Archive of June 1, 2007

Pope Benedict appoints Canadian as coadjutor Archbishop of Vancouver

Vatican City, Jun 1, 2007 (CNA) -  

This morning the Vatican made public the appointment of Archbishop Michael Miller by Pope Benedict XVI to be the coadjutor Archbishop of the Vancouver, Canada.


Archbishop Miller, a 60-year-old native of Canada, will leave his post as the Secretary for Catholic Education in Rome, where he has served since 2004, to function as the coadjutor Archbishop for Archbishop Raymond Roussin.


When a bishop is close to retirement, a coadjutor bishop (from the Latin adjuvare, to help) is often named to assist him and to assure a smooth transition upon retirement, in accordance with Canon 403 of the Code of Canon Law.

A member of the Basilian religious order, Archbishop Miller will take up his first assignment in an archdiocese of 402,310 Catholics. He will also shepherd 189 diocesan and religious priests, 143 religious Brothers and Sisters, and one permanent deacon.


The Archbishop is expected to arrive in Vancouver sometime in the early fall.


Previous to serving as the coadjutor for Vancouver, Archbishop Miller was named Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education as well as an Archbishop by Pope John Paul II in 2003. The Congregation for Catholic Education oversees norms for seminaries, Catholic universities and colleges, and Catholic schools. 

In 1974 he received a bachelor's degree in theology from St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto. In 1976 he was granted a licentiate "summa cum laude" in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was awarded the doctoral degree "summa cum laude" from the Gregorian University in 1979.

From 1979 to 1992, he was professor of dogmatic theology at the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Houston, Texas.  From 1992 to 1997, he worked in the Vatican Secretariat of State before becoming President of the University of St. Thomas in Houston in 2003.


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Pope visits Vatican City's administrative headquarters

Vatican City, Jun 1, 2007 (CNA) - Yesterday afternoon Benedict XVI visited the Palace of the Governorate, which houses various offices responsible for the administration and governance of Vatican City State.

After greeting Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Governorate, and members of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, the Pope expressed his thanks to the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, a group that finances the maintenance and restoration of works of art held in the Vatican.

The Holy Father then addressed all the personnel of the Governorate saying: "Every day I am aware of and appreciate the fruits of your commitment and your competency, and I have come here to express my sincere thanks."

"The Governorate ... has an important function," he continued. "When my venerated predecessor Pius XI undertook the negotiations for the Lateran Pacts he was concerned to ensure that the Holy See could depend on just enough territory to guarantee it 'absolute independence for the fulfillment of its exalted mission in the world.'

"In accomplishing your duties," he added, "you ensure the continuance of daily life within the State and help the Pope undertake the ministry the Lord entrusted to him at the service of the Church and the world. It is not inappropriate, then, to describe you as 'the collaborators of the Pope'."

"You work in the Vatican, for and with the Pope," Benedict XVI went on. "You work in a place that has seen the witness of so many martyrs, in particular that of the Apostle Peter. This calls for ... competence, professionalism and dedication, as well as a serious commitment to evangelical witness. I rely upon you, and I ask you to grow every day in knowledge of the Christian faith, in friendship with God and in generous service to your brothers and sisters."

May the presence of the Church in your offices and workshops," he concluded, "be a daily reminder of the paternal gaze of God Who, in His providence, follows you and watches over each one of you."

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Benedict receives ambassadors, explains proper role of religion in society

Vatican City, Jun 1, 2007 (CNA) - Five more ambassadors were received by the Holy See today. In receiving the new representatives, Benedict XVI took the opportunity to address the obligation of richer nations to not exploit poorer nations and the role of religion in its interaction with society.

The Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of the new ambassadors: Ayesha Riyaz of Pakistan, Larus Stefansson of Iceland, Juri Seilenthal of Estonia, Domitille Barancira of Burundi and Ahmed Hamid Elfaki Hamid of Sudan.

Speaking about how to promote unity in society today, Benedict said, "in the modern world it is more than ever important to affirm the bonds that unite countries, with special attention towards the poorest nations.

"It is not possible," he added, "to continue using the wealth of the poorest countries with impunity, without them also being able to participate in world growth…” The Holy Father asserted that by paying attention to this situation, the world will help promote “solidarity, peace and fraternity, within countries and between countries."

The pontiff also spoke about how religion should be treated by states, saying, “no one should be subject to discrimination or be relegated to the margins of society for their religious beliefs and practices, which are such fundamental elements of people's freedom."

"Authentic religion," he concluded, "cannot be a source of division or of violence between people or between human communities. On the contrary religion lies at the basis of the awareness that all people are brothers, who must be protected and helped to develop."

Benedict also gave texts to the individual ambassadors that were particular to their
country’s situation.

