, Apr 17, 2007 (CNA) - The Scottish bishops have written a letter to the voters of their dioceses, who are going to elect a new Parliament on May 3rd, asking them to question the nominees on some key issues of Catholic morality, such as the family, the schools, the right to life, and religious freedom.
In the message, read in all Scottish churches over the weekend, the Bishops speak of “a conflict of values in society” that has led to “policies, social legislation and regulations which are seriously at odds with the insights and values of our Christian faith and of other faiths.”
In addition to issues such as abortion, poverty, and embryonic experimentation, the bishops noted the recent regulations on family law that have been introduced by the ”Equality Act,” which will be enacted on April 30th, and which will oblige Catholic adoption agencies to either equate homosexual couples with heterosexual couples or face closure for “discrimination.”
The bishops also pointed to the plans of the British Government to continue the development of nuclear weaponry. News that, according to the Scottish Bishops, “damage not only the good of the Catholic community but the good of the whole humankind and must be fought against when voting".
At the same time, the letter notes that some candidates share the “Christian values” of Catholics and that there are “signs of a desire for an authentic Christian voice in politics serving the common good of people of all faiths and none.”
Last week, Cardinal Keith O' Brien had asked the Catholics to keep in mind the Bishops’ advice when they go to the polls to vote.
Below is the full Statement from the Bishops of Scotland:
Election Statement of the Bishops of Scotland
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. We, the Catholic Bishops of Scotland, greet you in the name of the risen Christ. As we continue to celebrate the mystery of Easter, we renew our hope in Jesus Christ as the source of our salvation.
2. Elections to the Scottish Parliament and to Local Authorities are approaching. Each of us is called to make practical political choices for the sake of the common good of the people of Scotland. These choices should be made in conformity with our faith in Christ.
3. The Bishops recognise that many people in politics work conscientiously to achieve good, and we commend them to you. At the same time we cannot fail to notice a conflict of values in society. This conflict of values is reflected in the political sphere in policies, social legislation and regulations which are seriously at odds with the insights and values of our Christian faith and of other faiths.
4. The Bishops remain deeply concerned about legislation which allows abortion, embryo experimentation, easy divorce and civil partnerships. We have always campaigned against poverty, deprivation and injustice. We have raised our voices against a new generation of nuclear weapons. We foresee with apprehension a campaign to legalise euthanasia. We find ourselves having to counter criticism of the very existence of Catholic schools, in large part prompted by an agenda which aims to remove religion from the public sphere.
5. As well as these serious matters, Government has advanced proposals which imply a stealthy and unjust attack on the freedom of religion itself and on the rights of conscience. Earlier this year new regulations were enacted at Westminster which could prevent Catholic adoption agencies from carrying out their work according to the Catholic and Christian vision of family life. Last year, in the face of widespread opposition, the Scottish Parliament extended the right to adopt to unmarried and same sex couples. These dubious innovations are detrimental not just to the good of the Catholic community but to the common good of humanity as a whole. They deserve to be challenged at the ballot box.
6. The coming elections give us an opportunity to vote wisely and to choose the best political representatives for our communities. Many of those standing share our Christian values. There are signs of a desire for an authentic Christian voice in politics serving the common good of people of all faiths and none.
7. Your Bishops urge you to use your vote to support the candidates who offer the best chance of bringing the voice of a truly human and Christian civilisation to the decision-making chambers of our country. We invite you to look beyond the superficially attractive and fashionable to recognise those policies and values which are most in tune with the dignity of the human person and with the common good of our society.
8. To help you vote, we attach with this letter a number of questions you may wish to consider yourself and put to your election candidates.
9. Our faith is in the risen Christ. We are all to witness to Him even in our political choices, in the hope that we can make his love for all men and women more effective in our country!
May God bless you all.
Montreal, Canada, Apr 17, 2007 (CNA) - More than 1,500 people — children preparing for the sacrament of confirmation, and their families — crammed into Montreal’s Mary Queen of the World Cathedral March 25 for a visit with the bishop.
The pews were filled to capacity; parents stood in the aisles; and children sat on the floor in front of the altar for a one-hour question-and-answer period with Bishop Anthony Mancini, vicar-general of the Archdiocese of Montreal, reported the Catholic Times.
