San Francisco, Calif., May 21, 2007 (CNA) - Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, delivered the commencement address at the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco on Saturday. The pro-abortion supporter spoke during the ceremony at the university’s McLaren College of Business.
At the same ceremony, the college honored former California lieutenant governor Leo T. McCarthy, also a pro-abortion supporter, posthumously.
In a May 17 letter faxed to the university’s president, Fr. Stephen Privett, Patrick Reilly, president of the Virginia-based Cardinal Newman Society, urged him to withdraw the Pelosi invitation and the McCarthy honor.
Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco also received an honorary degree during the commencement ceremony for his demonstration of “an extraordinary sense of social justice, a passionate concern for peace, and a commitment to nonviolence to achieve ethical goals.”
The Cardinal Newman Society has asked Archbishop Niederauer to boycott the ceremony if the university did not change its plans.
Los Angeles, Calif., May 21, 2007 (CNA) -
Catholics throughout the Americas must embrace each other as their brothers and sisters in faith regardless of their ethnic background, the leader of the Knights of Columbus told tens of the thousands of people on May 19.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson made the remarks while addressing participants at the Rosary Bowl, an event held in honor of the Virgin Mary to whom the month of May is dedicated by Catholics.
Anderson called the Americas “the Catholic hemisphere” because of their high Catholic population and rich Catholic heritage. "It is here that the Church faces a bright future," he said.
"Hispanics in the Church are not an abstraction, they are our fellow parishioners," he said “Our Lady of Guadalupe points us to her son, but she also points us to unity in her son and for Catholics this unity must transcend borders.”
The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest lay Catholic organization with more than 1.7 million members worldwide.
Caracas, Venezuela, May 21, 2007 (CNA) - The president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, is demanding that Pope Benedict XVI apologize to the indigenous peoples of Latin America for having “denied” the “aboriginal holocaust” during his discourse inaugurating the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Conference.
“Something much more serious occurred here than during the holocaust of World War II, and nobody can deny that this is true, and neither can his Holiness come here, to our own land, and deny the aboriginal holocaust,” Chavez said over the weekend on Venezuelan radio and television.
“So, as a head of State, but clad in the humility of a Venezuelan farmworker, I implore his Holiness to apologize to the peoples of our America,” Chavez demanded.
Chavez said he paid close attention to everything the Pope said in Brazil, and that after hearing him say that the gospel was not imposed upon the natives, he called Venezuela’s Minister for the Indigenous Peoples, Nizia Maldonado, who said she did not share the Pope’s opinion and that it was “difficult to support, for God’s sake!”
“Is that why the Catholic Church is losing more believers every day?” Chavez said. “I think it’s because of this.”
Chavez said that the Pope’s comments that the evangelization of Latin America was not the imposition of a foreign culture, seemed to be intended to strengthen the Catholic Church, but “these statements only weaken the Catholic Church more.”
“How can the Pope say here, in this land, where the bones of the native martyrs who were massacred by the rule of the European empires are still warm, how can he say, because that’s practically what he said, that there was no imposition,” Chavez said.
The Venezuelan president said he would call the Vatican “right away,” because, he said, “tomorrow we will wake up to the headlines saying ‘Chavez attacks the Pope’.”
“I don’t care, they can say what they want, in speaking the truth I am not offending anyone nor do I have any fear.” “I don’t care what they say in their 60 second sound bites on the news,” Chavez stated.
Galicia, Poland, May 21, 2007 (CNA) - The bishops of the region of Galicia in Spain reminded the faithful this week and “all people of good will” that the exercise of the right to vote “demands clear and reasoned discernment about policies and the different political choices.”
“With our vote we will elect those who will occupy places of government and will influence the conditions of our lives in one way or another,” the bishops said. “The sound opinion of voters is the true guardian of the moral and cultural heath of societies and nations,” they added.
Referring to candidates who called for a fair campaign, free of negative attacks, the bishops noted that politics exist to serve the person with his “transcendent demands.” The objective of politics, they added, is “the common good, as the good of all, especially of those most in need.”
The bishops thanked politicians for their commitment to serving the public and encouraged them to strive for competence, honor, and generosity in their occupation.
Geneva, Ill., May 21, 2007 (CNA) - This week marks the gathering of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the purpose of appointing a new Director General following the unexpected death of Dr. J.W. Lee. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s delegate to WHO, delivered a vision of women’s health, gender identity, and aid to Africa, that if followed, would mean a significant change of course for the new Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan.
