Vatican City, Jun 28, 2007 (CNA) - Made public from the Holy See Press Office this morning was a special communiqué regarding Benedict XVI’s forthcoming “Motu Proprio” on the use of the Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.
The press release states that, "Yesterday afternoon in the Vatican, a meeting was held under the presidency of the Cardinal Secretary of State in which the content and spirit of the Holy Father's forthcoming 'Motu Proprio' on the use of the Missal promulgated by John XXIII in 1962 was explained to representatives from various episcopal conferences.”
According to the communiqué, “the Holy Father also arrived to greet those present, spending nearly an hour in deep conversation with them.”
"The publication of the document - which will be accompanied by an extensive personal letter from the Holy Father to individual bishops,” the Vatican release continued, “is expected within a few days, once the document itself has been sent to all the bishops with an indication of when it will come into effect.”
Following the modern revision of the Roman Missal in 1970, the Mass as standardized by Pius V in 1570 and continued by John XVIII in its 1962 form, has been allowed only with the permission or “indult” of the local bishop. The upcoming Motu Proprio is expected to allow any priest to celebrate the Latin Mass according to the 1962 Missal – though the Novus Ordo Mass (normally celebrated in the local vernacular) of 1970 is expected to remain the norm.
Vatican City, Jun 28, 2007 (CNA) - According to a press release made public this morning Pope Benedict XVI has called a Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
The event, which is due to be held in the Vatican from October 4 to 25, 2009, has as its theme: "The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace: 'You are the salt of the earth. ... You are the light of the world.'"
Vatican City, Jun 28, 2007 (CNA) - The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has accepted the resignation offered by Bishop Raphael M. Fliss due to his reaching the canonical age of retirement and named a new bishop for the Diocese of Superior. Bishop-elect Peter F. Christensen will take the helm of the northern-Wisconsin diocese after serving for 22 years as a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.
The 54 year-old Bishop-elect of Superior was born in Pasadena, California, but moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul in 1975. After obtaining his undergraduate degree in art history from the University of St. Thomas, Christensen worked as a commercial artist for several years before entering the seminary in 1981.
Bishop-elect Christensen has served in several capacities within the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, acting as a spiritual director and rector at St. John Vianney Seminary and serving most recently as Pastor of Nativity of Our Lord Parish in St. Paul.
Bishop Fliss, who will turn 77 in October, began serving as Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Superior 1979 and became the diocese’s ordinary in June of 1985. According to Vatican statistics, Fliss will hand off a diocese of some 81,885 Catholics, 71 priests, 57 permanent deacons, and 104 religious.
, Jun 28, 2007 (CNA) - A recent article in New York’s Village Voice claims that Rudy Giuliani is using his Catholicity to gain political advantage in his current campaign for Republican presidential candidate.
“Giuliani has only struck a public Catholic pose when it has suited him politically,” the article claims. The article offers an analysis of Giuliani’s about-face regarding his Catholic faith in relation to his current campaign, pointing out the contradictions between his current campaign and his track record as New York City mayor.
For example, Giuliani is currently saying that he hates abortion and is committed to decreasing the number of abortions. He has even said that it would be “okay to repeal” Roe v. Wade. However, while mayor of New York, he hosted three anniversary celebrations at City Hall for the landmark decision that legalized abortion in the United States.
Giuliani also appointed Pam Maraldo, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, to the city's four-member Board of Health. City records indicate that Giuliani's health and youth agencies awarded more than $2 million in contracts to Planned Parenthood's New York City branch over the years, the Village Voice reports.
The magazine also notes that while the mayor cut the city's welfare rolls, he found millions of dollars in city funds “to subsidize abortions for women whose incomes were too high to meet eligibility standards.”
“His wholesale reversal on Medicaid funding, late-term abortions, and parental consent are all part of a repackaging designed to soften not just his New York public record, but also the inconvenient details of his personal life,” the article claims.
“It's impossible to reconcile that [mayoral] record with Giuliani's presidential pose on abortion, just as it's impossible to match his Catholic candidacy with his marital history,” the article states.
The magazine points out that Giuliani has been married three times. Giuliani divorced his second wife after 18 years and remarried in a civil ceremony, clearly outside of the norms of the Catholic Church, the New York magazine notes.
