Naples, Fla., Mar 23, 2007 (CNA) -
Following a whirlwind of activity in southern Florida, Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J. seems to have resettled at Ave Maria University. According to several sources, the popular Jesuit priest will not return to his duties as Provost of the fledgling university, but will become a “designated theologian in residence.”
In a short statement released late Thursday the University announced that, “As a sign of our esteem for his great gifts and abilities, we have asked Father Fessio and he has agreed to continue a relationship with us.”
According to the Naples News, Fessio and Ave Maria have agreed that he will maintain a room on campus, assume some teaching responsibilities, and will make further plans for student study abroad program.
“I’m back and I’m glad,” Fessio said on Thursday afternoon.
The priest told the Naples News that as Ave Maria leadership, “began to focus more on what’s going to be best for the students and the university as a whole,” they decided that he should stay on-board in some capacity.
Fessio said that Ave Maria University founder Tom Monaghan and President Nick Healy, who announced yesterday that he was fired for, “irreconcilable differences over administrative policies and practices,” realized that such differences did not mean he should be completely removed from responsibilities with the school. “If we disagreed on the administration process, then send me from administration,” the priest said, adding that he will not now be involved in “major policy decisions.”
Ave Maria has been adamant in stressing that they have no ideological differences with Fessio, who is known for his strong defense of and faithfulness to the Church’s theological and moral teachings. “We expressed yesterday that the separation of Father Fessio from the University’s administration had nothing to do with our shared commitment to our mission,” the press release added.
With the reappointment Fr. Fessio, who is also the founder of Ignatius Press and publisher of the Catholic World Report, expressed his continued support of the school. “This is an extraordinary undertaking of the university for the students,” Fessio told Florida’s The News-Press. “I was removed yesterday, but had so much admiration and respect for the role I played here. We call Catholic priests father for a reason. It really is a family.”
“I think it would have been better to have foreseen a little more clearly. It wouldn’t have been so much turmoil. But all’s well that ends well,” he said.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 23, 2007 (CNA) - The Vice President of Argentina, Daniel Scioli, who met briefly on Wednesday with Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square, revealed that the Pontiff told him, “Argentina is the hope of the future” and that he prays constantly for the country.
“Argentina is the hope of the future. I pray always for this country,” Scioli quoted the Pope as saying when the two exchanged greetings before the Wednesday Audience.
Scioli was accompanied by his wife, Carolina Rabollini, and by the Argentinean ambassador before the Holy See, Carlos Custer.
Rome, Italy, Mar 23, 2007 (CNA) - About 700 experts from 44 countries are meeting in Rome, starting today, to discuss ways to promote family unity and improve the social, political, and economic conditions of families around the world.
Participants at the 17th international meeting on the family will sign a declaration that has already been approved by family policy organizations on all five populated continents. After its signing, the Rome Declaration on Family Rights and Responsibilities will be presented to the United Nations.
The two-day conference was organized by the International Federation for Family Development. Discussion will focus on family policies in various areas; combining work and family; education of children; the family and economic development.
Hartford, Conn., Mar 23, 2007 (CNA) - Catholics gathered at Connecticut’s State Capital building yesterday to demonstrate against proposed legislation that would require all hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, to offer emergency birth control.
Speaking to about 100 Catholics at a rally on the steps outside the Capitol, Archbishop Henry Mansell of Hartford said his staff is working with legislators toward a "third party" resolution on the matter, reported the Hartford Courant.
The legislature’s Human Services Committee approved the measure last week. It is now earmarked for the Senate. It is expected to be sent to the public health committee for further review before it comes up for a formal vote.
The archbishop said he would like to work toward solution “that respects the legitimate needs of the rape victim, yet allows the Catholic hospitals to operate according to a manner respectful of their religious beliefs and moral values.”
The prelate noted that Connecticut “has a strong tradition of respecting the religious beliefs of various organizations, while working closely with them in accomplishing their shared goal of helping the citizens.”
“Unfortunately, that tradition of mutual respect and religious tolerance is now being strongly challenged [with this bill]," the archbishop was quoted as saying in the Courant.
In cases of rape, which is viewed as an act of violence rather than a consensual sexual act, emergency contraception is acceptable to the Catholic Church if conception has not yet occurred, in other words, where there is no possibility of causing the death of a human life.
The archbishop said as much yesterday, "We are not opposed to emergency contraception for women who are victims of rape. What we are opposed to is abortion."
The rally was part of Catholic Concerns Day. Church members spent part of the morning sharing their concerns about Plan B, same-sex marriage and financial support for Catholic charities.
