Archive of March 27, 2007

Pro-life leader says Marquette University should fire dissident theologian

Marquette, Mich., Mar 27, 2007 (CNA) - Marquette University should stop “hiding behind false ideas of tenure and academic freedom” and dismiss Dan Maguire, whose ideas are inconsistent with the Church’s teachings on contraception, abortion and marriage, said Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International.
Maguire, a theology professor and ex-priest, recently distributed pamphlets, stating that the Catholic Church’s teachings on these three issues are optional and that there is no clear Catholic position on them.

The U.S. bishops’ doctrine committee issued a statement last week, rebuking Maguire for propagating his views, which run counter to Church teaching. Fr. Euteneuer applauded the bishops for issuing a formal and public statement on the matter.
“I am very heartened that the bishops of the committee finally addressed an erroneous model of moral theology that dissenting theologians have used for decades to mislead the faithful,” Fr. Euteneuer said, referencing the model which claims certain central moral teachings of the Church are “optional” when they are not.
This idea wrongly states that the opinions of theologians are somehow equal with the Magisterium, the priest explained. 
Last fall, Human Life International awarded Maguire, who is divorced and remarried, its “Millstone Award” for his advocacy of abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage. The award’s title refers to the fate of those who mislead the innocent, as spoken by Jesus in Mt 18:6.

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Irish Bishops join with other Christian leaders in praising Northern Ireland progress

Belgrade, Serbia, Mar 27, 2007 (CNA) - Leaders from the Catholic, Presbyterian, Anglican, and Methodist Churches of Northern Ireland have joined together in support of a stunning announcement by the leaders of Northern Ireland's major Protestant and Catholic political parties to forge a power-sharing administration in the deeply divided area.

The breakthrough the in ages-old ethno-political fight between those who wish Northern Ireland to unite with the Republic of Ireland and those who desire the region to remain under the control of the United Kingdom followed unprecedented face-to-face negotiations between the Protestants of Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party and the Catholics of Gerry Adams' Sinn Fein.  The new administration is scheduled to take hold on May 8th according to the Associated Press.

"After a long and difficult time in our province, I believe that enormous opportunities lie ahead for our province," said Paisley, 80, whose party previously boycotted contact with Sinn Fein because of its links to the outlawed Irish Republican Army.

A note released yesterday and signed by Archbishop Sean Brady, President of the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference, David Clarke, Chairman of the Presbyterian Church, Archbishop Alan Harper, Primate of the Anglican “Church of Ireland”, and Ivan McElhinney, President of the Methodist Church, echoed Paisley’s sentiment, calling the agreement, “an important and extremely welcome step in the pursuit of s stable future for Northern Ireland."

“Along with many others, our Churches have encouraged for a long time the politicians of our region to work towards a local government for Northern Ireland, and we are sure this will materialize today", the prelates agreed in their statement.

The religious leaders encouraged all people to continue praying for the future of Northern Ireland.  “It is important that all of us keep building a country in which we are all enhanced, where diversity is respected and where peace and harmony can thrive," they said.

In addressing the possibilities of a sustainable peace in the future, Paisley noted the need to overcome past violence and hatred.  "We must not allow our justified loathing of the horrors and tragedies of the past to become a barrier to creating a better and more stable future for our children," the Unionist leader said.

Adams, 58, a reputed veteran IRA commander, said Monday's talks and accord "marks the beginning of a new era of politics on this island."

He said Protestants and Catholics had been in conflict in northeast Ireland for centuries. "Now there's a new start, with the help of God," he declared.

Both Adams and Paisley said they and their deputies would begin immediate negotiations on forging a joint platform for government.

The two foes, who previously negotiated only via third parties, sat beside each other at a table in the main dining room in Stormont Parliamentary Building in Belfast but reportedly did not shake hands.

The majority of the population of Northern Ireland are Catholic, followed by Presbyterians, Anglicans and Methodists.

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Holy See issues Pope Benedict’s liturgical schedule for Holy Week

Vatican City, Mar 27, 2007 (CNA) - The Press Office of the Holy See made public today the schedule for all the liturgical events of Holy Week to be celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI, from Palm Sunday through the Easter Triduum.

