Vatican City, May 8, 2007 (CNA) - European bishops gathered in Rome for the seventh meeting of the Special Council for Europe of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops acknowledged today that the impulse for a new evangelization faces serious challenges on the old continent.
During the meeting, Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, Secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, made reference to John Paul II's 2003 Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Europa” and recalled “the challenges and the signs of hope facing the Church on the European continent.”
According to the statement "the challenges of the current moment should encourage all the living forces of the Church to renew the impetus of evangelization on the European continent, which is showing signs of some weariness but also of revival.”
“In the face of the modern challenges facing the Church throughout the continent of Europe, it is Episcopal collegiality that represents the appropriate space for the communion of pastors among themselves and with the Holy Father, with a view to renewed evangelizing activity,” the statement adds.
"Such communion, which enjoys the guarantee of unity and effectively ensures the real unity of the universal Church and of the Church in Europe, strengthens pastors as they constantly announce the Gospel in their various situations, where it is necessary to reaffirm the primacy of God in order to reiterate the dignity of man, created in His image an likeness, in the personal and community dimension, the document concludes.
Vatican City, May 8, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI appointed as Bishop of Saint John in New Brunswick (Canada) Most Reverend Robert Harris, until now Auxiliary bishop of Sault Sainte Marie.
Robert Harris was born in Montréal in September 26, 1944. Studied at the Loyola College in Montréal, completed his theological studies at the Seminary of Montréal; and from 1973 to 1975 studied Canon Law in Roma at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
He was ordained a priest on May 24 1969 for the Archdiocese of Montréal. After four years as a pastor, he was appointed Vice Chancellor of the Archdiocese, as well as responsible for the English-speaking seminarians and Rector of the Seminary (1990-2001); and finally Vicar for the English-speaking Catholics of the Archdiocese of Montréal (2001-2002).
He was appointed Auxiliary bishop of Sault Sainte Marie in October 26 2002
Denver, Colo., May 8, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap. will ordain three men to the Catholic priesthood on Saturday, May 12 at 10 am at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, including one cancer survivor.
Deacons Randy Dollins, 30, Steven Voss, 28, and Timothy Hjelstrom, 31, will culminate nearly eight years of Catholic study at the Archdiocese of Denver’s St. John Vianney Theological Seminary.
Voss, a native of Lakewood, CO, experienced the call to the priesthood soon after being diagnosed with cancer. Shortly after recovering from major surgery, he explored seminary life and, within months, enrolled at St. John Vianney. “It has been a grace-filled and peaceful fit,” says Voss. “As for my cancer…I last had surgery in 2003…and have enjoyed fine health since.”
Dollins, raised in Aurora, CO, worked as a graphic designer for a local sportswear company for nearly five years before exploring the priesthood. A year of missionary work confirmed his priestly calling. “I realized that work paid the bills but that ministry filled me up and made me a better person,” said Dollins. “I was grabbed by God for my vocation [to the priesthood].”
A national survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, revealed a national average age of 35 for the 475 deacons entering the Roman Catholic priesthood this year.
The study also revealed a highly educated class of ordinands, with more than 60 percent completing college before entering seminary. Many of the men went on to complete advanced degrees in law, medicine, and education.
Madrid, Spain, May 8, 2007 (CNA) - The secretary for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Archbishop Agostino Gardin, OFM Conv., said this week religious life in Europe “is currently facing unprepared for difficulties.”
In an interview published in the latest issue of CONFER and summarized by the IVICON news agency, Archbishop Gardin said, “In the search for what is essential, we religious should discover what it means to be truly Christian.”
Archbishop Gardin, who was also Superior General of the Conventual Franciscans, pointed out as well that the problem of “de-Christianization” that is plaguing the European continent is having grave repercussions for religious life, with “a strong decline in the number of vocations, together with the increasing aging of religious.”
He noted the danger that these problems “monopolize all of the energies of religious institutes, making it more difficult to carry out a renewal and adaptation to the signs of the times.”
Madrid, Spain, May 8, 2007 (CNA) - Lourdes Perez, a mother of four school-age children, has become the first person in the Spanish region of Catalonia to file for conscientious objection to the controversial course “Education for Citizenship,” which thousands of Spaniards have labeled Socialist propaganda.
