London, England, Apr 10, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic bishops of England and Wales’s have expressed support for the people of Zimbabwe and have said the church in the UK will join Zimbabweans in their national day of prayer scheduled for April 14.
"In this most Holy of Weeks, I applaud my brother Bishops in Zimbabwe for their courage in speaking out in defense of the oppressed and the poor of Zimbabwe in this most difficult and desperate of times,” said Bishop Crispian Hollis of Portsmouth in his Holy Week statement.
Bishop Hollis is chairman of the Department for International Affairs of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales.
Catholic bishops in Zimbabwe and abroad have been very vocal in their criticism of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his corrupt government. The bishops have called the Mugabe regime’s continued policies of oppression sinful.
Nairobi, Kenya, Apr 10, 2007 (CNA) - Investigations continue into the case of Fr. Martin Addai, 46, who was shot on March 10, while driving from the residence of the Society of the Missionaries of Africa to Mombasa Road. His car was hijacked by his assailants, who then shot him dead.
The killers have not yet been identified but the hijacked car was discovered two days after the shooting.
Several news sources have reported Br. Anthony Baaladong, Superior for the Missionaries of Africa in Kenya, saying that the Kenya Police would issue a comprehensive report on their investigations into Fr. Addai’s murder soon.
The funeral mass for Fr. Addai was held March 31. According to The Independent Catholic News, hundreds of people attended the mass in Nairobi. The apostolic nuncio to Kenya, Archbishop Alain Paul Lebeaupin, and Archbishop Ndingi Mwana 'aNzeki of Nairobi, presided at the mass.
Fr. Addai was Ghanian. He joined the Missionaries of Africa after his secondary education in Kumasi, and worked in Mozambique and Ghana after studies in Rome and Canada.
In Kenya, he served as Seminary Rector and lecturer in Medical Ethics at Tangaza College, part of the Catholic University of East Africa.
Vatican City, Apr 10, 2007 (CNA) - The Vatican issued a reminder this morning that Pope Benedict XVI will mark the occasion of his 80th birthday with a Mass of Thanksgiving in St. Peter’s Basilica. The celebration falls on the same day the Church celebrates the second Sunday of Easter, known as “Divine Mercy Sunday.”
The Mass, which will begin at 10 am (local time), will be concelebrated by the Cardinals, archbishops and bishops who head the various Dicasteries of the Roman Curia as well as the Auxiliary Bishops of Rome and several members of the Roman presbyterate.
“The Church both in Rome in the other parts of the world is invited to join the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, to raise to God our Father a deep prayer of thanks for his 80th birthday and the second anniversary of his appointment,” the Vatican Press release reads.
The Holy Father’s birthday actually falls on Monday the 16th, just three days before the anniversary of his Pontificate. Coinciding with his birthday, the Vatican will also release the first book written by Joseph Ratzinger since he's been Pope. “Jesus of Nazareth,” will initially be released in Italian, German, and Polish.
Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 10, 2007 (CNA) - According to the Mexican daily “Milenio,” this week the Socialist party in Mexico is planning to send another proposal to the Mexican Senate that would legalize euthanasia.
Lazaro Mazon, a representative of the PRD Socialist party, said his block in the Senate would propose reforms of the country’s Penal Code and a measure that would allow for the termination of medical treatment in order to allow terminally ill patients to request euthanasia.
The measure would require that the patient be suffering from a chronic and irreversible illness, with less than six months to live and that the pain and suffering be unbearable.
The measure would also call for the creation of a National Bioethics Commission that would review cases and would make a decision regarding each request.
A fierce debate is currently underway in the country, over the legalization of abortion.
Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Apr 10, 2007 (CNA) - The symbols and Scripture readings of the Easter season remind Christians of their responsibility to be good stewards of the earth, said Cardinal Keith O'Brien in his Easter Sunday homily at St. Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.
“All that the Easter story raises for us, the creation, the new creation, the light, the earth, abundance, life-giving water, tell us that care for the environment is an essential element of our Easter faith,” he said.
He referred to the story of creation in Genesis, when God instructs humans to "be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all the living animals on the earth.”
The cardinal expressed concern about devastating environmental catastrophes, over-fishing, deforestation and pollution. He called on Christians to “live simply” and to adopt lifestyles that are not wasteful of resources.
“Jesus told us to look to the signs around us, to observe the air and the sky and the weather,” he said. “We hear a great deal these days about climate change and we do well to heed the warnings about global warming that come to us almost daily. But we are mistaken if we consider climate change to be the only problem, imagining that if we fly less or burn less fuel or plant more trees somehow the environmental damage will be corrected.”
He said good stewardship of the environment must be understood in light of the witness and example of Jesus.
“He taught us very clearly what it is to be a master. It is to be a servant,” the cardinal said. “Far from understanding Genesis as permission to take what we like from the earth, we must consider ourselves to be at the service of the earth, every bit as much as we are the service of our neighbor.