“The question is: Can Giuliani run for president as a Catholic, identifying with the swing vote that has picked the winner in virtually every modern presidential race, when he is so out of step with the Church's code of personal conduct?” the magazine asks.
The article also focuses on Giuliani’s close friendship with a priest accused of sex abuse. His first 14-year marriage was annulled thanks to his close friend, Msgr. Alan Placa, who has since been defrocked due to allegations of sex abuse of four minors, says the Village Voice. A lawyer by training, Placa was hired as a three-day-a-week consultant at Giuliani Partners, where he remains today, the magazine reports. Placa had also baptized Giuliani’s children.
Village Voice offers a lengthy exposé on Placa’s personality, based on testimonies, and on how he helped cover up incidents of sex abuse of minors by his fellow priests while in a position of authority at the diocese.
The hiring of Placa and the passage of a bill, which forces public schools to report abuse complaints to law enforcement as soon as they are received but exempt private schools from this same requirement, shows that “Giuliani's tone-deaf response to sex-abuse issues,” the article states.
Giuliani is also reversing himself on gay issues, rejecting any attempt to welcome gay men into the military, the article notes.
, Jun 28, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore has returned to his residence after spending about a week in the hospital while recovering from brain surgery.
Last week, neurosurgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital inserted a shunt in Cardinal Keeler's brain to allow excess cerebrospinal fluid to drain away. Physicians have said a condition known as normal pressure hydrocephalus, or a buildup of the fluid in the brain’s ventricles, had limited the cardinal’s ability to walk.
Archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine told the Sun Reporter that the cardinal had inpatient rehabilitation at the hospital and will continue therapy.
The cardinal has been walking and has resumed some of his activities as archbishop. Prior to being released from the hospital, he met with four priests who were ordained for the archdiocese on Saturday.
Baghdad, Iraq, Jun 28, 2007 (CNA) - The release of eight kidnapped Christians on Friday was welcomed by Iraq’s Christian community. However, numerous other Christians continue to be killed or driven out of their homeland by the increasing violence and killings.
The violence has precipitated a mass exodus, with some 2.2 million Iraqis now residing outside the country and another two million internally displaced, according to a June 5 briefing of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
According to the UN, about 50,000 Iraqis are displaced by the violence each month, fleeing to Iraq's relatively stable northern region, in and around Mosul. But recent kidnappings and murders of Christians in and around Mosul, as well as the skyrocketing cost of living, make the north less than appealing for many. So others have fled to Syria or Jordan.
A middle-aged Chaldean couple from Hai Al-Jamiyah district told Compass that they were forced to leave home with only the clothes on their backs when militants planted a sound bomb beside their car. Area residents spoke of how Christians should leave the area, said the couple, whose own children and grandson left two months prior.
The husband and wife said that even though local militias had not demanded that they pay jizya, an Islamic tax exacted from non-Muslims under Muslim rule, they felt their lives were threatened all the same. After their car was bombed, they said that armed gunmen had forced them to leave home without any of their possessions.
On June 12, Fouad Salim, a 32-year-old husband and father of two, was killed by militants as he left his work at a police station in Razaliyah because he refused to convert to Islam, reported the Assyrian International News Agency.
Christian Iraqi website Ankawa.com reported on June 17 that militants in Baghdad's Amariyah district had set off a bomb in the garden of a Christian home, forcing the family to leave.
Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly strongly condemned U.S. forces in May after they had occupied the church's seminary and college in Dora last April, though some church leaders felt troop presence would keep away looters. The buildings had stood empty since staff relocated classes to the northern village of Ankawa for security reasons.
Madrid, Spain, Jun 28, 2007 (CNA) - The president of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, Dr. Jose Maria Simon, said this week med students can obtain gynecology degrees without having to perform abortions in four countries in Europe—Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece.
While participating last week in a conference for Catholic gynecologists in Zagreb, Simon told Europa Press that in Spain, “although it is difficult, it is still possible to find a place that accepts residents who don’t practice abortions.” That is not the case in France, Switzerland, Germany or Austria, where the “normal” thing is for students to be required to practice abortions. “Things are very bad in Europe,” he insisted.
On the other hand, Simon said participants at the conference concluded that one of the most important priorities for gynecologists should be the care for pregnant women in poor countries, as well as promoting “state assistance” in the developed countries to encourage women not to have abortions.
