Archive of June 13, 2007

Cardinal Pell explains role of Church and faith in public life

Sydney, Australia, Jun 13, 2007 (CNA) -  Catholic bishops have the right and the duty to point out Catholic teaching to the public and to remind politicians, especially Catholics, “that public acts usually bring public consequences,” said Cardinal George Pell of Sydney in The Sunday Telegraph.
The cardinal issued his response after an investigation was launched into the views of Archbishop Barry Hickey of Perth by the W.A. state parliamentary privileges committee for investigation. The case was referred by the speaker Fred Riebeling, who sees the possible application of Catholic discipline as a “threat”.

“Some seemed to suggest that while a football club, a political party or a business certainly could in some circumstances sack or exclude a member or employee, it was totally out of order to suggest a Christian Church might even consider a similar possibility,” said the cardinal. 
“A few intolerant politicians want to ban religious argument in public life, so that the only permissible reasoning will be irreligious or anti-religious,” he observed. 

The cardinal said the debate also raised questions about what it means to be a Catholic.
“A Catholic is someone who believes Christ is Son of God, accepts His teachings and lives a life of worship, service and duty in the Catholic community,” he explained. “Catholics are not created by the accident of birth to remain only because their tribe has an interesting history.”
“All Catholics who continue to reject important Catholic teachings, even in areas such as sexuality, family, marriage, abortion, euthanasia, cloning where “liberals” claim the primacy of conscience rules, should expect to be confronted, gently and consistently, rather than comforted and encouraged in their wrongdoing,” he continued.
The cardinal concluded by saying that every Catholic politician who voted recently in favor of the cloning bill “should think twice and examine his or her conscience before next receiving Communion.”

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Catholic doctors and lawyers call for end to attacks on human life

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jun 13, 2007 (CNA) - The Association of Catholic Doctors and the Consortium of Catholic Lawyers are demanding that the Argentinean congress and officials in Buenos Aires put an end to the recent attacks on human life.

The assaults on life have taken the form of “simple ministerial resolutions” and a proposed law on “non-punishable abortions” approved by the Committee for Public Health of the House of Representatives.

“In recent weeks aggressions against human life have increased,” the groups said in a statement, referring to the resolution by the Ministry of Health of the Buenos Aires province that allows for a more liberal use of abortion than just life of the mother, or rape or incest.

Authorities want abortion to be legal for reasons of the health of the mother as well, despite the fact that human life is protected by the Argentinean constitution, which was recently reconfirmed by the country’s Supreme Court.

The groups also denounced efforts to legalize the “morning-after pill” and to threaten the employment of doctors who refuse to practice certain kinds of abortions.  They also expressed rejection of a proposed national law on “non-punishable abortions” that would force hospitals and other public health care institutions to provide abortions free-of-charge to teenagers as young as fourteen, without the consent of their parents.

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Brazilian religious praises Castro and Al Qaeda mentor, acknowledged past guerrilla involvement

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Jun 13, 2007 (CNA) - One of the most influential liberation theologians in Brazil has just granted a startling interview to Claudia Korol of the “Fray Tito News Agency for Latin America.”

In the interview Brazilian Dominican friar Alberto Libanio Christo, known as “Friar Betto,” expressed his admiration for Fidel Castro and for the “father” of urban terrorism, Carlos Marighella. He also revealed his enthusiasm for the time he spent with Marxist guerrillas during Brazil’s military government.

In the surprising interview, Friar Betto confessed that 22 years after the publication of his book praising Castro, “Fidel and Religion,” “as a young boy I had great admiration for the Cuban revolution, because I am of the generation of young people in their 20s during the first years of the revolution.  A generation that followed the Vietnam war, The Beatles…For me Cuba was a model.  After I became involved in the armed struggle against the military dictatorship in Brazil, when I was a prisoner, we listened to Radio Habana Cuba, in order to get news about Brazil.”
Asked about his impressions of Fidel and his personality, the Dominican friar said, “Fidel is an example of the new man, the revolutionary, a person who has dedicated his life to liberating a nation and other nations as well, through his solidarity with the poor countries of the world.”

“My dream is that all Cubans and all of us, revolutionaries, leftist militants, will one day be like Fidel,” Friar Betto said, adding, “Fidel is ahead of his times. He will always be a person who will be an example, like Che (Guevara), who gave his life for the poor.”

Urban guerrilla

In the extensive interview, Friar Betto also referred to his book, “Baptism of Blood,” which was recently turned into a movie in Brazil.  He said he wrote the book “to remember and visit all of the places of a group of Dominican friars in Brazil that joined the National Liberation Action” of Carlos Marighella, a great revolutionary, and we participated as a support group of the urban guerilla.”

“Baptism of Blood,” Friar Betto explained, “is a detailed narration of all of the events in which the Dominicans were involved.  Even of the death of Marighella, the way in which he died, the drama of the torture of Friar Tito, who ended up committing suicide out of desperation.”

