Vatican City, Jun 14, 2007 (CNA) - Aid organizations must bring more than material aid to truly help those in need, said Pope Benedict. They must bring “the joyful witness of those who have met the Lord,” which will “be a light to illuminate the way of people seeking a more dignified life," the pontiff emphasized.
The Holy Father made these remarks in a meeting with the administrative council of the “Populorum Progressio” Foundation in Rome gathered for their annual assembly.
The foundation was started in 1992 by Pope John Paul II to serve poor rural communities in Latin America and the Caribbean. John Paul II founded the group because he saw the need to help people “whose ancestral customs are threatened by postmodern culture, and who risk seeing the destruction of their traditions which are so ready to accept the truth of the Gospel.”
Pope Benedict praised two of the aspects that distinguish Populorum Progressio from other organizations: the first is the concept of 'integral promotion'," which "takes the social and material aspect of life into account, as well as the announcement of faith which gives full meaning to man's life, and the second is the consultation of local bishops in approving aid to communities.
The practice of “integral promotion” satisfies the real poverty of those in need said the Pope. “[M]an's real poverty is his lack of hope, the absence of a Father to give meaning to his existence."
According to the Holy Father, the unique practice of consulting the local bishops is admirable because, “the decision rests in the hands of people who well know the problems and concrete needs of those peoples."
Bloomingdale, Ill., Jun 14, 2007 (CNA) - The Apostolate for Family Consecration, an Ohio-based ministry to Catholic families, is now one of fewer than 125 organizations in the world to be granted Pontifical status by the Vatican.
The granting of Pontifical status means that the ministry is now officially recognized and approved by the Holy See. While the new status sets the apostolate apart, the organization is also the first of its kind to be founded by a married American couple.
By decreeing Pontifical Status on the Apostolate for Family Consecration, the Holy See is providing important impetus for the continued success of the group's international endeavors to strengthen and sanctify the family. "This is a very gratifying affirmation of our basic mission -- to strengthen and save the family," said Jerry Coniker, co-founder of the Apostolate for Family Consecration.
A ceremony marking the newly-granted designation will be held in Rome on June 15. Representatives from each country where the Apostolate for Family Consecration has a center have already begun the pilgrimage to Rome to take part in the Act of Consignment Ceremony.
The Apostolate for Family Consecration was founded in 1975 by Jerry and Gwen Coniker. The primary focus of the organization is to sanctify and consecrate families in the truths of the Catholic Faith, using the modern means of social communications.
For more information please visit http://www.familyland.org/home.asp
London, England, Jun 14, 2007 (CNA) - A powerful coalition of conservative Anglican leaders is preparing to create a parallel church for conservatives in the United States, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph.
The parallel church would be in defiance of appeals made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, to his fellow primates to refrain from provocative actions. If this parallel Church is pursued, it would provoke the biggest schism in the history of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
According to sources obtained by The Daily Telegraph, at least six primates are planning the consecration of a prominent U.S. cleric as a bishop to minister to members of the Episcopalian Church, who have rejected their liberal bishops over the issue of homosexuality.
The initiative is said to have been co-ordinated by senior African archbishops, including the Primate of Kenya, Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi. The group, representing more than 10 million Anglicans, is also thought to include several moderate primates from outside Africa.
The plan is not being led by the Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, who has already set up a similar “missionary” church in the U.S., headed by Bishop Martyn Minns.
Last month, Archbishop Williams attempted to placate the warring factions by announcing that neither Bishop Gene Robinson, the homosexual American bishop, nor Bishop Minns would be invited to next year's Lambeth Conference, the 10-yearly gathering of all the world's bishops in Canterbury. But conservative leaders are furious that he invited the rest of the liberal leadership of the American Episcopal Church.
Jerusalem, Israel, Jun 14, 2007 (CNA) - Responding to news of the election of Shimon Peres as the new Israeli president, the Apostolic Nuncio to the Holy Land, Archbishop Antonio Franco, said Peres “brings a long history of negotiations” and that the symbolic power of the presidency is a strong impulse for working for peace.
Peres “was one of the most qualified candidates in this election and he is a notable and well-know figure. The figure of the President in Israel is a point of reference of high moral value and a representative of the unity of the State,” the nuncio said.
Regarding peace talks, Archbishop Franco expressed hope they could be restarted. “Hope is the spirit of our lives. It is true that what is happening in Gaza is, above all, very bad. As the Church we participate in, live, and suffer all these realities.”