“Meeting with young followers of Jesus Christ and their parents was a great experience,” the bishop told the Times. “It gave them the opportunity to be in downtown Montreal, and to visit the very large cathedral. For some, it was their first visit to such a large church.”
For the third consecutive year, children and their families were invited for a self-guided tour of the cathedral, from 1:30 p.m. to 4. Families worked together on a treasure hunt activity, which “allowed them to discover the hidden treasures and intricacies of the cathedral,” the bishop said.
About 15 children lined up behind a microphone to ask the bishop questions about his ministry, the cathedral and the faith. The bishop was dressed in his episcopal vestments, including his mitre, for the occasion.
“They asked questions that were both interesting and, at times, difficult to answer,” the bishop told the Times. For instance, one child asked why the bishop was not married, and one girl asked why she couldn’t become a bishop.
After the session, some parents gathered around the bishop to thank him and to ask some questions as well. Some families lingered in prayer and appreciation after the activities ended.
“It was a great event for the children, their parents and families, and for me,” the bishop said.
There are about 2,500 children being confirmed in the English region of the archdiocese this year.
Washington D.C., Apr 17, 2007 (CNA) - The U.S. bishops have issued a letter lending their support to the bishops of Zimbabwe, who are leading the Zimbabwean people through a growing political, economic and humanitarian crisis.
The bishops of Zimbabwe had issued an Easter message, calling for change in the south African country through democratic elections and constitutional reform.
“As the suffering population becomes more insistent, generating more and more pressure through boycotts, strikes, demonstrations and uprisings, the state responds with ever harsher oppression through arrests, detentions, banning orders, beatings and torture,” the bishops of Zimbabwe wrote in their Easter message.
They have joined other voices in Zimbabwe that are calling for an end to President Robert Mugabe’s human rights abuses and to his government. Pro-democracy advocates have been killed, jailed and tortured in recent months.
Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ international policy committee, wrote a letter to Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu of Harare, who is president of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference, expressing solidarity with the bishops and people of Zimbabwe.
“We offer profound respect to you and our brother bishops in Zimbabwe for your brave and faithful pastoral ministry in these difficult days, and we acknowledge and accept the bishops’ invitation to join with you in prayer for Zimbabwe,” Bishop Wenski wrote.
Bishop Wenski called the bishops’ pastoral letter “a powerful testimony to the prophetic leadership of the bishops of Zimbabwe and to the tragic situation of the people in your country.”
Pope Benedict XVI made reference to Zimbabwe during his “Urbi et Orbi” Easter address, describing the country as being “in the grip of a grievous crisis.”
Richmond, Va., Apr 17, 2007 (CNA) -
Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo, whose flock includes the faithful at Virginia Tech University, issued a short statement Monday morning lamenting the tragic shootings which left at least 32 dead and dozens of others injured yesterday.
“The unexpected killings on the campus of Virginia Tech are most distressing and our hearts go out to the parents and family members whose sons and daughters were killed or injured,” the Richmond Bishop said.
The bishop, who celebrated his 65th birthday on Sunday, said he learned of the tragedy while he attended a birthday celebration with Diocesan staff members. “It really hit home with me,” he said, when he learned that two women present at his party had children who were students at Virginia Tech.
One member of the Catholic Schools Office had not yet heard of what had happened when she arrived, the bishop said. After urgently trying to reach her daughter by phone she learned that, “fortunately her daughter was okay and so were the two sons of another guest at the lunch.”
"At this time I cannot help but think of the endless years of commitment of love and care these parents have invested in their children and then to have it all cut down by a bullet is tremendously sad,” the prelate said.
"Our sympathy and prayers go out to them and their extended family and friends,” DiLorenzo concluded.
Steve Neill, who edits Richmond’s “The Catholic Virginian,” told CNA that Bishop DiLorenzo will be in Blacksburg and on the campus of Virginia Tech this weekend to offer Mass and help minister to those grieving.
Jerusalem, Israel, Apr 17, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Antonio Franco, the Papal Nuncio to Israel, reversed his earlier decision and attended a Holocaust memorial service on Sunday, marking the beginning of Israel's annual Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Archbishop Franco said last week he would skip the ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial because Catholics were offended by a caption at the museum describing the wartime conduct of Pope Pius XII, reported The Associated Press.