In the talk given to the ambassador from Burundi, the Holy Father called upon God to support all that country's citizens "in their valiant and generous commitment ... to build together an ever more fraternal and united society, may this also be a concrete sign and a clarion call for consolidating peace and stability in the region of the Great Lakes."

Recalling Archbishop Michael J, Courtney, the apostolic nuncio to Burundi who was murdered in 2003, the Pope calls on the State authorities "not to cease their efforts to clarify the causes of the crime and to ensure those responsible are brought to justice."

To the ambassador from Sudan, Benedict XVI mentioned the conflict in the Darfur region, which has been going on since 2003, calling for a political solution "that respects cultural, ethnic and religious minorities." The Pope emphasized how peace cannot be achieved "by force of arms, but rather by a culture of dialogue and negotiation."

The Holy Father also highlighted the fact that, "in order for all human beings to be able to establish fraternal and sincere relations, and to build a more just society, the contribution of the different religious traditions present in the country, with their rich heritage of human, moral and spiritual values, is of fundamental importance."


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Detroit Archdiocese discounts Kevorkian's suicidal agenda

Detroit, Mich., Jun 1, 2007 (CNA) - In light of Jack Kevorkian’s release from prison today, the Archdiocese of Detroit has pledged to continue its efforts on behalf of patients, families and caregivers “to increase the knowledge and availability of medically and morally sound options for end-of-life decision-making.”

“For 10 years, Jack Kevorkian’s actions resembled those of a pathological serial killer. It will be truly regrettable if he’s now treated as a celebrity parolee instead of the convicted murderer he is,” said Ned McGrath, diocesan director of communications.

Addressing Kevorkian’s mentality, Sr. Monica Kostielney, RSM, president of the Michigan Catholic Conference, said, “Assisted suicide represents an affront to the dignity of the human person, a crime against life, and an attack on humanity - all of which must be repudiated by elected officials and people of good will who seek to protect life from its beginning to its natural end.”

“Any legislative effort to decriminalize assisted suicide in this state will face the same demise as the 1998 ballot issue that was overwhelmingly rejected by a three to one margin,” said Sr. Kostielney in a statement issued to coincide with Kevorkian’s release.

“Those suffering from terminal conditions deserve to be treated with dignity and respect through appropriate palliative care along with love and comfort from family, friends and competent medical personnel,” she insisted.

Kevorkian’s medical license as a pathologist in southeast Michigan was suspended in 1991.In April1999, he was sentenced to prison for second-degree murder. At the time of his conviction, authorities believed he had a part in the deaths of 130 people.

Earlier this week, Kevorkian said he would work toward the legalization of assisted suicide upon his release but would not disobey the law. He will also begin a speaking tour on assisted suicide, earning as much as $50,000-$100,000 per presentation in speaking fees.

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US applies immediate sanctions against Sudan

Washington D.C., Jun 1, 2007 (CNA) - President George W. Bush announced immediate sanctions against the Sudanese government on Tuesday for its refusal to stop the killing in Darfur, which is in western Sudan.

The United States will sanction 30 companies owned or controlled by the Sudanese government, and a company that transports weapons to government and militia forces in Darfur. It will also block the assets of two Sudanese officials and one Darfurian rebel leader, who are responsible for violence in Darfur. The U.S. has pledge to work for a UN Security Council resolution to enforce a no-fly zone and an arms embargo on Sudan.   

The Institute on Religion & Democracy (IRD) is applauding the U.S. government for its response to this international crisis situation.

"Once again, the United States has taken the lead where other nations have not, as well as the United Nations,” says the IRD’s Faith McDonnell, director of the Church Alliance for a New Sudan.

McDonnell recognizes that criticisms have been laid against the U.S. for the delay, but says that both the UN and U.S. congressional leaders asked Bush to delay so that they might try a diplomatic approach with the regime.

McDonnell says the sanctions may not be all activists were expecting but they’re a good start and are appreciated by the Sudanese.

Some 300,000 Darfurian men, women, and children have died, and millions have been displaced since the crisis began about 10 years ago. This is the second phase of the genocide. The first phase claimed over two million lives in Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains, says the IRD.

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Vatican official positive about Turkey joining EU

Rome, Italy, Jun 1, 2007 (CNA) - The Vatican is in favor of Turkey joining the EU, said Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on Wednesday in an interview with Italian daily La Stampa.

The cardinal was responding to a question about whether Turkey, which is grappling with a resurgence of Islamist identity, should join secular Europe.

"Turkey is a country described as secular; in Europe, secularism is exalted not as mere secularity, but as a lay belief system and in the name of this secularism all reference to Jewish-Christian roots is refused," Cardinal Bertone reportedly said.

"Turkey however, has come a long way and is still progressing,” he was quoted as saying. “There are obviously very different positions, but within a framework of individuals, populations and governments who respect fundamental rules of common living, it is possible to dialogue and to build together a common resource on a European and worldwide level.”