“Pregnant women in Spain receive practically no financial help. If a pregnant immigrant who is alone shows up at a clinic she gets asked practically nothing and she is given a pass to have an abortion. This happens and happens often,” he said.
On the other hand, Simon noted that there are more and more women who want to be seen by a doctor who follows the Magisterium of the Church, “even if they do not agree with it 100%.” He pointed to a study that shows that in the United States, there are 10 times more women who would go to such a gynecologist but who can’t because they are hard to find.
He added that the same thing happens with people looking for doctors in other fields, such as psychiatry or care for the terminally ill. “Between the doctor and the patient there may be a verbal or a non-verbal contract but people want to know what the doctor will do in that case, what kind of ethics he will apply,” Simon said.
London, England, Jun 28, 2007 (CNA) - In an interview with the Spanish daily “La Razon,” Father Gerard Sheehan, pastor of the Church of St. Thomas Moore, said that in his Diocese of Westminster-London, each year some 800 new Catholics are baptized or received into full communion with the Church.”
“If we apply those numbers to all of England, we can say without fear of being wrong that the Catholic Church in England receives an average of five thousand new adult members each year,” he said.
Father Sheehan said conversions reached their peak during the 90’s, when the progressive wing of the Anglican Church in the United States ordained women bishops, something unacceptable to the “conservative” wing of the Church of England. “That was a key moment,” he said, adding that “today, the number of converts is less than it was ten years ago, but when the (Anglican) Church of England accepts the ordination of women bishops, conversions will increase again.”
Father Sheehan said it was difficult to obtain concrete numbers as the Church “has always wanted to avoid giving signs of triumphalism, she does not want to publicly brag about these issues, because she does not want to offend anybody; in reality for sometime unity between the two churches has been sought, and any show in this sense could damage the road to this encounter.”
The case of Tony Blair, who visited Pope Benedict XVI recently at the Vatican amid rumors of his imminent conversion to Catholicism, is a one such case. The Vatican made no comment about the matter, and Blair told the Times that, “Things are not as resolved as they would seem.” However, everything indicates that Blair’s conversion is just a matter of time and that, out of sensitivity, the announcement of his conversion will not come until he has left office, La Razon said, adding that Blair is only the public figure of the return to the Catholic faith of thousands of British who have already begun their process of conversion, with reserve and without intermediaries.
Maputo, Mozambique, Jun 28, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Francisco Chimoio of Maputo told the local publication Magazine Independiente this week that the archdiocese has launched a tithing campaign to “overcome the financial crisis and allow the archdiocese to achieve economic autonomy.”
Banners hanging in the Cathedral and in parishes around the archdiocese remind the faithful: “Giving a donation as a show of faith is the opportunity God gives us to become better persons.”
Father Joao Carlos of the Archdiocese of Maputo said the tithing drive is a way “to make the church self-sufficient and independent,” and he added that this is year for tithing expansion for parishes.”
The plan is still being tested in the Mozambique capital but church officials hope to bring it to the entire country. The population of Mozambique is approximately 20 percent Catholic.
Havana, Cuba, Jun 28, 2007 (CNA) - The Communist Party of Cuba has welcomed a plan to reform the country’s family laws to grant “full rights” to homosexual couples, including the adoption of children, allowing sex and identity changes for transsexuals and in the long term legalizing homosexual unions.
The announcement was made by the director of the National Center for Sexual Education, Mariela Castro, during the 5th International Culture and Development Congress which was held in Havana.
Castro, who is the daughter of interim president Raul Castro, said, “We think we should come to an agreement that there be an article in the Family Code on gender identity and sexual orientation for the right to free sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Castro said the plan must first be approved by the Communist party bureau and later by the National Assembly. However, she said a request has already been filed with the Ministry of Public Health to allow three homosexual couples to receive reproduction assistance, in anticipation of the change in Cuban law. While she noted that there has been some resistance to the plan, she said, “Laws by themselves are not sufficient for achieving real change,” but they are essential to advancing policies.
Regarding the legalization of homosexual unions, Castro said they could not yet be called “marriages” because that requires a change in Cuba’s Constitution. “That proposal will be made at an opportune moment. Right now changing the Family Code will be enough,” she added.
“We have inherited a patriarchal family model,” she claimed. “We are not capable of breaking with it and we must do so,” Castro stated.