The caption next to the picture of the pontiff reads: "Even when reports about the murder of Jews reached the Vatican, the pope did not protest," refusing to sign a 1942 Allied condemnation of the massacre of Jews.
It says the late pope "maintained his neutral position" with two exceptions -- appeals he made to the rulers of Hungary and Slovakia toward the end of the war. It also criticizes "his silence and absence of guidelines."
The photo caption first appeared in 2005, when Yad Vashem opened its new museum. Shortly after, the previous Vatican ambassador asked that it be changed. But Yad Vashem has not done so, insisting its research on the Pope's role is accurate.
"Since my action was not intended as a move to disassociate myself from the commemoration but to call attention to the manner in which the pope is presented, my aim has been achieved," the archbishop told Vatican Radio before the memorial.
"I have no motives to keep up the tensions, and therefore I will participate in the ceremony," he added.
Yad Vashem on Sunday immediately welcomed the archbishop’s decision to attend, saying it was “the right thing to do." In a statement, it also said it “was inappropriate to link an issue of historical research with commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust.”
Yad Vashem has said it would be ready to re-examine Pope Pius XII's conduct during the Holocaust if the Vatican opened its World War II-era archives to the museum's research staff and new material emerged.
"It is a complex issue, and we will continue to make sure that we are firmly rooted in the most updated historical truth," said Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev in a letter to Archbishop Franco. “We would be pleased to examine any new documentation that may come to light on this issue.”
As part of Holocaust Remembrance Day, sirens wailed throughout Israel for two minutes while Israelis stood silently to remember the victims.
Vatican City, Apr 17, 2007 (CNA) -
The Church’s celebration of Pope Benedict XVI’s 80th birthday concluded yesterday with a concert in his honor. The Holy Father thanked the various performers and those present and thanked God for the gift of music. Music, the Pope said helps us praise God, who is “the ultimate source” of the Good and the Beautiful.
The concert, which was held in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, was given by the Radio Symphony Orchestra (SWR) of Stuttgart, Germany. The orchestra, directed by the Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel, played pieces by Giovanni Gabrieli (1554/57-1612), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904).
At the end of the concert, the Pope thanked the conductor and musicians, expressing his conviction that music “truly is the universal language of beauty, capable of uniting men and women of good will all over the world, bringing them to raise their gaze to the Heights and aspire to absolute Good and Beauty, the ultimate source of which is God Himself.”
“In looking back over my own life,” he added, “I thank God for having given me music which, almost as a traveling companion, has always brought me comfort and joy.”
The Holy Father also expressed his gratitude "to the people who, from the earliest years of my infancy, introduced me to this source of inspiration and serenity. I thank those who unite music and prayer in harmonious praise of God and His works. They help us to glorify the Creator and Redeemer of the world.”
“This is my desire,” he concluded, “that the greatness and beauty of music may also give you, dear friends, a new and continual inspiration to build a world of love, solidarity and peace.”
After the concert, those present sang "Happy Birthday" to the Pope in Italian and German.
Irondale, Ala., Apr 17, 2007 (CNA) -
The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) will hold a Family Celebration this summer.
“Following the network’s 25th anniversary celebration last summer, we heard so many wonderful comments that we decided to invite our EWTN Family back to Birmingham this year,” said EWTN president Michael P. Warsaw.
The theme of this year’s event will be the Eucharist. Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, Marcus Grodi, Mother Assumpta Long, OP, and Fr. Antoine Thomas, FJ, are among the featured speakers at the event to be held at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center, July 21-22.
The celebration is free. Participants have the opportunity to attend Mass, spend time in Eucharistic adoration, be part of a EWTN Live Show audience and meet some of the EWTN hosts.
There will be a special program for children at the on-site EWTN Faith Factory, featuring children’s programming hosts Br. Leo and the Dominican Sisters from the popular “Truth in the Heart” series. There will also be a special Children’s Holy Hour.
For more information go to: www.ewtn.com.
Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 17, 2007 (CNA) - The spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico City, Father Hugo Valdemar Romero, criticized the group “Catholics for a Free Choice” for its hypocrisy for claiming to be scandalized “when we mention the term murder when describing what takes place during an abortion,” and he said that the group wants to act like “victims only because the Catholic Church preaches the truth in saying that abortion” is killing an innocent being.