“Quite simply, we must learn to live simply,” the Cardinal said. “By living simply we will do all that our Easter faith demands of us.
“Our own mission is to once more honor creation, and to serve the creator through that same creation. It is a mission to live simply.”
Sydney, Australia, Apr 10, 2007 (CNA) - Last March 2nd registration opened for World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney. After a little more than a month, more than 57,000 people have signup to attend the world event which will take place in the Australian capital in July of next year.
“The registration is going well. Although group registration is still not mandatory, it is a great help to know the number of pilgrims we are going to be welcoming, thus giving us the chance to welcome them better and be more organized,” WYD officials said.
Regarding the transportation system, the organizing committee explained that the Australian government has eliminated the cost of visas and has made the system simple and fast for everyone.
In addition, an initiative called the Pilgrims Cooperation Plan is seeking to send to greatest possible number of young people from Oceania and the Pacific region to WYD Sydney 2008.
“There is clear excitement throughout the Pacific region because we are the hosts of this event. Countries like the Caroline Islands, the Cook Islands, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall, Marianne, Nauru, Salomon, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu have never sent pilgrims to a WYD. All of these countries will now be able to send young people to Sydney 2008,” said Bishop Anthony Fisher, General Coordinator of WYD 2008.
Madrid, Spain, Apr 10, 2007 (CNA) - In a letter sent to all the priests of his diocese, Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Tarazona exhorted the clergy to foster “the Sacrament of Penance or Confession with the individual confession of sins” and to dress like priests in response to the attempt by many to erase “every one of God’s footprints from the society in which we live.”
He told priests to “never impart collective absolution. Let us teach young people and children to approach this sacrament frequently,” which he said is a precious resource for personal formation and “for educating consciences in the commandments of God and of his Church.”
“In each parish there should be specific times throughout the year (not only during Lent and Easter) when the priest is available to hear confessions,” he added.
In speaking about the obligation of priests to dress as such, Bishop Fernandez said that his comments are intended “to remind each of you with all of my affection and respect about what the Church commands of us. It is a very significant gesture that has to do with many aspects of our entire priestly lives.”
He said that the past era of imposing a style of dress on everyone is “now gone.” “But it’s not a question of fashion. I told you during my first Chrism Mass in 2005: ‘I would be so happy to see you dressed unmistakably as priests, and how happy the people are when they can easily identify a priest,’” he said.
“Today many pretend to erase every one of God’s footprints from the society in which we live. Let’s not play their game or contribute to this absence of God,” the bishop warned. “With simple and austere dress, let us say to everyone that we are priests and that we are happy to be so. It will bring much good to our diocese if we obey God in this area,” he stressed.
Madrid, Spain, Apr 10, 2007 (CNA) - During Easter Sunday Mass, the Archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Antonio Canizares, warned that to deny or forget the Resurrection would be to spread “a vision of the world, a vision of man, a vision of God, a concept of the world and of reality completely different from Christian revelation, which is valid and universal for all.”
Cardinal Canizares expressed his hope that the Resurrection of Christ would “free us of all tendencies towards skepticism and relativism or the denial of the truth, as if these were values and achievements.”
He also said he hoped the celebration of Christ’s rising would free believers of “the superficiality of thinking that all points of view are acceptable” and that “all religions are equal or that every way of living or acting merits equal consideration.”
Later on in his homily, the Cardinal also criticized the emergence of a “new anthropology” which is the fruit of the misuse of human freedom and which has led to the “reinterpretation” of the fundamental rights of man by international organisms and legislatures.
Des Moines, Iowa, Apr 10, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has granted a request by Bishop Joseph L. Charron, C.PP.S., of Des Moines, Iowa to retire due to health reasons. The Holy Father, however, did not name a successor for the 67-year old Bishop.
According to a press release from the midwestern diocese, the diocesan College of Consultors, will gather within eight days to name an administrator, a priest, to maintain the administration of the diocese until the Holy Father names a new bishop for the Diocese of Des Moines.
Bishop Charron, wrote a letter to the Holy Father on August 15th, 2006, saying that he had recently been diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica, or PMR, a chronic condition. According to Charron, his doctor had recommended he consider retirement, and after a great deal of prayerful discernment for his future and for how the people of the diocese could best be served, he asked to retire early.
The bishop noted at a press conference today that is decision did not come, “lightly or quickly.”
“I have not been feeling well for some time,” Charron told the diocese. “I have prayerfully considered how this diagnosis would affect my ability to serve the people of southwest Iowa. I have looked to the Holy Spirit for guidance, have sought wise counsel, and truly have trusted in your many prayers for me.”
Bishop Charron had served as bishop of Des Moines for 13 years, after having served as an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.