Los Angeles, Calif., May 16, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles announced yesterday that the archdiocese will have to sell its headquarters so that it can meet its financial obligations to “the alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse.”
The sale will include other “non-essential real estate properties” such as those previously purchased for establishing “new parishes, schools, various charitable institutions, convents, etc.” or are being “held for future parishes, future schools, and similar ministry purposes.”
The cardinal promised that “no parishes or parish schools will be closed to fund these settlements, nor will their essential ministries be affected by the sales.” The properties under consideration are not being used by parishes. Still, Mahony said, the archdiocese would prefer to retain the properties it is considering to sell.”
In December, the archdiocese settled 46 clergy abuse civil cases for a total of $60 million, of which the archdiocese contributed $40 million, said Mahony in his statement. When the settlement was made he noted that “a settlement in those cases will require the active participation of the many insurance companies who provided liability insurance during those past years when the abuse occurred.” Attorneys, judges, and Church leaders are still negotiating these settlements.
Cardinal Mahony said the “first major property to be sold will be the Archdiocesan Catholic Center,” since “it is only right that the Archdiocese begin this process by demonstrating our commitment to reach final settlement in these cases by selling our central administrative building.”
Reflecting on the way that this situation affects the Archdiocese, Mahony commented, “I have often said over the past years that God’s grace is more powerful than the evil of sinful actions.” As a result of the abuse scandal, “Our Church has become more humble, more faithful, and more centered upon our primary mission: to evangelize all peoples in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Lynchburg, Va., May 16, 2007 (CNA) - Famed Evangelical leader, Rev. Jerry Falwell, died yesterday morning at the age of 73. Falwell was well known for his leadership of Christian conservatives and is often credited for bringing them to political prominence. Among his accomplishments are: the establishment of the political advocacy group the Moral Majority, the founding of Liberty University, and leading Thomas Road Baptist Church as its pastor.
Rev. Falwell’s passing was discovered yesterday morning when members of his staff found him unconscious in his office around 11:30 a.m. He was rushed to Lynchburg General Hospital and officially pronounced dead at 12:40 p.m. Falwell's family, including his wife, Macel, and two sons were with him at the time of his death.
President George W. Bush and the First Lady extended their condolences to the family. “Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Jerry Falwell, a man who cherished faith, family, and freedom,” said Bush.
“Jerry lived a life of faith and called upon men and women of all backgrounds to believe in God and serve their communities,” he said. “One of his lasting contributions was the establishment of Liberty University, where he taught young people to remain true to their convictions and rely upon God’s word throughout each stage of their lives.”
Ministry officials called a special 2 p.m. meeting in the Thomas Road Baptist Church auditorium. On less than an hour’s notice, more than 6,000 faculty, staff, students and church members attended the announcement of the passing of their pastor and chancellor.
Rev. Falwell established the Thomas Road Baptist Church in 1956 where he was pastor for over 50 years. He founded Liberty University in 1971 and oversaw its rise to prominence as the largest evangelical University in America.
Washington D.C., May 16, 2007 (CNA) - As Congress prepares to debate comprehensive immigration reform, citizens’ groups are urging legislators to devise a balanced approach that secures borders but recognizes the contributions that immigrants make to the U.S. economy and society.
"This debate goes to the heart of what America is all about," stated Dr. Juan Hernandez, Reform Institute Senior Fellow and author of The New America Pioneers.
"Two fundamental pillars of our society are our dedication to achieving prosperity through hard work and our devotion to the Judeo-Christian values of compassion, mercy and inclusion,” said Hernandez, a leading figure in the Latino evangelical community.
“Instead of backing away from these core beliefs and fencing ourselves in, we must renew this spirit through a sensible and effective immigration policy that provides a path to permanent legal status for immigrants who strengthen our economy and society," he added.
"If Congress cannot agree on legislation by August, the next chance for reform will probably not come for another two years,” noted Cecilia Martinez, executive director of the Reform Institute.
"We need bipartisan, comprehensive legislation now," said Pam Pryor of We Care America. "Comprehensive immigration reform is the only approach that protects our borders and preserves our core values."
Washington D.C., May 16, 2007 (CNA) - The national Catholic-based advocacy group Fidelis, is calling for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign to remove an image of Blessed Mother Teresa from their campaign video.
The video, which was released Monday, is narrated by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
“It is wholly inappropriate, disrespectful and disturbing that Hillary Clinton is using an image of Blessed Mother Teresa as a political tool, especially given their radically different views on abortion,” said Fidelis president Joseph Cella.
“Mother Teresa tirelessly fought to protect unborn children, while Hillary Clinton staunchly supports abortion on demand in all nine months of pregnancy, including partial birth abortion and taxpayer funding of abortion,” he said.
The video, which can be viewed on YouTube (www.youtube.com), contains an image of Hillary and Blessed Teresa at approximately 2:26 into the video. When the picture appears, the former president can be heard saying: “Hillary, in effect, was the face of America…in India”.
The video then goes to a clip of the former First Lady’s address at the 1995 Beijing Conference, where a push was made to declare abortion a fundamental “human right.”
Cella said he faxed a letter to Sister Nirmala, the Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, and suggested that she look into this matter.
Quito, Ecuador, May 16, 2007 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Ecuador affirmed this week that the country’s new Constitution should include certain indispensable guarantees, such as the protection of life beginning at conception, the defense of marriage and the family, and “the creation of the necessary elements” to eradicate poverty and corruption.
