Chicago, Ill., Apr 12, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Francis George made his first public appearance since falling over the weekend. He was present for the dedication of Catholic Charities' St. Leo Residence for veterans and the homeless on Chicago’s South Side.
Archdiocesan officials had announced that the Cardinal would cancel most of his appointments and not attend most functions during his recovery period. But the opening of the residence was one appointment he did not want to miss.
"I know how much planning and effort went into this and how much work made this happen," Cardinal George was quoted as saying. He was using a wheelchair and crutches to get around and sat for most of the dedication, addressing the crowd from his chair. The veterans expressed their appreciation for his presence as well.
"It was good to see him. It's enlightening," Vietnam vet. Charles Copeland told Chicago’s ABC 7.
The Cardinal slipped on holy water while blessing Easter baskets at St. Ferdinand Parish on the city's Northwest Side during a Mass on Holy Saturday. He fractured his femur and, after a brief hospital stay, has been recovering at home since.
According to the local ABC affiliate, the Cardinal was optimistic about his recovery. "Now it's just a matter of time. I'll be all right,” he was quoted as saying.
Boston, Mass., Apr 12, 2007 (CNA) - Several thousand pilgrims are expected to gather at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge this weekend for one of the country's largest Divine Mercy celebrations.
The Feast of Divine Mercy is celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. It was instituted by Pope John Paul II at the canonization of St. (Maria) Faustina Kowalska on April 30, 2000, and then officially decreed by the Vatican.
Jesus revealed in various revelations to St. Faustina in the 1930’s that it was his desire that we celebrate this special feast. Jesus revealed to her his desire to literally flood mankind with his graces on that day.
The shrine will hold its annual Divine Mercy Weekend celebration, April 14-15. The two-day celebration includes Masses, speakers, music, confession, Holy Hours, rosaries, adoration and presentations. Cardinal Adam Maida, archbishop of Detroit, will be the guest celebrant and the homilist at the 1 p.m. Mass on Sunday.
The Marians of the Immaculate Conception administer the National Shrine in Stockbridge and play a key role in spreading the Divine Mercy message and devotion throughout the world. Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC, is the shrine’s rector.
Vatican City, Apr 12, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI may soon approve a decree for the beatification of 188 Japanese martyrs, Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao told UCA News at the end of March.
The Japanese Cardinal, who headed the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants, from 1998 to 2006, and still resides in Rome, said he anticipates the ceremony will take place in Japan, probably in November.
Cardinal Hamao, 77, played a central role at a February meeting of 20 Cardinals and archbishops at the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints to discuss the cause for the 188 Japanese martyrs.
The prelate reportedly presented a compelling case for their beatification, saying they were killed “not because they were political opponents, but by reason of their Christian faith."
He stressed that "though many were samurai and knew how to fight, they nevertheless chose the path of non-violent resistance, and that is also very significant for people today."
Of the 188 people who were killed in the 17th century, all are Japanese and all but four are lay people – mostly women but also many children. The other four are priests; one is a Jesuit, Fr. Peter Kibe.
The Cardinal said the members of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints later "voted unanimously in favor of their beatification."
The Cardinal said he believes the beatification will be important for all Japanese because it highlights the fact that "the right to believe in a religion is a fundamental human right."
While Japan guarantees freedom of religion, it “is not so much recognized by the people,” the Cardinal said. “Religion in Japan is seen as a question of family tradition, not personal conviction.”
Vatican City, Apr 12, 2007 (CNA) - The Press Office of the Holy See made public yesterday the official agenda of Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming trip to Brazil from the 9th – 13th of May, during the period of the 5th General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops.
In his first official visit to Latin America, Pope Benedict will land in Sao Paulo on May 9th at 4:30 PM (local time). At the airport, the Holy Father will offer a brief speech during his official welcome ceremony.
Afterwards, he will board a helicopter bound for Sao Paulo’s downtown Campo de Marte airport. From there he will be transported by car to the Monastery of San Benito where he will bless the faithful and spend the night.
On Thursday morning, the 10th of May, the Holy Father will celebrate a private Mass in the monastery’s chapel, before meeting with Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
At midday he will have a short interreligious meeting with members of various Christian confessions and other religions, at the Monastery of San Benito. There he will also have lunch with the leaders of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops.
In the evening the Pope will travel to the "Paulo Machado de Carvalho" municipal stadium of Pacaembu where, at 6 p.m., he will deliver an address to the young people gathered there.
On Friday, May 11th, Sao Paulo's Campo de Marte field, the Holy Father will preside at a Mass during which he will canonize Blessed Frei Galvao.
At 4 p.m. that afternoon, having bid farewell to his hosts at the monastery of Sao Benito, he will address Brazilian bishops in the Cathedral of Sao Paulo.