Friar Betto spent a good portion of the interview praising Marighella, who was a trainer for terrorist organizations around the world, from ETA in Spain to the Red Brigades in Italy, to even the Islamic fundamentalists of Al Qaeda.

Liberation theology

Asked about liberation theology, Friar Betto complained about the “vaticanization of the Catholic Church, with more and more control.  Our Church is less and less like our peoples, like our mestizos.  We have a Church that is more and more Europeanized, from the point of view of the power structure.”

He said hope for future is in the “base communities,” which “continue to have a different vision, which is not that of these Europeanized bishops.”

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True Christians see the Church through eyes of love

Vatican City, Jun 13, 2007 (CNA) - More than 30,000 pilgrims enjoyed the sunny weather today as they gathered for Pope Benedict’s Wednesday audience. He centered his teaching on the example of Eusebius, the bishop of Palestine in the third century. The Pope shared Eusebius’ most powerful lesson for Christians—to see history as the revelation of God’s love for mankind.

Especially in today’s world of analysis and instant transmission of information, it can be easy to focus on what is new, what is sensational. However, Benedict XVI questioned this attitude saying, "Is it, the approach of one interested out of simple curiosity, perhaps seeking the scandalous and sensational at any cost?”

Instead, the Holy Father proposed that we should view the Church and its history the way Eusebius did. He saw the whole Church with an, “approach full of love and open to mystery of people….”

When the faithful approach the Church with love and faith then they can see, “in the history of the Church…the signs of God's love and of the great works of salvation He has achieved[.] If this is our approach, we cannot but be stimulated to a more coherent and generous response, to a more Christian witness of life."

Quoting "that eminent scholar of the Fathers," Cardinal Jean Danielou, the Pope said, "There is a hidden component in history. ... The mystery is that of God's works which, in time, constitute authentic reality hidden behind appearances. ... But God creates this history for man, he does not create it without him."

"After so many centuries," the Pope concluded, "even today Eusebius of Caesarea invites believers to feel wonder, to contemplate God's great works in history for the salvation of mankind. And, with the same amount of energy, he calls us to convert our lives. Indeed, faced with a God Who loved us so much, we cannot remain inert. The requirement of love is that all of life be oriented towards imitation of the Loved One."

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Frescoes restored in chapel housing stairs Jesus climbed to see Pilate

Rome, Italy, Jun 13, 2007 (CNA) - Frescoes adorning the walls of a chapel said to house the "Holy Stairs" climbed by Jesus when he was brought before Pontius Pilate have appeared in their original colors.

The 13-month restoration of the Chapel of St. Sylvester in the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome was unveiled Tuesday, reported AKI. This was the first restoration of these frescoes in 500 years and the second phase of a restoration program for the whole of the Sancta Sanctorum, which houses the Scala Sancta (Holy Stairs).

Wooden steps encase white marble steps, which make up, according to Roman Catholic tradition, the staircase once leading to Pilate's headquarters in Jerusalem.

Tradition says the steps were brought to Rome from Jerusalem by St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine I, the first Christian emperor. In 1589, Pope Sixtus V relocated the steps to the Sancta Sanctorum, which was built by architect Domenico Fontana to house the steps.

The Los Angeles-based Getty Foundation, Rome's provincial authorities and Selex Communications are jointly co-ordinating the restoration project.

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Pro-family group warns against gambling bill

Washington D.C., Jun 13, 2007 (CNA) - Concerned Women for America are warning against a bill introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D- Massachusetts) that would legalize, license and regulate Internet gambling.

The public hearings for the Internet Gambling Regulatory and Enforcement Act of 2007 (H.R. 2046) will begin this week.

"Gambling hurts families, pure and simple," says Shari Rendall, Concerned Women for America's director of legislation and public policy. "Congressman Frank's misguided legislation makes the problem worse."

The United States accounts for almost half of the world's $12 billion spent on Internet gambling. The proposed bill would reverse legislation that bans gambling on professional and collegiate sports and allow offshore Internet websites the right to engage in sports gambling.

Concerned Women for America say studies have shown that access to gambling is a forerunner to gambling addiction.

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CEU “Angel Ayala” Institute of Humanities offers degree in Church’s Social Teaching

Madrid, Spain, Jun 13, 2007 (CNA) -  The Angel Ayala CEU Institute of Humanities in Spain is now offering a post-graduate degree in the Social Teachings of the Church.


Designed for persons who desire to obtain solid and up-to-date formation in this area, the program consists of 150 hours, with time allotted for students to be involved in other activities.


The first course includes the basic philosophical and theological foundations for the study of the Church’s social doctrine.


The second course, divided into two blocks, focuses on the nature, sources, principles and characteristics of the Church’s social teaching, as well as on areas of interest such as marriage, the family, bioethics and economy, thus showing the relationship between the Magisterium and particular social sciences.