According to the press release, on Sunday April 1st the Holy Father will celebrate Palm Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, which recalls both the triumphant reign of Jesus and the announcement of his passion and death.  

At 9:30 a.m. (local time) Pope Benedict will offering the traditional blessing of palms and olive branches in St. Peter’s Square.  Following a procession, he will celebrate Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Vatican communiqué notes that on the same day the Church also celebrates the 22nd World Day for the Youth, on the theme, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another (Jn 13:34).”  

On the 5th of April, Holy Thursday, at 9:30 a.m. in St. Peter’s, the Holy Father will preside over the celebration of the Chrism Mass, with the Cardinals, bishops, and priests present in Rome, “as a sign of the intimate communion between the Pastors of the Universal Chruch and between their brothers in the ministerial priesthood.”

Holy Triduum

Later that day, he will enter into the Holy Triduum of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord, “the highpoint of the liturgical year,” which begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, has the Easter Vigil as its nucleus and ends with Vespers on Easter Sunday.

At 5:30 p.m. on Holy Thursday, in the Basilica of St. John Lateran Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate the Holy Mass, at which he will reenact Jesus’ washing of the feet of the twelve Apostles by washing the feet of twelve men.  At the conclusion of the celebration he will process with the Blessed Sacrament to the Chapel of reposition.  The Church will also take a collection at this Mass to provide medical assistance to the suffering people of Somalia.
On “Good Friday,” the day which the Church meditates on the Passion and Death of the Lord in its adoration of the Cross, the Holy Father will preside at the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross and a Communion service, beginning at 5 p.m.
At 9:15 p.m. in the ancient Coliseum of Rome the Holy Father will lead the Stations of the Cross, which will conclude with the Pope offering words to the faithful and imparting his Apostolic Blessing.

According to ancient tradition, the press release says, the night of the Easter is “in honor of the Lord” and the Vigil commemorates the holy night on which Christ was risen, and is considered the “mother of all vigils.”  On this night, in fact, the Church waits in hope for the Resurrection of the Lord and celebrates the Christian Sacraments of Initiation.

On Holy Saturday, the Holy Father will celebrate the Easter Vigil at 10 p.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica.  The celebration will begin with a procession with the Easter candle and the singing of the Exsultet.  The Mass, which will be concelebrated by several Cardinals will include the Rites of reception into the Church.

After offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Easter Sunday, the Pope will impart his “Urbi et Orbi” blessing over the city of Rome and the world, from the central loggia of the Basilica.

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Italian archbishop defends Church’s right to criticize cohabitation bill

Rome, Italy, Mar 27, 2007 (CNA) - The new head of the Italian bishops’ conference says the Church is doing its duty by criticizing a bill that would allow cohabiting couples to register their union and to obtain financial, inheritance and next-of-kin rights, similar to the rights of married couples.

Opening his first session of the bishops' council on Monday, Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genova denied that the bishops’ condemnation of the controversial bill amounted to interference in national politics, reported ANSA.

He said Italian society would be "dramatically harmed" if the "unacceptable and dangerous" bill, known as the Dico bill, was passed because it would undermine the sacred bond of marriage.

If approved, the bill would apply to heterosexual and same-sex couples, creating what the Church sees as a watered-down form of same-sex marriage.

During their meeting, the bishops are expected to put finishing touches on a pastoral note that provides guidelines for Catholic politicians regarding the Dico bill.

About 40 associations, many of them lay Catholic, are organizing a Family Day demonstration in Rome on May 12. The groups are calling on the government to do more to support families. They oppose putting marriage on a par with other forms of cohabitation. 

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New Mexico shrine distributes water of "infinite value"

Albuquerque, N.M., Mar 27, 2007 (CNA) - The Shrine of St. Bernadette in Albuquerque is distributing holy water from Lourdes as a way to spread spirituality—but it had to get through U.S. customs first.

The shrine received 14 10-gallon jugs of water from a natural spring in France, which was blessed by the Virgin Mary in 1858, after she appeared to peasant girl Bernadette Soubirous.