Two hours later he will depart by helicopter for Aparecida, where he will stay in the Bom Jesus Seminary.
On Saturday morning, the Holy Father will visit with patients and caretakers at the Fazenda da Esperanca rehab center for drug addicts, in Guaratingueta.
Pope Benedict will then return to the Bom Jesus seminary, where he will have lunch with representatives of the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean. That afternoon he is due to go by car to the shrine of Aparecida where, having prayed the Rosary in the basilica, he will meet with priests, religious, seminarians and deacons.
On the morning of May 13th, the Holy Father will preside at the Inaugural Mass of the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, and pray the Regina Coeli. That afternoon he is to pronounce an address during the opening session of the conference.
Just before 7 p.m. the Holy Father will bid farewell to the staff and students of the Bom Jesus seminary, before traveling by helicopter from Apaercida to the international airport of Sao Paulo / Guarulhos. There he will greet authorities and deliver a farewell speech before boarding his aircraft for Rome, where he is due to arrive at 12.45 p.m. on May 14.
Washington D.C., Apr 12, 2007 (CNA) -
The number of abuse claims against Catholic clergy have dropped for the second consecutive year, says a new report on the efforts of the Catholic Church in the United States to protect children from sexual abuse.
Clergy sex abuse data collected by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, on compliance with the U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was released by the U.S. bishops April 11. More than 99 percent of the 195 dioceses/eparchies in the United States responded to the voluntary survey.
There were 714 abuse claims in 2006, compared with 783 in 2005, and 1,092 in 2004.
“This is a sobering report,” said Bishop Gregory Aymond, chair of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People. “The decline in reported cases is good. Most allegations were for behavior which took place decades ago, but the fact that there are any recent cases at all is very disconcerting.”
“I take heart in the increased funding for child protection efforts,” he said in a statement. “This demonstrates our commitment to creating a safe environment and a faith environment in our parishes, schools and other Catholic institutions.”
The survey found that more than 70 percent of the incidents against minors that were reported in 2006 occurred between 1960 and 1984.
The report also showed:
- Allegations of sexual abuse against minors by clergy fell by nine percent from the previous year; 17 of the allegations in 2006 concerned minors.
- 60 percent of those accused in 2006 had been named previously in other abuse cases.
- About 10 percent of the allegations were unsubstantiated.
- 70 percent of offenders identified in 2006 were deceased, had already been removed from ministry, or had already left the priesthood or religious order when the allegation was reported.
- Money spent on child protection efforts by the Catholic Church increased 35 percent from the previous year.
- The total allegation-related expenditures by dioceses, eparchies and religious institutes decreased by 15 percent from the previous year. Costs related to allegations in 2006 were $399 million. In 2005, allegation-related expenses were $467 million.
The full report is available at www.usccb.org/ocyp
, Apr 12, 2007 (CNA) - The Vatican made public today, an April 10th speech given by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, before the 40th session of the Economic and Social Council's Commission on Population and Development, which is considering the theme: "The changing age structures of populations and their implications for development."
Speaking English, the archbishop highlighted how the current session coincided with the 40th anniversary of Paul VI's Encyclical "Populorum Progressio," which places emphasis "on the individual and on societies, both as the primary focus of development policies and as protagonists of their own development," and "even today provides a sure guide for demographic policies to promote a culture respectful of the rights of the least-protected members of our human family, especially before birth and in extreme old age.”
"The reports made to the commission this year," he added, "suggest that dependency ratios are set to soar in some places, where an increasing number of elderly people will lay a heavier burden on the active population. It is to be hoped that States will work to foster respect for human life in all its stages and to find solutions that are right and just, not merely pragmatic. Here in particular, promoting solidarity between generations will be very valuable."
Focusing on the situation in Africa, which "is set to have the lowest dependency ratio in the world," Archbishop Migliore pointed out how "this projection should hand that continent an unprecedented advantage in economic terms, as a young and numerous workforce should be available to it until at least 2050, while the demographic dividend in most other regions will have run out. To assure that Africa does not miss this window of opportunity for economic development, it must be helped, inter alia, to invest in its human capital and infrastructure to underpin economic growth. Because many of this future work force are already born and are already of school age, my delegation believes that the most decisive investment to be made here is in education.”
"The UN Secretariat estimates that to achieve primary education for all by 2015 would cost nine billion dollars estimated in 1998 dollar value. By any estimate, this can hardly be considered a high price to pay for such a prize," said the archbishop. "Moreover, education, especially for girls and young women, can have a notable impact on population growth. As women become better educated, they gain greater respect; they become breadwinners; they acquire maturity in parental responsibility and a greater say in family affairs.”
"Investing in people in this way," he concluded, "especially in education, is surely to be preferred to legal imposition of limits, to artificial corrective measures and drastic policies, and to the unacceptable practice of eliminating fetuses, especially females, in order to limit population growth."