Last November, Pope Benedict in a surprise move began his historical trip to Turkey by expressing his support for the country's bid to join the European Union, a reversal of the position he held prior to being named to the pontificate.

During their private talks, the Pope told Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyp Erdogan that the Vatican desires Turkey's membership in the EU.


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Malaysian convert denied her Christian identity by Sharia court

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Jun 1, 2007 (CNA) - Malaysia's highest court has rejected a six-year appeal by a Malay woman to have her Christian identity officially recognized.

The Federal Tribunal ruled that only the Shariah (Islamic law) Court could allow Lina Joy, 42, to remove the word Muslim from her identity card.

"You can't at whim and fancy convert from one religion to another," said judge Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim reading the court's decision on Wednesday.

The verdict ends a legal battle that began in 2001 when Joy asked the courts to recognize her conversion to Christianity.

Joy was born Azlina binti Jailani into a Muslim and ethnic Malay family. However, in 1998, she converted to Catholicism.

At that time, the Civil Registry of Marriages refused her application to marry a Catholic man because she had a Muslim name. The country’s Civil Marriage provision prohibits Muslims from registering marriages as civil ones.

She managed to have her name changed to Lina Joy in 1999, but the Muslim designation on her identity card remained despite her declaration that she is a Christian. The government’s Registration Department refused to change the designation, insisting instead that she seek an order from the Shariah Court, stating that she had become an apostate.

She took the matter to the courts, expecting that her right to religious freedom would trump civil policy. But the court pointed to a provision in the federal constitution that defines Malays as Muslim. In other words, Malays cannot renounce Islam because Islam is inherent to their identity as an ethic group. The court ultimately referred Joy to the Shariah Court.

The likelihood that the Shariah Court would rule that Joy could renounce her Muslim identity was slim since no other ethnic Malay has ever been granted the same, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The verdict has confirmed the predominance of Islam over other religions in the country, which is likely to increase the dissatisfaction of the Christian, Hindu and Buddhist minorities.

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Catholic Church pleas for government to intervene after massacre

Bakavu, Congo, Jun 1, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic Church has asked for troops to be sent to the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, following the slaying of 18 people in Kaniola last weekend.
According to a report by the German Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop François-Xavier Maroy of Bukavu appealed to the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to provide real solutions to the country’s security problems.

The Archbishop told the government, "treat the security problem in the east of the country as a priority and stop trying to distract public opinion with proposed plans for negotiations, dialogue and a roundtable which leads to nothing."

The plea for help came after two villages were attacked in the evening of May 26 and morning of May 27 in the region of South-Kivu. Besides the 18 killed in their sleep, another 27 were wounded and 18 others kidnapped.

"The massacre in Kaniola was carried out almost in the presence of the major of the regular army," the archbishop said. "The cries of the people clearly did not disturb his sleep, even though the massacre took place not far from the place where he is stationed."

"How are we to interpret the silence of the institutions of the republic, of the head of state, the parliament, the central government and the military, in the face of these repeated massacres in Kaniola?" Archbishop Maroy asked." In other countries, the taking of a hostage, even if it is only a single person, immediately prompts the state apparatus to react.”

"So far as the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo is concerned, all they can offer us, in the face of the threat of a new war and while massacres are being perpetrated against the civilian population, is an 'inter-communicative' round-table discussion, instead of tackling the real problems, which involve the restoration of military order and security,” he said. “Is this complicity or ignorance?"



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Seven Catholic Bishops' Conferences urge G8 nations to fulfill promises to Africa

London, England, Jun 1, 2007 (CNA) - Presidents of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of the world’s leading industrial countries have written to the Group of 8 leaders to urge them to take “bold action on global poverty” ahead of the G8 summit in Germany next week (Rostock, 6-8 June).

The Bishops’ Conferences of England & Wales have joined the French, Germans, Americans and Russians among others to call on their political leaders to honor the commitments they made in Gleneagles in 2005.

Those commitments are commended in the letter which was signed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair in England. However, the Cardinal reminded the G8 leaders of their ‘moral obligation’ to fulfill their promises:

“We urge you to act out of the moral obligation that we all share for the well-being of every human person, but also because replacing despair with hope in Africa will lead to a more secure world for all nations.”

At the Gleneagles G8 Summit in 2005, the world’s richest countries promised to spend an additional $50 billion per year on foreign assistance by 2010, with half that amount going to Africa. However, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reports foreign aid levels have remained stagnant through 2006 – despite the promises.

The Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of the G8 countries concluded by recognizing the historic importance of the summit:

“The G8 Summit will explore many issues of critical importance to human life and dignity. We pray that your meeting will be blessed by a spirit of collaboration that enables the G8 leaders to advance the global common good by adopting concrete measures on global poverty, health care, climate change and peace and security.”

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