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Cardinal encourages young people to break the molds of secularism

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jun 13, 2007 (CNA) - In an improvised speech to young people at the recent 18th Youth March in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio encouraged young people to live in the love and freedom that comes from Jesus, “who makes you free. Break the molds and you will find freedom!”

The cardinal reminded the young people that by participation in the march they were proclaiming that “Jesus who is Love awaits us to give us more of his love,” and that “following this path is worth it.”

Emphasizing that following Christ means “breaking the molds,” Cardinal Bergoglio praised the young people who chose to rise early for the march rather than sleeping in.  “While some people were trying to figure out how to get more money, more power or more influence, you were saying love is service and that the only thing in life that is worth it is living for others.”

“What you were shouting out with your lives is that one who does not live to serve is of no service.  We are tired of people whose lives are of no service to others.  We want to live to serve!” he exclaimed.

Cardinal Bergoglio encouraged young people to break with the mentality of the world that seeks to sell them the easy way out of everything and to do what feels good.  “No.  I want to follow love,” the cardinal told them.  “And love is service.  And love is not taking the easy way.  Love is difficult.  You know it, young people, that love is difficult.”


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Bishop calls on disciplined theologian to maintain unity of the Church

Madrid, Spain, Jun 13, 2007 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, Bishop Ricardo Blazquez, has called on liberation theologian Jon Sobrino to “rethink what he has been told through the Holy See,” and emphasized that “it is much better to humbly walk in unity and harmony of faith than to be isolated in the sublime.”

Bishop Blaquez comments came as the Jesuit theologian is expected to travel to Bilbao in the coming days.  “If he wants, my house and my friendliness are always available.”

In March of this year, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a notification in which it pointed out that some of Sobrino’s theological propositions are not in conformity with the doctrine of the Church, calling them “erroneous and dangerous” and “possible harmful to the faithful.”

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Argentinean Bishop calls on politicians to ask, where is the country headed

Konigstein, Germany, Jun 13, 2007 (CNA) - Bishop Roberto Rodriguez of La Rioja, Argentina, has appealed to the government to create a global plan for the country. In view of the upcoming presidential elections in October, the bishop has called on Argentinian politicians to think about the future by considering the direction of their society.

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Bishop Rodriguez said that politicians should deal with “specific present-day problems", by asking the fundamental question of where society is going. Commenting on the current efforts he said, “this was something that could not be seen at present.”

“In their actions with regard to society generally, and to domestic, foreign and economic policy, the politicians should constantly be asking themselves the question of meaning,” the bishop remarked.

Relations between the Church and the Argentinian government are somewhat strained, he added. While the government does maintain contacts with some individual bishops, Bishop Rodriguez observed, this dialogue should be at the level of the Bishops’ Conference.

The chief areas where the bishop sees a lack of thought about the direction of society are those of abortion and family planning. "We bishops are not playing politics, but society must be established on an ethical footing", he added. The Church is offering the politicians her collaboration in this ethical discussion, he said.

The prelate sees another threat in the way that the media can distort its reporting on the Church. "We have seen what they did with the Holy Father's speech in Regensburg. Many journalists draw false conclusions because they do not read what people have really said", added Bishop Rodriguez. This often represents a bigger threat to the Church than state policy, he concluded.
On the other hand, the freedom of the press is also being endangered in several Latin American countries, the worst being Venezuela and Bolivia. ACN’s information director, Dr. Martin Fontanari, warned that these developments must be watched so that, "the warning voice of the Church in society is not silenced."

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Philadelphia officially declared "pro-choice" city

Philadelphia, Pa., Jun 13, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia has called on all people of goodwill to join him in rejecting “the divisive and erroneous label” that Philadelphia is now a pro-choice city.

Philadelphia City Council voted 9-8 on Monday in favor of a resolution that labels the city as pro-choice. The controversial vote followed a heated debate.

“In a city where so many people vigorously defend life at every stage, proclaiming Philadelphia ‘pro-choice’ is inconsistent with reality,” argued Cardinal Rigali, who also heads the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities. “It unfairly saddles those who support life at all stages with this shameful label.”

“The dialogue between individuals and groups working to build a just society is ill-served by City Council's unproductive resolution,” he continued. He said city council members who voted is favor of the resolution should apologize to the thousands of Philadelphians they offended “and turn their energies toward improving the quality of life and the safeguarding of all residents.”

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced the resolution at the request of Planned Parenthood, which helped her draft the proposal, reported

“We wanted to make it clear this city cares about pro-choice,” Brown reportedly said. “They asked me to do it. I agreed with their views and I agreed to introduce the resolution. At the end of the day, we have to decide what we want the city to look like and be about.”

Councilman Brian J. O'Neill rejected the resolution. “There are people we represent on both sides of this issue. This is a pro-choice and a pro-life city,” O’Neill argued. “This resolution is disrespectful to taxpayers who are pro-life.”

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