U.S. customs held the jugs of water when they arrived at International Sunport in January. "They wanted to know its value," Dan Paulos, the shrine’s finance manager, told the Albuquerque Tribune.

On one hand, the water has no monetary value since it was considered a gift from the Shrine of Lourdes in France. The church paid only the $3,200 shipping cost for the 10-gallon jugs.

But on the other hand, Fr. Tom Zotter, rector of St. Bernadette's told the newspaper: “Its value is infinite.”

Fr. Zotter explained Catholicism's connection to physical things, like water. Catholicism is a tangible religion, which is why Catholics will feel connections to relics and statues. It is also why Catholics feel deep and personal connections with saints, seeing them as once-human messengers who can act as intermediaries to God, he said.

The shrine in the Northeast Heights is one of three official distributors of Lourdes water in the U.S. In 2005, it was recognized as an official distributor of Lourdes Water in the Southwest United States. St. Bernadette's this week is hosting Fr. Raymond Zambelli, rector of the Shrine of Lourdes in France, which serves as a pilgrimage site for an estimated six million Catholics per year.

While this might seem to be a great money-making venture, Fr. Zotter says this is not the goal. The shrine is making the water available at the church in roughly 3 ounce containers for $1 apiece. They'll send it anywhere else in the country, too, for the cost of shipping.

"We're trying to spread spirituality through the water. That's our goal,” the priest told the newspaper.

They hope to make enough money to afford get their next shipment of water from overseas.

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Holy See makes public Pope's letter to outgoing Italian bishops chief

Vatican City, Mar 27, 2007 (CNA) - Benedict XVI has sent a Letter to Cardinal Camillo Ruini thanking him for his long service as president of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI). On March 7, the Pope accepted Cardinal Ruini's resignation from office and appointed in his place Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa.

In his Letter, which is dated March 23, the Holy Father expresses his gratitude for the Cardinal's labors over more than 15 years as head of the CEI and, prior to that, as secretary of the organization.

How can we forget," the Pope writes, "that you guided the Italian bishops through a delicate and crucial stage of the history of the Italian people? Over these years your courage and tenacity in supporting the Church's activities have provided a service not only to the People of God but to the entire Italian nation. May God bring the multiple initiatives begun by the Church in Italy to full maturation."

For his part, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., has sent a message of congratulation to Archbishop Bagnasco, the new president of the CEI. Cardinal Bertone calls upon the Lord to support and illuminate Archbishop Bagnasco in his new office, that he may "help his brother bishops of the Church in Italy to grow in full communion between themselves and with Peter's Successor."

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Official CD for papal visit to Brazil goes gold

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Mar 27, 2007 (CNA) - The official CD for Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming visit to Brazil, which includes the official song for the visit, has gone gold in the country, with more than 75,000 copies sold so far.

Entitled, “Benedict, Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord,” the CD was released on March 25 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, where Pope Benedict will inaugurate the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council in May.

The album was produced by the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida and Codimuc Records.  The Bishops’ Conference of Brazil selected the music.  “It’s a high-quality work of art that expresses the affection of the Brazilian people in welcoming the Pope,” said the album’s artistic producer, Father Josafa Moraes.

The official song for the visit was composed by Brother Luiz Turra and was chosen from fifteen different submissions.  “The music is easy to learn and we hope that the Pope, who is a pianist, likes it as much as John Paul II liked the songs that we composed for him during his second visit to Brazil,” said Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno of Aparecida.

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Equadorian Pro-life groups issue statement: Defend life from conception to natural death

Quito, Ecuador, Mar 27, 2007 (CNA) - The participants of the 1st Pro-Life and Family Congress in Guayaquil, held from March 22-25, issued a “Declaration in Support of Life” in which they reiterated “the clear and decisive choice in support of life from the very moment of conception, and above any other circumstance, until its natural end.”

“Every Catholic, whatever his vocation, should work to rescue the value of human life, understand it more, make others aware of it and defend it,” the statement said.

It encourages parents, “as the primary and principal educators of their children” to ensure that the true value and meaning of human life is taught in their homes.  The statement also said schools should teach “the truth about the value of human life from the scientific, philosophical and religious point of view” and that the media should be transformed from “promoters of the culture of death to promoters and defenders of life”

The statement urged Catholic professionals to be “courageous witnesses and effective promoters of the Gospel of life against the culture of death,” and that “clergy and religious, with the testimony of their own lives and words, should show themselves to be completely identified with the Gospel of life.”

On March 24 some five thousand Ecuadorians marched through the streets of Guayaquil as part of the activities of the 1st National Pro-Life and Family Congress.  Several bishops joined in the event, including Bishop Nestor Herrera of Machala, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Ecuador.

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Spanish bishop calls on faithful to give public witness of faith during Holy Week

Madrid, Spain, Mar 27, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Adolfo Gonzalez Montes of Almeria is calling on the faithful in Spain to profoundly experience Holy Week and to publicly express the faith that each one lives out in private.

In a recent message, Bishop Gonzalez said, “Holy Week should be experienced without adulteration” as an antidote to the temptation to displace religion completely from society and in a state which considers religion as something positive as long as it is “reduced to mere private beliefs.”

“Faith is certainly private, in that it is a choice that is not imposed but rather proposed to particular individuals.  But it is a public reality in as much as it affects the entire lives of believers and is embraced by large social and cultural majorities that cannot be silenced, as if Christ had not died for us,” the bishops said.  “If the secular state does not want to repress religious freedom it must respect public manifestations of faith because society is free to carry them out, always safeguarding the common good and the social order,” he warned.

“Those of us who believe in Christ cannot cease from testifying that his death and resurrection have changed the meaning of the lives of millions of human beings who, generation after generation since he passed through our world, have found the saving action of God in his death and glory, because in them the definitive revelation of the merciful love of God has been made known,” Bishop Gonzalez continued.

Holy Week “invites us to refrain from celebrating Easter as if we had not arrived there through the penitential path of Lent in aesthetic pursuit of a change of live necessary to be saved.  Because the Lord passes by and knocks on the door, we should be on watch and not let him pass us by, thus being deprived of the beneficial effect of his redemption.”  Bishop Gonzalez said in conclusion.

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Thousands march in defense of life in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 27, 2007 (CNA) - More than five thousand people marched through the streets of Mexico City to the Basilica of Guadalupe to express their commitment to the defense of life, especially of the unborn, who are being threatened by an anti-life proposal that would legalize abortion on demand up to the twelfth week of pregnancy.

“Abortion No, Life Yes,” was one of the themes of the march, which brought together thousands in a peaceful demonstration that provided little interruption of traffic flow in the city.

The march was led by the president of the National Union of Parents, Guillermo Bustamante, and by Father Agustin Rivera of the Basilica of Guadalupe.  “This march has no partisan slant either in favor or against anyone, only in favor of life,” he said.

Members of the College of Catholic Lawyers of Mexico and members of the Order of Malta, as well as numerous religious, also participated in the march and joined thousands of families in voicing their support for life from conception to natural death.

Cardinal Rivera: society pressures women to abort

Before some 10,000 faithful—double the number that participated in the march—gathered in the atrium of the Basilica of Guadalupe, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City criticized those who seek to legalize abortion and said they are disguising it as if it were a question of health and poverty, instead of one of life and death.

Instead of helping women, he said, society is pressuring them to end the life they carry in their wombs.  “Women find themselves in the terrible dilemma of carrying a difficult pregnancy to term under a dark cloud of loneliness or with the sorrow of a deformed child which she carries in her womb,” the Cardinal stated.

“These women are pushed into choosing to throw their children away to be left with the terrible pain of having ended the life that was living inside them,” he lamented.

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States must support and enable families in protecting their children, Archbishop tells U.N.

Vatican City, Mar 27, 2007 (CNA) - Made public today was an address given by Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations at Geneva, on March 23 during the 4th session of the Human Rights Council.  The archbishop emphasized that, in the face of continuing suffering on the part of children around the world, states and society must do their part in support for the rights of children and the family.

In opening his English-language address, which was published yesterday afternoon, Archbishop Tomasi recalled that "the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child attributes to the child the fundamental rights of a person; it recognizes the child to have the same equality and dignity as any adult person."