“I’m surprised by the hypocrisy of these groups that are scandalized when we mention the term murder to describe what happens during an abortion, when that is what happens when an innocent being is killed in the womb of her mother,” the priest said, adding that the promoters of abortion are not scandalized by the act of killing but rather by the term, which he said was a “great hypocrisy.”
According to the Archdiocese of Mexico’s news service, Father Valdemar said that in using the term murder that does not mean that the leaders of these groups are guilty of it, unless they undergo abortions. But in supporting a law that promotes this practice they become accomplices.
Likewise, he reaffirmed that the Church does not support violence and “on numerous occasions has condemned these acts because we never should discuss our differences with aggression, but we do believe that the worst violence that can be committed is that which is directed against the unborn.”
Father Valdemar slammed the organization for inciting a campaign against Cardinal Norberto Rivera and for their efforts to destroy the Church. He called them dishonest for “presenting themselves as Catholics when in they aren’t,” he said.
In portraying themselves as victims, Catholics For a Free Choice is using a media strategy to appear as weak women being attacked by the “intolerant Catholic Church,” when in reality it is a “multinational association” that seeks to confuse Catholics and constantly attack the Church.
Los Angeles, Calif., Apr 17, 2007 (CNA) - Families from across the country and as far away as the Philippines are expected to attend the Rosary Bowl in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles May 19.
The event, called A World at Prayer is a World at Peace: The Rosary Bowl, is expected to be the largest communal prayer of the Rosary in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 50 years. It will be held in the famous Rose Bowl of Pasadena, Calif.
The archdiocese used to hold Rosary events, called Mary’s Hour, in the Los Angeles Coliseum in the 1950s and 1960s, according to organizers.
This year’s event is sponsored and organized by Holy Cross Family Ministries, Easton, Mass., and its media arm, Family Theater Productions, Hollywood, in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The Glorious Mysteries will be prayed in 55 languages representing the varied ethnicities that comprise the church of Southern California. The Eucharistic celebration will combine music, inspirational talks, Eucharistic adoration and prayer of the Rosary.
The Rosary Bowl is being held in order to encourage Catholics and others to enhance their faith through prayer of the Rosary. Participants will pray for world peace and the strength and unity of families, especially in war-torn areas.
The venue will begin welcoming participants at 5 p.m. There will be praise and worship, including witness talks, starting at 6 p.m. A Eucharistic procession will begin at 7:30 p.m., followed by adoration, prayer of the Glorious Mysteries and a homily by Cardinal Mahony. Benediction is at 9 p.m.
Twenty-eight million people world-wide have attended 40 such events organized and conducted by Servant of God Father Peyton, now a sainthood candidate.
Admission is free, but tickets are required. Free tickets can be ordered online at http://www.rosarybowl.org/about-ticket-request.html or by e-mailing [email protected]
Vatican City, Apr 17, 2007 (CNA) - On Saturday, April 21, and Sunday, April 23, the Holy Father will make a pastoral visit to the Italian dioceses of Vigevano and Pavia, for the 750th anniversary of the Bull "Licet Ecclesiae Catholicae" with which Pope Alexander IV unified the various groups following the Augustinian rule into one great Order.
Soon after his election to the pontificate on April 19, 2005, Benedict XVI was invited by Fr. Robert Prevost, Prior General of the Augustinian order, to come and venerate the remains of St. Augustine which are conserved in the Basilica of San Pietro in Cieldoro, in Pavia. Having accepted invitation, the Holy Father will visit the Basilica where he will light a votive candle before the Saint's casket in perennial memory of his visit.
The Pope will also bless the corner stone of the planned Augustinian cultural center, which the Order intends to dedicate to Benedict XVI, in honor of the strong spiritual and theological ties binding the Holy Father and the great Doctor of the Church.
Vatican City, Apr 17, 2007 (CNA) - The Vatican made public this morning a message from Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father has assured Richmond Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of his “heartfelt prayers” for all the victims, their families, and the Virginia Tech community.
“Deeply saddened by the news of the shooting at Virginia Tech,” the statement begins, “His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has asked me to convey the assurance of his heartfelt prayers for the victims, their families and for the entire school community.”