Dr. Chan outlined her goals for her tenure as, “the health of women and of the people of Africa.” Archbishop Tomasi expressed his satisfaction with these objectives, and then went on to explain the Church’s experience in those areas.
“The Catholic Church has traditionally been in the first line in the promotion of the authentic health of women, by helping them to harmonize their physical, psychological and social well-being with moral and spiritual values.”
One facet of this holistic vision of the human person that Tomasi focused on is gender identity. “[T]he Holy See wishes to invite the WHO member states once again to understand the term "gender" as grounded in biological sexual identity, male or female.”
Another area of the gender debate that the prelate spoke on, was the safeguarding of marriage and the family. “The Catholic Church is also convinced of the God-given, equal, and complementary dignity of women and men. The Catholic Church also prioritizes the most fruitful expression of complementarity between woman and man – that is, the family which is founded upon lifelong and mutually faithful marriage and which continues to serve as the mainstay of human society.”
In light of Dr. Chan’s attention to the health of the people of Africa, the Archbishop offered the experience of the Church. “[M]any nations are still in the grip of famine, war, racial and tribal tensions, political instability and the violation of human rights.” Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation to the international community is also very appropriate, "we must not forget Africa …."
Tomasi’s closing remarks left the assembly with a vision of health that seeks a deeper level of care for all aspects of the person. “[M]y delegation urges a perspective on health security that is grounded on an anthropology respectful of the human person in his or her integrity and looks far beyond the absence of disease to the full harmony and sound balance of the physical, emotional, spiritual and social forces within the human person.”
Aparecida, Brazil, May 21, 2007 (CNA) - During a press conference on Saturday, the Secretary General of the Latin American Bishops’ Council (CELAM), Bishop Andres Stanovnik, said the bishops gathered for CELAM’s 5th General Conference see reality “as pastors” seeking out “whatever is good, whatever is of God, in reality.”
“The pastor strives to see through God’s eyes. All believers strive to see with God’s eyes because that comes from the personal experience of an encounter with Him. Therefore a pastor’s view is one that is optimistic. Consequently it’s a view that moves others to praise, to gratitude,” he said.
Bishop Stanovnik noted that an optimistic outlook is not incompatible with healthy criticism. “The more our outlook is of God, the more critical it is of reality,” he said.
Commenting on the issues discussed by the bishops at the 5th General Conference, Bishop Stanovnik said the prelates have been following the themes laid out by the Holy Father. “We should see each other as disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ.” “This serves to identify the major themes we should carefully study and discuss next week,” he stated.
“The drafting committee will work intensely and on Monday morning will present an outline to the assembly, which will later be worked on smaller groups that will offer suggestions and considerations. The committee will then reformulate and present the outline to the assembly for vote. The expectation is for the vote to go well and for work to begin on the themes next week and during the rest of our remaining days here,” the bishop explained.
Aparecida, Brazil, May 21, 2007 (CNA) - In a message for World Communications Day, celebrated on May 20, the Communications Committee of the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council sent greetings to those who work in the media and reminded them that they are called to “transmit the truth.”
“We send our cordial greetings to members of the media that have been with us both during the first visit to Latin America of His Holiness Benedict XVI and the celebration of the 5th Conference,” the bishops said in their message.
“Children are the greatest thermometer for measuring the capacity to critically and actively form the new generations,” they said. “Do not abandon this beautiful service that makes you sowers of freedom, identity and community. Receive our blessing and special prayers to Our Lady of Aparecida on this day,” the statement said in conclusion.
Earlier during the same press conference, the director of communications for CELAM, Father David Gutierrez provided some statistics on the press’ coverage of past papal visits and the CELAM conferences. He said that during the visit of John Paul II, some 1,500 journalists covered the papal trip, but that the number decreased to 300 for the General Conferences of Puebla and Santo Domingo that followed the pope’s departure.
During Benedict XVI’s travels outside Italy, 2,700 journalists covered his visit to Turkey and 4,500 his visit to Germany. For this most recent trip to Brazil, some 3,700 journalists were accredited to attend. 500 have remained to cover the 5th General Conference at Aparecida.
, May 21, 2007 (CNA) - On Sunday at the conclusion of the recitation of the Regina Coeli in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict XVI commented on the current conflict in the Gaza Strip and called for an end to the tragic violence.