"In many cases," he went on, "due to lack of will and of resources, good legal provisions and public policies are not implemented, with grave consequences for children. They often become the first victims of famines and wars."

"To many children the right to life is denied; prenatal selection eliminates both babies suspected of having disabilities and female children simply because of their sex, and thus denies the equal and intrinsic value of disabled persons and of girls for their families and for society."

Archbishop Tomasi then pointed out that "the first right of children is that of being born and educated in a welcoming and secure family environment where their physical, psychological and spiritual growth is guaranteed, their potential is developed and where the awareness of personal dignity becomes the base for relating to others and for confronting the future."

State and society, said the permanent observer, must "concretely support and enable the family to carry out its task. ... The Catholic Church's over 300,000 social, caring and educational institutions work daily to ensure both a peace-oriented and creative education for children, and the development of their talents, and to provide the reintegration of abused and neglected children into their families, if possible, and into society."

"Children are both weakness and hope. To pursue the defense of their rights and the elimination of all forms of violence against them remains an institutional challenge for the international community. Success will be reached if priority is given to the natural role of the family and to the public culture that recognizes that children too are full human persons," the archbishop concluded.

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Holy Father to meet with thousands of Roman youth

Rome, Italy, Mar 27, 2007 (CNA) - As the Church begins the final week of Lent, the young people of the Diocese of Rome will have the opportunity to meet with their bishop – Pope Benedict XVI.  The Holy Father will hold a vigil for prayer and penitence on Palm Sunday, April 1st, the day when the Church also celebrates the 22nd World Youth Day.

According to the Fides news service the Holy Father will meet with thousands of young people in St. Peter’s Basilica on Thursday, in preparation for the large gathering on Sunday.  During the Liturgy, the youth will spend time in prayer and have an opportunity for private confession, during which the Pope himself will hear the confessions of a representative group of young people.

Planners from the Diocese of Rome plan on having around 200 priests present to hear confessions.

The Holy Father chose the theme of this year’s World Youth Day, which is to be celebrated individually in dioceses around the world:“Love one another as I have loved you.”

Msgr. Mauro Parmeggiani, Director of the Diocese of Rome’s Youth Pastoral Services told Fides that penitential Liturgy at St. Peter’s will, “truly an opportunity for young Catholics together with their Bishop to encounter the grace and love of God.”

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Merkel backs Pope’s criticism and calls for recognition of Europe’s Christian roots

Berlin, Germany, Mar 27, 2007 (CNA) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is also the current president of the EU, said this week she understands Pope Benedict XVI’s criticisms of the European Union for not mentioning God or its Christian roots in the Declaration of Berlin—which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the founding of the European Union—and she said Europe should recognize in some way its Judeo-Christian heritage even if through a document separate from the European Constitution.

During her remarks prior to signing the Declaration of Berlin, Merkel spoke “for herself” and praised the Judeo-Christian values that sustain the EU, despite their not being mentioned in the Declaration of Berlin due to opposition by some member states, led by France.  They were also excluded from the EU Constitution, even though some countries such as Poland insisted otherwise.

During a press conference at the conclusion of the summit, Merkel explained that she herself had spoken with Pope Benedict XVI, as she did with John Paul II, about mentioning the Christian roots of the EU in the EU Constitution.  “I know this is something that many people in Europe want.  Nevertheless, there are secular traditions that reject the mention of faith in official documents of the State,” she said.

Merkel said she was convinced that the question of Christian tradition would return to the forefront during the debate to pass the EU Constitution, but she said she was “realistic, that is, not very optimistic,” about the possibility that it would be mentioned in the final document.  “We have to accept debating this issue, it is normal, and in the dialogue between cultures and religions at the world level, Europeans should be able to express their common roots,” she added.

“We must accept that we are marked by this Judeo Christian past.  The question is knowing in what kind of document this can be inscribed.  The discussion will continue, and I understand very much the position of the Catholic Church, but we must admit also that in Europe there is a clear separation between the political and the religious sphere,” she said in conclusion.

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