“In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy,” the message continues, the Pope, “asks God our Father to console all those who mourn and to grant them that spiritual strength which triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope, and reconciling love.”
The university and police officials confirmed this morning that Cho Seung-Hui, 23, a Virginia Tech senior and South Korea native is thought to be responsible for the killing of two people at a university dormitory and the subsequent murder of at least 30 people locked inside a classroom building.
The murders constitute the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.
Bishop DiLorenzo will visit the Virginia Tech campus this coming weekend, and offer a Mass for the entire community.
Warsaw, Poland, Apr 17, 2007 (CNA) - Organizers of the IV World Congress of Families, which will be held May 11-13 in Warsaw, have published the roster of guests who will be speaking at the event.
More than three thousand pro-family leaders, activists and lawmakers will reflect on the theme “Beyond the Demographic Winter—the Natural Family and springtime for Europe and the World.”
In addition to the Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, who will open the event, organizers said one hundred experts from across the world will be attending. The list is headed up by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Also attending will be Tom Minnery, vice president of Focus on the Family, and Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and Father Thomas Euteneur, president of Human Life International.
More information on the event can be found at www.worldcongress.org
Madrid, Spain, Apr 17, 2007 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Toledo and Vice President of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares has renewed his opposition to the course Education for Citizenship which Spanish law is requiring be taught in schools next fall saying, “We are risking a lot with these ideologies that seek to wrench the vision of the creator God from the heart of man.”
During a day-long meeting organized by the Archdiocese of Toledo to study the Education for Citizenship course, the Cardinal said the issue was of utmost importance and “affects our society both today and in the future.” He warned that the course would “impose a moral relativism and ideology of gender” that demands “responsible and devoted consideration.”
The Cardinal said Spaniards were rightly alarmed about the course and he called for clarity in social, moral, and anthropological concepts.
The problem with “Education for Citizenship,” he added, “is not one issue or another within the course, it’s the underlying vision of man,” and that from the beginning the bishops have expressed their concern with the material.
After the Cardinal finished his remarks, Jaime Urcelay, President of Professionals for Ethics, called the matter one of “utmost gravity” that has been the subject of “polemics, controversy and social alarm” since 2004.
In his judgment, Education for Citizenship will disrupt Spanish society during a “delicate moment” in which the issue of freedom of education has yet to be resolved and schools are facing a profound crisis of authority.
Vatican City, Apr 17, 2007 (CNA) - On the occasion of Pope Benedict XVI’s 80th birthday, the director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, said this week there are two issues of profound concern to Pope Benedict XVI: the continual reference to the fathers of the Church and the constant explication and living of the Sacred Liturgy.
“Two particular aspects call come to mind. First of all, the richness and the nature of the references to the Fathers of the Church. There hasn’t been a break in the two thousand years since the Scriptures until today. One can see the continuity in the reflections and in the deepening of the faith throughout time from Jesus to today. The Fathers were somewhat eclipsed in the common culture of the believer, and now they have become more familiar,” Father Lombardi said.
In speaking about the second aspect, the Vatican spokesman underscored the profundity of the Pontiff when he refers to the liturgy and “the celebration of our faith: the significance of the rites, the expression of the relationship between believers and God, which grows through the history of our faith. They are understood now in a living context, in which memory becomes actuality, and we more fully understand that come into contact with the mystery of God.”
Likewise, the Vatican spokesman underscored that the life of the Pope has been “characterized by a vocation that has developed in different successive phases and modalities of increasing responsibility, with a great coherence of unity of inspiration and strength. Priest and theologian, man of faith, of culture and ecclesial service. Culture and faith do not remain restricted to the realm of pursuit and to private life, but rather they become treasures shared always in the widest of atmospheres, to the ends of the Church and to today’s humanity.”
Father Lombardi described the Pope’s “charism” as the ability to speak with clarity, profundity about the center of the faith by helping to understand the need and the beauty of the continual and daily relationship between faith and reason, study and spirituality. “The encyclical ‘Deus Caritas est’ and the book ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ are two reference points for entering into this perspective and for remaining involved and, we might even say, fascinated,” he added.
“We wish the Pope many more years,” Father Lombardi said.