In a statement, the bishops’ conference reaffirmed the value and “inviolable dignity” of the human person,which should be protected by the State and by society. “Human dignity, which has its origin in God, is the primary source of man’s rights and obligations,” the bishops said.
They also said the Constitution should promote quality education that is centered on values and on the person.The State should guarantee the right of parents to choose the kind of education they want for their children, the bishops emphasized.
The Conference also addressed political reform, saying that it should lead to an increase in “national unity and real participative democracy,” as well as balance particular interests with the common good.
The statement was signed by the president of the Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Nestor Herrera Heredia of Machala.
Aparecida, Brazil, May 16, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha, the president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, opened the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council today with a call to witness. In his homily for the Mass that opened the first work session he said, “Yesterday, as today, the Spirit of God awakens in the disciples of Jesus the courage to proclaim authentic values and be committed to responding to anti-values.”
“The strong experience of faith, marked by the encounter with the living Jesus, leads the disciple to be transformed into a missionary of the Good News,” the archbishop explained.
The conversion of the jailer of Phillipi, recounted in Tuesday’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, “represents in a compact form, the steps of the catechumenate that should characterize the Christian initiation process. To the question of the new convert: What must I do? comes the explanation of the Gospel, baptism and Eucharistic communion which introduce him into the ecclesial communion formed by the disciples of Jesus,” Archbishop Rocha said.
Speaking about the response of those who are disciples of the Lord, the Brazilian archbishop underscored that Christians must promote “gospel values in the concrete situations of life and stir up the missionary fervor that propels the proclamation of Jesus Christ, his person and his message.”
Aparecida, Brazil, May 16, 2007 (CNA) - The director of the Social Observatory of the Latin American Bishops’ Council (CELAM), Rodrigo Guerra, said this week Catholics need to actively participate in political life, as Pope Benedict XVI indicated in his inaugural discourse for the 5th General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean bishops.
Guerra, one of the lay participants in the 5th Conference, told reporters “The laity is called to work in political parties, in the government, and in the trade unions, so that the Gospel might be re-proposed in the political sphere. The Pope does not avoid this commitment but rather he sends us forth into this area.”
“Many of the serious problems of Latin America exist not only because of groups with interests contrary to justice and to the rights of persons, but also because Catholics have left a vacuum and we have not gotten involved as voices for the position of the Church,” Guerra said.
Asked about liberation theology, Guerra said, “The Church is not committed to any political party either on the right or the left. The Church does not endorse any particular type of politics.”
The laity, he emphasized, must put the teachings of the bishops into action, “creating new economic models and a just distribution of riches that is oriented toward ethical and moral values.”
Sydney, Australia, May 16, 2007 (CNA) - The official hymn for World Youth Day in 2008 has just been chosen. “Receive the Power” is the title of the official hymn for the celebration of the 23rd World Youth Day in Sydney. The song was written by young Australian composer Guy Sebastian. “We were looking for a hymn which would be involving and inspiring”, WYD 2008 co-ordinator Bishop Anthony Fisher OP explained.
“Above all it had to be a song which would fill the young participants with enthusiasm and capture the essence of the World Youth Day theme chosen by the Pope: You will receive the power of the Holy Spirit which will descend upon you and you will be my witnesses. Guy's song meets with all these requisites: it inspires the youth of the world to accept Jesus' call to follow him to the ends of the earth as his witnesses. ”
Receive the Power was chosen after a selection process involving over 120 pieces. The Pontifical Council for the Laity, which is involved in preparations for WYD on the part of the Holy See, is in agreement with the choice of the hymn. “It combines the necessary musical and thematic elements as well as being easy to sing for people of different languages. We are convinced that Receive the Power WYD hymn will be played and sung by young Catholics everywhere on the occasion of World Youth Day and from then on”, the Bishop said.
Australian composer singer Guy Sebastian made a name for himself in 2003, when he started composing music for his parish at the age of thirteen. In 2005, Guy was nominated World Vision Ambassador and went to Uganda to film a documentary on the difficulties people face there due to poverty and civil war. He has also written numerous songs for Australian singers.
Aparecida, Brazil, May 16, 2007 (CNA) - The central hall where the members of the Latin American Bishops’ Council are meeting for their 5th General Conference is adorned with a painting made by a Peruvian artist and given to the bishops as a gift by Pope Benedict XVI.
The painting, a retablo by Eduardo Velasquez, adorns the central hall where the bishops will be meeting until May 31.
Velasquez’s retablo, which he painted by hand and features two main panels and five lateral panels, features an image of the Risen Christ in the main section with the words, “I am the way, the truth and the life”/ “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Seen from the front with the side panels closed, the retablo features the papal coat-of-arms, the theme of the 5th conference: “Be disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ so that our peoples may have life in Him,” the signature of the Pontiff and the date of the beginning of the meeting. On the right is a painting of Our Lady of Aparecida.
On the inside panels the retablo features paintings of St. Toribio of Mongrovejo, patron of the Latin American bishops; the passage on the Wedding feast at Cana, the encounter of Jesus with his first disciples and the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. In addition, it features a painting of St. Rose of Lima, the first saint of America, the encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus, Pentecost and St. Juan Diego, to whom Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared.