secure criterion, founded upon the doctrine of the Church, by which to judge the affirmations contained in these books or in other publications of the author."
"The Congregation does not intend to judge the subjective intentions of the author, but rather has the duty to call attention to certain propositions which are not in conformity with the doctrine of the Church. These propositions regard: (1) the methodological presuppositions on which the author bases his theological reflection, (2) the Divinity of Jesus Christ, (3) the Incarnation of the Son of God, (4) the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, (5) the Self-consciousness of Jesus, and (6) the salvific value of His Death,” the statement adds.
Latin American concerns

In Latin America, especially El Salvador, where Sobrino has lived and worked for almost five decades, the news of his condemnation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith came on Monday. Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador acknowledged the existence of the document and said, “The Holy See has told us the conclusions of his theological studies are not in accord with the doctrine of the Church.”
According to some analysts, the Notification indicates that the issue of Liberation Theology continues to be of concern in the region, due not only to the teachings of Sobrino but also to those of other prominent theologians who include Marxism in their interpretation, especially in view of the upcoming 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council.
“His writings have been under study for some time, and for years he has been issued warnings,” Archbishop Lacalle said, explaining that Sobrino emphasizes the human nature of Jesus Christ to such a degree as to cast doubt upon his divinity.
The archbishop said he prays that Sobrino will “conform to the teachings of the Church.”  “I pray to the Lord for Father Jon Sobrino, that he may be docile to the teachings of the Church and would review his conclusions,” he said.
Sources consulted by CNA pointed out that various exponents of Liberation Theology are trying to influence the preparation and content of the working documents that will be sent to the more than 300 bishops throughout the Americas who will be participating in the CELAM meeting in Brazil in May.

To read the Notification in full, visit CNA’s link here: 

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