“Once more, in the name of God,” the Pontiff said, “may this tragic violence come to an end.”
Addressing the “Palestinian and Israeli” peoples, the Pope said, “I desire to express my solidarity and the assurance of my prayerful remembrance.”
"I appeal to the sense of responsibility of all the Palestinian authorities that, in dialogue and firmness, they take up again the difficult path of understanding, neutralizing the violent,” he added.
The Pope continued: "I invite the Israeli government to moderation and exhort the international community to multiply efforts for the re-launching of negotiations.”
Following armed encounters between rival Palestinian factions, Israel launched an attack in reprisal for the firing of rockets into its territory. The Israeli attack left three dead.
Rome, Italy, May 21, 2007 (CNA) - The small minority of Catholics in the predominantly Muslim African country of Mali remains committed to mission by “good example and concrete works,” says Bishop Jean-Gabriel Diarra of San, Mali. Still, he said, there is the need to announce that these good works are animated by the Gospel.
Mali has a population of about 10 to 12 million, of whom 3 percent are Catholic. There are about 100 local priests, some missionary priests, such as the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers), and orders of women religious.
“There are catechists and as everywhere in Africa, they too are extremely important,” the bishop told Fides while in Rome for the ad limina visit.
“In this context the Church wishes to be leaven which makes the dough rise, and light to illuminate civil society and institutions, and all men and women of goodwill. The Catholic community is structured like a Church-family where people know each other and help one another to live the Gospel.
“Lay Catholics are called to bear witness to the Gospel at work, with honesty, sincere and disinterested promotion of the common good. I am happy to say that I have heard non-Catholics say that we do not impose the Gospel, we live it.”
At the same time, the bishop says he reminds priests, religious and lay people that the Gospel must be announced. “I remember visiting a forest dispensary run by a religious order, an indispensable structure for several thousand people. I asked the people working there: Why are you here? Do you tell your patients why you care for them? The replies were somewhat reticent, almost as if not to hurt the feelings of non-Catholics.
“We must explain that we are animated by the Spirit of the Gospel: we do not want to impose our faith, but we do want to announce it,” he said. “The Church is not a non-governmental organization; it is at the service of the proclamation of the Word.”
London, England, May 21, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic Church of England and Wales has seen an increase in the number of men who have entered the seminary to study for the priesthood since the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005.
Fr. Paul Embery, director of the National Office for Vocations of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, explained in an interview with SIR that the death of John Paul II generated a lot of interest in the Catholic Church.
"The young saw the fidelity that the Pope had for his vocation and were attracted by his faith,” he said. The number of vocations is higher today than it was three years ago, he added.
The average age of candidates has risen. Fr. Embery said the typical candidate to the priesthood today is a 30-year-old graduate, English or Welsh. Very few are from non-white ethnic minorities.
”In 2003 the low point was reached with only 24 new entrants into seminaries. Last year, by contrast, there were 44 new priests, an increase that is a strong sign of hope," said Fr. Embery.
Still, the number of candidates to the priesthood is very low compared with the 1950s and 1960s, and there are fewer priests that are ordained each year than the number who die or retire.
“In a typical diocese, two to three priests retire or die each year and only one new one is ordained,” he said. “Last year, 20 priests were ordained in England and Wales, a number insufficient to replace those who died.”
Fr. Embery said there is currently one priest for every 800 faithful in the country. He calls this a “very generous ratio for these times” compared with the ratio in other European or Latin American countries. “In Latin America,” he said, “there is only one priest for every 9,000 inhabitants.”
The priest attributes the decline in vocations to the drop in church attendance and religious practice. As well, he said, there is very little in terms of Catholic outreach to young people past the age of 18 and those in university.
“In Great Britain, the Catholic movements are not so strong …and young university students must be highly motivated if they want to continue to go to church,” he said. On the plus side, this also translates into vocations to the priesthood that are also more highly motivated than before “because aspirant priests must be very conscious of the reasons that motivate their work and be able to justify it to non-believers," he said.
The National Office for Vocations has attempted to reach younger age groups with their vocations campaign by using Japanese Manga cartoons.
"Many priests and religious confirm they had thought of their own vocation for the first time when they were little more than 10 years old, sometimes even earlier,” said Fr. Embery. “So we thought these cartoons, which speak of real vocations, were the best way to communicate with children who aspire to become priests.”