Rome, Italy, Apr 12, 2007 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, said this week a new norm requiring Polish citizens to publicly disclose their collaboration with the Communist regime between 1944 and 1990 would only present a partial version of the truth about the past, would “harm many people” and would contribute to the “disintegration” of society.
According to the Italian news agency SIR, the Cardinal said the new norm, which went into force on March 15, is “a painful legacy from the Communist regime” which exposes “the weaknesses of the victims of the system,” who were often unaware of what they were doing. At the same time, he said, the norm exposes the “treachery of the enemies of the nation and of the Church.”
SIR also reported that the norm requires those who collaborated with regime any time up to August 1, 1972, to publicly disclose by May 15th how long they collaborated with the secret police and in what way. The Institute of National Memory is charged with verifying the more than 700,000 declarations expected to be made.
Rome, Italy, Apr 12, 2007 (CNA) - Participants at the international congress “Values and Perspectives for the Europe of Tomorrow,” organized by the Commission of Bishops' Conferences of the European Community on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, called on European political leaders to remain committed to peace and to the Christian roots of the region.
More than 400 delegates from the different European bishops’ conferences, religious communities and Catholic movements and organizations, as well as of other Christian churches, participated in the event.
Addressing the heads of states of the different countries of the EU, the president of the European Parliament and the president of the European Commission, participants recalled the importance of remaining solidly committed to the unity of the continent with the signing and ratifying of the Treaties of Rome and the successive European accords.
“Today, the European Union again faces important challenges to overcome in order to guarantee its own future. International cooperation must be developed in order to combat poverty, especially in Africa, the exploitation of women and of children, as well as the violation of human rights,” participants said.
Likewise, they emphasized the need to respond to the growing expectations of citizens of the EU amidst today’s globalization and to maintain adequate social protection, so that more and more young people truly become the greatest wealth of the Europe.
Lastly, they expressed their commitment to “sustaining initiatives that authentically respect human nature created in the image and likeness of god, as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.”
Madrid, Spain, Apr 12, 2007 (CNA) - According to the Spanish daily “El Diario de Galicia,” Father Manuel Gomez, a diocesan priest who was killed in Brazil in 1924, will be beatified in October, after Pope Benedict XVI approved his cause of martyrdom last December.
Father Gomez, who was from the Spanish region of Galicia, was killed in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, in 1924 together with Adilio Daronche, his 15 year-old altar server. Both were tortured and killed by one of the groups that were fighting over land near the border with Uruguay.
Father Gomez was born in 1877. He was ordained a priest in 1902 and until 1913 he worked in the Archdiocese of Braga in Portugal. He was known for his extensive pastoral and social apostolates. He will be the second priest from Galicia to be beatified after suffering martyrdom. The first was Father Blanco, who was killed in Japan in the 19th century.
The Church in Brazil has promoted his beatification cause due to the devotion of the people, which surged after his martyrdom.
Quito, Ecuador, Apr 12, 2007 (CNA) - Various pro-life groups in Ecuador have denounced systematic efforts by the government to the use the upcoming Constitutional Assembly to legalize abortion in the country.
Pro-life groups issued a statement lamenting that “the hopes for profound positive changes” which could have resulted from an upcoming Constitutional Assembly “have been dashed due to corruption, lies, and deceit on the part of political groups and their representatives, whose interests are guided by international companies that support abortion.”
Pro-life leaders expressed disappointment at the selection of abortion rights proponent Paulina Romo as the representative of Ecuador’s president before the Constitutional Assembly. Romo has expressed her complete support of abortion on numerous occasions, as well as her support of explicit sex-education that excludes the participation of parents, and her support of gay marriage.”
They noted that the main promoters of a Constitutional Assembly are the political parties that have spent the last two years pushing for the legalization of abortion, the morning-after pill and education reform that violates the rights of parents and undermines the traditional concept of marriage.
In their statement, pro-life leaders expressed their complete rejection of attempts to abolish the constitutional protection that the unborn currently enjoy under Ecuadorian law. “To that Assembly we say No,” they stated.
Washington D.C., Apr 12, 2007 (CNA) - An official with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) along with numerous pro-life groups have reacted to yesterday evening’s vote by the U.S. Senate to approve legislation (S. 5) promoting the destruction of human embryos for federally funded stem cell research.
The Senate voted for the bill 63 to 34. At the same time, S. 30, a bill to promote alternative ways to pursue stem cell research without harming human embryos, was also approved, 70 to 28.
Richard M. Doerflinger, Deputy Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, said: “With enactment of S. 5, millions of taxpayers would be forced to promote attacks on innocent human life in the name of scientific progress. Americans have not been required to assist in such direct exploitation of vulnerable human life in the past.”