According to the organization “Professionals for Ethics,” this first case of conscientious objection has been filed at the Jesus-Maria Sant Andreu School in Barcelona.
Lourdes Perez says she has objected to the course precisely because she wants her children to be good citizens. “This course will not make them better citizens, but rather it will indoctrinate them with the moral and ideological criteria of the government of the day,” she said. “And this is not an option, it is an imposition to which we cannot consent,” Perez added.
Professionals for Ethics also reported that another case of conscientious objection exists in Aragon, although the parents in question have opted to remain anonymous in order to avoid being the target of reprisals by the government.
Ottawa, Canada, May 8, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) is urging Canadians to reconsider the juridical void, which makes it possible for women to access free abortions across the country.
In an April 30 message, released ahead of the 10th annual March for Life on Parliament Hill, COLF director Michele Boulva argues that abortion counters the Canadian ideal of a just society that works to maintain the dignity of each person.
The March for Life is May 10. Organizers have noted that an increasing number of participants are young people. Three million babies have been aborted in Canada in the 36 years since abortion has been decriminalized.
“It is an illusion to think that the human rights of each and everyone will be respected if we do not begin by respecting the first of all fundamental rights: the right to life, which is recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Boulva wrote. “It is only by respecting life from its earliest beginnings until its natural end that we may hope to have the rest of our rights respected.”
Boulva said the time has come to extend the human rights protections, guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to unborn Canadian citizens.
“Today, astonishing and abundant scientific evidence confirms the humanity of the unborn, each of whom is unique and irreplaceable,” said Boulva, citing French scientist Jerome Lejeune.
Lejeune has said: “From the moment of fertilization, that is from the earliest moment of biologic existence, the developing human being is alive, and entirely distinct from the mother who provides nourishment and protection.”
“As a civilized country, considering the knowledge that we now have about prenatal development, we cannot continue to deny the evidence: to destroy a human fetus or embryo is to prevent the birth of a unique and irreplaceable human being,” she said.
Boulva noted that recent surveys indicate that two-thirds of Canadians are in favor of a law that would give greater protection to unborn human life by restricting the period during which abortion is allowed, said Boulva. Currently, in Canada, an abortion can be procured at any time in a woman’s pregnancy.
“Our communities must be more creative in supporting women and couples confronted with an unexpected pregnancy,” said Boulva. Moreover, governments must provide publicly funded services that offer alternatives to abortion, as well as informed consent and parental notification laws.
COLF is co-sponsored by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus. It promotes respect for human life and dignity and the essential role of the family.
, May 8, 2007 (CNA) - A Catholic all-girls high school withdrew its invitation to Sen. Claire McCaskill to speak at this year’s graduation ceremony because her positions on abortion and stem cell research are not in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Students at St. Joseph’s Academy in the St. Louis suburb of Frontenac, but the invitation was withdrawn last week. McCaskill’s daughter attends St. Joseph’s Academy.
School president Sr. Michaela Zahner said she reluctantly made the decision after receiving a call from diocesan officials, reported The Associated Press.
A spokeswoman for the archdiocese, Anne Steffens, said the decision was not made by the Archbishop Raymond Burke.
But Sr. Zahner told the AP that the archdiocese’s policy, forbidding a public forum for speakers who diverge from Church teaching, clearly reflects Burke’s position.
McCaskill said she was disappointed by the decision, but that it did “not diminish my respect and admiration for St. Joseph’s Academy, their faculty, and students."
Managua, Nicaragua, May 8, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, who is presiding over a national reconciliation commission in Nicaragua created by the current Sandinista government, emphatically stated this Sunday that he never asked the US government for arms against the “Contras,” the guerrilla army that fought against the first government created after the Sandinista revolution (1979-1990). Last Sunday, the local newspaper “El Nuevo Diario,” published an interview with the poet Michelle Najlis, a one-time Sandinista militant, who accused the cardinal without proof of soliciting arms for the Contras.
Najlis, who was also an activist in the self-titled “popular church” inspired by Marxist liberation theology as a branch of the Sandinista revolution, claimed, “Obando went to ask the gringos (United States) for arms for the Contras.”