Shimon Peres, 83, is the ninth President of Israel. In 1994 he received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Rome, Italy, Jun 14, 2007 (CNA) - In response to the recent decision by Amnesty International to support abortion as a human right, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, announced this week that the Catholic Church will stop making financial contributions to the organization.
The cardinal issued a statement that reaffirmed what he had said about the matter in an interview with the National Catholic Register. He explained that the decision was made after AI decided to promote abortion as a human right. “The consequence was unavoidable,” he said. Cardinal Martino denounced “the international lobbies that push abortion and the propaganda that promotes it as part of what John Paul II called ‘the culture of death’.” “Thank God the right to abortion has not been recognized internationally,” he added.
“It is very serious that an organization as courageous as Amnesty International gives in to the pressures of lobbyists,” the cardinal lamented, adding that to defend abortion as a human right “is to define a baby in the womb of his mother as an enemy, something that can be destroyed.”
“The decriminalization of abortion represents a betrayal of the institutional purposes of the organization itself,” the cardinal noted. “The voluntary suppression of all human life is always a crime and undermines the bases of the common good of the human family,” he added.
Nevertheless, Ricardo Noury, the spokesman for the Italian division of AI, said the organization “does not receive economic aid from the Vatican.” “We have never received funds from the Vatican nor from entities that depend on the Catholic Church. That guarantees the independence of the organization as provided for in its statutes,” he said.
The statements by Noury are totally false as numerous Catholics individually contribute to AI. Many Catholic organizations may possibly follow the Vatican’s lead and cease to contribute to AI.
Madrid, Spain, Jun 14, 2007 (CNA) - A group of young people from Spain will travel to the rain forest of Nicaragua in July to bring eyeglasses to 300 natives suffering from “serious vision problems.”
The Almudi Association, whose members are involved in the outreach, told the AVAN news agency that for many of the natives, “This will be their first pair of glasses that they have ever received,” and poor eyesight is a hindrance for many natives who work in the fields.
Last summer a group of students traveled to Nicaragua to measure the eyesight of the natives they would be helping. In the year since then, glasses have been manufactured by the company Visionlab and now relief is on the way.
While there the volunteers will also help out at a local parish with catechism, formation classes and Bible studies. Likewise they will hand out medical supplies, organize sporting games and music festivals.
The Almudi Association of Valencia, run by priests of the Opus Dei, has organized visits to Nicaragua since 2000.
Santiago, Chile, Jun 14, 2007 (CNA) - Police in the city of Curacautin in southern Chile detained an 18 year-old this week they believe to was responsible for vandalizing a church with satanic messages.
The vandalism took place last weekend at chapel of the Community of San Pablo.
On Monday parishioners who arrived for Mass were shocked to find statues destroyed and the walls painted with satanic phrases and symbols.
Police have not revealed the identity of the suspect but they said he is a student at the Institute of Rural Education.
In July of 2004, Chilean priest Father Faustino Gazziero D’Estefani was killed at the Cathedral of Santiago by a 24 year-old man who practiced satanic worship. The spread of Satanism among young people has become a growing concern in Chile.
Rome, Italy, Jun 14, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Austria September 7-9 may be his only trip to a European country in 2007, according to the spokesman for the Archdiocese of Vienna.
Father Karl Schauer, the spokesman for the Marian Shrine of Mariazell, told reporters this week, “The Pontiff feels particularly attracted by the Marian shrine of Mariazell, which will celebrate its 850th anniversary in 2007 and would be one of three phases in this papal trip on the feast of the Nativity of Mary on September 8.”
Benedict XVI will also visit the Cistercian monastery of Heiligenkreuz, as well as a Theology school that has recently been given pontifical status.
Speaking to the Kath.net news agency, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said, “Each visit of the Pope is important for the Church in that country. I saw it recently in Brazil as well. The local Church feels very encouraged, confirmed in the faith , in the meaning of participation the life of the Church in the world.” “Therefore, this case is also a particularly favorable situation, because here the Pope’s native tongue is spoken and as we saw in Germany, the possibility exists therefore that the Holy Father will say more things than what he has prepared,” Father Lombardi said.
“Regarding the rest, the Pope is also a southern German and I think that the Austrians feel his closeness to them. For the Church in general…certainly the Pope has the habit in his travels of addressing issues important to the local Church, but oftentimes they have a general character. Therefore we can expect there to be beautiful occasions for teaching,” the Vatican spokesman stated.