Houston, Texas, Mar 23, 2007 (CNA) - The Anglican Communion seems one step closer to a schism this week, after bishops of the U.S. Episcopal Church rejected an ultimatum from the primates of the Anglican Communion to create a new pastoral initiative that would help address the ongoing disagreement in the Anglican Church.
At the end of their annual spring retreat, the bishops of the Episcopal Church issued a statement on Tuesday, stating that they decline to participate in the primates' demand for a new pastoral scheme that calls for the appointment of a primatial vicar and pastoral council. According to the London Times, this scheme would provide an enclave for those who cannot accept the leadership of a liberal bishop who had abandoned the Church’s traditional stand on such things as homosexual “marriage,” or actively homosexual clerics.
The Episcopal bishops said they could not accept the plan because it violated their Church law. As well, they questioned the “unprecedented shift of power toward the Primates,” demonstrated by the plan.
Although they rejected the proposed pastoral plan, the U.S. bishops expressed their commitment “to continue working to find a way of meeting the pastoral concerns raised by the primates that are compatible with our own Church's polity and canons.”
At their meeting in Dar es Salaam, the primates had set a Sept. 30 deadline for the pastoral scheme to be set up. They also demanded a commitment not to authorize same-sex blessings or consecrate any more homosexual bishops.
"We believe that there is an urgent need for us to meet face to face with the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the primates' standing committee, and we hereby request and urge that such a meeting be negotiated . . . at the earliest possible opportunity,” the U.S. bishops stated.
They invited the archbishop and members of the primates' standing committee for a three-day meeting to discuss these matters. They expressed their “strong desire to remain within the fellowship of the Anglican Communion.”
Beijing, China, Mar 23, 2007 (CNA) - The Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, who has become the principal liaison between China and the Holy See, said this week that there is “little probability” that the open letter which Pope Benedict XVI has prepared for the Catholic community in China includes a concession regarding the traditional rights of the Church.
In an interview published by the Hong Kong daily South China Morning Post, the Cardinal said the main purpose of the letter is to clarify pastoral issues important to the Church in China and not to analyze the state of diplomatic relations.
“It will focus on pastoral issues more than on diplomacy, since the letter is not addressed to the Chinese government, but rather to the faithful in China. The concern of the Pope is not diplomacy but rather the propagation of the faith,” the Cardinal said.
“Rather than creating problems, the letter will resolve them. But if Beijing thinks that the Holy See is going to make a huge commitment, I fear they are going to be disappointed,” he added.
According to Cardinal Zen, the letter will not touch upon diplomatic issues, but rather it is probable that Pope Benedict XVI will insist on his prerogative to appoint bishops of the Church in any part of the world, including China. This is one of the main points of confrontation between Rome and Beijing, since the Chinese do not accept any authority above their own within their territory.
“I think it will mention that even though conversations about candidates for bishops will take place with the Chinese government, the Pope has the ultimate right to name bishops. Beijing needs to understand that the Church has a limit. It is a religious affair that will not harm Chinese pride,” he said.
According to Cardinal Zen, the letter is still being refined and will be sent after Holy Week. It will be published in Chinese, English and Italian.
Harare, Zimbabwe, Mar 23, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo says he is ready to lead a national campaign of peaceful resistance to force President Robert Mugabe to step down.
At a news conference yesterday, the archbishop urged Zimbabweans to take to the streets over the rights abuses of Mugabe's government, reported Reuters. Mugabe’s policies also disrupted the agriculture-based economy, leading to acute shortages of food, hard currency, gasoline, medicines and other essential imports.
"Human rights are God-given. No one has a right to just trample over them," the archbishop was quoted as saying. “People are justified to practice non-violent civil disobedience.”
"Starvation stalks our land and government does nothing to correct our situation,” he reportedly continued.
The archbishop, who has long been a critic of Mugabe, said one of the biggest problems is the cowardice of the Zimbabwean people. "If only Zimbabweans are prepared to stand, so am I prepared to stand ... we are not going to be bullied,” he was quoted as saying.
“As for me,” the archbishop proclaimed, “I am ready to stand in front, even of blazing guns!”
Archbishop Ncube was speaking at a news conference called by Christian Alliance, a group of church and civic leaders, who form part of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign.
The latter organized a prayer meeting March 11, which was crushed by police. Police said they viewed the prayer meeting as a banned political protest. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and 49 others were arrested, and then allegedly severely assaulted in police custody. The violence prompted a world criticism.
Furthermore, opposition activist Gift Tandare, 31, was shot dead when police fired tear gas, live ammunition and water canons to stop the prayer meeting. Christian Alliance reported the second death yesterday, saying 30-year-old Itai Manyeruki died in the hospital from injuries.
Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 23, 2007 (CNA) - The bishops of Mexico, together with parents’ organizations, Christian groups and thousands of Mexicans have expressed their repudiation of a proposal which could lead to the legalization of abortion throughout the nation up to the twelfth week of pregnancy.
In a statement the spokesman of the Archdiocese of Mexico, Hugo Valdemar, called the anti-life measure “unjust, irresponsible and criminal” and he called for “peaceful protests” and days of prayer for the unborn.
“We want to tell those who think in an anti-democratic and intolerant way that the Church will not be silent, as she desires to be faithful to her Lord, and she has the prophetic duty of denouncing sin, evil and injustice,” the statement indicated.
The press office of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico issued its own statement emphasizing that “respect for human life is not something demanded only of Christians; reason alone is enough to demand it, based on the analysis of what a person is and should be. There are certain rights that society cannot grant because they come before it, but it does have the mission of preserving and protecting the rights recognized by the majority of nations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
“A person’s first right is the right to life. It is the fundamental right and condition for all others. Therefore it should be protected more than any other. It’s not for society or for civil authorities to grant this right to some and withhold it from others,” the statement adds. “Our legislators bear in their consciences the responsibility of protecting the fundamental rights of every person. We must let them know how we feel.”
“In a democratic society, it is opportune and necessary to dialogue with all groups of society before making fundamental decisions. To try to silence dissenting voices is a sign of authoritarianism, intolerance and exclusion” the bishops’ statement warned.
Leaders from other Christian churches in Mexico also expressed their rejection of the proposal, including representatives of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Anglican Church, The Biblical Society of Mexico, Pastors United for Mexico, and other evangelical and protestant groups.
The National Union of Parents (NUP) announced it would organize a march for life this Sunday in the Mexican capital for “all persons of good will and not only Catholics.” The march will end at the Basilica of Guadalupe, where Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera will celebrate a special Mass. “There are dozens of organizations that are upset that our legislators want to legalize killing through abortion,” said Guillermo Bustamente, president of the NUP.
“The Church has the full right not only to strongly point out the abominable crime of abortion, but also to orient the faithful not to vote for candidates who are in favor of abortion or homosexual unions,” Bustamante added.
Rome, Italy, Mar 23, 2007 (CNA) - Various pro-life leaders have raised their voice in protest of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that obliges Poland to compensate a woman who was not allowed to obtain an abortion. The woman in question, Alicja Tysiac, wanted to abort her third child out of fear the pregnancy would aggravate her severe case of near-sightedness.
After winning the initial lawsuit, Tysiac told reporters the true motive behind her actions: she wanted abortion on demand to be legal in Poland. Currently the country allows abortion in cases of life of the mother, rape, and fetal deformation. Her case did not fall into any of these categories.
The controversial ruling by the Court has been widely rejected. Ewa Kowalewska, president of the Polish Women’s Forum, said the ruling was another attempt by European ideologues to pressure Poland to admit the existence of a “right” to abortion.
She said the Court has established that the refusal “to kill a child violates the previsions of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” and has established a precedent for considering abortion as a “human right.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 23, 2007 (CNA) - In a message marking the Day of the Unborn Child, which will be celebrated in Argentina and other countries in Latin America on March 25, Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata said, “Every child that is born brings us God’s smile and invites us to recognize that life is a gift from Him” and he said that the theology is perfectly complemented by science as the latter shows that “a human being is formed from the moment of fertilization.”
In his message, the archbishop noted, “The embryo is a genetically identifiable human person who is beginning the marvelous process of his growth and is implanted in the wall of the uterus on the sixth or seventh day in order to continue his vital development until the moment he is born.”
“Unfortunately in Argentina today, some are trying to suppress God’s smile,” Archbishop Aguer stated. “We can’t come to any other conclusion if we think about the decisions of officials in the current administration. The Minister of Health approved the free distribution in all hospitals and health care facilities of the morning-after pill. His equivalent in the province of Buenos Aires immediately threw his support behind the plan. This solution is presented as emergency contraception and they are trying to make people believe it does not have an abortifacient effect,” he said.
Archbishop Aguer lamented that officials and some experts in bioethics, without any scientific basis, affirm that life begins with the implantation of the embryo in the uterus and that before that moment it’s just a cluster of cells falsely called a pre-embryo.
“This distinction is arbitrary: it is not endorsed either by biology or by embryology, yet it is used as an argument to justify eliminating the fruit of conception. People should be alerted to the grave harm that the ingestion of these pills without prior clinical oversight and subsequent follow up can cause women,” he said in conclusion.