“Neither at that time, nor in the most difficult moments of the war, nor ever have I solicited arms for anyone,” the cardinal responded in a statement. He emphasized that whenever he was called to intervene in conflicts, he did so always seeking “dialogue as the only means to achieving peace and reconciliation between all Nicaraguans, without exclusion.”
Recalling one particular episode during the conflict in which he was involved as mediator, the cardinal noted that “while a cease-fire was being observed,” a group of people “who had suffered greatly from the consequences of the fighting” asked him to help them acquire arms to confront their adversaries. The cardinal said his answer was: “You cannot achieve peace with arms, but I assure you I will get you humanitarian aid.”
“Therefore, I state that the declaration by Ms. Michelle Najlis is absolutely false,” he said.
Sandinista sources have acknowledged the Najlis lacks evidence to support his statements but that he still resents the cardinal for his efforts to stop the spread of the “popular church” in Nicaragua.
Lima, Peru, May 8, 2007 (CNA) - During his weekly radio program, “Dialogue of Faith,” Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne of Lima warned of the existence of a worldwide campaign to attack religion in order to destroy the right to life, marriage and the family, and said Catholics must put up resistance.
“Without the family there is no society, there is no globalization, nor economic progress, there is nothing; the family is the basic cell of society,” the cardinal said in reference to one of the central challenges that will be addressed at the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council in Parricide (Brazil), which he will attend.
“The Church, out of love of humanity, must wage this battle in order to stop the spread of campaigns that kill the unborn, destroy marriage and do not recognize the good of the family,” Cardinal Cyprian said, warning that “in today’s world there is a conspiracy to exile morality from public life, in the world of politics, in the business world and in the media. Therefore now is the time to defend morality.”
The archbishop of Lima emphasized that Catholic parents “are called to make the home into a school of values.”
, May 8, 2007 (CNA) - The bishops of Colombia announced they will celebrate a Mass for aborted children in order to mark the first anniversary of the legalization of abortion in Colombia, which was the result of a ruling by the country’s Constitutional Court.
The announcement, signed by Bishop Hector Gutierrez Pabon of Engativa and spokesman of the Bishops’ Conference, states, “Because of the importance of promoting life for the building of peace in families and among peoples, the Church in Colombia will offer a Mass for children who have been aborted on Wednesday, May 10, one year after the legalization of abortion.”
Bishop Gutierrez noted that the justices of the Court “legislated behind the backs of the community and did not consider the thinking of Catholics who seek to defend life. Therefore I hope that some day the Court is reformed and this ruling is reversed.”
The Church in Colombia has composed the following prayer to Mary for the Mass for Life on May 10:
“Mary, Mother of mankind, receive our prayer echoing the anguished cry of the victims of abortion, hatred, war and many other attacks against life. Sustain the weak and console those who suffer unjustly. Touch the hearts of those who reject the light of the truth and harden their own humanity by killing. We come to you with confidence, Mother of mercy, Mother of life.”
Washington D.C., May 8, 2007 (CNA) - A new Catholic radio station promises to provide “honest and intelligent and programming that will enrich their (the listeners) understanding of the world and their Catholic faith.”
Catholic Radio International has been launched and will air high-quality news and cultural content for the Internet, MP3 downloads, and regular radio stations. The programming will feature spiritual content as well as reflections on faith in the public square.
CRI will offer reflections from Sally Robb on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, called “A Thread of Grace.”
Robb is a former co-host of Relevant Radio’s Morning Air program. The name for her show comes from an old Jewish saying that says that even in the darkest tapestries, God always weaves a thread of grace.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, CRI will air “The Heart of the Matter.” which is a current issues oriented show.
The hour-long “UltraSound” will air three times a month on Saturdays, starting May 5. It is hosted by Jeff Gardner, who is also CRI’s CEO. His program has been described as “This American Life” meets “60 Minutes.” The program takes a fresh and edgy look at the many issues involved with living the culture of life.
In the last ten years, Catholic radio has taken off. In 1998, there were a total of seven Catholic radio stations in the U.S. Today, there are more than 120.
For more information, go to: www.catholicradiointernational.com