“I think as always there will be special attention to the fundamentals of the faith. Therefore, we can expect to hear very consistent and profound discourses,” he added.
In explaining why the Pope is going to visit the Shrine of Mariazell, Father Lombardi recalled an interview the Pope gave to German television and to Vatican Radio before his visit to Germany. “He was even asked about this. And he answered, ‘I have been invited to visit Mariazell, which is a place for which I have great affection, because I like it very much, and I couldn’t say no.”
Philadelphia, Pa., Jun 14, 2007 (CNA) - The National Catholic Bioethics Center joined its voice to that of Cardinal Justin Rigali yesterday regarding the decision of Philadelphia’s City Council to proclaim the metropolis pro-choice.
The City Council passed the resolution June 7, by a vote of 9 to 8.
According to 2005 statistics released from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, more than 42.5 percent of all abortions performed in the state were in Philadelphia. This percentage represents 14,858 aborted babies.
Almost half of the abortions performed in Pennsylvania were repeat abortions, with over 1,000 women having had at least four abortions.
At a time when the homicide rate continues to rise (171 homicides in 2007 as of June 5), City Council has the responsibility to foster a culture which respects human life, said the National Catholic Bioethics Center in a statement.
The organization commended the eight councilors who voted against the resolution. It also expressed concern that the resolution was crafted with the assistance of the local chapter of Planned Parenthood — which is the most extensive network of abortion clinics in the country.
San Antonio, Texas, Jun 14, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio is calling on citizens, legislators and policymakers to muster the courage to create new immigration policy now.
“The issue is urgent. It won't go away, no matter how much politicians would like it to,” he said, referring to the recent defeat in the Senate of the latest attempt at immigration reform.
“Reform can't wait another political cycle,” he wrote in a comment published in the June 12 issue of the San Antonio Express News. “The lives of millions of undocumented workers and their families hang in the balance. So does our national security and economic well-being.”
The archbishop underlined that the debate requires citizens to acknowledge two facts: millions of immigrants live in the U.S., and these immigrants are needed here. He said the debate is being impacted by fear and a loss of the sense that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants.
He said research shows that immigrants are hardworking, responsible people who make substantial contributions to the national economy.
“It only makes sense to offer them a path to full participation in American society,” he argued. “We should help them become taxpaying citizens with ordinary workers' benefits. Such measures would strengthen our borders, enhance our economy and reduce the strains on our health and social services systems.”
The archbishop also noted that immigrants are largely religious, reflect a deep respect for human life, have a strong work ethic and are loyal to their new country.
“It also makes economic sense to find a way to reunite immigrants with their loved ones,” he said. “The children of immigrants are always far more successful economically than their parents. Promoting strong immigrant families can only increase America's future prosperity,” he concluded.
Orlando, Fla., Jun 14, 2007 (CNA) - To say that a woman cannot be a priest in no way detracts from her human dignity and her equality with men, says Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando.
The bishop addressed the ongoing debate on the status of women in the Church in a letter to the faithful yesterday.
“Too often, proponents of a ‘feminist narrative’ allege that Church teachings harbor an anti-woman bias,” he wrote, referring to the proposal that the all-male ordained priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church is the result of such a bias.
The bishop argued that Catholicism is far from being anti-woman and has “raised the dignity of women wherever it took root.”
He noted that pagans mocked Christians “precisely because women were treated as equals to men.”
“Pagan societies were hardly ‘pro-women’ – and this was true of civilizations of high culture like that of the Greeks and Romans as well,” he said. “Where the Gospel took root, however, the status of women improved.”
“That the Church only ordains men to the priesthood is not a comment on the status or state of women but a statement on the nature of the priesthood as instituted by Jesus Christ,” he stated, citing Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.
Bishop Wenski also cited Pope Benedict XVI’s comments on his recent visit to Brazil. The Pope condemned the “chauvinistic mentality that ignores the ‘newness’ of Christianity in which the equal dignity and responsibility of women relative to men is acknowledged and affirmed.”
“Church teachings on the equal dignity of men and women give no aid or comfort to those who would hold for the ‘inferiority’ of women relative to men or to those would justify any discrimination or exploitation of women on such grounds,” Bishop Wenski elaborated. “As the Scriptures attest: every baptized person is fully entitled as a child of God.”
The bishop also admitted that women were not always treated with dignity nor given their due within the Church throughout history. “Believers have, in this as well as other areas, often failed to live in a way congruent to our beliefs,” he stated.