“Because the President has promised to veto this bill, and opposition to it in Congress is sufficient to uphold his veto in both House and Senate, we expect that this terrible burden will not be placed on the American people now,” Doerflinger added.
“Many members of Congress remain dazzled by irresponsibly hyped promises of ‘miracle cures’ from the destruction of human embryos, although experts in the field increasingly admit that treatments from this avenue may be decades away,” said Mr. Doerflinger. “This debate continues to divert attention and resources away from the demonstrated therapeutic promise of morally sound research using adult and cord blood stem cells. Not only embryonic human beings, but suffering patients and their families, are victims of the Senate’s fixation on destructive research.”
Meanwhile, Kimberly Zenarolla, Executive Vice-President of the National Pro-life Action Center on Capitol Hill called the Sentate’s decision “a travesty,” claiming that that the Senate has implicated the American people in its quest to destroy human life for the very remote ‘potential’ benefit of embryonic stem cell research.”
The National Pro-life Action Center called on congress, “to examine the practice of in vitro fertilization that continues to freeze human beings, exposing them to every sort of manipulation, including death by dismemberment.”
“The fertility industry in America is one of the most unregulated worldwide,” Zenarolla added. “As a country, we need to look at policies such as those employed in Italy and Germany that forbid the freezing of embryos. This inhumane practice must stop.”
“Over the past six years, more than $130 million in taxpayer dollars has been devoted to human embryonic stem cell research consistent with the President's policy.”
President Bush responds
President George W. Bush, who has already promised to veto the bill, also reemphasized his reasons for utilizing his veto power yesterday.
“Scientists believe that stem cells have the potential for medical breakthroughs in treating debilitating medical diseases and disorders,” the president said in a statement. “However, the advancement of science and medicine need not conflict with the ethical imperative to protect every human life. I am a strong supporter of scientific research -- which is why I authorized the first federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells, under careful safeguards, starting in 2001.”
Bush noted that his previous funding for stem cell research refused funding for the creation of new human embryos, for the purpose of destroying or harming them for science. “The Senate today voted in support of legislation to overturn these safeguards,” the president added. “I believe this will encourage taxpayer money to be spent on the destruction or endangerment of living human embryos -- raising serious moral concerns for millions of Americans.”
The president reaffirmed that if Senate Bill 5 is also passed by the U.S. House, he will veto it.
The U.S. leader also noted the tremendous scientific advances that have been reported over the last few years, with the use of ethically acceptable “adult” stem cells. He offered his strong support for Senate Bill 30, “the Hope Act,” which “builds on this ethically appropriate research by encouraging further development of these alternative techniques for producing stem cells without embryo creation or destruction.”
“I strongly support this bill,” the president concluded, “and I encourage the Congress to pass it and send it to me for my signature, so stem cell science can progress, without ethical and cultural conflict.”
Jerusalem, Israel, Apr 12, 2007 (CNA) - The Apostolic Nuncio to Jerusalem and Palestine, Archbishop Antonio Franco, has announced that he will not attend the annual ceremony in commemoration of the Holocaust due to be held next week at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum of Jerusalem. The Vatican representative said he was refusing to participate after Yad Vashem refused to remove an inflammatory and highly contested description of Pope Pius XII.
Archbishop Franco told the Italian Religious Service (SIR) that he had lodged a complaint with Yad Vashem leadership last year after participating in the commemoration. “I wrote a letter to the Directorate of the Yad Vashem to explain that last year we had already told them we had issues with the photo with the caption of Pius XII on the memorial.”
According to SIR, a caption under the late Pontiff’s photo claims that he kept an ambiguous position about the murder of the Jews during the Holocaust.
However, the archbishop noted, “the reply to my letter that I see today on some Israeli papers says the historical truth cannot be changed.”
Indeed, Franco said, “facts cannot be changed, but such facts have been interpreted in a way that clashes with many other historical truths and above all with an entirely different historiography that gives a different view.”
“It hurts to go to the Yad Vashem and see Pius XII presented like that,” the archbishop said, “and this is what I wrote in my letter. Perhaps the photo could be removed or the caption could be changed. But the Pope cannot certainly be put amidst men that should be ashamed at what they did against the Jews.”
“Pius XII should not be ashamed at all that he did for the salvation of the Jews, which is highlighted by the historical sources.”
“My letter, which follows up on a similar one I had written last year, asked them to take care of this issue.”
Franco adamantly added that his refusal to attend the ceremony, “does not mean I am disrespectful of the memory and the victims of this tragedy. This is out of the question!”
“In reading the papers today I refuse point-blank to say the Catholic Church and the Holy See have any responsibility for not helping out the Jews, with all they did. That photo offends all of the Catholic Church. And that’s what I wanted to make clear.”